The New York Times editorial board effectively makes the case for raising the minimum wage, because unlike the Seattle Times editorial board, its editors are smart, thoughtful, and respect math:
The political posturing over raising the minimum wage sometimes obscures the huge and growing number of low-wage workers it would affect. An estimated 27.8 million people would earn more money under the Democratic proposal to lift the hourly minimum from $7.25 today to $10.10 by 2016. And most of them do not fit the low-wage stereotype of a teenager with a summer job. Their average age is 35; most work full time; more than one-fourth are parents; and, on average, they earn half of their families’ total income.
None of that, however, has softened the hearts of opponents, including congressional Republicans and low-wage employers, notably restaurant owners and executives.
The editorial goes on to explain other factual, math-based things—like how there is overwhelming evidence that modest hikes in the minimum wage do not cost low-wage jobs. Read the whole thing for yourself, and then weep for our city's lack of editorial clarity and honesty.
Now, if I were writing for the Seattle Times editorial board, and I was tasked by publisher Frank Blethen with opposing the $15 an hour minimum wage movement here in Seattle, I would embrace the NY Times' logic, and strongly editorialize in favor of a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour—something I know senate Republicans would never allow. Then, establishing that pro-minimum wage advocacy as street cred, I would argue against raising Seattle's minimum wage to $15 an hour—warning that it is too much, too soon, and too local—in the hope that a compromise on the $15 target might split minimum wage proponents, thus undermining their effort.
A sudden 61 percent hike in the minimum wage would indeed be unprecedented, so while there is no evidence that such a hike would cost jobs, neither is there evidence that it wouldn't (as Carl Sagan used to say, "the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence"). Such a $12-not-$15 argument would represent a smart rhetorical strategy that preys upon uncertainty without coming off as heartless, stupid, or dishonest. But I'm guessing the Seattle Times editorial board is too rigid to abandon the losing arguments with which it has already failed to shift the minimum wage debate. Instead, we'll continue to be presented with unconvincing anecdotal stories about how a minimum wage ordinance would hurt immigrants and empower labor bosses.
The fact is, when it comes to public opinion, opponents have already lost the minimum wage debate. No shame there; the facts just simply weren't on their side. But if the goal is to actually influence public policy, they are doing themselves a disservice by clinging to supply-side orthodoxy.