Patterico's Pontifications

8/21/2020

AB 5 Sponsor Makes Tone Deaf Comment About Californians And Evictions

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:24 pm



[guest post by Dana & JVW]

Treading on JVW’s turf, given the excellent coverage of California politics he provides readers, but I’m jumping in anyway. [Note from JVW: Dana invited me to help finish this post, so I have made some very minor contributions here and there.]

You may recall that back in December, we were reminded of California’s propensity toward passing laws that result in unintended and disastrous consequences for state residents. Specifically, Assembly Bill 5, sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez out of San Diego. In part:

None of this should be surprising to anyone who has the faintest clue as to how the economy works, which of course rules out virtually all legislative Democrats in this state. Assembly Bill 5, shepherded through that body by former labor organizer Lorena Gonzales of San Diego, was controversial from the very beginning. Supporters, namely organized labor and other left-wing groups, insisted that it would prevent workers from being exploited by wealthy tech companies like Uber and Lyft who use independent contractors in order to avoid having to pay benefits such as health and retirement. The companies for their part insisted that it would force them to either limit the hours contractors are allowed to work or else turn them into full employees thus eliminating the ability of workers to schedule their own hours and determine their own flexible workday, which is one of the major benefits of the gig economy.

About AB 5, briefly:

Doctors, real estate agents and hairdressers can keep their independent contractor status. But not truckers, commercial janitors, nail salon workers, physical therapists and — significantly — gig economy workers, who will gain the rights and benefits of employees in California under sweeping workplace legislation passed Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed to signing the bill, which cleared the Assembly 56-15 in a challenge both to the longstanding trend toward outsourcing labor and to the business model of companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, who have threatened a $90 million fight at the ballot box.

Once signed, AB 5 would upend longstanding employment practices that have seeped into the Democratic presidential debate about how workers should be treated, particularly in today’s gig economy.

“With one clear test across our state labor laws, we will raise the standards for millions of workers and ensure they gain access to critical rights and benefits,” said Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, who presented the bill in the Senate on Tuesday night. “We can make California the global leader in protections for gig workers, janitors, construction workers and so many working people who can’t even pay their rent.”

This month, California released a new report revealing that unemployment benefits during pandemic are nearing $60 billion in the Golden State:

Unemployment benefits for out-of-work Californians since this historic pandemic began now total $59.8 billion to support families and communities struggling during this economic crisis. Over the same timeframe, the Employment Development Department (EDD) has processed more than 9.7 million claims for benefits between the regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, extensions, and separate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Just last week, the EDD paid an average of $792 million a day in unemployment benefits. That amount is a 1,033% increase over the $70 million in average daily benefits paid during a similar week at the height of the Great Recession (week ending July 31, 2010).

In the run-up to this Friday deadline, Assemblywoman Gonzalez had been tweeting about the righteousness of the legislation and the malevolence of the ride share companies, but she first set her twitter account so that the dirty unwashed public was not able to comment, only people whose account she follows. It’s a neat little feature Twitter rolled out so that intellectually lazy journalists and Hollywood nincompoops don’t have to be confronted with their flabby arguments. When challenged on her attempt to stifle dissent, she unsurprisingly went into full victim mode and sent out a typically tone-deaf message:

This lawmaker doesn’t has the slightest clue about how much negative impact AB 5 has had on the working people of Californians, and how it has played a part in Californians losing their jobs, and even lead to them facing eviction. Let’s take a look at a few personal stories about AB 5 has adversely impacted residents of the state:

Actors
David Nassau: I’m an actor and songwriter. I’m also a freelance translator/interpreter in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German. To say AB5 is a recipe for economic collapse is an understatement. Since the suicidal law went into effect , I’ve applied for 160 jobs and got about 10 interviews. Finding a job, let alone holding on to one, is not a trivial feat. My freelance gigs provided me the chance to get practical experience. Now to stay on, I have to fill out a TON of paperwork. That includes a city license, proof that I own a business or LLC, a W-2 form, a business card, a Website or LinkedIn page and Proof of advertising. All that just to keep doing what I love? It’s bad enough that at least 1 million Californians are thrown out of work, but what makes it worse: Nobody will want to hire ANYONE from California because of AB5. If this is not repealed, I may have to move out. I fear living on the streets. Bottom line: This law is a recipe for economic and social collapse. It shall make the homeless crisis even worse. It’ll cause people of all economic strata to leave the state. Business will close up shop. The amount of paperwork makes this law environmentally unfriendly. It’ll cause diseases of all kinds to spread because of a shortage of nurses. Farms will cut production or fold completely. Artists will think twice before performing in the Golden State.

