Categories
Government History Politics Truth

The Brilliance of the Electoral College

By Rod Thomson

As it appears that for the second time this century the United States will elect a president who did not win the popular vote, there are the predictable calls for killing the Electoral College. The same thing occurred in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won the presidency. In fact, this is the fifth time in U.S. history this has occurred.

But as is often the case, the knee-jerk response overlooks well-designed reasoning. In many ways the Electoral College is yet another example of the brilliance of the Founders and Framers of the Constitution.

They purposely avoided a pure democracy majority rule form of governing at every turn. The reason is simple. Pure democracies do not work. Straight majority-rule democracy is sometimes compared to two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. That old saw depicts how a simple majority can tyrannize the minority — and inevitably will.

This is human nature. Mankind could never be expected to act selflessly and self-sacrificially for the greater good, so the Founders built in a tension between the three branches of government that harnessed basic human nature to keep government in check. They believed only a self-checking and self-limiting system could keep the tyranny of human nature at bay. And they actually used human nature to accomplish it.

They employed the same thinking for how we elect our government leaders through a process that ensured presidential candidates had to run in all the country, not just the population centers. This was to make sure that a diverse and growing nation would get representation from all sectors and that a President would have to campaign in all regions and demographics.

Here’s how it works

The president and vice president are not elected by popular vote, but by 538 electors — which is essentially the sum total of the House of Representatives, Senate and the District of Columbia. So there is population representation through the number of congressional districts, and state representation through number of Senate seats. This is the math for spreading out the Electoral College.

So when we vote for president and fill in the oval for our candidate, we are actually voting for the slate of electors in our state, who will then officially vote in December for president. If the Democrat wins, the Democratic electors will vote. If the Republican wins, the Republican electors will vote.

This is why 270 is magical number to win the presidency. It is 50 percent plus one of these electors.

With a straight popular vote, presidential candidates would only campaign in the major population centers along the coasts and some big cities inland. Regions such as the upper Midwest and rural South and western mountains would rarely if ever see a candidate. And worse, presidents would then feel free to ignore the interests of people in those regions. Need to dump toxic waste? North Dakota it is!

But with the Electoral College as the method, North Dakota’s three electors just might matter.

In this system, presidential candidates need to build coalitions and campaign nationally. A regional candidate cannot win nationally. A candidate with a narrow base cannot win nationally.

This creates the phenomenon of swing states, which get a hyper-media focus every four years. But those are not in granite. In fact they change all the time. Florida may well be the longest term swing state going forward because of our in-migration patterns from around the nation. But remember, until 1988, California was a reliably Republican state. Kind of astonishing to think about now. And Texas was as solid blue as the came. Virginia and North Carolina were part of the Democrat South, then became part of the Republican South and now are kind of swingy.

What this means, and this is just brilliant, is that no major party can ignore any state for too long without suffering. Even small states. Remember 2000? George W. Bush won that, hanging chads and all, because of Florida, right? Well, yes. But what is forgotten is that Florida would not have mattered if Democrats had not taken West Virginia for granted. It was a solid blue state, they ignored it, and Bush flipped it. That is what made Florida and its huge electoral count relevant. Yet West Virginia only has four electoral votes.

That is the genius of the Electoral College, forcing presidents to create coalitions, campaign nationally and represent even thinly populated areas. Another grand slam by the Framers that is still working.

Categories
Government Politics Truth

Comey Decision Clarifies Our Sacred Duty on Election Day

by Rep. Julio Gonzalez

Clearly, handing Hillary Clinton the keys to the White House under these circumstances flies in the face of the disdain the Founders had against abusive power by a ruling aristocracy.

In the latest action by a seemingly schizophrenic Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on November 6, two days prior to the presidential election, informing it that after reviewing “all the communications” involving Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State, Comey would not change the conclusion he expressed in July regarding Mrs. Clinton.  Moreover, the announcement comes on the same day we learned that Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin were using Hillary’s housekeeper, a woman with no authority in handling our nation’s secrets, to print up sensitive and classified emails in Clinton’s home and that the Clinton Foundation paid for Mrs. Clinton’s daughter’s wedding.

