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

Would a $12 Minimum Wage in California Hurt Poor People?

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Next November, Californians will decide whether to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour — which would be the highest level of any state and not so far from the $15 an hour goal often mentioned by labor activists.

Surprisingly, this proposal is getting on the ballot courtesy of a wealthy Californian businessman Ron Unz. (Yes, the same Ron Unz who earlier led a campaign to eliminate bilingual education in California.) Why does Unz want such a big hike? One reason is that he’s a conservative who doesn’t think that corporations should be leeching off taxpayers by paying workers so little money that they end up on public assistance — a subsidy we’ve been talking up here for months. Unz told the New York Times:

“There are so many very low-wage workers, and we pay for huge social welfare programs for them,” he said in an interview. “This would save something on the order of tens of billions of dollars. Doesn’t it make more sense for employers to pay their workers than the government?”

But Unz’s other motive, apparently, is to curb illegal immigration. Unz has argued that California’s sweatshops — which pull in lots of poor illegal immigrants — would be devastated by a higher minimum wage. Unz wrote in 2011:
• Category: California, Campaign • Tags: David Callahan, Immigration, Poverty