Tuesday, January 20, 2015

More free stuff! Free community college tuition for everyone!

Earlier this month President Barack Obama issued the latest in his series of bad ideas: free community college for all. "No one with drive and discipline should be denied a college education simply because they can't pay for it," Mr. Obama said. "A college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class." While that assertion may or may not be true anymore, many people may be wondering what’s wrong with the free tuition idea.

First, we have to ask if he is really serious? Or, knowing that this idea has little chance of being approved, is he setting the stage for an issue in the 2016 campaign? But, assuming he is serious, here’s some of what is wrong with this idea.

If every state participated, the White House suggests that Mr. Obama’s proposal could help 9 million students and would save full-time enrollees an average of $3,800 a year. However, using the average cost, state and federal governments would have to pick up the tab of $34.2 billion each year. And, of course, these governments will get this money from … guess who: We, the taxpayers. Nothing is free.

Never having had to pay his own way, perhaps Mr. Obama is unaware that students with “drive and discipline” have in the past managed to pay their own way to a community college, a trade school, or to a four-year institution, through part-time or full-time jobs and/or work-study programs. That is a good process that over time has gotten millions of people through school and given them valuable work experience at the same time.

Giving things away is a slippery slope. An article in the Los Angeles Times has already suggested going farther. Michael Hiltzik writes, But the proposal fails to address one glaring flaw in the nation’s overall system of public higher education: It should all be free.” Really? Why? Will this give-away mentality never end? And, furthermore, what exactly gives the president the authority to take care of kids’ college costs?

And, making significant things too easy deprives people of the ability to control their own lives. How will they ever be able to actually think about their life, develop goals, and work to achieve them? How will they become self-sufficient, and make their way in the world? The ease with which one obtains desired things is directly and inversely correlated with the appreciation one has for that which is obtained.

We can see this concept in action in federal support programs for children and unemployed adults, how dependency becomes a way of life.

Paying unwed mothers generous levels of support for themselves and their children has produced single-parent families where the mother is incentivized to have more children, not because she really wants more children, but because having more kids means getting a bigger support check.

People who have lost their job in the ultra-weak Obama recovery not infrequently turn down a new job because they can collect more in extended unemployment support than they can make at the new job. This is a significant influence in pushing the workforce participation rate to its lowest point in decades. “I can make more on unemployment than I can working one of the jobs that are available, so I’ll just drop out, and stop looking for work,” is how tens of thousands look at the situation.

This is not some unsupported theory. In March of 2013 The Huffington Post reported that the “number of days a job vacancy sits unfulfilled has gone up since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009. It currently takes an average of 23 business days for an employer to fill a job opening, compared to 15 days in 2009, according to an analysis of Labor Department data from economists at the University of Chicago and University of Maryland that was cited by The New York Times.”

In November of 2014, a study conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) reported that in the U.S. “33% of job vacancies remain open for three months or more. The cost of these unfilled jobs reaches $160 billion each year, a significant cost to the nation as a whole, businesses and individuals.”

Just as providing too much comfort through support for families and the unemployed has produced negative economic and social outcomes, so will giving away tuition to community colleges.

The truth is that Barack Obama and the others who share his poisonous ideals don’t want people to think for themselves or to be self-sufficient. Big government liberals want widespread dependency. They decry and oppose free market features and self-sufficiency at every turn, not because it is better for Americans or for the country at large, but because it suits their narrow, selfish ambitions.

Remember, back in late October of 2008, candidate Barack Obama told us he wanted to fundamentally transform the United States of America.

When those who think government is the answer to all problems, great and small, significantly outnumber those who prefer individual liberty and self-reliance, the country will have taken a step from which it will not be able to retreat. We are very near to that point.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Paris attacks again call attention to the problem of radical Islam

Because they ridiculed the Islamic prophet, 12 employees of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were killed in an organized military-style attack on its office in Paris by three terrorists with military weapons. In another event, a gunman entered a kosher grocery in the city and took several people hostage. In all, 17 innocent persons were murdered in the violence.

