[Originally posted with a picture from the Facebook group US Uncut about Seattle’s $15/hr minimum wage legislation. I am reposting this without the graphic because US Uncut has apparently managed to rotate a new picture, which I was not reposting, into the place where the original graphic about the $15/hr issue was.]
I think we can properly call this “The World Ain’t Gonna End” activism, as its goal, beyond helping working people cope a bit better, is to send a message to the rest of the US and the world that this is not going to cause all business to leave Seattle or mass poverty to reign in the metropolis by Puget Sound.
Of course business people are going to make a lot of noise about this and act like they’re going to punish Seattle. Some will probably even make good on the threat. Most will not because the cost of refusing to do business in Seattle would be greater than the benefits of refusing to do business in Seattle.
This is why we’ve mostly heard places that are economically confident and secure they have products to offer the world making the first moves to democratise the economy (and that’s what it is) by raising the minimum wage to humane levels. Bring it, say these confident jurisidictions, because business people would have to be stupid to close themselves off to vibrant markets of considerable size and influence.
Basically what Seattle has done, as a test of conventional economic wisdom about daring to flaunt the business community’s narrow standards, is a variation on what Argentina has been doing. Since the early 00s, Argentina’s Kirchner and Fernandez governments have negotiated general debt deals which allow space for the economy there to grow rather than follow the diktats of their creditors to accept austerity policies. Some private creditors are still not onside with the deal, and still rhetorically rage about Argentina, occasionally trying to punish them legally and economically for not paying every red cent of what’s owed – but an Argentina with economic capacities is ultimately more valuable to international investors than one killing itself trying to pay overwhelming foreign debts. One look at Argentina’s bond ratings will tell you that, despite anti-austerity Kirchner/Fernandez policies, international investors know “The World Ain’t Gonna End” there either.
The best argument against TINA (There-Is-No-Alternative) arguments from the right wing is to go ahead and embrace a specific alternative in order to demonstrate that, no, indeed, The World Ain’t Gonna End. Good for Seattle for doing that.