Home > Political Animal > Common wage, campaign finance, and public perception
Common wage, campaign finance, and public perception
By Jim Sack
Fort Wayne Reader
Crawford v. The People
John Crawford was recently overheard at a Republican candidatesí foo-faa promising to go after common wage, what you might call a minimum wage for carpenters and other construction pros. Construction company owners hate it because they figure they could pay less, a lot less, without the base pay clause. The construction owners are the guys who hired illegal immigrants, paid them well below market, sometimes didnít pay them at all.
So, go figure, Crawford worked to take away collective bargaining in Fort Wayne, a blow to working folk and a boon to his peers. He was aware that change would ripple through the system and put downward pressure on all wages, yours, too. He promised big tax savings that have not materialized.
He is proud we are now a right-to-work state, which fundamentally undermines unions and the safety rules, construction standards, forty-hour week, vacations, and the wages they bargained for. He is proud that we are an at-will state that makes it legal for an employer to fire you for anything, including looking too pretty, smiling or just complaining about falsification of safety reports.
Crawford clearly has something against the average person and that Amendment called ďFreedom of Assembly.Ē
But Dr. Crawford himself, is no average person; he is one of the highest compensated individuals in the state thanks to his oncology practice. Itís odd someone doing so exceptionally well would attack those who are struggling just to get by. Crawford, you may remember, was also a leader in raising your payroll taxes two years ago.
Oh, and Dr. Crawford regularly and consistently approves tax abatements that fatten the bottom line of company owners and investors at taxpayer expense. In reality, the few bucks he thinks are saved through his actions will be eaten by his new taxes, and by the downward pressure on your wages. Itís his version of redistribution of wealth.
Campaign finance is always a matter of concern. Most of us donít mind rich folk giving piles of money to candidates, we would just like their names to be public, rather than hidden with the inner most equivalent of the Russian nesting dolls. Campaign donations are essential to politicians in our system. Big donors get private meetings and favored treatment. Too often the donations are linked to favoritism when laws are written giving the donor a leg up on the rest of us. A simple solution would be to allow unlimited and published individual contributions and no political action committees with silly names. It certainly would make it easier to see who is trying to buy influence and which forces are lining up behind a given candidate. That, or just legalize other forms of prostitution, too.
Mind Picking Up the Tab?
Seems we will pay for the governorís recent screw up known as RFRA, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that became the butt of jokes and the target of business leaders and normal folk from Ligonier to London. It cost (and will cost) Indiana millions. Add to the perps list the legislature and their leaders, David Long in the Senate and Brian Bosma in the House, who lead us up the crick without a paddle. Now, to repair the PR damage to Indianaís reputation Governor Pence plans to spend $2 million (of your) tax dollars to mend our image, as if you can romanticize bigotry. He screws up, looks like a weasel on national TV, and expects you to pick up the pieces. To add insult to injury his PR company isnít from Indiana and probably canít tell the Wabash from the Nile. Problem is the legislatureís underlying bigotry hasnít budged. To heap humiliation on insult and injury the governor has hired a PR man to recharacterize the mess.
Plunging Approval Rating
Old friend Brian Howey of the Indianapolis-based Howey Report recently took a poll that showed the governorís approval rating had dropped like a dense stone in the wake of 1) RFRA, and 2) his obfuscations on ABCís This Week with George Stephanopolis. That report, dittoed by other pollsters, set the Democrats a titter with dreams of unseating Governor Clueless. Long shot. The legislature that we Hoosiers elected is overwhelmingly Republican and overwhelming to the right, basking in its super majority. Republicans birthed the bigoted legislation with hardly a whimper from the handful of Democrats left in the State House. You get the government you deserve, so itís hard to expect the legislature to change independent of the electorate.
As the costs mount, local Senator David Long somehow thinks it was good for Indiana to go through the RFRA mess. Hard to fathom where he sighted that silver lining: either he believes that the Neanderthals in the Legislature will see the light, or he thinks the sizeable dent in the stateís reputation, not to mention the millions, seen and unseen, in losts and costs, are a benefitÖ
According to Dave, the rest of the world didnít get it; not until he, Bosma and Pence tweeked RFRA to clear up worldwide mischaracterizations. Leadership usually steers the ship of state away from the rocks.
Cool, Clear Water
One other note, to go along with a ranking as the state with the most polluted American water we are ranked second worst in air pollution. Did I mention that 80% of our electrical energy comes from coal? Now, thatís leadership.