Purely partisan motivations don’t, by themselves, negate the rationale of raising the minimum wage. Although it might undermine part-time jobs and teen employment, a raise may be a way to reward labor and ease the transition of immigrants and working-class Americans into the middle class.
Likewise, one doesn’t have to go all Thomas Piketty (he’s the left-wing French economist who’s warmed liberals’ hearts with an overhyped new book calling for confiscatory tax increases on the rich) to believe that raising the minimum wage is one way to help Democrats’ advance their newfound passion for addressing “income inequality.”
But there’s a better—albeit elusive—way of approaching these policy goals: finding a way to cap the huge sums skimmed off the top of the economy by corporate executives. Let’s start with the under-taxed buccaneers known as hedge fund managers and traders. According to a list compiled by Forbes, the 25 highest earners in this field together made $24.3 billion in 2013. Yes, billion, with a “b.” The lowest-earning hedge fund guy on Forbes’ list of the top 25 made $280 million last year.