As we’ve learned in Indiana in recent weeks, the fight between militant liberals mandating their worldview and any who oppose their advances is heating up. “Discrimination will not be tolerated,” the left contends. “Anyone who doesn’t show tolerance as we define it will be destroyed.” If you don’t follow that logic, neither do I. You’ll find other posts on the same topic if you search my blog but that’s not the point of this post.
I’d rather point out that businesses SHOULD have the right to discriminate. The AARP discriminates based on age, the NAACP discriminates based on race, many businesses discriminate based on veteran status, and that’s OK. I am Christian, so if I owned a party planning business, I would have a very hard time planning a party for Satanists. I respect their ability to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, but I would be a poor choice to plan their party. Why should I be forced to participate? Why can’t they make the intelligent decision to hire someone who isn’t opposed to their teachings? The same goes for white supremacists, pro-abortion groups, and lots of other people with whom I simply disagree. Why should I be punished for my beliefs?
It’s increasingly clear that we’re living in the days prophesied by Isaiah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).” The entire world seeks to excuse their own personal sins while condemning their fellowmen and following up that condemnation with the hateful pursuit of destruction. The rhetoric itself is even ridiculous. If you don’t actively support homosexuality, you’re “homophobic” (literally “afraid of gays”). If you believe that marriage is ordained of God, you’re also homophobic (which is even more of a stretch). Again, if you don’t agree COMPLETELY with the militant left busily preaching tolerance, your dissension will not be tolerated and you must be destroyed.
Next step: Thought Police.
Or not. Instead, let’s recognize Dave Johnson’s recent piece in the Huffington Post for exactly what it is: mindless garbage. Let’s start with the easiest stuff and please pardon any sarcasm. It’s been one of those days…
The US President is NOT All-Powerful
Even though the mindless drones graduating from many of our schools think the President does everything, comparing fiscal policy across Presidents is idiotic because he doesn’t. Congress passes budgets (or avoids doing so as the case may be). The President may propose one, of course, but so can you and I. That’s why the spending chart is so fascinatingly misleading: It would look a little different when you consider that 2001-2006 should be red (Republican-controlled Congress), 2007-2010 should be blue (Democratic-controlled Congress), and 2011-2014 should be at least purple and likely red since the Republican-controlled House has killed off spending increases until American households are back to work and also able to increase spending. Please Note: The chart also ignored 2001 because spending DROPPED until 9/11 created the TSA and launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (but remember, the premise of the article is that all spending is good, so I guess that should be applauded). Like almost every Democratic Congressperson in 2002, I was OK with increased spending in the name of national security. I love how the second chart includes 2001 because it fits the story-line and proves that Clinton was a budget-balancer. No, he wasn’t. Newt Gingrich was. Clinton wanted Hillarycare.
The Stimulus Worked Perfectly
That’s true. It didn’t do a very good job putting Americans back to work, mind you, but it did put a lot of government money into the hands of the politically well-connected. So it worked. Interestingly, the market tanked in Sept/Oct 2008 but the economy was still registering severe job losses through April 2009 (the recession technically began in 2007). Every time the market tried to stabilize, Democrats went on TV again accusing Wall Street of creating all of the problems (sure, they helped, but so did the greed of every local bank and home buyer in the country). The constant market-riling accusations (not to mention Obamacare’s increased cost to employers) kept the economy for recovering for about 18 months longer than it should have taken. There were also THREE stimulus packages, the largest of which was passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress during the 2008 elections as Senators and Representatives fought for their jobs. Yet it didn’t “take effect” and start creating part-time work until Spring 2010. Right…
Government Spending Is Always Good for What Ails You
Have a problem? Economy got you down? Good news! All you need is for the government to buy more things and it will be fine. Nevermind that the government is the least efficient way to buy more things. We would have been better off if each stimulus package had been divvied up to average Americans. Sure, some of us would have bought stupid stuff with it. But Johnson’s theory is that all spending is good spending and at least it would’ve injected a higher percentage of stimulus funds (before waste and bureaucratic red tape) directly into the economy.
