Republicans have been fighting madly to avoid the subject of minimum wage hikes, knowing that it’s one of those issues where millions of Americans vote with their hearts and not with their heads. It’s really difficult to win an argument with facts and figures and deep economic analysis when all your opponent has to do is make some grand statement about hard-working people and their poor, deprived dependents. Intellectually, most everyone knows that it’s ridiculous to expect a McDonalds cashier to make $30,000 a year, but there’s a big gulf between intellect and emotion, especially on the left.

Thankfully, not everyone is so tentative. Take Alfonso Amador, the senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association. At a free-market conference panel on Feb 9, Amador dropped a truth bomb that more Americans would do well to hear. “There seems to be a perception that every job needs to be able to maintain a family of four,” Amador said. “Not every job is there to sustain a family of four.”

High school students should have to memorize this quip before graduation. This idea, promoted by Democrats and labor unions, that fast food restaurants and other industries that rely on unskilled workers should be forced to subsidize some imagined standard of living is utterly ridiculous. The minimum wage is there to prevent outright exploitation, and it’s not even clear that we need it for that. The market has changed a great deal since minimum wage laws were introduced; we should be edging closer to eliminating it altogether than towards raising it to unsustainable levels.

Democrat voters don’t seem to understand the principles behind American capitalism. They see business owners as some form of entrenched evil, even at the local level. They imagine this world where entrepreneurs are flying around on their private jets, laughing heartily while slaves work the deep fryer in their establishments. Meanwhile, the vast majority of business owners are struggling for every dime, trying to meet the demands of the market without pricing themselves out of business.

Since President Johnson officially announced the War on Poverty in 1964, trillions of dollars have been effectively redistributed by mandate of the federal government. Minimum wage hikes, entitlements, food stamps, the works. And here we are, all these years later, and Democrats are still singing the same tune. It wasn’t their proposals that kept the poverty train rolling, oh no. It’s only that we didn’t go far enough. Hear that, voters? We must do more!

It all sounds nice and cuddly, but it has had a devastating effect on the heart of this country. America was founded upon a belief in self-reliance and the indomitable will of the individual. By perpetuating government dependency, Democrats have ensured that generations of families remain poor. They’ve divided the population into rigid classes that don’t actually exist, taught their constituents that the game is rigged against them, and used the inevitable failures to promote ever-increasing systems of welfare.

It’s not just about bad economics, and it’s not just about the plight of the struggling restaurateur. When you persuade millions of Americans to believe that they can’t win without the government’s help, you’re committing a moral sin that keeps people from living a full and prosperous life.