Labor pains of progressives (March 18)

by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier

Let me test your memory.

Do you remember ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)? The organization focused on voter registration, affordable housing, and increasing the minimum wage. ACORN dissolved in 2010 after a video surfaced of ACORN staff members coaching a couple to defraud the IRS. Before ACORN’s demise the organization sued California in order to be exempt from the state’s minimum wage requirement. ACORN argued, the more they must pay each individual outreach worker … The fewer outreach workers they could hire. But at the same time ACORN demanded for employers that signed contracts with government agencies to pay their employees higher than the minimum wage because it was morally right.

ACORN’s lawsuit was unsuccessful.
Do you remember in 2016 when California’s democratic governor signed a bill to increase the minimum wage against the objections of small business owners who couldn’t afford to pay it? Do you remember what the governor said at his celebratory press conference? He stated, the minimum wage increase might not make sense economically, but it makes sense morally.

Now, I’ve heard the phrase—the end justifies the means—but I’ve never heard— the end justifies the moral.

Do you remember Baltimore’s democratic mayor Catherine Pugh (2016-2019)? As a candidate Pugh announced, “I am aware of the current initiative to raise the minimum wage in the city council to $15 an hour and when it reaches my desk, I will sign it.” But as Mayor, she didn’t sign it. After extensive economic research, Pugh said the economic repercussions were potentially dangerous enough to harm the entire city. Pugh told the press Baltimore would become “a hole in the doughnut” if a $15 minimum wage became the requirement.

Was it immoral of Mayor Pugh to make economic sense?

Do you remember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 60 Minutes interview in 2019? Interviewer Anderson Cooper pointed out that fact-check proved a lot of Ocasio-Cortez’s political statements were incorrect. Do you remember her defiant response? She said, the fact checkers were “missing the forest for the trees”, there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct instead of being morally right. The next month Ocasio-Cortez played an activist role in Amazon’s decision not to build its new headquarters in New York. The Amazon deal would have provided the city with 25,000 jobs with an average annual salary of $150,000, but Ocasio-Cortez opposed the Amazon deal because $3 billion in tax breaks was offered to the corporate giant. Ocasio-Cortez told reporters after Amazon pulled out the deal, “If we were willing to give away $3 billion in this deal, we could invest that $3 billion in our district ourselves, if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers. We could fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money.” But Bill de Blasio, New York’s Democratic mayor, explained Ocasio-Cortez had no idea what she was talking about. There wasn’t $3 billion given to Amazon. The $3 billion went back in tax incentives after the city got the jobs and the revenue.

But I guess Mayor de Blasio was too concerned about being “precisely, factually, and semantically correct” instead of being morally right.

Finally, last month, Cenk Uygur, creator of the progressive news network The Young Turks, (Uygur was also a congressional candidate in California’s recent democratic primary) discovered that the employees at The Young Turks had intentions to form a union. Uygur called a staff meeting and urged the employees not to unionize. Uygur argued that a union does not belong at small, independent, outlets like The Young Turks, if there had been a union at the network it would not have grown the way it did. Uygur explained a unionized work force would bring new legal and bureaucratic cost that his company couldn’t sustain. But Uygur supports unions at large corporations that aren’t profit sharing with their workers.

There’s an old saying: Practice what you preach or preach what you practice. Progressives do neither.


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