Quinn seeks gain from wage plan

Quinn seeks gain from wage plan

State legislators should remember one of the principal precepts of medical ethics — first, do no harm.

Illinois' unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, one of the highest in the 50 states. Apparently not happy with that, Gov. Pat Quinn is doing what he can to make employment even harder to obtain for those people at the low end of the economic scale.

Quinn announced last week that he wants to increase the state's minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour.

Economics aside, it's the smart move. This is an issue driven not by rational discussion but by emotion.

"No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty," said Quinn.

That's an argument that packs a punch. Who wants others to live in poverty? Not us, say the people of Illinois.

The counter-arguments are far more technical and do not pull on people's heartstrings.

But it's a fact that some employers, staggering under the burden of a sour economy, will have to lay off some employees to pay others more. It's a fact that higher payroll costs provide greater incentives for larger employers of lower-wage employees, like fast food chains, to invest in labor-saving devices. It's a fact that many minimum-wage workers have few job skills and need the work experience to help them move up the economic ladder. It's a fact that many minimum-wage jobs are filled by upper- and middle-class teens who use the cash for spending money.

But it's also a fact that embracing a higher minimum wage allows Quinn to play Santa Claus — at others' expense.

It's no coincidence a gubernatorial election is just around the corner. The governor needs sound bites to demonstrate his compassion. He needs an issue to castigate those who disagree. He needs the minimum wage issue far more than Illinois needs a hike in the minimum wage.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on December 23, 2013 at 10:12 am

It's a fact that $10/hr. x 40 hrs. x 52 weeks equals $20,800 per year before deductions.  It's a fact that many workers work less than 40 hrs. per week due to employer policy; 32 hrs. per week x $10/hr. x 52 weeks equals $16,640 per year before deductions, but less deductions due to no insurance offerred.  McDonald's recently stated that it was assumed their workers had more than one job.  A worker could currently earn $27,456 per year before deductions with no insurance offerred; $8.25/hr. x 52 weeks x 64 hrs. per week.  Yeah, 64 hours per week with no insurance would earn $27,456 per year.  The difference between the current minimum wage, and the proposed minimum wage for a worker with two 32 hr. per week jobs before deduction with no insurance offerred is $5,824 per year.

The recession has caused the loss of middle income jobs, and the increase in working poor jobs.  Technology is coming to manufacturing jobs regardless if the minimum wage is increased, or not.  Does the "fact" that "upper - class teens" fill "many minimum - wage jobs" for spending money really make any sense in the need to raise the minimum wage?  The recession has created an increase in poverty.  The working poor need some increase in income just as the top earners have experienced a huge increase in income.  The disparity of income will cause major problems if not brought into some balance.