The City of Chicago has passed a “Living Wage Ordinance” (that’s a title with spin if I’ve ever seen one) in order to force large employers, such as Wal Mart, to pay their employers what the city officials see as a wage worthy of Chicago’s unskilled labor force.

What, you ask, is that living wage? Ten dollars and hour plus three dollars per hour in benefits. That’s it! I’m quitting my job and going to work for Wal Mart! I don’t get benefits at my current job…

There are two reasons why this ordinance is a horrendous idea. One, it has been revealed by several of Chicago’s aldermen (alderpeople?) that pressure for this ordinance came from local union officials who hate Wal Mart. So, the living wage ordinance was simply an evil ploy to get rid of “big, bad Wal Mart,” rather than for any supposed love for the poor, uneducated masses. I tend to agree with a boisterous, big hat wearing alderwomen I saw on the news: if Chicago is determined to pass a “living wage,” it needs to be for all employers, not just the big ones.

However, the unions got their way. Wal Mart has said that their one store within the city of Chicago (that is currently under construction) will be their last if the ordinance sticks. Mission accomplished, huh?

The second major problem with this ordinance is actually a plethora of problems – all the same problems that come with any minimum or “living” wage. Any idiotic 16-year-old can walk into a Wal Mart now and get a job making what it took me ten years of work experience to make. What kind of work ethic does that teach? Forget about working towards your education! Just go to Wal Mart and you can make enough to get by, thanks to the great city of Chicago! Of course, I guess it is better than the “Welfare Work Ethic,” which is something like, “sit around and eat cheetos while the taxpayers pay your rent.”

I have a college education – which, incidentally, I’m not actually using right now as far as a job is concerned – but that’s not why I haven’t made minimum wage since I was 14 years old. Why? Because I got off my butt and worked hard. It hasn’t been my education that has increased my pay (although my ability to articulate more than “Do you want fries with that?” has, I’m sure, helped); rather, the fact that I have gone from job to job, proving that I am worth more than minimum wage, has increased my pay.

However, like I said, it appears that the point of this ordinance wasn’t to help the poor, uneducated masses, but to help the unions. And it looks like it’s worked…

All that being said, though, better for the city of Chicago to pass such a law than for the state or federal governments to do so. It’s a lot easier to move out of Chicago than it is to move away from Illinois or out of the entire country. That’s what I like about localized government – if I don’t like it, I don’t have to live there.

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