Columns: Paying a living minimum wage

Most Williams Lakers are pleased with the latest drug busts, and rightfully so, but those charged are just the small fry, the gofers.

Most Williams Lakers no doubt are pleased with the latest drug busts, and rightfully so, but those charged are just the small fry, the gofers. The big guys, dealers, gang leaders, whoever is at the top of the drug chain, seldom (never?) get caught.

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What really did happen in Kamloops regarding a permit for burning railway ties? Some say the Ministry of Environment denied a permit to the developer, the Aboriginal Cogeneration Corporation. Others say MOE approved the permit but the ACC backed down because of the public outcry. The latter is my info but I’d be glad of confirmation either way.

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Just as the city settles down with a new CAO after months without one, the Cariboo Chilcotin school district is seeking a permanent body for their senior management spot. Different approach, though. While the mayor was interim CAO, the school district has a current staff member acting as interim Superintendent. Given the time of year, it could take trustees some time to find someone to fill the top spot.

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The city of Quesnel recently adopted a policy of paying a “living” minimum wage of $16.52 an hour to its employees and service providers. The province raised the current minimum wage by 40 cents to $10.85 an hour.

That isn’t considered to be a living wage anywhere and is one of the lower minimums in Canada. Those who claim a higher minimum wage will damage the economy might have a look at what happened in Minnesota. When billionaire Mark Dayton was elected governor of that state in 2011, he faced a huge deficit and high unemployment.

So what did he do? Ignoring the oft quoted “trickle down” theory, he imposed higher taxes on the richest and raised the minimum wage. It worked.  Raising taxes on those who could afford to pay more turned the deficit into a surplus.

Raising the minimum wage increased the median income, giving workers more money to spend. In spite of higher taxes, the corporate sector stayed put. Minnesota, which sets a high priority on education and economic growth, now has a huge surplus, high employment, and one of the best economies in the country. Magic or good sense?

Diana French is a freelance columnist,  former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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