Now If Only the Seattle Times Would “Snap Back to the Center” of Seattle Politics

Now that the $15 minimum wage ordinance has passed, Seattle Times editorial columnist Jonathan Martin predicts that “Seattle’s politics are going to snap back to the center…”

With an alliance of big labor and Occupy Wall Street activism, the radical $15 wage idea shot from outer political orbit to inevitability in little more than a year. Never mind that it is an unproven experiment, with as much potential to close businesses as it has to boost low-wage workers’ paychecks.

But as the $15 movement held a dance party, literally, at City Hall on Monday, I could hear an almost sigh.

It was the sound of Seattle’s politics — after a spin around the dance floor with the far-left — snapping back to its more natural state of deliberate, bland, center-left policies.

Sigh. I want to like Martin, I really do. But there’s something about joining that paper’s editorial board that turns its writers a little stupid.

First of all, “unproven experiment” is redundant. That’s the whole purpose of conducting an experiment: To prove something. And yet in the exact same sentence in which Martin goes out of his way to double emphasize the unknown consequences of a $15 minimum wage (it’s not just an experiment, mind you, but an unproven experiment!), he goes on to assert certainty as to its outcome: “as much potential to close businesses as it has to boost low-wage workers’ paychecks.” The experiment is totally unproven, says Martin, yet the relative probability of potential outcomes is totally known.

Um… huh?

Indeed, if you dissect the logic of that sentence further, what it is actually asserting is that the $15 minimum wage will close businesses. We absolutely know that it will “boost low-wage workers’ paychecks”—that’s merely the mechanism of raising the minimum wage. So to say that it has “as much potential to close businesses as it has to boost low-wage workers’ paychecks,” is to express certainty that it will close businesses.

Hell, that doesn’t sound “unproven” at all. At least to Martin.

But I digress. My real beef with Martin’s column is not that sloppy sentence. It’s with his equally sloppy presumption that the $15 minimum wage is somehow outside of the center of Seattle politics.

It was a deal brokered by the mayor between business and labor leaders. Polls showed the proposal enjoying overwhelming public support. It passed the city council by a unanimous 9-0 vote. What could be more politically centrist than that? Yes, the speed in which we moved on the issue—one year and four days from when striking fast food workers first made the $15 an hour demand to the moment the city council met it—was remarkable for process-obssessed Seattle. But that was a testament to the speed in which the issue achieved consensus.

No, there’s nothing leftist or “radical” about a minimum wage or a millionaires tax—certainly not here in Seattle, where such proposals pass easily. Indeed, if anything is far outside the center of Seattle politics it is the Seattle Times editorial board and its relentlessly anti-tax, anti-goverment, anti-Seattle agenda. I mean, this is a paper whose publisher has been one of the leading national voices in favor of eliminating the inheritance tax at a time when income and wealth inequality is growing to such extremes as to threaten the very being of our democracy.

Now thats radical!

Martin’s effort to define policy as left, right, or center is purely arbitrary, and totally detached from public opinion. He scoffs at the notion of council member* Kshama Sawant’s proposed “millionaires tax,” yet if we were to put a 5 percent tax on incomes over $1 million on Seattle’s ballot in 2016, do you think it would pass? Of course it would! Because here in Seattle, taxing the income of the wealthy is a centrist policy!

On economic issues, it is the Seattle Times editorial board that is far outside the mainstream.

* Yes, that’s right, she’s a council member. 93,682 Seattleites voted for Sawant. So how far outside the center of Seattle politics could she really be?


  1. 1

    ArtFart spews:

    In other news today (but related, if you have a brain cell or two to devote to its consideration) the EU’s central bank (their version of the Federal Reserve) announced it’s heaving a big slug of cash into the Continent’s economy, mainly because its management doesn’t think there’s enough inflation.

  2. 2

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 1

    If one completely ignores the EU zone unemployment rate exceeding 11.5%, then yes, low inflation is the reason the central bank moved as it did.

  3. 3

    TerraceHusky spews:

    This is not an uncommon sentiment among wealthy establishment folks in the metro area. Marginalizing and understating Sawant and the majority that voted for her hasn’t subsided. But I’m not bothered. Sawant’s election was a watershed moment. Progressivism has been waiting to break free from slow-down and deliberate “Seattle way” liberalism for a long time. The dam holding back all that pent-up progressive energy finally broke. The water is loose, and a flood of progressive policy is coming. If the Seattle Times wants to look up-river and say “it’ll all go away soon” and just stand there, that’s their loss. This movement will take a lot of ground whether the business community or Seattle Times editorial board likes it or not.

