Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oligarchy Awaits

At an appearance (which seems to be a town hall meeting, video below) in South Carolina on St. Patrick's Day, John Ellis Bush responded to a question about the minimum wage by stating

We need to leave it to the private sector. I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn’t be doing this. This is one of those poll-driven deals. It polls well, I’m sure – I haven’t looked at the polling, but I’m sure on the surface without any conversation, without any digging into it people say, ‘Yea, everybody’s wages should be up.’ And in the case of Wal-Mart they have raised wages because of supply and demand and that’s good....

A few months ago, Paul Krugman addressed the decision by the iconic purveyor of substandard, Chinese products by explaining

The retailer’s wage hike seems to reflect the same forces that led to the Great Compression, albeit in a much weaker form. Walmart is under political pressure over wages so low that a substantial number of employees are on food stamps and Medicaid. Meanwhile, workers are gaining clout thanks to an improving labor market, reflected in increasing willingness to quit bad jobs.

But the myth that the market works by the invisible hand and for the benefit of all must be maintained, in part to sustain the income inequality that has been growing in the nation the past 40 years.  

It's all about the corporation.  John Ellis Bush opposes a federal minimum wage ("I think state minimum wages are fine"), which would be exposed as a truly preposterous point of view, were it not for the media's insistence that Bush is the one Serious Candidate (now that another oligarch, Christopher J. Christie, has fallen by the wayside.... with a thud.)  But Wal-Mart raising its minimum wage is good because corporations simply cannot do bad in the mind of a right-winger without conviction. (Analogous is the annual wailing of Bill O'Reilly against "the war on Christmas," which he tries to convince us is transpiring without any encouragement from the business sector.)

This perspective has been displayed by John Ellis Bush also when it comes to sex.  Earlier this year, he commented

I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.

Same-sex marriage does not encumber the corporate sector, one reason it has made tremendous headway in the courts. It is also why Bush accepts its inevitability while supporting the privilege of businesses to deny service to gay people. According to the Washington Blade ("America's Leading Gay News Source"), Thursday he was (and note the reference to "marriage equality") on the steps of the Georgia statehouse contending

I don’t know about the law, but religious freedom is a serious issue, and it’s increasingly so, and I think people that act on their conscience shouldn’t be discriminated against, for sure,  There should be protections, and so, as it relates to marriage equality — and that may change, the Supreme Court may change that. That automatically then shifts the focus to people of conscience, and, I don’t know, have their faith make — they want to act on their faith, and may not be able to be employed for example.

Bush reportedly added "People have a right to do that, just as we need to be respectful for people who are in long-term committed relationships. Sorting that out is important.”

Here is a way to sort it out: if you're holding yourself out as serving the public, you have no right to discriminate, whatever the reason.  There is no passage in either the Old Testament or the New Testament endorsing the privilege of refusal to serve someone on the basis of religion, gender, sexual preference, or ethnicity.  A right to refuse because of religious perspective- or, as it's re-branded, "conscience"- is tantalizingly easily abused.  It also arguably would run afoul of the First Amendment's establishment clause.

It is, though, a very tempting stance for a Repub presidential candidate.  Take the high road toward same-sex couples, recognizing their interest in "making lifetime commitments to each other," and accept the plaudits of the mainstream media for being one of the few "moderate" or reasonable Republicans. At the same time, throw open the door to all manner of discrimination, against gay people and others, as long as "faith" is claimed. That is an important part of the wish list of the business sector, consumers be damned.  For a candidate who brags he "hit the lottery" because of his (extraordinarily wealthy) parents, it's a good fit.

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