In last week's budget hearing, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders argued that the minimum wage should be raised because the nation's largest private employer-- Walmart-- routinely pays such low wages that their average associate is eligible for food stamps, medicaid and other government assistance programs, which in effect, causes taxpayers to subsidize Walmart's low wages.
Senator Ron Johnson shot back in a mocking tone, "Well why don't we just raise it to $100 an hour?" And then answered his own question, saying, "The reason you don't do that is because you realize that it would reduce the employment opportunities of those at the bottom." Then Johnson concluded, "The number of people actually working minimum wage is actually a very small percentage of the workforce. It's an entry-level wage, they prove themselves and start working up the wage scale... and that's just what happens."
Unfortunately, "working up the wage scale" isn't happening at our nation's largest employer: The average Walmart associate earns just $8.81 an hour. In addition, it has been calculated that if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, the rate would be $10.55 an hour. Considering that a recent study found that one in four private sector workers in the United States were being paid less than $10 an hour, Johnson's claim that few are living on minimum wage salary simply isn't true.
And, let's not forget that this is the same Walmart that drives other employers out of business with their predatory pricing and drives U.S. manufacturing employers out of business by pumping in cheap products from overseas. Johnson patronizes Sanders, saying raising the minimum wage "is well intentioned," but not how the real world's free market works, however it is clearly Johnson that doesn't understand that a Walmart economy isn't how a free market is supposed to operate.