Environmental Engineers
Cynthia Gabaldon: Environmental inspectors, building inspectors, draftsman, technicians. If you get a chance please let these elected know there are many more people really affected. I know of many building, environmental and other types of inspectors. We move from building to building…working for multiple companies at the same time. There are also many who are retired but work a day here or there. Lastly, what about those who do this just occasionally…for extra money. All building inspectors were told to either join a company before 1.1.20 or they wouldn’t have a job. When we work for one company that means we can’t work full time. We are not allowed the flexibility to fill in our time so we can have a full week. Please reach out concerning all workers affected by this terrible legislation.

Family Caregivers
Elizabeth M. Adger: AB5 is why I had to pack up my very ill husband with stage 4 cancer and autistic son and leave the state. There is no way I can take care of our family and work a “traditional” type job I have always worked for myself and paid my taxes. I was terrified of becoming homeless.

Forensic Nurses
Anonymous: There are many forensic RNs who work on a 1099 basis for private nursing companies and hospitals providing sexual assault forensic medical evidentiary examinations. All of this work is at risk due to AB5. Patients who have been sexually assaulted will suffer long wait times and may receive substandard forensic medical exams if provided by untrained medical personnel in an emergency department. It is not feasible for many hospitals to have a forensic nurse on duty 24/7 so they contract with us to come in when needed. We are paid per exam, and receive a 1099. The forensic nurses are free to sign up for work around their other jobs or family commitments. We also have patients who were assaulted in skilled nursing and adult care group homes. We have worked very hard to increase the number of forensic nurses in California. I also do consulting and training on best practices for forensic nursing. Vicarious trauma among forensic nurses is a huge issue in this work.”

Nurse Practitioners
Taqialdeen Zamil: This is frustrating. I lost my side job today, because of AB5.
I work as a nurse practitioner and the nature of our work in the private sector and small clinics makes it impossible to be an employee. You get paid a percentage of the revenue you generate and you pay for your malpractice insurance, benefits, and other expenses.
This law is killing our opportunity of making a living in California.

Cartoonists
Kira Davis: I’m an editor and was set to hire a new cartoonist for our national blog. She got a letter from the parent company at the beginning of December welcoming her to the team. 12/31 she got a letter from our NY-based parent company that she can no longer be hired as she is in California, and AB5 makes doing business with contractors here too dangerous. Bye bye job. Some people have theories and legal opinions about this bill. Some of us have real life experiences. Guess who’s is worth more?

And on and on it goes.

It’s as if Gonzalez has no understanding of the unintended consequences that have devastated any number of Californians. Even as we endure lockdowns, quarantines, and the closure of businesses. Does she not understand that Californians are being evicted, in part, because of the effects of her bill? Which is easier to believe: that Lorena Gonzalez is so completely ignorant of market economics that she is unable to draw a line between cause and effect, or that she knows what she has done, but her fealty to union bosses make hundreds of thousands of California workers merely collateral damage?

A threat by both Uber and Lyft to cease operations in California at midnight yesterday was averted when, as often happens in these matters, the courts intervened and gave everyone a few more months to figure it all out. Next up is a court hearing scheduled for October 13, then comes election day in which Californians will consider a ballot initiative sponsored by the ride share companies that would void AB 5 from existence. Should that fail, the companies will have a short window of time to negotiate with the legislature and governor before the court renders its decision. Or, this all goes to the Supreme Court and we get to see how Chief Justice Roberts feels about it on that given day.

Innovative and disruptive businesses should think twice about setting up shop in one-party California in this day and age.

– Dana & JVW

12/17/2019

California Progressives Once Again Butt Up Against the Law of Unintended Consequences

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:05 pm



[guest post by JVW]

This past fall the California Assembly, at the behest of their union overlords, threw a haymaker punch at Uber and Lyft but instead have knocked down Vox Media:

Hundreds of freelance writers at Vox Media, primarily those covering sports for the SB Nation site, will lose their jobs in the coming months as the company prepares for a California law to go into effect that will force companies to reclassify contractors in the state as employees.

“This is a bittersweet note of thanks to our California independent contractors,” John Ness, executive director of SB Nation, wrote in a post on Monday. “In 2020, we will move California’s team blogs from our established system with hundreds of contractors to a new one run by a team of new SB Nation employees.”

In a separate memo seen by CNBC, Ness said that California contractors can apply for a full-time or part-time position in California. Contractors who wish to continue contributing can do so but “need to understand they will not be paid for future contributions,” he said. [. . .]

