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Voice of an LBS

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dan emery
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 6228
Location: Maine

2/15/19 4:10 AM

Voice of an LBS

Just saw this opinion piece in the paper, advocating a paid sick leave policy, from John Grenier, owner of Rainbow Bicycles in Auburn. Iíve known John back to the late Ď80s, when he was faster than me in time trials.

In this day of challenges for LBSís, I think itís interesting to see a rock solid LBS take a leadership role on a progressive employment issue. And I think the article says a lot about how to run a successful small business, bicycle or otherwise. Kudos to John and Rainbow:

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Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6577
Location: Westchester/NYC

2/15/19 4:01 PM

Dangerously close to being "political thread"!

I support the concept of "living wage". Although I also subscribe to the theory that market force will ensure that. Better than government rules.

For example, here in NYC, most small business already pay more than the (old) minimum wages, because otherwise they just can't get workers. For one thing, the old minimum wage was so far out of date it's no longer a wage low level workers can live on. Relying on the government to adjust that number is just far too slow.

The problem here is, as workers pay goes up, so does rents. Then the rent of all shops goes up as a result, and the cost got transfer to the customers. So the increased wages evaporates.

Basically, as soon as the workers starts to spend their increased wages, the cost starts to "trickle up"...

Now, on paid sick leaves, that's a different matter. I do think it's inhumane that workers had to go to work sick. Sure, they will always be a small minority who will abuse it. But that's not a reason to deny the majority of the population from having it.

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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2989
Location: Midland, MI

2/17/19 10:15 AM


Basically, as soon as the workers starts to spend their increased wages, the cost starts to "trickle up"...

The research on this topic is mixed. For every study that supports this statement, another one disputes it. When I saw this sort of uncertainty in my career in R&D, my conclusion was that we just didn't know the answer. Too many confounding variables, lack of true controls, etc.

From an "economic efficiency" standpoint, we can do a lot more to help those on the bottom of the scale than simply raise the minimum wage and hope it all works out. Better infrastructure, lower cost post-secondary education, lower cost health care, better K-12 education, lower cost transit, etc. These are the things that drain the resources of the bottom 2-3 quintiles and make society less productive. Those who have gained vast advantage from the physical, legal, and social infrastructure provided by governments are more than capable of pitching in more to make this happen.

If this is socialism, I guess I'm a socialist. But I used to be a moderate Republican and my views haven't changed. I went to college when the state provided 75% of my tuition (that number is below 20% today). Communities back then thought that good roads, good schools, good hospitals, etc. were a requirement for society. Now all we hear is "we can't afford it" while the overall tax burden in the US is much lower than our peer nations.

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