Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Minimum-wage hike maybe not such a bad idea

A few weeks back I criticized the idea of increasing the minimum
wage by 50 percent. It seemed everyone criticized the increase,
even Gov. Doyle and the Wisconsin State Journal. The thought was
that such a drastic increase in the minimum wage would be bad for
the city. However, my assessment of this increase was not well
thought out; there could potentially be several benefits to
increasing the minimum wage to $7.75 per hour.

First, a drastic minimum wage increase would possibly put some
small businesses under. This sounds awful, but is it really?

On State Street we have the Radical Rye, a sandwich shop owned
by Karl Armstrong, a convicted arsonist and murderer. State Street
is also the home of two Espresso Royales, a coffee shop that two
years ago was displaying anti-Israeli drawings of dead Palestinians
that were, according to the 2002 Palestinian Right to Return
Coalition chair Sarah Kaisow, supposedly brought to Madison “to
present a reality and narrative that is silenced within U.S. media
and culture.” Yes, neither now, nor in 2002, does the “U.S. media”
ever report on the terrorism or violence in the Middle East —


Would I be upset if these businesses went out of business?
Hardly. Starbucks’ hot chocolate is better anyway, and with the
additional space we could maybe get another Starbucks and a new
chain restaurant or two.

If you look at what food is affordable to students on State
Street you find it in Yum! Brands, Inc. restaurants: Taco Bell and
Pizza Hut. Nowhere on State Street do you see a KFC. Everyone knows
“they do chicken right.” Bringing a KFC to campus could help
revitalize the fledgling protest atmosphere around campus.
Organizations like the Greens, MEChA and PETA could coalition and
hold a joint protest, first protesting Taco Bell’s tomatoes and
then KFC’s chickens.

While the possibility of removing Radical Rye or Espresso Royale
may be reason enough to rethink the minimum-wage increase, another
reason also exists.

To the surprise of many, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has also come out
with a plan to increase the minimum wage to $7.75 per hour.
However, according to at least one City Council member, Mayor
Cieslewicz is adamantly opposed to having a referendum on this
issue. The mayor likely realizes such a referendum would fail
miserably, and he would rather take a chunk of democracy out of the
process and force it through City Council — where such a drastic
and far-reaching policy change would require the support of only 11
of the 20 council members.

Such a bold move, particularly when this has never been a
citywide campaign issue, would rightfully infuriate average
citizens and small-business owners alike. This anger would likely
linger and bring people to the polls to remove those council
members who supported the massive wage hike and make Mayor Dave a
one-term wonder.

Anytime voter turnout is substantially increased, it is a win
for democracy. California last week demonstrated the type of
revolution that can occur in a liberal-leaning state when
politicians pass awful policies that damage the local economy. That
could occur in this city, where the surge in voters would be
moderate voters; knocking down the increasing strength Progressive
Dane is gaining in city politics.

The minimum-wage increase would still have many negative
effects, such as job loss and higher prices for goods, but seeing
the Greens, MEChA and PETA join hands in protesting affordable
student dining may be worth a few jobs.

Matt Modell ([email protected]) is a
senior majoring in journalism and political science.

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