Let’s Flip the Script
Now that we want to punish the divided Congress, let’s change things up a bit by pointing out the Impact of Federal Policy on Real GDP. Since it fits our narrative, let’s assume Obama isn’t responsible for this time period now (he was in the first few charts when it fit the narrative). Instead, let’s observe that the evil conservatives and their “austerity” measures destroyed the economic recovery. No other major federal policy began its rollout in 2013. Nothing that was optimistically called the “Affordable Care Act”, anyway. Just humdrum economy wrecking from the right. Jerks…
I’ve never listened to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Glenn Beck. I don’t watch Fox News. I don’t even own a gun. That said, I still know Dave Johnson’s full of crap. Sorry you had to enjoy all of my sarcasm in this post, but I’m really, REALLY tired of revisionist history. The overly simplistic kind that we seem to take hook, line, and sinker.
Fast food workers are striking today to protest low wages. That’s their right and I support peaceful demonstrations aimed at bettering lives. As happens frequently in life, however, they’re trying to solve the wrong problem. Here’s a quick recap of problems from the article with an emphasis on the real problem encapsulated in the rest of the story:
1) Only 5-10 workers are expected to show up – Sorry, but that’s not enough to make a difference.
2) Organize Now is sponsoring the event – Why are union organizers so interested in forming unions? Is it because they’re really good people, fighting for the rights of the oppressed or because union jobs pay really well for very little work? Neither is totally true but reality lies closer to the second option.
3) Jessica Davis believes she makes a lot of money for McDonald’s – In reality, she’s just a cog in the wheel. McDonald’s (and all companies) want and need good workers but will only pay them wages that the market will bear and that don’t incentivize other alternatives, particularly the automation of repetitive jobs.
4) Increasing minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 sounds great – Everyone will make 39% more money! Yay!!! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. I wonder what Jessica would think if she showed up at the grocery store to buy milk and learned that that a gallon now costs $5.56 instead of the $3.99 she’s used to paying. Would she find alternatives (yogurt, soda, etc.) or simply go without? Business owners would have the same sticker shock with their employees. Having worked for a large restaurant company, I’m intimately aware of the very first result of cost increases: some low-performing restaurants will move from barely profitable to barely negative. Within months, they will all be closed and every single hourly worker will see their wages go from $7.25+ to $10.10+ to $0.00. Ouch.
5) Jessica Davis is 25, a single mother, has two kids, and works fast food – The article didn’t mention which of Harvard’s prestigious colleges she graduated from, but it should have because the situation Ms. Davis finds herself in is the real problem. Jessica sounds like a hard worker and I applaud her decision to take responsibility and provide for her kids. However, her situation invites more questions: Is she a high school graduate? Has/is she attending college or a trade school? Why does she have two children that she can’t provide for? Where is the children’s father? What help is she receiving from family?
The simple reality is that the entire American (and world, for that matter) workforce requires jobs that offer wages commensurate with employee skills. The desire to pay more for entry-level jobs is misplaced. The desire of every good politician should be constituents acquiring the education, skills, and training that will allow employees to leave “entry-level” jobs behind and attain higher pay based on higher productivity. Employers should be encouraged to hire, train, and develop new employees. Employers can and should give back to the community in terms of educational support (e.g. Junior Achievement, sponsoring under-performing schools, community service events, etc.) that requires little money but lots of time and patient teaching. Communities must rally around the principles of personal responsibility (no more dead-beat dads), freedom (avoid excessive debt and well-intentioned but enslaving welfare programs), and true excellence (not everyone is a winner. Recognize those who truly are). We have a long way to go but we can do it. Sadly, asking for more money without doing anything in return isn’t going to accomplish anything.
