The issue of raising the federal minimum wage to $12-$15 per hour will soon be debated on the national stage by nominees seeking the office of president.
On the left we'll see "progressive" Democrats portrayed as liberators of the downtrodden, offering complimentary passes on everything from birth control to tuition.
While on the right we'll have the "primordial" GOP, viewed as protectors of the "one percent," looking to reduce entitlements and intrusive government oversight.
Well, when it comes to doing the right thing for hard-working hourly wage earners, I believe both sides have an argument.
I recall working for $1.65 per hour in 1974. While hardly a "living wage," it provided me spending money during school.
But the cost of living has increased exponentially through the years, and the federal minimum wage has never been set to rise with inflation. This must change. Currently, the increase requires congressional action and politicians have been irresponsible in acting. Go figure.
But understand, attempting to repair 40 years of feckless government bureaucracy in one fatal swoop could send our economy into a disastrous nosedive!
One important factor liberal Democrats don't understand is someone has to pay for it. And that "someone" will predominately be the consumer who frequents the businesses employing the minimum wage workforce. This would include restaurants, movie theaters, retail outlets, grocery stores and so on.
Suppose proponents of the federal minimum wage increase are successful at increasing the current rate from $7.25 to $15 per hour. As a business owner, I now have to cover the additional cost in labor.
Projecting lower profit margins is not an option.
Employers will be forced to react by reducing their costs and services while increasing their revenues to the degree necessary to remain profitable. This means higher prices.
So if I'm paying my restaurant employee $15 per hour to flip your hamburger, guess what - the burger is going to cost you more - not the employer. And there will, no doubt, be fewer cooks in the kitchen.
If I'm paying movie theater employees $15 per hour to sell you a movie ticket, pop popcorn and clean up your mess, you'll pay much more for the popcorn and movie.
If I'm paying my retail outlet store employees $15 per hour to stock the shelves and run the cash register, who do you suppose is going to cover the additional cost? You will - not the employer.
In fact, the same people who supposedly got a minimum wage pay increase are the very ones who will cover much of the employer's additional payroll cost.
Minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage, but a stepping stone to a better future. But Democrats have forged a "nanny state" that under their current policies, could be bound to a minimum wage for life!
A drastic increase in the federal minimum wage would prohibit employers from growing and creating higher-paying jobs of the future.
Let's tie the federal minimum wage to cost of living increases and allow the free market to work.
Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.