The AP reported the following item on January 9 that was not widely published: “Hundreds of bodies – too many to count – remain strewn in the bush in Nigeria from an Islamic extremist attack that Amnesty International suggested Friday is the ‘deadliest massacre’ in the history of Boko Haram.” One official said most of the victims were children, women and the elderly, who were unable to run fast enough to escape the savage attack.

The U.S. is quite familiar with Islamic terrorism, but over the years since September 11, 2001 the level of violence of subsequent episodes of has blessedly not been on the same large scale as the 9-11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 innocents. Which is not to say it has been a level that we can, or will, accept.

Radical Islamic terrorism is a subject many prefer not to address. To some, it is like whistling past the graveyard; if we ignore it, maybe it will go away. Still others refuse to confront it for the reality that it is. But Islamic terrorism is a growing problem in our world, perhaps the most serious thing we have to face. Certainly, it is an urgent problem.

Muslim terrorists finally have done something that produced a substantial response. A huge group gathered in Paris to commemorate the victims of last week’s terrorist activity at the hands of Islamic radicals and to show solidarity against terrorism. Reports put the total number of participants between 1.5 million and 3 million. Among those attending were 40 world leaders, among whom were French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italy's Matteo Renzi, Mariano Rajoy of Spain, Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, and Jordan's King Abdullah II and Queen Rania. Notably, both Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were there.

Conspicuously absent was the leader of the free world, President Barack Obama. Instead of joining the other world leaders who were able to make the trip, Mr. Obama stayed home. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris, not for the march, but was meeting with Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Minister of the Interior. U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley did participate in the march. Where were senior cabinet members, like Secretary of State John Kerry, the most senior cabinet officer?

Mr. Obama did find the time to visit the French Embassy in Washington, sign a book of condolences, and speak with diplomats last Thursday, and at a Friday appearance in Knoxville, TN he expressed solidarity with the people of France, and offered assistance.

This behavior is in keeping with Mr. Obama’s proclivity for avoiding any connection to the term “Islamic terrorism,” in either word or deed. While nearly everyone else notes that the terrorists are “radical” Muslims, and that the radical element is only a fraction of the more than 1 billion Muslims wordwide, Mr. Obama refuses to connect these terrorist acts to Islam at all, saying that Islam does not allow such brutality.

It cannot be ignored, however, that those who carry out these savage, cowardly attacks believe themselves to be Muslims, and frequently shout “Allahu Akbar” (God [Allah] is the Greatest) when murdering innocent people, and the terrorists attacking Charlie Hebdo added, “We have avenged the prophet.”

Whatever the basis of Mr. Obama’s reluctance to adequately identify these acts as those of radical Muslims – he called the killing of 13 U.S. military personnel at Ft Hood by a Muslim psychiatrist praising Allah “workplace violence” – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, himself a Muslim, has no such reluctance.

As reported by CNN, President el-Sisi has called for a "religious revolution," asking Muslim leaders to help in the fight against extremism when addressing the group during the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muammad. "I say and repeat, again, that we are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting on you. The entire world is waiting for your word ... because the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands," he said.

If Islam is a religion of peace, if Islam does not endorse the sort of barbarism demonstrated in these and other terrorist attacks perpetrated by people claiming to be Muslims, then Islam has to take the lead in putting an end to it.

The United States must insure that Muslims are treated like everyone else in the U.S., and not give them special treatment, good or bad. We have to take a much more proactive role in wiping this scourge from the face of the Earth by rooting out the terror cells in America and focusing on the hotbeds of Islamist extremism around the world.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The new Congress needs to focus on a few really important issues

Last November’s electoral tide gave Republicans control of both houses of the 114th Congress, which officially began January 3rd.

In the House of Representatives, the GOP increased its majority to nearly 57 percent, holding 247 seats to the Democrat’s 188, and captured the majority in the Senate from the Democrats, and now holds a 54 to 44 edge, with Independents holding the other two seats.