Imagine that. Perhaps you as a Californian were quite happy serving as an editor and regular contributor of posts to a SB Nation blog such as Bruins Nation or California Golden Blogs. Virtually all of the people who contribute to and maintain those blogs are alumni/ae of that university, and though they did receive some renumeration from SB Nation for their efforts, from what I am told it is certainly not enough to provide a livable income and pretty much everyone involved in the various fan blogs has some other full-time job or a series of other part-time gigs (disclaimer: I know an editor at one of the SB Nation blogs, but I haven’t discussed the ramifications of this legislation with him yet). Because SB Nation does not want to be in the position of figuring out whether drafting and posting content, moderating and engaging with comments, and general site maintenance pushes the contributor over the threshold where they are now required to be treated as full-time employees, they have decided to put the blogs under the management of SB Nation inside staff. Though they do apparently intend to hire some full-time content providers and site administrators, the blogs are also beginning to ask for unpaid volunteers to provide content going forward.

None of this should be surprising to anyone who has the faintest clue as to how the economy works, which of course rules out virtually all legislative Democrats in this state. Assembly Bill 5, shepherded through that body by former labor organizer Lorena Gonzales of San Diego, was controversial from the very beginning. Supporters, namely organized labor and other left-wing groups, insisted that it would prevent workers from being exploited by wealthy tech companies like Uber and Lyft who use independent contractors in order to avoid having to pay benefits such as health and retirement. The companies for their part insisted that it would force them to either limit the hours contractors are allowed to work or else turn them into full employees thus eliminating the ability of workers to schedule their own hours and determine their own flexible workday, which is one of the major benefits of the gig economy.

It will probably not come as a surprise to anyone that Vox, who went through their own downsizing woes a couple of years ago, generally supported AB 5 and the attempt to rein-in this example of unfettered capitalism, and that some wags are already rubbing it in their faces:

Mackowiak Tweet

This battle next moves to the ballot box where the tech companies have pledged to spend as much as $90 million to qualify and promote a ballot initiative to undo the legislation. This also pits social justice-obsessed Silicon Valley against California Democrats, which just may cause some of the loudest and dumbest voices from the tech world to reevaluate their alliances. And though there is scuttlebutt that the movers-and-shakers of the tech sector will freeze out Elizabeth Warren and Bernard Sanders should either one be the Democrats’ nominee in next fall’s election, it would seem that the rank-and-file workers of these digital behemoths are quite fine with the trust-busting and wealth-confiscation that both Lieawatha and the warmed-over Marxist espouse. Maybe someday soon we will look back and say that 2019 was the last gap of the Age of the Triumphant Nerd Mogul.

– JVW

7/30/2021

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:13 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Hello, weekend! I hope you all have something fun to look forward to this weekend. Here are a few news items to chew over. Feel free to post anything you think would interest readers. Please make sure to include links.

First news item

Weighing in on the vaccinated to mask up:

Yes, if you’ve been vaccinated, you can still die from COVID-19, but the odds are infinitesimally small…But the CDC isn’t recommending mask-wearing to protect the vaccinated. It claims, without providing supporting data, that the vaccinated need to wear masks to protect the unvaccinated from the new delta variant.

Let’s assume the CDC actually has the data to support its policy. There are three primary arguments to require the vaccinated to mask up.

First, we need to protect unvaccinated adults, who account for nearly all COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations. There would be a good case for this if vaccines weren’t readily available. But they are. At this point, if you choose not to get vaccinated (without a medical excuse), I think that’s profoundly foolish, but that’s your choice.

Second, there’s the matter of children under 12 who still can’t get the vaccine. My heart aches for any child who dies from COVID-19—or anything else. Fortunately, the death rate for children is statistically miniscule. According to the CDC, of the more than 600,000 deaths from COVID-19, only 335 have been kids under 18 (and it’s unclear how many of them had significant additional health issues). According to the CDC, roughly twice as many kids die in car accidents every year. We don’t ban kids from cars.

The third argument, usually only hinted at, is that we need to keep COVID-19 from mutating into an even more dangerous variant that can defeat vaccines. This is a real concern. But masking and even lockdowns won’t prevent that. As best we can tell, the delta variant came from India. We could require Americans to wear masks and even get vaccinated, but that wouldn’t stop the virus from mutating somewhere else. And unless we want to ban global travel indefinitely, or until we vaccinate much of the planet (which we should do), we have to live with that possibility.

