Commentary: North Dakota workers deserve a fair wage
Michael Saltsman's recent Viewpoint, in the tradition of tobacco executives who said smoking was good for you brings you intentionally bad research and mistaken conclusions, is wrong about the minimum wage and its effects. He has always been wrong and he's paid to be wrong.
In 2013, he promised the collapse of the Minnesota restaurant business via a "devastating" minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $9.38. Minneapolis has moved far beyond Saltsman and recently passed a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
According to Saltman's logic as he's asserted it, all we really need to do is flip our strategy. If we decrease workforce wages, North Dakota would prosper. Accordingly, his theory is hereby dubbed "The Economic Hypothesis of Prosperity through Poverty." It all makes perfect sense: when North Dakota's workforce earns less, North Dakota is better off. Or something. Maybe.
Characterizing "radical" a wage of $31,200 in North Dakota is hyperbole, since $31,000 does not cover basic costs for a single-parent householder's basics, according to M.I.T.'s recently published cost-of-living index for North Dakota.
Comparably, $47,130 (North Dakota's current average wage) must be "stratospherically radical."
We counter-propose radical as living on $15,080 ($7.25/hour) as measured by, well, North Dakota decency. It's subsistence that some actually do survive on working full-time today.
Saltsman cites a critically-flawed Seattle study for argumentative proofs.
The study failed peer review:
1) the study excluded 48 percent of Seattle workers who earned less than $13/hr in mid-2016, the workers most likely to earn close to min wage.
2) The study found that Seattle's minimum wage caused the greatest effects in the least plausible place — high-wage jobs.
3) The study results hinged on a geographic sample size of the loneliest number — one — subjected to an untested, unconventional approach.
4) The study was an outlier; a vast majority of studies demonstrate market elasticity for minimum wage increases.
There's more. While mentioning that specific study might have been politically prudent for his client base, professionally — it should be a little embarrassing.
Saltsman's think tank is motivated by being paid by client groups whose desire is not to see wealth circulate and grow North Dakota's economy but to extract wealth to grow personal and corporate fortunes. Saltsman's think tank business may or may not be helped, but Grand Fork's stagnant economy would be helped by an increase. More money in the pockets of more people is powerful stimulus.
Fear is their weapon, optimism is ours; do not let fear prevail. Workers, not including think tanks, receive significantly less today of what they produce, and North Dakotans know a worker is due his or her wages.
Scott Nodland is chairman of the Fair Wage Act of North Dakota Ballot Initiative.