During the 113th Congress President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats called for Republicans to cooperate with them to pass legislation, calling Republicans “the Party of No” because they did not support Democrat legislation, as if the GOP’s job is to do what they want. Republicans didn’t just sit on their hands, however.

What you didn’t hear was much if anything at all about the hundreds of bills that were passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the great majority of which had bi-partisan support, and were forwarded to the Senate where they died of neglect on the desk of Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who refused to bring them before the Senate. Following the reasoning of Congressional Democrats, Sen. Reid therefore must be “the Majority Leader of No.”

Some believe Sen. Reid was preserving the ink in President Obama’s much-advertised veto pen, keeping the bills from passing so the president wouldn’t have to use his pen to veto them.

The notion that opposing parties should cooperate runs counter to the ideals of the Founders, who in the Declaration of Independence stated that the people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The government resulting from their efforts was designed to secure those rights, not to unnecessarily limit them by producing mountains of paper each year that tell the people all of the thousands of things they cannot do.

The Federal Register for 2013 contained 80,000 pages of rules and regulations created by the Democrat administration, and it is disturbingly true that nobody truly knows how many thousands of federal laws exist.

In a country with limited government like the United States, it naturally follows that generally the less the Congress and administrative agencies do in passing laws and generating rules, the better. Looking at the economy-crippling, job-killing, price-raising policies and rules of the EPA, and the gross malfeasance of the IRS, it is clear that limited government has been a forgotten priority in Washington for quite a while.

While most Democrats and too many Republicans encourage more cooperation to pass even more laws, The Hill lamented that “only about 280 bills will have become law in the last two years,” that the 113th Congress sent the fewest bills to a president in 20 years, which is why some call it a “do-nothing Congress.”

In our system, political parties hold a set of ideas about government. Members of the parties advance their ideas in the effort to win election to Congress. Last election America chose Republican ideas overwhelmingly.

Republicans will now put their ideas up against the ideas of Democrats, and those ideas able to attract enough support in both houses of Congress will become law, unless the president exercises his veto power and Congress cannot override it.

There is no compelling reason why Republicans should support the ideas of Democrats, short of there being actual agreement on the value of those ideas.

The Founders understood that in a country based upon liberty it should not be too easy to pass laws, particularly ones that would injudiciously limit that liberty, so they deliberately created a difficult legislative process to prevent tyranny by the majority.

Unfortunately, the majority party sometimes outsmarts the Founders, as the Democrats did in 2010 when they jammed the Affordable Care Act through Congress and down the throats of the people. That 2,700-page bill had no Republican input and got no Republican votes, and nobody actually knew what was in it when they voted on it. Certainly, this was not the proudest moment for lawmaking in American history. And it probably epitomizes why the Founders preferred gridlock to easy law-making.

Therefore, it is not important that Republicans work to support the president’s ideas, it is important that they and the Democrats work in the best interest of all the American people. If those ideas happen to line up with Mr. Obama’s initiatives, so much the better.

Legislators legislate and regulators regulate, but in America the success of those activities is measured not in the number of laws that are passed or rules that are created, but in the benefits that those activities produce for the people who employ the legislators and regulators.

In recent decades our government has failed that test.

There is much work to be done. For starters, the national debt is dangerously high and we spend way too much each year on a government that is far too big and far too powerful. The security of the southern border is a joke, and the immigration system and tax code both need overhauling,

Those problems are more than enough to keep Congress busy for more than two years. Let’s insist that Congress focuses on these issues.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

News media decline in credibility took less than a hundred years

Some recent media meltdowns call attention in the worst way to the continuing failures of much of the American news and information media. Bad judgment and abandonment of basic principles in three recent cases call attention to a long-standing slide from respectability to corruption for the nation’s news purveyors. Some examples from the recent past include: 

First, the Rolling Stone rape story, in which contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote about a female freshman at the University of Virginia identified as “Jackie,” detailing an alleged sexual assault by seven members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

Ms. Erdely did a poor job of fact-checking the story and failed to interview key individuals involved in the episode. The story was unfit to be printed in any credible publication, and caused quite a bit of turmoil at UVA. 

