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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Minimum Wage ItemsEntire Archive
ronunz
Keeping English, Raising the Minimum Wage, Fixing Immigration
I'm willing to take clear stands on issues, including some controversial ones, regardless of ideology or political orientation. Maybe you'll agree with me and maybe you'll disagree with me, but at least you'll know what I a U.S. Senator, I'll carefully listen to both sides of every issue, do my own research, and support the... Read More
Dan Holm / Shutterstock.com
To understand the arguments of capitalists against the minimum wage, follow the money. In all the thickets of pious reasoning about the merits of capitalism and the market, and of freedom of contract, and of allowing this marvelous mechanism to work its magic, and of what Adam Smith said, the key is the dollar. The... Read More
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What if the latest craze among the big-government crowd in both major political parties is to use the power of government to force employers to pay some of their employees more than their services are worth to the employers? What if this represents an intrusion by government into the employer-employee relationship? What if this consists... Read More
I first began collecting and organizing my old print articles early last summer, believing that having them all conveniently available in book form would be useful for my planned Harvard Overseer campaign. Now at very long last the regular hardcover edition of The Myth of American Meritocracy and Other Essays has been delivered from the... Read More
Northfoto / Shutterstock.com
You Can't Earn a Living on the Minimum Wage
When presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talks about income inequality, and when other candidates speak about the minimum wage and food stamps, what are they really talking about? Whether they know it or not, it’s something like this. My Working Life Then A few years ago, I wrote about my experience enmeshed in the minimum-wage economy,... Read More
To say that we live on a 1% planet isn't just a turn of phrase. In fact, it would undoubtedly bemore accurate to speak of a .1% or a .01% planet. In recent years, wealth and income inequalities have grown in a notorious fashion in the United States -- and, as it turns out, globally... Read More
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And Eight Other Critical Questions for Americans
Last year eight Americans -- the four Waltons of Walmart fame, the two Koch brothers, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett -- made more money than 3.6 million American minimum-wage workers combined. The median pay for CEOs at America's large corporations rose to $10 million per year, while a typical chief executive now makes about 257... Read More
On Friday, several top national Republicans including Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Tim Pawlenty all publicly declared their support for raising the federal minimum wage. Such a dramatic political breakthrough---obviously coordinated at the highest levels---greatly increases the likelihood it will actually happen, and tens of millions of low-wage American workers will see a large rise... Read More
Sergey Yechikov / Shutterstock.com
Life in the New American Minimum-Wage Economy
There are many sides to whistleblowing. The one that most people don't know about is the very personal cost, prison aside, including the high cost of lawyers and the strain on family relations, that follows the decision to risk it all in an act of conscience. Here's a part of my own story I've not... Read More
Before November 2012, fast-food workers in America had never gone on strike. There was a good reason for that. Many burger-flippers were teenagers in need of a few extra bucks, and thanks to high turnover in the industry, most workers didn't have to stay long in those poverty-wage jobs. After the economic meltdown of 2007-2008... Read More
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When I first began investigating the minimum wage a couple of years ago, one of my early surprises was its sharp decline across the decades, having fallen by roughly one-third in real value since its 1968 peak. This drop was greatly magnified when we considered the economic growth of American society given that our per... Read More
Earlier this week unfortunate Americans were shown the advantages of a functioning political system as the German government announced it would establish a minimum wage of $8.50 Euros or almost $12 per hour. In the past Germany had had a minimum wage, but the extremely high level of labor unionization had ensured very high hourly... Read More
House Speaker John Boehner, the highest ranking Republican in America, has famously declared that he’d rather commit suicide than pass a minimum wage increase. Meanwhile, California’s own Nancy Pelosi, his opposite number, is a strong supporter of hiking the minimum wage, and her close ally, the retiring Rep. George Miller, is the sponsor of the... Read More
In all respects except one, the last week couldn't have been better for my California initiative to raise the state minimum wage to $12 per hour, the highest in the America. NPR broadcast a remarkably long 14 minute interview segment on my effort. Although the airing of the show had been delayed a couple of... Read More
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Three weeks ago the powerful political momentum favoring a large minimum wage hike received a major setback as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its report indicating that the Democratic goal of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 might lead to the loss of 500,000 jobs. The CBO is widely respected as non-partisan in its... Read More
An important story ran Saturday ran in the Los Angeles Times: Bid to hike L.A. minimum wage gets pair of powerful backers As the L.A. City Council examines the 'living wage' issue, philanthropist Eli Broad and developer Rick Caruso say they support a higher minimum wage. James Rainey, The Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2014... Read More
Niloo / Shutterstock.com
Our media naturally tends to cover stories that are surprising or unexpected far more than boringly routine ones, and this has certainly been a central aspect of my ongoing initiative campaign to raise the California minimum wage to $12 per hour, the highest rate in America. Labor unions and some prominent liberals have promoted minimum... Read More
