Gov. Tom Wolf characterizes his push to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage by nearly 107 percent by 2025 as a “moral” issue.
But what’s “moral” about advocating for a public policy that most assuredly will result in either fewer hours or fewer jobs (or both) for those on the first rung of the employment ladder?
Wolf also seeks to raise the earnings threshold for salaried employees to be eligible for overtime pay. That is, salaried employees will be able to earn a lot more but still be eligible for overtime. But as Allegheny Institute research associate Liz Miller reminded (in Policy Brief Vol. 19, No. 1):
“The proposal would be a huge detriment, especially to small business and nonprofits, because it would force many companies to reduce hours and limit promotions.”
Wolf (and his many “progressive” brethren in Western Pennsylvania) fervently believe that it is up to “The State” to “give” workers such “opportunities.”
But in a free-market system, in a capitalist economy, workers must prove their value to their employer who then bases their wages on their productivity. There’s nothing “moral” about public policies that, in a grand perversion, reduce opportunities in the guises of “expanding” them.
You might recall the big announcement that, in return for oodles and bootles of taxpayer “investment” – think $4 billion, $2.85 billion in cash — Foxconn Technology Group would invest $10 billion and employ 13,000 workers to manufacture liquid-crystal display screens in Racine County, Wisc.
But Foxconn, the same company that, in 2013, made grandiose promises of a big investment in central Pennsylvania (in return for public “incentives”) that never materialized, has done a 180.
“The global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed,” the Taiwanese company said in a Wednesday statement. Some question if an economic climate conducive to Foxconn’s plan ever existed.
Even though the incentives were to be based on Foxconn’s performance, its reversal still leaves taxpayers exposed. There’s now lots of talk about a “bait and switch” in the Badger State.
Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes pulled no punches in his assessment of Foxconn’s about-face:
“Numbers matter in business, until the laws of competition are outlawed. The Foxconn deal may turn out to be what skeptics feared: too good to be true.
“It was such a head-slapper because it promised comparatively high-wage jobs to manufacture a commodity typically sourced from Asia and other lower-cost countries.
“Michigan lost (the Foxconn plant) to a Great Lakes rival,” Howes continued. “If this keeps up, folks around here will barely remember Foxconn – emphasis on the ‘con’ part.”
Some have taken to joking that Foxconn is all bun and no beef and, to paraphrase one Wisconsin legislator – big on promises and lousy on delivery.
Even the liberal Urban Institute (of which former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy is a card-carrying member) is panning Foxconn.
“Foxconn has a history of not delivering on its jobs and manufacturing commitments that it’s made,” research associated Megan Randall told The New York Times. “These types of instances are exactly why accountability measures are so important in state and local tax-incentive deals.”
Perhaps, if you’re wedded to repeatedly handing out corporate wealthfare.
But the Foxconn experience, as with so many before it, is the perfect argument to stop turning public dollars into venture capital dollars. That public officials near and far continue to do just that suggests they require a tutorial on the definition of “insanity.”
Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (email@example.com).