Friday Roundup: Finland’s “basic income” test, Washington’s refinery taxes, public banks, and “the maker movement”

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Associated Press: Finland to pay unemployed basic income of $587 per month

Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income, amounting to 560 euros ($587), in a social experiment hoped to cut government red tape, reduce poverty and boost employment.

The American Interest: The Great Wage Experiment of 2017

There is ample evidence that even moderate minimum wage hikes have made hundreds of thousands of Americans unemployable; that effect is likely to be amplified if states follow the prescription of the “Fight for $15” movement and push the minimum wage to higher levels than have ever been tried in American history. More targeted measures like tax credits and vouchers seem like a more promising route for enhancing the income of low-wage workers without pushing millions of them onto the unemployment rolls.

…One of the virtues of federalism is that it enables other states and localities that have not yet taken the $15 plunge to take note of economic and hiring patterns in places that have before making their decision.

The Boston Globe: As minimum wage rises, some employers cut back

The owner of two family entertainment centers in Massachusetts said she has reduced her staff to 20 people, down from 50, over the past two years, to counteract rising payroll costs.

The employer, who asked not to be named because she feared repercussions from workers’ advocates, said she and her husband have cut their hours of operation, replaced their DJ with canned music, and are working more themselves to stay afloat. They have also stopped hiring teenagers in favor of more experienced workers.

Seattle Times (op-ed by Michael Waite): The perils of public banks

Recently, two members of the Seattle Public Banking Coalition sent a letter to the City Council suggesting that the city should create its own bank, rather than utilize existing private-sector institutions for banking. Such a public-finance approach is a concept that has also been pushed at the state level by such officials as Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle.

I am concerned about this suggestion based on three of my own life experiences. First, as a recent candidate for state treasurer, I focused on what I consider a major problem for Washington — our ever-growing state debt and the burdens it places on future generations. Second, as a finance professional with years of international accounting experience, I have spent significant time warning clients about conflicts of interest that can harm investors. And third, as a native-born Australian, I saw firsthand what happened when my own home territory had a public bank, and the trail of financial hardship and broken promises that were left behind.

The Brookings Institution: Five ways the Maker Movement can help catalyze a manufacturing renaissance

An authentic social movement of hackers and tinkerers, the Maker Movement has grown increasingly consequential in recent years as a new generation of designers and entrepreneurs has employed online tools, 3-D printing, and other new technologies to “democratize” manufacturing and reinvigorate small-batch production and sales.

The makers’ locally-grown enterprises are expanding beyond their artisanal and hobbyist roots to create true business value. The movement has emerged as a significant source of experiential learning and skills-building, as well as creativity for the nation’s innovation-driven manufacturing sector.

More broadly, there is momentum on the ground, both in large cities and small ones, located in both red and blue America, and there is much success to share.

Washington Research Council: The Economic Contribution of Washington State’s Petroleum Refining Industry in 2015

In 2015, the refiners directly provided 2,097 full-time jobs, paying an annu- al average wage of $126,960. In addi- tion, the refiners employed, at high wages, 2,408 contract workers on an average day, doing maintenance, capital repair and capital replacement. The refiners indirectly created additional Washington state jobs in industries from which they pur- chased goods and services, including transportation, construction, utilities and business services…

…a Washington refinery’s state and local tax burden in 2015 was almost three times higher than the state and local tax burden of a comparable refinery located in California.