by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accidentally self-reported a serious federal violation. He could face a $100,000 fine. See if you can spot it here:
“One of the highlight moments was on Saranac Lake when we were in a canoe and we were taking a canoe trip and out of nowhere from one of the islands an eagle came out and like swooped down right next to us with this beautiful, graceful glide,” Cuomo said while speaking at the historic Hotel Saranac.
“And when the eagle was just about at the front of the canoe, one feather fell out, and we picked up that feather and I have it on my fireplace to this day.”
Give up? Here it is: “we picked up that feather.”
I’m not making that up! Picking up a bald eagle feather is actually a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
As I wrote for the John Locke Foundation’s Locker Room blog, Cuomo’s unintentional violation also unwittingly offers a lesson for North Carolina policymakers:
What Cuomo’s experience shows is how desperately we need to restore mens rea protection in federal and state laws and administrative codes. Cuomo nor his daughter had any criminal intent in mind when they picked up a feather. They did as pretty much any of us would in the same situation.
Preventing this kind of nonsense — that is, restoring freedom from overcriminalization and unnecessarily oppressive enforcement of the law — is precisely why I and my colleagues at the John Locke Foundation promote mens rea reform.
A second lesson came from confused “socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House from New York. Ocasio-Cortez wanted to make a positive post on Twitter, talking up her working-class bona fides (a campaign necessity, given her wealthy Westchester County roots). She wrote:
The restaurant I used to work at is closing its doors. I swung by today to say hi one last time, and kid around with friends like old times. I’m a normal, working person who chose to run for office, because I believe we can have a better future. You can do it too. We all can.
Pollster Frank Luntz and no doubt several others pointed out in response to her tweet why that restaurant is closing. The New York Post had reported on it since it’s a “Big Apple foodie icon.” It’s a famous place; well, it was.
Something happened. Something that ought to grab the attention of someone with Ocasio-Cortez’s politics:
The Coffee Shop in Union Square — a beloved staple made famous for its turns on HBO’s “Sex and the City” — is closing on Oct. 11 after a 28-year run in which its fawning fans included A-listers like Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci.
Co-owner and President Charles Milite is breaking the sad news to the 150 employees of the 29 Union Square West eatery on Thursday.
“The times have changed in our industry,” he told The Post. “The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees.”
So one of her pet policies — a $15/hour minimum wage — disemployed 150 of her friends and she still doesn’t learn the proper lesson from it?
Fortunately, North Carolina policymakers can learn from afar what Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t. Raising the minimum wage hurts the very people it’s supposed to help: the poorest, the least skilled, and the disadvantaged.
In North Carolina, which isn’t as wealthy a place as New York City, such a policy would have steep disemployment effects. With over 40 percent of North Carolina’s wage and salaried workforce earning below $15/hour, Heritage Foundation research estimated that raising the minimum wage to $15/hour would cost over 330,000 jobs.
No one seeking the right policies that would actually help the poor would advocate such a thing.