News from the homeland

Minnesota is a fairly liberal state, but Washington, especially western Washington, is where I’m from and where my heart is*. It’s good to see that Seattle is maintaining a tradition of liberal empiricism: they raised the minimum wage there a few years ago, against conservative howling that it would destroy the local economy. They’ve now acquired enough data to test that prediction, and guess what? The conservatives were full of it.

The unemployment rate in the city of Seattle – the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments – has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%, as the city continues to thrive. I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. The doomsayers were wrong. The sky has not fallen. The restaurant business, by all accounts, is booming (in fact, probably reaching a saturation point when one looks at eateries per capita). I think it’s safe to say we’ve got enough data – over almost two years now – to declare that Seattle has not suffered adverse consequences from its increases in the minimum wage, and has certainly not experienced the dire effects foretold by the anti-min wage crowd.

Not that evidence matters to that group. Nor, unfortunately, to very many voters in the homeland.

It seems that Grays Harbor county (where my brother and his wife live…hi, Jim and Julie!) went Trump in this last election. They’ll get their just reward, though.

It turns out Grays Harbor County is one of the places in our state that the dreaded Obamacare has been propping up the most. This issue got barely any attention in the election — though I bet it will now.

A few years ago, 19 percent of the people there had no health coverage, one of the higher uninsured rates in the state. Today, only 9 percent remain uninsured. Almost all of that improvement is because Obamacare provided Medicaid coverage, for free or nearly free, for more than 8,000 Grays Harbor adults.

An incredible one in five Grays Harbor adults signed up for it. That’s a sign-up rate more than double King County’s.

Yet the county that’s relying on it just voted for the candidate who vowed to get rid of it.

You can’t blame my family for that, though. They all voted for Clinton. In fact, I’m one of those lucky people who would have been perfectly happy to get together with family over Thanksgiving, because they’re all raving socialists who would have voted fervently for unions and better minimum wages and supporting education and all that pinko stuff. I think our only arguments would have been over exactly how wonderful Bernie is.

*Don’t bother hunting for my phylactery, it’s well-hidden and guarded by vicious octopods.


  1. robro says

    In fact, I’m one of those lucky people who would have been perfectly happy to get together with family over Thanksgiving…

    My envy doth burn.

    I’m in a real quandary. It’s been a while since I saw my mother who is well into her 80s so I might not have a lot more opportunities. But that means Florida. Mom is cool. She’s almost always voted pro-Union which means Democrat. (She did confess that she registered Republican in the recent primary so she could vote against Florida’s attorney general, the one that took big bucks for #TheDumpster and it was the only way she could vote against her.)

    But my brother and his wife, an uncle, and some other relatives are being flaming idiots mostly because, you know, black people…really anybody who isn’t het, white, and Christian. Plus, Florida became an open carry state so I’m not too keen on being around idiots packing.

    And then there’s principles: I don’t want to spend money in Florida. If it wasn’t for mom, I would boycott the state complexly.

    (Also, the weather in Florida sucks, and the bugs!)

  2. Rich Woods says

    @Tabby #1:

    Only the little people spend money locally. The wealthy tend to do what they can to avoid paying taxes (because taxes are only for little people), and then stick their money in a wealth management fund that benefits fund managers in New York far more than it does coffee shops or corner markets in Seattle. But don’t worry, those fund manager earnings trickle down eventually, sometimes even before the heat death of the universe.

  3. brett says

    The implementation of the Seattle Minimum Wage law is very gradual, so it’s no surprise that the effects aren’t big (the full $15/hr won’t be implemented for businesses with more than 500 employees until 2018, and until 2021 for businesses with fewer employments). Incremental increases in the minimum wage have never shown any serious effects on employment and little effect on prices.

    There was a study the city commissioned that released its results back in July (here’s an analysis). They tried to tease out the effects of it from Seattle’s overall economy, which had been growing strong before the minimum wage and continued since. There was about a 1.1% decline in employment (that’s relative decline, not absolute decline) for low-wage workers, a 73 cents/hour raise on average, and an average decline in work-hours of 15 minutes. So, not much – and that was totally swamped by strong growth in the Seattle economy.

  4. trollofreason says

    B-but! But what if I want to compare arcane notes on the composition of our respective phylacteries?

  5. rietpluim says

    I’m not an economist but I’ve heard on several occasions that it is a well established fact that job security, social security, income equality etcetera are actually good for an economy.
    A severe problem with neoliberalism and neoconservatism is the pretension they are not ideologically driven – they present their ideology as fact. Unfortunately, many more progressive people fell for that, but tides are turning.

  6. jrkrideau says

    # 7 rietpluim
    I’m not an economist
    Which suggests you may have a reasonably strong grasp on reality.

  7. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    Living in the conservative Trump-land that is eastern Washington- I am eternally glad the liberal west-siders helped ensure we were part of the Medicaid expansion. Even though I work, I can still be on the state Apple Health program, which covers the $400 a month generic prescription I need to survive. Yet I can guarantee that in the poor town I live in, (the vegetable processing plant shut down years ago) the majority of people voted for the administration that plans to take away the Medicaid most of them are likely on.

  8. numerobis says


    Which suggests you may have a reasonably strong grasp on reality.

    Similarly, climate scientists don’t know shot because Milankovic cycles prove etc etc.

    (You’re using the output of economics research to disparage economics researchers.)

  9. methuseus says

    @robro #2:

    And then there’s principles: I don’t want to spend money in Florida. If it wasn’t for mom, I would boycott the state complexly.

    Unfortunately I still live here in Florida, but I still try to spend as little money here as possible. Once I can get out, it will be easier to avoid.

  10. efedora says

    I have a niece who is a police officer and a solid Trumper. She is planning to retire at age 50 but is concerned that she will not have health insurance until age 65. She says, “The only thing I can do is go on Obamacare.” “But there will be no more Obamacare”, says I. She seems to be unable to connect the fact that the ACA (and maybe even Medicare) will be gone when she needs it and she just voted for the clowns who will take away her health care. Her retired father (also a Trumper) who lives in a nursing home will soon run out of money and go on public aid with the county. She has no problem with that flavor of ‘Socialism’.
    If there is any silver lining to this disaster of a government it is that we can silently say, “I told you so” a dozen times a day for the next 4 years.

  11. perodatrent says

    More or less, the same happened in Brexit referendum: the UK areas where EU money flows were higher were the same areas where more Brexit votes were cast.
    As, I seem to remember, in USA the states which receive most money from Treasury are those where “The People” are screaming against “Socialism”.