ENDA’s game: pandering and distraction at high cost

This past Monday, President Obama and Apple CEO Tim Cook released twin editorials urging Congress to pass ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  Consider this portion of Cook’s appeal, as cited in the Washington Times:

“For too long, too many people have had to hide that part of their identity in the workplace,” he wrote. “Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our co-workers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves.”

Mr. Cook refers to the LGBT community.  But notice that that special class goes unmentioned in the passage. One can easily imagine he is writing about another group of persons who “have had to hide that part of their identity in the workplace.”  Which makes me wonder, would this Silicon Valley captain of industry–a scion of progressive, elite culture–have gone to bat for Republicans, gun enthusiasts, or Evangelical Christians?  In sociologist George Yancey’s 2011 book, Compromising Scholarship, it precisely these groups that face the most bias from university faculty hiring committees.

But that point is not germane to the merits, or demerits, of the legislation.  Earlier this week, Melinda at Stand to Reason noted that while religious institutions are exempted from ENDA, small business owners are not.  It’s the same befuddling logic that granted Obamacare exemptions to big businesses, but not to small ones.  The editors at National Review pointed out some more liabilities, including an increase in bureaucracy and lawsuits.

A factcheck.org piece dismissed as spin House Speaker John Boehner’s claim that ENDA will result in “frivolous” lawsuits.  But in doing so, the factchecker had to affirm a Congressional Budget Office estimate that $47 million will be needed for new oversight and processing of 5,000 new legal claims annually.  The writer couches the real economic cost this way:

As for Boehner’s claim that ENDA would “cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” that may well be the outcome in some isolated cases, but the law specifically applies only to companies with 15 or more employees — which exempts nearly 90 percent of all small businesses (and nearly a third of those employed in businesses with under 500 employees).

This supposedly inquisitive journalist’s lack of concern for “isolated cases” reminds me of President Obama’s now immortal prevarication, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”  Five million individual market health insurance plans are not good enough.  Off to the exchange you go!  If you are on the wrong side of “history,” as outlets like The Week want to label it, you will get steamrolled under Progress.

Speaking of Obamacare, isn’t this trotting out of ENDA just a timely distraction from the trainwreck?  At least one advocacy group sees the move for what it is: a shameless pandering to a constituency,  but only when it’s convenient.  LGBT activists are right to take the move as an insult.

This is really nothing new for Obama or the Democratic Party.  Manipulating a menagerie of supporters through identity politics is straight from the party play book.  Talk about a wedge issue; our president is the great Divider-in-Chief.

Real people are being thrown under the bus.  With Obamacare and ENDA, we have the Forgotten Man.  Person A takes from person B to benefit person C.  That is, if person C really gains any significant benefit.  The one thing we can be sure of is that person A is looking out first and foremost for himself.

Ronald Reagan’s admonition is timeless: the nine scariest words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Photo credit: Princes Milady / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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California Rust Belt?

Election day is less than two weeks away, and political ads are saturating California’s airwaves.  And since both Democrats and Republicans have exhausted their brand credibility in recent years, candidates are reluctant to even mention their party affiliation.  But the discerning listener need only catch a few buzz words to know who’s who.

Anytime I hear an ad slamming Wall Street bonuses, billionaire tax breaks, or Texas oil companies, I know to vote the other way.  Castigating big business and playing up class war are the bread and butter of liberals and Democrats.  They proclaim that some big, wealthy person or corporation does not have your best interests in mind.  The implication is, then, that some Democrat will be the altruistic champion of your cause.  But Democrats have no incentive to be responsive or responsible; they have a lock on unions, youth, academics, and self-perceived victim groups.  As Amity Shlaes reminds us in The Forgotten Man, they have been working with the same basic backscratching coalitions since FDR’s 1936 reelection.  This unpleasant fact aside, altruism is not something we should be looking for in a candidate anyway.  As Ronald Reagan said, the ten most dreaded words in the English language are, “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

What then, is the answer?  Mutual self-interest.  Adam Smith observed more than two centuries ago the synergistic effects when two people agree to cooperate not on the basis of need or compulsion, but willingly and in their own interests.  With the exodus of talent and capital, and our overextended public liabilities, its time for Californians to stop buying the idea of a free lunch.

In debate and in ads, Jerry Brown harps on Meg Whitman for advocating an easing of taxes on billionaires as if she was only looking out for herself.  And in a local U.S. House race, an ad for Jerry McNurney accuses David Harmer of helping out his “Wall Street buddies.”  These allegations don’t bother me one bit, because I know that we need business friendly policies here in California.  We don’t have the luxury to be envious, jealous, or spiteful against high-income earners.  They provide the jobs, they put their capital on the line, and they get milked by Federal, state and local taxes.  Their money does not go into some vault they swim in like they were Scrooge McDuck.  Through stocks, bonds, or directly, productive people reinvest their money in productive enterprise to make even more money.  And that’s where we can hope to benefit with new private sector jobs–only if our state’s policies are lucrative enough to attract those investments.

Its time for Californians to wake up from the deadly myth that big business and high-income earners can be tapped without limit for progressive causes.  If we vote in people like Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, we can turn the corner and keep California from becoming the newest Rust Belt state.  But if we fail in that measure, you might as well pack your bags for North Dakota.

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