Burkenomics

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Burke faces skepticism from those further on the left over the fact that her wealth and business credentials are based largely on family legacy. But there’s every possibility that the former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and former state commerce secretary did earn her spurs and is an adept businesswoman — she just hasn’t yet done a very good job of telling or backing up that story.

-Freelance writer Emily Mills, MJS: “Just who is this Mary Burke?”

Now that the DPW has finished bolting together Campaigntron 4000, they’re getting readings on exactly what a Democrat candidate for governor in Wisconsin should stand for. Before this wondrous machine’s construction, Mary Burke’s index finger was progressively clammy from being constantly licked and being stuck in the air to test the directions of political winds.

Now there are some answers. Mary Burke would not have approved Act 10. She would support a significant increase in the minimum wage. She loves the Packers and Badgers and, as we get closer to Opening Day at Miller Park, she probably will love the Brewers too.

Ms. Mills, in the longer form of the excerpted editorial above, closes by imploring Ms. Burke to further loosen the barriers around her personality and political persona. The trouble remains that Ms. Burke must balance the impossible position of being pro-business and pro-market manipulation; her candidate-politics and her personal policies must be at odds.

On Sunday, she couched support of an increased minimum wage with the caveat, “I think we have to do it in a way that makes sure we’re not hurting job creation.” So on the surface a minimum wage isn’t great for the economy, but does wonders for the tender liberal heartstrings that equate skill labor and sweeping sawdust. Then she dug into her deck of campaign cards and played the Vague Job Statistic trump, declaring, “the research shows in states that have raised the minimum wage above the federal wage that it has absolutely no impact on unemployment rates.”

If we’re playing the numbers game, I can do that too:

  • In states where minimum wage is indexed to the federal minimum wage or is lower, unemployment is on average 1.3 points lower than states whose minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage.
  • For states with at least an $8 minimum wage, unemployment is on average 1.6 points higher than those states where minimum wage is indexed to the federal minimum wage or is lower.

But the minimum wage is not the sole indicator or representative of unemployment. An actual state-by-state examination of unemployment rates vs minimum wage, there is a scatterplot of information that suggests higher minimum wages may contribute to higher unemployment, but are not necessarily the sole cause.

The Wall Street Journal brought together a handful of academic analyses of minimum wage laws and their effects on unemployment after the president declared his intent to sign an executive order increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10. In short, the liberal argument is that low-wage earners are more likely to spend the money they earn, and handing them more money in the short run would spur economic growth. This money, in theory, would come from business owners who already have enough, anyway.

This is far from economic reality, a side conservatives pleasantly occupy. If it were possible to stimulate the economy by giving money to low-wage earners, minimum wage should be $100 an hour. But this is obviously not the case. Some key takeaways from these studies:

Democrats leverage the second point into hours of windbagging about unfairness and victimhood — so it makes for perfect policy in their playbook. It’s easy to tell the jobless that they were fired by big companies who were too greedy without having to explain that profit margin shrunk when wages are externally manipulated. Instead, the finger gets pointed at Republicans who opposed a minimum wage increase, so the guy who was once making decent money but was forced out of a job based on liberal policies can’t even afford to feed his family at a low-wage job. If this is a real, planned effort by Democrat leaders, then they’re sadistic evil geniuses, but it’s more likely liberal politics inherently lend to policies that sound nicer.

But the third point above is the most revealing: Business owners who have to pay a minimum wage have a variety of options, one of which is to “…simply accept a smaller profit margin.” This is dogmatic Democrat policy. The rich have too much and they’re greedy not to share it; or, those who have will beneficently give to those who do not for the sake of equality or the success of a government program. It is this thinking that has largely doomed the Affordable Care Act, as the young people who were supposed to pay in aren’t, and the old folks with high bills are still paying high rates, but not enough to maintain a sustainable entitlement.

It is this assumption — that the haves will necessarily give — that drives all Democrat economic policy, and has for the last forty years. And it’s the policy that Ms. Burke, as an astute student of business, having graduated from Georgetown with a Finance degree and having earned an MBA from Harvard, simply cannot square.

It’s manifestly impossible to raise the minimum wage and stimulate the small businesses — and in turn the middle class — she so dearly cares about:

Mary Burke might be a Democrat, but she is not a dope. She’s well-composed and well-respected rich lady with sterling business credentials who can fill her own gas tank without DPW support in what will be a long campaign until November.

If a successful candidate in Wisconsin appeals to intrinsic voter values of integrity and honesty, it will become clear that Scott Walker is the winner in that department. He’s never hidden what he believes, and has not had to make acrobatic PR maneuvers to square conflicting philosophies.

And in that case, Mary Burke simply does not have what it takes to beat Scott Walker.

About the writer: Nik Nelson is publisher of MorningMartini.com and Founder/CEO of OpenBox Strategies, where he connects political candidates and small businesses with excellent digital marketing tools and strategies.