It's a bit off the current topic, but this blog was established to provide a forum for much more than what it has come to be about, so allow me to depart a bit today and discuss the current local proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. I mention "local" because there is also a federal bill to do the same (which has been tabled).
I wasn't much interested in the issue, but after attending a forum on the topic to which I was invited, I have a few things to say. The forum, held by the PDN, turned into a shouting match between local business owners and the Bank of Guam, represented by Jackie Morati (though she would say she was only representing the Women's Chamber of Commerce). The Bank of Guam supports the measure, most businesses oppose it.
But let's clarify, the Bank of Guam not only supports the measure, it proposed it. Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz was just enlisted to introduce it.
I am sure that certain board members of the Bank of Guam would balk at my stating that the "Bank of Guam" is behind this, but so long as their president is the face of it, it doesn't matter who she pretends to represent. Lou Leon Guerrero IS the Bank of Guam.
With that as a background, let me share a couple of my comments posted to today's editorial in the Pacific Daily News which you can read here.
We already know this is not about votes. B.J has already publicly announced on morning radio for the last two elections that he did not want to run again and that the only reason he ran was because his "staff convinced him to."
So we already know that B.J. has no desire to serve the people of Guam. By his own admission, his only desire is see that his staff stays employed. So why did he introduce this bill? He didn't. Lou Leon Guerrero did. B.J. just did her bidding.
And what is Lou Leon Guerrero's interest? Is it really the minimum wage employee? No. The bill simply served as a grenade lobbed from her camp, the Women's Chamber of Commerce, into the enemy camp, the Guam Chamber of Commerce. It was done purely to provoke a fight with the conservative business community and cast the Women's Chamber as the champion of the proletariat.
It's not like women were excluded from the Guam Chamber of Commerce, so why the need for a Women's Chamber of Commerce? Whatever the reason, we can be sure that it had everything to do with Lou Leon Guerrero just as this bill is about Lou Leon Guerrero. B.J. is just being obedient.
The real problem is the members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce who don't see that this is Lou Leon Guerrero taking direct aim at you. So here's how you fight back. If you have stock in the Bank of Guam, sell it. If you have accounts at the Bank of Guam close them.
Lou Leon Guerrero appears to be far more interested in being a community activist than a bank president, so treat her that way. If you are a business and you oppose this "activism", because that's all that it is, then, if you have anything to do with the Bank of Guam then don't have anything to do with the Bank of Guam. Until then, save your economic impact statements and your social analyses.
Money talks. Speak.
Cruz speaks of the need to give workers a "decent wage". The facts show that he doesn't know what a "decent wage" is. GovGuam's Department of Labor reported in 2013 that the average wage for the private sector was $468.38 per week and for the public sector: $837.13 (talk about income inequality but that's another subject). Average income for both is $652.76 per week, divided by 40 hours, that's $16.32 per hour. So, why not raise the minimum wage to $16.32 per hour.
If it's not going to hurt businesses as they say and if raising the minimum wage is good for the economy, as they also say, then at least show some real compassion and raise it to the average of what everyone else is living on. How un-compassionate to leave workers "groveling in poverty" (Cruz' phrase) at a mere $10.10 an hour when Cruz has the power to recommend at least the average needed by most to survive. But then this really has nothing to do with the minimum wage or helping people. It has to do with what it always has to do with.
But we'll give the critics below credit. They're right. It's not going to hurt businesses. Businesses don't pay salaries or wages. Businesses don't pay taxes. Businesses don't pay utilities or rents. Their customers do. This is why Mr. Naden (below) is correct in pointing out that raising the minimum wage in any locality has not resulted in "dire consequences". Businesses will simply pass the cost of doing business on to their customers, us. So, no, businesses won't get hurt, at least not the owners. They'll do just fine. The people who will ultimately get hurt by Senator Cruz's bill are the people who have a fixed income and many others who will not get a raise just because entry level workers got one. Prices will go up. Their income won't. There's a reason why the democratically controlled U.S. senate tabled the thing.
Later, another commenter demands: WOULD LOVE THE PDN TO GIVE JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF A LOCAL BUSINESS THAT SHUT ITS DOORS AS A RESULT OF A MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE.
Well, I can give you mine. In 2009, after the latest round of increases, it made more sense to sell my business than to keep it. I sold my business to a non-profit. The business did about 20,000 in sales per month. That was about $800 a month GovGuam got in GRT. Now that it is operated by a 501(c)3, the government gets nothing.
The real issue though is the number of people who lose their jobs or have their hours cut back. Most small businesses do not immediately raise their prices when their costs increase. They are usually in competition with a much larger competitor and a lower price is really all they have to offer. So when costs increase, they tend to first cut their labor and do more of the work themselves, as I did. When that becomes no longer feasible, we either then raise our prices or cut our losses, but first we cut our employees or at least refrain from hiring.
This is why the senate recently tabled the federal bill and the CBO stated: "Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers..."
Businesses don't get hurt, workers do.
The following was not posted anywhere and is only stated here:
A few months ago, Lou Leon Guerrero testified AGAINST a bill that would provide life-saving care for a child that survived a failed abortion. In effect, her argument was to let the baby die. Ms. Leon Guerrero's pro-abortion activism is not new, she was the founder of the first pro-abortion organization in Guam in 1990 and has proudly championed the right for women to kill their unborn children for nearly three decades.
Most of her abortion activism came before she became the president of the Bank of Guam. However, as president of the Bank of Guam, she publicly testified in favor of letting living children die if their mother's don't want them. She cannot separate herself from her position at the bank. She is president of the Bank of Guam and there is no doubt that she uses the power, influence, and wealth that that position gives her to back the killing of both the unborn and now the newly born.
Thus it is a shame if not a moral crime that the Archdiocese of Agana continues to be one of her largest customers if not the largest! MORE ON THIS LATER.