Minimum wage policy seems to be on a more set and stable course in Britain than in the United States. The NMW has to be deemed a success, on both the policy and the political dimensions. It has not only provided real benefits to a significant number of people with few if any negative consequences, but it has also won wide acclaim from the public. Further, even if they are not entirely won over, those who opposed it as though it would be a breach of the barricades have at least become more circumspect. In the United States, the federal minimum wage remains enormously popular, but its politics is as fragmented as ever. Opponents there continue to be as unbending as they were in 1938 and its supporters, not having a coherent vision or rationale for raising it, are always on the verge of stumbling. The almost pathetic deal to attach it to a military spending bill in 2007 is the ultimate example. Nevertheless, the groundswell of support for recent state minimum wage increases and the living wage movement is evidence that the American public sees the issue rather clearly.
Yet, while the efforts of activists, the stances of interest groups, and the actions of political figures are what governs minimum wage policy in the short run, it is the ideas of welfare state theorists that are most important in the long run, for it is their writings that will provide the intellectual frameworks within which future policy is debated. Whether or not they elevate the minimum wage to a central place in their prototypes for the ideal welfare state will determine its future more than any other factor.