a better deal minimum wage

A $15 Minimum Wage is a Terribly Misguided Policy

A $15 Minimum Wage Will Create Dramatic Regional Inequality

Liberals and progressives hope to eliminate society’s inherent inequalities in hopes that all who call this country home have the equal opportunity to compete and thrive in the free market.  As such, the government should not interfere in the market when doing so would necessarily create inequality.  Far too many on the left fail to realize that endorsing a $15 minimum wage increases regional inequality by favoring those who live in low cost of living areas over expensive cities.

Different towns, counties, and states have dramatically different costs of living.  $1000 in Boise goes much further than $1000 in San Francisco because Boise is cheap – its rent is a fraction of San Francisco’s.  Why, then would the federal government, when crafting a national minimum wage, treat the two as equals?  Let’s break this down to see how a $15 minimum wage increases regional inequality by favoring Boise residents.

LocationLiving WageLiving Annual Salary$15/hr SalaryBirthplace Bonus
Boise$10.34$21,505 $31,200 $9,695
San Francisco$16.13$33,553 $31,200 $(2,353)

By virtue of birth and location of employment, a Boise resident would be $12,000 better off than a San Francisco resident if the federal government implemented a national $15/hr minimum.

That means two identical minimum wage workers, one in Boise and one in San Francisco, have dramatically different standards of living.  The Boise worker is relatively affluent whereas the San Francisco struggles to pay living expenses; this means, implicitly, that the government values the Boise resident $12,000 more than the San Francisco resident.  And Boise isn’t even the nation’s cheapest locale.

Liberals should not stand for such inequality made possible solely based on where one lives.  The two workers act no differently; they demonstrate no different abilities or work ethic and yet they are paid, in real terms, substantially different sums simply because the government ignores the cost of living when dictating economic outcomes.

A Better Solution

Ideally, the minimum wage should be left to cities, counties, and states.  That, however, is not entirely feasible: Republican-controlled states often refuse to raise the minimum wage.  It takes initiatives for citizens to force the government into acting.

If the federal government decides to enforce a living minimum wage, as well it should, then the legislation must account for economic variances across the nation.  Rather than proclaiming one wage for the country, a hypothetical bill should read “the minimum wage for any given town or city shall not be lower than that town or city’s previous year’s living wage, as determined by the Bureau of Labor statistics, multiplied by one plus the expected inflation rate.”

Such legislation would ensure that all areas have a living wage without erroneously assuming nationwide cost of living unanimity.  This creates no regional inequality while ensuring that all workers can subsist on their wages.

Liberals must stand against the government creating inequality; thus, liberals should be against a $15/hr national minimum wage.

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