• Austin Simcox

A Solution-Oriented Mindset

We've heard a lot of talk recently about the "American heroes" holding up the front lines. These include nurses, first responders, grocers, and many other essential workers who don't have the luxury of working from home. These workers truly are doing a lot of good in our communities. It's of course wonderful that we are collectively acknowledging their importance and their sacrifices during this pandemic, but acknowledgment isn't enough.

Today, celebrated by many outside the U.S. as International Workers' Day, employees across the country are striking (mostly virtually) for hazard pay, better employee benefits, and improved workplace safety. Amazon, Whole Foods, Target, Trader Joe's and more are included in this protest. This isn't too far from home; thousands of Utahns are employed by these companies.

Instead of pointing the finger at these striking workers, let's work with them to find solutions. These essential workers have valid grievances and deserve to be heard. Striking is often a last resort after all other methods of communication have been exhausted. These essential workers are putting their health and sometimes their lives at risk to ensure that we can continue providing for our families; yet, they are often paid meager wages. In fact, many of these workers would make more money on unemployment! That's the sign of a malfunctioning economy. They need more than acknowledgment and virtual ticker tape parades; they need solutions, and fast.

To address this problem, Sen. Romney today introduced "Patriot Pay," legislation that would give a temporary pay boost to many essential workers. The bill would create a refundable tax credit for employers that would allow them to give their qualifying essential workers a $12/hr pay raise through the end of July. This solution may receive some pushback from his party, which usually opposes efforts to increase government spending on social welfare programs. I applaud Sen. Romney in this case for being solution-oriented instead of partisan-oriented.

We need more solution-oriented mindsets in our government at all levels. After all, that's why we elect our officials: to solve problems. Sen. Romney's solution may or may not be the right solution for Utah workers and employers, but we should follow his example of a solution-oriented mindset. The Utah Legislature has so far held two special sessions during the pandemic, but we haven't seen many substantive solutions yet. House Minority Leader Brian King summed up one bill as "opportunistic special interest legislation." Sadly, we can apply that to several of the bills coming out of these special sessions, and there may be more to come.

Let's elect solution-oriented legislators instead of "opportunistic special interest" legislators. Solution-oriented legislators recognize that striking workers are a symptom of a larger problem: a malfunctioning economy. Instead of pointing fingers or seizing the moment for a political grandstand, they work with those affected to find solutions, setting aside partisanship and opportunism. Solution-oriented legislators listen and then act. That's what we need in our government right now.


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