Calling it “entertaining” and “informative” Ben Shapiro offers his dissection of the KTTH minimum wage debate from Wednesday night. Listen to Ben break down the entire debate here.
So, is the issue settled? Did conservatism trounce socialism at Wednesday night’s KTTH minimum wage debate at McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center?
Not exactly. As with most debates, there was no clear winner, although the KTTH debate was an excellent showcase for the opposing ideologies – and the two sides even agreed on some points.
Socialist Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant and Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, argued in favor of the $15 wage. They focused on the injustice of large corporations that could afford to raise wages, but don’t, and rely on federal and state governments to subsidize wages with food stamps and Medicaid.
KTTH host Ben Shapiro and Washington Policy Center vice president Paul Guppy stuck to the economics of the issue – with Shapiro providing a lot of humor, too – and raised one important issue that’s been missing from the debate: consent. That is, that the employer-employee relationship is – and should remain – consensual; when the government interferes, the relationship becomes non-consensual.
For example, if an employer offers you $7.25 per hour – the federal minimum – you have the power to say no or ask for more. If the employer won’t give you more, you can decline the job. That’s consent.
However, Sawant and Smith said that there’s a power imbalance, where jobs that pay the minimum are the most common, and that it’s hard for an employee to turn down a job if they need money to live.
A pre-debate reception in a VIP area on the fourth floor of McCaw Hall allowed attendees to mingle with Shapiro, Boze, and Guppy. As waiters walked around serving glazed chicken wings, tiny hamburgers, and Caesar-salads-on-a-stick, tech entrepreneurs Jeff Gough and Dan Deering were excited for the debate. They hoped that Shapiro would rule on Sawant and Smith.
“I think [Shapiro] has the truth on his side – that’s a big advantage in this,” Gough said.
“We’re both small business owners, and we’re concerned about wage and tax issues. Over the years, we’ve become more educated on how wage laws work, so we’re interested in hearing a good debate,” Deering said.
Though they pay all of their employees more than $15 per hour, they said they did hire a high school student at $12 per hour to do work around their office. If minimum wage increased to $15, they said, it would not be worthwhile to hire someone like that, effectively limiting one person’s opportunity to gain work experience.
“[The $15 minimum wage] reduces opportunities,” Deering said.
Tyler and Mike Mullen, father and son, both from Bothell, said that they came to the debate for excitement, and were admittedly fans of the Boze and Shapiro shows on KTTH.
Tyler Mullen said that he wanted to give Sawant and Smith an opportunity to explain their position on the $15 wage before he makes up his mind on the issue – though he was skeptical of Sawant, and wanted to ask the Councilwoman what her net worth is since she was formerly married to a Microsoft employee.
“Having a minimum wage at all is a bad idea,” Mike Mullen said. “It doesn’t give young people a place to start out. At $15 you’ll have more competition and no jobs for them at all.”
The debate began with a little after 7:30 p.m. with an act of truce by KTTH host and debate moderator David Boze.
“Can we all agree: we’d like to see people earn more money, and see less poverty?” Boze asked.
The four panelists agreed.
Boze acknowledged his bias against the $15 minimum wage, but said he sought help from KIRO FM morning news anchor Dave Ross in finding questions that would challenge the conservative position.
His first question did that, asking Shapiro why he objects to raising minimum wage if so many minimum wage workers rely on government entitlements to make ends meet.
“That’s 100 percent true,” Shapiro said. But, he said, raising the minimum wage would not end that practice. A better solution would be to cut those entitlements, forcing large companies to compete fairly.
Sawant responded by saying that big businesses are gaming the system “at the expense of small businesses.” But that the problem isn’t the entitlements, but the “problem of inequality” where “half of people eligible for food stamps are working people” and that “small businesses will benefit from having consumers” who can pay for their products.
“If we increase the minimum wage to $15, a family of three would get near zero in food stamps, relieving the problem,” Smith said.
The crowd was favorable toward Shapiro and Guppy, and showed support for them by grumbling loudly, jeering, or throwing up hands when they heard Sawant or Smith say something they didn’t like. However, there was a contingent of $15 Now supporters in the audience, though the crowd mostly drowned out their applause for Smith and Sawant.
In fact, the crowd got so interruptive at points that Shapiro had to wave them off so Sawant or Smith could finish a point.
“Sawant has guts for showing up to a venue with a crowd adverse to her position. It was an intellectually stimulating and passionate debate,” Shapiro said after the debate.
Before the debate, Toya Chester, an organizer with the $15 Now campaign, was operating a table in front of the debate hall. Chester noted that there were fewer $15 Now supporters than they usually see at events. She was also skeptical of the debate, wondering whether it was just a way to make fun of Sawant, socialism, and the idea of a high minimum wage.
“I’d like to ask if it’s fair for people to work full-time and still not be able to live [on the wages],” Chester said when asked what question she would ask of the opposing side. “Is it fair that companies are seeing record profits but there have been no record raises?”
One question from an audience member asked whether there’s a bipartisan consensus on minimum wage, since a national poll of Republicans and Democrats showed around 70 percent support for a raise.
Guppy responded, saying that there’s only a bipartisan consensus because the poll question is not “should we force all businesses to pay people $15?” but, “do you support businesses agreeing to increase the minimum wage?”
