Mayor Bloomberg seems to have a short memory for the logical outcome of class war, so I thought I'd remind him what happened the last time the aristocracy got out of hand.
If I were the queen of the universe, every time a member of the one percent opened his or her piehole to defend exploiting workers, they would be sentenced to work six months at a minimum wage job, find an affordable apartment, apply for Medicaid and food stamps and be monitored closely by a social worker. Because when Mayor Mikey says crap like this, I can only think of a Yiddish word that rhymes with "nuts":
To a few hundred New York workers laboring for $8 or $9 an hour, a living wage bill recently passed by the city council means a raise, a few dollars more a week to help feed their families.
To billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, it's a wedge to open the door to communism. That's right -- the mayor told a local radio program that requiring businesses that get taxpayer subsidies to pay their workers a little bit more is just like a centrally planned economy. “The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR, and that didn’t work out so well,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg is just fine with handing over millions of New Yorkers' dollars in taxpayer subsidies to companies that threaten to flee the city -- no complaints about “free market” capitalism when it's wealthy real estate developers getting the dough. Requiring those businesses that are happily slurping at the public trough to pay their workers a dollar or two more an hour, though, is just opening the door to Stalin.
In addition, Bloomberg has been willing to support a statewide minimum wage increase -- so it's not really that he opposes workers making a little bit more as much as he's opposed to admitting that businesses that get public money have an obligation to the public. He's opposed to admitting that there's nothing “free market” about any of it.
No wonder a rally in support of the living wage bill was interrupted by a heckler calling him “Pharoah Bloomberg”—the reference to “Pharoah” making workers labor for low wages on taxpayer-funded projects seems apt, as the world's 20th richest man has vowed to sue to prevent the living wage ordinance from going into effect.
“Mayor Bloomberg is in fact taking the position that the immense buying power of the city as well as its prominent role in economic development should be used to milk private sector workers,” Mark Price, a labor economist who testified in 2009 before the New York City Council over a prevailing wage bill, told AlterNet. “The idea that the government can be used to do this to workers is a throwback to the Gilded Age when robber barons ruthlessly accumulated wealth and power at the expense of workers.”
But as the economy remains stalled and companies that pay poverty wages continue to get huge subsidies from cities and states (like New York's FreshDirect, which we recently reported is pocketing $129 million in handouts and is exempt from the new living wage rule), activists around the country are pushing for living wages in cities, on college campuses, and in tandem with pushes to raise the minimum wage.