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A Question for Senator Kerry

It's funny how everything seems to be blamed on the Republicans these days, at least if you're a Democrat. Take, for instance, the various descriptions that they've been giving of Zell Miller lately. I'm not exactly certain why his speech has struck the left dumb (well, actually, into comment frenzy) with shock and awe. Some of us, old as we are, remember his 1992 keynote speech. Apparently personal attacks are OK, just so long as you sling them at a guy named Bush.

But the most interesting accusation I've seen today comes (via Ann Althouse) from the New York Times. It appears that flextime is all a Republican plot:

Mr. Bush explained the proposal this way during a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio: "I think the government ought to allow employers to say to an employee: 'If you want some time off, and work different hours, you're allowed to do so. If you want to accumulate time to spend with your family, spend with your parents, spend for being re-educated, you're allowed to do so.' "

The problem with this approach, feminists and other liberals say, is that it would require changing a law that guarantees unskilled workers extra pay for overtime work. "It's the abolition of overtime," said Ellen Bravo, national director of 9 to 5, an association of working women. "This is the employer flexibility protection act."

It turns out that both sides have different definitions of flex time - not to mention radically different notions about the 40-hour workweek.

Now this piqued my interest for one particular reason: here's a place you could really judge what kind of a man Kerry is, if someone wanted to do the research. (Damn this coming out on a Sunday, when I can't find out.) You see, prior to the Republicans taking over the Senate in 1992, there were a lot of loopholes in employment law with respect to those working on the Hill. I was lucky: I got there after the Republican revolution, when the Republicans extended a lot of benefits to House and Senate workers that didn't exist before.

Now, while a lot of Senate employees are fresh college graduates with money to burn and parental support, many aren't. When I started in my first office, I was working with a stereotypical working mother and a married couple trying to get through school. Both needed any money they could get. On the other hand, I can't remember that anything stopped Senators from paying overtime or giving better benefits.

So maybe someone should look back at Kerry's employment records. After all, every Senator is not only a leader, a visionary, a legislator: he's also an employer. See how he treated his staff in the mid-80's. Did he pay overtime? Give flextime? Pay above or below the Senate average?

Worth looking into. From my experience, I'd bet there's some reasonable information there. He wants to talk about protecting the poor and middle class. How did he do it when he was an employer?


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