"We learn the influence of our will from experience alone. And experience only teaches us, how one event constantly follows another; without instructing us in the secret connexion, which binds them together, and renders them inseparable." -- David Hume, "An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding"
The latest brouhaha in the Pittsburgh mayor's race concerns perceptions of reality, and specifically whether a statement posed in the Luke Ravenstahl attack ad on Bill Peduto that the mayoral hopeful "voted against living wage, hurting workers citywide" is truthful. The best answer, familiar to all of us who suffered though undergraduate philosophy classes, is: It's complicated.
A collection of labor groups rallied for Peduto at the City-County building today, calling the attack a "smear" and a "lie" and noting that the councilman led fights seal the approval of a city "prevailing wage" law (over Ravenstahl's opposition) in 2009-2010.
"When, in the midst of a political camapign, outside influences decide that they're going to try to rewrite history, when they're going to try to put out a smear ad campaign to benefit one candidate over another, it falls to those of us who remember our history to tell the truth," said Sam Williamson, assistant director of 32BJ SEIU of Western Pennsylvania, the property service worker union. "In this city, it has been Bill Peduto over and over again standing up for working people."
Peduto did help lead that prevailing wage fight -- but he also voted in favor of a bill in 2002 that, while it didn't explicitly kill a similar "living wage" measure, essentially did so.
And, as usual, it was affected by mayoral politics.