Alice Ollstein at Think Progress reported that just in time for Christmas, Newly Elected Governor Strips 140,000 of Voting Rights, Lowers the Minimum Wage. Yes, everyone’s favorite red state governor Matt Bevin decided to reverse the executive actions of the previous governor, Steve Beshear, that allowed non-violent ex-felons to vote and government workers to have something approaching a living wage. Merry Christmas!
Of course, Matt Bevin doesn’t want to disenfranchise all these men and women. He said that “it is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people.” And you should believe it to the extent that you believe a pathological liar. Politicians never claim to be against any popular legislation that they overturn or otherwise sabotage. It is always something along the lines of, “I would love to support this legislation, there is just this one problem…” And if that one problem is eliminated, they always find another “one problem” that prevents them from supporting that legislation that they otherwise love.
Earlier this year I discussed the status of the states regarding this, Felons and Voting Rights. Kentucky — along with Florida, Iowa, and Virginia — are what I called the “completely vile” states where “you have to file an individual petition and get a pardon from the governor.” Think about that. Republicans, who go on and on about efficiency, think that the state should have to go over every one of those 140,000 before they get the right to vote. That’s over 3% of the population. And according to Think Progress, “As a result, one in five African Americans in the state are disenfranchised.” Know this: if the legislature did send him such a bill, he would find a reason to veto it.
Of course, none of this is an accident. Michelle Alexander talked about this, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Going away to jail for even ten years is not the big deal. It is that you are labeled for the rest of your life. Look at the way we talk about this issue: 140,000 felons. Not ex-felons. And this is part of the idea that a felon should never be allowed to vote again. As Think Progress noted, “Studies have found that ex-felons who have their voting rights restored feel more invested in their communities and are less likely to end up back in the criminal justice system.”
Matt Bevin didn’t just ruin the Christmas of ex-offenders, of course. He also reduced the minimum wage for state workers and contractors from $10.10 per hour to $7.25. Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! He stated, “Wage rates ideally would be established by the demands of the labor market instead of being set by the government.” That’s your typical conservative claim that the market is perfect and if the government would just get out of the way, everyone would have jobs and own their own homes with picket fences and Barbara Billingsley waiting with a martini. They’ve never heard of monopsony.
But it wasn’t all bad news! Matt Bevin saw to it that someone got good news for Christmas. And that someone was Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. She’s wanted clerk names removed from marriage licenses because God don’t like them gays but she sure likes her job. So Bevin saw to it that Kim Davis and the other bigots like her can have a happy Christmas knowing that they are complicit in helping to establish equal rights.
This just in: Matt Bevin seen stealing Tiny Tim’s crutch so he can sell it and provide tax cuts for squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old rich people.