Chris Fitzsimon of North Carolina Policy Watch notes that momentum is gaining for a hike in the state minimum wage. There's a "live" bill carrying over from the 2005 legislative session, which would boost the lowest wages by 85 cents over the federal minimum.

The bill moved forward in last year's session because of the valiant advocacy of groups like the NC Justice Center, and the steadfast resolve of the legislature's Black Caucus.

The cause got a big push earlier this month, when State Treasurer Richard Moore unveiled his One Dollar More campaign.

As Fitzsimon notes, the cause is not only being helped by a growing list of advocates, but also the bizarre statements of opponents, such as a recent columnist in the Jacksonville Daily News:

The Daily News, sounding a lot like right-wing talk radio on the subject, says raising the wage is government interference in the marketplace and that people who earn $5.15 an hour should simply work harder and get a better job. That's a variation on the "poverty is a choice: mantra that somehow has become part of the public policy debate.

The ... writer tries to put things in historical context, discussing the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that set the first minimum wage. It also set standards for overtime and child labor. Preventing 12-year-olds from working in factories is apparently just more meddlesome government intervention in the marketplace, as presumably are fire and safety laws.

One of the links provided leads to a column that calls for a repeal of the 1938 act. It is not clear if the author believes the market could benefit from a return to the exploitation of children in the workforce, but it makes you wonder.