The Corner

Minimum Wage Was Maximum Enemy for This Doomed SF Bookstore

Borderlands Books, a much-praised science-fiction and comic-book store in San Francisco, opened for business in 1997. It has survived two recessions, a 100 percent rent increase, the opening of big chain bookstores, and the rise of Amazon’s deep-discounting online empire. What will finally force it to close its doors next month is San Francisco’s proposed increase in the minimum wage, which will hit $12.25 an hour in May.

Owner Alan Beatts minced no words about the reason for his store’s closure: “Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to the minimum wage.” Ironically, he said 2014 was the store’s best year in its 18-year history, and the store turned a small profit and was able to employ six people. But Beatts says the planned increases in the city’s minimum-wage law — which top out at $15 an hour by 2018 — will sink him. He would either have to increase sales by 20 percent (unrealistic) or reduce the staff to two managers and one part-time employee — all of whom would have to work greatly extended hours. “Keeping up our morale and continuing to serve our customers while knowing that we are going to close has been very painful for all of us over the past three months,” Beatts wrote in a statement to his customers. “Continuing to do so for even longer would be horrible. Far better to close at a time of our choosing, keep everyone’s sorrow to a minimum, and then get on with our lives.”

Raising the minimum wage has become the new feel-good elixir of the Left, which loves the fact that its simplistic appeal can win over electorates in many cities. But the law of unintended consequences kicks in after the warm glow of voting for “a living wage” passes. Young people — especially minorities — are frozen out of an already tight job market and small businesses are least able to afford the extra expense of an increase. “Businesses will not pay workers more than the value they produce,” notes James Sherk, a labor-policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “A $15 minimum wage forbids anyone whose labor produces less than that from working — as this bookstore’s employees learned the hard way.”

Most Popular


Holy Week with Saint Paul

Just the other day, I ordered a replacement copy of The Passion of the Christ -- it can be so impactful for Holy Week meditation. In the years since its release, it’s become something of required Lenten viewing for me. But this year, there is a new movie to help with prayer, Paul, Apostle of Christ, released ... Read More

Friday Links

UPS Trucks (Mostly) Don't Turn Left, Saving Them 10 Million Gallons of Gas Per Year. Scientists provide comprehensive breakdown of how much people poo in their lifetime. Famed archaeologist forged murals, inscriptions for decades. How Do You Make Beer in Space? Astronauts return to earth ... Read More

Heckuva Job, Paul and Mitch

As Thursday's editorial makes clear, the omnibus spending bill is a disgrace. That may be why about 40 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Democrats) voted against it. Apart from the absence of a DACA/Dream amnesty, the immigration portions represent a comprehensive victory by the anti-enforcement crowd. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

California’s Pro-Nuclear Renegade

If California’s upcoming gubernatorial race gets decided solely by money, Michael Shellenberger doesn’t have a chance. The latest campaign filings show that Shellenberger, an environmentalist from Berkeley, has about $37,000 in cash on hand. The frontrunner in the June 5 California primary, Lieutenant ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Sliming of Bari Weiss

If you follow at all the ideological war that’s erupted around the New York Times editorial page, then you know Bari Weiss. It’s too much to call Bari conservative. A better description might be heterodox. On some issues, particularly social issues and immigration, she’s a woman of the Left. On others — ... Read More