Khazei was on WBUR on Monday talking about the Senate race — and specifically, as he said, “jobs, jobs, jobs.” But he may have created a bit of a sticky wicket for himself. He was asked about his strong opposition to casinos in Massachusetts this morning, and here’s part of what he had to say about the argument that casinos mean new jobs:
These jobs pay $6.50 an hour — that’s below minimum wage. They aren’t even good jobs. [paraphrase]
The exact figure, according to data posted on Khazei’s website, is $6.34 an hour; Khazei says there that “Casino workers are among the worst-paid in the U.S.,” and he’s made similar comments elsewhere.
But when asked about the relevance of his work at City Year, he said something like this on the radio:
I have created 15,000 jobs…. [and we should] fully fund the Kennedy Serve America Act to create 250,000 jobs. [paraphrase]
And that’s similar to the claim in his TV ad, in which he says “I started City Year, and we created 15,000 jobs…. Ted Kennedy Serve America Act: 250,000 jobs.” Similarly, point 5 of his “6-point plan to create good paying jobs in Massachusetts and across America” (posted here at BMG) is
fully fund the new Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Act will provide 175,000 annual full and part-time service jobs in the first year and a total of 250,000 positions in the second year.
All well and good — but, as Bob has pointed out, these jobs are not going to put anyone’s kids through college. According to “Erin” in the video Bob posted, the City Year stipend in D.C. is $200 a week, which (assuming a 40-hour work week) is $5 an hour. City Year participants also apparently can qualify for food stamps, one of the federal goverment’s anti-poverty programs. And that’s consistent with Khazei’s website, which reports that the Serve America Act will incur average costs of $10,000 per year per member, which equates to $5 an hour, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks.
Now, I’m no math genius, but if I recall my high school calculus class correctly … let’s see, f'(g(x))*g'(x), carry the 3, … yup, $6.34 an hour is a higher wage than $5 an hour. It seems to follow that, by Khazei’s definition, the service jobs that Khazei has created, and says he wants to create more of, are not “good jobs,” and that in fact they must be “among the worst-paid in the U.S.” Now there’s a bumper sticker.
Khazei would do very well indeed to heed the advice of long-time BMGer FrankSkeffington, who has declared his support for Khazei in the Dec. 8 primary, but who questions Khazei’s ad emphasizing job creation:
I think it’s a mistake to spin the jobs angle for a couple of reasons. First, it exposes the claim to legitimate critiques like Bob’s and the bad karma that goes along with it. Secondly, and more importantly, because “jobs” is the issue de jour, Alan’s message is now pretty much the same as the other three and he fails to break through the clutter of the field.
Everyone understands that Alan is the long shot in this short campaign cycle and the only way…THE ONLY WAY…he has a chance of winning is to show he is different from the career politicians and self-funded vanity candidates that we always choose from. The reality is: Alan and his approaches are different and original. Yet this ad is just another blah, blah, jobs, blah, Sen. Kennedy, blah, blah, jobs, blah, blah, blah. Play to your strengths and lose on your own terms, instead of losing based on what the polls indicate people want to hear.