Why is it that the political party that once proudly declared that it stood for working people is now laboring so hard to cost those Californians who are still working their jobs?

The Democratic party so dominates the Legislature and all constitutional offices, that Republicans almost need a passport to enter Sacramento. One would think that this would be the majority party’s opportunity to help California, which is tied with two other states for the highest unemployment in the nation, get back to work.

While Democratic lawmakers may try to comfort themselves with statistics that show the unemployment rate is declining, a closer look shows that the statistics are misleading. The declining numbers result from significant numbers of the unemployed giving up on the job market, and well over 2 million Californians, who would like to be working, continue to be in economic distress.

The Legislature’s response to this suffering is to move to pass over 30 bills that the California Chamber of Commerce calls “job killers.” While those who believe that the chamber only represents “evil” business interests may want to stop reading at this point, those who understand that it is business that puts most Californians to work, should be aware that these bills add to our state’s already crushing burden on jobs providers, a burden that is resulting in the loss of substantial business activity and jobs to other states.

At first glance some of the bills, which can be viewed on the CalChamber website, may appear relatively innocuous. Assembly Bill 1138 increases civil penalties against employers who fail to conspicuously post a list of every employee covered under a worker’s compensation policy. However, all it would take is for a notice to slip from the bulletin board to the floor out of sight behind the water cooler, to create an opportunity for a trial lawyer to file a suit that would damage the employer and that employer’s hiring ability, while fattening the attorney’s wallet.

Other bills have a much greater potential for mischief. Senate Bill 747 requires the Department of Public Health to regulate manufacturers of consumer products that the department determines contribute to a public health epidemic — obesity, for example. So while even those watching their weight may find themselves unable to indulge in an occasional snack that does not have the Michelle Obama seal of approval, manufacturers, delivery people and retailers may find that their jobs are at risk.

However, it is important to look at more than the impact of individual bills; the total effect of these regulations and mandates must be considered.

For those who may have seen Steve McQueen’s last film, “Tom Horn,” the historically accurate conclusion graphically illustrates what can be the dramatic impact of incrementalism. Condemned to death, Horn stepped onto the gallows trap door, which was connected to a lever that pulled the plug out of a barrel of water. As the water gradually drained away, it caused a lever with a counterweight to slowly rise, eventually pulling out the support beam under the trap door. The dismal end was the result of the loss of a last few drops of water, but they were preceded by several gallons.

A grim example? Perhaps, but grim, too, will be the outcome for both workers and the unemployed if the Sacramento Democrats insist on continuing to make war on those who are still working, while allowing those who are already unemployed to just twist in the wind.

 

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

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