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The Daily Debate - 7/29/2013

By Robert Tracinski

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July 29, 2013

1. We Found Out What's In It

2. Jim Crow Re-Enactors

3. Dispatches

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1. We Found Out What's In It

Per Nancy Pelosi, we had to pass ObamaCare so we could find out what's in it. Well, they passed it, and three years later we can finally say definitively what is in it: a ban on full-time employment for low-income workers.

Not a formal ban, to be sure. But the employer mandate—which has only been delayed, not removed—functions as a tax imposed on employers for hiring anyone to work more than 29 hours a week.

On high-income workers, this tax is negligible. If you are worth $200,000 a year to your employer, chances are he already provides you with generous health benefits, and if new regulations in ObamaCare add a few thousand dollars to the cost, it is only one or two percentage points of your salary. It is easy for you or your employers to absorb.

Who this really hits is the low-income worker in a low-productivity job. If you're working the Fryolator at the local fast food joint and your job is only worth $20,000 a year to your employer, and then ObamaCare imposes an additional cost of $2,000 or more, the increase in payroll is simply unsustainable. Your employer either has to lay you off or cut you down to 29 hours a week to keep you from being counted as "full time."

Hence the announcement that Trig's, a Wisconsin supermarket chain, has cut the hours of hundreds of its part-time workers in order to avoid being run out of business by ObamaCare.

White Castle has announced that all new workers it hires will be part time, under the 29-hour a week limit. And: "A recent survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that half of the small businesses responding said they will reduce hours or add more part-timers in response to the law."

Another restaurant chain franchisee describes how he got out of the business rather than deal with the new costs.

The brutality of this policy is hard to overstate. Low-wage workers are the ones who are in greatest need of full-time employment, since they are already barely making enough to get by. And such a big incentive against full-time employment is clearly a huge blow to upward mobility for the poor. For those starting at the bottom, the very first step up the economic ladder is to go from part-time employee to full-time employee. ObamaCare has just cut off that rung.

And here's the kicker: even the people who are implementing ObamaCare are responding to its incentives against full-time work. When California's state government started up a call center to answer the public's questions about the implementation of ObamaCare, it turned out that half of the jobs would be part time and would not offer health insurance.

"'What's really ironic is working for a call center and trying to help people get health care, but we can't afford it ourselves,' said the worker, who asked for anonymity out of fear of losing the job."

Oh, there are many levels of irony in that report from the heartless, dog-eat-dog world of government-run health insurance.

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2. Jim Crow Re-Enactors

I observed recently that President Obama came into office on the implicit promise of healing America's leftover racial divide—and instead, we find ourselves refighting the battles of the Jim Crow era, such as federal supervision of voting in Southern states.

But I also observed that the Democrats have a strategy of relying on a rising population of minority voters to continue voting lock-step with the left, "a strategy that consists of playing the race card from now until the end of time."

We can combine those observations by concluding that the left is compelled—out of its own political and electoral self-interest—to keep the memory of American racism active as "living history." If Southern whites have their Civil War re-enactments, Northern white liberals have developed a new hobby of Jim Crow re-enactments.

The fictional, theatrical character of this movement is captured in Kyle Smith's fact-check of the new film Fruitvale Station, about the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer, which has been adopted as a Hollywood cause because of its apparent echoes of the Trayvon Martin case.

But Smith points out that the film omits details of the victim's life to make him look like a harmless innocent instead of a low-level criminal—and it entirely avoids the details of the shooting because they don't fit the narrative.

"Mehserle's defense was that he thought he was reaching for his Taser instead of his pistol, a claim that is presented as faintly absurd in the closing titles of the film. But in reality one of Grant's friends in Fruitvale Station, Jackie Bryson, said he heard Mehserle say he was going to use his Taser on Grant 'a couple of seconds' before he did so. Mehserle stepped back (a move consistent with operating a Taser) and after firing the fatal pistol shot immediately displayed a look of anguish and horror, many witnesses said."

This would make it a case of negligence rather than racial malice.

But that misses the point. To a have a Jim Crow re-enactment, we need people to fill the roles of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers. So Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin will have to do. Then we must have the outraged reaction from blacks, and mugging attacks on white and Hispanic victims—it's not clear whether the latter was a "white Hispanic"—stand in as very small-scale race riots. A re-enactment, after all, is never as fearsome and impressive as the original.

There is one difference, I suppose, between the Civil War re-enactments and the Jim Crow re-enactments. The participants in Civil War events generally aren't under any illusion that the causes behind the war are still live issues. That's why these re-enactments are largely a post-Civil Rights era phenomenon: we can safely re-enact the Civil War because the outcome has been definitively settled, now that the losing side has finally accepted that it lost.

Perhaps we need a little more time, as Jim Crow fades from 50 years in the past closer to 150 years, so that the winning side can finally accept that it won.

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3. Dispatches

Christopher Matthews and Dylan Matthews seriously contemplate the case for making insider trading legal.

"Green building" certification is a scam: "What LEED designers deliver is what most LEED building owners want—namely, green publicity, not energy savings."

We've finally reached the point where no contradiction is too brazen: say hello to "nonhuman personhood."

No excessive patriotism will be allowed at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Bill and Hillary Clinton are "livid" at any comparison between them and that other troubled couple, Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. Methinks they doth protest too much.

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—Robert Tracinski

The Daily Debate

edited by Robert Tracinski

Brought to you by RealClearPolitics.

Robert Tracinski is also editor of The Tracinski Letter.

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