The current debate raging over the role of the minimum wage is usually presented as being fought between two choices. On the one side are those who advocate a large wage hike and on the other are those who oppose any change. But in reality, there is a third alternative, namely cutting the minimum wage,... Read More
trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com
Raising the Minimum Wage to $12 an Hour
During the 1950s peak of America’s post-war prosperity, Detroit was our wealthiest city, General Motors our biggest employer, and GM CEO “Engine Charlie” Wilson delivered the famously misquoted claim that “what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice-versa.” Times have changed. These days retail giant Wal-Mart is our largest corporation,... Read More
Some years ago when I was Business Week’s columnist an up-and-coming academic economist published his conclusions that raising the minimum wage did not cause unemployment. An implication was that labor unions did not cause unemployment by forcing up wages. These conclusions flew in the face of economic theory. Theory held that employees were paid the... Read More
Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com
Over the last couple of months the minimum wage has moved into the political headlines, but most of the arguments for raising it have come from liberals. That’s fine, but since I’m not a liberal, I’d rather focus on the conservative reasons for supporting a much higher minimum wage, which are just as compelling. Cutting... Read More
Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com
Simple ideas buoyed by a tidal wave of popular sentiment are difficult to oppose, and subterfuge is one of the favored methods. National support for raising the minimum wage runs between 70% and 75% in most polls, with close to 90% of Democrats backing the idea. Meanwhile, our initiative to raise the minimum wage in... Read More
Richard Thornton / Shutterstock.com
Millions of California immigrants work in low-wage service industries. They would be among the greatest beneficiaries of our ballot initiative to raise the state minimum wage to $12 per hour. Latinos, many of whom come from a relatively recent immigrant background, would gain the most. The data shows that around half of all Latino wage-earners... Read More
Thomas M. Spindle / Shutterstock.com
Although our school textbooks claim we live in a democracy or a representative republic, a more accurate formulation might label our polity a “mediocracy.” Our views and votes as well as those of our elected representatives are largely shaped by the ambient waves of media emanations that wash over us during so many of our... Read More
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In my last column I had noted that the national debate over poverty and inequality had drawn a peculiar response from mainstream conservatives. Whereas liberals advocated making work pay by raising the minimum wage, their conservative counterparts proposed raising welfare payments instead. Sometimes this position was explicit, as when economist Martin Feldstein took to the... Read More
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Lifting Our State Above Mississippi and Alabama
California is home to both Silicon Valley and Hollywood, two of the world's greatest wealth-producing engines, and much of the state enjoys tremendous affluence. By some estimates, my own town of Palo Alto has the world's highest per capita concentration of billionaires. But California also has pockets of enormous poverty. The U.S. Census recently estimated... Read More
When did early Europeans acquire their palette of eye colors? And their palette of hair colors? That question may soon be answered with retrieval of ancient DNA. (source: Dipoar) As the new year begins, I’m particularly interested in the following topics. When did Europeans begin to look European? It seems that this evolution took place... Read More
Fast-food workers across the county have recently held a number of high profile protests to agitate for higher wages. These protests have been accompanied by efforts to increase the wages mandated by state and local minimum wage laws, as well as a renewed push in some states and localities to pass “living wage” laws. President... Read More
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As economic inequality and the plight of the working-poor have suddenly erupted as leading topics in the national debate, the proposed solution of a big minimum wage hike has evoked many varied reactions. On the Democratic side, the responses have been pretty much what one might expect. In recent decades, liberals had shied away from... Read More
Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com
From Making Low Wages Livable - A Symposium in The New York Times Tens of millions of low-wage workers in the United States are trapped in lives of poverty. Many suggestions have been put forth to improve their difficult situation, ranging from new social welfare programs to enhanced adult education to greater unionization. But I... Read More
As most readers have no doubt already heard, early last week I filed the text of an initiative that would raise California's minimum wage to $12.00 per hour, a figure far higher than that of any state or city in America. The heavy resulting coverage in The New York Times and numerous other major media... Read More
Credit: Intelligence Squared
Views change about massive immigration once both sides of the issue are heard
Last week I took a brief break from two months of concentrated software development effort on my new publication The Unz Review to travel to NYC for a debate on a hypothetical “Open Borders” proposal for private employment, one in a long series of such public events produced by Intelligence Squared. The event was carried... Read More
Over the weekend, a leading financial voice at National Review---central ideological pillar of the mainstream American Right---gingerly endorsed my suggestion that a $12.00 per hour minimum wage be required as part of any Congressional immigration legislation. Perhaps miracles do indeed sometimes happen in real life. My same proposal had also been endorsed a couple of... Read More
