Chronicle Editorial

Contradictive ideology

     Last week, fireworks became legal in Iowa. They can only be bought from June 1 through July 8, and from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3 and their firing is also legal on and between those dates, if your county allows it, and then, only if your city allows it. The rationality was that the taxes for the state would be upwards of $1 million, to be able to balance a runaway budget, but shouldn’t infringe on the freedoms of cities and counties to run their governments the way they wish.

     Back in March, it became law that counties could no longer raise their own minimum wage levels, and must conform to a statewide minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. Though Governor Terry Branstad says he does support a raise to the minimum wage, he signed a law that favors uniformity amongst the counties, rather than keeping the freedom exercised by counties and cities in the fireworks law, as well as negating competition amongst communities and counties across the state.

     That same day, he signed a bill that limits workers’ compensation for those who are injured on the job, for the sake of lowering costs to businesses, as he said in a Des Moines Register story, thus keeping these businesses competitive among other states.

     Back in early Feb., Chapter 20 was amended, deleting all the options on which unions could collectively bargain for across the state, rather than let individual, smaller governments and schools decide what they’d like to negotiate.

     The call to arms among conservatives is a fight for individuality, for freedom of governance and spirit, for deferring things back to the individual.

     That’s not what the track record of laws shows.

     What is it that Iowa really wants? What’s the ideology that the state’s governing party conforms to? The legislature and the governor seem to not have any idea themselves, as their laws contradict the messages that they preach: state and individual rights and responsibilities, over government takeover.

     From these and other laws that have been passed, is that what Iowa’s really getting?

     The state allows the freedom to buy and sell fireworks, allowing it to rake in tax dollars to offset subsidies to companies, but in turn negates the purpose of buying them if the purchaser can’t set them off in their own city or county. The state gets to wash their hands of the responsibility of injuries and deaths, and the dirt lands on the cities and county. The reason: the freedom of cities and counties.

     When Polk County decided to elevate its minimum wage to $8.75 ($1.50 higher than the federal and Iowa minimum wage of $7.25), to accommodate a growing population in a competitive business market, the state decided that uniformity, not freedom for competition, was best (despite it even contradicting the governor’s own preferences).

     When the legislature decided to continue to cut employers’ contributions to workers’ compensation pay, the reason was to make Iowa competitive among other states. The reduced costs of workers’ comp payments were the reason Iowa wasn’t competitive.

     It’s not because Nebraska’s minimum wage is $9 per hour, or that Illinois’ minimum wage is $8.25 per hour, or Minnesota’s minimum wage is $7.75 per hour or Missouri’s minimum wage is $7.70 per hour — a total average of $0.93 more than Iowa’s minimum wage, among those mentioned, neighboring states. Who would want to work a job in Iowa when the same job in Nebraska pays a $1.75 more?

     U.S. Congressman Rod Blum (R-District 1) recently made headlines when he said that he wanted to make it illegal for those from outside districts to speak at town halls, because they’re not from the appropriate representative district. When asked if he will accept campaign donations from other districts, Blum got up in the middle of the interview and left.

     Iowa’s governing Republican party, both in the legislature, the governor’s seat and representatives, are not held to a particular ideology. Such ideology would be evident in the form of consistent legislation harping on individual jurisdiction governance. This is not the case.

     It has left the people of Iowa stuck defending politicians that they don’t agree with, each holding contradictive ideologies, making it impossible to both defend and support them when confronted by targeted opposition.

     As Iowa enters a new governing year, with a new governor and a new year in the legislature, maybe a distinct governing philosophy will appear to guide the people.