Newsom recall challenger Larry Elder makes no bones about it: Calif minimum wage should be $0

Larry Elder is holding firm to his generally libertarian-leaning, hands-off economic philosophy even if it won’t endear himself to some California voters or left-wing Twitter even as he attempts to replace Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom in the September 14, 2021, recall election.

In what will probably give the pro-Newsom cohort a simplistic way to demonize him, the high-profile, high-energy conservative pundit and talk show host reaffirmed that the “ideal” minimum wage should be zero.

The Los Angeles-born Elder made his seemingly unpopular view on this topic evident in a discussion with the McClatchy editorial board in which he outlined the negative ripple effects on the workforce and the economy as a whole.

“Given the indoctrination that people have about the minimum wage, [voters] probably wouldn’t react to it well. I would point out that there was an editorial in 1987 in the New York Times, an editorial — not an op-ed piece — and the headline is ‘Correct minimum wage: zero point zero zero,’ Elder explained.

“And they made all the Economic 101 arguments. That is, when you arbitrarily increase the cost of labor, all sorts of bad consequences come from that. Peoples’ hours are cut back, a hiring decision is deferred, prices of goods go up in order to compensate for the forced increase in labor, which is usually the biggest cost in running any kind of business…”

The pro-Trump Elder also questioned the basic premise of government intrusion into the marketplace rather than letting free-market industry forces determine pay.

“When you come in with the minimum wage, you are foreclosing the ability of people often with little education and little skills to get a job. I never have quite understood why a third party like government — why that government feels like it’s anybody’s business what my relationship is with an individual who willingly sold his labor, and my relationship with that person when I willingly bought that labor.

“Why two people who are adults can’t determine what the price of labor ought to be is beyond me, and why a third party feels it’s his or her business to interfere with that is also beyond me,” Elder concluded.


As Elder implied, the government originally established the minimum hourly age as a safety net for entry-level workers. It was never meant as an endpoint.

While some employers do exploit workers with below-market pay, and some hard-working, low-wage workers deserve a pay boost, the question is who is best situated to make that happen, especially in the small business sector.

Minimum wage increases, moreover, have encouraged the fast-food industry to move toward automation, which in the end could result in less humans on the payroll altogether.

“Current California law requires a $14 minimum wage for employers with 26 or more employees and $13 for employers with less than 26 employees,” the Sacramento Bee noted.

Off-camera, Larry Elder added that “For somebody who’s never run a business to tell business people…‘I’m going to jack up your price of labor, and you’re going to deal with it,’ to me, it’s offensive. The ideal minimum wage is $0.00.”

According to polls, Elder is leading the field of 4o-plus candidates of various ideologies (that includes GOP standard-bearers Kevin Faulconer, Caitlyn Jenner, and John Cox, along with Elder) hoping to replace Newsom. No prominent Democrat decided to challenge the incumbent, however.

Elder initially had to go to court to successfully fend off an attempt by California’s secretary of state to keep him off the ballot because of a minor paperwork snafu.

The pro-and con-recall constituency is estimated to be neck in neck based on current polling, so Larry Elder, a.k.a. the “Sage from South Central,” theoretically could be the Golden State’s next governor.

The rapid decay in California’s quality of life, which includes violent crime, homelessness, open drug abuse, high taxes, the high cost of living, and various COVID-related restrictions on law-abiding citizens, has led to the recall. Like many Democrat elected officials across the country, Newsom got caught violating the draconian rules that he imposed on everyone else during the pandemic, which gave the recall further traction.

The vote-by-mail recall ballot, in a Democrat-controlled state where ballot harvesting is legal, features two components.

The first part asks voters to vote yes or no on ousting Newsom from office. Only if more than 50 percent say yes does the second part of the ballot, on which voters select his replacement, becomes relevant.

The candidate with the most votes, no matter how fragmented the overall totals, would become governor, again only if the voters first decide to remove Newsom.


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