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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Vote ‘no’ on Prop. 202

    On the surface, a “”yes”” vote on Proposition 202 seems like a great idea. What better way to help working Arizonans than to raise the minimum wage?

    Proposition 202 – the Raise the Minimum Wage for Working Arizonans Act – is nothing if not well-intentioned.

    But in reality, passing this proposition would harm Arizona’s economy – and as a result, its most economically vulnerable citizens – among other negative side effects.

    Proposition 202 would raise the state minimum wage to $6.75 and would provide for automatic annual increases tied to inflation. Currently, the state has the same minimum wage set by the federal government, $5.15.

    Supporters of the proposition would have voters believe this is the sort of stick-it-to-Wal-Mart, egalitarian change that will help bring low-income Arizonans out of poverty.

    But it will do no such thing. Companies are constantly in search of the lowest-cost producers, and Arizonans collectively are competing for jobs. We compete with the rest of the country, with workers from across the world and with increasingly sophisticated machines.

    When companies have to pay Arizonans more than they pay anyone else, those companies will begin to look elsewhere. They will look at other states, at undocumented workers and at more and more automation. Even more scary for them is that if they hire workers, they will have to pay more as inflation gets worse, precisely the time that all of their other costs are increasing.

    Should the bill pass, employers will be forced to ask themselves a dangerous set of questions:

    Why locate in Arizona when you can go to New Mexico and save lots of money?

    Or worse, why pay legal workers whose costs will get higher and higher, when the risks of hiring illegal immigrants are looking more and more manageable? This proposition is about more than just economics.

    The proposition’s supporters claim they are bringing economic freedom to workers, but they are really shackling them. Its passage will only benefit one group of people: those who still have minimum wage jobs after the proposition takes effect – the lucky ones who don’t lose jobs to illegal workers or to a company that moves to Utah.

    And what about the poorest Arizonans, the ones this bill supposedly rallies for? They couldn’t get jobs even at today’s minimum wage rate, and after the bill they would find it even harder to find employment.

    Helping out low-income Arizonans is a worthy and noble goal, but there are better options. The state could attract more corporations looking to hire workers. It could provide better health care or even entice employers to offer more health coverage. It could reduce taxes on low-income workers in order to increase their take-home pay.

    But this proposition is detrimental in more ways than one. The proposition may pass because its negative side is a subtle one. It’s not as simple as being anti-smoking or pro-conservation. But it would be a mistake to let it pass.

    Voters should stick to the principles of economics and consider the well-being of the state and its citizens. That leaves one option: Vote “”no”” on Proposition 202.

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