Tuesday, October 06, 2015

How defective Republican Congressional leadership threatens liberty

Wednesday morning on Bloomberg Business TV’s “The Pulse,” host Francine Lacqua brought up the situation in the House of Representatives following House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announcing his retirement later this month. Program contributor Hans Nichols opined that a group of 40-50 Republicans that he characterized as saying no to everything, that doesn’t want to lead, and wants to shut things down, has plagued Mr. Boehner, whereas by contrast Mr. Boehner and the leadership were trying to “govern.” Although Mr. Nichols didn’t use a term to describe that group, “radical” is a term commonly used.

What Mr. Nichols misses is that the idea of “governing” employed by Speaker Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is all too similar to that of the former Democrat leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who led with such foresight that the Democrats lost control of the Congress.

Too many Americans seem not to understand that political parties evolved from differences in philosophies, which introduce a diversity of ideas into the governing process. (They like diversity, except in politics, where it is truly needed.) Thus, there is a better chance of finding good solutions to problems, when solutions are needed. And when no proposal can gather enough support among the diverse membership of the two houses, they enact no legislation.

What the “radical” faction of the Republican majority did is exactly what the Founders envisioned the Legislative Branch doing: introducing and advocating the things they believe are needed, and opposing those that they believe are not needed, or may even be harmful. Making legislation was never intended to be a smooth and easy process. As Otto von Bismarck said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

The idea is that competing political philosophies propose ideas to address a problem and try to find areas of agreement on important and appropriate issues. Virtually every Republican or Democrat proposal contains elements that the opposing party will not agree with, but they may well – and should – contain elements that both sides can agree on. Those are what should become law, and the rest should be tabled or trashed.

This approach means that both sides get less than they want, but the country gets solutions that gather enough bi-partisan support to be approved, which likely means that a true bi-partisan solution has a fair chance of working.

It is not uncommon for Congressional Democrats to introduce legislation that they know Republicans will oppose, which then allows them to accuse the GOP of partisanship and obstructing progress for political purposes. The compliant media then engages its corruption squad to give the Democrat position nearly exclusive support.

It is a political process, after all. But which side is the more actively political: the one that opposes measures it believes are bad, or the one that designs measures to fail?

What if one party offers proposals that the other party, or a significant number of its members, can find no common ground in. What it Party A offers a measure for Party B to have his left hand amputated? Does Party B compromise on losing only a finger or two?

The “radicals” in the Republican Party oppose measures they see as antithetical to the founding principles. These are the kinds of proposals they say “No” to, and do not support.

When the Republicans gained a majority in both houses of Congress, their supporters rightly expected to see changes in the way Congress worked.  They wanted strong conservative actions from their elected representatives, in contrast to the liberal measures brought forth by the former Democrat majority.

Instead, Congressional Republican leaders have sat around while the president ignored the role and duties of the Congress to put his agenda in place. The “radical” Republicans strongly object to this failure of the legislative branch to protect its authority and do its duty. So should we all.

The Republican leadership cowers in a corner when there is pressure to bring a measure to a vote, knowing that even if the measure passes, the president will veto it. “If we know he will veto it, why waste the time it will take to pass it?” Here’s why: Because if Republicans don’t vote on and pass a measure, then they have taken no official position. The Congressional leadership will have decided the issue by inaction rather than forcing the president to take a public position by vetoing legislation passed by Congress. The majority party will have given the president an easy victory, and surrendered the right to complain about the results. This is not leadership.

The Republicans that Mr. Nichols seemingly holds in such disdain are working to uphold fundamental American political values, which is what the voters that delivered the Republicans the majority expect. If advocating fundamental principles has now become a radical activity, it demonstrates just how far the political left has moved from the principles that allowed America to grow into the most successful and free nation in history.

We must restore the founding values to the federal government: smaller, less expensive, non-wasteful, responsive, constitutional government, a government that truly serves the people who pay for it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Religious beliefs take a beating in today’s politically correct world

Issues of religious freedom have been in the news a good bit lately. Primarily, these news events occur when someone finds their religious beliefs in conflict with another person’s secular desire. A baker or a florist who regularly sells their wares to gay/lesbian customers declines to bake a cake or make floral arrangements for their wedding because their religious beliefs do not approve homosexual marriage. Despite the fact that there are many, or if not many, at least some alternatives to those bakers or florists, those who refused to provide services were persecuted and some driven out of business by the uproar the offended gay/lesbian couples instigated because these people held to their religious beliefs.

