Kevin O'Leary Shreds Bernie Sanders' $15/hr Minimum Wage Platform


I don’t know if Sen. Bernie Sanders has an idea for an invention or a startup of any kind. He doesn’t seem the type, really; he’s a bit more into taxing those who do so that he can shower the people of America with all kinds of wonderful free stuff if he ends up ensconcing himself at 1600 Pennsylvania sometime soon.

If the whole leader-of-the-free-world gig doesn’t work out, however, and he decides he’s going to go the inventor route and look for startup capital, I have one suggestion for him: Don’t try out “Shark Tank.” That’s because Kevin O’Leary is definitely a no.

O’Leary, the Canadian businessman best known as one of the venture capitalists on the hit ABC TV show, appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on June 6 with Storch Advisors CEO Gregory Storch, in part to talk about the minimum wage. That was one day after Sanders, who has been pushing for a $15 national minimum wage for quite some time, appeared at Walmart’s annual shareholder’s meeting in order to pull a publicity stunt.

“Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders came face-to-face with Walmart’s corporate leadership during the retail giant’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday in Arkansas, where he introduced an employee proposal to put workers on the company’s board and asked for a raise to its minimum wage,” CNN reported.

“Speaking as a proxy for a Walmart employee, Sanders offered the resolution — which would be defeated in an afternoon vote — from the floor of a small, carpeted ballroom with Rachel Brand, a top company executive and former Justice Department official, presiding onstage. After giving the formal pitch, Sanders delivered a more cutting message to Walmart officials.”

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“Despite the incredible wealth of its owner, Walmart pays many of its employees starvation wages, wages that are so low that many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive,” Sanders said.

“Further, Walmart should give a voice to its workers by allowing them seats on the board of directors. The concerns of workers, not just stockholders should be a part of board decisions.”

By the way, as Forbes reported, its a jeremiad against “a company that has voluntarily raised its hourly wage by 50% over the past four years.” But look at how the media covered it.

“By visiting Arkansas, Sanders was able to directly confront Walmart’s leadership and, through his aggressive use of social media, highlight his stand to Democrats angered by growing corporate profits at a time of increasing economic inequality,” CNN’s Gregory Krieg wrote.

Do you believe we should have a $15 minimum wage?

“Sanders’ 2020 campaign has sought to remind voters of his long track record as an activist, dating to the Civil Rights Era. The candidate himself has spoken occasionally on the stump about his roots in the progressive movement and support for union workers on picket lines.”

Good luck with that one. I suppose you’ve got to chop into Joe Biden’s lead somehow.

O’Leary pointed out as much on “Squawk Box” the next day: “You can’t blame him for doing this. He can’t get much press anymore,” he said, adding that a socialist candidate isn’t going to get much traction “at full employment.”

But then he asked Storch the question, “If you could wave a magic wand, do you think the market really is a better way to determine minimum wage? Just let the market be the market and let people compete?”

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“Of course I do,” Storch said, adding that the minimum wage is “going to keep growing” as long as the economy’s fundamentals remain strong.

“It’s wonderful to have a free market voice like that. It’s just refreshing and it cleanses,” O’Leary responded.

But then CNBC co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin went after O’Leary and Storch when given a chance to provide “the other side” of things.

“I think the other side is, what’s the right number?” Sorkin said.

“The market determines the right number,” O’Leary said.

Then, when Sorkin said that China’s market “determines a terrible number,” O’Leary responded: “That’s not a free market. This [the US] is a free market.”

Exactly. Refreshing and cleansing.

The idea that artificially high wages for menial, unskilled work is somehow sustainable is a lie. What companies will do is cut hours, hire fewer workers and turn to automation.

Anyone who thinks like that probably shouldn’t count on O’Leary’s support on “Shark Tank,” at least from the available evidence. And he definitely shouldn’t be president.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture