Going to the free money vending machine

Now, for something close to home for me:

Fairfax County will consider legislation intended to lift thousands of workers out of poverty by requiring the government and companies it does business with to pay far more than the federal minimum wage.

A so-called living wage ordinance, introduced yesterday by Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), would bring Virginia’s largest — and wealthiest — jurisdiction in line with the District and Alexandria and Montgomery, Prince George’s and Arlington counties, which have adopted similar policies.

“Fairfax County . . . has worked to welcome all that [sic] want to live and do business in this county,” said Hudgins, an advocate for those left behind economically in the region’s most affluent suburb. The county has “made a commitment to assist the community by providing affordable housing,” she said, “but for many, the wages they earn require three or four individuals working in a household to meet even the most modest housing cost.” A full-time worker who receives the federal minimum wage has a salary of $10,712 a year.

I had roommates for five of the first seven years I lived in the D.C. area, many of those in Fairfax County. I didn’t do it because I liked people. I wanted to live somewhere more expensive than I was either able or willing to afford on my own. I made sacrifices. Where in any notion of responsible government is the implication that government should prevent citizens from being economically or physically inconvenienced because someone else has more? It’s okay to steal tax from the wealthy so that the poorer citizens don’t get their feelings hurt? Wrong.

“A whole array of wages are under discussion,” Hudgins said, referring to proposals to raise salaries of public safety workers and of the county supervisors. She reminded the board that Fairfax began contracting custodial work to private companies during the recession of the early 1990s, effectively lowering pay to minimum wage. “It’s only fair we look back at what we can do with our own contracts,” she said.

Why is it “only fair”? Are the contracts still valid? Did the contractors get strong-armed into doing the work for minimum wage? Have county residents decided that they’d rather pay a few dollars more an hour for the custodial services in their government buildings? They can get services for $5.15, but they won’t mind paying $9 or $10 an hour. After all, they’re wealthy.

“We continue to provide high-paying jobs through our economic vitality and not by regulatory fiat,” [ed. note: Yay for economic sense!] said William D. Lecos, president of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, which represents 1,000 businesses. Clayton Sinyai, chairman of Campaign for a Living Wage and political director of Laborers Local Union 11, representing Northern Virginia construction workers, said most Fairfax workers receive more than minimum wage. But he cited thousands of custodial workers, landscapers and parking attendants earning “poverty wages.”

“As housing prices continue to go up, people can’t afford to live here,” said Sinyai, of Fairfax.

Oh, I don’t know what could possibly be the solution. I’m going to guess, anyway. Here goes. Are you ready for it? Quit. Or move.

Holy Batman, it’s that simple. If the people earning those wages leave, and no one is willing to fill the positions for the offered wage, the wage associated will increase. The market will recreate an equilibrium in toilet cleaning wages. Everyone will be just a smidge happier. Allegedly happier, of course, because Fairfax County officials are assuming that those affected just want more money. Maybe they want better jobs. I suppose that’s the next right they’ll have guaranteed by central planners.

Instead, the cost of government is going up. Taxes and fees are going up. Services are going down. Employment is going down. Overall, living in too-expensive Fairfax is about to get more expensive. And just a little bit sucky. Good plan, guys.