The Healthcare industry has received a lot of attention in recent years. Rising premiums, Medicare Drug plans, and the incorrectly named Affordable Care Act are just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, one of America’s largest (1 in 8 workers) and most expensive ($2.7 trillion annually) industries is still broken. Completely, overwhelmingly, and unapologetically broken.
To illustrate the point, here’s how a special story from October 2013:
My wife (Jennifer) has had kidney stones a couple of times and after (finally, I guess) visiting a urologist early this month, she learned that it’s probably the same stone that keeps having small pieces break off. Passing kidney stones is excruciatingly painful, so she asked what she should do. Keep in mind that kidney stones are not a medical emergency (some people live with their whole lives) and she averages less than one episode a year over the past four years. When asked how to get rid of them, the doctor told her they do a simple out-patient procedure to blast the stone (she only has one) with sonar and that usually pulverizes the stone to dust. No big deal, so she scheduled the prep work (blood tests) for last week and the actual appointment for yesterday morning.
We showed up at 10:30 AM at the Florida Medical Center (2501 N. Orange Ave) which is part of the Florida Hospital complex in downtown Orlando. It took a few minutes to find the Kidney Stone Center, but we got right in, spoke to the receptionist, and were soon passed off to the person responsible for paperwork. First came the authorization for treatment (signed), then the acceptance of responsibility for payment (signed), then a request for a down payment. Wait, what? We’re supposed to get billed through FloridaBlue (BlueCross/BlueShield of Florida) after the fact, so that was a little odd. When I asked why, I was told the price of the procedure required a down payment. We obviously knew we would be paying for the procedure since we have a high-deductible health plan, but the down payment thing was still really weird. The lady had down the prep work on our insurance, however, and showed a print-out of the plan we’re on, the deductible, out-of-pocket max, and other info gleaned from FloridaBlue. I asked how much the procedure would cost (expecting $2,000-3,000) and the lady sheepishly admitted “19.” $1,900 was right in the ballpark of what I was expecting, so I asked why she needed a down payment.
“Not nineteen-hundred,” she said, “Nineteen thousand.” Wow! An outpatient procedure which requires no incisions and less than an hour of recovery time costs $19,000? “Not really,” she helpfully explained, “That’s just the hospital bill. The urologist and anesthesiologist will bill you separately.” When I suggested it might be a better idea to let people know that beforehand, her response stopped me in my tracks. “The hospital can’t be expected to let people know beforehand what their procedures will cost.” Really? Would that be an acceptable practice at Target? You just go in, buy stuff with no visible prices, and they bill you whatever they want later? Even more interesting, the hospital DID just let me know what the procedure will cost. They just waited until my wife had already done all the prep work, I had taken a day off work, and we were ready to go to give the heads up. Classy.
The lady behind the counter was still trying to be helpful, so she happily reported that she was sure the negotiated rate that FloridaBlue would actually allow in my behalf would be much lower. Maybe even $12,000. Gee, thanks! I’m glad to hear you’re not gouging customers who don’t have insurance, I thought. Unfortunately, the moral of this story was that a non-emergency medical procedure was going to cost us (after some co-insurance was paid) about 10% of what I make each year (pre-tax). Ouchie! Not suprisingly, my wife elected to wait until next year so we can plan ahead for such an expensive “surgery.”
Our healthcare system is amazing. On one hand, we provide some of the best care and resultant outcomes in the world. The training and technology available in the United States of America is second to none. Unfortunately for the general public, the lack of information, secret pricing, and borderline unethical billing practices have created a nightmare scenario for anyone needing medical help. Even worse, we claim that the industry is governed by the free market when reality proves that the government runs most of it. Why is pricing so confusing? Because the insurance companies negotiate for others and allow the prices to be kept hidden. Why do the insurance companies have so much power? Because the tax code favorably treats employer-provided insurance and the Affordable Care Act all but requires employer health insurance (or the employer faces a penalty), of course.
