Monday, March 21, 2005
Count the mistakes in today's News-Press editorial. The News-Press should run this morning's editorial on the back of a children's cereal box, like one of those "count the things that are wrong with this picture" games.
Rather than attack the fundamental premise of the living wage ordinance - that it is wrong to balance the city's budget on the backs of the working poor, especially in a city as wealthy as ours - they instead roll out a series of poorly researched (even by News-Press editorial page standards), elitist and utterly predictable lines of attack on the ordinance and the organizations that are participating in the coalition that's formed behind it.
What's the message here? That they agree with living wage proponents on not balancing the budget this way, unless the money is passed through a nonprofit first? That doesn't seem much like a particularly sharp approach to public policy.
As a backdrop for this conversation, keep in mind that living wage laws have been passed in hundreds and hundreds of communities across the country. Not a single one has experienced the fire and brimstone predicted by the assorted special interests that line up to oppose these efforts. The SB for a Living Wage website has lots of answers, and links to even more information.
But apparently the News-Press can't be bothered to do even a cursory study of the evidence that's out there. Much better to borrow a page from Bill O'Reilly - Who's looking out for you? - and score a few points with their increasingly tiny circle of allies while taking cheap shots at the grassroots groups that want to see this happen. A little research would've shown that great care has been taken by the drafters of the initial ordinance to balance the special needs of non-profits with the realization that non-profit payscales are an issue that our community has the capability of addressing.
Two errors are particularly glaring. The first is the accusation that the LW campaign is unwilling to compromise. I'm not going to speak for the campaign here - I am not a spokesperson, I've just been to a few of the meetings and pitched in on some of the work. The problem is that this is a completely unsubstantiated opinion. The News-Press has no idea whatsoever has transpired so far or what the opinion of the group on compromise is. They haven't even tried to talk to anyone about it!
The other error is saying that this is PUEBLO but under another another name. This is perfectly counterfactual. SB4LW is a currently legally unincorporated group of people and organizations that have come together out of an interest in seeing this little corner of injustice in our town righted.
These are serious problems. My understanding of libel is that is untruths with malicious intent, which certainly seems like a possibility here. A fifteen second conversation with the spokespeople could've cleared this up, but again, the NP would rather run unresearched bullshit than actually ask coherent quesitons.
As for the overall levels of policy knowledge of the SB CAN and PUEBLO board and general memberships, why exactly is this an issue? Are only those with the leisure time and necessary educational background to study these issues in depth allowed to express their opinion before our elected representatives? How many planning and policy experts do News-Press favored groups like the Coalition for "Sustainable" Planning turn out typically, one might wonder. Perhaps the News-Press would like to suggest that a citizenship knowledge and public policy test should be administered by elected bodies before those who wish to testify before them are permitted to do so.
The issue of non-profits paying living wages is an important and sensitive issue, and maybe the only thing the News-Press gets right in this entire piece is that there should be a community dialog, which makes their ineptitude even more disappointing. If the main venue where this dialog might occur can't resist chiming in with their megaphone before they've done even the slightest amount of research, how can we hope to have a reasonable conversation?
As there are a half dozen corrections that would be needed to bring this piece anywhere near the boundaries of reality, they should retract it altogether as soon as possible.
I caught Crossfire this afternoon - Ralph Nader was on and was suprisingly smooth and entertaining. He gets along with Novak, which is almost too bizarre to think about. The topic du jour was (you guessed it) Terri Schiavo. There's plenty of blather about this on the net and I'm not going to add to it except for this: the word I kept expecting ole' Ralph to bring up, and one that I feel like hasn't been said enough yet is totalitarianism. I think that's exactly what this is. As a reminder from dictionary.com ...
- Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed: “A totalitarian regime crushes all autonomous institutions in its drive to seize the human soul” (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.).
Friday, March 18, 2005
It's plug day. I just checked out Daraka's continuously excellent hoverbike. (and I've finally added this to the blogroll column over on the right, along with BlogaBarbara). There's a link to the new and cheerfully very yellow Santa Barbara for a Living Wage site, but check out the post with the text of Joe Armendariz's latest missive in particular. We have our own little Grover Norquist, right here on the South Coast.
At the risk of buying into one the "taxpayers this and taxpayers that" frame of his, fine, let's approach this as taxpayers. I pay taxes, and the government I want is one that is proactive, perhaps even extremely proactive, about social justice issues. I don't want my government, the government I pay for too, balancing its budget on the backs of the working poor. It is that simple.
Rejoice, ye disciples of Diogenes and ye se seekers of that kind of truth which is so rarely found on the pages of the News-Press! For unto our worthy community is bestowed a new fountain of wisdom and commentary. Behold, BlogaBarbara!
Seriously, this is a good thing. There is a great and important tradition of anonymous political speech in this country and it's wonderful to see someone doing it here. And to answer the obvious question since I've been posting so infrequently here of late: no, I have nothing to do with this. I've been focusing 110% of my energies on SpeakOutCalifornia. But I'm glad someone is doing it, and I'm looking forward to some good reads whenever the NP flies off the handle.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005