But the bigger picture surrounding Mrs. Clinton and our present Administration is one involving collusion, corruption, and perhaps even criminal actions at the highest levels of government.  Not only are there questions regarding the administration of the Clinton Foundation and the nexus between the presumed charitable organization and the official activities of the nation’s Secretary of State, but real and significant doubts are raised regarding the Justice Department’s ability to blindly pursue the delivery of justice under the effects of the brazen willingness by its highest members to indiscriminately interfere with their own investigations.

To say that this crass interference with our nation’s laws and procedures is dangerous to the very fabric of our nation’s foundation is no overstatement.

Indeed, the offensiveness of such a blatant disregard for the limits of authority topped the reasons the Founders listed as necessitating the Revolutionary War. In fact, the very first grievance listed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence was King George’s refusal to “Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good,” and his “obstruct[ion of] the Administration of Justice” — both of which apply to Hillary Clinton.

Clearly, handing Mrs. Clinton the keys to the White House under these circumstances flies in the face of the disdain the Founders had against the abuse of power by a ruling aristocracy. The difference though is that today, we are blessed with the system implemented by those very men and women who fought so valiantly to radically and unprecedentedly change the relationship between man and state. And whereas the duty of which Thomas Jefferson reminded us to institute a new government in the face of a long train of abuses and usurpations had to be exercised through the tip of the musket in his day, today we can do so through the power of the vote.

In two days, the American people will hold the final say on the future course of our great Republic. One path embraces the status quo and will lead us to confront an innumerable number of situations, each with grave constitutional implications and affronts. The other, although uncertain, holds at least the promise of corrections and of the achievement of greater heights as a people and as a nation. There is no choice that will allow us to navigate between these two diametrically opposed futures.

And although the latter choice may appear as an uncertainty, the former certainly invites the continued destruction of the confidence Americans have in their nation’s leaders and perhaps the peaceful coexistence of the various branches of government.

Seen under this light, Comey’s about-face leaves only one choice, the same one exercised by our Founders when faced with a similar question.  On Tuesday, we must, in the words of Jefferson, exercise our right. . . no . . . our duty, “to throw off such Government and to provide new Guards for our future security.”

That choice is Donald Trump.

Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon, lawyer and most recently author of The Federalist Pages, available at thefederalistpages.com or at Amazon.

Categories
Abortion Christianity Culture Politics

Is Hillary Clinton the Best Choice to Reduce Abortions?

The Christian Post recently ran a provocative column entitled Hillary Clinton Is the Best Choice for Voters Against Abortion

It’s not click bait. The author means it. And so it demands a corrective reply.

First, we need to understand with laser clarity that abortion is not a woman’s choice. It is a deeply immoral, gender-indifferent act.

Eric Sapp, the author of the piece, does not dispute that and is apparently pro-life. His primary point — other than seeing hypocrisy only in Republicans — is that statistically abortions always rise under Republican presidents and stay steady or decline under Democrat presidents. He claims this makes sense because Democrats are better at reducing poverty — a metric associated with abortion.

Sapp writes: “Abortions rose steadily during the tenure of the first ‘pro-life’ Republican President, Ronald Reagan. They reached their highest level under President H. W. Bush. Abortions then dropped dramatically under President Clinton, falling to 60% of the high under his pro-life Republican predecessor. That downward trend stalled during most of President W. Bush’s tenure, and remained basically flat until the final two years of his term when Democrats retook Congress. And then abortions plunged again under Obama, falling to their lowest point in 40 years.”

This summary paragraph presents several fallacies and a few simple falsehoods. But it is exemplary of the overall dishonesty of the article.

