The Southwest Times Records reports here on the lamentations of Arkansas business leaders and politicians about the new federal rule on the pay level at which employees must receive overtime pay.
The usual suspects raised alarm to Fort Smith business people — U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman and Randy Zook, leader of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. The omission of any other Republican leaders is likely only because they weren’t asked.
“Employers will either have to pay more or not allow some people to work over 40 hours a week,” said Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
Pay for toil. How unimaginably unfair.
I urge you to clip and save Randy Zook’s comments. Why? There are several coming ballot issues for which it’s worth remembering.
* He leads an organization that is fighting the effort to get marijuana to desperately ill people. Ballot issue.
* He leads an organization that supports making it all but impossible to sue for damages of children and the elderly for abuse, neglect and malpractice by nursing homes, hospitals and others. Ballot issue.
* He leads an organization that fights against good workers compensation for injured workers.
* He leads an organization that has joined efforts to wreck publicly elected school boards and school districts.
* He leads an organization pushing for corporate welfare for big business — favorable state-supplied and guaranteed financing for public finance. Ballot issue.
* He leads an organization that wants to amend the Arkansas Constitution to restore taxpayer subsidies to chambers of commerce so that they will have tax support when they lobby on all those issues I’ve listed. Ballot issue.
Simply put: Fair pay and working conditions are bad for business, Zook says. Government handouts are good for business.
A couple of relevant items from the Labor Day weekend:
* DECLINING MIDDLE CLASS: Think Progress notes the correlation of the decline in middle class income with the decline in labor unions. I think that was the point in the decades-long battle to destroy unions. Looks like it has worked.
* THE VALUE OF HIGHER WAGES: Some wiser industrialists had better sense. Take Henry Ford, not exactly a liberal. From a Hedrick Smith op-ed in the New York Times:
In 1914, not long after the Ford Motor Company came out with the Model T, Ford made the startling announcement that he would pay his workers the unheard-of wage of $5 a day.
Not only was it a matter of social justice, Ford wrote, but paying high wages was also smart business. When wages are low, uncertainty dogs the marketplace and growth is weak. But when pay is high and steady, Ford asserted, business is more secure because workers earn enough to become good customers. They can afford to buy Model Ts.
Arkansas opinion leaders have always believed grinding the little guy was the path to prosperity. Look around to see their wisdom.