Things That Are Different

The political shenanigans going on in Illinois and Chicago about raising the state’s and city’s minimum wages

A special commission convened by Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week recommended hiking the city’s minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2018 from the state’s current rate of $8.25. However, the task force suggested delaying the vote until after the November election, when they anticipate lame-duck state legislators will increase Illinois’s minimum wage.

Democratic lawmakers in Springfield punted on raising the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour earlier this year because they didn’t want to anger business groups before the election or give Republican challengers in downstate districts a potent campaign issue. At the same time, they wanted to use the issue to stoke voter turnout in Chicago, which is critical to Gov. Pat Quinn’s re-election.

Hence, Democrats last month settled on a ploy to place an advisory question on the November ballot asking voters whether they think the minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour. Another ballot measure asks voters for their opinion about imposing a millionaires’ tax. The sole purpose of these putative referendums is to hoodwink low-income Democratic voters in Chicago into showing up to the polls in November.

has moved me to comment. Any merits of increasing the national minimum wage have no bearing whatever on raising Illinois’s minimum wage or Chicago’s. Under the circumstances in which most of Illinois’s major cities are on state border, Illinois already has a higher minimum wage than any of its neighboring states, businesses are already fleeing Illinois, and a Gallup poll shows that most Illinoisans would rather leave the state, raising Chicago’s minimum wage above the state’s or raising the state’s above the minimum wages of its surrounding states, strikes me as reckless.

My position on the minimum wage is what it has long been: for me to support it I’d need to be convinced that it would help a lot more deserving people than it would hurt because the benefit that it brings is marginal while the harm it could potentially do is serious. When people can walk across the street for a cheaper Big Mac it’s not too much of a stretch to think they might do so.

1 comment… add one
  • michael reynolds

    Well, we have ourselves a situation, don’t we? There are these jobs that don’t pay enough to support human life. And there’s technology ready to replace same if workers insist on a decent wage. So we either have an underclass working hard to follow the rules and earn the American Dream that nevertheless lives in squalor. Or we have even more unemployed people.

    Of course they could try the radical In-N-Out model and not treat employees like shit and thus improve retention and efficiency, (and I’m willing to bet reducing employee theft) but I’ve been reliably informed by Guarneri that treating people like shit is fundamental to the McD’s formula, so I guess that’s off the table.

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