Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why is this woman smiling?

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland may just be thinking she pulled the wool over the eyes of the editorial staff at the News Tribune, if she read this attack on the amount of the minimum wage;
This isn’t to say the minimum wage can’t be raised. It can — but judiciously, and with a degree of economic literacy.
That should be the goal of the Minimum Wage Task Force authorized by the City Council last week and appointed by Mayor Marilyn Strickland on Tuesday. The advisory group consists largely of people who represent businesses, unions and nonprofits.
There’s enough talent in this group to produce a competing ballot measure that will provide a choice between Santa Claus and what’s possible.
The editorialists understand the costs;
15 Now Tacoma demonstrates about as much empathy for small businesses as Mao Zedong did. Its initiative even threatens employers with felony charges. But the proletariat would suffer, too. A lot of workers would wind up with $0.00 an hour, which is what you earn when you have no job.
But they think it's okay to do it to a slightly smaller group. I.e., those workers who'd be without jobs at $12 per hour. Which isn't exactly the moral high ground; We care about the most highly skilled of the low skilled. The really, really unskilled? Screw 'em.

Mayor Strickland reminds us of the (lightly) fictionalized mayor in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, who wants to get a Black Episcopal Bishop to serve on a commission that will give him political cover on the crime issue in NYC (the book was written before Rudy Giuliani was elected). The mayor thinks he has his prey trapped after he responds favorably to the bishop's request to call off the city's Landmarks Commission, that is threatening his plans to sell one of his churches to a developer.

The bishop (page 586) makes an economic case to the mayor; the church in question has a vanishing membership;
There are fewer than seventy-five regular members in a very large building, which incidentally has no architectural distinction ....

Frankly, St. Timothy's Church is no longer serving its community, Mr. Mayor, because it is no longer in a position to do so, and we feel it would be of far greater benefit, not only to the Episcopal Church and its more vital manifestations in our city, but to the city itself--since a large taxable entity could be erected on that site, and even the community would benefit, indirectly, in the sense that the whole city would gain through the increase in tax revenues. That's why we would like to sell the present structure, and we request your consideration ... so that the building will not be landmarked, as the Landmarks Commission wants to do.
Hearing that, the mayor immediately picks up his telephone and calls the Landmarks Commission head;
"Mort? ... You know St. Timothy's Church? ... Right. Exactly ...Mort--LAY OFF!"
The bishop is stunned at how easily he got his wish fulfilled, "You mean--that's it?"  But after thanking the mayor profusely, he is disconcerted to hear;
"That's not necessary, Bishop," said the Mayor. "There's no need to regard it as a favor or even as a service. The facts you so ably presented to me were very persuasive, and I think the entire city is going to benefit. I'm happy to do something for yoooou and for the city of New York." ....

"Now, in the same spirit," said the Mayor, adopting his best school-teacherly tone, which had served him so well so often, "I want yo-o-o-ou to do something for me-e-e-e...that is likewise good for yo-o-o-ou and the city of New York.....

"Bishop, I want you to serve on a special blue-ribbon commission on crime in New York that I will be forming shortly. ...."
After the bishop turns down the offer because, he says, that would be a conflict with his religious mission (but the mayor shrewdly sees is a political distancing of the upwardly mobile black cleric from His Honor's Jewish heritage);
The Mayor gave the bishop his broadest smile and looked him squarely in the face and shook his hand and kept smiling until the bishop left the room. When the Mayor returned to his desk, he pressed a button and said, "Get me the Landmarks Commissioner."

Presently there was a low beep-beep-, and the Mayor picked up his telephone and said, "Mort? You know that church, St. Timothy's? ... Right ...LANDMARK THE SON OF A BITCH!"
Is that how a high school girl ended up on Mayor Strickland's task force?


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