  • First, the statistics are dishonestly cherry-picked. The charge that abortions rose steadily during Reagan is true. But they also rose steadily under Carter, also. Sapp leaves the Democrat president out of his stats because it does not fit his conclusions. The Roe v. Wade ruling was still fairly new and the culture was going through the sexual revolution. That they rose under both presidents makes sense, but he cherry-picked only one. Dishonest.
  • Second, he is factually wrong on his assumption that they reached their highest level under George H.W. Bush, then declined under Clinton. His own reference shows abortions declining in 1991 and 1992. Both years were part of George H.W.’s presidency. Clinton was inaugurated in January 1993 and his policies kicked in in 1994 at best — four years after the decline started. So he is factually wrong using his own citation. Did he and the Christian Post think no one would check? Dishonest.
  • Third, he claims abortions “stalled” under W. Bush. That’s a fun sleight-of-hand way of just flat out lying. Abortions continued to decline six out of eight years under George W. Bush until 2006 — when the housing and banking crisis hit (propelled largely by Democrat lending policies and Republican negligence) and people got very scared. So factually wrong and dishonest. Again.

Sapp uses overarching stats, which we have demonstrated to be totally dishonest, to make a causal point, when the best they can show is correlation. He may understand this, and so he tries to create the causal link by overlaying poverty.

Here is his somewhat snooty case:

“Want to guess which political party is more effective at reducing poverty and unwanted pregnancies? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the ‘pro-life’ Party that in this last Congressional session alone fought to cut medical care for poor mothers and children, food programs for kids, and contraception coverage and access for women.”

He betrays a lot of his personal politics in this paragraph. But notice what is missing? And it is missing from the rest of the article on this point.

Right. Statistics. He provides no links to any stats. He does not even try to back it up like he dishonestly tried to in the previous paragraph I quoted. Apparently, he actually uses his own fallacy for proof by claiming Democrats reduce poverty because they talk about reducing poverty. Words. Actually using facts, it is clear that Democrat policies do not reduce poverty. We can take a measure of the policies from the Great Society onward and see that after trillions of dollars in transfer payments, poverty is largely unmoved.

But let’s use the author’s admittedly weak method. This chart is from Wikipedia, as his above was. (See larger here.)

number_in_poverty_and_poverty_rate_1959_to_2011-_united_states

Looking at poverty overlaid with Republican and Democrat presidents, we see no correlation. Actually, poverty declined under Reagan, rose under H.W. Bush (recession) declined under Clinton, was flat under W. Bush and actually has risen under Obama.

So it turns out there is a good reason he did not use any facts to back up his smug “Want to guess which party…” sentence. There are none.

This is a wholly dishonest article, from logic to facts to reason. It’s sad that the Christian Post published it as something legitimate.

Categories
Immigration Truth

The Ideological Litmus Test for Immigrants

By Rod Thomson

There has been considerable and legitimate debate over the rightness and efficacy of profiling criminals. Where is the proper balance between good, proactive policing and infringing on Americans’ civil liberties?

But can the same two-sided case be made for profiling visitors and potential immigrants to our country? Not at all. Certainly no case can be made with the same arguments, starting with the fact that they are not American citizens.

Here’s why an ideological test is legitimate and responsible for immigrants and visitors.

  1. It is well accepted that nations have the right and responsibility to control their borders and control who comes and who goes.
  2. Two reasons they have a responsibility to do so are to ensure that people do not enter who want to foment insurrection and topple the legitimate government, or who are known criminals and pose a threat to the population. No one argues that latter, few would argue with the former.
  3. In the case of insurrection, that means that an ideological component must be at work for a nation protecting itself and citizenry. If a person is known to want to create a rebellion against the United States of America, for instance, there will be some sort of ideology driving that desire. And the government has not only a right, but a duty, to keep that person out of the country.
  4. Any ideology that seeks to replace the United States Constitution and its enumerated rights for citizens is by definition an ideology seeking to wholly replace the government of the United States that is derived from that Constitution, and is therefore an ideology of insurrection and subversion.
  5. Sharia law, just as a for instance, is a religious form of government. The Arabic term sharīʿah means a body of religious law derived from prophecy — as opposed to human legislation derived through democracy. Sharia law is set through religion and is governed by religious leaders. As such, it is antithetical to nearly every portion and amendment in the United State’s Constitution — the structure on which the legitimate government of the United States is built. Sharia law is therefore ideologically incompatible with the country and believes in the eventual overthrow of the government by some means.
  6. Therefore anyone who believes in Sharia law for the United States should not be allowed entrance to the country as a visitor or an immigrant.

