Friday, September 09, 2005

katrina, the economy and wages

Most reports seem to predict little impact on the economy due to Hurricane Katrina. I don't agree, and neither does Steven Pearlstein. Remember, hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth were destroyed, around 400,000 people may have lost their jobs because of the destruction of their employers, and the boost to already-rising energy prices could make this a cold winter.

But the ever-vigilant de facto Bush Administration is doing its bit. Moving boldly to help all Americans and support freedom, liberty, and the American way, Bush announced a "national emergency" in order to suspend the application of a law that governs wages paid for work done under Federal contracts. In other words, the big companies that will end up with contracts to help rebuild the Gulf Coast region will be freed from those terrible, onerous restrictions on wages that might have forced them to pay the princely wage of $9 per hour to their employees.

This is typical. A national disaster is treated as just another chance for the Bushies to drive down wages, hurt unions, and benefit their buddies at Halliburton and elsewhere that will now be able to pay less for reconstruction-related projects. And the Republicans accuse the of Democrats of class warfare when they bleat about income inequality or tax cuts for the rich?

Oh well, at least Michael Brown has been called back to Washington from Louisiana to manage other FEMA responsibilities. Only a few years too late for the people of New Orleans. I sure hope the new volcanoes apparently forming in Oregon don't erupt any time soon...