Thanksgiving “Monopoly” Money!

That a California state legislator lacks a basic grasp of economics should come as no surprise. But, when that lack of knowledge is coupled with the absence of considering even the obvious likely consequences, well, that should always be shocking and soundly rejected.

The latest bill that shows this lack of knowledge is San Diego Assemblywoman, Lorena Gonzalez‘s proposal to force large retailers to pay workers double on Thanksgiving. Showing how out of touch she is with economic reality, Assemblywoman Gonzalez views California retailers who provide needed jobs and products as “egregious perpetrators of expanding this idea of working on the holidays.”

Why she feels the need to demonize the very companies providing jobs to people in California, including her constituents, is beyond me. And does she not understand that these stores are open because their customers demand it? If she really wanted to address this perceived “problem” she should try to shame the people of California into not shopping on Thanksgiving. Good luck with that.

What’s the inherent problem with working on a holiday anyway? Not everyone observes the holiday or has a family to celebrate it with, and some people only celebrate for part of the day.

Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that Gonzalez seems to not understand that some people cannot afford to take off work on Thanksgiving. Sure, who wouldn’t want to have Thanksgiving off of work? I’m fortunate enough to get the day off and still get paid. How many people supporting this bill are in the same position? But the truth is that many people must work that day to make ends meet.

If this bill passes, the very people I assume (I say “assume” because it isn’t clear to me if she’s trying to punish retailers or help workers) Gonzalez is trying to help will most likely be hurt, or at best see no appreciable increase in income. That is because the money to pay double wages will not just magically appear. Thinking that this bill will work because it probably won’t cause retailers to leave California shows a lack of imagination. Rather, I would expect, and I welcome anyone to prove me wrong, that one or a combination of at least three things would result from this bill:

  1. Stores would close that day or open for only limited hours
  2. Stores would open that day with reduced staff
  3. Stores would limit the length of shifts that day, and during the rest of the week, to balance out the increased labor cost

No matter what happens, retail workers will not enjoy some Thanksgiving windfall. Some of them may see a slight increase in pay, but most would likely see no increase, or even worse, less than they would have without Gonzalez’s meddling.

Even if Assemblywoman Gonzalez is correct in thinking that retailers “can choose to do more,” and that’s a big “if,” she fails to make her case for why they should be forced to do so. Why are retail workers entitled to share more in their employer’s profits? Are the workers providing twice as much value to their employer that day than on Wednesday or Friday? They’re not, and no.

What this bill lacks in imagination it makes up for in loads of unintended consequences. Here’s hoping this version meets with the same demise as its predecessor, but with an even quicker death.

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