The same reasoning can be applied to other ideological positions, such as being an anarchist or Mexican “Reconquistas” who believe that the entire Southwest United States should be conquered in some fashion by Hispanics.

This does not mean that if you disagree with an amendment of the U.S. Constitution or oppose with laws and policies you cannot come in — unless your ideology would lead you to criminally oppose them. And it would not apply to heads of state. But if any known or stated ideological belief leads to the overthrow of the United States government, then the government actually has a mandate to keep out people who hold those ideologies.

It is not bigotry. It is not a question of freedom of religion. It is not an affront to freedom of speech. And such ideological profiling does not apply to American citizens. But it is totally defensible as a required filter for visitors and potential immigrants for the sake of American citizens and visitors.

(NOTE: The picture with this post is from Dearborn, Michigan.)

Categories
Culture Politics Truth

Why Negative Campaigning? Freedoms and the Mirror

A recent Republican primary for the Florida state Senate race in a Republican district offered the perfect storm for why people get so frustrated with political campaigns — including local ones. But it was also revealing about who we are and why such yuck campaigns are a constant in a close race.

There were five candidates, four of which were already office-holders and had good reputations in the community. It was a very strong field. Among the favorites in the conservative district, there were really only marginal position differences when looked at from the view of the broad electorate.

Because my family and I are what is known as “super voters” — we vote in all elections — we are targeted with the most mailers. The curse of the responsible citizen. We got up to 12 mailers in a day, with the majority being from this one race. The majority of those were negative. Flipping through on any given day, conservative Candidate A was variously a gray-pictured corrupt mugger of the public trust or a colorfully pictured, trusted family man and veteran. Candidate B was variously a gray-pictured opposer of freedoms who was going to take all our guns away or a colorfully pictured watchdog protecting your rights. Etc. Day after day after day.

Ugh, right?

Oh yes.

The reason? Get ready

But here’s the rub. This is what free speech looks like. It’s glorious and soaring and it’s messy and disagreeable and some people have a bigger megaphone than others. It is the opposite of college campuses with their speech codes and safe zones — a terrifying look at our future. It is true freedom and that is rare in the world. If your first thought reading this is “We should outlaw or ban or restrict XYZ,” you are saying you want to reduce our freedoms. That is not a good impulse.

Always err on the side of freedom. Giving it away is easy. Getting it back is a mountain.

Further, the reason for the unrelenting negativity in campaigning is that it works. And that’s completely on the collective person in the mirror. The electorate — which is not always the other person — can be so relatively uninformed, that perceptions are easy to shape through these simple mailers. It’s why yard signs with just a candidate’s name are so ubiquitous during elections season. Name recognition alone translates to votes. That also is on the collective person in the mirror.

So, the formula is to tear down the main threat to your election through negative ads, send out mom and apple pie pieties about yourself and plant hundreds of yard signs. It’s superficial, it’s tried and it truly works.

So remember next time you get into a gripe fest over negative campaigning; they are done because they work. They can be nauseating and effective. But we allow them as an option because we cherish freedom over government-enforced niceties and agreement. Attempts to clean up negative campaigning through restricting money or any types of speech must result in curtailing some of those freedoms.

Let freedom reign, including its ugliness. It is the best option.

 

(NOTE: I chose ads from the Obama-Romney campaign because neither are running this year and both are demonstrably more decent individuals than this year’s options. Yet both suffered withering negative attacks for the reasons stated above.)

Categories
Culture Media Politics Truth

Rigged Elections? Yes. Think Broadly.

by Rod Thomson

There has been much hot-air hissing over Donald Trump’s continual charge that the election is rigged against him. The gaseous releases come from Trump’s Democrat opponents, naturally enough, the media, also naturally enough, but also many Republicans.

This is an ongoing revelation in this election cycle. The elites (oh for a better word) in the media and the two-party structure separated from the heartlands of America cannot grasp how the ground has shifted under their Guccis.

