Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Low Can You Go? Kasich, Perry, and the Average Worker

To hear Governor Kasich tell it, public sector workers are grossly overpaid and taxpayers are loaded down with economic chains.  He has to rein in pay and benefits.  Unions are evil and greedy and the cause of our present economic malaise.

On the surface, it's a position that has appeal to conservative voters, but you have to wonder:  "How low do Kasich and his allies really want Ohio workers to go?"

Consider the record of Governor Rick Perry, who touts his success with jobs creation in Texas in recent years, as a sort of model for the future.  On the surface, Mr. Perry has a solid record.  Gross Domestic Production rose 2.6% nationally in 2010.  Texas had a rate of 2.8%. 

Unemployment has been lower in Texas, too:  8.5% vs. 9.1% across the country, according to reports out just today. 

So put on your cowboy boots and buckle up your holster, buckaroo, and head to Texas if you want a good ol' job.  Perry for president!  And Michelle Bachmann for VP.  Bachmann once argued that doing away with the minimum wage would cure unemployment. 

The "good old Medieval days."
When the serfs still knew their place.
So would a return to feudalism. 

But I digress.

As always, the full picture is more complicated than politicians like Kasich ever care to admit.  In 2010 almost 1 in 10 Texas workers (9.5%) worked at or below the federal minimum wage (vs. 6.0% nationally).  So you can GO to Texas and find work.

You just might have to be content with minimum wage.

Even better, in 2009, 26% of the workforce in Perry's state went without health care vs. 17% nationwide.  (See New York Times; 8-16-11)

Maybe that's the plan in Ohio, Wisconsin and New Jersey where fiscal hawks like Kasich rule.  Let's cut costs for taxpayers, follow the Texas model, so to speak.  Let's face it, teachers, if you gave up health care entirely, the burden on taxpayers could be dramatically reduced.  And police?  Really, you and your firemen buddies are grossly overpaid.  With your union bargaining rights gone, you really should be willing to do your part and swallow a 25% cut in pay.

If you don't like it pack up that U-Haul and head for Texas.

In the end, that's the question I'd like to hear asked at the next Republican presidential debate:  How LOW do they want the average American worker to go?

Call me a crazy liberal:  but I'd prefer to hear my politicians promise to fight to improve conditions for low-paid workers in this country, who promise to help pull working Americans up, in Ohio and elsewhere, not tear unionized workers down.

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