OOP's short takes on this Good Friday 2021:
- Amazon Union Vote - On Monday, the voting on unionizing an Amazon "fulfillment center" in Bessemer, Alabama ended. We should know the results in a few days. I'm not a big union supporter, but if there was ever a company's employees who need union representation it's Amazon's. As I have preached to leftists, it is not pay or benefits at Amazon that is the problem (Amazon actually pays above market for warehouse workers). It's the horrific working conditions. It is maddening though seeing Amazon promote their increasing lower end pay at their facilities to $15 an hour when the company at the same time eliminated much more lucrative employee attendance and performance bonuses. Amazon's $15 an hour minimum announcement was nothing more than a PR stunt. Unfortunately a lot of liberals like Bernie Sanders were duped. By the way, can we stop pretending Bezos is some sort of liberal? Liberal business owners don't impose sweatshop working conditions and engage in underhanded efforts to stop unionization. Even conservative employers who care about their employees don't do that.
- Overtime Exempt Rules - If Democrats want some low hanging fruit to help workers, they might consider increasing the overtime eligible threshold for salaried employees. Right now salaried employees are not eligible for time and a half overtime if they make more than $36,000 a year. So companies pay workers, (generally low level manager types) above that level, then demand they work ten, fifteen or more hours a week in uncompensated overtime. One of those companies is Amazon. I had a friend who worked at Amazon as an associate for seven years before being promoted to manager, receiving a substantial raise with the promotion. Or so he thought. In exchange for the salaried position, Amazon demanded he work so much uncompensated overtime that he was back making per hour what he made as an associate. He quit after a few months.
- Student Loans - Another low hanging fruit idea. Instead of trying to forgive student loan debt, Democrats (and thoughtful Republicans) would be wise to change bankruptcy law so student loan debt is treated the same as any other unsecured debt. Right now, while student loans are technically dischargeable in bankruptcy, different rules apply. As a result, student loans are rarely discharged even if those debts are included (and they often are not) in the bankruptcy petition. Because there is little risk, lenders are eager to lend to students wanting to pursue post-secondary education. While that sounds good, the ability of adults to go deeply in debt for education has spawned a number of shady, for profit education institutions who are more than willing to take that money, leaving the borrower poorly educated and deeply in debt.
- Politicology - I may have to cut the Politicology podcast out of my rotation. On a recent episode host Ron Steslow asked guests about Stacey Abrams' complaints about voter suppression compared to Trump's complaints about voter fraud. All three guests criticized Abrams stolen election claim and said it hurt democracy. So on the next show, Steslow brings another election law expert on and coaxes him into explaining why what Abrams did was okay and Trump did was wrong. While the expert mostly dodged the question, Steslow got his "clarification." If Steslow is not going to be even-handed and honest in his political discussions, I will find other political podcasts to listen to.
- Stacey Abrams - Let's be clear what Stacey Abrams did. In 2018, Abrams complained that Secretary of State Brian Kemp and gubernatorial candidate engaged in "voter suppression" by removing from the rolls 600,000 people who had not voted in numerous elections. Kemp was obligated by federal law to perform this cleanup of the voter registration list, a statutory duty which had been delayed for years (which is why the numbers of voters purged was so large) by an NAACP lawsuit. Despite Abrams' voter suppression claims, the 2018 Georgia midterm featured near record turnout and record turnout for African-American voters. Abrams lost the election by 55,000 votes, FIVE TIMES more than what Trump lost the state by. Abrams could only produce a handful of voters supposedly disenfranchised by the purge, yet to this day continues to claim the election was "stolen" by "voter suppression" and refuses to concede. What Abrams did has undermined Georgians' faith in election results maybe as much as what Trump did.
- Georgia Election Law - I saw where President Biden said Georgia's election day hours had been shortened to 5 pm by the new law. That is not correct. Georgia election day voting hours will be the same as they were before the new law passed - 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting though was previously limited to "business hours." The new law simply clarifies that "business hours" for early voting means 9 am to 5 pm, which is exactly how the phrase had been interpreted. The new law actually provides that Georgia counties can extend early voting to 7 pm. Thus far, Biden's honesty has been a refreshing change from Trump's pathological and daily lies, but the President needs to stop spouting falsehoods about the Georgia election law.
- Matt Gaetz - One thing that is incredible about the Rep. Gaetz story is the amount of the extortion demand - $25 million. Does anyone believe that Gaetz's reputation, and protecting potential harm to his career, is worth $25 million? The last thing an extortionist wants to do is to set the demand for money so high that the target has no choice but to go the authorities. Gaetz's claim would have more validity if the extortionist had asked for $250,000. I would add that, even if Gaetz is correct about the extortion effort, that doesn't mean he did not do anything wrong. Reportedly he did a lot wrong.