Time’s Minimum Wage Math: Triple = ‘Just as Many’

Demonstrators for raising the minimum wage (cc photo: Joe Lustri)

You will actually make more friends supporting these guys than opposing them. (cc photo: Joe Lustri)

The new issue of Time magazine (3/10/14) takes a look at the debate over raising the minimum wage, in a piece by Eliza Gray. But the very first paragraph just doesn’t make much sense: 

If you want to make some new friends and just as many enemies, here’s a helpful shortcut: take a position on raising the federal minimum wage. The question of how much workers at the bottom should be paid is fast becoming one of the most divisive issues in Washington. Liberals say a wage hike is the most immediate and fair tool we have to address growing inequality; conservatives argue that such a move would destroy jobs, throwing America’s wobbly recovery off its axis for good. Get ready to hear a lot more about it between now and the November midterms as Democrats and Republicans fight over the merits of an increase, which 76 percent of Americans favor, according to Gallup.

Now, sentence one tells you that you’ll make an equal number of friends and enemies by taking a position on the minimum wage: Liberals say X, but conservatives say Y. But then look at the last sentence, referring to ” the merits of an increase, which 76 percent of Americans favor, according to Gallup.”

Hold on–I thought I was going to make as many enemies as friends, no matter which position I took on raising the minimum wage. But raising it is overwhelmingly popular. So wouldn’t I make three times more  “enemies” than friends if I opposed it? (Unless Time assumes that “you” are a member of the Washington political elite, among whom the minimum wage is apparently much less popular.)

This is media centrism at its worst, pretending that a worker-friendly policy that most people support is actually “divisive.” This isn’t the first time the minimum wage has been misrepresented this way, and it’s not likely to be the last. 


About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.