What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ben Dover. Now paging, Ben Dover.

The assault on the working class has gone into full swing. I said this before and you may have thought I was engaging in hyperbole. I'm not. Anybody who works for a living, you're about to be screwed. But before we get to all of that, just a few things about our wonderful Senate Bill 5.

Veterans, you're about to be screwed if you want to become a teacher, or go into public service when you leave the Armed Services. SB5 removes a clause that for both salary and retirement, you can have 5 years of your service transfer. Not anymore. Thanks for your service, go to the bottom of the scale. Yep, the party that so recently endorsed the state going into more debt by taking out a large bond issue to give guard members a $2000 bonus for serving in the wars, now is screwing you over. Doesn't it feel good?

Getting closer to the issue, to pass SB 5 (and the Wisconsin bill), Senate rules and laws may have been violated (that's what the line about "Supporters said they don't care how it happened, are just glad it passed and is on track to go up for a full Senate vote," is talking about). See, we have laws and rules about these things. Like when Senate Committees are set (rule, beginning of session, ie. first day, to which the Senate President pretty much responded later, "I'm the Senate President and I make the rules."). About open meetings and hearings (none were held on the committee replacements, which may violate Ohio's open meeting laws on both 24 hours notice and records keeping). There's a couple others, but those are the biggies. (There's a similar problem with what the Wisconsin Senate did as well).

Breaking rules and laws to get this legislation through. Proud yet of what you've wrought, TPers? (I'll note that Senator Seitz was going to vote no because he hadn't read the bill yet and that was a "tea party lesson" he learned).

Now lets get closer to how everybody who works is about to be screwed. While this is going on, there's a lot of talk about the national budget cutting, but very little is being said about what is exactly being cut (except for "discretionary spending" and the defunding of NPR, Planned Parenthood, and some of the other big name things). What you may not have heard was that OSHA, EPA, National Labor Relations Board, and the EEOC's call center among others (including many inspectors offices) were on the list to be zeroed out or have severe cuts. While you may not think the EPA would be protecting you as an employee, you'd be wrong. Many EPA regulations overlap OSHA's responsibilities, but the EPA has stronger enforcement. And if you don't see how defunding OSHA, EEOC's call center, and the NLRB affects you as an employee, you really aren't paying attention (do I really need to walk this argument through here?).

No unions, and no seniority. So the career staff most likely to be able to help you, as someone who wants to go to the government for redress of wrongs, more than likely won't be there for you. And those employees that would normally go to the wall to help you, fighting the political appointees over them, no longer would have job protection for doing that (needless to say, they're also the employees that have the greatest knowledge of how things are supposed to work and are paid the most). Know what it's like being an older person trying to find a job ("older" here is defined as 35+)?

So, removing regulations that protect you, removing inspectors in charge of regulation enforcement, and removing the agencies that you can go to for redress. Begin to see it? That's before we get to the prospect of firing career employees and rigging the hiring process to install ideological/political activists in their place (see previous administrations Justice Department hiring scandals) and instilling the culture of "yes men" (toward the political appointees) in the older career employees.

Having fun yet?

As you may or may not know, unions led the way for workers' rights (starting with the 8 hour workday, 5 day work week, retirement, paid holidays and vacation, higher pay scales, etc). One of the arguments going on right now is "Why should union workers have these things when those in the private sectors don't?" You hear that a lot. It's a crab's mentality, and unfortunately we've seen too much of this. Understand from the union side, we wonder why you don't have these things which won't don't consider "extravagant" but "basic". And we've been willing to fight for you (who aren't in a union) to have them. Without unions and the union's activities and power, how long do you believe you'll have what you have even now? You know all that talk about "being competitive" and we have to do this to be "competitive"? Remember how these same people defended off-shoring jobs to countries that have pay rates expressed in "dollars per day" (typical amounts can be counted to using both hands and if your lucky, maybe a foot or two) and have lax environmental and work place safety rules (as in, employees get sick and die from their working conditions) so our companies would be "competitive"? What else do you think they'll do to get us all "competitive"? You may remember my comment earlier about, "You'll take what you're offered and you'll like it." It's not just going to be public sector employees (heck, with this economy, it's pretty much there already).

Oh, you think they're rational? In Florida the same party is going to expand their managed care pilot program for Medicaid statewide even though both the patients and doctors call the plan a failure. This is the party that keeps hammering "privatization" of government work as a way to control costs and get better service, when after over two decades worth of experimentation shows the exact opposite (do I need to provide links for the IRS collections and customer service, Medicare Advantage and Part D, or the "private contractors" fighting our wars, or the arguments in Ohio about how the privatization of the growth development commission only removes transparency into the agency?). Do they sound rational about this?

Oh, and as a bonus, they weaken the unions and their support of Democratic candidates (unions don't only support Democrats, in case you don't believe me), all while the Citizens United decision fills Republican coffers (to be fair, not all corporations support Republicans). The Supreme Court has previously ruled that money = speech. Guess who is going to be doing most of the speaking from now on? I hope the Koch brothers can sing, 'cause I like a little entertainment in my political theater.

Now, it's not all doom and gloom. All these moves have energized the labor and liberal base. Many union workers are now rethinking their voting and political giving habits (here's the little secret, while union organizations are mostly oriented to the Democratic Party, most union members give to and vote for Republicans, see kerfluffle over the 1969 Democratic Convention and the fall out over Democratic support of Affirmative Action ). This may be a Machiavellian "Do your evil first" philosophy of the conservatives, hoping all the hupla dies down in two years, or that they'll bring in something to redeem themselves down the road, but I don't think it's going to happen. These changes are going to have lasting and continuing effects and ramifications. They're gifts that will keep giving going forward. Unless something very radical happens, I expect the Conservative sweep we saw in the last election cycle to be very short lived and will possibly lead to a few decades of Democratic control of legislatures.

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