Minimum Wage

The column in the Kokomo Tribune on December 26th, 2014, titled, “Minimum wage hikes deprive vulnerable … again”, by Philip Coelho and James McClure, both Ph.D. professors of economics at Ball State University, is the most convoluted, confusing article I have read in a long time. I think they tried to make a case for eliminating the minimum wage and allowing the open market to offer wages from zero up. They try to convince the reader that a minimum wage deprives the disadvantaged of work and, if too high, that others will not have the motivation to better themselves and move to higher paying employment. At least I think that is what they tried to say. If so, I completely disagree.
A job is defined by a set of skills, knowledge, and actions. Individuals possess a wide range of skills and knowledge and corresponding ability to carry out actions. I hold the strong belief that people will not be satisfied with employment that requires less skill and knowledge IF higher paying jobs are available to them. The “Elephant in the Room” problem in the United States is that we have been engaging in a race to the bottom. Better than minimum wage jobs have disappeared by the millions even as the population in the United States continues to increase. This began and continues today with the sending of jobs to other countries; first to Mexico and then to Asia, countries with bottom dollar wages. Pick up about anything and see “Made in China”. Both political parties and their corporate buddies are responsible for selling our work force down the river in the name of free trade and lower prices for goods. What are left are minimum wage jobs by the dozens. That is much of what is available for people who before would be working in factory manufacturing jobs. As a society, we have decided no one who wants to work should be paid less than a specified minimum wage; a legal wage that would not be necessary or needed IF higher paying jobs were available. They are not.
As to the disadvantaged, provision does need to be made in wage law to promote employment for people who possess limited skills, knowledge, or the ability to fully act to carry out what is required for a specific job. Limitations of individuals do mean less economic value to the employer, but gainful employment for the disadvantaged has value to individuals and society more than purely economic value.
Beyond that, given the political and economic attitudes and policies of those in government and corporate power, a minimum wage — and a living one at that — is not only desirable but is necessary. Too many families now only able to find minimum wage jobs are on food stamps or other societal support services; cost taxpayers and compassionate givers bear rather than corporations. This is a national disgrace. As a nation, we, the people, have given away too much. If you don’t think so, take a look at corporation profits, Wall Street, and top corporation executive compensation levels.

Indiana Attorney General & Immigration

Here is language straight from the Indiana Attorney General web site….
“The Office of the Indiana Attorney General helps protect the rights, freedoms and safety you enjoy as a citizen of the Hoosier state. Attorney General Greg Zoeller and his staff are dedicated to meeting the state’s legal needs, as well as the needs and interests of its citizens.”
I think the key word in the whole paragraph is “citizens“. What the language does not say is that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is dedicated to protecting non-citizens or illegal immigrants. The citizens and tax payers of Indiana do not pay him to do that. Rather, they pay him to uphold Indiana laws; something he now thinks from which he can pick and choose.
Zoeller has refused to help Governor Mike Pence challenge the alleged illegal actions taken by President Obama as he granted immunity from deportation to about 5 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Rather the State of Indiana must hire  — at taxpayer expense — outside counsel to do the legal work Governor Pence, as the state chief executive, requested be done. The Attorney General should either abide by his oath of office or step aside. He cannot selectively make decisions about enforcement of law based upon his personal beliefs or feelings. It does not work that way in our system of government — or at least it should not.
I grant that serious changes are needed in immigration law, but it is not up to individuals in positions of enforcement authority to effectively make changes on a whim. Congress and the Indiana General Assembly are the only places law is made; not in the office of the Attorney General.
Clearly, it is not reasonable to expect the United States would deport over 11 million people who are in this country illegally. We let the matter go on much too long for that solution to work. On the other hand, there cannot be favors for violation of law. One solution suggested has been to impose fines, back taxes, and other requirements in order to become permanent residents and eventually citizens. This is crazy. Under no circumstances should those who came into and reside in the United States illegally become full-rights citizens who can vote and be given public services. This solution would be grossly unfair to those who followed law and are either now citizens or are in line awaiting legal action on the way to citizenship. If illegal immigrants want citizenship, they should be required to return to their country of origin, get in line, and wait for the legal steps as does everyone else who wants to come to the United States legally. Living in the USA illegally for any number of years should not grant special treatment.
The issue that must be resolved is that of what commonly is called “anchor babies”. This is when illegal immigrant parents birth a child in United States territory. Under current law, the child is automatically a legal resident and citizen of the United States. This law must be changed so that a child of illegal immigrant parents does not become a citizen any more than the parents are. Geography should not grant citizenship. On the other hand, the law is currently what it is. The only practical solution is to allow permanent residency to the parents of what is a citizen child, but permanent residency does not mean granting citizenship rights to those parents; rights the child has. As said earlier, if the parents want citizenship rights, they must get in line and follow immigration law.
So, like it or not, the Indiana Attorney General should uphold law, not decide for himself what he will enforce or not. I suspect the majority of Indiana citizens want immigration laws enforced. Zoeller is so worried about the illegal immigrants being taken advantage of and abused. The opportunity for mistreatment would not exist if those persons were not in Indiana illegally in the first place. I am thinking that Zoeller should be devoting himself to the protection of legal Indiana citizens. I am sure there is plenty of work to do in that regard and would take his total time and efforts. Again, if Attorney Zoeller cannot do that, he should step aside and allow someone to occupy the office of Indiana Attorney General who will.

