Notes on the state of things

Notes on the state of things

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s push to increase the state minimum wage in excess of 100 percent “is facing a rocky road,” reports The Associated Press.

And with good reason.

As the AP also reports, the state’s Independent Fiscal Office concludes that raising the wage floor from the current $7.25 to $12 an hour – the first step on the road to a $15 hourly wage mandate by 2025 – would lead to the loss of 33,000 jobs.

No doubt, raising the minimum to $15 will lead to even more job losses. And that will hurt the very people their professed benefactors so ardently claim they are trying to help.

Still, Rep. Matthew Bradford, a Democrat, laments that the $7.25 minimum “is not commensurate with the dignity that we all propose work should come with.”

As if a misguided public policy that, just to begin, eliminates 33,000 jobs somehow is dignified?

In the name of “security and safety,” Pittsburgh officials are attempting to clamp down on economic liberty.

The Post-Gazette reports that public safety officials want to crack down on towing operators competing for accident work. Not only has the city requested proposals from tow companies to bid for the right to tow wrecked vehicles from accident scenes – and limiting bid-winning towing services to geographical zones — it wants to apply a city ordinance that caps general towing fees to accident tows.

Furthermore, it attempts to dictate not only what kind of equipment eligible tow companies must have to participate but what kind of business they run.

To wit, towing companies affiliated with auto body shops are barred from bidding under the new zoned regimen. Talk about arbitrary and capricious government-knows-best malarkey.

The rationale for this latest spate of government interventionism comes from an official who laments that tow trucks competing for accident business create “several safety concerns.”

Among the claimed concerns – tow truck operators “often speed and break traffic laws to get there first” and “add to traffic congestion.”

What, there’s poor enforcement of speeding and traffic laws? And by this rationale, surely it’s also time to crack down on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ weekday afternoon games for the near-gridlock they regularly cause.

Also cited was a recent incident in which two competing tow operators brawled, leaving one in critical condition. And police are reported to have complained about regular trouble between tow truck drivers.

What, there are no existing laws to address such situations?

It should be difficult to imagine any government jurisdiction proposing such a perversion of the marketplace. Sadly, it is not difficult in the City of Pittsburgh, where government believes markets exist to attempt to command them and that the fundamental laws of economics are not immutable at all but merely suggestions.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).