By John Hubbuch
It is hard for me to believe that I voted twice for Ronald Reagan as President of the United States. Having lived in Oak Park since 1976, almost all of my conservative beliefs have been washed away by the warm liberal/progressive waters of Oak Park.
Yet ever so often there stirs a memory of my University of Chicago Law School education from 1971-1974. At that time, you didn't really study law, but a hybrid of law and economics. Among the things I learned was the Principle Of The Unintended Effect. The principle recognized that sometimes the best of intentions sometimes cause things to get worse rather than better. Some of you may recall the TV sit com WKRP In Cincinnati episode when the radio station dropped Thanksgiving turkeys from a helicopter , but unfortunately for the recipients on the ground, the turkeys were frozen.
Many Oak Parkers probably favor this idea of "a living wage" wherein workers would be paid a $15 hour minimum wage--almost double the current Illinois minimum wage of $8.25 per hour. My initial impulse was to think that a living wage was a great idea. Almost 15 percent of Americans are below the poverty line, and the growing gap between the plutocrats and the rest of us is a scandal.
The problem is the unintended effect. Mandate $15 per hour and employers will lay off workers, be incenticized to automate and to lay off the poorer educated workers for better educated ones. Think Trader Joe's and Starbucks. The result of a living wage would almost certainly be an increase in the already high unemployment rate of our most needy. And of course the cost of the doubled wages would be passed on to the consumer. Even Oak Parkers may not be ready for a 2 dollar value menu. The plight of millions of unskilled, uneducated workers is a big problem in the country, but doubling their wages is not the solution.
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