Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

The Conservative Argument for Raising the Minimum Wage

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Ron Unz made his fortune in Silicon Valley and his political reputation by essentially eliminating bilingual education in California. He’s now pushing for a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in the state to $12 an hour, the highest in the nation.

Unz told Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti that he got involved in the minimum wage issue because of the immigration issue.

“One of the arguments frequently made is that a lot of the immigrants who come here take the jobs that Americans don’t want, and that’s perfectly true,” he said. “In a lot of these jobs, if the wages were reasonable, Americans would take the work, and then there wouldn’t be as much of a problem.”

Raising the minimum wage would also take the burden off taxpayers to subsidize the working poor, Unz says.

“The bottom line is that the American government right now spends $250 billion a year on social welfare programs to benefit the working poor,” he said. “What we have right now is the classic case of businesses privatizing the benefits of the workers, but socializing the costs — shifting the burden to taxpayers and the rest of society. And I think businesses should stand on their own two feet and pay their own workers, rather than force the taxpayers to make up the difference.”

Guest

  • Ron Unz, software developer and publisher of the Unz Review. He’s former publisher of the American Conservative. He chairs the Higher Wages Alliance, which is sponsoring a California ballot initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour.

Ron Unz made his fortune in Silicon Valley and his political reputation by essentially eliminating bilingual education in California. He’s now pushing for a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in the state to $12 an hour, the highest in the nation.

Unz told Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti that he got involved in the minimum wage issue because of the immigration issue.

“One of the arguments frequently made is that a lot of the immigrants who come here take the jobs that Americans don’t want, and that’s perfectly true,” he said. “In a lot of these jobs, if the wages were reasonable, Americans would take the work, and then there wouldn’t be as much of a problem.”

Raising the minimum wage would also take the burden off taxpayers to subsidize the working poor, Unz says.

“The bottom line is that the American government right now spends $250 billion a year on social welfare programs to benefit the working poor,” he said. “What we have right now is the classic case of businesses privatizing the benefits of the workers, but socializing the costs — shifting the burden to taxpayers and the rest of society. And I think businesses should stand on their own two feet and pay their own workers, rather than force the taxpayers to make up the difference.”

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Guest

  • Ron Unz, software developer and publisher of the Unz Review. He’s former publisher of the American Conservative. He chairs the Higher Wages Alliance, which is sponsoring a California ballot initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour.

Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

Let’s turn our attention now to California. Who is one of the most passionate voices behind a push to raise that state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour? He’s a Silicon Valley millionaire and a libertarian and former publisher of the American Conservative magazine. Not the typical profile of a champion for higher wages, but Ron Unz is spending a lot of his own time and money to put a new minimum wage question before California voters.

Ron Unz joins us from the studios of Stanford University, and Ron, welcome, and let’s just start with the obvious question. What first made you think that raising the minimum wage in California is a good idea?

• Category: Campaign, National, Notable