Economic reality

Andrew Coyne is a sour-faced political pundit who does not believe in legislating a Canadian minimum wage.

Andrew Coyne is a sour-faced political pundit who does not believe in legislating a Canadian minimum wage. ‘Let the market decide!’ he recently thundered from the Olympian heights of the National Post editorial pages.

‘The market’, unfortunately, is not some abstract concept operating free of human agency. It is an economic reality, manipulated and orchestrated by the entrepreneurs whom Mr. Coyne seems to admire: the fascist Koch Brothers, for instance, whose father was beyond the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party 70 years ago, and who have given financial support to extremist Canadian think tanks like the Fraser Institute.

Because Alberta’s minimum wage is going to $15 an hour and federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is committed to a federal minimum wage of similar stature, the sounds of lamentation are heard across the land. There is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on the floor of the TSX; garments are rent asunder on Bay Street, Howe Street and Water Street; sackcloth and ashes are now fashionable at the BC Chamber of Commerce.

It’s all quite heart-breaking.

But consider Seatac, a small town in Washington State.

In January this year, the council put into place a $15 per hour minimum wage. The Koch brothers sank a fortune into fighting the measure, but to no avail. Businessmen who raised the spectre of laid-off workers, reduced hours and minimised benefits, found instead that they were in the unexpected position of expanding their businesses in response to this legislated increase in purchasing power.

There are two things that Mr. Coyne, and others, like Prime Minister Harper and MP David Wilks, who oppose a legislated minimum wage, should do.

They should try and live for a calendar year on BC’s minimum wage of $10.25 per hour.

They should also pay close attention to the following: “It is to the real advantage of every producer, every manufacturer and every merchant to cooperate in the improvement of working conditions because the best customer of American industry is the well-paid worker,” — so said President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Cleveland, Ohio, 80 years ago.

And there should be no doubt that this statement of socio-economic decency holds just as true for the Canadian worker in 2015 as it did for the American worker in 1935.



JC Vallance,

Fernie, B.C.