Radio gabber Larry Elder might know exactly which talking points will thrill his many conservative listeners, but fewer fans may be drawn to his stance on a living wage: namely, that there shouldn’t be one.
On Tuesday, Elder—who at last count led the pack of nearly four dozen candidates hoping to replace Governor Gavin Newsom in next month’s recall election—proposed a new minimum wage for California of zero dollars an hour.
Forget the burgeoning movement toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Speaking to the editorial boards of California’s McClatchy-owned newspapers, Elder blasted the Golden State’s $14 minimum wage for businesses with 26 or more employees and $13 for those with fewer, stating that the people who make up the backbone of California’s economy should be guaranteed a base pay of zilch.
“The ideal minimum wage is $0.00,” Elder said, adding, “For somebody who’s never run a business to tell business people… ‘I’m going to jack up your price of labor, and you’re going to deal with it,’ to me, it’s offensive.”
The lawyer-turned-talk show host also seemed baffled by the prospect of the government—or even groups of workers—bargaining, perhaps collectively, to establish fair wages.
“Why two people who are adults can’t determine what the price of labor ought to be, is beyond me,” Elder said. “And why a third party feels it is his or her business to interfere with that is also beyond me.”
Perhaps it’s equally beyond Elder to explain the post-pandemic worker shortages that have kept businesses across the state from fully reopening thanks to a dearth of people who chose to return for insultingly low pay.
“The more I got into this,” Elder said, “the more I became optimistic that maybe, just maybe, somebody named Larry Elder can do a little something about some of the problems plaguing California.”
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