Meanwhile, there are real costs to backsliding back into masking and, heaven forbid, school closures, lockdowns, etc.—which some people are already agitating for. This stuff is terrible for kids, infuriating for adults, and (rational or not) profoundly disruptive of social peace and trust. The chief incentive for getting vaccinated—after protecting yourself and your loved ones—is the promise of getting back to normal.

Second news item

Totally unsurprising he said this:

Former President Donald Trump pressured acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to declare that the election was corrupt in an attempt to help Republican members of Congress try to overturn the election result, according to notes of a December 2020 call Trump held with Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue.

During the December 27, 2020, call, Trump pressured Rosen and Donoghue to falsely declare the election “illegal” and “corrupt” even after the Justice Department had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud.

“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” Trump said on the call, according to Donoghue’s notes.

Third news item

That was then, this is now:

The long-expected gubernatorial recall election in California is set for Sept. 14, and 46 candidates (not including the governor himself, Democrat Gavin Newsom) have officially qualified to run. But perhaps the most intriguing development in the race has come in recent polling. After the recall looked uncompetitive for months, evidence has emerged that the race is tightening.

Until last week, there had been no new polls of the recall election in about a month. But since then, we’ve gotten two — and both showed Newsom in danger of being recalled. First, an Emerson College/Nexstar Media survey found that 48 percent of registered voters in California wanted to keep Newsom in office, while 43 percent wanted to recall him. Then, a poll from the University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Governmental Studies co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found that 50 percent of likely recall voters wanted to keep Newsom and 47 percent wanted to oust him. These fresh polls — both within the margin of error — differed markedly from a handful of surveys released in May and June that found the recall effort trailing by at least 10 percentage points.

Who casts a ballot in this unusually timed election could be pivotal. The UC Berkeley IGS/Los Angeles Times poll underscored why: Among registered voters, Republicans were far more likely to say they’d vote than Democrats or independents. Eighty percent of Republican registered voters said they were absolutely certain to vote, compared with only 55 percent of Democrats and about half of independents. As such, likely voters were opposed to removing Newsom by only 3 points, while the spread was much wider among all registered voters — 51 percent were opposed to removing him compared with just 36 percent in favor (in line with the pollster’s findings in early May and late January). In fact, Republicans’ enthusiasm for this race is so high that they make up roughly one-third of the survey’s likely electorate, even though they constitute only about one-quarter of California’s registered voters.

Fourth news item

Tragic: “I should’ve gotten the damn vaccine”:

Two weeks ago, life was great for Jessica DuPreez. She was on vacation in San Diego with her fiancé Michael Freedy, (better known as Big Mike at the M Resort where he worked), and their five kids ages 17, 10, 7, 6 and 17 months.

Shortly after their vacation, Freedy went to the hospital for what he thought was a severe sunburn. He tested positive for COVID-19.

Thursday morning, Freedy died with DuPreez by his side…

Freedy was not vaccinated for COVID-19.

“We wanted to wait just one year from the release to see what effects people had, but there was never any intention to not get it,” DuPreez said. That is a decision she said she will always regret and has now gotten the shot along with their oldest child.

Freedy sent her a text message while in the hospital it said, ““I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”

Fifth news item

Vile:

Sixth news item

A complete disaster:

President Joe Biden had just announced plans to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan in April when, during a classified briefing with top national security officials on Capitol Hill, one lawmaker stood up and asked a pointed question.

What was the Biden administration’s plan to evacuate the thousands of Afghan nationals who aided the U.S. war effort, and expedite their visas?

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin didn’t have an answer. “We’ll get back to you on that,” Austin said, according to two people in the room and a defense official familiar with the interaction.

Austin’s response shocked them — and it foreshadowed what many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, now see as a failure by the Biden administration to sufficiently prepare for the avalanche of visa applications and the need to quickly evacuate those Afghans from the country as the Taliban make steady territorial gains.

“It’s my view that the evacuations should have started right after the announcement of our withdrawal. That evacuation started too late,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, said in an interview. “But it started. And I appreciate the fact that it’s going, and that they’re doing it aggressively now.”

Related:

The White House has finally agreed our allies must be evacuated and it has a plan to evacuate those who can make it to Kabul. Sadly, it is not enough. The Association of Wartime Allies recently polled the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa population. Nearly 49% are outside Kabul — a population of approximately 34,000 people. Unless we go save them, they will die within weeks…The Taliban claims to control 85% of the country and is fighting to take the cities it does not yet control…An Association of Wartime Allies survey estimates that 3,200 Afghan allies are currently trapped in Kandahar.

