Saturday, July 13, 2013

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Those hoping for a less expensive shopping experience in the Washington D.C. area may be "SOL".

It was reported late this week that the Washington D.C. city council approved a new policy requiring "large employers" to pay a so-called "living wage" of $12.50/hr, 50% higher than the current minimum wage of $8.25/hr.  The measure, obviously aimed at Wal-Mart, would only affect employers with more than $1B in sales revenue and stores larger than 75,000 sq feet.  The "big box" stores.  This  measure would only affect Wal-Mart.  Unionized stores are exempted, while already established large retailers such as Target and Macy's have up to four years to comply with the new regs.

It's an obvious response by liberals and other pro-union interests to the continued refusal of Wal-Mart to accede to their demands that they allow unionization. 

As reported by FoxNews, Wal-Mart has said that, if the measure isn't vetoed by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, they will be forced to eliminate three proposed sites for new stores and will investigate their options as to ceasing work at three other sites where construction is already in progress, eliminating many jobs and lower-cost shopping options for low income D.C. residents.

Wal-Mart has faced similar problems in the past, most notably in the city of Chicago, where a similar law was proposed to force the retailing giant to pay a "livable wage" significantly higher than the prevailing minimum wage required by other employers.  When they threatened to pull out of the city, the law was dropped.

I can't see how such a measure can withstand constitutional scrutiny.  It's obviously in violation of the 14th Amendment's requirement of equal protection under the law.  Levying a financial burden on one employer or class of employers while specifically exempting special interests is blatantly illegal cronyism.

It seems the affliction of the Obama regime, it's drive to dictate what industries will and will not be "allowed" and to punish those businesses who dare to resist, is seeping into the local government where, admittedly, it found fertile soil.

Let's hope the Mayor and the rest of the D.C. city council come to their senses before their ideological blindness and hatred for successful businesses drives them to "cut off their nose to spite their face".  The withdrawal of Wal-Mart wouldn't just be a blow in terms of construction jobs.  There are the ongoing permanent jobs in staffing and truck drivers, the loss of potential outlets for local goods (Wal-Mart is well known for searching for local resources for it's shelves), and the loss of lower cost options for shoppers.  There are also the more concrete matters of the increased tax revenue that would be lost to the city's coffers, not just from the retailer itself but from the sales generated and the income taxes generated as a result of the new jobs.

When will Progressives ever learn that there will always be a consequence to their power and money grab regulations?  "For every action, there is an equal, and opposite, reaction."--Sir Isaac Newton



  1. When I read about this earlier in the week it reminded me of when 10 or so years ago Wal-Mart wanted to open a store here in St. Johnsbury but were prevented from doing so. Rather than seeking to impose higher wages on them as is happening in DC, the arguments were all about "saving local merchants." So Wal-Mart opened across the river in Littleton instead and look at the difference in the two communities. St. Johnsbury's downtown is struggling while Littleton's is apparently thriving and they have a bustling business center that grew up around the Wal-Mart location.

  2. Exactly my point about them working with local merchants and suppliers. I've heard reliable reports from people looking for certain boutique or "niche" items and having Wal-Mart managers and employees directing them to the downtown area.

    I was just struck by the move to legally require that a certain class of employer pay higher than the prevailing wage paid by competitors. I can't imagine what the council is thinking (or smoking).

  3. Yep. Not only are minimum wage laws in and of themselves a rights violation for all concerned, but in this case it is doubly so as it is treating different classes of people differently, which certainly violates the equal protections clause.

  4. Here is Yaron Brook's take on Wal-Mart. Not the DC case specifically, but the dislike of Wal-Mart in general.