In the daily brief of the New York Times, there’s a link-filled sentence that gives away the entire universe.
Party leaders worked into the night on Wednesday to secure the support of rank-and-file members, who our writer says face a dilemma: Vote for a bill that could harm their constituents, or undermine President Trump’s agenda.
While admitting that the Morning Brief writer may have put their thumb on the scale a little bit, it’s also impossible to deny that this is their real choice: go against Trump and mainstream GOP wishes, or hurt their constituents by throwing them into poverty and turmoil in order to pass a massive tax cut. That is to say, more bluntly: President Trump’s agenda will hurt their constituents (and, of course, his constituents, but the entire career of Donald Trump has been to leave other people holding the bag, so who is really surprised?).
And, meanwhile, while the Gorsuch hearings and Comey testimony have understandably taken up much of the oxygen, the hearing for new Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has been kicking off. Elizabeth Warren, as is her habit, got things off by saying the exact right thing.
“I’ll be honest, I’m glad it’s not his first choice, Andrew Puzder, who is sitting here today. That said, the test for secretary of Labor is not, ‘Are you better than Andrew Puzder?’ The test is, ‘Will you stand up for American workers?’ ” she added.
The thing is, that’s not really what the GOP believes should be the role of labor secretary, since they don’t at all respect labor, except as a way to garner votes. They truly believe that unions should be destroyed (something Judge Gorsuch seems to agree with), and while Donald Trump makes protectionist noise, it is clear he is against minimum wages and encourages states to compete with each other in a race to the bottom. While that might, in a way, be pro-make-stuff-in-America, it is very far from being pro-worker.
Indeed, the driving philosophy is that workers exist to make money for the bosses. That’s always been the main philosophy behind capitalism, and it has only been tempered by the progressive movement (which inarguably saved capitalism from itself). We saw this again when Barack Obama moved to change overtime rules, saying that people who make a certain percentage above the poverty line should be compensated for working overtime.
Think about that. The rule is literally saying that you should be paid for the hours you work. For years, businesses, especially low-wage ones that hire younger people, minorities, and other vulnerable populations, have skirted overtime rules by “promoting” low-wage workers to “management” positions, which are often exempt from overtime. Because, you know, if you have this high-paying responsibility, you should be willing to work the extra hours.
Of course, the management positions didn’t come with any actual extra money. They only came with the overtime exemption. That’s because, as per current guidelines, the overtime rules only protect workers making less than $23,660 per year. Think about that. If you make $24,000 a year, and I’m guessing most of my readers make considerably more, you are considered too well off to make money for working overtime.
The Obama update moved that to a far more reasonable $47,476, and that set of screams from the right, that they are killing small businesses, overregulating, sticking the bearish claw of big government into the sweet honeycombs of mom and pop businesses like Arby’s, etc. Because, as always, the priority for the right is to maximize profit by grinding down workers. By converting them into capital while paying the absolute least and investing the bare minimum into the community.
Anyway, Acosta, to his credit, seemed to realize that pegging the overtime rules to 2004 standards was absurd, and sugessted that it could be raised along with inflation, which would put it around $33,000. That’s better, but still seems pretty low. But still, even that modest hedge is greatly qualified by his appeal to a worker-hating down-the-line Republican.
In addition to the overtime increase, unions scored major victories when the Obama administration issued one rule limiting workplace exposure to silica, a cancer-causing substance, and a second rule requiring investment advisers to act in the best interests of their clients.
The Labor nominee indicated he would follow Trump’s direction on the three rules, which means the agency could go through the rulemaking process again to repeal them.
Which means: none of these are going to go through. The Trump administration, fulfilling Heritage Foundation fantasies, has been working hand-in-glove with Congress to destroy worker safety regulations on federal and state levels. What makes you think they are going to protect overtime rules?
The fiduciary rule, where investment advisors have to work in the best interests of their clients, and not themselves, is another obvious tell. (Imagine if, say, medicine had the same lack of standards. “It’s his right to just practice an appendectomy if he wants!”) Profit for the very few isn’t the main goal: it’s the only belief.
I’m going to finish this with another little story I think is telling, which I came across doing research for another article for my day job.
Tim Cook, was asked at the annual shareholder meeting by the NCPPR, the conservative finance group, to disclose the costs of Apple’s energy sustainability programs, and make a commitment to doing only those things that were profitable.
Mr. Cook replied –with an uncharacteristic display of emotion–that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues. “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.”
Now, obviously, I’m not praising Apple in an article talking about worker rights and such. But think of the mentality of the NCPPR: they literally are offended by the idea that a company could do anything that wouldn’t immediately increase “shareholder profit”, which includes such squish nonsense as protecting the environment.
The whole goal, the whole mentality, is that of a shareholder/boss dominion. Workers, and indeed the entire earth, is means toward profit. They are mere tools. That’s all they are, and that’s all they ever should be. That’s why I think the health care plan still has a chance at passing. If they can make it cruel enough, and it looks like they’re trying to do so, they can get the Freedom Caucus, for whom other people’s life and liberty are the cheap prices to be paid for the pursuit of profit.