Today's Lesson: Disingenuousness

« May 2013 »

Memo to House Republicans: THE SAD PART IS, IT MIGHT WORK.

Disingenuousness. It's like lying's kinder, gentler cousin. It's the ninja of falsehood. It's telling the truth about the "what", while lying your ass off about the "why", because the real "why" is awful and the fake "why" sounds helpful.

In politics, disingenuous traditionally takes the form of pretending to help one group, who votes for politicians, while actually helping another group, who pays for politicians. Let's see if you can spot which of the following quotes counts as disingenuous. ACTUAL QUIZ TIME!

"Why should public-sector employees be given a benefit and the private sector be left out?” - Alabama Republican Martha Roby.

"It puts parents over politics." - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

"We believe it’s more appropriate to give employers the choice on whether they want to do this." - Marc Freedman, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

If you said "all of the above", based on nothing more than the fact that an Alabama Republican, Eric Holder, and a used colostomy bag from the Chamber of Commerce were the ones talking, then congratulations, longtime reader of You Are Dumb!

The topic at hand is overtime. Republicans want to "allow" "employees" the "choice" to be compensated for overtime by taking time off in the future, rather than the federally mandated time-and-a-half pay. It helps families. Parents. It's a benefit public-sector employees enjoy!

Bullshit. Full disclosure, I am a public sector employee who currently "enjoys" this "benefit", and yes, I know the ironic quotes are flying fast and furious, but it's the nature of the subject matter. But let's not leap to obvious conclusions based on the traditional ideological bent of the people behind this, or personal experience. Let's use some math.

Time and a half > Time. It is, in fact, 50% more.

The fact of the matter is, even assuming there are no abuses of the system, comp time is cheaper for companies than overtime. That's why it was put in place in the public sector to begin with. It wasn't a benefit. It wasn't for families or flexibility. It's just cheaper.

Mandatory overtime pay is a financial incentive that enforces the 40 hour work-week, a concept that's already lost most of its relevance in a country where employers expect fewer and fewer employees to do the same amount of work. Freed of that financial penalty for overtime means more overtime. More overtime means fewer jobs.

And then there's the abuse. The employer gets to decide whether you can take your comp time off or not. Not you. Which means, while you'd love to earn enough comp time to be able to attend your son's ballet recital, your assistant manager doesn't give a shit when your son's ballet recital is, someone needs to be on Register 4 that morning and it's gonna be you.

The first rule of unfettered capitalism is that your boss wants to fuck you over. Not every boss will fuck over every employee at every opportunity, because the percentage of sociopaths in management is still fractionally below 100%, but we don't make laws to stop nice people from being nice.

Well, unless we're bought and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce, we don't.