This Billionaire’s Explanation Why NY Fast Food Workers Should Make $15/hr. Is Spot On

Let’s raise the minimum wage. The 21st century is the age of income inequality. Raising the minimum seems like a pretty course of action given that the United States has become a nation of a very few who have, and the majority have not. Yet, the majority of the right-wing establishment continues to obstruct raising the minimum wage at every level of government.

Despite this obstructionism, people from all classes recognize that raising the minimum wage is a great idea. Nick Hanauer, a member of the 1 percent recently wrote an op-ed on why he thinks New York should raise the minimum wage for to $15/hr. for fast food workers. Hanauer writes:

“For more than 100 years, opponents to raising wages have loudly squawked that the sky will fall, and for more than 100 years, their apocalyptic visions of economic collapse have failed to come true. There is simply no historical data to suggest that sizable wage increases have even a modest unemployment effect, let alone the “job-killing” impact the Chicken Little economists always predict.

The Labor Department reviewed 64 studies on minimum wage and found “no discernable effect on employment.” And, contrary to popular belief, relatively large wage hikes like those recently passed in Seattle, San Francisco, Massachusetts and Los Angeles, are not unprecedented. For example, the federal minimum wage jumped from 40 cents an hour in 1949 to 75 cents in 1950, an 88-percent increase over just one year. Yet, despite the usual warning from the Chicken Littles at the National Association of Manufacturing that the hike would prove “a reckless jolt to the economic system,” unemployment plummeted, from 5.9 percent in 1949 to 2.9 percent in 1953.”

Hanauer continues, writing:

“How is this possible? One obvious answer is that higher paid workers are more productive, loyal, and reliable — a lesson even notoriously low-wage Wal-Mart is beginning to learn. Just one month after raising its own internal minimum wage to $9 an hour, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon reports “our job applications are going up and we are seeing some relief in turnover.” Good for them! Fast-food chains across the state of New York will experience the same benefits when they raise pay to $15.”

Would you look at that? Wal-Mart is even beginning to understand the positive effects of paying their employees a higher (if only modestly) wage. Raising the minimum wage will benefit approximately 35 million people in the United States. That includes those who make the minimum wage and those make up to 150 percent of the minimum wage. It’ll also take a lot of people of welfare who work and are forced to use welfare programs just to survive, effectively some of the world’s most profitable corporations.

As much sense as it makes in economic terms to raise the minimum wage, the fight for a living wage is a moral issue. It is time for people to accept that a nation that allows millions of their people to live in a perpetual state of economic crisis is not a nation that one can take pride in. While conservatives whine about how the poor need to work harder and pull up their bootstraps, they only disenfranchise the poor further, not realizing that the working class had to pawn their boots to make the rent a long time ago.

Featured Image Credit: By Sallicio  via Wikimedia Commons