In defense of this journalistic malfeasance, the following notion has been floated: “Just because it wasn’t true in the Rolling Stone case doesn’t mean it isn’t true somewhere.” Such foolishness is a common defense of beliefs thought to be so important that truth takes second place.

Although Rolling Stone is a pop culture magazine, not a “real” news source, it is not excused from following the rules.

The New York Daily News, however, is a real news source, and has no excuse for this failure:
“Sarah Palin has gone rogue again - this time, giving her fans a fleshy surprise as a holiday gift,” wrote Adam Edelman in the Daily News, describing a video of Ms. Palin.

“In the episode, Palin demonstrates how to make her favorite iteration of blueberry pie, but as she delicately kneads the dough, her sweater falls down to her arms, revealing a whole lot of sun-kissed Alaskan skin and a sexy black undergarment,” wrote Mr. Edelman, a political writer for the paper.

Clearly implying that Ms. Palin was deliberately provocative, the headline blared: “Ho, ho, ho! Sarah Palin wishes fans holiday cheer as sweater falls down,” alleging she “gifted them with the naughtiest Christmas present of all – flesh.”

Perhaps Ms. Palin’s good looks dazed Mr. Edelman, confusing him about what he saw. Or didn’t see. She wasn’t wearing a sweater, as anyone who watched the video knows. The political writer’s imagination ran wild, and visions of underthings danced in his head.
It appears the delicious opportunity to ridicule Ms. Palin easily overpowered whatever journalistic ethics he and the newspaper might once have had.

For the third example, when a white police officer in Ferguson, MO shot and killed an 18 year-old black youth, the media widely portrayed the black youth as a gentle giant who had his hands up in surrender, saying “don’t shoot.”

The reaction to this seemingly tragic event was swift and angry. And wrong.

You see, it never happened. The “gentle giant,” Michael Brown, who was a giant, but was anything but gentle, had just minutes before the confrontation with officer Darren Wilson stolen cigars from a store and assaulted a store worker, disobeyed the police officer’s lawful instructions to move out of the middle of the street, attacked the police officer in his car and attempted to take his gun, then ran from the police officer. An autopsy revealed that he had marijuana in his blood, and according to grand jury testimony, never put his hands up and never said, “don’t shoot.” Instead, he attacked the officer again and died from gunshot wounds in response to his attack.

The media rushed to judgment, accepting without examination the idea that an innocent 18 year-old black youth was murdered while he was surrendering to police with his hands up. Was it because this scenario fit the preconceived notions of much of the mainstream media?
It is the reporter’s duty to scrupulously avoid injecting opinion in his or her reporting, and to carefully label unverified information, so that those in the audience have reliable information from which to form their opinions. 

American journalist and educator Walter Williams founded the world's first journalism school at the University of Missouri in 1908, and in 1914 created the Journalist’s Creed. Among the elements of the Creed are the following:

**I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of responsibility, trustees for the public; that all acceptance of lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.

**I believe that clear thinking, clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

Now, one hundred years after its creation, after witnessing so much news coverage that falls so far short of the lofty standards of the Journalist’s Creed, one may justifiably wonder whether the Creed was ever a part of the training of so many practitioners, or has merely been forsaken by them, and is as carefully concealed from journalism students as so much information is hidden from the public by our government.

The three examples listed previously only scratch the surface of the of the failure of modern news journalism to adhere to its moral and ethical mandate. Like our nation’s founding principles, journalism’s ethics and morality need to be restored.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Interesting polls, other than the North Pole, that are in the news

As the year-end draws nearer, polling organizations provide a look into the likes and dislikes of Americans.

