John Wixted documents his support for raising the minimum wage, an issue that probably cost the Republicans the Senate. (Thanks to strong support in places like Montana.)
At best, raising the minimum wage will have absolutely no economic consequences. It will be a nice sop to America’s teenagers, who make the largest demographic group within minimum wage earners. All those people who flip your hamburgers and salt your fries deserve a nice healthy raise, don’t they? I mean granted, most of them worry about getting that shiny new Playstation 3 rather than getting their next meal, but still, don’t we deserve to recognize the fact that they remembered to put low-fat French dressing on our McSalad?
Sure, raising the minimum wage won’t do anything to reduce poverty and will ensure that single mothers and minority workers have fewer job opportunities than do the Spoiled Brat demographic, but that’s all unimportant.
What is important is that Americans do something — or at least feel like they’re doing something, even if that something is to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society lose out to the most irritating. It’s not like we couldn’t do something that would effect only those who truly need it, like raising the Earned Income Tax Credit which subsidizes responsible working habits among the poor rather than the shiftless McBrat saving up to buy an iPod so he can talk about how much emo music he has on MySpace. Nope, we gotta go for the quick fix here.
It’s quite likely that we’ll see a significant increase in the minimum wage in the next session of Congress. That’s welcome news for America’s teenagers, but not so much for the working poor. After all, in politics, a big and visible change like raising the minimum wage often destroys the political inertia that would push for truly effective remedies like fixing the EITC and subsidizing positive societal behaviors. It’s far easier to give into the “easy” solution than fix the the problem, and our political class is hardly known for either their brains or their courage.