I get a lot of hell from my friends—even the crazy, gun-toting ones—about my respect for Adam Kokesh’s message. Kokesh is running for Congress in New Mexico’s 3rd District, looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján. Kokesh has about an Afghan’s chance in Guantanamo of actually winning—and his Libertarian sensibilities (even though he’s vexingly running as a Republican) likely wouldn’t make much progress in Congress—but he brings a decent message to the race.
I mean, what’s not to like about a guy who wants to quit dicking around and unconditionally withdraw US troops from two wars that were unjustified to begin with? What’s not to like about a guy with the classic Libertarian stance of “you can do what you want as long as you don’t pee on me”? After all, a mind-set like that doesn’t end up with tangled compromises like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or get mired in pointless wars on drugs or attempts to legislate morality, something with which our nation is still obsessed despite the obvious evidence that it’s a useless waste of energy and resources.
But there are definitely some areas of government in which I’d end up siding with Luján, the primary being those in support of human services. If you ask Google “what is the purpose of government?” the only search query that handily tops it is “what is the purpose of life?” In other words, people have become almost as confused about our system of elected bobbleheads as they are about the very nature of existence.
If there is any point at all to government, I’m going to say it’s to help people. So it’s strange that when the situation is tough, people stand by with little fuss while the government helps out wealthy corporations, but raise their arms in resistance against funding that just plain helps people.
On the way to get a cup of coffee down the street from the SFR office last week, when temperatures had suddenly dropped, I overheard a homeless dude say, “Man, I am going to freeze tonight.” That’s a situation that’s more pressingly real than any bank bailout in history. And yet we persist in ignoring reality and placing our faith in abstract notions (Dow Jones, anyone?) and fairy tale endings.
The idea that the New Mexico Legislature is going to solve its budget problems in an intelligent way isn’t the only fairy tale in the state right now. A recent report from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, titled “Should You Move? Salary Growth Across the Country,” cited Santa Fe as No. 11 in the nation for positive salary increases, with a 14.5 percent increase between 2008 and 2009.
The notion that people might move to Santa Fe to make more money would be funny, of course, if it weren’t so painful. The City Different’s Kiplinger’s prestige is obviously related in part to the Living Wage Ordinance, although no such thing is acknowledged by the report. It’s a tiny bit of unreal idiocy fabricated by the national mainstream media. Or, in other words, par for the course.
Meanwhile, living wage defenders are up in arms lately because Santa Fe mayoral candidate Asenath Kepler stated, at an Oct. 22 town hall, “the jury was still out” on the law’s effectiveness. In response to a request from SFR for clarification on her position, Kepler stated she has no opposition to the living wage, but she thinks it should be judged on the results of sound economic reports, and that there are no current reports. Also, she forwarded an Albuquerque Journal article that notes Santa Fe’s unemployment has nearly doubled since this time last year. Not that such an action implies a position, mind you.
I’ll tell you what. It’s time for people to quit picking on Santa Fe’s Living Wage Ordinance. It’s a decent, genuine thing that this city has managed to do in the face of ever-growing corporate greed. For every business owner I’ve met, heard about or read about who claims to have been somehow crippled by the living wage, I know half a dozen who are doing just fine. Of course most of those businesses would be paying a living wage even without an ordinance (hmm, maybe it could work the Kokesh way?). When one person fails and cites the Living Wage Ordinance while many others thrive under the same conditions, my guess is that living wage isn’t the actual problem with the failed business.
When times are tough, you don’t tell someone making the minimum that they’re making too much. You don’t tell someone they can’t have health care. You don’t tell someone the government services they’ve been relying on are going to disappear because some nebulous something is “too big to fail.”
Here’s how you can tell the truth: No one who is against the living wage would ever agree to work for a rate as low as the living wage. They’ll say it’s economics. But we can go ahead and call it hypocrisy.