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Charlie Quimby: Emmer totally misses the point on minimum wage issue

Tom Emmer keeps digging a hole with his War on the Minimum Wage.

He just can't stop himself from talking about servers who are making more than restaurant owners because they receive tips in addition to minimum wage. He says something has to be done.

No matter that this claim has been thoroughly debunked.

No matter that the tips come from customers who are making a judgment about the value of the service they received from an individual worker. Why does that exempt the owner from paying employees for their basic performance?

No matter that the amount a business owner might save through a tip credit is negligible and is unlikely to affect menu prices, wages of other employees or result in additional jobs.

No matter that the tip credit penalizes some of the restaurant's top performers, the very type of people the GOP considers their core constituency.

Emmer is tying himself in knots trying to make a point about a minor issue in the greater scheme of what a serious governor must to address. Why is that?

Well, here's a very good indication, from a comment in this post at Talking Points Memo [h/t Hal Davis]:

To folks like Emmert,[sic] the owners are "providing jobs" and investing "their families' future," while workers provide nothing of value to make that investment pay off. Restauranteers are all Galt-like figures whose efforts are cruelly exploited by the people waiting their tables.

The idea that there could ever be any sort of partnership between management and labor is alien to them. The relationship between owner and employee is, in their minds, the same as the relationship between a healthy animal and a leech.

Are you really listening on that listening tour, Tom?

As a former business owner, I can attest that my employees — most of them, anyway — also invested their family's future in my company. They provided the ideas, customer service and effort that — because I had multiple employees — allowed me to make more money that I could possibly make through my own labors, no matter how smart I was or how hard I worked.

In my business, if any employee made more money than I did, it was because they produced substantial revenue and customer satisfaction for the company. And I never resented that fact, because I wrote the check — unlike Emmer's fantasy restaurateurs, whose customers directly pay for that performance.

It's true, only one employee ever drew a bigger check than I. But because I rewarded him and other key employees for creating value for my business, they stuck around.

Two of them now own the company.

That's how it's supposed to work in America, Rep. Emmer. Not by niggling over a few bucks earned by your front line people and whining about government.

This post was written by Charlie Quimby and originally published on Across the Great Divide.

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Comments (2)


Mr. Quimby, it is good to know that someone who owns a business gets it. In fact a lot of people do. What's good for your people is ultimately good for you. If you want to run a good restaurant, you have to have a good staff that is also dedicated to the business.

As an old bus-boy, I can tell you that it isn't very difficult to spot a good place. People who work there are proud of the place and generally very happy.

Places where people are treated lousy have high-turnover and wearily negligent servers. Mr. Emmer is just digging himself a deeper and deeper hole...

Good jobs with fair pay are essential for economic recovery in Minnesota. Calling the minimum wage "socialism" is absurd.

Emmer is just pandering to small business owners which are a popular group. Unfortunately "small business" is often a synonym for "unsuccessful business" or at least less than successful.

Very few businesses are small by design, most business owners would prefer their business grow. If they are successful business people, they own a medium or large sized business. But many small business owners are just trying to earn a living by squeezing every dollar out of the business to support their lifestyle.

A successful restaurant owner focuses on bringing in more customers and having them spend more money. They are seeking to make the pie bigger. The short sighted, small minded, restaurant owner focuses on getting a portion of his servers tips for himself. and people who think like them. They see the it as a "zero-sum" pie where the only way to get a bigger portion for themselves is to take it away from someone else. Emmer's target audience is the latter.

Emmer believes we should run government like his unsuccessful small business supporters. But successful businesses make investments in their success, they believe in their future. I prefer to see our state government run like a successful business.