Sometimes both sides are wrong.
That's the case in the current battle in Trenton over New Jersey's minimum wage.
Gov. Chris Christie this week vetoed a Democratic bill that would have raised the state's $7.25 per hour minimum wage - the minimum allowed by federal law - to $8.50. The bill also would have linked automatic yearly increases to the Consumer Price Index.
While saying that a sudden $1.25 increase and the automatic annual adjustment would endanger the economic recovery, the governor's conditional veto acknowledged that the minimum wage, which was last increased in 2009, should be raised. He proposed raising it by $1 over three years, starting with an initial increase of 25 cents per hour.
That 25 cents equates to just $10 for a 40-hour week. It seems more of an insult to the state's working poor than a serious proposal. Christie's veto message also said he favored restoring funding to the earned-income tax credit, which benefits low-wage earners, a credit he had cut in his first budget. That would mean about $550 to the average low-income family.
In response, Democratic leaders say they will push ahead with a plan to put a minimum-wage hike and the automatic yearly increases on the ballot in November as a state constitutional amendment.
But in state government, as in other spheres, two wrongs don't make good policy.
As we've said before, raising the minimum wage is a question of policy, not a question of the fundamental workings of state government. It is inappropriate to amend the Constitution to enshrine such a policy, especially one with automatic increases, which would make it very difficult for future lawmakers to deal with changing economic conditions.
Beyond that, in calling for a referendum to ask voters to decide this directly, lawmakers are ducking their responsibilities.
Democrats say they want to remove the minimum-wage question from politics. But that is exactly where public-policy questions belong.
Dealing with the issue of the minimum wage - and dealing with it again when it is appropriate to do so - is why voters send senators, Assembly members and the governor to Trenton in the first place.
The prudent course here is for the Senate and Assembly to work out a compromise with Christie - he has already said he is willing to raise the minimum wage - and send him a bill he can sign, one without automatic increases.
And Christie should stop using the earned-income tax credit as a bargaining chip, as he did last year when he was trying to build support for a proposed tax hike, and agree to a restoration of that funding.