Economic recovery prescription is typical discredited elitist policy agenda

By Michael Novick, Los Angeles

Re “California’s high cost of employment will stifle recovery; here are 6 issues the state needs to deal with”; Commentary, May 9, 2020

State Sen. John M.W. Moorlach’s piece is classic disaster capitalism – take advantage of a catastrophe to push through a discredited elitist policy agenda that favors corporations and bankers over poor and working people. 

His prescriptions for how California can “recover” from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic guarantee further pain for the many. 

Force people to work for less than a living wage: this is the basic race-to-the-bottom playbook. Force workers to compete as to who is willing to work for less money to get a job at all. Keep pretending gig workers are self-employed entrepreneurs. Force workers to eat all the costs of their own retirement, health benefits, insurance and maintenance. Make it harder for workers to qualify for workers comp for job-related disabilities. Force workers to work under unsafe, even life-threatening conditions with no recourse if they fall ill as a result.  

Cut taxes instead of increasing them. Subsidize corporate and personal wealth (and unspoken, but the obvious corollary, reduce all government services, health care, education and other expenditures because of the cuts in revenues to the public sector). Force workers to accept austerity. Repeal rent control. Let the market take care of it with allegedly dropping rental rates, and force workers to pay the bulk of their incomes on keeping a roof over their head, or worse yet, force workers out into the streets unhoused. 

End defined benefit pensions, like Wisconsin did. Force workers to keep working well past their anticipated retirement because they have neither the wages they sacrificed to get better retirement benefits, nor the retirement benefits they were promised. That way they will probably die sooner once they retire and leave the money in the investment banks to play with on the stock, bond and real estate markets.

This is a prescription for an economic disaster for working people far worse and more permanent than a temporary workplace closure to ensure community health and workplace safety. Unlike President Donald Trump’s mendacious blatherings, this truly is a case where the cure (austerity and super-exploitation) is worse than the disease (temporary pandemic caused economic inactivity).

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