Big box law fails

A city ordinance to raise the minimum wage paid to workers at “big box” retail stores (stores with a square footage of 90,000 sq. ft. or more) has failed:

Mayor Richard Daley demonstrated his political muscle on Wednesday, bucking proponents of the “big-box” minimum wage ordinance and making his veto of the measure stick.

Daley persuaded three aldermen who originally voted in favor of the ordinance to switch sides, successfully turning away an override attempt at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

The mayor called for action now in Washington, D.C., and, especially, Springfield to increase the minimum wage for employees no matter where they work. Such action, he believes, would not put Chicago at a competitive disadvantage in attracting businesses.

Once again Richard Daley has demonstrated that he is the most politically astute big city mayor in the country:

Now though, Daley is firmly and publicly cast as supporting jobs for minorities, particularly African-Americans, who will seek those jobs promised by Wal-Mart and other stores. He’ll also get the credit from shoppers in those communities traditionally underserved by large chains–including women, who vote.

For several days now, warming up to his veto vote, the mayor has talked about the black South and West Sides as wastelands ignored, as if he hasn’t been mayor since 1989.

As I’ve said before,  if your objective is really to help the working poor, attract more retail into the city and use the increased sales tax revenue to help them.

The issue has caught national attention in the form of the columnist George Will who uses it as a club to bash liberals with:

Before they went on their bender of indignation about Wal-Mart (customers per week: 127 million), liberals had drummed McDonald’s (customers per week: 175 million) out of civilized society because it is making us fat, or something. So, what next? Which preferences of ordinary Americans will liberals, in their role as national scolds, next disapprove? Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?

The campaign against Chevrolet began 40 years ago.  Remember Unsafe at Any Speed?

Meanwhile, by first successfully passing a law banning the sale of foies gras in Chicago restaurants and now failing to pass their big box minimum wage law the Chicago City Council has mostly succeeded in making themselves look foolish.

3 comments… add one
  • Now we just need to knock down that idiotic foie gras law.

  • You sure are right in calling Will’s column “a club.” And, yes, banning foies gras is a little wacky, but that’s not really what is at stake here.

    Conclusory Arguments

  • Not long ago an economist (I forget the name and I’m too lazy to look it up—French, I believe) was awarded a Nobel Prize for his research demonstrating that, if you wanted to help the poor, highly targeted grants were a more efficient means than laws like those the City Council is promoting.

    Welcome, WPB.  I find partisan posturing of the sort that Will is engaging in tedious.  I’m much more interested in finding the best policies within the constraints of politics than in counting coup.

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