Andrew Puzder: An opponent of the minimum wage and a guy the radical Left can do business with

by Jehu

Like you, I couldn’t help but gasp when I read this article from the New York Time this week, Trump’s Labor Pick, Andrew Puzder, Is Critic of Minimum Wage Increases:

“President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday chose Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that franchises the fast-food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor … Mr. Puzder, 66, fits the profile of some of Mr. Trump’s other domestic cabinet appointments. He is a wealthy businessman and political donor and has a long record of promoting a conservative agenda…

If the radical Left had any sense, they would meet with Puzder to figure out how to eliminate all wage labor in the fast food industry in the next four years. Puzder is banking on the expectation the Left will be so worried about jobs going away they will accept anything he proposes short of that.

Mind you, I’m not being the least bit facetious here. Poverty mainly affects the low wage, low skilled labor force, the industries that are reliant on this sort of labor is constantly creating poverty in the society and Puzder is the face of capital in these sectors, as the New York Time article shows:

“… On policy questions, he has argued that the Obama administration’s recent rule expanding eligibility for overtime pay diminishes opportunities for workers, and that significant minimum wage increases would hurt small businesses and lead to job losses.

He has criticized paid sick leave policies of the sort recently enacted for federal contractors and strongly supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he says has created a “government-mandated restaurant recession” because rising premiums have left people with less money to spend dining out.

Speaking to Business Insider this year, Mr. Puzder said that increased automation could be a welcome development because machines were “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.'”

An opponent of overtime, the minimum wage, sick leave, health care coverage? An advocate of automation and abolishing human labor in the lowest paid sectors of the economy? Frankly, this is a guy we can do business with, because, like a member of the Ku Klux Klan, he never tries to couch his contempt for you in the hilarious verbal gymnastics first developed during the 1960s black-liberal-labor alliance.

Puzner has nothing but contempt for the working class and has no hesitation expressing that contempt to anyone who will listen. Radicals should welcome this frankness and not allow the opposition to be framed by the corporate Democrats — who believe the exact same thing, but are for too circumspect to ever let it slip out in public.

*****

The radical Left should show it is no more afraid of negotiating with this guy than a workers’ union is afraid of sitting down at a table with the owners of the company. Radicals should sit down with this avowed enemy of the working class and propose bold steps to make his dream eliminating all wage labor in the fast food industry a reality. Instead of trying to save jobs flipping hamburgers, the radical Left should be pushing for wiping out wage labor in the entire industry. The Left should send some of its celebrity radicals — Jill Stein, David Harvey, Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Bernie Sanders, Angela Davis — to meet with Puzder to figure out how to eliminate all low wage, low skilled jobs in the economy.

Of course, Puzder wants to get rid of wage labor in the low wage, low skilled sectors of the economy to fatten corporate profits, while we want to get rid of these jobs because they are a cesspool of poverty. We both want to get rid of this labor, but for different reasons.

But don’t let this prevent radicals from sitting down with him for even one minute.

If the elimination of all low wage, low skilled labor is agreed upon, the question becomes what happens to those who are displaced. UBI? A jobs guarantee? Free college? All the pet programs of the radical Left can be put on the negotiating table. On the other hand, if the radical Left lets the corporate Democrats frame the discussion, none of these popular radical ideas will ever get a hearing.

I don’t hold out much hope the radical Left is capable of pulling off a bold initiative like this, but I am always thinking about you guys. I continue to hold out hope that no one can be as dumb as you appear to be and still survive Darwin’s cut.

*****

Put it this way: We have the opportunity to abolish wage labor in an entire sector of the economy that relies on low wage, low skill labor power. The fascists (both GOP and Democrat) want to do this in order to fatten the profits of capital and this is all they care about. They are going to do it no matter what we think and over our objections, just as they have done for the past 40 year in manufacturing. Now, we can do the same thing we did in manufacturing and whine about what they will do, or we can grow up and realize the jobs are already gone and the fascists just need the incentive to pull the plug on what’s left.

There is really only one solution to automation: reduce hours of labor — but no one cares about that option. Fine, so let’s move to the next set of options that seem to entrance the radical Left: universal income, jobs guarantee, free education. Each of these programs offers a partial solution to the problem of rising unemployment resulting from technological change: a UBI addresses the problems of a lack of income; a Jobs Guarantee addresses the problem of unemployment; and free education allows displaced workers an opportunity to upgrade their skills.

The problems is they all costs a whole lot of money, and this will likely be an objection from the Trump administration; however, the most cutting edge discussion of policy at this point suggests the fascists face no real budgetary constraints to pay for them. Washington could, in theory at least, print the money necessary to pay for them and avoid inflation by a number of different measures. Effectively, (at least in the US) money is no objection to addressing the problem of eliminating employment in low wage, low skilled dependent industries.

Puzder and the Trump administration already know this to be a fact. They want to eliminate low wage, low skill labor to fatten their profits, but what are they willing to do for their labor force? If the fascists can fix this by simply printing currency at no cost to capitalist firms. why not do this? Personally, I think it is very messy and extremely selfish, but you folks are messy and extremely selfish too — a perfect fit. If you know what you want — UBI, JG, free education — and you know what your enemy wants — profits — why not offer to trade one for the other?

Either way, labor must go away, which is why I don’t give a shit what you decide. For you, however, this is your opportunity to (maybe) crawl out from beneath the thumb of the corporate Democrats. I say you should go for it.

Advertisements