A revealing story in the Washington Post a few days ago (though maybe not all that revealing if you’ve been following this issue for the last year or so) shows us one more example of how wealthy business interests have bought out GOP-controlled state legislatures, much like they have the U.S. Congress.
A growing number of states are stripping cities of their power to regulate minimum wages. Alabama is just the latest.
Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed such a restriction into law on Thursday, blocking attempts by the state’s largest city, Birmingham, to impose a $10.10 hourly minimum wage.
“The governor believes the minimum wage should be uniform across every area in Alabama,” spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis told the Associated Press after he signed it. It “was the right call for both employers and workers,” State Sen. Slade Blackwell (R) said in a Saturday editorial published on AL.com. They’re not alone.
Now hopefully most of you who read the comments above by Republican State Senator Slade Blackwell will have at least raised one eye-brow. Preventing the workers in Birmingham to work at a higher wage is the “right call” for them and other workers across the state? Well perhaps if you’re an imbecile this line makes sense and I suspect that this is who Blackwell was referring to.
But such distortions and obfuscations are common for politicians, perhaps more so today and primarily within GOP ranks than at any other time in our history. This practice is often referred to as doublespeak, an Orwellian concept from the book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which depicted years ago how in the future wealthy special interests would control not only politicians but media outlets and present the public with only those views that would at a bare minimum not expose them in any negative way. Certainly not the random corruption that pervades much of big business today.
It’s amazing too how corporate-friendly politicians distance themselves from unfair business practices that make a joke of free market competition when big box stores like Walmart, with their heavy volumes, come into communities and at losses to themselves will under price smaller locally owned businesses, which of course shuts these smaller operations down. Ironically those who lose their businesses, along with their employees, are often forced to work for these corporate giants at lower wages than they previously enjoyed. A classical example of how the deck is stacked against middle class working families.
The power of corporations to influence state legislatures has a deeper impact however as this story shows. Since states tend to have the higher authority over cities, they can dictate what cities can and can’t legislate. We experienced that here recently in Denton, Texas where Big Oil and Gas had Austin legislators, with their GOP majority, enact a bill that prevented Denton from banning fracking operations within its city limit. Similar actions have occurred in Florida and Nevada where GOP politicians under Big Oil and Gas influence have made it difficult for individuals to purchase solar power units.
This comes from conservatives within the GOP who have callously exploited the libertarian ideology of the Tea Party which is in strong opposition to government overreach. And though serious libertarians get the connection they still fail to support Democrats in their states who oppose corporate-friendly Republicans. They appear to be so locked into to the idea of a tax and spend Democratic Party that they are blind to the abuses of the GOP candidates they helped put in office.
There is an old Southern tradition where mourners, upon hearing of the death of someone close to them, will cover all mirrors in that household, believing that if the deceased sees themselves in the mirror they will become trapped in it and will be unable to move on. It’s a shame this tradition in symbolic gesture didn’t happen with conservative voters when the traditional Republican Party died off shortly after Reagan’s inauguration. They are forever now trapped in a state of mind that prevents them from seeing how their earlier choices have led them to destroy the equality gained by our parents and grandparents who had well-paying jobs and where labor played an important role in our economic growth.