Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dude, where's my county?

Things I have learned from this election: fear, greed, and ignorance reign supreme. In Florida, voters approved a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage, and continue to raise it regularly based on inflation. Obviously, people have no clue what that will ultimately do to the economy here. The warehouse stores and fast food places will move to automated checkout systems to reduce the number of jobs needed, and/or raise prices. They will then have a larger job pool to select from for the remaining positions where humans are still needed, so they'll still be able to overwork and underpay, just at a higher dollar value. Meanwhile, all the people who could've had the checkout jobs will be unemployed.

For small businesses, the picture is bleaker. "Mom and Pop" stores like my wife's lingerie and adult toy store (link not safe for work) that pay retail wages now, will be forced to get by with fewer people, because most of the workforce will expect raises to maintain their current differential relative to minimum wage. Of course that makes no sense; a business can only pay what a job is worth, or it will go out of business. But, the people who voted for the minimum wage increase are not that bright, and are clearly thinking that this "trickle up" in non-minimum salaries will increase their own earnings. These are the same sorts of people that come to apply for a job at my wife's store, having quit their last job to get a better paying one -- before first locating that better paying one.

But Florida voters' ignorance and greed is not limited to wage issues. For example, in Palm Beach county, voters approved a whopping 8% increase in the sales tax, that we can ultimately expect will be used to build a bunch of buildings and maybe buy some fancy equipment to be put in them. Of course, the measure wasn't callled "8% increase in sales tax", it was called the "half-cent sales tax", which certainly sounds much better, especially to people whose education in mathematics is lacking. Heck, with that name, there are probably quite a few people who thought they were voting to lower the sales tax.

In a similar example of creative presentation, the amendment to cap lawyers' contingency fees in medical lawsuits was written in terms of entitlement. It said that claimants would be entitled to such-and-such percentage of any settlement. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Man, what a country this is. Ignorance, fear, hate, greed, and amendments to ban gay marriage. I used to have a much more idealized view of what the electoral process could be. Back in the 90's I named my consulting company Telecommunity, from the concept in Alvin Toffler's book, The Third Wave. In it, he posits an electronic democracy where engaged voters debate and exchange information electronically to decide issues. Now I understand that this will never happen, because the voters are greedy and stupid. A democracy will only last until people realize they can vote themselves money out of other people's pockets. And I think that this realization is now beginning in Florida. Certainly, it's gotten me thinking about what kind of amendment I could propose, that would sound good to greedy ignorant voters, but end up putting money into my own pockets, while taking it from some group that lacks the finances, will, or political savvy to put up much of a fight.

America, what a country! This is truly the land of opportunity, at least if you're a swindler of some sort.

<< Oct 29: Ballots are here...
>> Nov 06: Ripples

^^ Home