Callous Rep Matt Manweller loses straw-man argument with himself before House Labor Committee

Attempt to Manweller-splain the good old days demonstrates he didn’t listen to a single word of worker testimony offered just three days earlier

Touching on the various topics of daytime TV, calloused hands, green T-shirts, and the fact that things change over the course of 30 years as well as 78 years, Rep. Matt Manweller’s out-of-touch and self-satirizing get-off-my-lawn rant is must-watch video that shows it’s actually possible to use straw-man arguments — and still lose to the straw man. (He did pretty well at business lobby group bingo though.)

Just three days before this fit of Manweller-splaining, his committee heard personal testimony from working people about their struggles with low-wage jobs and the incredible difficulty in today’s economy of moving forward towards a better future for themselves and their community. Manweller’s rant demonstrated he must not have heard a single world they said.


"A few days ago we had a group of kids come before us to testify on behalf of this bill, and you know, their testimony was that they wanted more money, that they deserved more money, that other people were obligated to give them more money. And I guess in our kind of daytime TV society, that's become par for the course."


Jessica Field, before House Labor Committee:
“I live in Tacoma with two of my three sons, one of whom is Autistic and the other is unemployed. I support our entire household on what I make as a  Certified Nursing Assistant. Unfortunately my job of 17 years came to an end last week when my employer closed its doors… I don’t know what I would have to do if I had to go back into this economy and work a minimum wage job. Back in 1981 the minimum wage had enough buying power that I was able to afford a down payment on a small house. There is no way I could do that today on a minimum wage job.”


"We've built a world-class higher education system, where you can go to one of six institutions in this state, and we provide millions upon millions of dollars for state need grant.  And if that doesn't work for you, we in the legislature adopted the Western Governor's University. Where you know what, you can do it online, on the weekends, after work, after the kids have gone to bed…And if that doesn't work, you can go to your boss and say ‘what do I need to do to become a supervisor, an assistant manager, a manager some day’


Luke Bridges, before House Labor Committee:
“I’ve worked at local restaurants for the past 7 years. I’m also a full time student attending the Evergreen State College studying strategies for rebuilding native nations and governance…As a student worker it’s nearly impossible to afford rent, tuition, fees, food, and other living expenses while maintaining good grades. Recently I had to move back in with my mother to afford the cost of tuition. Afford may not be the correct word because afford is the last thing I’m able to do. In the past two years I’ve accrued more than $7000 in student debt and that’s not bad compared to some of my peers. Most people I know have double or triple this amount.”


"But one of the things I was struck by when I heard this testimony is how much things have changed in 30 years. It used to when men and women would come and testify about these things, these were men and women who had callouses on their hands. And they'd come by these callouses honestly. And regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with their policy, they commanded respect. Because they had built battleships and dams and highway systems and the suburbs of America."


Nathan Ward, before House Labor Committee:
"I’ve worked at Taco Bell in Aberdeen or 5 years now and I make $9.50 an hour. I know there are a lot of people with more debt than me but I have medical bills that I won’t be able to pay off in addition to the monthly bills that I have to pay. I can’t afford to miss one shift for whatever reason. It’s either don’t miss a shift or take a $70 hit in my paycheck that I can’t afford. I won’t be able to pay my cell phone bill or pay my rent and get kicked out on the street. In addition to me, my whole community would probably benefit from this — it would help put some capital back into my town and maybe encourage people to spend more locally."


"And one of those things I was thinking, listening to that testimony, is "oh thank god my dad wasn't in the room.” At 78 he would have given them and me the what-for and we would have all been lucky if it had come out in a PG-13 version. Because when he was younger, if he wanted more money, he went out and earned it…I would submit to you Mr Chair that my father's way was better than the way we are suggesting today, and I will recommend a no vote."

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It used to be that members of the State House who opposed worker standards did not have their hearts and minds entirely callused over. You may not have agreed with their positions, but in that pre-information-age era, it was easier to forgive their lack of knowledge about job growth, the cost of education, the direction of our economy, and the many studies showing how minimum wage increases benefit the economy. You may not have agreed with them, but they came by their misrepresentations honestly. But these days, people like Rep. Matt Manweller belt out straw-man arguments so bizarre that they actually lose to the straw men.