A Moderate Democratic Billionaire and a Moderate Republican Billionaire

Republished from The Unz Review

An important story ran Saturday ran in the Los Angeles Times:

Bid to hike L.A. minimum wage gets pair of powerful backers
As the L.A. City Council examines the ‘living wage’ issue, philanthropist Eli Broad and developer Rick Caruso say they support a higher minimum wage.
James Rainey, The Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2014

The debate on whether Los Angeles hotel workers should be paid at least $15.37 an hour opened last week with some less-than-expected allies for a “living wage” and some questions from City Council members about whether the proposal goes too far, or not far enough.

Two of the city’s business titans, billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and mall developer Rick Caruso, broke from the standard business-versus-labor divide when they said in interviews they support a higher minimum wage.

Broad said he favors a gradual increase to $15 an hour for all workers in the city, not just those at big hotels, as proposed by three members of the Los Angeles City Council. Caruso said he supports a government mandate for higher pay, probably $12 to $15 an hour, though he would prefer the higher wage be imposed by either the state or federal government. [READ MORE]

Two weeks earlier, Which Way L.A.?, the leading Los Angeles public affairs radio program, had devoted its show to discussing the proposal to raise the wages of non-unionized workers at the large Los Angeles hotels.  As one of the guests, I had sharply criticized the idea, arguing that doubling the wages of 1% of the workers in Los Angeles made far less sense than a large minimum wage hike for all of the workers in Los Angeles.  I’m very glad to see that my views are now echoed by individuals of vastly greater financial resources and political influence.

Push for Minimum Wage Increase for Hotel Workers
Which Way L.A.?/KCRW, Warren Olney, February 19, 2014
Curren Price Jr., Stuart Waldman, Ron Unz

Then last week, Which Way L.A.? had me on again, this time participating in a discussion of the broader state and national efforts to raise the minimum wage.  I was particularly glad to see that the sole doubtful voice—Clive Crook of Bloomberg View and formerly of The Economist—had largely came around to the pro-minimum wage position by the end of the discussion.

Is It Time to Increase the Minimum Wage?
Which Way L.A.?/KCRW, Warren Olney, February 24, 2014
Steven Greenhouse, Clive Crook, Arun Ivatury, Ron Unz

Two days afterward, The Los Angeles Times had run a major profile on my own statewide $12 minimum wage initiative effort:

Ron Unz, a Mo’ Money Man on the Minimum Wage
Patt Morrison, The Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2014

On the national level, Rolling Stone, with a paid circulation of 1.5 million, on Friday released its blistering 2,700 word feature article on the minimum wage battle:

Hey Washington! the Pay Is Too Damn Low: The Minimum-Wage War
Giving America’s lowest-paid workers a raise is great for the economy. And even better for Democratic prospects in 2014
Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, February 27, 2014

Meanwhile, the ongoing shift in conservative views continued apace, with Wednesday seeing the publication of three important articles in the movement-conservative media:

The conservative Daily Caller touted Peter Thiel’s stance
Uber-Libertarian Peter Thiel Praises $12 an Hour Minimum Wage Hike

Irwin Stelzer, director of economic policy at the conservative Hudson Institute endorsed a big MW hike in The Weekly Standard
Back to Work

Rightwinger Ann Coulter proposed a $14 MW in her widely syndicated column.
Raise The Minimum Wage To $14 An Hour Using This One Weird Trick—An Immigration Moratorium!

And in my recent column on the rapidly changing sentiment toward the minimum wage among free market conservatives, I had neglected to mention perhaps the most remarkable early shift of all.  The Economist is arguably the world’s most influential free market oriented publication, and two weeks after I paid my $200 initiative filing fee it ran the following two pieces:

The Logical Floor
Moderate minimum wages do more good than harm.  They should be set by technocrats not politicians.
Editorial, The Economist, December 14, 2013

Raising the Floor
America’s minimum-wage debate has rolled around again.
The Economist, December 14, 2013

Although these hardly constituted a full-throated cry of “Raise the Wage!” the new editorial stance of The Economist produced gasps of total amazement from longtime observers.

Predicting the ultimate outcome of political trends is impossible, but there are signs of an growing tidal wave of both elite and public sentiment on the minimum wage issue.

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