Minimum wage went up for California. If the Dems in the House and Senate have their way, it will soon rise across the nation.
Some members of the business community are once again bleating about how this simply won't work. Yet the truth about business is that there are so many variables that could be tweaked that management only tweaks a few at a time. When government regulators say it is important to, say, complete paperwork for drug approval, they manage to complete the paperwork. When the government makes them, say, pay their minimum wage employees fifty cents more per hour they comply. If they didn't have to complete the paperwork or pay their minimum wage employees more, they wouldn't.
Imagine the alternative to a minimum wage. What if the lowest-paid workers in the United States were paid no more than the lowest-paid workers across the world - workers who miraculously make it on $1 a day? Markets really don't care whether they pay workers 15 cents a day or 15 million a day, but communities don't have to show such callous disregard for the real needs of real people. There is no miracle equation that ensures that the least productive worker will just happen to make enough to buy food, clothing, and shelter. Management has many competing priorities and is unlikely to just spontaneously decide that of all those possibilities they will make raising the productivity and wages of their least productive workers the most important. Unlikely, that is, without regulatory compulsion.
Markets are great mechanisms but aren't any more prone to perfect solutions than are regulators. No one wants to buy a car that steers only right or left. Communities shouldn't rely only on regulation or markets; our least productive shouldn't rely on businesses raising wages out of boredom or sense of altruism.