More recently, a county clerk in Kentucky refused to sign marriage licenses of gay/lesbian couples after a court ruled that treating gay/lesbian couples differently than heterosexual couples is discrimination, and therefore illegal. A judge jailed the clerk for refusing to act, despite the commonly observed practice by judges of using the least radical punishment for such problems first, and then proceeding to more stringent punishment and ultimately jail as the last resort.

This last episode is a much different situation than those previously mentioned, as it involves a government employee refusing to do her sworn duty. But the attention it received and the way the judge handled the clerk does illustrate the size of the schism between people following their religious beliefs and social preferences or legal mandates.

If there were options other than punishing these Americans for following their religious beliefs, why were bakers, florists, and others who have had similar misfortunes singled out for what may rightly be termed persecution. This point is particularly relevant in a nation in which the first right among four specifically enumerated rights in the first of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights is the free exercise of religion?

It is also relevant to note the degree to which these events attract media coverage, which highlights how unpopular traditional religious practices have become to the media and many Americans in the 21st century.

Combine a media mindset apparently hostile to religious practices with a tendency to try to tear down Republican presidential candidates and you find Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson being given rough treatment after saying that a Muslim shouldn’t be President of the United States. "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that," he said a while back on NBC's "Meet the Press."

A bit later in the interview, he said, when asked about a Muslim running for Congress, that it would depend upon the individual in question. "Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just like it depends on what anybody else is," Dr. Carson said. "If there's somebody who is of any faith but they say things and their life has been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed and bring peace and harmony, then I'm with them."

Host Chuck Todd also asked him whether a president's faith should matter to voters. "I guess it depends on what that faith is," he said. "If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem." Asked whether he thinks Islam is consistent with the Constitution, Carson said: "No, I don't – I do not."

Clearly, Dr. Carson believes that anyone subjugating their religious beliefs, whatever religious beliefs they may hold, to the requirements of our Constitution is the key element.

He appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” last Sunday where reporter Martha Raddatz grilled him on that same statement, either ignorant of his other comments further defining his view on the issue, or unwilling to acknowledge them. Here is part of that interview:

Raddatz: “I want to go back to your controversial comments on the possibility of a Muslim president. The question seemed quite clear. The question was: Should a president’s faith matter? You said, I guess it depends on what that faith is. The question was: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution, and you said no, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that. 

Do you stand by that now?”

Carson: “Well, first of all, you know, what I said is on a transcript and it’s there for anybody.”

Raddatz: “I’m reading the transcript, Dr. Carson, that’s exactly what you said.”

Carson: “No – read the paragraph before that where I said anybody, doesn’t matter what their religious background, if they accept American values and principles and are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our Constitution. I have no problem with them.

Why do you guys always leave that part out, I wonder?”

Political correctness – or opposing unpopular things in favor of popular things – is the order of the day, in life and in the media.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Finding the way to Democrat and Republican nominees for president

We are currently knee-deep in political primary season, as the two major political parties and voters analyze and reduce the list of hopeful candidates to the eventual nominees. Most will probably agree that this particular cycle is a bit unusual, as one side has a candidate who expected a coronation, but instead sees her numbers falling dramatically in the face of a strong challenge, and a long list of candidates on the other side is being dominated not by an experienced familiar face, but by an outspoken and blunt outsider to the political process.

Businessman Donald Trump continues to lead the large Republican pack, defying the predictions of many political pundits who said he was a flash in the pan, and the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finds self-described “democratic socialist” and political independent Sen. Bernie Sanders nipping at her heels among Democrats.

Mr. Trump’s shoot from the lip style is heavy on bluster and self-confidence, but light on substance. Mrs. Clinton relies on comments in defense of her indefensible use of a private email server that are truly silly. "Looking back,” she said, “it would have been probably, you know, smarter to have used two devices" for her emails, as if you can’t access more than one email account on any “device,” and ignoring the server issue altogether.

And then there is Bernie Sanders. The Vermont independent is proposing an array of socialist programs, the cost of which that would likely be the largest spending program in American history, dwarfing the gargantuan spending spree of Barack Obama., who pushed the national debt up by more than $5 trillion in his less-than seven years in office, a debt that now totals more than $18 trillion. That enormous number has been growing for many years, and is something that neither Democrats nor Republicans in the White House and Congress have treated as a serious problem for far too long.

