What caught my attention about this talk was the title, specifically the word “pitchforks”. The word draws associations to the French Revolution or even that one scene in Shrek. Nick Hanauer is a self-admitted plutocrat, or someone whose power is derived from their wealth. He has founded, owned, and managed countless businesses and even sold one to Microsoft for $6.4 billion. So why would a man who owns countless homes, a yacht, and an airplane be worried about townspeople with pitchforks chasing him? Mr. Hanauer argues that the wealth disparity in the United States is too high, and he suggests that the luxurious lifestyles of plutocrats will eventually come to an end. This is his message to his fellow plutocrats: “Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. If we don’t do something to fix inequality, the pitchforks will come for us.”
Mr. Hanauer explains that a thriving middle-class is the source of prosperity in capitalist economies. He believes that the best way the build up the middle class is to raise the minimum raise. His suggestion was adopted in Seattle, a city that is gradually raising the minimum wage to $15. If workers have more money, businesses will have more customers and will need to hire more workers. This cycle benefits workers, business, and society. A strong middle-class is nonexistent in modern day America, but it can be achieved. Mr. Hanauer also argues that if we pay workers more, we can reduce the size and need of government assistance programs, which benefits taxpayers. This “new capitalism” theory he proposes demands that we invest in the middle-class to make our economy more competitive and to reduce the wealth distribution gap.
The Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011 is probably the best example of the 99% revolting against the 1%. The events that unfolded in New York City are exactly what Mr. Hanauer was referring to in his mention of pitchforks. I agree that the United States should increase the minimum wage because it will permit for the reemergence of the middle-class, it will increase consumer spending, and it will improve our economy. It is also refreshing to see a man who has amassed so much wealth lead this fight. Who better to encourage plutocrats to change than a plutocrat? Raise the minimum wage. Build up the middle-class. Watch the economy thrive.