President Obama is raising the minimum wage for many federal employees, but Stephen Lurie wonders in the Washington Post why he continues to keep White House internships unpaid. To those who argue that these young workers get an invaluable experience that goes beyond money, Lurie poses a question: Who can afford to live in DC without a paycheck? Rich people. And thus, kids from well-to-do families are generally the ones who get these internships. Instead of helping out more lower- and middle-class youths, "the president and other employers are handing prestigious internships—often key to future employment—to those already in the lead."
Does the White House refuse to pay its interns out of ignorance or, worse, "economic expedience"? The answer doesn't matter. "There’s no good excuse for the president of the United States to rely on unpaid labor, particularly as the practice consistently violates his stated convictions," writes Lurie, who closes with this: "Mr. President: Unpaid internships contradict your commitments and your economic agenda. Lead by example: It’s time to pay your interns." Click for his full column.