By Scott Tibbs, March 16, 2005
Well, no kidding.
Yesterday's Herald-Times points out that in public comments to the City Council, more people have supported the Living Wage ordinance than have opposed it.
Well, no kidding. What the H-T fails to get into is the reason why the comments have been lopsided. Of course, more people are going to support an ordinance that results in getting something "free" from the government. Many people have pointed out that an LWO gives labor unions more bargaining power by lowering the bottom wage, which motivates them to support it. Of curse, in a town with a large number of liberal activists, it is easy to turn people out for a cause such as this.
On the other side, what is the motivation to oppose higher wages for city employees, employees of businesses that contract with the city, or employees of non-profit agencies that get grants from the city? One source of motivation is from philosophical libertarians that oppose government mandates on business. Turning those people out, especially when the LWO is already a "done deal", is not easy.
Of course, businesses and charitable organizations have a motivation to stop the ordinance as it would affect their bottom line or their ability to serve their clients. But the Chamber of Commerce has offered only weak opposition to the LWO.
What I don't understand it the hate that consumes supporters of the LWO. On a local discussion forum Monroe County United Ministries has been called everything from "greedy" to the "enemies of the poor". Keep in mind that MCUM opposes the ordinance not because they are concerned about profit, but concerned the ordinance would harm their ability to help the poor. MCUM and LWO supporters have the same goal in mind: to help the poor. But because MCUM does not agree with the liberal establishment's proposed cure, they are being demonized with an intolerance that reminds one of the Taliban.
I could understand if the Left spewed venom at the Chamber of Commerce, because their goal is to protect the for-profit businesses in Bloomington. But why the nastiness toward MCUM?
What is even more surprising about the hate coming from LWO supporters is that the LWO is, as I mentioned above, a "done deal". All seven Democrats on the City Council will vote for it. Of the two Republicans, only Jason Banach is a lock to vote "no", because David Sabbagh has wavered throughout the debate over the LWO. At one point, Sabbagh said that the mandated wages ($8.50 per hour if health insurance is provided, $10 per hour if not) were far too low.
One thing I do not understand is where the folks who wrote the LWO came up with $8.50 and $10 per hour. Health insurance costs significantly more than more than $60 a week. I suspect most employers will pay the $10 rate rather than provide health insurance.
Whatever the consequences of the Living Wage Ordinance will be, the LWO will pass the City Council one week from tonight. I do wish that the debate leading up to next week's anticlimactic vote had been a lot more civil and respectful than it has been.