• Think 15 bucks is too high a minimum wage? For Aetna, more like too low -- about a dollar too low.

    Because the giant insurer is boosting the incomes of its lowest paid workers to 16 bucks an hour and pronto.

    Why? Because chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini doesn't want to risk losing those workers to competitors, that's why. And apparently the demand for talent -- any talent -- in the highly competitive health care field is such that Aetna can't afford to take chances keeping entry pay levels this low.

    Then again, Aetna can afford to do this. This year, it's looking at operating revenue north of $62 billion and an operating profit of about $2.5 billion. Other companies aren't so fortunate or in fields so hot. Health care fast becoming hot, fast food fast becoming not-so-hot.

    To each what his or her market will bear. Aetna can bear the higher wage. Many others can barely pay the present wage.

    That's the thing about market forces -- different forces for different folks.

    Aetna's competing for talent in a tough, increasingly highly skilled field. Others not so much in far less competitive, not-so-highly skilled fields.

    Market forces. Again, not Washington forces.

    Let companies decide what keeps them in business and not politicians deciding what could push them out of business. Let them gamble. Let them decide. So the retailer, GAP says it will pay US store employees after six months of work $9 an hour, then soon $10 later this year. Let's see if that causes workers to bolt other retailers later this year.

    Each market, each retailer, each business deciding what each is capable of paying on its own. Determined by its business and not by Washington getting in their business or worse... giving them the business.