One of the final questions asked what happens if someone’s labor is not worth $15. What does an employer do then?
Smith said that wages are based on power, challenging the consent-labor pact Shapiro and Guppy talked about. Smith said that wages are based on employers having more power than employees do. The $15 wage can fix that imbalance. A metaphor that Shapiro used throughout the debate said that using government to increase the minimum wage, essentially, puts a gun to the temple of employers.
“I was glad that Councilwoman Sawant seemed to fully embrace her socialism, even espousing hunter-gatherer societies for their equality over modern inequality; I was disappointed, however, that her consistent ideology seemed to collapse when it came to implementation, making her a gradualist similar to her Democrat colleagues rather than the full-scale socialist she appears to be,” Shapiro said after the debate.
After the debate, Jeff Gough and Dan Deering felt that the conservative side had won. Gough was skeptical of Sawant because, he said, she didn’t back up her points with data.
“The crux was the consensual vs. force,” Gough said.
“It seemed like there was more morality as opposed to [whether a $15 minimum wage] is good or bad for the economy,” Deering said.
The scary reasons students would vote for HillaryApril 23, 2015Hillary Clinton appears to have the student vote at the University of Washington sewn up for one reason.
Michael Medved discusses recovery from throat cancerApril 20, 2015Michael Medved is improving and eager to return to the airwaves, as he told 770 AM KTTH's Greg Tomlin.
Typo is the most honest thing in Hillary Clinton's campaign announcementApril 16, 2015Hillary Clinton's announcement video was preceded by an email from her staff with a press release that included a typo.
Michael Medved: It's all the well-wishes that keep me goingApril 13, 2015Michael Medved says he's working very hard, and is ahead of schedule, at recovering from his battle with throat cancer.
Rand's brandApril 10, 2015Rand Paul has declared he's running for president. The only surprising thing about the announcement was that he was considerably late delivering it.
Protesters of Shell Oil must support unemploymentApril 8, 2015David Boze says the oil will be utilized, no matter how many grannies show up to protest it.
Let politicians dump money into bus ads, reduce taxesApril 6, 2015King County Metro will not let a Seattle City Council member pay for an advertisement that would generate $10,000 in revenue.
They're not the sameApril 3, 2015David Boze says it's wrong to say there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats.
David Boze: Seattle mayor is reading Indiana law all wrongApril 1, 2015David Boze says Seattle Mayor Ed Murray hasn't looked at what the Indiana discrimination law actually says.
Where is state auditor Troy Kelley?March 30, 2015While a calendar doesn't tell the whole story, the unaccounted for whereabouts of state auditor Troy Kelley is raising eyebrows.
Sen. Patty Murray doesn't want to be behind Wal-Mart in establishing higher minimum wageMarch 27, 2015Senator Patty Murray is reportedly prodding Senate Democrats to push for a $12 minimum wage nationally.
Seattle makes cameo in Ted Cruz campaign videoMarch 25, 2015Surprisingly, the City of Seattle is joining presidential candidate Ted Cruz on the stage.
Seattle startup helps immigrants send money to family abroadMarch 23, 2015A Seattle-based startup has created a tool designed to make sending money to family abroad easier - and business is booming.
An open letter to Howard SchultzMarch 20, 2015770 KTTH host David Boze writes an open letter to the Starbucks CEO
It's more complicated than thisMarch 18, 2015David Boze says smearing the wage gap as primarily or even significantly a product of discrimination is political manipulation
Government micromanaging can cause more problems than it solvesMarch 18, 2015David Boze: We have a law against distracted driving, let's not micromanage this nonsense and create other problems.
Economic policies of the left are killing middle class in King CountyMarch 13, 2015Shapiro: If you're a middle class person, the reason you can't live in King County is because it's just too expensive.
Bring on $16, right?March 11, 2015David Boze says if there's no negative impact for increasing the wage to $12 an hour, why not $16 next year?
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee reveals his personal/government email habitsMarch 9, 2015We questioned Gov. Jay Inslee's habits after the revelation that Hillary Clinton used a private account to conduct official business.
Former Senator Joe Lieberman hears "echoes" of Neville ChamberlinMarch 6, 2015Former Senator Joe Lieberman told David Boze he thought Benjamin Netanyahu did present an alternative.
KTTH Mariners promo
Mariners Salute to Armed Forces Day, April 19th AM 770 KTTH and the Seattle Mariners are proud to recognize the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces at the Salute to Armed Forces Day on Sunday, April 19th against the Texas Rangers.
KTTH gun rights debate
Video: Gun rights debate In KTTH’s third Freedom Series Debate, hosts Ben Shapiro and Michael Medved sat down with KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and Ralph Fascitelli, President of Washington Ceasefire, to take on initiatives 594 and 591 and other gun rights issues.
KTTH religious freedom debate
Video: Religious freedom debate Watch the debate between Ben Shapiro, James Wellman, Valerie Tarico, Rev. Monica Corsaro, and Michael Medved.
KTTH Debate Video
Video: Minimum wage debate Watch the debate between host Ben Shapiro and Socialist Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.
Real Estate Corner
Robin's Real Estate Reality Talk We are in a very unique market. Right now our area is showing signs of recovery. We are moving in a positive direction and gaining equity though are ways off from where we were in 2006 and 2007.