“Servants, laborers and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be ﬂourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.”— Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations.
The majority of our elected representatives have said they support a living wage. Let’s take them at their word. Let’s ask them to deliver public policies that support that professed commitment. As the Star Advertiser recently editorialized, “talking points are cheap, but real action is priceless.”
Join the Raise Up Hawaii coalition as it launches its campaign to persuade lawmakers to enact a living wage. Pick up materials to help spread the word.
We cannot raise up Hawaii’s struggling working families without every one of us getting involved and letting our legislators and the Executive branch of government know that we expect them to act. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to create a Hawai‘i where they can expect to make ends meet. A Hawai‘i where houselessness is not an ever present threat because there just isn’t enough money to make the rent. This is no way to run “Paradise.” The picture we present to tourists should not be at odds with the real Hawai‘i where too many locals simply cannot get by, even with two jobs.
Those who invoke Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market as the way goods will be distributed in a way that achieves equilibrium need to be reminded of the disequilibrium of the many families who are running to stay in place. Too often, too many end up falling on the sidewalks. Let’s make it abundantly clear that government must step in when businesses do not do enough to address the minimum needs of those who keep our economy running. A mandated living wage minimizes competition for good employees and has proven over and over again to be good for business in the long run.
Nicole Woo, senior policy analyst at the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice recalls interviewing small business owners after the first living wage statute in the nation went into effect. She encountered small business owners saying that their employees were like their families, and they wished they could pay them a living wage, so they could afford to buy shoes for their kids when they outgrew them, or take their spouse out for a special occasion now and then.
“But they couldn’t do that before the minimum wage law, because they’d be undercut by their competitors. However, when the living wage was mandated for *all* employers, then they didn’t face a competitive disadvantage when they raised their wages. Instead, they raised their wages along with all their competitors. They found efficiencies within their businesses and prices went up in small increments They said it was “no problem” and they were glad to be able to pay their employees a living wage, because they cared about them and their families. While this was one of the first studies of the effects of living wage laws, the next 20 years of research has found the same results. When minimum wage laws go into effect, employers react by finding some cost savings within their businesses as well as by introducing small price increases,” she added.
Join us and help our lawmakers understand the sky will not fall if they raise the minimum wage–despite alarmist assertions from some quarters that it will. Rather, the folks who voted them into office will have a fighting chance of making it in this very expensive state. And the extra money they earn will go right back into the economy. Let’s do this.
Thu, January 10, 2019
4:45 PM – 5:30 PM HST
Hawai‘i State Capitol
415 South Beretania Street, Room 329
Honolulu, HI 96813