SDPB broadcasts opposing views on Referred Law 20, the youth minimum wage cut we get to vote down in November. SDPB’s new Rapid City correspondent Lee Strubinger gives wage-cut sponsor Senator David Novstrup a chance to repeat his paradoxical insistence that we give kids more opportunity by paying them less money:
“Some people will say that this is about businesses,” Novstrup says. “I would argue that it’s more for the young person getting that job or for the business—it’s not about the business saving money. It’s about giving that young person that first job and getting that opportunity” [Lee Strubinger, “RL20 Puts Youth Minimum Wage to a Vote,” SDPB Radio, 2016.07.26].
Novstrup cleverly distracts us from his capitalist greed and the lack of empirical evidence for his claims in South Dakota by crying it’s all about the children! With a little effort, Novstrup could Google up some support for the notion that minimum wage increases have coincided with decreases in teen employment, but I can just as easily negate such support with subsequent research finding that, when researchers apply the proper controls, negative effects on teen employment from minimum wage hikes disappear and (no duh!) earnings go up. In other words, it seems the minimum wage increases opportunity, even for teen workers.
Strubinger doesn’t use my great quotes on the economic, political, and moral ills of Senator Novstrup’s effort to take money away from young workers. Instead, Strubinger segues to my summary of the impact of our successful referral of the youth minimum wage cut and my hopes for November:
“That’s why kids all over the state, who are working hard right now, last summer and this summer, they’re minimum wage is $8.50 an hour right now,” Heidelberger says. “They kept $8.50 last year. They got the nickel increase just like every other worker, and they’re getting that thanks to our petition effort. Now we just have to power through to November and get the people of South Dakota to say ‘That’s what we really meant, let’s set that minimum wage for everybody. Let’s not cut it for the kids’” [Strubinger, 2016.07.26].
Novstrup and I maintain the same positions we expressed last year when my friends and I stopped his youth minimum wage cut and put Referred Law 20 on the 2016 ballot. Novstrup thinks we do kids a favor by paying them less and voters a favor by undoing their will. I think we do kids a clearer favor by giving them equal treatment in the workplace. I think we do voters a favor by respecting their wishes and not overturning their ballot measures except in extreme situations where we have clear evidence that the voters’ decision has created a disaster that we must fix right away.