Politics & Policy

Minimum Wage: $100 Per Hour?

Don’t be small-minded, America.

From coast to coast, politicians want to hike the minimum wage. New York State legislators aim to lift it from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour. California lawmakers are weighing a boost from $8.00 to $8.50.

Ralph Nader recently urged the Occupy movement to demand that the federal floor increase from $7.25 to $10.00.

On March 6, former governor Willard Mitt Romney (R., Mass.) told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow that “there’s probably not a need to raise the minimum wage.” In January, however, Governor Etch a Sketch said he would “allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI [Consumer Price Index] or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.”

Tragically, these proposals don’t go far enough.

What America needs is the economic equivalent of a 24-Hour Energy Drink. Why not a $100-an-hour minimum wage?

If every worker were legally guaranteed this amount, just imagine the possibilities:

Assuming 52 weeks of labor at 40 hours each, every American would earn at least $208,000 annually.

This sum would move the typical American from rank-and-file to rich. Today’s $40,584 average individual income would quintuple. Why? Because Washington said so. Rather than a nation in which the top 1 percent fears the rage of the 99 percent, Americans could live harmoniously as 100 percent of workers would occupy, at worst, the top 3 percent. Thus, Class War I would conclude peacefully after it barely had begun.

Even greater benefits would flow like honey, if not like pancake syrup.

With at least $208,000 to spend annually, each worker could buy tons of luxury goods. Tiffany, Nordstrom, and Coach stores could stay open 24/7 as millions of Americans suddenly could afford their previously pricey products. Four Seasons hotels could fill every suite. And the airlines could add extra first-class seats, since traveling up front would become affordable for everyone with a paycheck.

This super-stimulus would propel America’s GDP to Himalayan heights. A $100-per-hour minimum wage would give America’s 133 million workers at least $27.7 trillion in combined buying power — every year!

Of course, this figure will climb even higher as the hefty new wage inspires virtually everyone not currently working to flood the labor market. With all the money that employers will make in increased sales, it will be a snap for them to hire America’s 12.8 million jobless people, at a minimum cost of some $2.7 trillion annually. At long last, this will end — not mend — unemployment.

And consider the windfall for the government. The U.S. Tax Code establishes a 33 percent tax rate on everyone earning $208,000. Even after deductions, this would translate into roughly $9 trillion in income-tax revenues every year. This Niagara Falls of cash could help Uncle Sam pay his bills. Bye-bye, national debt!

Now, some party-poopers might argue that the government has no right to tell employers how much to pay their employees. However, these naysayers forget that the minimum-wage law says nothing about how much employers can pay, just how little. Employers certainly could pay employees more than $100 per hour.

Others may wonder where employers would find the money to comply with this modest proposal. This question is impertinent and perhaps a little bit racist. Far worse, it lacks imagination. After all, imagination settled the American West, whisked Americans to the Moon, and even invented Strawberry Daiquiri Jell-O. Where there’s a will, Americans find a way.

Amid such myopia, simply listen to George Bernard Shaw. As he famously put it: “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” With words like that, who needs a magic wand?

A $10 or even $12 hourly minimum wage represents the kind of small-mindedness that subverts the American Experience. $100 an hour reflects the boldness that built these United States. And just imagine the beauty of a $1,000-an-hour minimum wage.

Come on, America. Think big. Think really, really big!

New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, a Fox News contributor, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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