  4. 5

    screed spews:

    I agree with Goldy’s analysis of the Seattle Times piece, particularly his point about Seattle being much more liberal than the ST. However, I think one only needs to consider the political landscape from the Time’s perspective to understand why they say the things they do… meaning, oligarchs/plutocrats have one value system, the hoi polloi another one. Political decisions typically favor the agenda of the oligarchs/plutocrats, regardless of the popular will and I suspect that the ST is pining for the days when (not too long ago!) populist issues could easily be managed/ignored through endless discussion and lectures on needing to make ‘hard choices.’ The success of the 15Now caught the ST and the political class they represent, i.e. the executive/investor class, by surprise. Maybe it heralds a whole new (and scary) world for them, or maybe it is just a one-off and the city/county/state establishment can get back on track to taking care of their own via the political process. Time will tell.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    A $15 wage is “radical”? Most people in Seattle make more. Everyone on the Seattle Times editorial staff makes more. Way more. So if $15 is “radical,” what is what they get? Ultra-radical? And before anyone starts blathering about what workers are “worth,” I would add that if you’re a ST editorial writer, you probably don’t want to go there.

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 Yep, and stocks are responding positively. I’m making, oh, $300-an-hour-plus today, for sitting on my fat rabbit ass doing nothing but occupying the status of a Capitalist. In our country, people and rabbits get paid for owning the means of production, not for working and producing. That’s just the way it is. Whether the minimum wage is $7.25, $9.32, $10.10, or $15 isn’t very material, because none of those figures is a comfortable livelihood, and no matter what it is, work will still be disrespected and workers will still be despised and mistreated.

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Seattle Times completely misses the point. What matters is how much capitalism pays, not how much work pays, because our capitalist system doesn’t pay for work. It only pays rentiers and financiers.

  8. 9

    headless lucy spews:

    re 1 — “European Union dream threatened by austerity and disharmony”

    “UN labour arm denounces austerity measures”

    “Penny slowly dropping that austerity on its own won’t work “- See more at:

    The unemployment in Europe is directly related to their conservative austerity measures — an unproved social experiment that was doomed to failure before it began.

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    If you think workers aren’t disrespected, just wait until the soccer moms at your kid’s private school call to invite you to their Thursday morning kaffee klatsch and you tell them you can’t come because you’re a working mom. That’ll be the last time you ever hear from those snobs, and your kid suddenly will be ostracized at school because they don’t want theirs socializing with the working class.

  10. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In addition to the Republican Misery Platform, aka austerity, the last few days have given us another example of the stark philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats, concerning our missing and captured soldiers:

    Democrats: Bring them home
    Republicans: Leave them behind

    Why the hell any thinking person would ever vote for a Republican is beyond me.

  11. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 First you have to create high unemployment with conservative austerity measures before you can create prosperity with Keynesian stimulus measures. Otherwise people won’t be unemployed.

  12. 14

    tim spews:

    I know in my heart and soul that a $15 hour (and even more!) is the correct move and I’m proud that Seattle is leading the way. Now that said, I have been asked recently by some recent college grads (who for example work in physical therapy) who only make $15 an hour, and have student loans etc., why it is “fair” for them to only make $15 an hour–i.e. where is there “raise”?

    I typically respond by stating rather unscientific things like “a rising tide raises all boats” etc. but I sound so mealy mouthed. The point is of course, I haven’t done the macroeconomic analysis of this issue but surely someone has. And it is equally clear that many young folks will ask the same question…

    So I ask you Goldy and his readers, how do we respond to the question my young recent college grad friends ask? Are there specific on point studies responsive to the question. Please advise, and thanks for all your excellent work!

  13. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 I don’t think it’s a one-off. When you push too far, you get pushback. Russian nobles and landowners got too greedy, and got Bolshevism in return. The French nobility got the Jacobins. Our oligarchs/plutocrats should count themselves fortunate if they only get higher taxes. And I wouldn’t push things much further if I were them.

  14. 16

    headless lucy spews:

    re 14 — “…why it is “fair” for them to only make $15 an hour–i.e. where is there (sic) “raise”?”

