A $50 Per Hour Minimum Wage?

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readFeb 15, 2024

Proposed by a Democratic lawmaker in California, the idea seems outrageous at first glance. But is it?

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash.

In a bold move that has ignited heated debates across the political spectrum, a Democrat lawmaker has proposed a $50 per hour minimum wage law.

California Democrat and Senate candidate Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) voiced the controversial policy proposal during a recent debate. The former Oakland mayor’s proposal was met with skepticism and derision, even from fellow Democrats.

“Why not $500 per hour?” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) derisively.

Rep. Barbara Lee in California Senate race says minimum wage should be raised to $50,” reported Kinsey Crowley and Kathryn Palmer for USA Today on February 15, 2024.

“In a broadcast of the debate published by KTLA 5, Moderator Nikki Laurenzo asked Lee about her proposal for a $50 an hour federal minimum wage, pointing out that the federal minimum wage is $7.25,” wrote Crowley and Palmer. “The other candidates called for $20-$25 an hour for minimum wage, Laurenzo said.”

“Can you explain how that would be economically sustainable for small businesses?” the debate moderator asked Rep. Lee.

After mentioning that she ran a small business for over a decade, Lee clarified her remarks.

“I know what worker productivity means, and that means that you have to make sure that your employees are taken care of and have a living wage,” said Rep. Lee.

“$127,000 for a family of four is just barely enough,” she said, citing a recent report from United Way.

“Just do the math — of course, we have national minimum wages that we need to raise to a living wage, you’re talking about $20, $25,” Lee continued. “Fine, but I have got to be focused on what California needs and what the affordability factor is when we calculate this wage.”

Lee does have a point: The average house in California currently costs an average of $787,000.

Add in the current interest rates for a mortgage, and home ownership becomes a faraway dream most Californians can’t even imagine.

While such a proposal as a $50 minimum wage may seem radical at first glance, delving deeper reveals a…