One head-scratching Seattle regulation just proved that the government does more harm than good

In his inaugural address, President Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Forty-three years later these words are as true as ever.

Now one new Seattle regulation just proved that the government does more harm than good.

Politicians love to proclaim their deep concern for the working class but all too often they preach symbolism over substance.

In some cases, even the substance makes things worse for the people that the elected officials profess concern for, and that’s exactly what has happened in Seattle.

In 2022, the Seattle City Council enacted a minimum payment ordinance for app-based workers.

The regulation applied to delivery workers associated with apps such as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Instacart.

The first-of-its-kind ordinance stipulates that drivers earn minimum wage plus tips and compensation for expenses.

Companies are required to pay the greater of a minimum per-minute amount of $0.44 and a minimum per-mile amount of $0.74, or a minimum per-offer amount of $5.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

While that sounds like a great deal for delivery workers who thought they’d see a pay increase, the reality has worked out to be anything but that.

With Seattle’s new ordinance, the companies are now on the hook to pay their drivers at least $26 per hour.

Because of this, those companies are now, out of necessity, passing the increased costs on to consumers placing orders.

The predictable result is that many consumers are simply deciding to get their food orders themselves, without paying a middle man, and that’s hurting the delivery drivers in a big way.

Delivery apps say they warned the Seattle City Council what would happen but their warnings fell on deaf ears.

In a statement, Instacart told Fox Business, “We warned the previous City Council that this new legislation would have unintended consequences for Seattle shoppers, customers, and retailers. Now that the law is in place, the cost to customers has increased, and shoppers are seeing fewer available batches on average. While we continue to work to deliver the best customer and shopper experience in Seattle, we hope that the new City Council takes seriously the voices of shoppers, customers and retailers and makes common-sense changes to this law.”

Gary Lardizabal lives in Seattle and has made deliveries through Uber since 2016.

He told Fox Business, “My experience in downtown Seattle, which is booming with Amazon and other tech workers, wait times are half the day. There’s reduced orders for drivers and couriers… and there’s definitely reduced business for restaurants.” 

Lardizabal said that one restaurant had averaged 170 orders per day before the ordinance, but by last Thursday the number of orders had dwindled to just 16 orders for the day.

While a spokesperson for Seattle’s labor standards department local TV station KIRO 7 said that “it is far too early to make an assessment” about the ordinance’s impact,  Lardizabal wasn’t buying it.

Delivery driver: “Repeal this ordinance before we are homeless in the streets”

Lardizabal countered, “I mean, I don’t know how much more data they need — maybe they need to see us homeless in the streets. This is not a livable wage. It’s hurting us, it’s hurting the consumer, it’s going to close restaurants. Please repeal it.”

In the end, Reagan’s words from 43 years ago are prescient in that everyone involved in the current Seattle situation would be better off if the government simply steered clear.

Perhaps in addition to being sworn into office upon election, politicians of all stripes would do well to emulate doctors and proclaim the Hippocratic oath, by swearing to do no harm.

Stay tuned to Blue State Blues for any updates to this ongoing story.

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