    So now $15 an hour is “only” $15 an hour. You may be sincere, but you sound an awful lot like a concern troll.

    The recent graduates might well ask why is it fair for a union drywall hanger to make $35 an hour against their $15. Why is it fair for a learning disabled military deserter who happens to be the son of a rich and influential former president to end up as president of the U.S. when many deserving and more intelligent people could have run the country and avoided the needless deaths of 5,000 young men and women?

  15. 17

    tim spews:

    @15 I know what’s fair and unfair, and I happen to believe $15 is too low. I simply asked for studies to respond to the questions asked of me by intelligent well meaning people who really want to support $15. Mine was a fair question. I don’t understand why you would attack me or my question. If you were truly interested in helping the cause, you would have tried to point me in the right direction. For now, I’ll assume you don’t know the answer to my question. Anybody else?

  16. 18

    headless lucy spews:

    re 17: “I simply asked for studies to respond to the questions asked of me by intelligent well meaning people who really want to support $15.”

    You want someone to direct you to ‘studies’ about whether $15 an hr is ‘fair’. To quote Mark Twain: “You appear to be a Puddin’head!”

  17. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:


  18. 20

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    I have been asked recently by some recent college grads (who for example work in physical therapy) who only make $15 an hour, and have student loans etc., why it is “fair” for them to only make $15 an hour–i.e. where is there “raise”?

    Student loans are sunk costs.

    You are trying to tie wages to some kind of concept of “value”. Who determines value? The market does. It there is only one person willing to clean toilets, they will make a lot of money, regardless of their level of “skill”. You, on the other hand with your physical therapy degree, will not.

    With this in mind, there are two paths:

    1. Work collectively to seek state sanctioned economic rents. To name just a few, bankers, farmers, large industrial firms, and guilds (cf doctors, accountants, and lawyers) do this. This is using the power of the state to steer income to certain players at the expense of others.
    2. Advocate and join a union to work collectively to redistribute the income of that industry to those who actually perform the work.

    The common thread is working collectively. The choice is yours.

  19. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @20 Hmmm, I wonder how many go-it-alone wingers are bitter because they’re discovering what the bargaining power of a lone individual in the big bad economy is?

  20. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    As we debate the minimum wage, one thing to keep in mind is how pervasively DISHONEST private businesses are. We’ve all heard the horror stories about employers who make employees work off the clock, who don’t pay promised wages, etc. And anyone who shops in a grocery store knows how DISHONEST food packaging is. (Let’s save for another day the discussion of how bad the food is.) Let me give you a concrete example of DISHONEST food packaging.

    This evening I bought a box of Pasta Roni Garlic & Olive Oil Vermicelli. This product comes in a cardboard box measuring 7-1/4″ x 4-7/8″ x 1-3/4″. Yes, the outside labeling warns you there’s only 4.6 oz. of contents, but that really doesn’t mean much to the average shopper. I’m not sure what it used to be, but this is conceivably the same box that was used to sell 10 oz. of the same product, back in the day. In any case, after I opened the box and peered inside, I couldn’t help but observe that the majority of the box’s contents consisted of thin air. The product lay in the bottom, and occupied I would roughly estimate (I didn’t measure) 35% to 40% of the interior space of the box.

    Now, the manufacturer could save a lot of cardboard, and the grocery store could save a lot of shelf space, by sizing the container to the product quantity. But they won’t do that, for the obvious reason that shoppers would look at a 4.6 oz.-sized box and say, “They want how much for THAT?!!” and refuse to buy it. They, in effect, deceive you into paying a 10 oz. price for a 4.6 oz. box of product.

    But, hey, at least thin air is still free. (Enjoy that while it lasts, because it won’t last.)

  21. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    If you’re a single mom earning $7.25 an hour trying to feed your kids on the $110 a month that’s left after paying FICA taxes, $900 rent, and $150 for gas to work, one thing you can do is buy Pasta Roni by the case (when it’s on sale for $1 a box) and use water as an extender. By using twice as much water as the cooking directions prescribe, you can serve your kids vermicelli soup instead of vermicelli pasta. It’ll taste the same, and their little tummies won’t really notice the difference between water and real food for several hours, and by then maybe they’ll fall asleep. For many very thoughtful people in policymaking circles in Washington D.C., mostly Republicans, this is an infinitely better solution to the problem of hunger in America than paying people $10.10 an hour for their labor or voting funds for food stamps.

