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July 27, 2006

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Reader

"These include groups that would prefer for Walmart and Home Depot to stay away."

What groups?

saul levmore

Small stores that are likely to be undercut by prices and hours. Those and other commercial establishments and even real estate interests that will find their values decreased when the Walmart becomes the new center of gravity for the area.

Brian

Where do the loyalties of the local governments lie on this debate?

Roach

I've always thought Chicago was the least consumer-friendly city I've lived in. The Target store is way out on 65th and Cicero and, for most U of C students without cars, it's a major event to get there and back.

Locally, it's a pain to buy anything one needs in Hyde Park, whether it's a desk, a shower curtain, or other household supplies. And it's overpriced. And the service is usually atrocious.

These monopolies and oligopolies routinely screw the local population through what may be called rent-extraction-by-quality-degradation.

In other, more progressive cities, shopping is not a nightmare, characterized by over-crowded parking lots, high prices, and bad service. There are Targets, Wal-Marts, grocery stores, chain stores, malls, and other conveniences of modern life everywhere, well spaced out, and widely distributed to benefit consumers. There's no doubt that far more of these stores could thrive in Chicaog than presently exist as evidenced by their proliferation in other metro areas and their long waiting times and crowded parking lots in Chicago. The limiting factor is the malevolent interference of local government.

This mandated minimum wage depends on a false premise, that big stores are always so super-profitable they just have money to give away to employees. This law will simply limit the supply of such stores, prevent willing workers from finding jobs, burden consumers, raise prices, reduce the number of available jobs, and generally make life more difficult for Chicagoans in what is, I believe, one of the most difficult and inconvenient cities in which to live in the entirety of North America.

Reader2

Roach---what you're saying doesn't apply to the North Side. Here we have a spanking new Target in the far north, in addition to all the big box stores on Elston, Clybourn, and North Avenue. So it can't just be "the malevolent interference of local government."

I think $10 an hour/$3 in benefits is not unreasonable by 2010, especially if other municipalities do it too, which seems likely. Whether the cost of doing business is increased by taxes or minimum wages, it is increased. But there are plelnty of revenues to be found in the city. Walmart will make a profit. They'll keep building stores.

And if they don't, some other, similar Walmart-type place will.

Frederick Hamilton

It was Reagan who said: "If it moves tax it, if it continues to move regulate it, if it stops moving subsidize it". Government can do any silly damn thing it wishes with taxation. Just be prepared to pay. Wal-Mart doesn't get to print its own money. Their money comes from you and I. We citizens pay all the taxes. All corporation's taxes are passed on to the consumer in higher prices. Competition will force corporations to keep that pass through as small as required to make a profit, but in the end, we get it in the end. Poor Chicago. Brain dead on taxes and minimum wages. Prices lower on the outskirts of Chicago than in Chicago, where you gonna go? Out of the city. Duh.

Roach

You may be right that the market can support that wage and also that Wal-Mart will still make a profit, but they'll make fewer stores, consumers will be worse off, less competitive smallers stores will thrive when they'd otherwise go under (hurting consumers will bad service that would otherwise be replaced by Wal-Marts), and, most important, there will be fewer such stores and there prices will be higher from this artificial intervention in the market, made out of a juvenile belief that big equals bad.

Bill Wood

Does anyone have a link to the text of the ordinance? I'd like to read it.

Bill Wood
San Antonio

LAK

Roach, some of us are willing to hurt consumers and raise prices "artificially" if that means people who work hard for a living can make a living wage. There is nothing wrong with imposing costs on consumers to gurantee those who work are able to live with dignity.

Roach

And one has dignity at $10/hour but not at $7? Give me a break. What's a living wage? And even if it's OK to hurt consumers, which I don't accept, why is it OK to hurt people looking for jobs to help people that already have jobs? Becasue raising prices for labor, you see, raises unemployment. So, we have the classic fallacy of the visible good versus the invisible harm: you can point to the happy Wal-Mart workers, but I can't so easily show you who did not get a job. But they're out there, and their ranks can be proven statistically.

Nations that "respect the dignity of labor," such as France, find they have enormous unemployment problems. The real issue for those who supposedly care about labor is why they want to constantly expand the pool of labor with our massive immigration problem. Solving that will quickly raise wages, as service workers became more scarce not artificially but through our normal, much lower rate of birth and finite population.

