October 16, 2005
It's All My Fault
Guess the LA Times didn't find my op-ed convincing. They came out today in favor of Prop. 75, the "paycheck protection" initiative, arguing that the state's public employee unions ought to be weakened and the proposition passed. They do this admitting that the law is poorly written (the "issue education" loophole) and its backers motivated by bad faith. And since the paper promises to support future acts to clean up our campaign financing system in more equitable ways, they sidestep the moral question of whether the governor should use the initiative process to strike back at political enemies. All in all, not very convincing stuff. The paper is assuming a position of false naiveté, pretending that the only issue at hand is the simple question of whether they would like public employee unions to have more or less power, and that Prop. 75 is not a single salvo in a much larger war between special interests, competing ideologies, political powerhouses, and disconnected strategists.
The governor could have pushed for clean elections, for ethical reforms, for the total overhaul of campaign financing so that all special interests are ejected. I would have supported him gladly. But he didn't. Prop. 75 is not about paycheck protection, it's a cynical attempt to utilize individual passivity to weaken certain unions. The social science data on opt-in versus opt-out is clear. Whatever the individuals think about the program/cause, having to opt-in will result in much lower participation rates than opting-out. Currently, all union members can opt-out, but few do. When they all must opt-in, the numbers doing so will be dramatically lessened, not for reasons of ideology, but because of laziness. It's the same principle at work behind those who want to make 401(k)'s opt-out rather than opt-in, only here it's being used to punish political enemies.
As it happens, the act is poorly written and likely to be wholly ineffective, it'll just force unions to engage in advocacy through loopholes. But that doesn't excuse the LA Times here. They're supporting a bad act based on some faux-innocent outlook as to its origins, purpose, and effects. Governors should not hijack the initiative process to punish political enemies and respected papers should not support them when they do. The LA Times is making a mistake.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference It's All My Fault:
It seems hard to believe that people believe (anymore, if they ever did) that newspaper editorials are the voice of an enlightened public outlook. Editorials reflect the views of the ownership and management of the paper, and rarely more. Their bottom line is protection of business management from weakened control by having to deal with worker unions.
The LA Times is not worried about excessive power in the hands of public, governmental unions, they are - as they have been for over a century - worried about unions, period.
"The editorial voice" today is the voice of corporate protection, corporate control, and corporate disregard for a healthy society.
Why should the ownership (the Chicago Tribune Co) be interested in California's political balance? They aren't.
Posted by: JimPortandOR | Oct 16, 2005 8:01:56 PM
Yeah, but the LAT seemed to be overcoming its hundred-year Republican hangover these last couple decades. Each time they show their stripes like this, it's a disappointment.
Posted by: wcw | Oct 16, 2005 8:22:46 PM
Exactly right, Jim.
I remember reading something several years ago that while there is a possible - possible - case to be made about the media being "liberal" regarding social issues such as abortion, homosexuality, etc., it is clear and has been for some time that the media has a very conservative, pro-business slant.
Corporations may not care about editorials calling for legalizing gay marriage, but they certainly care about corporate welfare such as abatements, tax cuts, loopholes and unionbusting.
Posted by: Stephen | Oct 16, 2005 10:21:27 PM
It seems hard to believe that people believe (anymore, if they ever did) that newspaper editorials are the voice of an enlightened public outlook.
You can always substitute "Democratic" for 'enlightened'.
Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 17, 2005 8:05:29 AM
No, you can't.
Posted by: Adrock | Oct 17, 2005 2:49:06 PM
There is a case for the media being economically liberal and/or socially conservative too. After all, they like highlighting the sob-stories of exaggerated crime or decline in morals, or heart-wrenching tales of the poor. They make compelling television after all.
I agree that members of the media are probably more libertarian than they are liberal, but there are plenty of arguments that self-rationalizing pundits can make to say the media naturally falls into any bias they dislike, so that they can then disregard what the media says that the pundit doesn't want to hear. Ie, there may be good reason to disagree/agree with LAT editorials and the arguments it makes, but do we really have to blame it all on the big business that owns them?
Posted by: Tony Vila | Oct 17, 2005 2:51:15 PM
Could someone please enlighten me as to why this is an issue for the voters of California to decide verses the members of the Unions in question?
Posted by: Steven Heuring | Oct 18, 2005 9:11:51 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.