Jason Brennan, at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, offered some thoughts about the arguments in favor of a living wage.
Isn’t it more plausible to think that if there’s some enforceable positive duty to provide Bob with enough stuff to lead a life, that all of us, together share this burdensome duty, rather than just Bob’s employer? Why should Bob’s employer, specifically, be the one that has to bear the burden and lose all this money to keep him alive (at whatever level you consider decent)? This just seems like a kind of moral outsourcing to me. Why not instead Bob’s neighbors, parents, friends, or sexual partners? Bob does McBurger a service, and McBurger pays him for that service.
I think this can apply to more than just a living wage though. Think about any employer mandate: salary, health care, paid vacation time, paid sick time, birth control, etc. Why should Bob's (or Barbara's) employer be responsible for those costs. If "we" in society think that all employees are entitled to those benefits than shouldn't "we" in society be responsible for paying for them?
If the goverment mandated cost of entry-level employees keeps going up and up and up, why wouldn't you expect employers to be a lot more picky about who gets those "entry-level" jobs? I love having these benefits at my job and I'd love for everyone to have access to them. But if we load them all onto employers, I think we'll soon find that the poorest among us are sitting home, unemployed. And that pains my bleeding heart.