Freedom’s Just Another Word for State Authority

After a fight of several years, St. Louis passed a law that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $11 per hour, and after that it would increase with inflation. The first stage, a raise from $7.70 an hour to $10 an hour, went into effect March 5. The $11 per hour was to kick in on January 1, 2018.

A couple of days ago, the governor announced that the state is stepping in and overriding St. Louis. The city’s minimum wage cannot exceed the statewide minimum wage, Gov. Eric Greitens announced. The minimum wage in St. Louis will revert to $7.70 an hour on August 28.

“It will kill jobs,” Greitens said of the increase. “And despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people’s pockets.”

So the state is now going to take money out of people’s pockets. Some employers may choose to not take away the raises, but I’m betting that many will happily cut their employees back to $7.70.

Exactly why it’s skin off anyone’s nose that there might be a higher minimum wage in St. Louis than in the many small towns across the state eludes me. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, Gov. Greitens.

Today I read of something similar going on in Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R), citing grave worries about “socialistic” behavior in the state’s liberal cities, has called on Texas lawmakers to gather this month for a special session that will consider a host of bills aimed at curtailing local power on issues ranging from taxation to collecting union dues.

Texas presents perhaps the most dramatic example of the increasingly acrimonious relationship between red-state leaders and their blue city centers, which have moved aggressively to expand environmental regulations and social programs often against the grain of their states.

Republican state leaders across the country have responded to the widening cultural gulf by passing legislation preempting local laws. The best-known example is North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” which was partially reversed this year. It was originally aimed at undercutting Charlotte’s efforts to expand civil rights laws to include LGBT people and to prevent cities from setting their own minimum wage.

But states also have gone after cities in more subtle ways. Ohio’s legislature last year attempted to block a Cleveland regulation that requires certain city contractors to hire local residents. A new Arizona law threatens to cut off funding to cities that take actions state officials deem to be in violation of state law.

Gov. Abbott is especially peeved at Austin.

“Once you cross the Travis County line, it starts smelling different,” Abbott joked at a recent gathering of Republicans, referring to the county that includes Austin. “And you know what that fragrance is? Freedom. It’s the smell of freedom that does not exist in Austin, Texas.”

Freedom? I don’t think that word means what you think it means, governor.

Austin is suing the state over its draconian “sanctuary cities” law, among other things. Austin is also fighting a developer who plans to destroy hundreds of trees, including some very old and beloved “heritage” oaks that are protected by city ordinance. The governor, naturally, takes the side of the developer, who appears to have won.

A heritage oak in Austin.

I personally think that if Texas doesn’t want to turn into a desert someday as the planet heats up, it had better hang on to every tree it’s got. But they don’t listen to me.

The people of Austin wonder about their rights to shape the quality of their own community. But when money talks, democracy walks.

Happy 4th of July, Republicans. What is it you’re celebrating, again?

12 thoughts on “Freedom’s Just Another Word for State Authority

  1. Here in NC the R’s have used their majorities in both houses to cut back on city powers, reduce revenues of newspapers they don’t like, take power from the school boards, remove appointed positions from the governor, etc. They have reduced the environmental department’s ability to protect natural resources, and they have such effective gerrymandering that they WILL be back!

  2. Bill Bush, I’m told over and over that progressives shouldn’t compromise, only by the Republicans winning will “real” progressives will finally win in a glorious reactionary revolution. Are you suggesting that once a majority of rigid idealogical people gain power and control levers of government, they do things to retain that power at all costs? Hmmmm . . . That sure seems counter to to the “truth” I’ve received lately. It almost seems like, if opportunities exist to flip seats with candidates who aren’t with you 100% on every issue, but are otherwise generally on your side, you should make the most of the opportunity. That’s wrong of course.

  3. They aren’t concerned with economics. What you are observing is an attack on liberal, progressive, or “socialist” policies that they intend to eliminate. It’s a war on liberalism. They want a 1-party system of government, which is otherwise known as a dictatorship, but Republicans don’t care. It’s not coincidence that Trump supporters universally refuse to see Russia as a threat. They, like the majority of Russian voters, have decided that as long as a strongman dictator hurts those whom they themselves disdain, any form of fascism is okay by them. As long as a big mouthed bully calls them “patriots” and “victims,” they’ll buy whatever he’s selling. What’s been going on in North Carolina is just practice. They are going to destroy the Constitution by rewriting it, and they are going to destroy this country as we know it.

  4. Since The Russian Revolution, until Ronie Ray-gun single-handedly (JOKE!!!) brought down the USSR, Conservatives said the feared Communism, and its Poliburo’s.

    They became what they most feared!
    (Minus the Communism!).

    We have a GOP that WANTS Conservative Politburo’s.

    Party Over People!
    Party over Country!!

  5. In Oklahoma they passed this a few years ago. Cities cannot raise the minimum wages above the state standard, because the governor and the legislature think they should make sure everyone here should be paid like a peon.

  6. What Gov. Abbott is probably smelling is the scent of all the toxic waste and sewage dumped into local water supplies by unregulated businesses. That and all the lovely money he expects to be paid after his faithful service.

    By the way, there has also been a concerted effort during the past few years to make it illegal for communities to provide residents with fast and affordable internet service.

  7. Whatever happened to states rights? Wouldn’t ‘cities rights’ be a subset of that?

  8. Seattle’s Minimum Wage Helps Low-Income Workers

    Having a Cato Institute around to provide one side of an argument which would hopefully, eventually, help harden such a squishy-soft ‘science’ like economics, isn’t a bad thing. It’s when such policies gain power and give rise to take-advantage-of-weaknesses situations such as Mylan-Epipen, or a People’s Republic of the Worlds Largest Economy at the Expense of Workers Practically Everywhere Else, that I take issue.

    And we wouldn’t have as many Paul Craig Roberts’ running around crying that he was wrong, it was all a mistake…

  9. “Exactly why it’s skin off anyone’s nose that there might be a higher minimum wage in St. Louis than in the many small towns across the state eludes me.”

    Aside from Wal-Mart, et al., who profit by paying lower than subsistence wages, one foreseeable danger to economic conservatives of raising the minimum wage in cities is that doing so might be seen to work, increasing the prosperity of those cities.

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