Here in CA, Governor Arnold signed into law in Sep 2006 a minimum wage increase of $7.50 per hour starting 1/1/2007 (a few days away) and $8.00 per hour 1/1/2008.
I am not in the camp of never raising minimum wage nor am I in the opposite camp of having a so-called "living wage". I am a centrist conservative. Where do you all stand?
Let me explain:
1) Every area of the country has different costs of living. While CA has set an $8 per hour minimum and it may be a little high for the central valley of CA or the Northern area (outside of non metropolitan areas), it is what sells with the electorate here in CA because there isn't a majority of conservatives here. If the federal minimum wage were to match CA or exceed it, it would crush many mom and pop businesses or even large retail businesses in areas of the country that has a low cost of living.
2) I worked at Pizza Hut as a teenager for 3 years making close to minimum wage. If Pizza Hut (or any other business) had to pay a "living wage" to people who make minimum wage (which are a majority teenagers who live with parents or elderly supplementing retirement and social security), that'd be GREAT for those earning that money but it would shrink the amount of people earning because companies would have to figure out ways to cut staff or costs. It doesn't make sense to require companies to have higher costs of "living wage" when the people earning the "living wage" by a large majority do not need a "living wage". It deincentivizes (is that a word) the need for teenagers to LEARN, expand their skillsets, better themselves, study, go to college, aspire to earn more in any way. Big government is not what conservatives believe in for a reason. Not because we don't "care" but because we don't think big government solutions would end up with "good results". Would I have chosen a great and fulfilling career of 18 years in computers if I was earning a "living wage" when living with my parents working for Pizza Hut? Who knows? The incentive would not have been there to take the ASVAB test, score as high as I did and join the Navy as a Data Systems technician giving me a salable skill to have on my resume along with taking the college courses that I have and getting the certifications that I have.
3) Number 1 was about different areas of the country. Number 2 was about "living wage". Number 3 will be about the issue of whether part-time work should be made illegal. There is so much mud in the water with illegal immigrants striking in Texas over how much they make "per day" yet they are part time employees and many other examples of journalists muddying the water. Part-time work is legal. Maybe it ought to be made illegal so that unemployment can go up and people will either have to get a full time job with benefits or not work at all (just kidding - I don't agree with that philosophy). There is a happy medium between full employment and unemployment and that is to be a part time employee. Some part time employees do receive benefits but not the same usually as a full time employee.
Unfortunately, the minimum wage issue is used as a political hammer to say that conservatives "don't care" or whatever. That rhetoric is uncalled for and unhelpful to the debate. On a federal level things might change as they haven't since 1997. It will be irrelevant to the states with a higher cost of living as theirs exceeds the federal rate. But the larger debate about part-time work and living wage issues will remain and I hope I've persuaded a few people to not let the political hammer be used to convince them that Republicans/conservatives are bad and Democrats/liberals are good. That outlook would serve to be a disservice because conservatives truly do care.