Campus Guns

Not a good idea. State Representative Heath VanNatter thinks carrying a gun on a public university campus is a good idea. He is planning to co-sponsor a bill in the coming Indiana General Assembly that would allow persons with permits to carry concealed weapons on university grounds and in classrooms and laboratories and athletic facilities. He must think this would make campuses safer. Let’s be clear about this. He is not talking about rifles or shotguns. He is talking about handguns: pistols and revolvers. He is talking about guns that can be carried in a pocket or purse and that are easily concealed.
There is much to consider before deciding this is a good idea. This means not just administrators or faculty or campus law enforcement personnel being allowed guns. It means concealed guns in the hands of any student that has a license. In Indiana, this is anyone 18 years old or older that is not a felon. Under current law, there is no requirement for any training whatsoever for people buying any type of gun. If you can put your money on the counter, you can buy a gun. Federal law says you must be 21 to buy from a dealer, but you don’t have to be 21 to make a purchase from an individual. So, in practice, anyone can get a gun.
The student body of Indiana University, Purdue University, and Ball State University is diverse and young. Traditional freshmen are 18 years old. Seniors are 21 or so. Most have little or no experience with firearms. The ones that have experience have it mostly with rifles or shotguns used for hunting; not for shooting people. A percentage of students on campuses are enrolled via student visas and are from countries where firearms in the hands of the public are either uncommon or banned. In short, the student population has almost no exposure to the use of a handgun for killing people.
And, what is the need? Are our campuses so populated with terrorists or the mentally ill that more and more of the general student population needs to be armed. Every one of these campuses has a police force there for the protection of people and property. That is their job; and one that they do well. Disturbances, violence, and shootings are extremely rare on Indiana college campuses. No campus currently allows handguns on its property and all seem to be very safe.
Yes, there have been very rare occasions when a shooting has occurred or when an abduction or rape has happened. The problem is that events happen so fast and so unpredictably that the likelihood of a private citizen with a gun to be able to protect himself or herself with a carried weapon is extremely unlikely; like near zero. People are not trained to react this way with or without a weapon. The environment on campus is not threatening or hostile. Students are not on high alert day in and day out.
The best prevention is to simply be aware of one’s environment and not stray into situations or places that increase the opportunity for bad things to happen. This means don’t decide it is OK to head out solo at 2:00am to get a pizza. Or don’t work at the lab until wee hours of the morning alone. Have companions to travel with at times when common wisdom suggests so. It does not mean go it alone and keep you hand on your gun. Impulsive reaction is simply too easy under such circumstances.
Representative VanNatter needs to rethink this one. Putting handguns into the hands of about anyone on campus is just not wise. It increases, not decreases, the chance for catastrophic unintended consequences on our presently very safe state university campuses. Let each university set its own campus policies. Keep the General Assembly and the NRA out of it.

