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?
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.