Sen. Sanders proposes to spend another $18 trillion over 10 years, including an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run single-payer health-care program covering every American, as well as more money to rebuild roads and bridges, make college tuition free, and expand Social Security. That ought to strike fear into everyone, and it has done just that even for many Democrats.

It will come as no surprise that the preferred way of financing this absurd plan is raising taxes, perhaps including a hike in payroll taxes on employers and workers. These tax increases, Sen. Sanders believes, will bring in only $6.5 trillion over the 10-year period, if it all goes as he plans. Maybe he doesn’t realize that when you raise taxes on an activity, you get less of it, and therefore less in tax collections than might be assumed.

Liberal Democrats and other socialist-leaning folks love giveaways like free tuition and healthcare, and seem either immune to, or not to care about, the negative impact on society so long as it helps them in the next election. But there are important negatives in this plan that threaten America’s future.

The marriage rate has plummeted since 1980 and out-of-wedlock childbirth has soared, weakening the most dependable stabilizer of society in history, the traditional family, consisting of a mother, a father and their children. A 2013 report noted that fewer than half of American households now contain a traditional nuclear family; that 40 percent of children are now born into households without a father; and non-married cohabitation is seven times higher than it was in 1970. Another report showed that 40.7 percent of all children born in 2012 were out-of-wedlock births.

The liberal/socialist tendency to support dependency actually encourages these dangerous behaviors by subsidizing non-familial living conditions, such as increasing welfare payments for having additional children, and cutting support payments in some cases when unmarried women get married and bring a man into the home. The message: Don’t get married; you will lose subsidies if you do.

The more people that live off the government, the fewer people will be working and funding the government and its destructive subsidies through tax payments. The system is simply economically unsustainable at the level Sen. Sanders proposes, and even at the current level damages the individual self-reliance that built and sustains the American idea.

So, Bernie Sanders expects this foolhardy plan to propel him to the Democrat nomination and to eventual victory over whichever of the Republicans survives this crazy primary process.

For socialists/liberals, more is never enough. Their problem is that, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said, “at some point you run out of other people’s money,” the mother’s milk of socialism. They are handcuffed by what economist Dr. Thomas Sowell calls “stage-one thinking,” which involves grabbing onto an idea to solve a problem without projecting its consequences a few steps down the road. Failure generally ensues.

At this point Democrats must choose between the proudly socialist Sanders and the somewhat less socialistic Clinton. The Republicans have a broad and deep field, some who have proven they know how to run a government, create jobs, cut taxes, and grow their state’s economy. That mindset is what we need now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What, exactly, is the real goal of the Iran nuclear agreement?

“Senate Democrats voted to uphold the hard-fought nuclear accord with Iran on Thursday, overcoming ferocious GOP opposition and delivering President Barack Obama a legacy-making victory on his top foreign policy priority.” So read the opening paragraph of the Associated Press story last Friday, identifying the Obama legacy as one product of the deal on Iranian nuclear aspirations.

A presidential legacy has been an elusive goal for Mr. Obama, as previous efforts have dramatically fallen by the wayside. He is succeeding in killing the coal industry in the name of environmental improvement, but the improvement is virtually non-existent, while economic harm and lost jobs dwarf any noticeable environmental improvement.

Certainly, no one will consider the Fast and Furious gun-running debacle that led to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent or the incompetent handling of the Benghazi, Libya situation that resulted in the murders of four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya, as the stuff of which a legacy is made.

And, the supposed jewel in the crown, the Affordable Care Act, which is affectionately known as Obamacare, is as bad as it is good, or worse.

One remaining possibility is to fashion an historic agreement to reign in the efforts of Iran, the world’s greatest supporter of global terrorism, to acquire nuclear weapons. A multi-national agreement – a treaty – led by the United States, bringing nations together to stop the rogue nation’s nuclear advances and save Israel and perhaps the U.S. from potential nuclear catastrophe.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a treaty as “an agreement between two or more independent states,” meaning two or more nations, and Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: “He [the President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…”

But there’s a problem. The agreement that these nations created has stark weaknesses that have produced strong, principled opposition.

But credit Mr. Obama for recognizing those weaknesses and developing a strategy to minimize their effect on getting the deal approved: rather than submit the treaty as a treaty, he managed to maneuver it around so that it is merely an “agreement” that doesn’t require Senate approval.

But make no mistake: this agreement IS a treaty. And so is the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 13 other nations, that Mr. Obama also prefers to pass off as a mere “agreement.”

