Richard Fink, an executive vice president of Koch Industries, based his case that the minimum wage leads to fascism on the discredited claim that raising the minimum wage would cost 500,000 jobs. Economic consensus, based on dozens of studies of actual real-life cases comparing states, cities, or counties with higher minimum wage with their neighbors with lower minimum wage, is that raising the wage does not hurt job growth. And you don't have to look far to find recent examples of strong job growth in places that raised the minimum wage. So Fink's argument starts in a problematic place. But it gets a whole lot more problematic really fast:
He continued, “We’re taking these 500,000 people that would’ve had a job, and putting them unemployed, making dependence part of government programs, and destroying their opportunity for earned success. And so we see this is a very big part of recruitment in Germany in the '20s.”Not just Hitler, but also Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and suicide bombers. He couldn't come up with any other historical boogeymen? Maybe he could blame the American Civil War on efforts to raise the minimum wage for enslaved people!
“If you look at the Third -- the rise and fall of the Third Reich, you can see that,” Fink said. “And what happens is a fascist comes in and offers them an opportunity, finds the victim -- Jews or the West -- and offers them meaning for their life, OK?”
Fink cited the historical examples of Nazi Germany and communist Russia and China to segue to terrorism. “This is not just in Germany. It's in Russia, in Lenin, and Stalin Russia, and then Mao,” said Fink. “This is the recruitment ground for fascism, and it's not just historical. It's what goes on today in the -- in the suicide bomber recruitment.”
Also, it's a small quibble in the historical sweep of Hitler and Mao, but it's worth noting that this whole argument about how destructive it is to have to rely on government programs ignores the fact that if the minimum wage is a poverty wage, as it is right now under U.S. federal law, a lot of people end up dependent on government assistance despite working, because their jobs don't pay enough to live on.