"Policy-making is the way we send messages about priorities in our system of government. [Who is 'we'? As a citizen I haven't been in on any policy-making so 'we' must refer to the politicians and professional pundits who advise them like Mr Henderson. These priorities then are] "What's important and what's not. Who's first in line for the fruits of democracy and who's last."
['What's important and what's not' asks an answer to the question 'important' to whom? Citizens or government? If he means citizens then they should get to chose what's important to them and therefore need the freedom to pursue it. If government, then it decides what is important and forces it on the citizens, a progressive ideal.
Now I know that pundits often write in metaphors but look at the one Mr Henderson presents; it is a basket or pile of fruits of democracy for which citizens must line up to get, so the message for policy-makers is only who goes first and last. Does that sound like picking winners and losers to you? It does to me. It's also an image of 'the fruits are here. How did they get here? Not important. What's important? How to distribute them more fairly than the citizens would if left free to do so.']
"So if you're poor, and particularly if you're among the working poor--people who earn paychecks too meager to sustain a family, much less get ahead--what message do you imagine you're being sent by the people of Michigan and their representatives these days? From where I sit, it looks like this: Drop Dead."
[Evidently the poor and working poor are not part of the 'people of Michigan' but are a separate group victimized by them. This is of course a slap in the face to all citizens; the working poor for choosing a wage so obviously unjust it won't move them up the ladder and raise a family (which itself is debatable); and to the rest of the evil citizens and their representatives who voted for this unjust system and are telling them now to drop dead. I think a profound contempt for citizens being free to choose their own decisions and actions could not be much more obvious.]
"Let's review a few headlines that rolled out over the last two weeks.
On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a package of bills that would strip prevailing-wage requirements out of government construction contracts. It's important to note that the law sets rates not only for experienced contractors, but for apprentices--young people, many of them poor, trying to get into construction trades, but who need training before they can work full time."
[So you see the poor are everywhere and that's why the prevailing-wage is noble and virtuous! One can easily get the impression that if all Americans were millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires, the millionaires would be the new poor. For my comments on the prevailing-wage I'll only say here that government should not be mandating anyone's wages anywhere. Wages should be decided by voluntary agreement to mutual benefit between worker and employer and/or those chosen to represent them.]
"At the same time, a House committee is considering a bill that would make it illegal for any local government in Michigan to mandate wages higher than the state minimum wage, provide paid or unpaid leave time, participate in any educational or training programs, or regulate hours or scheduling. For low-wage workers, that pretty much ensures you'll stay low-wage, no matter where you live in Michigan."
[I think I would agree to the mandate part of that bill. Local governments should have the freedom to choose what they can afford to do. But it's unclear about why participation in educational and training programs would be illegal. I would take that with a grain of salt. But the GOP is in control for now so coloring as suspect everything they do or even consider is par for the progressive course.
After bemoaning the defeat off Prop 1 and the failure to reinstate the Earned Income Tax Credit Mr Henderson goes on to say;]
"The average credit in 2013 was $138; recipients almost always put that money back into the economy, and for poor families, that modest influx of cash can be instrumental for an emergency car repair, medical costs or paying the rent."
[The EITC is nothing more than throwing some crumbs back to the poor to keep them voting Democrat. It is designed to keep the poor poor. It certainly will not help them "sustain a family or get ahead" as Mr. Henderson admonished earlier. Besides it is not the government's job to pay anyone's bills. To really help the poor would be to protect their freedom to provide for their own welfare. The proper job of government is "to secure these rights" per our Declaration of Independence, and not try to be the great provider of everyone's daily bread.(crumbs)
His oped is too long to critique every paragraph. It is however more of the same old threadbare Marxist notions that capitalism creates poverty by way of the rich exploiting the poor. The fact that capitalism has created the greatest explosion of wealth the world has ever seen completely escapes Mr Henderson. Or, if it doesn't, he refuses to see the cause of that prosperity, political and economic freedom. He does not say why the poverty he cites exists except, like president Obama, to blame it on Republicans.]
"Here in Michigan, the Republican-led Legislature seems hell bent on making things worse for the working poor, which raises key questions about not only policy, but morality and and the faithfulness of democratic representation."
[Translation:' the Republicans are evil and immoral and only us Democrats are moral.' Progressives have always used the moral argument against the GOP but hiding it behind the shield of pragmatism. They claim they are not ideologues but just being pragmatic. But if you press them hard enough you'll hear their moral insinuations just like the above.
My retort to that is, advocating policies that hurt the poor like regulations on business, minimum wage laws, prevailing wage laws, Quantitative easing by the Fed, destroying children's minds through Progressive Ed's intentional abandonment of the hierarchical nature of learning, making them dependent on the state through all the welfare programs etc, etc, is a strange way to show a moral concern for poor people. The prevailing wage raises the costs of education construction making education as such more expensive--an odd way to show a moral concern for poor children.
Mr Henderson does a good job of demonstrating how poverty seems to be growing throughout the state citing data that claims to show 40% of the state is now in poverty. But lets not forget that poverty in America is relative. Poverty for a family of four is now over $24,000, a level considered wealthy in third world countries where poverty is absolute.
Today we have more welfare programs on our books to help the poor than ever before yet we are told the poverty rate keeps growing. You would think that a person genuinely concerned for the poor would look at this and be motivated to question his premises and perhaps ask are our efforts to help the poor actually creating more of them?
But they won't ask that question because they haven't bothered to ask the more fundamental question, what kind of creature is the human being? What are the requirements for his survival and happiness? Our founders knew those requirements were political and economic freedom. It wasn't government welfare that created America's wealth. It was freedom. Progressives want the poor to be dependent on them. It makes them feel morally good. Political freedom destroys that illusion, and is the only way to really help the poor.]