Tag Archives: spin

Masson’s Home Run

I always read Masson’s Blog, and always find him insightful, but this morning’s post on the mis-named “Right to Work” proposal is an absolute home run.

In an era that elevates spin over accuracy, naming/framing all too often substitutes for describing. “Right to Work” is a wonderful example–who could be opposed to people’s right to work? It is phrasing that feeds into the American belief in individual rights. And as Doug Masson explains, it is a phrase that has very little relationship to the reality of the legislation.

As Masson writes,

The perniciously named “right to work” is a misnomer. What the law really does is use government authority to prohibit a certain kind of contract. As it stands now, employers and employees have the freedom to enter into a contract whereby one of the conditions of employment is that employees join a union or, at least, pay some equivalent of union dues so they are not tempted to be free riders, receiving union benefits without paying for them. So, it’s a contractual provision that is currently permitted but not required. “Right to work” is a limitation on this freedom to contract. The General Assembly tells employers that they are not permitted to make union membership a condition of employment.

This is typically dressed up as championing the rights of future employees who might not want to join a union as a condition of employment; but the oddity is that typically the advocates of this restriction on contracts are, in other contexts, champions of absolute freedom to contract and could rarely care less what a potential employee thinks about the conditions of employment set by an employer. (Don’t like that condition of employment? Fine, go work somewhere else.) But, when union membership comes up, horrors! Conditions that are pro-union or anti-gun are off the table, but pretty much anything else goes.”

Home run!

This post should be distributed far and wide.

Update: Keystone Kops, Spin Edition

Apparently, once the Mayor’s office recognized their problem–granting income tax credits to organizations that don’t pay such taxes-they scrambled to “explain” what they “really meant” –although the language of the press release was hard to spin. What they “really meant” was an incomprehensible (and if I understand what they are now saying, which I certainly may not) legally improbable credit to be extended to the EMPLOYEES of these tax-exempt organizations. The credit to the employees would encourage existing organizations to move to Indianapolis and somehow help these organizations improve education. To be charitable, this is nuts. An established organization is highly unlikely to pick up and move its operations and employees to Indianapolis in return for a promise that its employees will get a tax credit.

More disturbing than this desperate effort to spin what was an obvious gaffe, however, was the non-coverage of the issue by the Star. The paper simply printed the plan-as subsequently ‘spun’–pretty much without comment. Rather than fact-checking the assertions, or noting the discrepancies, it simply reported that there were two competing plans, Ballard’s and Kennedy’s, and the basic outlines of each, with no context, no analysis, and seemingly no recognition of issues raised by either plan.

Maybe the paper should have kept a couple of those senior reporters they laid off.