Megan McArdle: San Francisco Can Afford a $15 Minimum Wage. Mariposa Cannot.
Whatever your position on minimum wages in general, it shouldn’t be controversial to acknowledge that those minimums affect different regions in different ways. Rich urban areas whose economies are driven by high-margin professional and knowledge businesses will fare better than poorer regions, or those whose economies depend on nationally or globally competitive manufacturing and agriculture.
Unfortunately some of those poorer regions are at the mercy of urban policy makers. Big states like California and New York combine a large and politically powerful urban population with a much poorer rural population that cannot afford the kinds of government interventions that the urban voters want. Policy gets made for the big, powerful urban populations, who don’t know, or necessarily much care, whether that smothers the local economy of their rural counterparts.
If we’re going to try these sorts of experiments, we should try them slowly, with ample time to evaluate their effects, and with an understanding that the results in some places may not generalize well to others. Instead, legislators increasingly seem to be opting for quick blanket solutions that may deal crippling blows to local economies that can ill afford them.