LAK

"And even if it's OK to hurt consumers, which I don't accept, why is it OK to hurt people looking for jobs to help people that already have jobs? Because raising prices for labor, you see, raises unemployment."

B.S. I dispute this myth that republicans have disingenuously injected into the public dialogue. Maybe, maybe there are short term consequences, but afetr requilibration labor is not the one getting hurt. Such BS. Maybe the CEO won't be able to buy a 4th Aston Martin. It is the shareholdres who can and should receive lesser profits in a business the size of Walmart that can abosrb added costs into their bottom line. It disgust me when Reublicans justify their hatred ofthe poor by claming raising minimum wages hurts the working class.

If any workers are being hurt, it is those foreign laborers who make the consumeables that the wealthy owners of Walmart enjoy. So you are trading dignity for American service industry for a few foreign factry workers making the Louis Vuitton handbags that the bourgeois sheep buy. Why do yu hate Aemrica and American workers so much Roach? Hating America is bad. Fire, bad.

Frederick Hamilton

The American worker is getting the short end of the profit stick and getting it in the end with any fairness in retirement. Between the short end of profits and the rectal end with retirement lies the middle which is a dead end for most workers regarding a good living wage.

Acknowledging that and fixing it are about all any of us can do it seems. Democrats only really care about blacks, gays, now hispanics and women. Or as a friend say to me when Bill Clinton won in 92, "if your gay, black or female in America your ship just came in." Well, that may get you elected (barely) but it doesn't do anybody with a job anything.

Can we elect a Prez and Congress that would:

1) Make it a law that non-management workers make at least on average 25% the pay of the CEO.

2) All non-management workers have their pension money 100% vested after one year.

3) All money in a pension plan is guarenteed to non-management workers before any proceeds from a bankruptcy can be used for any other purpose (shareholders, CEO's, lien holders, bond holders, et al).

4) All monies generated with Social Security are specifically attributed to the individual and 33% of the money managed in private accounts from a list of 24 accepted private pension managers/companies.

5) The age of retirement changed to 70. No use of any private or federal retirement monies until age 65.

6) Flat rate of 15% tax on all types of income for all peoples, corporations or entities. No deductions of any kind for any reason. Charity, churches, mortgage, state taxes, local taxes, et al. Post card filing. No difference in any income: capital gains, long term, short term, makes no difference. Every source of income gets taxed at 15% no matter how, when or type of earned: income, stocks, bonds, et al. The complete phasing out of all "tax free" instruments. Everybody, everywhere, every time gets taxed.

What do you all think of them apples. Conservative, liberal, libertarian, how would you like to label them apples. Power to working stiffs. Power to the people. Take the tax favor schtick out of the hands of grubby, greasy politicians.

Frederick Hamilton

Actually 1 should be 10% of CEO pay not 25%. Possibly more sane and attainable.

Bob

WalMart and Home Depot will just have to raise their prices to compensate for the higher wages. The employees will win at the expense of all other Chicago residents. But that's the American way. Group A takes from Group B. Group B takes from Group C. Group C takes from Group A. And we all think we are getting something for free.

Why doesn't Chicago just impose an additional 10% tax on big box stores and dole it out to the big box employees. No, wait, why stop there. In addition to their higher minimum wage law, why don't they also require that the big box stores sell their products for 10% more than what they sell for locally. That way, all those smaller businesses won't be put out of business by the big box stores. You know, eliminate competition. Wait, why stop there. Just nationalize the big box stores, pay all the employees the same salaries as state employees ($40-$60k) and raise the prices of all the products to compensate. Now, I realize that once these big box employees become government employees, they will realize that they are not able to be terminated. Service will decline and ... Oh, never mind.

Dave

Amen. Corporations owe all of us a high salary, retirement benefits, free medical insurance, and any other benefits we see fit to have. The fact that companies are in business to make money is rediculous. They owe us great jobs. They are in business to provide great jobs to Americans. And if they can't do that, then we should make laws that force them to, even if it means making them outsource all of our jobs to India and China or putting them out of business.

We don't need their lousy jobs anyway. Unemployment benefits are great in my state anyway. Who needs to work when you can get $50k worth of cash, food stamps, WIC, welfare, unemployment, free medical, housing, and other government aid per year. You just have to know how to work the system.

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