Monday, July 09, 2012


I'm grateful to all of you for your response to my recent post about Joe Olivo. He's a member of the National Federation of Independent Business -- the ALEC/Koch/Rove-affiliated group that was the lead plaintiff in the suit against the health care act that was just decided at the Supreme Court -- but he also owns a printing company in New Jersey, and he makes frequent media appearances posing as a mere small businessman who just so happens to give good quote, in a Koch-y, pro-corporatist way. I posted because he appeared on NBC and NPR just hours after the health care ruling came down, each time identified as a guy who owns a printing company, with no mention of his NFIB ties.

I saw in comments and on Twitter that a number of you got in touch with NPR and other media outlets about the media's constant use of Olivo without an acknowledgment of his NFIB affiliation. I would have hoped NPR, at least, got the message.

But there he was again, on NPR yesterday.

He was being interviewed by Guy Raz on All Things Considered on the subject of a bill championed by Senator Tom Harkin that would raise the minimum wage. (Needless to say, Olivo's against the idea.) Here's how this is presented in the online version of the story:
Opponents of Harkin's minimum wage bill point to jobs, saying that with such high unemployment, an increase in the minimum wage will make a bad situation worse.

Joe Olivo owns a small printing press in New Jersey that employs 47 people. Olivo tells Raz that a higher minimum wage basically raises the whole wage scale and would force him to make cuts.

"What happens is the employee who's been here for 3 years and has more experience than a person making an entry-level wage, they will rightfully want more for their seniority," Olivo says. "So what it does to me as a business owner, by pushing up wage scale, it increases my expenses."

Olivo says that means he either has to increase revenues — difficult in the current economy — or he must find ways to cut expenses: cutting employees, not hiring new employees or bring in new technology to decrease the number of employees he needs.

"So it really hurts my current employees and it also prevents me from bringing on new ones," he says.
No mention of his NFIB ties -- none. And there's none in the audio version of the story. (Olivo comes in at about 7:06.)

What's odd is that the Olivo interview is followed by a chat with Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB's chief economist. He's ID'd as an NFIB guy. (He also thinks that maybe we shouldn't have a minimum wage at all.) But Olivo gets no such ID.

Now, granted, this story does give quite a bit of time (in fact, the majority) to proponents of a minimum wage increase -- Senator Harkin and a mother of four from Chicago who's trying to get by on the current minimum wage.

But Olivo is presented as that mother of four's opposite number, a regular American who's subject to the whims of an unfeeling government -- and that's not what he is. He's an on-call surrogate for the corpocracy who gets almost as much media time as a minor Kardashian.

No responsible member of the press should ever interview Joe Olivo again. At the very least, Joe Olivo should never, ever be interviewed without being prominently identified as the NFIB operative he is.

Guy Raz, you should be ashamed of yourself.

(X-posted at Balloon Juice.)


UPDATE: If you're wondering, Olivo's title, per the caption of one of the Olivo videos at the NFIB's YouTube page, is "vice-chair of NFIB/New Jersey Leadership Council." So he's more than just a humble dues-paying member. (And NFIB posts a lot of Olivo videos.)


Unknown said...

How different from these guys are liberals whose trade and immigration policy views are colored by their conviction that it is immoral for America to adopt polcies aimed at keeping American workers wealthier than workers in China, or Mexico, or India, or Guatemala, or Indonesia, or Bangla Desh?

That is an idea regularly used to undermine efforts at protectionism or at limiting immigration into the US.

Obama's current campaign against Romney slamming him for being the King of outsourcing is pretty disgustingly hypocritical, in that regard - though of course I hope it works.

But then the Democrats have been hypocrites about trade since the Big Dog went over to the dark side and pushed thru NAFTA.

Just as they have become hypocrites about unions.

And Obama's total unreliability on trade was chrystal clear even during the primaries of 2008.

I am a working class American and I wish to hell there was somebody consistently and seriously on my side.

Sure, Obama and the D's are the lesser evil and of course I will vote for them on that account.

But it's pretty depressing, all the same to be betrayed by everybody.

Victor said...


