Friday, October 08, 2010


I-1082 privatizes workman's comp insurance. If that alone doesn't send you running towards the No button, nothing I say here will convince you of changing from your poor, damned path.

Workman's compensation is a state-collected and managed fund which covers workers with workplace injuries and lost-time compensation. We all kick into the fund as part of the money from our paychecks. It is a disaster insurance to some degree. It is actually well-run and does what it is supposed to do.

So naturally it makes sense to take such a thing out of the hands of the big bad government, which is in theory supposed to be responsive to its citizens, and put it in the hands of an insurance company based out of Boston with an ultimate responsibility to their bottom line. I'm sure nothing bad would come of THAT.

So who's behind this bit of weirdness? That would be the BIAW, the Building Industry Association of Washington. The BIAW usually collects and co-ordinates workman's comp in the construction industry, skims a bit off the top, and then plows that money into conservative campaigns - weakening environmental legislation, reducing government effectiveness, and eliminating oversight. You know the usual stuff. The BIAW is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the state, and purchases judges with regularity.

Alas, time has not been kind to the BIAW. The economic downturn and its attendant lack of new housing starts has kicked it in the shorts. Plus the fact that the legislature has chosen to actually reduce its easy money-making schemes. Plus the fact that its biggest component pieces, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish counties, is mad at it has set up their own operation, and went to court to get their money out of the BIAW. Plus it lost a court case on mishandling funds put into their trust. Oh, and plus the fact it has a half-million-plus-dollar fine on it for its shenanigans on behalf of Dino Rossi in that pol's LAST election.

And that's only in the past year. And THESE are the guys telling you the STATE can't handle its finances well (would it surprise you to find out they work out of a mansion in Olympia?).

But what do you do when the political climate turns cold on you? You engage in a little electoral terraforming. So this bill takes workman's comp out of the hands of the state and puts it in the hands of the BIAW's NEW best friends, the insurance companies, like Liberty Mutual and AIG.

AIG. Wow. First BP and now AIG. It's like ALL the corporate villains of the past year have teamed up and decided to buy the Washington elections.

The BIAW is very open about its goal of chasing government out of its business of building whatever and wherever it chooses, and this bill has an equal honesty about how it is totally anti-government, without passing along that it would leave workers much of a safety net. You can almost see the insurance company execs tying on their little bibs, each with a guy in a construction helmet on it.

This is not about privatizing workman's comp, it is about profitizing it. And that means paying more money for less return for Washington and more cash going to the BIAW's new BFFs. So yeah, you might want to vote No on this.

More later,