The real question is simple: Can our healthcare system be fixed? The answer is less clear. I like to think so, but it would require some courageous individuals with a lot of money to overturn such a bloated, inefficient industry. I sure hope they do!
Since the Great Recession began in 2007, millions of Americans lost their jobs and a huge number remain un- or underemployed, including members of my own family. It’s tragic how economic turmoil devastates lives, yet our nation’s leaders have done little turn things around. Why is that? I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but there are clearly some perverse incentives rewarding behaviors right now. Perhaps the best example is the stock market. On July 31, 2013, the S&P closed at a record high (1,685.73) while the unemployment rate remains above 7.0% (actually 7.4%) where it has been since December 2008. Wealthy and well-educated individuals are enjoying record profits and have returned to full employment (see the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart) while those without a degree continue to suffer (12.0% unemployment for those who never completed high school).
Why does this matter? Because I’ve heard my entire life that conservatives hate the poor while liberals love them. If that’s the case, why do liberal policies always further enslave the poor (welfare, lack of school choice, dumbing down educational standards, anti business creation, etc.)? Further, why do liberal politicians vote to with their wallets instead of their conscience? Even though the Affordable Care Act includes a requirement for Congress and their staffers to participate in the state-run exchanges, President Obama has bypassed that rule and allowed Congress to retain its superior health plan. Most importantly of all, why do I vote with my conscience instead of my wallet?
My family is doing very well because of the recession. Go back and read that again. I hold a Master’s degree which implies a very normal unemployment rate of 3.5%. We bought a home at the bottom of the government-aided real estate bust (Guess who wanted subprime loans in the first place? I’ll give you a hint: they were made to people who couldn’t afford them in mostly urban or historically black areas). Our mortgage is ridiculously low because of the Fed’s quantitative easing. We’re doing BETTER than we would be without the recession. So why did I vote to end the recession by focusing on job creation and economic fairness? Because I believe that principled individuals should always do what’s right, even when it hurts themselves. That’s why I vote with my conscience and not my wallet.
I’ve written before about my belief in Jefferson’s hallowed words: “”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I’ve also written before about how I lament for the nation’s youth, not because they aren’t good, intelligent young men and women but because of the pernicious lies, half-truths, and illogical arguments that society attacks them with on a daily basis. It’s tough to take a stand against conventional wisdom even when it’s idiotic.
Consider these gems gleaned from a Facebook post today. Admittedly, I kept the debate running far longer than I probably should have, but here’s what high school kids think today:
Teenager #1: Here’s a test: I’m holding a baby in one hand and a petri dish holding an embryo in the other. I’m going to drop one. You choose which. If you truly believe that an embryo is the same thing as a baby, it should be impossible to decide. You should have to flip a coin, that’s how impossible the decision should be. Shot in the dark, you saved the baby. Because you realize that there’s a difference.
My Response: A very interesting question but perhaps it’s based on a false premise: “An embryo is the same thing as a baby.” While I believe embryos should enjoy every right to life, that doesn’t mean that all will survive until the miracle of birth (our bodies are so complex that 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage). To illustrate my point, here’s another test. Two people are asleep on train tracks and a runaway train is coming. You can only run to save one of them. You quickly notice that one of the people is a toddler and the other is a twenty-something. Who do you save? Based on the logic in the original question, you should have to flip a coin. However, most people would choose to save the toddler that didn’t know any better and chose to sleep on the tracks. Very few people would save the adult that should know better. You could probably draw some pretty interesting parallels to the never-ending abortion debate: Should an innocent life be terminated because someone who should know better made a series of stupid decisions (pre-marital sex, intercourse during a fertile period, lack of contraceptive measures, etc.) but would prefer to avoid the consequences of his/her actions and continue living his/her self-centered life with minimal interruptions? It’s an interesting question, for sure.
