I just love the way our conservative friends dress up and name a bill to sound like it is something good.
The Right to Work bill is a prime example. We have that right to work now, and we can choose to work in a union or non-union facility as we wish, if we can find a job.
However, if someone is receiving the benefits of the union — higher wages, vacation and sick leave, etc. — then one should have to pay the union dues. Remember the adage: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
What most people in the liberal camps argue is that the legislation did not originate in Missouri but is part of a bigger plan to eliminate organized labor by the neo-conservatives. The RTW proposal was originally written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
The council's mission is simple: “To advance limited government, free markets and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”
The problem is that ALEC is not a “nonpartisan” organization but one that fits into the neo-conservative camp. The libertarians of the right-wingers.
Unlike other liberals, I am not so concerned that ALEC is an out-of-state organization trying to influence Missouri politics. Liberals and progressives have done the same over the years. Maybe not so blatantly, but they have.
There is something else about the ALEC bill that is more interesting; the bill wants to restrict how unions can spend their money on political campaigns.
This flies in the face of at least two recent Supreme Court decisions — that corporations are “people” and that money is free speech. Unions are nonprofit corporations and should fit within the same guidelines as profit corporations. Spend as much as you wish without first appealing to the shareholders or the membership.
This would be the equivalent of saying that employees of Hobby Lobby who disagree with the owners’ political position on birth control and the Affordable Care Act would be able to limit the profits used by the owners to pay for their lawsuits. That will never happen so why require it from the rank and file?
This is a case of “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Let ALEC lobby for conservative positions and provide the legislators with sample legislation. Then allow the unions and liberal and progressive organizations do the same.
This is the way politics should be fought — fairly and openly and not vilifying the opponents with restrictive legislation.
The Show-Me Institute is another conservative political lobbying organization that liberals love to bash. This should not always be the case.
A recent commentary by policy researcher Joseph Miller concerned a proposed 1 percent sales tax to help finance the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Usually, I would disagree with the institute’s positions, but Miller provides a solution that is fair and workable, if it were not for the political ramifications. Miller suggests that instead of increasing the sales tax, we should “(r)aise the gas tax to adjust for inflation and implement tolls on major highways.”
I am not big on the toll road idea. As an East Coaster, I despised paying tolls in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. However a “user tax” is a broader and more reasonable way to focus specific money for our infrastructure maintenance and expansion.
Columbians specifically know the problems with I-70. We know how overcrowded the highway has become and how poor the roadbeds are. We know that I-70 needs to be widened through our city limits, that rights-of-way need to be purchased and construction begun sooner than later.
But Miller’s estimate of $300 million in increased funding is not enough to improve a highway system designed to carry half of the vehicles that now travel its length. Three hundred million dollars is still $160 million short to just maintain the current system.
Instead of adjusting for inflation, why not have a new gas tax, limited to and renewable for, let’s say, 10 years, to bring MoDOT’s budget to a level where they can continue to improve our interstates, as well as the state and federal highways for which they are charged?
If MoDOT can show us road improvements, I believe the drivers who use Missouri highways and byways would not mind paying a few cents more per gallon.
David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.com.