MEMORIES

I guess I used to be a pretty tough guy. I rode around in a police cruiser with a .38 strapped on my hip, approached a car full of suspected bank robbers supposedly armed to the teeth, sent criminals to jail who threatened my life, sent my family out of town after receiving death threats. Raced through the streets past charred bodies helping to save lives after an explosion in the little town I lived in at the time. You know, the usual. As I approach another Christmas putting me closer to my seventh decade though, I find I’m becoming a real softie. Now that I’m mostly retired, my main focus is finally on my family. I sit and watch movies that used to fire me up with patriotic vigor and now I shed tears when I think about my own children if they had to endure what the protagonists in the films go through. I constantly worry about the direction our country is taking because of how it may affect my children and grandchildren. And I get nostalgic as I remember little incidents about the kids growing up. Like my son, the Breckster, being festooned like a Christmas tree with toy guns and knives during his Rambo stage, his fuzzy blond hair putting the best Afro to shame (he’s bald now) or the time I first went to pick up later two time Arizona state gymnastic’s champion Tiffany. As I stood in the door to the gym, I watched all these little girls running full tilt boogie down this long mat to vault. One after another, they launched themselves into the air and crashed into the pummel horse and left bruised, beaten and in tears. Oh my God, I thought as I waited in sudden fear for Tiff to take her turn. And then it happened. She ran like the wind. And…made a perfect vault. Or the time I was recording on the video cam our Xmas decorated home and the sly Melinda who was supposed to be in bed, dressed in her pjs, popping up around corners to get in the video. Tragically, Christmas time is also the time when the suicide rate is high. But for many, including myself, it is a joyous time because I get to share the holidays with my three wonderful children and now my grandchildren. If I die tomorrow, I’ll go knowing that I’ve fulfilled the best thing in life which is bringing three wonderful people into the world, getting them educated and now being able to watch them prosper. Merry Christmas.

THE MINIMUM WAGE

The purpose of the minimum wage is to ensure that anyone working receives at least some basic amount for the work they perform. According to liberal philosophy, this is necessary because we cannot trust the private sector to pay workers a fair wage. There is historical precedent for this argument, dating back to the days of the “robber barons” who shamelessly exploited workers, paying them next to nothing and providing in some cases such horrible working conditions that the workers’ very lives and health were threatened. That was then, this is now. Since we have a multitude of alphabet government agencies that protect workers, the argument has now morphed into the often unmentioned agenda by the left in support of its “redistribution of wealth.” This is nothing more than an attempt to penalize what the left sees as the evils of corporate America. Putting aside the hypocrisy by the left (in 2008 and 2012, corporate America gave millions to the President’s campaign), their argument is that we should not only increase the minimum wage to give workers more money, which would supposedly be put back into circulation and lead to more spending and by implication more jobs but we should also be playing Robin Hood by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Both the stated goal and the unstated agenda are deeply flawed. In the first instance, the non partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that by raising the minimum wage to the level now being advocated by the current administration, 400,000 jobs would be lost. Why? Because most of the businesses being operated in this country are defined as small businesses and they simply cannot afford to pay artificially established wages that have no relation to the reality of what they can earn manufacturing their widgets. From every gross dollar earned, the business pays federal taxes, including withholding for social security, corporate taxes which most small businesses get no tax breaks on, not to mention, state and local taxes. The business pays licensing fees, property taxes or rental, interest on business loans and lines of credit and bears the cost of providing extra benefits to employees including paid vacation, sick time and, of course, health care, now being mandated by the feds. After all of this, the business owner then has to pay personal taxes on whatever income is left to them. The redistribution of wealth penalizes incentive. At some point, people are not going to pursue opening businesses if they cannot look forward to making a decent profit. We now have 46 million people receiving food stamps. We have a real unemployment rate, including those who no longer even try to look for work, in double digits. Government exists from receiving its operating funds from a combination of three sources: one, it can print money; two, it can borrow money; three, it can tax the private sector. Obviously, although lost on many in government, you can only print so much currency before it becomes worthless. We already borrow 40 cents on every dollar at the federal level and a large part of that comes from China, arguably our worst enemy. And finally, as France found out after their citizens rebelled when the government announced a proposed 75% tax, you can only raise taxes to a certain point. With a current deficit of over 17 trillion dollars, the result of Bush and Obama spending, most reputable economists indicate it will take generations to pay it off. In this climate, we need to strengthen the private sector not take steps to further erode its productivity. In the final analysis, the minimum wage should be intended to provide an entry level wage while people pursue the traditional American goal of increased wealth earned in the traditional way: by dedication and hard work not through unearned entitlements leaving them dependent on the whims of largess provided by politicians. Otherwise, we will eventually end up like the Greeks, burning ourselves to death in the streets when the largess runs out.

Angelina Jolie

Although I have two children in the entertainment industry, I am not a fan of Hollywood celebrities. As with journalists, they are overwhelmingly biased on the political left, their unflagging support for the liberal/progressive agenda revealing a head shaking hypocrisy ranging from Al Gore showing up for a rally on global warming in a big gas guzzling SUV to Sean Penn’s support for a dictator guilty of killing thousands. In many respects, they remind me of the worst on the right, like skinheads and the KKK. As with any group, however, there are exceptions. While I have no doubt Ms. Jolie supports her peers politically, we must remember that politics alone, no matter how badly they may affect our daily lives do not define the persons we may be. One of the nice aspects to liberals is their charity. In a recent appearance, Ms. Jolie took time to sit down on the sidewalk with one of her fans who was having a panic attack. In the video of the incident, she comforted the young woman and even took a selfie with her. The wags may say it was just another publicity stunt but I don’t think so. As with her other charitable work, Ms. Jolie uses her status as a “star” to do some good. For this, she should be congratulated and we should all be grateful. Bravo, Ms. Jolie!