One Step Forward, One Step Back

In the last couple of days, the RTD editorialists have seen fit to revisit a couple of issues previously blogged about in this space.

On the issue of gun control, the RTD, noting that New York City has reduced its crime rates while maintaining tough gun laws, has backtracked remarkably from its August editorial. The RTD now says that one can cite evidence for or against gun control’s effectiveness. This is hardly a sophisticated social science position, but it represents progress. (See our original post on gun control here.)

On the other hand, Tuesday’s RTD takes up the Chicago Wal-Mart ordinance again; the Chicago Board of Aldermen narrowly failed in its effort to override Mayor Daley’s veto of an ordinance to require large big-box retailers to pay a living wage. The RTD congratulates Daley on dashing the ordinance, using arguments no more impressive than its original August editorial on the matter. That big-box retailers threatened to scale back plans to expand in Chicago is not a strong argument for not implementing this ordinance. As noted in our earlier post on this topic, claims for strong employment gains resulting from big box expansion need to be taken with a grain of salt.  Moreover, there is good evidence that in urban economies, total retail earnings actually decline when big box stores move in, as local retailers are displaced.

But perhaps more annoying than the RTD’s position on that particular ordinance is its insistence on speaking of a “so-called living wage” and on mocking efforts to improve the wages of working people in the U.S. The RTD gives little if any indication that there is anything wrong people working full-time and not being able to make ends meet or provide their families a measure of security; in the RTD’s reckoning, the interests of the millions of working poor in the U.S. (and the many thousands in Richmond) can be ignored, or simply brushed aside as a fact of life not worth the effort to correct.

Published in: on October 3, 2006 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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