ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My Kind of Town...

Chicago is... well, perhaps it isn't if the subject of this post is any indication.

Anyway, my band of conspirators and I are on vacation in the wilderness of Chicago this year... one of last years' vacations is here. Which reminds me, it has been over a year that Monterey John joined the conspiracy! Here's his first post back on July 12th, 2005. You've been a great addition to the team, John...

So, my posting will be limited this week, although I'm sure that my co-conspirators here at ARC to provide plenty of content. I see that MontereyJohn has already posted on the Israeli/Islamist conflict... I'm sure Brian will have a post on something soon... Brian? Penelope? Time to come out of your undisclosed location!

Anyway, while I'm here in Chicago, I thought I'd comment on this story that I saw at Cafe Hayek (one of my fav econ blogs):

That Toddling Town
Russell Roberts

The Chicago City Council approved the ordinance requiring big retailers to pay at least $10 per hour in wages and $3 per hour in benefits. The New York Times story opens with inadvertent irony:
After months of fevered lobbying and bitter debate, the Chicago City Council passed a groundbreaking ordinance yesterday requiring “big box” stores, like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, to pay a minimum wage of $10 an hour by 2010, along with at least $3 an hour worth of benefits.
I'm not sure "groundbreaking" is the right word to use about an ordinance that Target and Wal-Mart have said might keep them from opening new stores in the city.

But the real high point of the story comes here:
Some economists say such measures will stifle development and deprive consumers of access to cheap goods, but many poverty experts say that local efforts elsewhere to raise wages have not choked off growth and that the expanding, low-paying retail sector can be safely pressed to raise pay.

Ah, only some economists are worried. But many poverty experts are not. The implication is that the optimists outnumber the pessimists. There's a comfort, don't you think? The Times lets us hear from one of the optimists:
“We’re very confident that retailers want and need to be in Chicago, and the question for the city is what kinds of jobs they will bring,” said Annette Bernhardt of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, which helped draft the Chicago bill and has done economic studies of its likely impact.
It's awkward to have a person from a law school make a claim about the economic impact of the ordinance. So to reassure the reader, we are told that she has done economic studies. So she must know, I guess, of where she speaks.

No economists worried about the impact of the law are quoted.

Now, Russell makes some excellent points. My main question is who in the hell determines "big box" retail stores and why do the mom & pop stores get an exemption? Why is it okay for the Mom & Pop capitalists to not pay their workers a "living wage"? And what exactly is the benefits package at a Mom & Pop vs. one of the "big box" retailers?

Clearly this is primarily focused on Wal-Mart and the City council recognizes the devastating impact that a widespread imposition of a "Living Wage" would have on the local economy.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (1)
Monterey John said...

Vacation? I don't understand the concept.

Sounds to me like you are expecting "fair" from the ChiTown pols. As we used to say back in Misery, "You want fair? I suggest you visit Sedalia." ;) (Sealia is the location of the state fair for those from Rio Linda.)

Enjoy your vacation Saint. I'll keep trying to provoke something in your absence.