Almost four months ago, I wrote an article staunchly attacking minimum wage laws, revealing the economic illiteracy behind such proposals and showed how minimum wage increases had a detrimental impact on employers, employees and consumers.
Now, the Democratic Presidential Primaries in the United States are in full swing with many contenders fighting for the ultimate prize, to challenge and dethrone Trump in 2020. One such contender is Bernie Sanders who finished a close 2nd in the 2016 nomination race, splitting the party between the moderates and his wing, the progressives. One progressive goal, which has been universally adored by the Democratic Party for some time is the $15 an hour minimum wage.
— Bournbrook Magazine (@bournbrookmag) July 14, 2019
Deciding to lead by example to gain an edge over his rivals, Sanders has introduced the $15 an hour principal to his own campaign staff, leading to some unintended consequences. The first thing that happened was a shock realisation that the magic money tree does not exist and wealth (the money the Sanders campaign has raised) is in fact scarce, a terrible hurdle for democratic socialists such as Sanders. If the fabled magic money tree existed, he’d offer a lot more than $15 an hour but it turned out his campaign couldn’t even offer this to some staffers.
The campaign has had to cut hours in order to fund this wage increase and given that this is a campaign, the Sanders camp must now cope with less manpower which leads to less productivity as work done by five must now be shouldered by three.
Also, there are less funds to spend on political advertising. A self-inflicted blow to Sander’s presidential hopes although the PR from this has been even worse. The right wing media and internet have acted in the usual fashion of ‘I told you so’ when one’s political beliefs have been shown to be correct but the fact that it happened to Sanders himself, rather than the ordinary working people affected by minimum wage hikes, has led to the whole event being comedic rather than tragic. Sanders has made himself a laughingstock as his own key pledge has spectacularly backfired on himself. If you think the Republicans couldn’t get any more fuel to criticise their opponents with, they’ve just added one more.
But after all this, shouldn’t Sanders now drop what he considers religious doctrine? After all, if it can’t function in his own campaign, how does he expect it to work for the rest of the country? Now that the Sanders’ campaign is in the shoes of businessmen across the country who have suffered under the $15 an hour minimum wage, some even going bust, they must now have a greater capacity to empathise. Except we know Sanders of all people will scoff at the demands of business, but the kind of businesses I am focusing on are not the big business devils that he so frequently rails against but small businesses.
‘Whilst #minimumwage laws are altruistic in intent, its supporters are ignorant to its elitist effects: it traps the disadvantaged into unemployment and poverty whilst playing into the hands of wealthy big businessmen.’
— Bournbrook Magazine (@bournbrookmag) April 6, 2019
I have already written about how minimum wage hikes harm small businesses as well as play into the hands of giant corporations. But how about a group which Sanders claims himself to be the champion for which is working people. I am confident enough to say that those working in the campaign that have faced their hours cut are both the least skilled and in desperate need of job experience. The champion of working people is now denying them time to learn vital skills, access to networking opportunities and most importantly has cut their wages. Not to mention the increasing wealth disparity caused by such a misguided practice as those who retain their full hours earn more money whilst others see their earnings fall. But after all this, Sanders will remain ignorant and tied to his holy $15 an hour minimum wage with superglue.
But the saga continued, with champion of working people Bernie Sanders being caught in even hotter water. An anonymous former staffer struck the Sanders campaign with an unfair labour practice complaint with Bloomberg Law reporting ‘an unfair labor practice complaint alleging illegal employee interrogation and retaliation against staffers’ because these staffers were involved in union activity.
I doubt the world’s greatest writers could have produced a better script. I hope the staffers get the justice they deserve if any of the allegations are true, but it appears that the hypocrisy of Sanders now knows no bounds. The progressives have long opposed businesses intimidating and suppressing unions and workers’ rights but now one of their own is potentially a traitor to the cause. But I’m sure Sanders would push this aside under the virtue signalling motto of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ or as I prefer ‘it’s alright when we do it.’ After all, Sanders wants power and raising the minimum wage is a very useful tool when attracting voters.
To many politicians, the ends justify the means. I’m sure Sanders is no exception. Sanders has also spoken out against his accusers, declaring that speaking to the press is wrong and that this affair should be dealt with in total secrecy, strictly between the campaign and the staffers. Given how progressives speak of a power imbalance between employee and employer (suggesting the government must intervene) it makes you wonder what his strategy is here.
All in all, the saga appears to have two parts. The first is of course the usual unintended effects of the minimum wage backfiring on one of its key representatives. The other is the virtue signalling with Sanders being a public supporter of unions and their demands, such as the $15 an hour minimum wage, but in private, appears to be a vicious opponent of them when they get in his way. Sanders is now receiving the consequence for courting big labour, a price he wants to share with the rest of America. I look forward to the conclusion of this political thriller. I don’t think it’s going to end well for Sanders.
Photo by Phil Roeder on Flickr.