Friday, January 6, 2012

Indiana and the "Right to Work"

"A lot of smart, young men have come out of Indiana - and the smarter they were, the faster they left" - attributed to Mark Twain

I really shouldn't, but I've a nostalgia for Indiana. It is, without a doubt, a primitive, benighted realm, populated with proudly ignorant troglodytes, and yet, it was once my home, and I would go back.

No small part of the nostalgia is a love of the land. I was fortunate to be raised up in Northwest Indiana. The middle third of the state is flat as a griddle, an unremitting and wearisome monotony, with only the sky for respite. In cloudless summers, or overcast winters, one feels like a bacterium wedged between glass layers on a microscope slide. There is just an overwhelming and paradoxical sense of agoraphobic claustrophobia. Wrist-slitting country.

Little wonder then, before the age of mass communications, the inhabitants resorted to sexual escape - rural perversions and incestuous burrowing on a pandemic scale. And out there alone on the prairie, if you want to bugger your kin, who is going to know? Who is there to tell? Ick. Ugh.

Things were better where I grew up. To the immediate north was Lake Michigan, and the Indiana Dunes. Great for summers, when the refreshing relief of those waters to the positively Amazonian conditions of the Midwest cannot adequately be described or imagined, but only experienced. Running down the vast sand dunes in thousand league boots - again, an experience that a paltry imagining cannot compare to.

Nice, huh?
The glaciers of the last Ice Age had dumped a great deal of Ontario in a region of hills and valleys known as the Valparaiso morraine. There are all sorts of dark gullies, deep sandy kettle lakes, mossy streams, and tree covered knolls to explore - secret hidden places that were, yes, even to a godless heathen such as yours truly, magical, mystical, and sacred. Real magic. Nature's magic. And I didn't even need to be stoned to recognize it.

Ah, but the people? You know, if Ohio still wears a bowler hat and chews on dime cigars, then Indiana wears a straw boater and spats. It's completely fucked, and living there, unfortunately, means receiving a mandatory lethal injection of conservative political RNA into your system. I've managed to avoid most of the consequences of that. Which is why I find the current Indiana Assembly's attempts to pass so-called "Right to Work" laws so repugnant.

There is, of course, nothing about any employee rights in the "right to work" law. The purpose is to reduce union funding, and also to encourage lower wages for employees. And, given the current economic straits Indiana workers find themselves in, they would be in a difficult position to complain.

Federal laws stipulate unions must represent anyone with a grievance that happens to be employed in the same company. Under Indiana's proposed legislation, companies and unions would be banned from negotiating a contract that requires non-members to pay fees for the representation the union must provide to all employees of a bargaining unit. In other words, the union must represent an aggrieved employee, but receive no compensation. This is basically a version of "taxation without representation".

Republicans cite high unemployment in Indiana and an incentive for businesses to locate here, much the same way as Southern states have encouraged employment with less-than-quality jobs in a "race to the bottom" wage fuck.

Problem is, its the Republican administration's fault that the employment picture is so shitty. Mitch Daniels, the so-called "cerebral" governor of Indiana (and the choice of many right-wing politicians and pundits for Presidential candidate) was, just a short year ago, being praised for the state's budget surplus. As it turns out, those budget numbers were not completely kosher.

Early in Daniels' first term, made improving jobs and income one of his most important goals. So, how is Indiana doing? Income growth has been negative. Indiana lags the nation. In 2002, Indiana ranked 33rd in the nation. Under Daniels, in 2010, Indiana ranked 41st. How about jobs? Well, while the rest of country saw unemployment rates reduced or at least hold steady, Indiana lost jobs. In fact, it's been only in the past six months that Indiana unemployment rates have held steady.

I think we have to rate Governor Daniels with a massive FAIL.

(And keep in in mind, Daniels is the guy that Romney is ready a job to, "any job". Pity Daniels doesn't feel the same way about his constituents).

Okay, was that parenthesized statement fair? Yeah, I think so. Daniels had it within his power to do a number to not only "create" jobs, but quality jobs. That "balanced" budget of his could have been used for Keynesian stimuli (and please, don't give that crap that it doesn't work. It works.) He could have offered skills programs, shared work hours, educational grants, infrastrucutre projects, all kinds of things that would have put his precious state budget in the red.

So, ultimately, I can't take Daniels seriously. Neither does Krugman. 'Nuff said.

No comments:

Post a Comment