Justin Bieber is in the news again, but not through his own doing. His likeness has appeared on a Los Angeles billboard that theorizes that the pop superstar’s grim visage is due to the possibility that the United States may raise the minimum wage, the Huffington Post reported on Tuesday.
In the advertisement, which was done without Bieber’s knowledge or cooperation, a solemn-looking Bieber is positioned over the headline “Why is Justin Bieber so sad,” which is then followed by “Could it be because 24% of teens who want a job can’t find one? Teen unemployment makes us all sad. Unfortunately, raising the minimum wage will only make things worse.”
The billboard is at the corner of W. Pico Blvd. and Hi Point St. in central Los Angeles. Directly below the billboard is a Goodwill store.
Although the Employment Policies Institute, a well-known right-wing organization which advocates against minimum wage hikes on the state, federal and local levels, confirmed it did not ask Bieber’s permission to use his image in the ad, Michael Saltsman, a researcher at the organization said that EPI did purchase the rights to the Bieber image through Getty Images.
Saltsman added that — although the billboard would, at first glance, appear to do so — it wasn’t EPI’s intention to say that Bieber had a specific opinion on raising the minimum wage. Saltsman argued that the word “could” means that the answer to the question asked in the ad — why is Justin Bieber sad? — is entirely left to the reader.
It could be many things. We’re asking a question — and we’re speculating the answer — but we’re not implying that he supports any particular policy.
According to both HuffPo and the “Bill Press Show,” reporting on Wednesday, a search of Bieber’s song catalog turns up no mention of the singer being against hiking the minimum wage — or labor economics in general. In fact, one well-known “political statement” that Bieber made previously was a love of Canada’s health care system, often used as a key example of universal health care.
You guys are evil. Canada’s the best country in the world. We go to the doctor and we don’t need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you’re broke because of medical bills.
My bodyguard’s baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby’s premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, and then you go home.
Although EPI says that the ad is not intended to portray Bieber as anti-minimum wage, a quick and non-scientific survey of those shown the billboard’s image indicates that most believe that the ad implies an opinion by Bieber.
Truly, Justin Bieber has a lot more to worry about than minimum age: Selena Gomez, reckless driving accusations, and more.
The Employment Policies Institute (sometimes confused with the progressive Economic Policy Institute, not plural) is a registered and tax-exempt 501(c)(3). The group does not disclose its funding, but it was created by the well-known Washington lobbyist Richard Berman (not be confused with Rick Berman of “Star Trek” fame), whose numerous lobbying groups are, Wikipedia says, “corporate-funded.”