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Shapiro battles CEO Nick Hanauer over minimum wage

During his state of the state address on Tuesday night in Olympia, Gov. Jay Inslee advocated for an increase in the state minimum wage. (AP)

In a fiery and wide-ranging discussion, KTTH host Ben Shapiro debated the merits of a $15 minimum wage increase with Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.

Hanauer recently wrote an article for Bloomberg called “The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage” and is a strong advocate for raising the wage.

Hanauer argues that raising the minimum wage will help workers spend more, thus putting more money into the economy; he also says that corporations have enough capital to pay for the raises.

“The fundamental law of capitalism is that if workers have no money, businesses have no customers. That’s why the extreme, and widening, wealth gap in our economy presents not just a moral challenge, but an economic one, too,” Hanauer wrote in his Bloomberg column.

Shapiro challenged Hanauer’s reasoning, arguing that wisely invested corporate capital is what spurs the economy – indeed, Hanauer used capital he earned as CEO of Pacific Coast Feather Company to invest in the early 1990s in a company called

“Low wage workers are terrible customers, worse taxpayers, and not great citizens, either,” Hanauer asserted, insinuating that more money and less time spent at work could alleviate some of those problems.

One point Shapiro and Hanauer agreed on is that American taxpayers pick up the slack for low wages by paying for food stamps, welfare, and low-cost or free medical care for the impoverished.

“Obviously, I believe the best argument in favor of making poor people rich is capitalism. It’s not mandating that companies stay here and pay $15 per hour, it’s not paying tariffs; it’s making sure people can buy things they want at the prices they want and they can work for the wages they want and all those choices are made available to them,” Shapiro concluded at the end of interview.

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