Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why I Love ACORN

One of the few remaining warm spots in my cold, cold heart is for ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).
ACORN is currently in the news for voter fraud, registering the Dallas Cowboys Football Team as voters in Nevada, and other trivia.
Pay no attention to that stuff. That's mere generic skullduggery for those guys.

Here's the funny one.

I've long believed that our Minimum Wage laws are some of the only truly effective "Social Engineering" legislation ever passed.
If your goal was to guarantee full employment for whites and the expense of blacks, this was a home run.

Here's a bit of history on our first minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931.

The story of Davis-Bacon begins, one might say, in 1927 when a contractor from Alabama won a bid to build a Veterans' Bureau hospital in Long Island, New York. He brought a crew of black construction workers from Alabama to work on the project. Appalled that blacks from the South were working on a federal project in his district, Representative Robert Bacon of Long Island submitted H.R. 17069, "A Bill to Require Contractors and Subcontractors Engaged on Public Works of the United States to Comply with State Laws Relating to Hours of Labor and Wages of Employees on State Public Works," the antecedent of the Davis- Bacon Act.

The discriminatory implications of Bacon's bill were recognized immediately. On the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Upshaw said: "You will not think that a southern man is more than human if he smiles over the fact of your reaction to that real problem you are confronted with in any community with a superabundance or large aggregation of negro labor."

Over the next four years Bacon introduced thirteen more bills to establish regulation of labor on federal public works projects. Finally, a bill submitted by Bacon and Senator James J. Davis, with the support of the American Federation of Labor, passed in 1931. The law provided that all federal construction contractors with contracts in excess of $5,000 or more must pay their workers the "prevailing wage," which in practice meant the wages of unionized labor.
The measure passed because Congressmen saw the bill as protection for local, unionized white workers' salaries in the fierce labor market of the Depression. In particular, white union workers were angry that black workers who were barred from unions were migrating to the North in search of jobs in the building trades and undercutting "white" wages.


Current debates on Minimum Wage legislation tend to overlook this fascinating bit of history. The racially discriminatory nature of the bill was openly debated in the House and the Senate. It was simply assumed that one could hire more low skilled blacks than high wage whites.

Ok, which is more "humane", "fair", and "just"? Hiring four people for $25.00 an hour to complete a job? Or hiring five people for $20.00 an hour? Hiring 10 people for $10.00 an hour? Or if you really want to help the little guy, why not hire 20 people at $5.00 an hour?

The rational response to that question is.... All of the above. It depends on the situation. But if you mandate that the starting wage must be $25.00 an hour???? Who is going to get hired first? The homeless guy, who would ordinarily be willing to work for $5.00 ? Or the already privileged white guy with the college degree?

If you need a lot of low-skilled work done, and you're in a high wage area? Tough luck. Send it to China.

Enter ACORN. This is from sometime in 2006:


According to a Dec. 25 report in the Boston Globe, the Democratic Party is joining forces with the activist group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to place initiatives on state ballots this fall to raise the minimum wage. The idea is to energize the poor to vote for Democratic candidates as well as the initiative.
ACORN's involvement in this campaign is amusing because a few years ago the group sued the state of California in order to be exempted from its minimum wage requirement, which was higher than the federal government's. In its appellate brief, ACORN acknowledged that the more it had to pay each worker, the fewer such workers it would be able to hire. Of course, the same thing is true for businesses as well, something minimum wage advocates refuse to admit.
You've gotta love it.
I really can't tell you how much I love it.

I wish this election could go on forever.

1 comment:

Suzette Watkins said...

Very interesting. Thank you for this educational experience!