The shift explains Trump’s appeal, Bernie Sanders’ appeal, even the appeal of the Libertarian and Green Party candidates plus third-party independents such as Evan McMullin, who has a very real chance of winning Utah in the presidential election. There is an almost bottomless pit of frustration with the country, both the direction it is going and the way it is getting there.

The frustration is appropriate. “Rigging” in the common, original sense refers to the system of ropes, cables or chains used to support a ship’s masts. These become part of the mechanism that controls the direction of the vessel. Think in those terms.

It’s almost like everything is rigged against every traditional thought and impulse of Americans, directing the ship of the nation and politics in a different direction. But the yawning chasm between elites (urgh…) in the three culture-moving centers of the nation — Hollywood, D.C., New York — and the rest of the country keeps each group from even understanding what the other is saying.

Let’s see if we can…rig up a bridge.

Before the ground shifted, a rigged election was understood to mean gross tampering with the actual vote. People voting illegally multiple times, ghost ballots sent in and ballots “lost” and “found” (think Minnesota and the 2008 election of Al Franken, where ballots kept mysteriously materializing over months until he had enough votes to flip from loss to win.)

When the elites (culture centers?) hear the charge of the election being rigged, that is what they are thinking. And in that respect, a nationwide rigging does sound far-fetched. Although to be fair, the Democrats and some in the media made that exact charge about the 2000 election where Bush beat Gore after the Florida recounts and appeals up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Selective memory.

But when others say rigged, including perhaps Trump, they are meaning the entire process is rigged. So for Trump — or any Republican — this means that the entirety of the formidable culture-moving apparatus is arrayed against him during the election.

The traditional mainstream media coverage from the alphabet soup of TV networks to the major and minor newspapers, all provide deeply biased coverage — often not even recognizing it. In this election, it is overt. But there is also Hollywood, which pillories Republicans on sitcoms, in movies and on late night shows. The music culture also throws in against the Republican, loving on Gore, Kerry, really on Obama, and Clinton. All these cultural stars have mammoth social media followings and often take to them on behalf of partisan politics. This mammoth assemblage of idea-moving firepower is almost impossible to fight against.

The same dynamic was in effect against Mitt Romney — perhaps the most opposite man from Trump that you can get. Yet this exceedingly decent man was also demonized (as was John McCain and George W. Bush) by the cultural centers.

And finally there is the university system where Democrat professors outnumber Republican up to 11 to 1, according to a study published in Econ Journal Watch. That system churns out millions of indoctrinated students voting Democratic at a rate of about 4 to 1.

So, in this broad sense, yes, the entire election process is rigged and rigged heavily against the Republican. That Republicans actually win sometimes approaches the miraculous.

The “professional” media particularly will tut-tut about using the word “rigged.” Trump is truly incautious with word choice. But a lot of Americans know what he is talking about. And it is that very elitist tut-tutting that makes them so distant and betrays their insularity. Out of touch does not do it justice.

There are deep dynamics running beneath our nation like fault lines. Use of the word “rigged” is just a little tectonic friction along those fault lines.

Categories
Abortion Truth

Why Abortion is Not a Woman’s Choice

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court truncated the democratic process of dealing with abortion from state to state in 1972, the issue has been defended as being a “woman’s choice.”

Apologies for bluntness, but this is an immoral position.

There is really only one question in this debate: Is that which is within a woman’s womb a person, or is it a blob of protoplasm that might one day be a person? Secondarily, if it is the latter, at what point does the transformation take place? From these answers will flow rational and moral clarity on the question of abortion.

In 1972, you could at least rely on scientific ignorance to claim the fetus was equivalent to a tumor. Although even then, the medical profession knew because of what came out of a late term abortion or miscarriage. That’s probably why so few doctors ever have performed abortions. It was not particularly rational, considering women feeling the punch of an elbow or kick of a heel — person parts. But the general public could squint its eyes real hard and blur to the idea that it was not a baby until birth.

