Localities, ‘Laboratories of Democracy,” and the Minimum Wage

Source: Oren Levin-Waldman, Labor Press, June 3, 2014

Justice Louis Brandeis once referred to states as the laboratories of democracy. The idea was that policies first tried out at the state level, after initial testing and evaluation, might then be expanded to the federal level. In an era where more power and authority are centralized in the federal government, it is important to remember that local government serves an important and valuable function. Because of the failure of the federal government to increase the minimum wage in recent years, both state and local governments have been taking the lead on this issue. Local communities taking the lead on this issue certainly brings back to life Brandeis’s famous expression of states as laboratories of democracy. That studies have these new laws laws to have no adverse effects in localities where borders are porous, suggests that the minimum wage is a viable policy at the national level….