President Obama announced yesterday that, by executive order, he would raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour. Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee hit the streets to find out whether we really need to raise the minimum wage and who, if anyone, should work for $2 an hour.
Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc and a financial commentator who's completely unsympathetic to the plight of the working poor, argued that the rules supply and demand mean that a higher wage will reduce demand for jobs. At one point, Schiff argued that the minimum wage should be dropped so people can work for whatever wage they can get.
"Paint me a picture of a person whose work would be worth two dollars an hour," Bee asked.
"Maybe some who is, uh, what's the politically correct word for, you know, mentally retarded," he said. "I believe in the principals this country was founded on," he said, later adding, "I'm not going to say that we're all created equal. You're worth what you're worth."
That's not to say that Schiff doesn't care about the poors. "Of course I do," replied Schiff. "I just acknowledge that government programs are trapping them in poverty." Bee wondered if people should just have two jobs for $7.50 an hour. "Well, would you rather do that, or pay twice as much for your burger?" Schiff replied. Said Bee: "I do like to taste the tears of poverty in my milk shake."
Equities analyst Barry Ritholtz, however, told Bee that studies have shown that raising the minimum wage would help the economy. Schiff disagreed, since "people don't go hungry in a capitalist economy. It's socialism that creates scarcity," he argued. Like the socialism of reducing food stamps.