Teenager #2: What of rape, or contraceptives failing, or condom breaking, or etc. what if it is a married couple, wife on birth control, husband using condom, and the condom breaks, and they do not have the financial needs to have a kid? There are so many different scenarios but no matter the scenario the end result is the same, it is the woman’s choice if she wants the baby or not. If the woman is pro life in a pro choice world then she just wouldn’t have an abortion simple as that. (Vice Versa on the other hand is not true… Legally)
My Response: While some women choose to deliver babies born of rape (they choose not to punish an innocent for the crime of a parent), not all women make that same choice. I think it makes a lot of sense to allow women to receive an abortion in the case of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life. However, contraceptives rarely fail when used properly and for those “without the financial means” (I think you meant “means” rather than “needs”), perhaps they should consider avoiding intercourse during periods of fertility. I know that requires postponing one’s sexual desires for a period of time, but perhaps willpower could be used. I simply disagree that abortion is an acceptable form of birth control. By the way, your comment that “it is the woman’s choice if she wants the baby or not” just made me sad. I respect your opinion, I just think it’s a sad indictment of American society.
Teenager #2: It IS her choice. It’s HER body. SHE (and her spouse) has the choice to bring life or not bring life into this world just like they have the choice to have sex or not have sex. It’s their choice, her body his child, thereby they should choose if they want a parasite to feed of the girl for 9 months just to bring a happy or miserable life to earth or not. Not saying I’m pro-abortion because I’m not but I am pro-choice. Before you say something like “pro-abortion” and “pro-choice” is the same thing, no it isn’t. I am against you killing a embryo for personal wants BUT if you want to you should be allowed to.
My Response: To be clear, at what point should it become illegal to kill another human being? I reject your assertion that a baby is part of the Mother’s body. What other part of the human body has unique DNA? It’s significantly easier to rationalize the destruction of another person by objectifying him (Hitler did the same thing during the Holocaust), but that argument is en vogue, so I get it. I want to return to my question, though: At what point should it become illegal to kill another human being? Immediately upon conception? First Trimester? Second? Third? What about post-birth? Is the distinction between choosing to remove a mass of cells and the murder of a defenseless child merely the fact that one has taken a breath of air and one has not? If so, should parents be allowed to kill their children after birth but before they’ve taken their first breath? What about if they’re still connected to the umbilical cord? What about unruly toddlers? My three-year-old acts up a lot. Would killing him be a choice or a criminal act? I have no expectation of convincing you of the sanctity of life, by the way. If gratitude for your own lucky birth, a belief in Deity, or the hallowed words of Thomas Jefferson couldn’t do it, I definitely can’t
Teenager #3: You’re talking about the way people confront evil, this discussion is about the way we cope with ideals. Something “evil” should be stopped, yes, but abortions aren’t. It’s just the way that some people choose to live their life, and that’s fine.My Response: What makes something evil? You assert that abortions aren’t evil. What about selling drugs to feed my family. Who gets to determine whether an act is good, neutral, or evil?
Teenager #2: As I’ve said 3 times already I am against abortion so you are basically preaching to the choir but to answer your question when a child develops organs its living, before then it’s technically a mass of cells, heck even WHEN it is living its technically a parasite until it leaves the womb but let’s say for a second that it isn’t the girl’s choice to get a living creature out of her body, what of non-human parasites like louse or leeches? Is it considered wrong to remove those? Hypothetically that is… Not saying that I am using it as an example because it is a horrible example.
My Response: I’m pretty sure I’m not preaching to the choir. As a young man who wasn’t aborted, you’re in a pretty good spot on the abortion issue. I’m taking a stand for those kids who haven’t been aborted yet. I enjoyed your response, though. Just FYI, a baby’s heart starts beating at 17 days post-conception which is before many women realize they’re pregnant. As far as parasites go, I think that’s a pretty good analogy. Children are essentially parasitic (most parents would prefer “dependent”) from conception until probably 4-5 years. Removing leeches, tapeworms, etc. from the body kills them. I fully support killing these creatures. I do not support killing children. The distinction is more complex than saying one group is cuter than the other, but you could make a solid argument along those lines.
