In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama is going to call for a national minimum wage of $10.10. Then in their response the Republicans will say that'd be a huge disaster that would make the Washington Monument fall over, Mt. Rushmore explode, etc. But here's what neither Obama or the GOP will tell you:
One hundred years ago this month Henry Ford began paying his workers a minimum of $15 an hour! (It was $5 for an eight hour day – which would be worth $116.48 now.) That's right – in a much poorer America, one without TV, radio, phones or House of Cards on demand, Ford could afford it. In fact, Ford later said, he couldn't afford not to: "The owner, the employees, and the buying public are all one and the same, and unless an industry can so manage itself as to keep wages high and prices low it destroys itself, for otherwise it limits the number of its customers. One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers."
Tell THAT to anyone who says we can't afford a minimum wage of $15 here in 2014 – 100 years later, in a country about eight times as rich per person. The CEOs will scream and weep now just like they did then, and just like then they'll be wrong. Not only would it not destroy American businesses, it might be the only thing that can save them.
(To learn more about the national movement to raise the minimum wage to $15, check out 15 Now, led by Seattle's new socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant; support Fast Food Forward; and follow Nick Hanauer, who was one of the first investors in Amazon and says that America's real job creators are middle class workers.)