"How different from these guys are liberals whose trade and immigration policy views are colored by their conviction that it is immoral for America to adopt polcies aimed at keeping American workers wealthier than workers in China, or Mexico, or India, or Guatemala, or Indonesia, or Bangla Desh?"

Er... uhm... what?

I don't know of any true Liberals like that.
Most Liberals want our workers to get a fair share in this countries economy, and that workers in other countries get a fair share of theirs.

No Liberal I've ever heard, read, or watched, EVER said, "Let's allow American workers to make less, so international workers can make more!"

Now, I'll grant you, NAFTA, and all other trade policies of that ilk, may have had that result.

But the goal, at least as I recall, was to use trade to improve the lot of workers in other countries, by expanding the products made there, to buyers here.

I don't think anyone thought the ramifications would be that so many of the rich companies here, would take advantage of that and move their operations over there to take advantage of cheaper labor, forgetting that they're undermining the markets here.

I think they though that SOME might.
But that most "rational actors" in business would see that with our workers jobs disappearing overseas, and the people here having less and less money to spend, that there'd be less and less of a market here for the sh*t they're making with cheaper workers there, and come to the conclusion that we need a strong base here for the sh*t made there, if any of the sh*t made there, is to be bought here.

I don't think anyone envisioned over a decade of companies moving operations overseas - and Congress passing laws MAKING IT EASIER TO DO SO! Congress actually gave an incentive, through tax breaks, for the companies who hadn't already done so, to move their operations overseas!

BTW - that was not a LIBERAL Congress that did that.

The rest of what you wrote makes perfect sense, so I'm not sure what point you were trying to make with that first paragraph, or did you make a mistake and not write what you wanted to write?

Peter Janovsky said...

I wrote to the NPR Ombudsman, and did a Kos diary linking this:

Steve M. said...

Thank you....

Unknown said...

Victor, you wrote, “I don't know of any true Liberals like that. Most Liberals want our workers to get a fair share in this countries economy, and that workers in other countries get a fair share of theirs.”

No, they don’t.

In the past American liberals thought it was their job to protect and advance the interests of American workers and the American people, first and foremost and, for everyday purposes, pretty much exclusively.

They were nationalists who thought that the peoples of each nation needed to advance their own respective conditions within their own countries by democratic, leftist politics.

But those days are gone and that nationalist perspective has been replaced by a globalist, cosmopolitan liberalism that reproduces, on a global scale, the anti-labor outlook of the elitist left of the 1970s and 80s who enabled the migration of industry in the US from unionized, high wage states to right-to-work, low wage states, appealing to exactly the same arguments and moral views now cited to justify liberal support for trade policies undermining America.

Is Robert Reich a true liberal? He is publicly on record against protectionist trade policies because they would too effectively encourage development capital to be spent in the US rather than outside it, since that would be unfair to foreign workers.

Is Barack Obama a true liberal? In the 2008 primaries campaigning in the rust belt where NAFTA is a dirty word he mildly criticized the treaty, then behind the scenes assured his contributors he was solid for free trade, and then when the story went public told the unemployed workers that he would enforce fair trade policies, expecting them not to realize those are trade rules intended to protect the foreign workers who get the jobs that should be coming here.

Is Matt Yglesias a true liberal? He says he is a cosmopolitan liberal and is convinced that American trade and immigration policy has to be made with the good of Mexican, Chinese, and other foreign workers every bit as much in mind as that of Americans.

Is David Atkins at Hullabaloo a true liberal? He says protectionist policies are immoral and Americans are selfish and it is wrong to even try to maintain an economy in which Americans are paid much more than Malaysians for the same work.

Our wages are on a road to equality with those of Malaysians and Guatemalans because the ruling class is making itself hugely rich thereby, and meanwhile the liberals who once were on our side are on the side, now, of the Guatmalans.

Liri said...

The NPR Ombudsman did respond to this Olivo business, and at some length. I think the response is pretty decent. But you've been all over this story, Steve, so YMMV.

I didn't read the 60 comments over there, so don't know if there are any gems to be had in that mix, or if it's the usual pie-throwing and sh*t-slinging.

Apologies if this was linked earlier; my Ctrl-F didn't find a link, so I figured I would add this to the post as it slips off the front page, and into the Mists of Time...