Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tinkering With the Minimum Wage

You'd think the owners of Yellowstone Bear World might learn something from this. But You'd also think that wearing a tinfoil hat will protect yourself from the invisible rays the commies are shooting at your medulla oblongota as well, so I can't put too much stock in what you believe.

This Madison County landmark, which I've blogged about before, is urgently working with the state legislature to make it legal for them to pay their part-time employees less than the minimum wage because they're only open part of the year. They've got lobbyists working the state legislature to this effect, and have had enough success to get their bill approved by the House.

Why is this a good idea? Because a business is seasonal they should be exempted from minimum wage laws? I've worked in seasonal businesses myself, you know, and I would not have worked there if they could jack with the minimum wage just because we didn't work twelve months out of the year. Yeah, I guess these seasonal businesses don't make as much money as they could if they could be opened year-round, but that doesn't mean their employees don't eat or need shelter for part of the year.

Idaho Reporter has something telling about the situation. Yellowstone Bear World's labor costs are up because of the new federal minimum wage, which Idaho adheres to – which they should. But with the sour economy, the park's overall revenues are down 40 percent.

Why not reduce park entry fees and try to make up in volume what you lack with the higher-priced admission? Getting more people through your gates – and into the interminable gift shop and such – might make you more money than paying your part-timers less than the minimum wage might save you in labor costs, don't you think? And it would certainly go further in addressing community good will. But I'm no businessman, of course.

To Sen. Brent Hill of Rexburg, I've gotta agree with Corey Taule of the Post Register in saying this is a bad idea.

You'd also think a reducing in the entry price would go further in good will than cutting the jobs of the high school students you want to protect. But I guess those deceptive radio ads have got to be paid for somehow.

Most ludicrous is the claim that YBW would have to close this summer if the wage concession isn't made. You're telling me your who business model hinges on being able to pay your part-time help less this summer than federal law says you should? For shame. You sound just as desperate at the movie theater in Rexburg that wanted property tax breaks else they'd have to shut down. They didn't get the breaks last year. They're still in business.

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