  22. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In World War 2, American aviators who were shot down over Germany and German-occupied territories and incarcerated in German POW camps were fed “bread” made from sawdust. An enterprising conservative think tank conceivably might argue that if sawdust is good enough for our brave fighting men, it’s certainly good enough for our workers, too! So, instead of raising the minimum wage or handing out food stamps (we all know how welfare destroys the incentive to work), we could collect bulk sawdust from our remaining domestic sawmills (if we still have any), package it in brightly colored cardboard boxes, and sell it to the working classes as a pasta substitute for the cost of the cardboard, sawdust, and a reasonable middleman markup. This would preserve the sacred principle of Free Enterprise and create a whole new market for sawdust!

  23. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Soup kitchens destroy the incentive to work. It’s well documented that unemployment rose sharply in the 1930s in tandem with the proliferation of soup kitchens at that time. State and municipal legislative officials in Republican-run states (like Florida and North Carolina) recognize that unregulated soup kitchens pose a grave threat to the American Work Ethic, and therefore must be tightly regulated. If soup kitchens were allowed to proliferate like guns, nobody would work! And then where would capitalist profits come from, because all wealth is produced by workers, and if nobody works there will be no wealth for anyone. Thus the need for laws that limit homeless feeding establishments to a small number of tightly regulated and inconveniently located food dispensaries. It’s absolutely necessary to make feeding the hungry a serious crime, or nobody will work for $7.25 an hour and our way of life will be destroyed!

  24. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Also, let us not forget that in the 1890s, which conservatives want to restore, labor unions were considered criminal conspiracies and people went to prison for organizing or joining them.

  25. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Okay, so let’s recap what you get when Republicans run things:

    1. People who document and videotape abuse of farm animals go to jail.

    2. People who feed the hungry go to jail.

    3. People who join together to ask for better wages and working conditions go to jail.

    4. From now on, we will ask our enemies to return our POWs only if their fellow platoon members approve of their release.

    I’m really having a lot of difficulty understanding why Republicans get ANY votes from any of us. Some of our neighbors, the ones who vote for this stuff, must be not only stupid but also evil. They’ll also be the first ones who go running to the ACLU if someone tries to take away THEIR food stamps.

  26. 28

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Lest we not forget, our friend Puddy Idiot votes for Republicans and therefore supports the asinine nonsense listed above. Specifically, he has aligned himself with the ugly rightwing lynch mob itching to find Sgt. Bergdahl guilty without a trial.

  27. 30

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The last thing America needs is a revival of the lynch mob mentality now permeating the conservative commentary about Sgt. Bergdahl. What these dolts don’t get is that if they throw aside the rule of law, they may become the mob’s next victim.

  28. 33

    Travis Bickle spews:

    @ 22

    If you pay someone $15/hr to fill that box by hand in about a minute, rather than have a robot do it in 2 seconds, then you can use a smaller box and the public wouldn’t be deceived.

    RR, what’s the shipping weight of air?

  29. 34

    dockplate spews:

    Minimum wage workers took huge risks, got organized and fought back. If you think your labor should be worth more than minimum wage, screw up your courage and ask your boss for a raise. If that doesn’t work, organize. The rising minimum wage is a gift to you from the lowest wage workers. It will make it a lot easier for you to get a raise because labor in general in the competitive market just got more expensive. However, you might have to at least ask for a raise.

  30. 35

    Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:


    I’m usually proactive in raising staff salaries so I’m not often asked for a raise. When it happens, my response is “Tell me why you think your efforts warrant a salary increase.”

    And then I listen.

  31. 36

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @33 “RR, what’s the shipping weight of air?”

    The weight of air varies by altitude, density, barometric pressure, temperature, and humidity; but, as a rough rule of thumb, approximately 1.3 oz. per cubic foot.

  32. 37

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @35 I don’t have to ask for raises. I get them automatically. Nearly all my stocks pay dividends, and I get dividend raises averaging 5% to 10% a year, without even asking.

  33. 38

    phil spews:

    Uh, what $15 minimum wage hike? They voted to raise minimum wage to a maximum of $11 almost a year from now. If you’re lucky, you will get up to $15 two years after that. If you’re unlucky…it’s 7 years.

    Historic? Between 1977 & 1981 the Federal minimum wage went from $2.30 to $3.35. 46% in 4 years. Many states have done more in the past.