(This is my latest Huffington Post blog.)
If you want to make a child take foul-tasting medicine, you have to sugarcoat it.
Missouri Republican legislators were given a crash course Tuesday in how to sell voters on the idea that right-to-work is a cureall for everything that is wrong with our economy.
“It’s always about the taxpayers,” one out-of-state expert can be heard saying on a tape of the secret session released later in the week by Progress Missouri.
“You have to include the words that work.” And those words are simple ones, according to the right-to-work consultants from Michigan and California.
One says, “Everyone is hard-working.”
In other words, stress how right-to-work benefits “hard-working taxpayers,” and the voters will beat a path to your door.
Those words will be used not only in advertising to support right-to-work, but also in the phrasing of questions for surveys designed to convince the voters that everyone is in favor of the destruction of unions.
The speakers, including Jared Rodriguez of the Western Michigan Policy Forum, Lew Uhler of the National Tax Limitation Center, and former Missouri State Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, stressed that national money and help is available to push the right-to-work agenda in the Show-Me State, and that campaign contributions for the legislators might dry up if they do not push the agenda hard enough.
At the beginning of the secret session, which was held in the Missouri Capitol Building, the speakers stressed how Missouri was losing jobs, primarily to Kansas, because it is not a right-to-work state. Names were not given, but anecdotal “evidence” was provided about businesses that supposedly have no intention of ever setting up shop in Missouri, for the sole reason that Missouri is not a right-to-work state.
Considering that only a small percentage of Missourians belong to unions, that would seem to be a specious argument at best, but the real agenda of these supposed “worker freedom” advocates is revealed, when one says that perhaps the first target should be “the teacher unions.”
I can’t ever remember a business owner making a decision on whether to move to a state because the teachers belong to a union.
The presence of former Rep. Steve Hunter at the secret session is a clear indication of the problem with how Missouri’s political system works. Hunter was a chief sponsor of right-to-work legislation during his year in the House, but never sponsored a single right-to-work bill until he took a part-time job with the lobbying organization Associated Industries of Missouri.
After being term-limited out of the legislature, Hunter immediately became a lobbyist, with one of his clients being National Right to Work.
On the tape, Hunter can be heard telling the current legislators they can forget about money flowing into their campaigns if they don’t play ball with the right-to-work forces.
In some places, that would be called extortion; in Missouri, the state with no campaign contribution limits, a revolving door between the legislature and lobbying, and a media that is more interested in pontificating about winners and losers instead of doing investigative reporting, it is just business as usual.
And these people, bolstered with money from billionaires who want to shape the U. S. in their own perverted images, are convinced that all they have to do is call us "hard working taxpayers," pat us on the head, and we will roll over and take it.