Totalitarianism Cloaked as Do-Goodism

Unions in Milwaukee, Detroit and other cities have held demonstrations at McDonalds’ restaurants demanding wages be raised to $15 per hour. And no doubt they also want full health care and retirement benefits. Some editorial writers in have opined that this not radicalism but a reasoned response to the decline of America’s middle class.

This argument is so economically stupid on so many levels that one hardly knows where to begin. Since when have low skilled workers in fast food restaurants been a linchpin of creating the middle class? Indeed, it was the growth of the middle class that led to the massive increase in discretionary income that permitted more eating out and the enormous rise of the relatively inexpensive food services. Restaurants that have provided entry level work experiences for millions of people.

A near doubling of market determined wages will not be achieved any time soon unless there is a huge increase in total spendable income, or a dramatic drop in available workers. Good luck with that if the unions are successful in getting amnesty for illegal immigrants, a virtual guarantee of a flood of cheap labor. The unions must know that and what they are really after is to have the government force companies to pay far higher wages while also maintaining or increasing benefits. This at a time when these companies are already reducing full time employment and taking other steps to avoid the costs that are coming with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The inability and unwillingness of some groups and ideologies to understand the damage done by their do-good policies is nothing short of astounding. No lessons have been learned by the unions and their overweening demands on private sector employers with the attendant calamities those consequences have had for cities all over the once prosperous industrial heartland. Now they are wrecking municipal governments as well.

What the workers chanting "hold the burgers, hold the fries, make my wages supersize" are really mean is: forget the notion that what someone earns is a reflection of what their efforts contribute to the earnings of the business. If wages were somehow to double without a comparable rise in revenue, the firm would go out of business. Then wages would be zero and the employees would be on welfare or unemployment benefits. How is that for a strategy to build a middle class?

Better wages require jobs with higher productivity in terms of contribution to company revenue. With national economic policies and many state policies creating disincentives for businesses that inhibit good paying job formation. Nothing in the union chanting suggests there is any understanding of this reality.

Pittsburgh’s Second Bill of Rights Proclamation

Never has so much inanity, ignorance and denial of reality been on display as the Pittsburgh City Council’s proclamation calling for the Federal government to enact a second Bill of Rights to protect the middle class. The proclamation would have the new Bill of Rights include a living wage, education rights and full participation in the electoral process.

How fascinating that Pittsburgh’s City Council would be the promoters of a Bill of Rights which have in effect already been implemented in the City. Are they not happy with Pittsburgh’s results? Has the City’s living wage bill not worked to grow the middle class’ income? Apparently not. Has spending over $20,000 per pupil, having a Promise scholarship program that guarantees money for Pittsburgh school graduates and adopting every politically correct education strategy and gimmick coming down the pike improved education in City schools? Absolutely not. What new educational rights could possibly do more than is already being done? And how likely are they to achieve better results than are already occurring? History says they will be a counterproductive waste of time.

The nation has long since had a minimum wage and a labor policy that gives great power to unions. Look at the industries the unions have decimated through their demands. The nation and the state have had prevailing wage laws for decades. Pennsylvania has labor laws that give public sector unions enormous bargaining advantages over the elected officials representing the taxpayers. And given the incestuous, mutual back scratching relationship between elected officials and public sector unions taxpayers end up getting short shrift. Those laws enrich the government employees but have pushed 26 municipalities in the state into distressed status, including Pittsburgh.

Which of these policies, along with business strangling environmental policies, have been helpful in promoting private sector activity and creating sustainable high paying jobs? Look at the deep blue cities all around the country such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland, San Bernardino, Scranton, and Harrisburg. Where is the evidence that all the "progressive" programs in those cities have protected the middle class?

The unwillingness to recognize the damage being done to our economy and financial system by progressive programs is to be in complete denial. Model cities ring a bell? How did the Civic Arena work out for the Hill District? Have progressive education policies improved education? Look at academic achievement in Chicago, Atlanta and many other cities across the country where the lack of discipline and kowtowing to teacher unions have held sway for years.

Finally, how can a City that has been totally under the control of one party for 80 years in a country that has been under the control of the same party for much of the same time and is in a country which has a voting rights act have concerns about electoral participation? Where has their party been? The same party that has a very checkered history when it comes to electoral malfeasance. Philly Black Panthers ring a bell anyone? ACORN shenanigans? Then there is the candidate for Congress in Maryland who has had to drop out for voting in both Florida and Maryland in the same election season. Does full participation in the electoral process include being able to cheat?

Rights cannot specify outcomes as the Council apparently believe they can. Rights should ensure freedom to work, start a business or any other pursuit of happiness an individual chooses with minimum of interference and then only to protect the same rights of other people. Rights should ensure the sanctity of life, the ability to own and dispose of private property and the right of free speech, the freedom of the press and religion. In fact, the founding documents including the Bill of Rights and other amendments already do these things as long as politicians and judges do not subvert them. And therein lies the rub for the Council’s proclamation. They are unhappy with the tried and true way the country has guaranteed our rights and produced the greatest prosperity the world has ever seen.

But progressives are never happy. And they have enacted idiotic laws such as those that led to the subprime mortgage debacle that nearly destroyed our financial system. They have worked to choke off the country’s ability to exploit its own resources and to hamstring the ability of entrepreneurs to build and grow businesses. The drafting of the proclamation demonstrates the inability of progressives to be open minded enough to question whether or not all they have done before is doing what they promised? Or will they ever they recognize the unintended consequences of their policies and beliefs? They would choke the goose that lays the golden eggs and expect the goose to keep producing the eggs.