The Myth of the
Chicago Big Box
WarHave you been
following the trials and travails of Wal-Mart and the Chicago City Council?
Last week the Chicago City Council passed a 'big box' living wage ordinance
designed to set minimum wages for these big job producers. Big box stores such
as Home Depot, Wal Mart, Sam's Club, and Target have brought more choices and
greater value at lower prices to millions of Americans. Yet, the political
class has, if you'll pardon my pun, is putting a big target on their backs.
Why? Apparently, because big box stores create jobs, provide value and people
like them. And nothing brings out liberal anger more than
The idea that our
representatives at various levels of government want to protect David from
Goliath is not new. Nor, is it new that the press, in order to sell its
products, seeks to portray these important policy debates in terms of warfare.
Take this Chicago Sun-Times
story that ran on
"Chicago's controversial big- box ordinance has produced its
first casualty: Target has pulled
out of a 32-acre shopping mall at 119th and Marshfield and will likely cut and run from the North Side's
project as well, city officials said Wednesday.
decision to follow through on its threat to avoid
Chicago comes just one week after a bitterly divided City Council defied Daley
by requiring retailing giants to pay their employees a "living wage" of at least
$10 an hour and $3 in benefits by 2010. 
was one of only 15 aldermen to vote against the big-box ordinance. She was devastated, but not surprised, when
the letter arrived from Target. "My colleagues are saying, 'Don't worry. They'll
come.' Well, mine just left," Austin said."
There's just one
problem: This isn't about brave politicians taking on the big capitalists.
This is about a business' responsibility to its shareholders. Target's
question, to locate or not locate (with apologies to Will Shakespeare), was
based on profitability. If they can't make money, they're not going to locate
in Chicago. It
really is that simple.
means their responsibility is not, "to send a warning to everyone else..." nor
is it to level "threats," as others claim.
Allusions to war
paint a false picture in which Target has a choice and by choosing to leave,
Target is somehow vindictive. If Target can earn a profit in Chicago, they will stay,
despite the tax. If they based a decision to leave on politics and passed up a
profit making opportunity in Chicago, then they will be in breach of their
responsibilities to shareholders. This would open manager to lawsuits, and they
would lose their jobs.
Had managers chosen
to stay, despite the ordinance, based on the premise that they would be "good
corporate citizens," while losing money, guess what? They would be in the same
legal box. They would have violated their fiduciary responsibility to maximize
their company's value.
In sum, Target, and
any other public company really doesn't have a choice. Economics makes it for
them. Politicians, before slaying Goliath on our behalf, need to realize that
when they sling stones they're hitting you and me. And while "war" sells more
newspapers than "economics," reporters have a responsibility to tell the truth
they should try telling it.
"Give Me Liberty or
Give Me Death" Patrick Henry Unless It's about Smoking! Sangamon City Board President Andy Van
The Sangamon County
Board in Central Illinois is the latest local
community poised to erode our property rights by regulating a legal activity on
our property. That is nothing new. It's happening all over the state.
is that the more successful these zealots are, the more transparent they
become. In his analysis of smoking ban
opposition, Sangamon County Board President
Andy Van Meter claims that smoking, a legal activity, is equivalent to an
illegal activity public urination, "My
friend and colleague, Abe Forsythe, said it best when he compared what we now
know about secondhand smoke in public places to what we've long known about
public swimming pools: "You just can't pee in one corner of the pool."
Then, believe it or not, Van Meter repudiates Patrick
Henry, confuses private property with
public spaces and, for good measure, plugs concentration camps all within one
paragraph: "When liberty threatens life, we
choose life. In 1840, our forefathers relinquished the right to let their hogs
roam free because roaming swine threatened public health. In 1847 we required
every citizen to have a fire bucket at the ready. In 1881 we forced naturally
free people who contracted smallpox into isolation camps near the
One wonders what
other personal freedoms and Constitutional rights Mr. Van Meter is willing to
throw under the bus in the name of, "keeping us safe."
We've since learned
that quarantining people can be done without placing them in internment camps.
Most of us can also differentiate between public and private property as well as
accepted and legal social behavior (smoking) and illegal behavior outside of
social norms (public urination). Apparently, these distinctions not to
mention a commitment to liberty -- are not prerequisites for holding public
office in Sangamon County,
ManiaThe "good people in
once again trying to fix health care. It's called the Adequate Health Care Task
Force and it is part of then-State Sen. Barack Obama's legacy The Health Care
The task force has
been holding meetings throughout Illinois since spring. Mostly, the task force
heard from leftists and union members seeking a "single payer" health financing
system during their taxpayer funded hearings across Illinois. Thankfully,
their efforts -- without federal assistance -- are a pipe dream. But they,
along with three other groups were able to put forward their plans to "fix
Four plans were put
forward including a market-oriented plan offered by a coalition of insurance
industry representatives (along with Medicaid reforms designed by the Illinois
Policy Institute). Of the four, three had some form of mandate on the
individual or businesses.
Last week, through
its highly paid firm Navigant Consulting, the task force released an assessment
of the four proposal put forth by Illinois insurance industry
working group, the
Proposal (.pdf), a single payer
model, a proposal by the
Campaign for Better Health
Care, and the Illinois Hospital
Association. The consultant also scored a
hybrid proposal consisting of elements from all four proposals. As one can
imagine, the free market proposal put together by the insurance industry working
group received the lowest scores. In most categories it scored very
competitively but alas, because it failed to provide mandates and emphasized
quality care and personal responsibility over third party decisions, it wasn't
well received by the task force.
In fact, it was
apparent that the task force paid little attention to issues surrounding quality
care, personal responsibility and giving patients a say in health care decision
making. Those three criteria were given very little weight in stead. Instead,
a third party in their view is better positioned to make your health care
decisions than you are. The task force also failed to account for real world
results of the proposals. The Healthy Illinois model was introduced in
Dirigo Care. It has failed to live up to expectations. The Canadian single
payer system only survives because the really sick have a safety valve -- the
US. The individual health insurance
market, while robust in Illinois, was dismissed out of hand during one
meeting. Health Savings Accounts, which have been growing steadily in
popularity, were also given short shrift. I can go on
We can conclude
though, that it seems that adequate health care hasn't been a major priority for
the Adequate Health Care Task Force.
Look for more on
this state funded boondoggle in the weeks and months to come.
New at the
InstituteCheck out Andrew
Hollingsead look at the Death Tax in
Illinois and Collin Hitt's take on