**The Gallup organization’s daily tracking poll of December 16-18 shows that only 23 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country. Not surprisingly, a breakdown shows that 38 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of independents said they were satisfied with the way things were going in the U.S. throughout 2014, compared with just 10 percent of Republicans.

**The U-3 unemployment rate stands at 5.9 percent and the underemployed rate at 14.9 percent, based on Gallup’s thirty-day rolling average, and President Obama’s approval rating stands at 43 percent approval to 52 percent disapproval, having moved from a virtual tie at 46 percent in August of last year.

**Gallup finds Congress just a hair higher than its all-time record low approval rating of 14 percent, at 15 percent. Just 13 years ago Congress was rated at a record 56 percent, but its rating has not been higher than 20 percent in the last five years, or in six of the last seven years.

**A Rassmussen poll found that 86 percent of U.S. adults are proud to be Americans, and 92 percent believe that U.S. citizenship is very important. However, only 40 percent of voters like President Obama’s unilateral amnesty for up to five million illegal aliens to remain in the country. Roughly half think the U.S. will suffer because of the amnesty and that it will increase illegal immigration.

**The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks daily how Americans evaluate their lives on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. The Index shows 55 percent are thriving, 42 percent struggling, 4 percent suffering, and 12 percent are under stress.

**A USA Today poll in November asked whether respondents favor approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project. By 60 percent to 25 percent, respondents favor approving the project, with 14 percent unsure.

**On its Website, Gallup notes “U.S. federal government workers are less engaged than the rest of the U.S. workforce. On average, 27 percent of federal government employees are engaged in their jobs in 2014, compared with 31 percent of all other workers in the U.S. With more than 2 million federal employees, this lack of engagement is costing the federal government an estimated $18 billion in lost productivity annually, or approximately $9,000 per employee.”

Gallup says that engaged employees feel connected to their organization and work to move it forward, while those who are not engaged may meet the expectations of their job, but don’t do anything extra for it, and those who are actively disengaged actually undermine their engaged co-workers. “Those federal government employees who are actively disengaged, combined with those employees who are not engaged, translates into 11 percent lost productivity across the government, according to a Gallup analysis. This suggests that nearly $9,000 of the average $78,467 federal employee salary is not producing benefits for the agency or the general public.”

**A Rassmussen Reports poll found that respondents believe America’s Founders would view the nation today as a failure by a margin of 46 percent to 36 percent, with 18 percent being unsure. The Founders, a group that includes Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison, would not approve of what is going on in America today, according to this poll, and it is comforting to note that contemporary Americans agree with the Founders. But, will this dissatisfaction actually lead to a return to the founding principles of limited government and a high level of personal liberty?

**Fully 78 percent of participants like the health care they received before the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare was passed, but they believe that the health care they have been getting in recent years will get worse under Obamacare.

**Gallup found that among 11 professions nurses have the highest honesty and ethical standards, with 80 percent ranking them high or very high. Doctors, pharmacists, police officers and clergy round out the top five, while Members of Congress rank last at 7 percent.

**A Rassmussen poll in April reflected that 54 percent of participants consider the federal government a threat to individual liberty, while just 22 percent see government as a protector of individual rights, a number that stood at 30 percent five months earlier. Thirty-seven percent actually fear the federal government, while 47 percent do not, and 17 percent are uncertain.

**Gallup asked public school teachers if they have experienced each of seven possible emotional reactions to the Common Core State Standards (Worried, Frustrated, Resigned to it, Hopeful, Confident, Angry, or Enthusiastic), and 65 percent said Worried, 62 percent said Frustrated, and 57 percent said Resigned to it, while only 20 percent said Enthusiastic, 24 percent said Angry, and 27 percent said Confident. Forty-nine percent said they were Hopeful.

Where parents of public school students are concerned, 35 percent view Common Core negatively, 33 percent view it positively, and 32 percent aren’t familiar with it or don’t have an opinion. Gallup found a shift toward negative feelings since April when 35 percent were positive and 28 percent were negative.

