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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 31, 2013

 
The Tea Party learns from their close friends, the Religious Right

by digby

So apparently, the sad little rump band of living conservative intellectuals are all excited over looney Tea Party Senator Mike Lee's speech yesterday at the heritage institute.  He wasn't slavering like a rabid dog! He likes families. He's a man of ideas!

Here's one of them:
The federal government also needs to open up America’s transportation system to diversity and experimentation, so that Americans can spend more time with their families in more affordable homes, and less time stuck in maddening traffic.

House-hunting middle-class families today often face a Catch-22.

They can stretch their finances to near bankruptcy to afford a home close to work.

Or they can choose a home in a more affordable neighborhood so far away from work that they miss soccer games, piano recitals, and family dinner while stuck in gridlocked traffic.

The solution is not more government-subsidized mortgages or housing programs. A real solution involves building more roads.

More roads, bridges, lanes, and mass-transit systems. Properly planned and located, these projects would help create new jobs, new communities, more affordable homes, shorter commuting times, and greater opportunity for businesses and families.

Transportation infrastructure is one of the things government is supposed to do — and conservatives should make sure it is done exceptionally well.

Unfortunately, since completing the Interstate Highway System decades ago, the federal government has gotten pretty bad at maintaining and improving our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Today, the federal highway program is funded by a gasoline tax of 18.4 cents on every gallon sold at the pump. That money is supposed to be going into steel, concrete, and asphalt in the ground. Instead, too much of it is being siphoned off by bureaucrats and special interests in Washington.

And so Congressman Tom Graves and I are going to introduce the Transportation Empowerment Act.

Under our bill, the federal gas tax would be phased down over five years from 18.4 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents. And highway authority would be transferred proportionately from the federal government to the states.

Under our new system, Americans would no longer have to send significant gas-tax revenue to Washington, where sticky-fingered politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists take their cut before sending it back with strings attached. Instead, states and cities could plan, finance, and build better-designed and more affordable projects.

Some communities could choose to build more roads, while others might prefer to repair old ones. Some might build highways, others light rail. And all would be free to experiment with innovative green technologies, and new ways to finance their projects, like congestion pricing and smart tolls.

But the point is that all states and localities should finally have the flexibility to develop the kind of transportation system they want, for less money, without politicians and special interests from other parts of the country telling them how, when, what, and where they should build.

If only we can get the federal government to stop taxing us to pay for roads and bridges., every small town in America will step up to do the job. So its citizens can travel far away to go to work. If it wants to. I think. (And it's a darned good thing there's no such thing as climate change or all that driving with cheap gas might not be such a hot idea.)

Here's another pro-plutocrat cloaked family values idea they just love:

Another struggle facing working families is the constant challenge of work-life balance. Parents today need to juggle work, home, kids, and community. For many families, especially with young children, their most precious commodity is time.

But today, federal labor laws restrict the way moms and dads and everyone else can use their time. That’s because many of those laws were written decades ago, when most women didn’t work outside the home.

Because of these laws, an hourly employee who works overtime is not allowed to take comp time or flex time. Even if she prefers it, her boss can’t even offer it.

Today, if a working mom or dad stays late at the office on Monday and Tuesday, and instead of receiving extra pay wants to get compensated by leaving early on Friday to spend the afternoon with the kids, that could be violating federal law.

That sounds unfair, especially to parents. But how do we know for sure? Because Congress gave a special exemption from that law for government employees.

This is unacceptable. The same work-life options available to government bureaucrats should be available to the citizens they serve.

In May, the House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, sponsored by Representative Martha Roby of Alabama, to equalize flex-time rules for all workers.

And this week I am introducing companion legislation in the Senate

I'm going to take a guess that government employees are "exempt" from overtime because people like Mike Lee don't want to pay overtime to government employees, not because the government employees were just dying for the opportunity to work more for less pay.

Funny story. Many years ago, when I was a young person trying to come up through the pink collar ghetto in the corporate world, I was given a promotion. It would have a new title and I'd get invited to the monthly management meeting (where I served coffee.) I'd also get to go to the company retreat. My job responsibilities would remain the same as would my wages, but I was assured it was a big stepping stone. They were making me a junior executive. I was very excited. But when I got my first check it was substantially lower than it had been and I was told that it was because I was now an "exempt" employee, meaning that I was exempt from overtime. The 50 to 60 hours a week I had always claimed on my time card (and what the job required) would now only be compensated at the base salary. I was an executive now, dontcha know.

Years later I was in a compensation meeting (at a different company) in which our chief executive joked with other men in the meeting that we didn't need to give women raises because they'd always settle for an empty title and a better office. Hahahaha! Yeah, he said that while I was sitting there. And yeah, I laughed too. At my own foolishness. The 80s were fun like that. The same guy said that any employee who asked for comp time would go nowhere in his organization. It showed a lack of commitment; people who care about doing a good job don't complain when they have to work a few extra hours. And he needed people to be there when he needed them, not when they were "available."

The reason the 40 hour work week was established was because many employers exploited their workers. I know it's hard for Mike Lee and his ilk to fathom that the vaunted job creators of today might not really give a damn about the "family needs" of their employees and just want to pay them less for doing more work. (That's one way to get more "productivity"!)

All the extra hours in the world won't buy groceries or put a roof over your kids' heads. But I guess you'll feel all warm inside knowing that someday, possibly, your boss might approve you to take a couple of those extra hours you've earned in comp time to forage for food with your family. So it's all good.

Read Lee's whole speech. The Tea Party is taking a page from their allies in the Religious Right --- give sermons laden with lugubrious concern for the plight of the common man and offer up Randian gobbledygook as the answer to their concerns. Same as it ever was.


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