In politics, if you say the wrong thing the wrong way at the wrong time about sex or race relations, it’s one strike and you’re out.
If you stick to the corporate agenda and don’t wade into racial or sexual politics and don’t fly the confederate flag, you will be just fine.
Take the case of Ira Hansen.
Up until last week, Hansen was the newly elected Speaker of Nevada State Assembly.
Then reporters started digging into some of Hansen’s writings for the Sparks Tribune, including one column where he wrote that “the relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.”
Hansen said that he wrote his columns beneath a Confederate flag, “in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause.”
Last week, Hansen resigned as speaker — although it is unclear whether he will give up his seat in the assembly.
Like Nevada, West Virginia took a right turn this year.
The right wing agenda is the same in Nevada as it is in West Virginia as it is in the rest of the country.
Say the wrong words and you are out.
But stick to the corporate agenda — no problem.
Repeal prevailing wage laws.
Oppose efforts to raise the minimum wage.
Defeat law and order health and safety regulation.
Support mountaintop removal mining and fracking.
And generally side with the corporate powers that be that control the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and that write legislation for the leadership in the House and Senate.
Our elected representatives from Morgan County — Senators Charles Trump and Craig Blair, and Delegates Daryl Cowles and Saira Blair — are unified in support of the right wing corporate agenda on all of these issues.
As of right now, Cowles will become the House majority leader, Trump will be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Craig Blair will become chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.
In their positions of leadership, they will ram through the corporate agenda and consolidate corporate power in West Virginia.
As long as they stay away from divisive racial or sexual rhetoric, they should be fine.
Take the case of repealing the prevailing wage law.
Trump, Blair, Blair and Cowles all support repeal.
The West Virginia prevailing wage law, passed in 1933, requires any contractors performing public construction work to be paid a certain hourly minimum wage rate that is similar to the rates paid for construction work performed in the private sector.
The purpose of West Virginia’s prevailing wage law is to make sure companies that use state labor are not outbid on projects by firms that could bring in lower-cost out-of-state labor to perform the work.
Prevailing wage laws were enacted in the 1930s during a time when government-funded construction projects had become a race to the bottom.
Contractors would bring in low-wage, low-skilled workers from outside the community to do local public works jobs, and then leave when the project was completed – taking local tax dollars with them.
According to the group Smart Cities Prevail, in states without prevailing wage laws, not only does the local economy suffer, but so do local taxpayers.
Risks of contractor non-performance and degraded quality increase. And depressed wages mean more full-time workers on public assistance — effectively a tax increase on everyone else.
As part of the corporate right wing agenda, Blair, Blair, Trump and Cowles will push repeal of West Virginia’s prevailing wage law through the legislature in the upcoming session in January.
As they will push the right to work legislation.
And work against raising the minimum wage.
And defend fracking and mountaintop removal mining.
Just as long as they don’t mention “the darkies” by name, just as long as they don’t openly fly the confederate flag, they should be fine.
Onward to corporate consolidation.
Russell Mokhiber edits Morgan County, USA.