Best wishes to all for a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

America’s Dilemma: Terrorism at home versus the high moral ground

A young pilot was flying a mission over enemy territory long ago and far away when defense forces badly damaged his plane, forcing him to eject. The ejection was violent, breaking both arms and one leg, and the young pilot landed in water, nearly drowning before enemy soldiers found him, dragged him ashore, crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt, stabbed him with a bayonet, and then hauled him away for interrogation. Badly injured, he was given no medical aid, but instead was put through brutal questioning sessions during which he was beaten.

He spent six weeks in a hospital where he received marginal medical treatment before being sent to another military camp. In a chest cast and being badly emaciated, he was expected not to last a week.

His condition improved slowly as time passed. But while he was ill with dysentery he was again subjected to interrogation and torture that included rope bindings and beatings every two hours, punishment so severe that he tried to kill himself to escape the brutal treatment. Eventually, he reached his breaking point, and cooperated with his captors.

A second story of actual treatment of an enemy involved the capture, interrogation and detainment in military custody that lasted several years. During this time the captive was subjected to sleep deprivation for a period of more than seven days, rectal hydration, forced standing for prolonged periods, and was water boarded five times. Eventually, the captive’s will also broke, and he cooperated with his captors.

While the treatment in the second example would certainly be unpleasant, it is less severe than the experience of the pilot in the first example, inasmuch as the captive’s life was never in danger. Some Americans, however, believe the two equally represent torture.

The pilot in the first example was now-Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., and he was shot down over Viet Nam, captured and tortured by the Viet Cong.

The person in the second example was Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a foiled attempt likely aimed at the U.S. Capitol building or the White House, claiming the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people.

Torture is the action of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, and has been practiced through the ages, and has included the most brutal treatment imaginable.

In interrogation sessions, some techniques are clearly torture, and some techniques are clearly not torture. Somewhere in the middle of these extremes, strong interrogation crosses the thin and fuzzy line into torture. Where that point is seems to be a matter of personal preference.

Having released a controversial partisan report on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee charges that the CIA’s techniques constitute torture.

The CIA vigorously disputes the Democrat leadership’s report, saying the methods were thoroughly analyzed and approved by legal consultants prior to their implementation, and that Congressional leaders were briefed on them and accepted the program. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is said to have encouraged the program.

The United States does indeed profess and uphold high-minded ideals, and most Americans oppose torture. And through this $40 million report and comments by individual senators, we are told that torture is always and forever wrong.

But is there never a circumstance where torture is justified?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., thinks not. “In the wake of 9/11, we were desperate to bring those responsible for the brutal attacks to justice. But even that urgency did not justify torture,” states the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The United States must be held to a higher standard than our enemies, yet some of our actions did not clear that bar.”

We learn that al Qaeda has placed a suitcase nuke in a major city set to detonate in a few hours. We have captured a member of the group and Sen. Feinstein questions him. He refuses to tell where the bomb is. “Okay. Thank you. Have a nice day,” she says. “After all, we are a people of principle and high morals, and won’t stoop to forceful interrogation.”

Who and how many American lives have to be at risk before those like Sen. Feinstein, clinging to the high moral ground, resort to forceful interrogation methods to save lives? Her spouse? Her hometown? Her Capital office? Or would she sacrifice American lives just to maintain the idealistic moral high ground?

You do not have to support routine use of torture to believe that in extreme cases, torture is acceptable. Many Americans believe nothing is too awful to use on an enemy in order to save lives.

So the issue is not that the United States can never use techniques generally agreed to be torture against enemies, but instead to clarify under what circumstances the United States will use those techniques, and how those decisions will be made?

Routine or indiscriminate torture is wrong. Any method used against knowledgeable enemies to save lives must be encouraged. Foolishly clinging to the high moral ground will get Americans needlessly killed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

If we raise the minimum wage, we’ll get these fantastic results!!

