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Sunday, May 10, 2015 6:25 PM

Capitalism for Me, Socialism for Thee; Progressive Capitalism?

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A self-proclaimed "progressive capitalist" (hypocrite) store owner in San Francisco complains about Proposition J which voters passed with a 77% approval rate hiking the minimum wage to $15.

Capitalism for Me Socialism for Thee

The National Review details the plight of Brian Hibbs, owner and operator of Comix Experience, an iconic comic-book and graphic-novel shop on San Francisco’s Divisadero Street, of the city’s new minimum-wage law.

Hibbs says that the $15-an-hour minimum wage will require a staggering $80,000 in extra revenue annually. “I was appalled!” he says. “My jaw dropped. Eighty-thousand a year! I didn’t know that. I thought we were talking a small amount of money, something I could absorb.”

He runs a tight operation already, he says. Comix Experience is open ten hours a day, seven days a week, with usually just one employee at each store at a time. It’s not viable to cut hours, he says, because his slowest hours are in the middle of the day. And he can’t raise prices, because comic books and graphic novels have their retail prices printed on the cover.

Hibbs is not the first person to encounter this problem. On February 1, San Francisco’s renowned science-fiction bookstore Borderlands Books published the following on its website:

Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principle and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage.  Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st.

Its plight eventually drew the attention of The New Yorker, and a crowdfunding campaign thought up by concerned customers found some 300 sponsors, all of whom agreed to pay $100 to help keep the store afloat until at least March 31, 2016.

Hibbs has considered doing the same but notes two problems: “By saying, ‘Give me money,’ you’re sort of saying you’re not viable.” Furthermore, “There’s a limitation on how much crowdfunding can be done. When you’re the tenth one, I don’t know if it’s going to be easy for you.”

“Despite being a progressive living in San Francisco, I do believe in capitalism. I’d like to have the market solve this problem.”

“We’re for a living wage, for a minimum wage, in principle. . . . But I think any law that doesn’t look at whether people can pay may not be the best way to go.”

“Why,” he asks, “can’t two consenting people make arrangements for less than x dollars per hour?”
Progressive Capitalism?

There is no such thing as "progressive capitalism". The idea is as ridiculous as being a Jewish Christian Atheist.

Curiously he asks "Why can’t two consenting people make arrangements for less than x dollars per hour?

Yes, good question. I have another: did you vote for that inane proposition?

By saying, ‘Give me money,’ you’re sort of saying you’re not viable”, says Hibbs.

Then, to stay in business Hibbs launched a "Graphic Novel-of-the-Month Club". The website does little more than beg for money disguised as a campaign to "HELP KEEP COMIX EXPERIENCE ALIVE!".

Just as with crowd sourcing, such tactics may help one or two businesses for a while, until the novelty of the "save the bookstore" mentality wears off.

With Proposition J, San Francisco put thousands of small businesses out of business. That's what "progressive" living wages do, no matter what ridiculous label you put on it. One thing is for sure, it isn't capitalism.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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