News & Politics

Long Beach Democrats Mandate 'Hero Pay' Wage Increase, Which Promptly Forces Two Grocery Stores to Close

AP Feed

Performance art as governance strikes again. This one isn’t as deadly as “defund the police,” but it’s every bit as unmoored from reality.

Grocery stores are not social programs. They’re not funded by the seemingly bottomless pit of money that government officials believe they enjoy.

The Long Beach City Council mandated a pay raise for frontline workers such as grocery store employees. Seems like a fine idea to give people raises if the numbers work out, but they seldom do and the Long Beach City Council didn’t even bother to check — and ordering private companies to increase wages isn’t even its job.

Neither is abdicating the hard work of governing, which should entail telling people “No” to their worst ideas. But it’s what we’ve got wherever Democrats have power now.

Result in this case: two closed Krogers. Now people profess “shock” at the real-world consequences of dumb politicians doing dumb things.

Nearly 200 Kroger employees are facing layoffs or transfers following Monday’s announcement by Kroger Co. that it would close two Long Beach stores after the city mandated that large grocery companies pay workers an extra $4 an hour during the pandemic. The company has yet to make any announcements related to employee retention.

The two stores that will close on April 17 are Food 4 Less on South Street and Ralphs at the intersection of Los Coyotes Diagonal and Wardlow Road in East Long Beach.

The decision should have been up to the affected companies, not the city council. But the city council performed for its supporters rather than do the hard work of telling people something they didn’t want to hear.

One of the two closing stores was known to be struggling before this vote went down. The city council did it anyway, creating a couple of so-called “food deserts” that liberals say are a bad thing.

The local media shifts into its typical gear of finding a sympathetic worker who is adversely affected by the closures, avoiding analysis of why they’re affected and who they might consider blaming.

[kelley] Hines-Parks, a diabetic, worked through five months of the pandemic while pregnant. She gave birth in August and was back in the bakery department by December. She said it was “scary” going to work each day.

“We’re putting our lives out there to help other people get what they need to be OK,” she said, adding that she still supports the hero pay mandate but that she never expected a blowback of this magnitude.

Hines-Parks does not own a car, but has lived within walking distance of the South Street grocery store ever since she started the job. For years she had about a 30-minute walk to work but eventually moved within only a few minutes.

The “hero pay” mandate may cost her a job and will make her life more difficult even if she’s transferred. But she supports it anyway because it seems nice. Because money is magical and derived from the breath of baby unicorns. This is one of those teachable moments. The last people who will learn anything from it are the politicians who hurt people to make themselves feel better. See also: Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. That will make the air a bit dirtier but whatever. He felt good signing that executive order that put more than 11,000 families into serious economic jeopardy.

I feel for the displaced workers here. The COVID economy is still terrible, and California is run by performance artists top to bottom now. The entire state is voting itself into what it wants and is getting what it deserves, good and hard. No one bothered to crunch the numbers on this policy, except Kroger, because it’s a business and it’s constantly crunching the numbers. It has to. It’s not an arm of the government, at least not yet. Give the Democrats time…

More and more city councils, and even Congress and the Biden administration, are supposed to crunch the numbers and assess the impacts of their policies — but they obviously don’t. And here we are. We get hot-takes from politicians who burn up jobs and livelihoods.

Kroger is being brave through this. It not only called out the specific policy in question for closing the stores and putting jobs in jeopardy, but it also took to Twitter to fight back after the predictable response.

Kroger may also be aware that Twitter is an intellectual wasteland that skews hard left, where only about 10% of the product’s users actually create more than 90% of its content, and most of them tweet before thinking. Many others are paid troublemakers of one stripe or another. Twitter is not statistically representative of anything and it’s increasingly not worth anyone’s time. Snarky clap backs are often ill-informed, knee-jerk reactions from people hiding behind anonymous feeds. “MoneyJunkiesApparel” has a whopping 44 followers. The “money junkies” apparently don’t know how money works. If you force companies to spend more than they know is sustainable on something, they will cut that cost. Here, it’s closing two grocery stores. In other places, it’s replacing order-takers with automated kiosks.

They can’t all go make solar panels.

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