He also said he doesn't really believe any studies on either side of the debate which try to estimate job losses from employers having to pay a higher minimum.
"It's very hard to quantify those trade offs," he said. "People come out with these exact studies. They don't know. Usually you just get proponents of the two sides pulling out figures that substantiate their positions."
I understand the sensitive nature of the minimum wage debate. I get the intuitiveness of how, at first blush, a rise in the mandated minimum wage should equate to a rise in living standards. What I don't get is how some trained economists and experienced business people (like Mr. Buffett), seem to expose their ignorance to the reality that when the price of something, anything, is increased for reasons other than market forces, the purchasing of that something/anything will wane. This truly shouldn't be open for debate among economists and business people. To the extent that it is, it virtually has to be about political---as opposed to market---forces, and/or about the advantage that above-minimum-wage-paying businesses gain by the imposition of higher costs onto their minimum wage-paying competition.
Here's economist Don Boudreaux on the subject (be sure to read the entire piece):
So here’s a challenge that I (and others) have posed before but believe to be sufficiently penetrating to pose again. This challenge, of course, is posed to supporters of this hike in the minimum wage: Name some other goods or services for which a government-mandated price hike of 39.3 percent will not cause fewer units of those goods and services to be purchased. Indeed, name even just one such good or service.
If the challengees want to get picky, let’s factor out likely inflation over the next few years. Let’s call the real hike in the minimum wage, not 39.3 percent but, say, 30 percent. Oh heck, let’s assume that inflation will be higher than it will likely be over the next three years. Let’s call the real hike in the minimum wage “only” 25 percent. So I amend slightly my challenge: Name some other goods or services for which a government-mandated price hike of 25 percent will not cause fewer units of those goods and services to be purchased.
Beer? Broccoli? Bulldozers? Coffee? Haircuts? Natural gas? Automobiles? Housing? Preventive health-care? Lawn-care service? Tickets to the movies? Smart phones? Subscriptions to the New York Times? Books by Paul Krugman? Professors of sociology? Assistant professors of economics? Any of these products work for you? If none of these work, surely you can name at least one other for which a 25-percent price hike will not cause fewer units of that product to be purchased. Or does low-skilled labor just happen to be the one good or service in the entire world for which a government-mandated 25-percent rise in the price that its buyers must pay for it will not diminish buyers’ willingness to buy it?
Seriously, name just one other good or service for which you believe that a government-mandated price-hike of 25 percent will not reduce the quantity demanded of that good or service.