Money Misapplied

Perhaps you read or remember the series of articles the NYT ran about the conditions of nail salons, places where manicurists were exploited and underpaid. The series elicited a response from Albany where Ron Kim, a New York State assemblyman was instrumental in passing legislation protecting nail salons workers from wage fraud. Now he’s done an about face and is no longer standing behind the statute he helped passed saying that it needs amending. What happened in the middle is a fascinating story of American politics at its best—or should I say at its worst. The salon owners began to organize, and began to fight the law, including spending thousands of dollars in political donations to Mr. Kim. In turn Mr. Kim helped the owners to strategize and he recommended a lobbying firm where he used to work. This all means that the salon owners have spent money organizing, have given political contributions, have hired a lobbying group, consultants and incurred marketing, publicity and promotion costs, all in all a lot of money. An observer might ask, why not spend this money in salary to manicurists? It’s doubtful it would cost more, and would certainly be more ethical, moral and humane. What needs to be noted is that this is not an isolated incident. It’s become a modus operandi for several industries, restaurant and hotel owners fighting higher wages, for example, and even for the Chamber of Commerce aligning itself with groups and organizations that are pro-business. When money can be used to bypass the rights and welfare of workers, no matter how legal the actions may be, I hope you will agree with me there’s something wrong in the practice