The Taliban has a presence on Afghanistan’s roads and have created checkpoints for vehicles. They have used biometric data at these checkpoints to identify US allies and administer their death sentences on the side of the road. Hundreds have already suffered this fate, according to No One Left Behind.

Commercial air travel is scarce between Afghan cities, and most of our allies cannot afford the ticket. The Afghan military cannot defend or move these people. Only US troops can do it. Now, we have two options before us. Either we accept the mass murder of people we made a promise to save or we take bold action. I argue we must do the latter.

The President should order the 82nd Airborne Division or the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force back into Afghanistan. We should retake airfields we held mere months ago. Some remain in Afghan military control, others we will likely have to seize from the Taliban by force. From these air bases, we should begin the evacuation of our Afghan wartime allies that should have properly occurred before we withdrew any of our own forces.

Seventh news item

Read this first. I had planned to write about Simone Biles pulling out of the Olympics but didn’t get around to it. And I’m so glad I didn’t because David French has written a very insightful piece about the decision that Biles made (behind paywall):

Every now and then you can read a sentence or two of prose that can change your life. I’ve had that experience more than once reading C.S. Lewis, but these words, from The Screwtape Letters, have stood out to many as much as anything he’s ever written. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues,” wrote Lewis, “but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”

Until I read those words, I’d had a more cramped view of the term. There was physical courage, the willingness to risk your body in the face of mortal danger. And there was moral courage, which usually manifested itself in the willingness to accept, say, career or reputational risks to make a righteous stand. But to Lewis, courage is essentially tied to every virtue, to the point where we don’t even know if we possess the virtue until it’s tested.

So a great gymnast (the greatest in world history) who has “played hurt” many times before is persevering in the face of historic abuse and an ongoing scandal, and she’s still participating in a system that (despite recent reforms) has engaged in the systematic exploitation of young girls. In those circumstances, she faced a potentially catastrophically-dangerous crisis that not only profoundly risked her health, it also risked the success of her national team.

What is the virtue in play here? Prudence is one. A sport is not worth your life. It’s not worth your spine. Thus the comparisons to, say, basketball players who “freeze up” and brick three after three are off-base. If LeBron James has a bad game, he’s not risking paralysis with every shot. Moreover, the desire to demonstrate your toughness is not worth the harm to your squad.

Thus, the right-wing critics who piled on again and again and again and again and again decrying Biles’s alleged lack of toughness weren’t so much calling for courage but for recklessness. In spite of all of the factors above, they wanted her to walk out to the mat, fly through the air, and let the chips fall where they may.

The virtue in play was prudence. The vice was recklessness. So when Biles committed to prudence at a testing point more dramatic and high-profile than any of us will likely experience in a thousand lifetimes, she demonstrated exactly the kind of courage that C.S. Lewis so powerfully defined.

Eighth news item

White House slams Delta variant messaging:

The White House is frustrated with what it views as alarmist, and in some instances flat-out misleading, news coverage about the Delta variant. That’s according to two senior Biden administration officials I spoke with Friday, both of whom requested anonymity to candidly offer their opinion on coverage of the CDC data released that suggests vaccinated Americans who become infected with the Delta coronavirus variant can infect others as easily as those who are unvaccinated.

At the heart of the matter is the news media’s focus on breakthrough infections, which the CDC has said are rare. In some instances, poorly framed headlines and cable news chyrons wrongly suggested that vaccinated Americans are just as likely to spread the disease as unvaccinated Americans. But that isn’t quite the case. Vaccinated Americans still have a far lower chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus and, thus, they are responsible for far less spread of the disease.

“The media’s coverage doesn’t match the moment,” one of the Biden officials told me. “It has been hyperbolic and frankly irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy. The biggest problem we have is unvaccinated people getting and spreading the virus.”

As the Biden officials explained to me, the administration is worried that the media’s focus on these instances of breakthrough infections might lead to people being more hesitant to get a vaccine…

MISCELLANEOUS

I have been trying to locate a specific artist whose work always intrigues me and which I wanted to share here but was simply unable to remember the artist’s name. Finally, after umpteen google searches, I messaged an old friend who is an art professor and asked him. He was quick with the name I was looking for: Robert Longo. I first saw large prints of Longo’s work hanging on the walls of a beautifully appointed study in a restored 120-year old home. The prints made for striking focal points in the elegant, neo-classically designed room filled with overstuffed bookcases and antiques:

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Have a great weekend.

–Dana


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