I retired and move to the Cape this past winter. “Help Wanted” signs began to pop up a few weeks ago to the point where it’s odd to see a business without one on their door or on a road side sign. From what I gather, part of the problem is so-called “affordable housing”. Well, yes, if employers are not offering wages that will sustain the living costs of employees, specifically due to the high cost of housing, blaming a lack of “affordable housing” is one way to approach this. The other is to expect the employers to offer higher wages that will sustain an employee who is paying fair market prices for lodging.
Government intervention into the labor market to fix market flaws, specifically the employers refusal to offer fair market wages, is something that right wingers and conservatives should be against. If I can’t find anyone to wash dishes at my restaurant for $18 an hour, any believer in “free markets” would tell me to offer $20, or $25, or $35 until the market dictated the cost of a dish washer. Somehow, those on the right are silent about this government meddling in the free market, but there are more than enough on the left who reach the same conclusion from a different angle. If the market will pay a non-college graduate $35 an hour, then it must be that a college educated worker merits deserve more, the market be damned. Only college educated or those with unique skills deserve $75,000 a year! After all, anyone walk walk off the street and wash dishes, so it cannot pay well, according to their paradigm.
From my perspective, the rich are the ones who benefit from “Affordable Housing”. It allows them the luxury of externalizing the true costs of the labor that supports their service dependent lifestyle.
I suggest that instead of “Affordable Housing”, local towns and municipalities enact wage laws that tie the minimum wage to local housing costs. A dishwasher in Orleans should cost the restaurant owner and its patrons a hell of a lot more than a dishwasher in Holyoke.