Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Let's just be honest with ourselves for a minute, economics is a mind boggling discipline. For economists, that's bad, but also sort of good news because you can make almost any arguments stick if you just troll around in the data for long enough. But to the average person, the layman, it's a little bit different. The global economy must feel like a giant hulking mass that grinds against the world, unstoppable and unanswerable to the small problems of individuals. So when your boss asks you to work overtime but won't pay you for it, you don't argue or demand to be paid because how could an ant influence a conversation between people Or when you ask for a raise and the boss threatens to fire you, you don't stick up for yourself because no raise is better than no job. Threats like these don't just function on the level of individuals. In many ways, it's how the entire American economy has operated for almost 40 years. That's how you end up with a graph like this, which shows the wealthiest sliver of society getting virtually all the gains from economic growth, siphoning money from the middle class and the poor. Take a step back from this. In a democratic system which extends the vote to all citizens over 18, it's hard to imagine how such a small percentage of people could convince the rest to perpetuate a system that does this. The truth is there's only one way to do this. You have to create an economic theory that makes the exploitation of the people look like the solution to their problems. In other words, you have to tell a story. That's all the economy is. It's a story that we tell ourselves, a story that tells us what decisions to make about our own resources. So what if your story is that lowering taxes on the rich, especially on unearned income, deregulating finance and privatizing the public commons is like taking the living economy out of the shade and into the sun, or it can flourish. It's a pretty good story. And in fact, those are the basics of a story that have animated our politics and our economy since Ronald Reagan, a story that has produced advocates and presidents on both sides of the political spectrum. This story didn't help the middle class or the poor, not really; their wages haven't risen since we began telling it. But it did give the top 1% greater access to and greater power over all the best storytellers — politicians, academics, and the media. To change the economy, you have to change the story, a difficult thing to do considering how much power has consolidated in the hands of so few, but it's not impossible. Take the minimum wage, for example, right now, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. That's about $15,000 a year in 1968. The minimum wage was $1.60 but when you adjust for inflation, that number goes all the way up to $8.54 an hour, $1.29 more than it is today. Meanwhile, American worker productivity has never stopped growing. So much so that if the minimum wage kept pace with productivity, it would have been $21 an hour by now. So in the absence of federal action, states have raised their own minimum wages, 30 of which are higher than the federal. Most notably of all California, just voted to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. That's something that was unthinkable, even five years ago. New York did the same a short time after This movement, the fight for 15 is part of a new story, a story that believes in finally growing the wages of the middle class, so that their collective purchasing power, their demand can grow the economy organically in a way that's not dependent on speculation or financial bubbles. It believes in regulating the abuses of Wall Street and making what should be accessible to all, education and healthcare, a part of our commons again. There are no shortage of articles, politicians or studies showing, for example, that increasing the minimum wage is a risky gamble or a job killer, no shortage of doomsday forecasting, that prices would rise. But remember that this status quo has a huge interest in maintaining itself just like a boss. It uses threats to keep the society in line. Here's a meta analysis of pretty much every single minimum wage study, the closer to the top, the more precise and accurate the study is. And this shows that all the most comprehensive analyses of the minimum wage show that it would have little to no negative effect on employment levels. And yet it could raise the incomes and standards of living of millions. In places where the minimum wage has increased, like Seattle, prices haven't skyrocketed, instead, people are actually able to buy the things they have consistently increased their productivity to produce. Minimum wage increases won't solve all the problems in the economy. Not even close, it's just one thing. But the victory of an idea that runs counter to the dominant ideology is hugely significant. Otto von Bismarck said that politics is the art of the possible. But I think that sometimes invoking the possible is just another tactic, another negotiating strategy, Another threat used on behalf of the status quo to restrict the movement of alternative ideas. The story of this economy has been laboring under for 40 years is failing. People feel it, even if they don't know why. A moment like this is when alternative ideas can populate the center. So maybe it's time to stop leading with what is possible and start leading with what's right. Hey, everybody thanks for watching. I have to thank Nick Hanauer who helped me research and sponsored this video. He's been an activist in the fight for a $15 minimum wage movement for a long time. He's written a lot about it, and he's got a great TED talk to which I'll link to over there, definitely watch that. Um, if you wanna help pledged to this channel, you can go right below here to my Patreon, pledge a dollar or $3 per video. Everything helps you guys have been incredible, and, and I'll see you guys next Wednesday.