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Cheapskate Socialists

Living wage for me

The Freedom Socialist Party in Seattle, Washington, wants a mandatory minimum wage of $20 per hour, plus union-type benefits, for all workers. They denounce "capitalist greed," insisting that "compromise destroys solidarity" and the party must "leave no one behind."

Except when the party needs some help with its website, that is. In October, the Socialists posted a job listing for an online content manager. Although the average annual salary of a Web developer in the U.S. is around $60,000, the Freedom Socialist Party only offered $13 per hour, which amounts to $26,000 a year-if the position were full-time, which it isn't. The job is also non-union, so applicants also shouldn't count on the medical and retirement benefits the party demands for other people's employees.

The Freedom Socialist Party is hardly alone in its hypocrisy. Media Matters, Salon, and Mother Jones all advocate a legally enforced "living wage." Yet in recent years those lefty publications have rejected unionization, advertised for unpaid internships, or offered stipends that amount to less than minimum wage. When it comes to their own operation, the high cost of inflated wages suddenly becomes apparent: Requiring an artificially high minimum wage could put up a barrier between small organizations with a need for cheap labor and eager young workers hoping to gain experience. 

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