Wed, Apr

$15 an Hour: If This Ain't Socialism, Then What SHOULD We Call It?


CONSIDER THIS-Funny how when you accuse, or even suggest, to a liberal (or is it "progressive"?  or is it "reformist"?) that he/she is socialist, they get all bent out of shape.  One reason that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is so respected is that he says it like it is--he's a sincere socialist who means what he says and says what he means. One may not always agree with him...but even his political opponents know that his heart is in the right place. 

So why the big deal about "socialism" when we talk about the Los Angeles City Council decision to support an elevation of the minimum wage to $15/hour?  Perhaps it's an echo of the Cold War, where we fought the communist Soviet Union; perhaps it's a reference to the failed and failing economies of the former economic powerhouses of Europe. 

But the Merriam-Webster definition of "Socialism" is as follows:

"a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies"  (Check out Webster 

So now it's beyond a simple "you didn't build that".  As the City Council just proved, amidst all the hoopla and self-congratulations and adulation of their fan bases, there is virtually no such thing as owning one's business. In the City of the Angels, the City Council (which has CLEARLY proven time and again their expertise on budgets, business, balancing expenses/tax flow, etc.) owns the businesses, and will inform businesses how to operate. 

And then...the other shoe dropped.   

An eleventh-hour proposal by unions to exempt businesses from the minimum wage ordinance if their workers were unionized is either: 

1) An admission by the unions who fought for the minimum wage increase that the increase will truly, as its opponents argue, lead to layoffs and cutbacks in worker hours. 

2) A ham-handed attempt to force businesses to employ unionized workers and lose even further control over their ownership. 

3) Both. 

The question of whether union and/or City takeover of businesses will lead to layoffs and economic misery for low-skilled and low-wage workers is already being answered in the enlightened Cities of San Francisco and Seattle, where the jump in minimum wage is so high and so fast that even leftist/progressive/liberal/whatever-you-want-to-call-them experts fear economic impacts. 

Similarly, the question of whether income inequality is destroying the middle class and our collective way of life is also already being answered.  There's a reason why both former Presidents Reagan and Clinton are revered for their eras of economic progress for the middle class, and why former President George W. Bush and current President Obama are...well...not revered so much. 

Income inequality and rising costs of living (despite all the nonsense being spouted about decreased unemployment and low inflation) DO exist, and entities such as the City Council of Los Angeles appears hellbent--despite their good intentions to make income inequality and rising costs of living increasingly unbearable for the average Angeleno who is fighting mightily just to make ends meet.

Insufficient education for training our young and middle-age workforce in trade and business skills?   


{module [1177]}

Insufficient efforts to lower water and energy costs?  Boring! 

Insufficient measures to lower the cost of City and LAUSD budgets to ensure City services and education costs for the average citizen? Nerd-talk! 

Insufficient countermeasures to pass along the costs of minimum wage hikes and health care costs to employers and small businesses?  Nothing to see here...move along! 

So while it's all great that our "fearless" elected leaders preside over a system that rewards only the super-rich and public sector workers with guaranteed pensions and benefits, and are rescuing us from joblessness and income inequality, who will save us from our "fearless" elected leaders? 

Because it's not too hard to conclude that there will be increased illegal employment, under the table payment to employees, part-time/reduced-hour worker status, as a result of what the City Council just did, rather than an educated, time-tested and solid middle-class boosting effort to raise everyone's status with a sustainable, sturdy economy. 

So if it's NOT Socialism that's taken over the City (because that name is just so...awful!), what DO we want to call it? 

Tell you what, though--if the City Council could pass a ban on male-pattern hair loss, short height, and acid reflux, that would really help me and quite a few others in the City of the Angels. 

Because clearly our City government can do ... just about ANYTHING!


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the  nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]  He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)








Vol 13 Issue 44

Pub: May 29, 2015


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