However, if the treaty clause of the Constitution means anything it must be applied to those two agreements because they are not simple agreements about an ambassador or similar routine matter; they will affect the nation for decades to come, long after Mr. Obama has gone on his way.

The Senate’s role is outlined on the Senate.gov Website as follows, in part: “As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist no. 75, ‘the operation of treaties as laws, plead strongly for the participation of the whole or a portion of the legislative body in the office of making them.’ The constitutional requirement that the Senate approve a treaty with a two-thirds vote means that successful treaties must gain support that overcomes partisan division.”

Given the importance of the Iran agreement and the TPP, trying to call them something other than treaties so as to circumvent Constitutionally required Senate approval tells us a lot about the weaknesses of the Iran deal. And it says plenty about Barack Obama, who works hard to avoid the constitutional separation of powers for his own benefit.

Virginia’s 9th District Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith issued a statement last week that reads in part: “The President’s deeply flawed and misguided deal with Iran is a serious security matter not only for the United States, but also for our allies in the Middle East. I believe we must use all tools possible to stop this deal in its tracks and avoid placing our citizens and allies at greater risk.”

Further opposition came from three Senators from the president’s own party, who have vastly more experience than he does in foreign policy – Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, Ben Carden, of Maryland, and Robert Menendez of New Jersey –  who decided to oppose the Iran agreement. However, enough Senate Democrats like the agreement to defeat the Senate effort to stop it, which consisted of passing a resolution of disapproval, which Mr. Obama could veto. Democrats have enough votes to prevent over-riding the veto, however.

The deal includes lifting sanctions on $140 billion or so of locked-up Iranian funds, prevents American inspectors from participating in any inspections of Iranian facilities, provides for Iran to conduct all inspections at the Parchin nuclear bomb trigger development site, and provides for a 24-day delay in some inspection demands. And last weekend Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has previously said that Israel would not survive another 25 years and has pledged “Death to America,” urged radicals to launch lone wolf attacks against Americans.

What could possible go wrong?

This agreement may get Barack Obama the legacy he seeks, but will ultimately maintain the significant risk the U.S. and its allies face from a nuclear Iran. Is that a legacy worth having?

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction

    A year ago a poll by The Wall Street Journal and NBC found that 71 percent of Americans are pessimistic about the nation’s long-term prospects; we are on the wrong track, they believe, and they direct their blame at the elected leaders in Washington. Sixty percent think the country is in a state of decline.
    A couple of months later a Politico poll showed that half believe we are on the wrong track, while only about 20 percent thought we are on the right track. And 64 percent believe the country is “out of control.”
    This discontent runs so deep that 57 percent of those in the Journal/NBC poll said something upset them enough to carry a protest sign for one day, including 61 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans.
    Their national government has grown in size and cost. The 2010 Census lists federal civilian employment at 2.8 million, 2 percent of total employment, and one federal employee for every 117 people. In 2014, Cost of Government Day fell on July 6.  Working people had to work 186 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government. In FY2014 the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, $484 billion more than it took in.
    The degree of power the federal government exercises over its citizens has grown to ridiculous levels. So extensive has government intrusiveness become that it now decides the kinds of light bulbs we can use and regulates the toilets we can buy, and is about to exert control over outdoor cooking grills and people who heat their homes by burning wood. It attempted to gain the power to come onto your property and take control of part or all of it if areas there collect a sufficient amount of rainwater.
    Government incompetence, long a subject of ridicule, is at an all-time high. Among recent failures:
** The bright idea to allow guns to flow to Mexican drug cartels, resulting in the death of Border Patrol Agent Bryan Terry.
** Failure to respond to requests for additional security led to the murder of our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three more Americans in Benghazi.
** The IRS went to war against politically conservative organizations that had applied for tax-exempt status.
** The Veterans Administration’s disgraceful treatment of American military veterans is so awful that Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson suggested doing away with the agency and putting the Department of Defense in charge of veterans’ healthcare.
** President Barack Obama thinks that climate change is a greater threat and more important than crime-ridden inner cities, terrorism, or a nuclear Iran, and supports measures that will cost millions of dollars and thousands of jobs, all for a fraction of a percent improvement in the environment, if that.
    The business environment in the U.S. has become such that American companies find it more beneficial to move operations out of the country than to keep them here; all the while some in government condemn those businesses as “greedy” and “unpatriotic.”
    With the campaign season for the 2016 presidential election well underway, the Republican field of 17 candidates is led not by existing office holders in Congress or statehouses, but by three non-politicians who have never held elective office before: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. As of last Wednesday, the combined approval percentages for those three totaled 56 percent of all 17 candidates. This unusual circumstance has occurred despite the fact that several of the other candidates have achieved significant success as governors, which is a good indicator that they could effectively run the federal government. Others have been strong conservatives in Congress. This underscores the idea that people are disgusted with government and those who are involved in it at both the federal and state levels.
    Government grows in size, cost and power because those in government want it to, and those who put people in power have not elected people who want to constrain government growth. Yes, it is true that people who are elected because they advocated smaller, less expensive, more efficient government, and conservative values frequently fail to follow their campaign promises, as we see from observing the actions of the current Republican-controlled Congress.
    We should not count on the rising generation for much help to correct this situation. Pew Research in March of last year reported that this group votes heavily Democrat and supports an activist government.
    “As a general and logical matter, younger people’s dearth of life experiences and their quixotic idealism make them especially vulnerable to simplistic appeals and emotional manipulation for utopia’s grandiosity and social causes, which are proclaimed achievable only through top-down governmental designs and social engineering,” so writes author and legal scholar Mark Levin in his great new book Plunder and Deceit.
    He notes, “the relentless indoctrination and radicalization of younger people … from kindergarten through twelfth grade to higher education in colleges and universities” as why the rising generation does not have an appreciation for American traditions and values.
    Therefore, the challenging job of restoring America falls to their parents’ generation, who must elect people who truly value America’s traditions.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Virginia on-air murders are opportunity for gun control demagoguery

Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has again demonstrated the poor judgment for which she has recently become so well known with her efforts to be the first to jump on the gun control bandwagon following the on-air murders of two WDBJ-TV journalists and the wounding of a person being interviewed. After a brief expression of shock and sympathy, she then said, “We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer.”

What most of us see as a tragedy Mrs. Clinton used as a campaign opportunity, strictly adhering to former Obama White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s advice, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Her statement “We must act to stop gun violence” contains one wrong word: “gun.” Missing the point, like so many demagogues and people-control enthusiasts on the left, she would like nothing more than a nation where there are no firearms in the hands of citizens.

The truth is that an idiot or a maniac like the one at Smith Mountain Lake last week, or the vicious savages who commit violent acts, will kill or assault with or without a gun, and a determined person who wants a gun badly enough will find a way to get one.

The gay black former employee of WDBJ and other news departments had significant behavioral problems that caused him to lose his job in Roanoke and then blame everyone else for his problems. He filed unfounded charges against the TV station after being counseled for shortcomings on the job, losing that job and having to be escorted from the building.

He didn’t have a gun problem; he had a head problem. We now know he had problems with previous employers, residents of his apartment building and a local restaurant, displaying mental instability in each circumstance. That, Mrs. Clinton, is what you should care about, instead of knee-jerking to the wrong conclusion.

A new piece of information that is highly inconvenient for Mrs. Clinton and the gun control fanatics is that on August 26 Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Thomas Faison confirmed that the Virginia gunman legally bought his gun weeks ago and that “he apparently passed a background check” to get the gun. What happened to the much vaunted background check process put in place to control gun sales?

Matching Mrs. Clinton’s failure to focus correctly on the real issue is President Barack Obama, who commented after the shooting: “What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism.” Perhaps he forgot about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, the jihadist Army doctor who killed 13 people at his clinic at Ft. Hood, TX, and the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, OK, that killed 168 people.

Mr. Obama yet again demonstrated that how he reacts to a shooting situation depends upon who shot whom. In Ferguson, MO when a white police officer shot and killed a black criminal who attacked him, the president blamed the police officer, not the criminal. But in this instance, a black man shot and killed two innocent white people, and he blamed the gun, not the shooter.

Folks like Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama see additional and more restrictive laws that affect law-abiding citizens as the solution to shooting deaths, without any apparent recognition of other factors that are at least as important as guns and usually, as in this case, more important.

Given that the laws we have didn’t work, what additional law would have prevented this murderous act, and still comport with the unequivocal right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment?

Surprisingly, The Washington Times reported Friday that the White House conceded that new gun regulations probably wouldn’t have prevented this shooting. “White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it appears that a proposal championed by President Obama to require background checks on purchases at gun shows ‘would not have applied in this particular case.’”

