While Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn may have thought he was being politically slick - which is nothing new in Illinois politics - the political stunt is totally backfiring. The governor - from Hinsdale, an affluent suburb of Chicago - is making headlines for living off of a minimum wage salary for a week. Logically, people are asking: What good can come of someone like Pat Quinn - who isn’t really living off of minimum wage and hasn’t ever done so in the past – engaging in such a blatant charade? There are so many other issues going on in Illinois, Chicago, and beyond of which Quinn and other politicians should be and could be concerning themselves with. The Illinois governor hopes to be elected again in November, according to an AOL report on Tuesday.
Just prior to the high-profile election in which Democrat Quinn has stiff competition from Republican Bruce Rauner, Quinn has challenged himself to live off of $79 a week, according to the Atlanta Journal. Naturally, any non-governmental move Quinn makes at this time is going to be seen as a potential stunt to sway voters to favor him over Rauner – in spite of Quinn’s highly-criticized record from his time in office. According to the report, in this stunt, Quinn is challenging himself to spend no more than $79 on food and other recreational expenses this week. Quinn chose the amount of $79 because the minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25, and $79 is the amount Quinn says someone living on minimum wage has left after paying their taxes and for housing. He hasn't detailed how he came up with such a figure.
While the state is putting a referendum on the November ballot regarding an increase in the state’s minimum wage – to $10 per hour – the connection between the desire to raise the state’s minimum wage and Quinn’s self-challenge is curious to everyday Illinoisans. Having spoken to many persons about it, everyone basically did a universal eye roll. Everyone. One waitress with two kids that spoke to me about the story said: “What’s the point? At the end of the week, he can be eating steak and drinking expensive wine again with his wife. At the end of the week, I have no such option.” I informed her that Quinn is divorced.
Since Quinn started this self-challenge the other day, he has been on the news making comments about his "sacrifice." He said that he had graham crackers for dinner the other night. Tuesday night, he planned on having macaroni and cheese. Two mornings this week, he says he had bananas for breakfast. Again, how this helps the poor - or those on minimum wage - baffles the mind. Perhaps he should donate the money he doesn't spend while living on minimum wage for a week to a homeless shelter. Then, a purpose to this would be somewhat clearer.
For the record, Quinn makes $177,000 annually, according to a WFLD-TV report. Other Democrats on the raise-the-minimum-wage bandwagon who never owned a business or had to meet a payroll include Vice President Joe Biden and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – who is issuing an executive order to see that the elevated minimum wage be given to workers of city contractors in Chicago. Emanuel, of course, is stepping forward regarding minimum wage just prior to his next mayoral election which will be held early next year. There are those who are criticizing Emanuel, just as they have criticized President Barack Obama - for being quite free with his pen on executive orders.