Technology clarifier

But now, with the advance of technology, we can see clearly the baby in the womb. We can measure brain waves, heart beats and most heart-rending, we can watch the baby’s response to threat and pain. Planned Parenthood harvested human organs from “aborted fetuses” and then sold them. Human organs. That’s a pretty compelling case for that being a person in the womb.

The world understands that carrying a baby to term and giving birth and then having a child to raise is an enormous undertaking. That’s why it is supposed to be done in families, in which a mother and a father are committed to each other for life. It is meant to be a shared undertaking and a thing of beauty — not something to be destroyed when inconvenient or accidental.

The magnitude of the task notwithstanding, however, the science is overwhelming now on the morality of ending a pregnancy.

Considering what we know today about the fetus in the womb, it is morally indefensible to any longer consider that fetus anything other than a person. The obviousness of this point — made by Planned Parenthood, no less, selling human body parts — is a primary reason why every attempt at debate on the issue is deflected. It is a woman’s choice. It is between a woman and her doctor. It is about women’s health. It is reproductive health care and so on. Staying on the point of this being the purposeful death of a baby is a losing position, so it must be shifted from that.

Now, it is no longer simply squinting to make abortion acceptable, it is eyes tightly closed while repeating “woman’s choice” and “women’s health” arguments. In this one area, defenders of a “woman’s choice” are arguing that it is okay to kill a baby. There is no way around it. It is obfuscation at the highest level, for the lowest purpose.

Is early on OK?

Now perhaps you can see this when the baby in the womb is developed, but not so clearly at the earliest moments of conception. After all, even science does not suggest brain waves or heart beats in the first days.

Those two measurements of whether a person has died or is a live still show up at three weeks for the heart pumping blood and six weeks for brain waves to be measured. The problem immediately encountered here is exactly when should we say, with life-and-death certainty, that the non-human fetus becomes a human. Any point along the line is going to be arbitrary, meaning that we will be assigning death sentences based on an arbitrary line. That does not really hold moral water, either.

Remember, pro-choice activists and leaders support a woman’s right to kill her baby up until it exits the birth canal. That is the position of Hillary Clinton, the Democrat Party and some in the Republican Party. Sometimes they chant woman’s choice, sometimes they make the viability argument. It is not a human with rights until it is viable outside the woman, by which they mean the umbilical cord has been cut and it can survive on its own. But this also holds no intellectual water as the baby is still totally dependent on the mother’s, someone else’s, care for many years.

In the end, the “woman’s choice” defense of aborting unborn babies is morally and intellectually indefensible.

baby-premy

Pro-choice says a woman has a right to kill this if she so chooses, through several subterfuge arguments. Let your own eyes decide if that is moral or immoral.

 

Categories
Economy Markets Minimum wage Truth

Does Raising the Minimum Wage Help the Low-Wage Earner?

The first thing to understand about the minimum wage is that it is a classic case of understandable emotionalism and frustration versus concrete data and economic reality. So the clearest explanation is a pros-and-cons listing.

On the pros side of increasing the minimum wage, people who are making it and who keep their jobs will make more money. Their increased earnings improve their purchasing power.

The cons side is a little lengthier.

Sharp increases in the minimum wage reduces the number of entry-level jobs

This, in turn, reduces the opportunity for unskilled workers to start getting experience. This is common sense. You cannot climb a ladder without stepping on the first rung. Minimum wage increases eliminates that first-rung opportunity for a certain number of mostly young or unskilled workers by making automation more affordable. It falls under the law of unintended consequences. The more a company must pay an unskilled worker, the more automation technology that was previously too expensive to make sense becomes affordable. Nine out of ten companies will go with the automation every time to remain competitive.

Minimum wage hikes raise prices for everyone

This naturally tends to hurt the people in the economic strata that the increase is most aimed at helping. WalMart’s everyday low prices will be higher if they have to pay every $10-per-hour employee $15 per hour. But it goes further. There were employees either doing better work or with more experience who were making maybe $14 or $17 per hour. They will demand, and deserve, higher wages. So this pushes wages higher up the ladder. Some will emotionally think this is win-win! But it’s closer to lose-lose. Every item from bread and milk and toilet paper to shirts, basketballs and trikes will cost more. McDonald’s value meals will be less of a value and gas prices will be higher than they otherwise would be. This will be true even when automation replaces some of those employees because remember, the increased employee costs are what made automation more affordable — but still more expensive than the previous cost for the employee.

