Half the country doesn’t work for a wage. That was before the pandemic. Many folks are fighting for a $15/hr federal minimum wage. If we implemented that in isolation, we could end up hurting millions of Americans who are more even more vulnerable than those who can work for a wage. This includes folks who are on fixed incomes like seniors and people with disabilities. Even homeless people could be hurt by an isolated federal minimum wage increase. These negative effects would primarily be felt in rural areas where labor is a much larger percentage of costs in places that provide essential services and products like small grocery stores.
If an increase in the federal minimum wage was accompanied by an increase in everyone’s fixed incomes, I could get on board with it, though it could still be problematic for those who live on minimal fixed incomes that aren’t funded by the federal government and potentially for homeless folks as well. I think a far better solution would be the Freedom Dividend. Instead of begging for better treatment in exchange for labor that is demeaning or unnecessary, we should look toward a future where the jobs we don’t want are handled by automation and people are free to decide what to do with their time without being a slave to corporations to “deserve” their basic needs. Stop asking for nicer chains; fight for freedom.
I support municipalities and some states increasing their minimum wages where deemed appropriate. I do think it’s morally abhorrent to pay people anything less than a living wage for their labor, but I’m focused on practical solutions that will empower people to bargain for better wages where they do want to work, especially as modern union-busting tactics have successfully reduced and prevented collective bargaining. Minimum wage is for the twentieth century. Universal Basic Income is for the twenty-first century.