Many activists and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have defined their version of a “living wage” to be a minimum of $15 per hour.1 Unfortunately, this cause gained some momentum last year as “Fourteen cities, counties and states approved a $15 minimum wage through local laws, executive orders and other means in 2015.”2
Cost of Living Varies Widely Among the States
A national minimum wage of this magnitude makes the careless assumption that the cost of living is relatively equal across our country. Not the case!
For 2015, the cost of living in California and New York was close to 35% above the mean for all states.3 For an “average” state such as Florida, it only takes $11.10 per hour to create the same economic climate for an employee as $15 does in California and New York. Why should Florida be forced to effectively pay nearly $4 per hour more for the same work?
The absurdity is worse for states with below average costs of living. Mississippi’s was 16.5% below the U.S. mean for last year. A citizen of the Magnolia State would do as well on $9.28 per hour as his counterparts in California or New York would do on $15. Requiring Mississippi to have a $15 minimum is as ridiculous as pushing California and New York to $24.25 — a guaranteed method of raising machine employment at the expense of humans.
States Are Different Despite Simplistic Liberal Beliefs
For decades, the Left has confused equality with being identical. The concept of a national minimum wage is just one of their futile attempts at creating fairness by legislating sameness among the inherently different. Some national policies are unwise. For at least two millennia, it has been shown repeatedly that the best policies result when problem solving occurs at the lowest effective level.4,5
The U.S., with its diversity of geography, cultures, economic climates, etc., does not lend itself well to many across-the-board mandates because they can often be destructive. A national minimum wage of $15 per hour is one of them.
1 – “Bernie Sanders is The Only Presidential Candidate Who Supports $15/Hour Minimum Wage,” by Jason Easley, http://www.politicususa.com/2016/04/04/bernie-sanders-presidential-candidate-supports-15hour-minimum-wage.html, 4/4/2016.
2 – “14 Cities and States Approved $15 Minimum Wage in 2015,” http://www.nelp.org/news-releases/14-cities-states-approved-15-minimum-wage-in-2015/, 12/21/2015.
4 – “… Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity [emphasis retained], according to which ‘a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good’… The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention…” — excerpts from paragraphs 1883 and 1885 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, March 2000.
5 – So as to avoid confusing the real meaning of “common good” with the one currently in vogue (that it’s whatever benefits the most, even at the expense of individuals): “The common good comprises ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily… The common good consists of three essential elements: respect for and promotion of the fundamental rights of the person; prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; the peace and security of the groups and of its member.” Paragraphs 1924 and 1925, Ibid.