This is not just theoretical

Seattle recently raised its minimum wage from $11 per hour to $15 per hour. In the first month after it was implemented, economists reported that 1,000 restaurant workers — just restaurant workers — lost their jobs. That was the largest one month job decline since the Great Recession while the overall economy was strong. But around the state of Washington, restaurant jobs increased 3.2%. Market forces are never trumped by government decree. And in some cases, a community can be so economically hot that it can absorb it — for awhile. But the out-of-balance market pricing will catch up eventually. This is market inevitability. So in a sense, dramatic minimum wage hikes create mini recessions among the low-wage workers even while increasing the costs of living for those same folks and everyone else.

Finally, the emotional tug is a bit of a false set up

Only a tiny percentage of people earning the minimum wage are trying to put food on the table. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2.5% of all workers are on minimum wage. Of that, one-third are teens and more than half are under 25. So it is probably affecting only about 1% of the country’s workers over 25, and only a percentage of those actually have families. About two-thirds of all workers on minimum wage are second and third incomes in a family. So when the media does its inevitable story on some pitiable mother working two minimum wage jobs to try to make ends meet for her children, they are finding the needle in the haystack to stoke the emotional appeal that will actually hurt more of those same types of people.

The minimum wage’s positive impact on individuals is really quite minimal. As an aside, but so often the case, there is a political benefit to politicians who push the issue, playing to emotions over economic reality. But the reality of its negative impact on the broader economy, on all low-income workers and on companies competing globally is much larger — and fewer people are working and getting the opportunity to climb the ladder.

Categories
Christianity History Truth

Was Jesus a Socialist?

Several years ago, I was at a large luncheon function sitting next to the long-time editorial page editor at the paper where I worked as a special projects reporter. Right before the speaker arose, this editor turned to me and said, “I don’t understand how you can be a conservative and a Christian. Seems like by what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, you should be a liberal Democrat.”

Setting aside that this man was himself an atheist, and the Biblically clear moral issues surrounding abortion and homosexuality, did he have a point? It’s relevant because that train has traversed so far down the tracks that a recent trending topic on social media was that Jesus would be a Socialist or a Communist.

Now it’s great to see people reading the Bible. It’s less great to see people cherry-picking the Bible to support preconceived positions — which unfortunately all of us do too much.

Where the idea comes from?

So first let’s stipulate that Jesus certainly taught Christians to love one another, even to love our enemies. He taught us to feed the poor and clothe the naked. The New Testament letters expand on those teachings with caring for orphans and widows and the elderly. All of these things sound like a fit for socialism or communism.

Without going into the differences in the two — and the extraordinary miseries that have been brought to bear on hundreds of millions of people through those philosophies — let’s take socialism in its most pristine form on paper. Karl Marx, the primary promulgator of socialism in the 19th century,  popularized the phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Well that sounds just lovely. Alas, among the myriad flaws in socialism has always been its inability to account for human nature. People simply won’t work hard just to have it taken and given to someone who is not working hard. Simple truth. The apparently lovely concept always runs aground on the rocks of reality, spiraling into worse and worse living conditions for everyone except those at the very top. Every time. And the ensuing corruption!

The audience is key to understanding

But philosophically, would Jesus be a socialist? Here’s the rub, and the answer I sent to that editor in a note to which he never responded. Jesus was addressing his followers, future Christians. He was not talking to the entire world. And he most certainly was not talking about a role for government. The only thing he ever says regarding government is to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s but unto God that which is God’s. In the context of the attempted trick question by the Pharisees, it means: Pay your taxes.

It is the Christian’s responsibility, and by extension the church’s responsibility, to help those in need. And that is a major reason why there are so many orphanages, and soup kitchens and relief organizations that are Christian. Actually, an awful lot of Christians really do these things. We are to give sacrificially to those in need. We are not to use the force of government to take from one we deem has too much and give to another we deem has too little. There is no evidence — zero — that Jesus wanted his followers involved in any such earthly schemes. Jesus was always after the heart of man, not the policies of government.

