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March 07--A proposed ballot initiative requiring Disneyland Resort and any large hospitality business receiving subsidies from the city of Anaheim to pay an $18 minimum wage seeks to wrongly involve government in a situation that could use less government involvement.

Because, whatever valid criticisms there are to make of Disney and subsidies generally, the minimum wage won't solve the problems proponents want solved.

Introduced last week amid contentious contract negotiations between Disney and unions representing Disney employees, the initiative looks to use the whims of the public and the force of government as a means of extracting what hasn't been voluntarily agreed to between private employers and private employees.

The ballot measure is the culmination of several months of efforts by the unions and Disney critics to cast Disney as an especially egregious employer that underpays employees and doesn't contribute its "fair share" to Anaheim.

In recent months, critics have worked to frame Disney as particularly responsible for, among other things, addressing the high cost of living in Orange County, poverty in the city and even Anaheim's large unfunded pension liabilities.

As we argued in an editorial last year, these problems are not unique to Anaheim and Orange County, nor are they one company's burden to resolve. But that's what the unions want the public to believe.

"We are not attacking Disney," said Christopher Duarte, president of Workers United Local 50. "But if taxpayers are going to subsidize a large corporation, then that corporation should pay a living wage and not contribute to poverty."

Criticism of taxpayer subsidies to Disney and other companies are well deserved, but to argue that one inappropriate government intervention justifies further intrusions leads us down the wrong path and does nothing to resolve underlying problems.

We can't ignore the vast amount of research on the impacts of forcible minimum wage hikes. While those fortunate to remain employed might see the benefits of higher pay, many could see reduced work hours. Others will never get hired in the first place.

The proposed initiative seeks to burden employers for the failings of state and local government to make California a thriving, affordable place to live and work.

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