Future of Sharing: The Multi-Millionaire Who’s Fighting for $15

Nick Hanauer, one of the most vocal proponents of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, wants his fellow one percenters to understand the importance of addressing income inequality. No one has a bigger stake in a thriving middle class than the wealthy, Hanauer said. Yet over the past few decades, the creation of billionaires has impoverished everyone else. People at the bottom lost power, and people at the top gained power, which Hanauer describes as unfair and self-defeating. “Not only do you destroy the economy by killing the feedback loop between customers and businesses as you systematically impoverish greater and greater groups of people, but you also seriously threaten the democracy, as people begin to believe it’s not legitimate,” said Hanauer. “My argument is that the better at the people at the bottom do, the more billionaires will be created.”

A fierce evangelist for economic inclusion, Hanauer believes we need to find a way to make our economy work for everyone, which includes ensuring institutions have a responsibility to something other than “making a couple of guys who went to Stanford super rich.” According to Hanauer, sharing economy companies like Uber shouldn’t bear sole responsibility for creating a system of universal, portable, and prorated benefits, but they should be at the forefront of pushing for policy change. Hanauer believes that every economic choice we make is an explicitly moral one—the choice between creating cancer, or curing it.