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Centrist? Billionaire Michael Bloomberg Says a Living Wage for Workers is Downright Soviet

When groups like Americans Elect refer to the “sensible center” while drawing up lists of names of acceptable presidential contenders — names like Evan Bayh, Erskine Bowles, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, David Walker and Michael Bloomberg — they’re appealing to the idea that these are typical people, reasonable, sensible people holding typical ideas, reasonable, sensible ideas.

As Noreen Malone of New York Magazine reports, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had this explanation for his opposition to a living wage for the people of New York City:

“The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR and that didn’t work out so well.”

Is equating a livable wage with Soviet dictatorship reasonable? Sensible? Typical?

It’s not typical. The majority of the people of New York City support a hike in the minimum wage there. Judging by numbers alone, Michael Bloomberg isn’t in the center when it comes to a livable wage. Bloomberg’s on the fringe.

Is Bloomberg being sensible and reasonable? To be sensible is to open your eyes and observe the world around you. To be reasonable is to process your observations on the way to making conclusions. By neither count does Bloomberg’s claim pass the test. It’s simply not true that “The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR and that didn’t work out so well.” There are a number of “big managed economies,” if by that we mean places where the minimum wage is higher than the United States — and that’s what Michael Bloomberg means. The United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourg have higher minimum wages than in the United States. How are they doing?

Using minimum wage data from Eurostat and latest-available female life expectancy data from Eurostat and the CDC (male trend is the same), let’s see “how well that turned out”:

Minimum wage and life expectancy for European countries and the United States, courtesy of Eurostat and the CDC

The countries with the lowest minimum wages have the lowest life expectancies. To quote Michael Bloomberg, “that didn’t work out so well.” The countries with the highest minimum wages have the highest life expectancies. And every country with a higher minimum wage than the United States has a higher life expectancy. That worked out pretty well for United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourg — at least if you’re concerned with the quality of life of the people who live within those nations.

Sensible, rational and typical aren’t what garners Michael Bloomberg the label of “centrist.” What does? The billionaire mogul mayor continues:

“It would be great if all jobs in the city paid a lot of money and had great benefits — for the workers. Not good for the employers.”

Well, that explains it. Bloomberg isn’t interested in the quality of life of the people living in a place. Bloomberg sides with the employers. And that’s what “centrism” really means.

2 comments to Centrist? Billionaire Michael Bloomberg Says a Living Wage for Workers is Downright Soviet

  • I literally almost spat out my drink in laughter when I read that headline last night. What’s funny is this (just barely and debatable) living wage of 10 USD per hour isn’t even an actual minimum wage increase for all workers in the city like San Francisco has done (Currently the minimum wage is $10.24 for ALL workers in San Fran), but simply a wage increase for workers contracted for public works. So a measly increase to 10 USD per hour *for some workers* is enough to have him scream “SOCHALIZM” like a buffoon? Yeah, real “moderate” there…

    But yeah, this guy totally exemplifies the “centrist” types in the US, socially liberal (He’s pro gay marriage, pro abortion, pro gun control), but just as clownishly right wing on economic matters. That last line of his exemplifies it. “It’s not good for the rich!”

  • Bill

    Bloomers didn’t get rich by writing a lot of checks.

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