Camp Tecumseh and Hogs!

My first reaction to the Associated Press story about the proposed 9,000 hog confinement feeding operation to be located in close proximity to the YMCA Camp Tecumseh was just plain anger. Confinement Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are about as inhumane an agriculture practice that we do, but to locate one in a way that damages the YMCA camp environment is unconscionable.
Camp Tecumseh has been around for decades. It has been the experience of a life time for thousands of children and adults, too. In our times of asphalt, concrete, and electronics; having a place for an experience of nature is rare. The value is beyond measure.
I have to conclude the White County Commissioners are not the brightest lights on the block to have made a decision approving a hog farm of 9,000 animals to be within 800 yards of Tecumseh. Or could it be that Tecumseh is in Carroll County and White County Commissioners just don’t give a damn. They see only economic gain for White County.
Whatever the reasons, it is my hope and prayer that this project be ultimately defeated permanently. The lives of the children who benefit from the Tecumseh experience are more important than 9,000 hogs.

Keep Americans in the Dark Bill 4432

Your right to know what is in the food you purchase will become “keep them in the dark; they are too stupid” to know what is good for them if House Bill 4432 passes Congress. This bill is scheduled for its first reading in the House of Representatives on December 10th.
The fight is over whether you have a right to know if food you purchase at the grocery and feed to your family contains genetically modified ingredients, commonly referred to as GMOs. Sixty four countries, but not the United States, require foods to be labeled as having genetically engineered parts. Labeling is not required in the United States because giant chemical/seed companies such as Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and others that sell genetically modified seed and the poisons used to kill weeds and insects don’t want you to know. You might choose not to buy GMO containing foods.
And why should you care if you eat genetically modified foods? One reason is the pesticides (poisons) used on the crops that become food for us or for livestock follow the crop. These poisons are referred to as pesticide residues, but call them what you may, they are poisons. The government has set allowed amounts of these poisons to be in foods and then tells us they are safe for us to eat. There is one genetically engineered corn that makes its own pesticide (poison) in every cell of the plant including in every kernel of corn. Studies have shown that all of us already carry around in our bodies a load of harmful chemicals. Some are cancer causing. Some are harmful to our livers, kidneys, and other organs including our brains. Some are harmful to our hormone system that controls all sorts of bodily development and function. But what we take in from pesticide residue is safe, if you believe the government.
Genetically engineered crops were simply declared safe by government decree. The government said there was no significant difference between standard crops and those that had been genetically engineered. The 64 other countries that require labeling decided there is a difference. In the US, there have been no long term safety studies on genetically engineered crops. However, evidence continues to emerge that calls safety into serious question — safety for consumption and safety for the environment.
The big deal about HR4432 is that it would prohibit any state in the United States from passing and enforcing legislation requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. It would place all authority for such a requirement in the hands of the very agency that has failed us in the first place, the FDA. HR4432 would literally erase bills already passed in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine. It would block labeling efforts ongoing in many other states. When legislation requiring labeling is proposed in a state, big chemical/seed and the large food processing companies pour millions of dollars into opposition advertising. Now they are concentrating efforts into the passage of HR4432.
Indiana has nine representatives in Congress. Two of them, Todd Rokita (R-District 4) and Martin Stutzman (R-District 3) have joined Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas in sponsoring HR 4432. This bill is titled “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014”, when it should be titled “Deny Americans the Right to Know Act of 2014”. Reps Rokita and Stutzman along with big chemical/seed and food processing companies, have decided you should stay in the dark.