The narrative of the left is that even people who have never had a job and/or don’t have any skills deserve and need a “living wage.” Merriam-Webster defines a living wage as “a wage sufficient to provide the necessities and comforts essential to an acceptable standard of living,” which varies widely depending upon where one lives.

The drive for a hike in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, or sometimes as much as $15 an hour, lives on as a cause du jour for some Americans, defying the laws of business economics. Workers, labor unions, and politicians, support the wage hike through lobbying efforts, civil demonstrations, and labor strikes often paid for by labor unions.

These folks reject out of hand the fact that every job has an actual calculable value in the business it is a part of that takes into account the benefit to the business’s entire operation, the qualifications of the worker, and other real factors, unlike what drives the minimum wage hike: it is a nice idea, makes people feel good, helps unions raise members’ wages, and garners support for politicians.

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) notes that minimum wage hike proponents support an increase because it would save the government money in social support services, since those whose wages rise will be less likely to seek and need welfare benefits.

Research by the Economic Policy Institute shows that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would reduce welfare spending by $7.6 billion, but that is only 3.8 percent of the total of $200 billion in welfare spending that taxpayers fund. Not that saving seven or eight billion is a bad idea.

However, in its efforts to give to people things they should earn through personal effort, the left focuses on the benefits of their ideas, and ignores the negative consequences.

This erroneous reasoning is responsible for a long and growing list of government programs the negatives of which far outweigh their benefits. The Community Reinvestment Act combined with repealing Glass-Steagall, and Operation Fast and Furious spring quickly to mind.

Addressing the negative impact of a wage hike, NCPA cites research by Ben Gitis of the American Action Forum asserting that raising the minimum wage will result in lost jobs. His analysis shows that 2.2 million new jobs would not be created, totaling a stunning $19.8 billion in lost earnings, if the minimum wage is increased.

The truth is that the number of minimum wage earners who really need a living wage is tiny. Only about 3.6 million workers, or 2.5 percent of all workers, earn the minimum wage, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, and teenagers living at home comprise 31 percent of that group. And 55 percent are 25 years old, or younger, mostly inexperienced and just learning skills. Therefore, of all workers over 25, only 1.1 percent would be affected by a wage hike that would cost 2.2 million future jobs.

Combine that small number with the fact that well over half of workers earning less than $9.50 an hour are the second or third earner in a family, two-thirds of whom earn more than $50,000 a year, and that critical number shrinks even more.

As a percentage of hourly workers those earning the minimum wage has shrunk dramatically since 1980, when they comprised 15 percent of that group. Today, that portion is just 4.7 percent. And more than half of them are part-timers working less than 30 hours a week.

If you earn the minimum wage it certainly is appealing to imagine getting an increase in your wage of about half. But a hike in the minimum wage has to have solid economics-based reasons behind it, or it shouldn’t happen. The economic reality is that the numbers just don’t add up to support a $10.10 an hour minimum wage.

This wildly popular idea evolves from not understanding business and basic economics. How, in a country with education spending on average of $11,000 per student per year, can there be so many who have no idea about things like supply and demand, and how high costs, high taxes, excessive regulations raise prices and decrease sales.

The United States has just lost the top spot in the world in productivity to China, the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president that America has not led the world.

A friend who ran a company doing business in several foreign countries was talking about his company’s expansion into China a few years ago. At the time China had 1.35 billion people, he said: 100 million communists, and 1.25 billion capitalists.

While Communist China embraces capitalist principles and becomes the most productive nation, the United States, once the bastion of free enterprise, increasingly embraces socialistic mechanisms and lost the lead in productivity for the first time in more than 130 years.

Most likely few of the proponents have ever had to make a payroll or keep a business viable in the face challenges like competition, high taxes and onerous regulations.

Foolish ideas like raising the minimum wage without sound reason helps explain our loss to China and our overall anemic economy.