Teenager #3: This entire argument is just a conflict of what we’re supposed to do with our decisions. You can decide to not get an abortion, that’s absolutely fine. But just because you choose not to get one, it doesn’t mean that everyone else can’t, either.
My Response: I choose not to murder, rape, carjack, and use illicit drugs. Yay for me! I also like the idea that society condemns such acts and provides what limited deterrents it can. The entire argument is a just a conflict of where personal freedom ends and infringing upon the rights of others begins.
Teenager #3: But murder, rape, and carjacking all directly hurt other people’s lives…
My Response: But having your body killed before you’re born doesn’t? What would your life be like today if your mother had you aborted?
Teenager #3: A fetus isn’t any more of a human than an acorn is a tree. And while some people may believe that an acorn counts as a tree (and that’s fine), it doesn’t mean that every woman should be denied the choice to an abortion. We can’t run each other’s lives like that, you know?
My Response: A human egg (or sperm) isn’t any more of a human than an acorn is a tree. A fetus isn’t any more of a human than a sapling is a tree. If you’re going to make analogies, please try to make them as accurate as possible. I know that’s hard when you’re comparing creatures who can send themselves into outer space with stationary, non-sentient beings, but it’s important. By the way, a sapling is a tree unless your arbitrary definition of trees includes some sort of age limit. If so, I’d love to know where to draw that line in the sand.
Teenager #3: You missed the point. The point was: And while some people may believe that [a fetus] counts as a [human life] (and that’s fine), it doesn’t mean that every woman should be denied the choice to an abortion. We can’t run each other’s lives like that, you know?
My Response: I got your point. You believe that everyone should make their own decisions and actions should only be punishable if the victim can voice his/her grievance. I counter that you missed the point. You weren’t aborted. We should allow others the same privilege. You’re just lucky that your mother saw you as something other than a worthless mass of cells. You have what’s known as a survivor’s bias. As long as you made it, who cares about anyone else? I believe that we absolutely should be trying to keep our nation’s mothers from aborting the next George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or (more likely, given the huge percentage of black children aborted) the next Martin Luther King, Jr. We’re killing our future in the name of selfishness.
I wrote on November 7, 2011 that the American Dream may be dying but it’s not dead yet. I was wrong. For most of the country, the American Dream is clearly on life support. Check out this recent yahoo.com article and let’s discuss the issues.
Stated Problem: President Obama believes the American free enterprise system has a foundation of “inequality” created by a “winner-take-all economy, where a few do better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water or loses ground.”
Real Problem: Seemingly every new law passed by Congress eliminates jobs by increasing the minimum wage (destroying primarily low-wage positions), increasing the costs of hiring (Obamacare is a pretty good example), or by increasing other regulations.
I’m dismayed by how easily the American people ignore basic cause and effect, even at the highest levels of government. Let me give you an example. If I went to the local grocery store and asked everyone “The grocery store is planning to raise their prices by 20%. Will you buy more, the same, or less?”, what do you think the responses would be? Everyone in their right mind would say “less” but we then assume the labor market is somehow different. The single best thing that we can do for the unemployed is to LOWER minimum wage and make hiring them cheaper.
Before I get accused of thinking minimum wage jobs are the answer to society’s ills, please allow me to explain. Minimum wage are and should be unacceptable to most workers. Sixteen-year-olds working fast food (just like I did in high school. I kept my paper route, too) are obviously in a different situation than working parents trying to pay the rent and keep food on the table. However, the economy pays us what we’re worth. Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos didn’t make a fortune by doing following directions for $7.25/hr. They started Apple and Amazon. Surgeons aren’t well-compensated because everyone with a knife can perform open-heart surgery. Workers who want to get ahead will seek out the training and demonstrate the skills necessary to advance from minimum wage jobs. Not everyone can be paid like a movie star, but most of us should be able to earn a decent living after graduating college or completing tech school.