He said in a statement he’d been unable to raise enough money to qualify the measure, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, for the ballot. A big part of the problem, he said, was that he failed to attract the interest of labor unions he had figured would be natural allies in the minimum-wage fight. Neither did wealthy conservatives volunteer to help bankroll his campaign.
Unz is probably best known for Proposition 227, a successful 1998 initiative that sought to ban bilingual education in California. He promoted his minimum-wage ballot initiative as a way of freeing the working poor from reliance on government aid while also stimulating the economy. Last November, Unz told KQED’s Scott Shafer:
What we have right now is a crazy system where employers pay their workers so low wages that the taxpayers wind up providing billions of dollars of social-welfare subsidies for those same workers — food stamps, housing, earned-income tax credit, all those sorts of things. Now, under a logical system of free-market capitalism, employers should pay their own workers instead of forcing the taxpayers to pay them instead. What we have is a system in which employers have privatized the benefits of their workers — they get all the labor — while they’ve socialized many of the costs, forcing the taxpayers to cover the living costs of their own workers, which is ridiculous.