Jesus’ disinterest in worldly governments makes clear that if he were alive today, he would not endorse any candidate, party or policy. His purpose for coming to earth as man was to save those who would believe in him.

We rate this claim about Jesus being a socialist as “Pants on fire!”

Categories
Economy Government Truth

4 Reasons the Government Cannot Run the Economy

We continually see the relative failure of government actions to manipulate the economy to function at just the right, optimal level. There is a reason. Even if government was peopled by actual experts with a deep and wise understanding of economics, such actions would remain doomed to failure.

It’s not that an economy as powerful as the United States’ cannot endure government meddling for some period. But the meddling inevitably is harmful and hamstrings the economy. Conversely, it does allow politicians and government officials to posture for voters, which, mixed with well-intentioned ignorance, is the point of the action.

Here are four reasons why such interventions are doomed to fail.

1) Top down is not how economies operate

The government approaches the economy from the top down, considering it a contained engine that just needs to cool off, heat up, be stimulated, etc. This totally misunderstands an economy anywhere, but particularly in a quasi free-market economy. In this type of economy, but in all economies to a degree, decisions are made by millions of people. In the interconnected global economy, by billions of people.

Millions of people making individual decisions in unpredictable ways is not how an engine works. Engines are defined and explained. Millions of individual decisions are like micro organisms that result in the creation of ever changing markets and economies.

2) The inevitability of cycles

Economies will always cycle. Allowing self-correction is what would happen if it was understood that millions of people are making decisions and politicians were primarily interested in what is best for the most. Alas, self-correction is verboten!

Instead we get constant interference from centralized planning agencies in Washington, D.C., or Brussels, Belgium. Rather than the free market elevating what people want and dumping what people do not want so resources are allocated accordingly and efficiently — a process called “creative destruction” — government involves itself and makes the situation worse.

3) Bubbles and troubles

Bubbles are good and natural. Well, the natural ones are good. Bubbles happen organically in industries where there is creative destruction going on. New technology spawns a lot of competing companies, but only the best survive and thrive and the weaker are dumped. This is determined by millions of consumers’ decisions, not by government. Computers and smartphones are examples of how this worked fairly naturally, and the economy’s resources went to Apple and Samsung and away from Nokia and Motorola.

Some bubbles are government created. The real estate bubble that popped in 2007 happened when the government created laws requiring banks to lend to people who could not afford a mortgage so they would have the opportunity own a house. Great politics. Terrible policy. Naturally this generated a huge bubble in housing prices because of all the increased demand. When the economy cycled down, many of those people who should not have received a mortgage in the first place defaulted and we saw a downward spiral effect in which nearly everyone was hurt.

But there was a predictable compounding effect as government interfered further to fix what it had broke. After the housing bust, politicians such as George W. Bush and on a greater scale, Barack Obama, instituted more and more policies that made things worse and worse. Each step laid the groundwork for less market freedom, meaning less individual freedom, and consequently more government interference and control. The result was a historically long recession now called the Great Recession — mimicking in name, dynamics and causation the Great Depression.

4) Mixing in conflicting goals

Government works at odds with itself when trying to keep the economy humming — another engine metaphor. It is constantly issuing hundreds and thousands of new rules that businesses must learn and live under. These usually use up some resources that could be better deployed, and the actions ends up dampening the economy. They also consistently collide with the law of unintended consequences.

Minimum wage laws are an example of hurting those people they are intended to help. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is another example as costs have skyrocketed and the system is crumbling. And bringing this around, the Dodd-Frank financial reform act that was aimed at avoiding the financial fall-out of another real estate bubble and bailing out banks has had the perverse effect of creating even larger banks — banks too big to fail.

Government cannot run an economy because no one can. The economy that most prospers everyone is one in which individuals have maximum freedom in their consumer choices and in starting and running businesses. The economy the government runs most benefits those in government.

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