Yeah, but hard work isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be.
Yes, it would be great if everyone took pride in their work and gave 110%, an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. And if that is the way the world actually (or even usually) worked, there wouldn't be any argument.
But we all know people who are in positions/tax brackets that do not warrant their actual work level, whether quality of work/qualifications or how hard they work. We also all know people who bust their asses their whole lives and never amount to shit in the long run.
THAT is the reality, and I think partly what I'm reading from El Barto (correct me if I'm wrong). But as long as the myth of hard work = success is the measuring ground, no meaningful progress on income issues will be made.
As far as this specific thread topic, I'm torn. I definitely believe there should be a minimum wage, because if I believe nothing else, I believe that companies (even good ones) won't give anything more than they feel they have to, and if they could pay current minimum wage workers $3.00 an hour, they would certainly do it.
And I also feel that the current federal minimum wage is almost certainly too low. It's been $7.25 for a long time, and while I don't know for a fact, I suspect it hasn't kept up with inflation over the years.
Having said that, I don't in any way think that the minimum wage should equal a "living wage". That's not really what any of those kinds of jobs are meant to be. They are normally support type jobs that are easily filled by high school and college students. $15.00 seems too high for me to support. I work in the insurance business and deal a lot with Workers Comp, and I see a ton of people who make less than that amount in the building industry (HVAC, construction, flooring, etc), not McDonald's.
Maybe an increase to around $10.00 or so, since $7.25 is too low. But honestly, the fact that so many "adults" are currently having to depend on minimum wage jobs to make their "living" is likely cyclical, and I don't think we should put a potentially long-term burden on the economy for what could very well be a short-term problem.