It’s certainly noble to wish for everyone to have a “living wage”. The unfortunate reality, however, is that with the sheer size of our country, and the disparity of cultures, resources, and costs of living, a federally mandated, minimum “living wage” is an unrealistic goal - at least from a national perspective.
Putting aside the racist origins of “The Minimum Wage,” the argument from the far left has always been “it’s not fair that you can’t feed and house a family of four on minimum wage.” Which, like the flintlock argument the left like to employ when talking about gun control, is silly. “Minimum” means exactly that. It’s not intended to be a “living wage”, whatever that actually means. Maybe you have to work two jobs. And why is someone working for minimum wage trying to support a family of four? If this is a regular occurrence, we have larger problems.
In this instance, the more laissez-faire, fiscal conservatives are correct. If you increase the minimum wage, you increase all costs across the board. And since companies don’t actually pay for anything, this will necessarily increase the cost of living, putting it once again out of reach of minimum wage, leading to more calls to increase it again. It’s a vicious cycle, and simple economics.
The answer, then, is to peg the federal minimum wage to the lowest “living wage” in the country and automatically increase it with inflation, then leave it up to individual states and municipalities and other jurisdictions to manage it at the local level. The recent calls by many for a $15 / hour minimum wage don’t make sense, as it would put undue burdens on small businesses in areas with low costs of living, while not having any impact at all in places like New York and San Francisco. In this case, one size does NOT fit all.