Says the contrarian, Part 2

Says the contrarian, Part 2

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has an unflattering knack for continually showing his lack of understanding of fundamental economics.

The latest example can be found in his effort to impose new regulations on restaurants – you remember, those razor-thin margin businesses that he closed during the height of the pandemic with typically willy-nilly rationale – that would (as reports) “require employees receive at least $135 monthly in tips before their hourly pay can be reduced from $7.25, the current minimum wage, to $2.83, the minimum wage for tipped employees.”

Said Jennifer Berrier, secretary of the state Department of Labor and Industry:

“The world of work has changed significantly since these regulations first went into effect in 1977, but tipped workers remain a sizeable and critical segment of Pennsylvania’s workforce. They are the only workers whose take-home pay ultimately depends on the generosity of their customers and not the obligation of their employer.”

Uhm, no Madam Secretary, workers’ take-home pay ultimately depends on their productivity. And that’s measured, more so in this case than most others, by not only their employers but also by their customers.

Better service equates with better tips. Government stepping in to effectively guarantee a minimum based on an artificial threshold of tipping, likely will stand to reduce productivity by reducing service.

That is, why be the most productive service provider one can be when the government will step into secure a certain level of income after reaching an arbitrary threshold? What is ethical or moral about rewarding less-productive employees?

But, then again, promoting personal inaction is the government in action these days, is it not?

There’s an incredibly troubling quote from Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Erika Strassburger in a Post-Gazette story on her attempt to have City Council ban single-use plastic bags.

First, the background:

“Under legislation introduced by … Strassburger, Pittsburgh shoppers would no longer receive a plastic bag when checking out at the grocery store or other retailers. Instead, consumers would be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags or be charged a 15-cent fee to use a paper bag,” the P-G says.

But Strassburger apparently does not want to stop with plastic shopping bags. No, no, no, no, no. The P-G says she sees her measure as “just the ‘first step’ toward changing the city’s behavior”:

“Once we have single-use plastic bags under control, we can’t stop there,” she said. “Then it’s time to turn our attention to all the other ways we might use an item for an average of five minutes, 10 minutes and then throw it away and not think about it again.”


So, what’s next? Banning plastic sandwich bags? To-go cups from your favorite coffee shops certainly can’t be far behind. Let’s not forget toothpicks. And how about dental floss?

Paper towels? Gotta go! And speaking of “gotta go,” can toilet paper be far behind – Ahem— on Erika Strassburger’s “throw it away and not think about it again” fears list?

Don’t laugh. For remember, “progressives” never know when to stop themselves.

Oh, by the way, those on welfare would be conveniently spared from the councilor’s no-plastic-bag buncombe. Why? The cost.

The inconvenient bottom line for the anti-plastic bag brigade can conveniently be found in a stellar column by libertarian/contrarian John Stossel from May 2020 (

Read it and shake your head – over the deleterious consequences that do-gooders such as Strassburger can’t (or refuse to) see.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (