If We Raise Minimum Wage, Why Stop At $10 An Hour?


When President Barack Obama and other Democrats began talking about raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, I didn’t believe them.

John Kass2

Instead, cynical thoughts came to mind, like “class war” and “November elections” and “pandering for votes.”

But I’ve changed. Now I agree with the president, the national Democrats and the Chicago Way boys from Obama’s political hometown.

Raise the minimum wage? You betcha.

But $10 an hour doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Call me traitor or Mr. Bleepin’ Capitulator, I don’t care. Today I’m joining Obama and his national Democrats and the Chicago boys in supporting the minimum-wage hike.

A measly 10 bucks an hour? In a country as wealthy as the U.S.?

The minimum-wage number is decided on by politicians, not the free market. And since our politicians can raise the minimum wage as high as they wish, why stop at 10 bucks?

Why not $100 an hour?

That would make a lot of people happy.

For one thing, $100 is much nicer than $10. It’s got more zeros in it, meaning you can buy more stuff.

Just imagine minimum-wage workers getting $100 an hour.

The old evil cynicism would end. Poverty would disappear. And the people would love their politicians. With everybody making $100/hr baseline, Obama might think about a third term.

Just forget what those know-nothing economists and business leaders say. What do they know about creating jobs?

Some will question my credentials, and, yes, it’s true, I am not a former Enron adviser. But I have feelings too.

Raising the minimum wage to $100 an hour will actually create, rather than destroy, wealth.

Just whip out your calculator and you’ll see that if you take $100 an hour and multiply that by 40 hours, it comes to, wait a minute … wait … let me push the button … hey, it comes to $4,000 a week!

That’s a little over $200,000 a year!

Since you can’t very well pay everyone the same — not yet, at least — brain surgeons would get a big pay increase. Experts agree that brain surgery isn’t exactly flipping burgers. Engineers would get an increase, too, as well as airline pilots, car salesmen, the Beanie Babies guy, strippers, even politicians.

We’d have so many millionaires in America that we couldn’t count them all.

Just think of all that new wealth created instantly, without any real effort or sacrifice or planning, created solely because a few American politicians had the guts to do what should have been done just a few years ago when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.

The naysayers will whine: “Where do we get all the cash to pay all the millions and millions of new millionaires? And what about the billionaires? Wouldn’t they become trillionaires?”

You’re darn tootin’ they’d become trillionaires. That’s how a successful economy floats all the happy little boats.

With few poor people, there would be hardly any class envy, since everybody in America could afford cable shows like “Game of Thrones” and drugs too.

Now don’t take a turn to Negativity Town and start telling me there’s not enough cash. There’s plenty of cash. All we have to do is print some more.

We print cash now, don’t we? And we’ll just keep printing and printing, knowing in our hearts that we’ll never run out of paper and green ink.

I tried this plan out on my high schoolers, but the boys muttered something about deflation or inflation or whatever and then ran off to school.

So later, while lunching on grape leaves stuffed with rice and pine nuts at an Armenian restaurant near the newspaper, I asked the owner, Roupen the Libertarian Armenian Guy, for his assessment.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked. “Why not make it $500 an hour?”

Roupen knows a lot more about the economy than politicians. They know about stoking class envy, but before he ran an Armenian restaurant, Roupen the Libertarian Armenian Guy was once a commodities trader.

Sadly, he didn’t share my enthusiasm for eliminating poverty in America.

“If everybody’s making $100 baseline, what’s that worth in real terms?” asked Roupen. “It’s really not logical.”

Logic, smogic, Roupen. This isn’t about logic. It’s about making people feel good about themselves and branding others as evil.

Poor Roupen. When it comes to stoking class war, he doesn’t understand the first thing about politics.

He also didn’t think much of the “millionaire tax” pushed awhile ago by Obama and now with gusto by the Chicago Way boys.

I like the idea myself because under my $100-an-hour plan, there would be even more millionaires to squeeze.

But I just hit on an even better idea. Let’s not just raise taxes on the rich.

Let’s braise the rich.

After we take their cash, let’s throw them in a pot and braise them for hours, perhaps with some celery, tomatoes, chicken stock, red wine and garlic. And then let’s add some rice, to help make the meal go farther.

Get your recipes ready, folks.

November is coming.

(John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM. His e-mail address is [email protected], and his Twitter handle is @john_kass.)

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