Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sick Politics

The Journal Sentinel was at it again, spewing their dislike for pro-worker legislation. Once more they were opining against the sick pay ordinance (passed in 2008 with a 69% majority!). Democracy be damned! The Journal feels this measure is "fatally flawed".

Their reasoning is that, since we're in a recession and struggling to create jobs, such a measure is "nonsensical". "It is reckless to raise one more regulatory hurdle," they whine. Never do they mention that deregulation and bending-over-for-business got us into the recession. Typical of Republicans, they believe - and it appears the Journal agrees - the answer to our problems is going back to the policies that created the problem.

The intellectual dishonesty and mental jiu jitsu, displayed in such editorials, are necessary to craft such a false reality. Are they also calling for an end to tax breaks, loopholes, and other giveaways to corporations during these tough fiscal times? Likewise, in good times, do they support increasing taxes on the well-off? In good times, do they support increasing Social Security payments, decreasing payroll tax deductions, or some measure benefiting the working class? Or does the sacrifice mantra only apply to laborers? Somehow, in this worldview, everyone must always be looking out for the owners of capital. These owners can't go without their third vacation home or that new Mercedes. Not a chance! The sacrifices must always be made by the workers.

The Journal feels the ordinance would make Milwaukee a "regulatory island, saddled with what would be the toughest such ordinance in the country." Couldn't it also be argued that this ordinance could attract a high-skilled workforce? Those who value their skills and health and want to see that reflected in a respectful sick-pay policy. Isn't this one of the fringe benefits, of a location, that workers and companies consider? And, couldn't this measure also make Milwaukee a shining example to other municipalities of worker rights and healthy social policies?

There is a low-road strategy of allowing business to: dictate policy, pay nothing in taxes, offer no health care nor retirement, and pass on their costs (negative externalities) to taxpayers. But there is also a high-road strategy of: living-wages, health care, attainable retirement, pro-labor policy, shared prosperity, progressive taxation, and an actively engaged - on behalf of the citizenry - government. Let's take the high-road.

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