Friends and Colleagues:
My occasional coauthor Donald Cohen and I would like to solicitic your help. Perhaps you’ve noticed a regular theme in some of our recent articles — the tendency of business lobby groups to “cry wolf” whenever liberals and progressives propose new laws and regulations that would require corporations to be more responsible in terms of consumer, employee, and environmental protections and conditions. Donald and I would like to ask for your help in identifying more examples of this “crying wolf” syndrome. We are starting the Crying Wolf Project to point out the numerous times that business warnings — claims that government action on regulations, taxes, and wages would destroy the economy and kill jobs — proved to be wrong. (For example, that raising the minimum wage will destroy jobs or enacting local “inclusionary zoning” laws will kill housing development). We can already see the business-sponsored “crying wolf” machine rehearsing for upcoming battles over health care reform, energy and environmental policy, and labor law reform, among many other issues.We intend to create a Crying Wolf Project website and to use this information to challenge business propaganda that sometimes intimidates politicians and sways media coverage. Until we have our website up-and-running, we’d appreciate your sending us any “crying wolf” examples, from the past or from contemporary policy debates. You can email them to me and I’ll forward them to Donald, executive director of the Center for Policy Initiatives in San Diego.
Our latest piece on this topic, “Credit Card Sharks Crying Wolf,” was published yesterday on the Talking Points Memo Cafe website. In recent weeks, the banking industry lobbied Congress to thwart legislation eliminate many abuses and rip-offs by credit card companies. The claimed that the bill would result in less available credit for consumers, but thankfully Congress didn’t buy their “crying wolf” warnings and passed the bill anyway.
The battle for labor law reform — passage of the Employee Free Choice Act — is likely to be one of the most important struggles for justice in a generation. America’s business community is waging a full-scale lobbying effort to kill EFCA, including “crying wolf” warnings that it will destroy the business climate and kill jobs. The Labor Center at UC Berkeley has just published a comprehensive report, Academics on Employee Free Choice: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Labor Law Reform, that addresses many of the issues. The report — edited by John Logan, with an introduction by Robert Reich, and including articles by economists, sociologists, historians, and political scientists (including yours truly) — is available on the Labor Center’s website.