Salon just published my piece pointing out the crucial importance of including a large rise in the federal minimum wage in the current immigration legislation: No Immigration Amnesty Without a Minimum Wage Hike Salon, May 18, 2013 Congress is currently considering bipartisan legislation providing an amnesty for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants, probably combined with... Read More
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Congress is currently considering bipartisan legislation providing an amnesty for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants, probably combined with extra visas for skilled workers and an agricultural guestworker program. But principled liberals and conservatives should both demand that any immigration reform proposal also include a sharp rise in the federal minimum wage. The reason is simple.... Read More
My Friday Aspen Institute panel in DC on raising the minimum wage went well, though the discussion underscored the somewhat insular thinking of many of the policy elites who dominate life in our capital city. As an example, although the audience and participants skewed heavily toward the “economic left,” several individuals mentioned how surprised they... Read More
The front page of this morning’s New York Times carried a story highlighting the growing discontent of working-class Americans whose “wages have floundered” over the last few years despite the “record levels” of corporate profits. Although this discontent may seem somewhat mysterious to many American politicians, who spend their time closely cosseted with affluent lobbyists... Read More
Earlier this week Washington Post Columnist Matt Miller published an excellent piece making the case for a large increase in the federal minimum wage, including arguments drawn from a wide range of prominent business and political figures, as well as mention of my own recent New America article on that issue. Given the importance of... Read More
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A simple remedy for income stagnation
With Americans still trapped in the fifth year of our Great Recession, and median personal income having been essentially stagnant for forty years, perhaps we should finally admit that decades of economic policies have largely failed. The last two years of our supposed recovery have seen American growth rates averaging well under 2 percent.[1] Although... Read More
With our chattering classes now totally focused on the overriding question of whether the political contributions of Romney's Wall Street cronies or those of Obama will first reach the billion dollar mark, only a few scattered voices have focused on matters which impact the remaining 99.9% of our citizenry. In particular, recent weeks have seen... Read More
Only 25 Per Cent of All Americans Go to College and Only 16 Per Cent of These Actually Try to Learn Anything. Welcome a Nation of Helots.
"In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a first-class education," President Obama famously declared in his 2010 State of the Union Address, just as millions of high schoolers across the nation were embarking on the annual ritual of picking their preferred colleges and preparing the grand tour of the prospects, with parents... Read More
As everyone is well aware, the last 72 hours have seen an astonishing transformation in the American political landscape, with a pugnacious Newt Gingrich coming from far behind to crush Mitt Romney in South Carolina, and now take a substantial lead in looming Florida and perhaps nationwide as well. A remarkable political comeback indeed. Gingrich’s... Read More
Just a few days ago prominent liberal economist James K. Galbraith strongly endorsed the economic proposals at the heart of my recent immigration article, arguing they constituted the best chance for reviving the American economy. And now National Review's leading domestic policy analyst, Reihan Salam, has written a lengthy column discussing Galbraith's arguments and exploring... Read More
My lengthy Fall cover article analyzing the politics and economics of immigration issues appears to be receiving a bit of renewed attention in somewhat unexpected quarters. The current issue of establishment-oriented Foreign Policy magazine carries a piece by prominent liberal economist James K. Galbraith arguing that my policy recommendations constitute one of the best means... Read More
Eight or nine years ago, when our previous president began engaging in the sort of foreign policy endeavors which eventually reduced his popularity to perhaps the lowest ever recorded (and which have now naturally been continued by his successor), I pointed out to my liberal friends that the issues at stake were not really ideological.... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Consider the present dilemma of Texas governor Rick Perry, whose trajectory as the potential Republican presidential nominee now threatens to emulate the fate of the Challenger spaceshuttle in 1986. What went wrong? The necessary political attributes appeared to be in place to please the Tea Party’s foot soldiers whose season of maximum political effectiveness is... Read More
As the now-faltering presidential campaign of erstwhile GOP front-runner Gov. Rick Perry illustrates, the topic of immigration can be deadly for Republicans. The reason is quite simple: the party’s elites and its grassroots have diametrically opposed positions. For the business elites and libertarian or neoconservative intellectuals who dominate the GOP fund-raising and policy apparatus, immigration... Read More
For many years now, conservatives have denounced the so-called “long march through the institutions,” the process by which left-liberals gained control of universities and the media, and thereby the power to set the terms of our national policy debate on a whole host of major issues. Meanwhile, conservatives have been desperately paddling upstream, sometimes winning... Read More
spirit of america / Shutterstock.com
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution
Will mass immigration destroy the GOP? Can our middle-class society survive high immigration levels? Is there any political solution to our current immigration difficulties? Last June the U.S. Census disclosed that non-white births in America were on the verge of surpassing the white total and might do so as early as the end of this... Read More
Topic Classics
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution
A simple remedy for income stagnation