At a private conference over the summer, the vice executive of Koch Industries warned that raising the minimum wage would put the United States on the road to fascism.
In an audio recording published by The Undercurrent, Richard Fink told the gathering of conservatives in California -- a conference called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society" -- that people who felt like victims lost meaning in life and turned to totalitarian political ideologies. Raising the minimum wage, he claimed, would cause people to lose their jobs and lose their meaning in life, giving fascism a fertile ground to grow in.
"So when you destroy someone’s meaning by making them a victim, okay, you actually destroy their purpose of life," Fink explained. "And psychology shows that is the main recruiting ground for totalitarianism, for fascism, for conformism, when people feel like they’re victims. And what we do is we take away their jobs or their independence."
"So the big danger of minimum wage isn’t the fact that some people are being paid more than their valued-added — that’s not great. It’s not that it’s hard to stay in business — that’s not great either. But it’s the 500,000 people that will not have a job because of minimum wage, because there is no such thing as a dead end job. As Martin Luther King said, “(Inaudible) every job is an opportunity.” Okay (inaudible)."
Last week, The Undercurrent and The Nation published audio of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complaining to the same conference that Democrats were pushing to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Republicans have stubbornly resisted efforts to raise the minimum wage, citing a Congressional Budget Office report earlier this year estimated a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour could cost the nation up to 500,000 jobs.
While speaking to the conference, Fink associated the potential job losses to the rise of Nazi Germany.
"And now what to do with them. We’re taking these 500,000 people that would’ve had a job, and putting them unemployed, making dependence part of government programs, and destroying their opportunity for earned success. And so we see this is a very big part of recruitment in Germany in the 20s. When the Germans were crushed by World War I, the Allies put a very strong settlement on that. They lost their meaning in life."
"And if you look at the Third — the rise and fall of the Third Reich, you can see that — they’re fighting, the (inaudible) they don’t know what to do, whatever. And what happens is a fascist comes in and offers them an opportunity, finds the victim — Jews or the West — and offers them meaning for their life, okay? The nation, Germany, the superior race."
Fink was drawing on the work of psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who warned that people suffering from a sense of meaninglessness -- an "existential vacuum" -- sometimes found meaning in life by comply with the wishes of others. Frankl believed this desire to find meaning in a seemingly meaningless environment was exploited by totalitarianism, but the psychologist never linked it to policies like the minimum wage.
Fink said that communists and Muslim extremists had also exploited people suffering from a sense of meaninglessness.
"(Inaudible) and professors and people who do the most horrific things, and this is not just in Germany. It’s in Russia, in Lenin, and Stalin Russia, and then Mao. This is the — this is the recruitment ground for fascism, and it’s not just historical. It’s what goes on today in the — in the suicide bomber recruitment. It’s not just these young kids who don’t know what to do. They’re looking for, you know, something," he remarked.
Listen to audio, uploaded to YouTube, below.