I spoke to one of my best friends this evening, and in the course of our conversation, which was, in part, about whether one person can really make a difference, I said to her, “Sometimes I just feel like I’m part of the string quartet on the deck of the Titanic. The only other option is to freak out, so I choose to keep playing my violin.”

I don’t always feel that way. But when I read stories like this, I have to admit, I get that sinking feeling.
President Bush issued an executive order Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

In a notice to Congress, Bush said the hurricane had caused "a national emergency" that permits him to take such action under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Bush's action came as the federal government moved to provide billions of dollars in aid, and drew rebukes from two of organized labor's biggest friends in Congress, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats.

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities," Miller said.


The Davis-Bacon law requires federal contractors to pay workers at least the prevailing wages in the area where the work is conducted. It applies to federally funded construction projects such as highways and bridges.

Bush's executive order suspends the requirements of the Davis-Bacon law for designated areas hit by the storm.
You read that right. Bush has ordered contractors rebuilding the devastated area don’t even have to pay their workers minimum wage*.

As you’ll no doubt recall, Halliburton has already been awarded a clean-up contract.

So, good luck getting back on your feet, Joe Nawlins, because after losing your home, your job, your health insurance, (if you were fortunate enough to have those to begin with) and quite likely members of your family, the best we can offer you is a job where you’ll make less than if you sling freedom fries at Mickey D’s.

God bless America.

(Hat tip Pam.)


* Or whatever the hell the prevailing wage in the area is.

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