Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Political Fable

Once upon a time, there was a political movement afoot—one in which do-gooder Lefties sought to use state coercion to compel employers to pay ‘unskilled’ workers far more than the market will bear. The stated goal was to replace the ‘minimum wage’ with a more robust ‘living wage’.
The living wage movement has been around for about 30 years, and has generally been led by union interests. But City Journal credits another organization - the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) - for the recent spate of successful city ordnance campaigns across the country. Left-leaning weekly The Nation describes ACORN as one of "two national organizations outside the union movement that have been particularly active in promoting the living wage movement."
Things seemed to be going along swimmingly for ACORN, until practical economic realities interrupted their ideological bliss.
In 1996, ACORN's California offices actually filed suit to exempt the organization from the state’s minimum wage laws- at the time, just $4.25/hour.

In its ‘Activist Guide’, written by Wayne State Professor David Reynolds, ACORN dismisses claims that higher minimum wages force business to cut jobs for its lowest-paid workers. That's "low road" thinking, Reynolds scolds, the kind of philosophy that "seeks short-term increases in the bottom-line by directly lowering costs and casts high wages, benefits, and other worker protections as obstacles to competition."

Now read what ACORN wrote in its brief to exempt itself from California's minimum-wage law:

"California's minimum-wage laws…affect the quality and quantity of staff which Plaintiff can retain….the more that ACORN must pay each individual outreach worker…the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire."
You see, boys and girls, sometimes hypocrisy is necessary, as practicing what one preaches, at times, can frustrate one’s political goals. After all, it’s in the interest of welfare. And besides, those greedy profit chasers can afford’s the least they can do. Don’t take my word for it, just drink in the wisdom of the smartest man and woman alive, respectively:

"We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans ..." [President Bill Clinton, 'USA Today' March 11, 1993: Page 2A]

"We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society." [Hillary Clinton, 1993]
According to the Employment Policies Institute, ACORN's argument on appeal got even more bizarre:

"A person paid limited sums of money will be in a better position to empathize with and relate to the low and moderate membership and constituency of ACORN," they said.

The judge dismissed the argument, calling it "absurd."
…and ACORN carried on, hypocritically ever after.

The moral of the fable:

Don’t bother evaluating results, because they are eminently unreliable. Rather, one ought to base judgment on the intentions of the actor(s), as good intensions make excellent pavement.

-TCS article

Hat Tip: Scott Scheule