Bernie Sanders: A $15/hr minimum wage ‘is not going to do it’
Bernie Sanders went on MSNBC…
MSNBC anchor: For better or for worse the tight labor market has caused [higher minimum wages] to happen among some of the country’s major employers. Are you okay with the market having addressed some of the things that you were hoping to address through legislation?
Bernie: No, the reason that Walmart has raised the minimum wage is because you can’t find labor in many parts of the country for $10 or $12 an hour. So they have said in their own self-interest that ‘hey we need workers, let’s raise it to at least $14 an hour,’ but that is not enough! A couple of years ago we fought to raise the minimum wage to $15. As a result of inflation that should be at least $17 right now.
I find it odd that they’re lamenting over how America’s largest employer raised their minimum salary to $14 an hour. It’s like how leftists are lamenting over how Mr. Beast helped cure thousands of blind people.
How dare the market improve conditions with prices that the government could theoretically improve with taxes!
Bernie now says the minimum wage should be $17 an hour, but why so cheap with other people’s money? Why not $20 or $30?
Millionaire Sanders gave about 1% of his income to charity and pays the minimum amount of taxes he’s required to, which again I find odd given how his whole shtick is attacking rich people for not contributing more to the state in service of the poor.
And for the record, Walmart and Amazon lobby for a higher federal minimum wage because the higher it is then the more their small business competition is priced out. Economics 101.
Bernie continues: Here’s the bottom line you got over 60% of the people in this country living paycheck to paycheck. Tens of millions are working at starvation wages. It is not too much to ask in the wealthiest country on Earth where we have massive income and wealth inequality with people on top doing phenomenally well to say that in America if you’re working 40 hours a week you’re not living in poverty. $14 an hour is not going to do it. We got to raise the minimum wage to a higher level than that and I’ll do my best to make sure that happens.
The reason so many people are living paycheck to paycheck is because the government is taxing, spending, and regulating more than ever before.
If you want to reduce inequality then the answer isn’t to reward the powers-that-be for their corruption and incompetence by giving them even more power, but to cut, cut, cut.
Bernie still continues: Another point I want to make… In terms of Walmart, Walmart is owned by the Walton family — the wealthiest family in America. And you got a lot of their workers who are earning wages so low they got to go on food stamps. They got to go on Medicaid. So in other words you have the taxpayers of this country subsidizing the wealthiest family in America because they’re not paying a living wage.
I’m open to the idea that food stamps shouldn’t be allowed to be used on Fortune 500 companies, but I doubt Bernie would go for this because it’d make grocery shopping more inconvenient for the poor.
What Bernie is really saying though is that if it wasn’t for welfare then employers would be forced to pay a higher wage, but in fact, employers would be able to pay their employees less since people would be even more desperate for a job.
MSNBC anchor: Let me ask you, (proceeds to not ask a question) the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would net you $15,080 a year if you work full-time whereas with your basic minimum proposal of $15 an hour would net you $32,200 so for people who are offended by the idea of of doubling the minimum wage people are not running away with a whole lot of money at that point. You’re still only earning $30,000 a year if you earn $15 bucks an hour.
Bernie: Ali, the price of housing has soared in recent years. If you’re an average worker you’re paying $1,500 a month to put a roof over your head. The price of food has gone up. You got health care expenses, and so forth. The bottom line is you got an economy right now that is doing great for the 1%… how about creating an economy that works for ordinary Americans? That means you raise the minimum wage to a living wage. What that will be, I don’t know, but to my mind that would at least be $17 an hour. It’s going to be a struggle, but that’s the fight I want to wage.
If Texans or Floridians or New Yorkers don’t want a $17 minimum wage then some Vermont socialist shouldn’t try to force it on them via federal troops.
When I listen to Bernie speak I have to repeatedly ask myself… how can someone who supposedly cares so much about this topic never steelman the opposing point-of-view? Is it because he lacks the intellectual curiosity to learn it or the moral integrity to share it?
I’m for abolishing the federal minimum wage not because I’m a corrupt millionaire, but because I think it’d help the poor!
If Grandma wants to read to the kids at $5 an hour on a Saturday morning in some Puerto Rican intercity then she should be allowed to do so without being forced to accept nothing or break the law by being paid under the table.
A higher minimum wage hurts the poor the most as it knocks out the bottom rungs of the ladder (“higher unemployment increases the vote shares of Democratic candidates”).
“Minimum wage law is most properly described as a law saying employers must discriminate against people who have low skills.” — Milton Friedman
And once you reason down to first principles by trying to define “work” then you see the arbitrariness of applying minimum wage laws.
When it comes to areas where the Left has monopolized power in academia, government, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, etc. you see that these economic sectors run on free labor.
If political campaigns were forced to pay all their volunteers and interns a $17 minimum wage then only the wealthy could afford to run for office and if YouTube was forced to pay a $17 minimum wage then they could only afford to monetize the big channels.
As the minimum wage increases we also see more exceptions built into the law such as for tipped employees and younger employees.
To steelman minimum wage supporters, they believe an increase in the minimum wage doesn’t result in job losses or fewer hours.
Arguably the most famous study is by Card and Krueger where they saw that when New Jersey increased their minimum wage in 1992 employment went up a bit, but by 1996 academics Neumark and Wascher reexamined their study and found NJ employment actually went down by 4%.
Economists in Denmark, relying on a discontinuity in wage rates when a worker turns 18, found that employment fell by 33% and working hours fell by 45%.
According to a 2021 study by the Bank of Spain, a minimum wage increase in Spain in 2019 destroyed about 10% of jobs.
I’m a simple man though. You can’t get around supply and demand. Picking an arbitrary wage number based on political calculations clearly isn’t how wages should be determined. There’s no free lunch. If a government forces a higher minimum wage then something’s gotta give, whether that be with job losses and fewer hours and/or higher prices and the further consolidation of the employment sector, which will just so happen to make it easier to control and tax.
In the end, rather than fight for bad policies that aren’t likely to go anywhere, 81-year-old Bernie Sanders should cash-in the tremendous political capital he’s built up over the last decade to unite the anti-establishment wing of both parties to increase demand for American workers via higher tariffs (offset with tax cuts) and a stronger border (with a big door for high-skilled labor).
In our divided government, it’s the perfect time for him to fight for that which he had ostensibly supported in the past or will he just continue to rhetorically rail against the globalist establishment while locking arm-in-arm with it?
Viva la unité!