The events unfolding in Maryland provide yet another reason why America needs a nationwide Employers Responsibility Act (ERA).
Several weeks before the second season of “House of Cards” debued online, its producers sent Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley a threatening letter.
The Netflix series focuses on an unscrupulous politician–played by Kevin Spacey–who manipulates, threatens and even murders to gain revenge and power
True to the character of that fictitious politician, Frank Underwood, the letter warned: Give us millions more dollars in tax credits, or we will “break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state.”
During the legislature’s hearing on March 28, the following exchange occurred:
DELEGATE C. WILLIAM FRICK: It sounds like you are suggesting that they wouldn’t film Season 3 here after we’ve given them $31 million already.
Is it possible that they would just leave after we gave them $31 million?
DOMINICK E. MURRAY, SECRETARY OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: We hope that they won’t.
DELEGATE MARK N. FISHER: We’re almost being held for ransom.
A nationwide Employers Responsibility Act would address such behavior–and a series of other evils for which employers are directly responsible:
- The loss of jobs within the United States owing to companies’ moving their operations abroad—solely to pay substandard wages to their new employees.
- The mass firings of employees which usually accompany corporate mergers or acquisitions.
- The widespread victimization of part-time employees, who are not legally protected against such threats as racial discrimination, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.
- The refusal of many employers to create better than menial, low-wage jobs.
- The widespread employer practice of extorting “economic incentives” from cities or states in return for moving to or remaining in those areas. Such “incentives” usually absolve employers from complying with laws protecting the environment and/or workers’ rights.
- The refusal of many employers to provide medical and pension benefits—nearly always in the case of part-time employees, and, increasingly, for full-time, permanent ones as well.
- Rising crime rates, due to rising unemployment.
If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor, an ERA would ensure full-time, permanent and productive employment for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.
And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.
Such legislation would legally require employers to demonstrate as much initiative for hiring as job-seekers are expected to show in seeking work.
One of its provisions would strictly forbid the seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to moving to or remaining in cities/states.
Such “economic incentives” usually:
- allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
- allow employers to ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
- allow employers to pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; and/or
- allow employers to pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.
Employers who made such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:
- Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or
- Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”
- protect employees against artificially-depressed wages and unsafe working conditions;
- protect the environment in which these employees live; and
- protect cities/states from being pitted against one another at the expense of their economic prosperity.
For thousands of years, otherwise highly intelligent men and women believed that kings ruled by divine right.
That kings held absolute power, levied extortionate taxes and sent countless millions of men off to war–all because God wanted it that way.
That lunacy was dealt a deadly blow in 1776 when American Revolutionaries threw off the despotic rule of King George III of England.
But today, millions of Americans remain imprisoned by an equally outrageous and dangerous theory: The Theory of the Divine Right of Employers.
Summing up this employer-as-God attitude, Calvin Coolidge still speaks for the overwhelming majority of employers and their paid shills in government:
“The man who builds a factory builds a temple, and the man who works there worships there.”
America can no longer afford such a dangerous fallacy as the Theory of the Divine Right of Employers.
The solution lies in remembering that the powerful never voluntarily surrender their privileges.
Americans did not win their freedom from Great Britain–-and its enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of kings”-–by begging for their rights.
And Americans will not win their freedom from their corporate masters–-and the equally enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of employers”-–by begging for the right to work and support themselves and their families.
And they will most certainly never win such freedom by supporting right-wing political candidates whose first and only allegiance is to the corporate interests who bankroll their campaigns.
Corporations can–and do–spend millions of dollars on TV ads, selling lies.
Lies such as the “skills gap,” and how if the wealthy are forced to pay their fair share of taxes, jobs will inevitably disappear.
But Americans can choose to reject those lies–and demand that employers behave like patriots instead of predators.