Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Deserve $15 in Virginia?

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Deserve $15 in Virginia?

Nick Riviere's and Tony Hedgepeth's op-ed insisting tha all Virginia workers deserve a $15/hour minimum wage, regardless of cost-of-living in their locale, fails to factor in economic reality. In high-cost locales such as ours, employers should be able to afford $15, but in low cost ones, such a minimum wage might put too many out of business. The final minimum wage, once it is fully phased in, not only should be inflation-adjusted, but should be based on cost-of-living in the locale where the job is located. This would be a proper model for the federal government to consider.

The $15/hour minimum wage's advocates fail to fully understand the drawbacks. The $15/hour minimum wage is really a "living wage" designed to lift full-time workers out of poverty, different in concept from the traditional minimum wage which was a wage floor that put a moral limit on how little an employer could pay and still maintain a worker's dignity. $15/hour minimum wage advocates are engaging in a bit of deception in that they are trying to change the underlying understanding of what minimum wage means. In this respect, the $15/hour minimum wage is a radical notion which moderate Democrats rightly would insist be phased in more carefully than advocates desire.

Even moderate Democrats are engaging in abuse of language when they call doubling minimum wage in barely a decade "gradual" when it is really radical. That it is not radical enough for some could create a backlash even redistricting (thought to add four House of Delegate seats to blue Northern Virginia) cannot overcome. Because ten percent is sometimes considered the limit of de minimis, smaller annual increases of 50-70 cents per year would make more sense. This would take even high-cost Northern Virginia until 2032 to reach the "living wage" threshold.

Dino Drudi