OF BUFFER ZONES AND IMMIGRANT KIDS

1 abortion protesters

^ the reality of no buffer zones ; perfect strangers getting in the face of women seeking pregnancy counseling

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Much there is in today’s news here in Massachusetts about immigrant children being sent here for ICE detention and of the legislature’s crafting a law to replace the recently struck down Buffer Zone Law.

Both situations present Massachusetts people with basic questions about what kind of a society we are. Being a “values state,” we are well situated to make the right decision. Below, I will write what I think we should do. First, however, a few words about today’s Boston Herald, which screams loud headlines about the busloads of immigrant children being sent to detention at county lock-ups in our state : the gist of Herald immigrant headlines is that “we don;t want these dirty foreigners bringing their diseases into our society.” Yes, to the Hera;ld, immigrants are pests, locusts of a plague, so to speak. And there are voters out there who think the same, or worse, of immigrants driven to refuge with us.

When you actually look past the “plague of locusts” headlines in the Herald, however, what you read is much ado about nothing. The Governor says that it’s an ICE contract with local sheriffs — he’s not involved. The sheriffs want the Feds to pay for the kids they must house. Steve Grossman attacks Charlie Baker for not voicing our state’s concerns in Washington. Charlie Baker berates the Governor for not doing so. Martha Coakley says she isn’t sure of what the ICE is up to.

Yawn…

Meanwhile, the kids await closure. Will they be welcomed into our society to grow up safely and, maybe, prosperously ? Or be sent back to parents who sent them here for safety ?

I see no good resolution to these questions. I see failure on our society’s part, and it hurts me.

Meanwhile, the legislature is hurrying to enact a new abortion clinic law that will provide women seeking pregnancy counseling space within which no stranger can assault, harass, intimidate, or imcede their access. The proposal includes a moving 25-foot protection zone and specified hours during which protesters can protest. The bill also enacts quite severe criminal liability for those who assault, harass, or intimidate women coming to pregnancy clinics.

Will this new proposal succeed where our 35-foot Buffer Zone Law did not ? I think the criminal liability sanctions will be approved, because no free speech rights give speakers any right to assault, harass, or intimidate anyone. The moving 25-foot zone, and the restriction of what times of day protests can take place, may not survive, however. If panhandlers can get in one’s face by way of the First Amendment,and if Jehovah witnesses can ring my doorbell every morning to find out if I know the Bible, why can’t abortion protesters ? I really think there’s no good answer to the intimidation of women seeking abortion counseling than a large police presence at clinics, all day long, to keep the peace. At great expense to taxpayers.

I hope that I am wrong.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE BOSTON HERALD BLOWS IT

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^ Marty Walsh as Boston Building Trades Council Business Manager

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Yesterday in its editorial, the Boston Herald made two endorsements for Mayor: Dan Conley and John Connolly. I have no quarrel with their doing so. They should endorse. What upsets me is their going on to NON-endorse candidate Marty Walsh. That is harsh. Unfair was their reason : that until recently he has been the Boston Building Trades Council Business manager — a Union guy — and thus, said the editorial, not a friend of taxpayers.

This is bogus. Completely bogus.

Union workers pay taxes, don’t they ? They earn a solid paycheck, and thus they pay a lot of taxes. So what’s the Herald talking about ?

In a phrase : the prevailing wage law, commonly known as the Pacheco Law. By the Pacheco Law, workers on jobs pursuant to State-funded construction contracts must be paid the prevailing wage for union construction contracts made with private businesses.

What is so wring with that ? Yes, all taxpayers, not just union workers, pay into the higher hourly wage mandated by the Pacheco Law. Non-union workers would, it is true, cost less. And if that were the whole story, the Herald might have a point.

Except that that IS NOT the whole story. Union workers who earn the prevailing wage do not stuff their extra money into suitcases. They spend it. They enter the discretionary economy — where economic growth most flourishes — to buy discretionary things and thus help tons of businesses to exist, to hire their own workers, and — hopefully — to pay those workers well.

That is how a growth economy works and why a reductionist economy doesn’t. A growth economy isn’t just me and my wallet, you and your bills. A flourishing economy involves all of us who are in it. Money doesn’t stay put in any economy. It moves constantly, into my pocket, out of my pocket; into yours, out of yours; then on to the next and the next and so on. The more money that moves the more freely, the better an economy is for everyone.

To reduce construction workers — to reduce ANY workers, and here I specifically include fast-food workers, who are now seeking $ 15.00 an hour and should have it — to the lowest doable wage is to reduce the economy, to starve it of what it lives by. Is that what we want ? Really ? i think not.

Right now our economy is growing much more slowly than it should because a huge portion of the pay being earned in it is going to CEO’s and hedge fund managers an ever-decreasing amount of said pay is going to everyone else. An economy cannot grow — can hardly exist — if only a tiny few have money to participate in it. Is this not basic Economics 101 ?

Right-wing pundits blame unions for the problems besetting municipal budgets and the slow growth of private-sector jobs. They are wrong. Unions are nothing more than workers banding together to force reluctant employers to grant them fair earnings. Workers earning a collectively bargained income do not crater municipal budgets. That’s the consequence of many other events, the housing bear market especially.

As for employers’ wage policies, not all take a reductionist view. Many employers understand that a well-paid work team is an asset to a business. well paid workers don’t leave the job as quickly; and turnover is a huge — and largely avoidable — cost to businesses beset by it. Well paid workers also suffer less stress; and an unstressed work team is healthier, thus less likely to call out sick, and better motivated. How have these basic economic conditions been so sweepingly un-learned in today’s America ?

That Marty Walsh is a union guy is a good thing. Endorse him, or not, that’s fine. We at Here and Sphere haven’t yet endorsed, and it may not be Walsh whom we end up supporting. But please, do not dis-endorse him because he is and was a business manager for Boston’s Building Trades Council.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NOTE : this article was updated on Sept. 13, 2013 at 11:12 EDT.