I cannot remember a time when New York’s Governor and New York City’s Mayor taken together pose a greater threat to the liberty and prosperity. Last week each proposed a dreadful policy. Governor Andrew Cuomo succeeded and Mayor Bill de Blasio failed. The different outcomes tell us a lot about what makes some statist proposals more likely to take effect and how to resist them.
Cuomo got his Labor Board to hike the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour for fast food workers throughout the state. I will not repeat my general arguments against substantial minimum wage hikes. But even advocates of minimum wage concede that such sector specific wages will distort the labor market and create a less efficient mix of businesses. Moreover, any law that requires paying someone at McDonald’s in Troy, New York fifteen dollars an hour while someone working in Home Depot in New York City nine dollars is patently irrational given the wildly different average wages and cost of living in the city and upstate.
For his part de Blasio proposed capping the growth of Uber in New York City ostensibly because the extra cars on the road were causing congestion, but in large measure because the taxi companies are some of his biggest supporters. Even if New York streets were becoming more congested it is not economically rational to single out Uber. There is no reason to believe that the customers they serve are getting less benefit from driving around New York than those who drive themselves.
What is interesting, however, is that City Council shelved this proposal.