During my tenure in the California legislature, I found it somewhat humorous that every bill calling for greater corporate accountability and responsibility to the health and well-being of the public or workers was called “a job killer”by the California Chamber of Commerce. This appellation was almost always not only overly simplistic, but wildly dishonest and inaccurate. When I brought a bill to require that we consider the health impacts on women and children of various chemicals and compounds when we establsih acceptable health standards, and not just consider the impacts on the average 6 foot 175 pound male, the bill was attacked as being a “job killer”.
The first time I heard this, I thought the accuser was just kidding. But then I realized that the allegation came from a package of “talking points” handed out by the California Chamber of Commerce as part of their propoganda campaign to defeat any measures that would otherwise regulate their big business bosses. How in the world could you otherwise justify defeating a measure designed to protect the health of our people, and especially our children?
It turns out that this dishonest process has become an effective tool in keeping the public at bay when it comes to challenging the often out-of-control profits and irresponsibility of the big corporate mentality. And how to dumb-down the debate! By attacking the issue from a job-threatening perspective (without any corroboration or data to back up the claim) and without having to address the problem the measure attempts to address, the Chamber can walk away without any social or moral responsibility whatsoever. After all, who wants to kill jobs in an economy where not enough people are working? By slapping a phony but effective label on any bill that interferes with corporate America’s free-reign or otherwise places some level of responsibility on their behavior they are able to defeat these important measures with little public outcry. That’s what the designation “job-killer” really means.
Enter Governor Schwarzenegger: Again this year he has complied with the Chamber’s deceptive and dishonest “job killer” claims. He vetoed all 12 of their designated “job-killer” bills. Included among those vetoes were bills that would protect our identity from being stolen, provide fair and reasonable assistance to permanently injured workers, expand health care coverage to more uninsured Californians, and create green building standards for commercial, residential and state government buildings. In total, the Big Business lobby had twelve “job killer” bills they wanted the governor to veto this year and he complied. He vetoed every one of them — a perfect record.
Last year he vetoed 9 out of 11. So if there is anyone who still believes he’s an independent, centrist, this set of vetoes should set them straight. He’s not. His flimsy excuses only serve to confirm that he is in the pockets of those big corporations that supply him with millions of dollars in his campaign coffers annually. Of course, he tends to throw a bone here and there to persuade people of his independence, but when it comes to the corporate interests that pay his bills, he’s clearly their go-to-guy.
As the LA Times article captions it this morning, “Big Business on a hot streak with governor“, there is no doubt that he knows whose interests he protects. The problem is when it comes time for the rest of us to pay up, it’s our health, our privacy and our environment that suffers. Sadly, there is no proof that these measures would truly be job killers or that business can’t easily absorb the “costs” of building green for our planet’s future, or responsibly protect our financial and personal information that we entrust to them everyday or reduce the amount of toxins in the products they produce or chemicals they use. They just don’t want to. And with a governor who complies with their every whim, they’ll never have to. Their mantra: profits over people. For them, this is a victory. Sadly, for the people of California, we lose yet again.