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A cowardly political act

December 13, 2012
By Andy Heller , Daily Press

FLINT - If a historian someday creates a list of "Top 10 Most Cowardly Acts in Michigan Political History," I hope the creation of the state's shiny new Right to Work legislation is on it.

It could arguably top it.

This dismal measure slinked in the back door of the Capitol during a lame duck session then raced out the front and over to the governor faster than anyone could blink. No committee hearings, no public debate, no chance for you or me or anyone else to have a say, except in useless retrospect. Instead the process was like the old hip hop song: Boom, there it is, Michigan - your Workplace Fairness & Equity Act. Enjoy. Or not. What do the people who passed it care - it benefits them, and that's all that matters. Yay, government.

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Andy Heller

To make things worse, the governor - a guy who previously dismissed any interest in making Michigan a so-called Right to Work state and who portrayed himself as a moderate who cared more about Michigan as a whole rather than Michigan: The Conservative Utopian Version Thereof - promptly promised to sign it, probably this week.

In other words, he flip-flopped like an IHOP cook on free pancake day, in the process making himself just like every other politician. Congratulations, governor. You lasted longer than most. I figured my respect was misplaced.

Making matters worse: the name of the act itself, which is sheer mockery. Like the term Right to Work, it means the opposite of what it says. There is nothing "fair" or "equitable" about shrinking unions and driving down wages, which is what inevitably happens in Right to Work states. In fact, if truth in advertising laws applied to political terminology, the Workplace Fairness & Equity Act would be called the "Up Yours, Unions!" Act and Right to Work would be called Right to Work for Less.

The only people Michigan's pending law will be fair and equitable to are:

1) Those relative few workers who can't abide union politics yet still insist on working in a union shop.

2) One percenters. They love this because, again, it's a blow to unions. And if they diminish unions, they keep more for themselves. That's bad news for America, but great news when your goal is to join the ranks of companies like McDonald's, Walmart and others where even full-time employees are paid so little they're technically poor.

3) Republicans, who view unions as mortal enemies. Their equation: Weaker unions equal less money and support for Democrats equals more power for us. Bwahaha.

Of course, that's not the way Gov. Snyder says he sees it. Mr. Relentless Positive Action (at least for the people who support him) insists, "This is all about taking care of the hard-working workers in Michigan."

Of course it is! See, if the Legislature had bothered with public hearings, union workers would have shown up in droves for weeks and weeks, shouting and carrying on and stomping their feet.

All that anger, especially at the holidays, isn't good for the blood pressure.

There's also this: If unions slowly get weaker and wages decline, which is the eventual expected outcome, those hard-working workers will have less money to spend, and if you have less to spend, you have less stuff to worry about, which is excellent for one's nerves.

The governor also said, "The goal isn't to divide Michigan, it is to bring Michigan together."

Double of course it is! As wages fall and the race to the bottom picks up speed, more and more full-time workers will come together at food banks, holiday toy giveaways and so on. It'll be magical. You watch. Trust them.

Unless ... well, here's my hope: That the aforementioned historian also finds the need at some point to author another list: "The Top 10 Cowardly Acts in Michigan Political History That Ultimately Backfired on their Authors."

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EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Write to Andrew Heller at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

 
 

 

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