Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Scoundrel Time

Andrew Kujan is moving beyond Maureen Dowd territory and steadily approaching Lillian Hellman status. Writer Mary McCarthy once said of Stalinist playwright Lillian Hellman, who defended the Moscow Trials, "every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'."

Earlier I took Kujan to task for twisting out of context, the words of Maryland Stadium Authority Board Member Dennis Mather as quoted by the Baltimore Sun. This is just the latest example of this nasty habit . Kujan’s response to me reveals the habit is just getting worse.

Kujan’s response:
“Seeing as the MSA operates Camden Yards, and Mr. Mather sits on the MSA, he would be directly involved in creating the new contract for the living wage workers. Therefore, when he says these workers might be fired, his words certainly carry some weight, as he can influence whether or not this happens. The $4.30 hr raise, effectively referred to here as "a break" for the workers in question, is what Mr. Mather voted NO on. Forgive me for wildly peicing [sic] together that he doesn't want to give stadium workers a break.”

First, Kujan is dead wrong about Mather being directly involved in which workers are fired. He isn’t. The contractor, Knight Facilities Management Inc., as the Sun article specifically states, “hires the crews” not the MSA. The Sept. 6 vote stipulated that whatever else is in the new contract with Knight, they will have to pay the living wage to the workers they higher. The mandated living wage increase will negatively affect the number of people Knight can hire. This also reveals the typical progressive prejudice behind Kujan’s flawed logic. Mather based his position on the economic reality that higher costs will force Knight to higher fewer workers, but Kujan refuses to acknowledge that. No there must be some other sinister motive. Ah yes that’s it! Mather works for a conservative think tank therefore he must be against giving stadium workers “a break”.

Kujan willfully dismisses our larger economic argument in favor of the cheap shot at a conservative, which proves another point I made here. The reason Mather says these people may lose their jobs is that the mandated increase in wages for part-time workers leads to more people seeking a smaller number of positions putting some of the people the living wage purportedly helps, out of job. This is pure economic fact, as my colleague Brian Gill pointed out “If the stadium owners are forced to pay the cleaners more, they will not have as much money and cannot hire the same number of cleaners. Mandated wage increases causes unemployment, it's as simple as that.”

Mather voted against mandating the living wage because he understood that salient fact. Here are his exact words “My concern is that the people we are trying to protect may not have a job…Often, when we pass laws, we intend to do one thing and something else happens.” As in some of the stadium-cleaners won’t have jobs due to the living wage increase.

Kujan at some basic level understands this, and the fact that Mather’s position is based on sound economic principle and (gasp) genuine concern for stadium workers who will lose their jobs. However, Kujan is not interested in engaging that argument. He would rather vilify Mather as not caring about low-wage workers instead. Why let the hard work of actually making an argument get in the way of smearing someone you disagree with.


Brian Gill said...

Thanks for the shout out, and as usual you are on point. I am working on compiling a quite detailed minimum wage post, so that if Mr. Kujan will ever understand the economics of a minimum wage, he will after seeing that info.

Mark Newgent said...


It not that he doesn't understand economics, I beleive that he does at some basic level. He simply rejects the argument outright because it does not square with his pet political agendas. Its like rejecting that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. His agenda lies elswhere. All he cares about is the cheap shot bumper sticker argument.

Bruce Godfrey said...

The more general point to remember is that this is not a true minimum wage in the sense of a mandatory wage floor economy-wide. The State is the customer here; Knight is merely a vendor. While there may be prudential or consequentialist reasons to oppose a mandatory rate hike (as mentioned here), the damage here is at worst micro, not macro.

Put it another way. Let's say that the State made the same policy but for different reasons. Let's say that it did not want "minimum wage humps" working its stadium for image or marketing purposes, rather than for perhaps misguided policy reasons. The ultimate effect should be no different.

The very fact that we are discussing a state-funded stadium operating funded largely by profits from a state-mandated gambling monopoly means we are long past any semblance of free-market economics in the first place.

Mark Newgent said...

Bruce, you make a good point. However the main objective of the post was to use the economic argument to show that Kujan was attributing thoughts and positions to Mr. Mather that simply are not true.

Although govt. financed stadiums and operations is form of rent seeking from pro-sports owners I can understand why its done. What politician wants to be the one who let their constituents beloved team leave for greener pastures.
Although, here in Baltimore, Irsay is still the big villain and Schaffer and the council are let off the hook. Same with Model in Ceveland.

Fortunately, for me Jack Kent Cooke financed and built his own stadium, crappy as it is. So I can root for the Redskins without feeling hypocritical.
Although I'm sure Brian Griffiths will find a way to make me.