Perhaps those on the left might want to look at their efforts to create victims at every turn and to make victimhood an excuse for people to do pretty much anything they want. The Smith Mountain Lake murderer apparently believed his fellow workers at two or more TV stations where he had worked disliked him because he was a black man, or because he was a homosexual. Apparently, he viewed even the counseling by management about his job performance as racist or homophobic, not legitimate job improvement counseling.

Society’s problems won’t be solved by using tragedies to advance political agendas, as Mrs. Clinton did with this horrible, inexplicable murder. We can only solve them by focusing on the actual problems. Guns are only a problem when people who have violent intent deliberately use them illegally to commit violence. We will not reduce those incidents by restricting the ability of law-abiding people to protect themselves and their families, or to use firearms for other legal purposes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Two topics: Cultural change and raising the minimum wage

Cultural transformation is slow and very often quite difficult

August is notable for several reasons, among which is that it marks the end of summer for school children and the beginnings of football season, but more importantly because it was this month in 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, at long last giving the right of the vote to all American women.

An article on Newspapers.com by Trevor Hammond gives the following information on this event: “Women’s suffrage in America was a divisive issue from the very beginning of the organized movement at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Over the ensuing 72 years, while women gradually won the right to vote in some state and local elections, they continued to fight for full suffrage. Eventually, the suffragists of the 19th century gave way to the ‘suffragettes’ of the 20th century, with their more confrontational tactics, influenced by the militant women’s suffrage movement in Britain.”

The organizers of the Senaca Falls Convention were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, and along with Susan B. Anthony they generated the effort that raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women.

The next seven decades were marked by successes, failures, civil disobedience from those both pro and con, and finally Tennessee’s state legislature voted to ratify the amendment on August 18 after the 48-48 tie was broken when Rep. Harry Burn changed his mind, deciding to support the amendment at the behest of his mother. That made Tennessee the 36th state to ratify the amendment. Days later, on August 26, the vote became official when U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the document.

Today, we wonder at how it could have ever been that women did not have the same rights as men for many things, not just for voting. Some believe that this inequality was due simply to the fact that men deliberately kept women in subservient positions; they were misogynists and domineering louts. 

And, of course, through the ages there were and still are domineering louts among us. But that is not why it took so long for women to get the right to vote; men had their roles and women had theirs, for entirely different reasons, and it was like that for a long, long time.

Maybe that all started in the Garden of Eden, or with the first homo sapiens, whichever version you prefer, but the early gender roles were pre-determined not by what one gender or the other chose to do, but by the physical attributes of the two genders and the duties placed on each by the need to survive and procreate. Women were child bearers and nurturers, and men hunted and defended the home.

Cultural change is a slow, deliberate process.

* * * * *

The Effects of Raising the Minimum Wage

More clear thinking on the idea of a higher minimum wage comes from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, by way of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

Mr. Holtz-Eakin is a former economics professor and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and produced a piece for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research this past July, which NCPA recently highlighted.

He reminds readers of the economic reality that higher minimum wages will ultimately eliminate jobs and/or reduce employment growth, and can harm the very poor, who are the ones the higher minimum was intended to help.

Of the political drive to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to as high as $12 or $15 an hour, supported by the White House, Mr. Holtz-Eakin says, “While a minimum-wage hike would benefit millions of workers with higher earnings, it would also hurt millions of others who would lose earnings because they cannot attain or retain a job. Our estimates show that raising the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 would:
   * Affect 38.3 million low-wage workers.
   * Cost 3.8 million low-wage jobs.
   * Only 5.8 percent of the total income raise would go to low-wage workers who are actually in poverty.”

Focusing on the benefits of working, he notes, “it's important to keep in mind that work itself benefits those of modest means. In other words, [raising the minimum wage] is the reverse of Robin Hoodism: taking jobs and income from the poorest to give to those who are better off. The wealthy, whom demagogues now attack, would be untouched. The first job, even at relatively low pay, provides that first step on the ladder of upward mobility. Eliminating those rungs on the ladder threatens the future of workers who are starting out today.”

There are better ways to assist low-income Americans than raising the minimum wage to a level that ultimately hurts them more than it helps, he wrote, among which are the Earned Income Tax Credit, targeted wage supplements and a more effective public-education system that will assist low-income Americans and to make work pay, while not reducing job growth. “The poor cannot afford counterproductive initiatives advanced in their name but harmful to their lives.”