Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Democrats Take California's Fratricidal AB5 National

California Democrats are nothing if not persistent in their virtue-signaling nonsense. California's AB5, an existential threat to the gig economy when it passed, was ostensibly aimed at Uber and Lyft, two companies the left has suddenly started hating (except when they use those services). Author Lorena S. Gonzalez has been in explaining-the-benefits-to-people-she-screwed-over mode for a while now, as shown by this exchange back in December:
Because Gonzalez is smarter than the people who want side hustles and must save them from themselves, or something. This experiment has gone so well that the truckers have managed to get the courts to delay enforcement of AB5 (sadly, only for truckers), but freelance writers continue to get the shaft. (That group includes Vox Media writers, many of whom were just terminated.) Gonzalez is absolutely certain of her moral rectitude though, and doesn't approve of freelance writers, like, at all:

One gets the sense, reading such exchanges, that Gonzalez is pretty solidly in somebody's pocket to deflect the daily hectoring implied by the #AB5 hashtag. In fact, you would be right: about half of Gonzalez' war chest came from public employee and trade unions. It really makes you wonder about the calculations that went on behind the scenes:

First Democratic Operative: We really need to do something to reconnect with the working class, do something that really benefits them.

Second Democratic Operative: I know! We'll help private sector unionization! Unions always love the Dems, so it'll be a win-win!

FDO: We'll start with the "gig economy". It keeps people low-paid, and prevents them from becoming real employees with benefits. You know, like Uber and Lyft. <writes AB5>

SDO: Hey, cool, this covers everyone.

FDO: Even freelancers? Cool. Margarita time!

Not content to stop at California's borders, Team Blue is now expanding this disastrous nonsense nationally. Daily Kos has a good story on the matter, which explains that apparently the AFL-CIO wrote AB5 (though the evidence is pretty thin on that subject). At issue is an obsolete test for who should be classified as an employee:
It’s enraging that Democrats are taking this career-killing stance from sea to shining sea, given that Tom Perez himself, the current head of the Democratic National Committee, already showed America’s lawmakers how to attack the worker misclassification problem during his tenure as Labor Secretary under President Obama—and did so without the draconian language that’s in these state and federal bills.

Perez achieved that goal by using the existing Internal Revenue Service test to determine who is, and is not, an independent contractor. That approach worked just fine. If every state adopted the IRS test, too, then the states and federal government would be in alignment. A bad-actor company caught misclassifying workers anywhere would automatically be breaking the rules everywhere, and could be fined everywhere, too, as it should be. At the same time, people like me, who prefer to work as independent contractors, could continue to do so, because we can pass the IRS test.

Instead, what’s happening now is an attempt to eliminate the existence of independent contractors, including those of us who are operating lawfully under the IRS test. At the core of each of these bills is an overly tough test to determine who can, or cannot, legally be defined as an independent contractor. This test is known as the ABC test, and was written back in the 1930s to reflect the workforce of the Great Depression. It is different from the test that the IRS now uses, and it makes it impossible for many lawful, happy, thriving independent contractors to remain that way in the economy of 2020, when the world looks a lot different than it did back when Americans still listened to Jack Benny on the radio for entertainment.
It really appears that H.R. 2474 is suicidal for Democrats, who are more beholden to labor than they should be as a constituency, given that only 14.7 million private sector workers belong to unions. It's hard to see how Uber and Lyft will change this, nor how terminating freelance writers would improve union membership. Gonzalez's stubbornness is understandable given her backing. National Democrats' press to extend this incredible blunder is not.

Update: H.R. 2474 apparently would repeal Taft-Hartley, meaning states could no longer choose to be right-to-work states; all states would have to provide for closed shops.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Twitters Turned A Mean, Dumb Comic Into A Lesson About Empathy

So, this cartoonist made a cartoon that was supposed to show the dorkiness of having empathy for another person:
This was probably not the wisest thing to do, but then, she seems unwise anyway, when she isn't being a self-centered jerk:
But wait! Somebody flipped it! The disposable #NewGuy suddenly becomes the hero we deserve, teaching us about empathy even for people we might not instantly feel relatable?
There's already a #NewGuy Twitter feed. Cast this moment in amber, kids. It doesn't happen every day.