Monday, April 25, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
MILLENNIALS WILL LEAD!
By Steve Fair
On Saturday, the Oklahoma Young Republicans presented me with the inaugural Steve Fair Young Republican at Heart Award. This will be an annual award given to someone who has been a mentor, role model, or benefactor to the YR group. Hope Sutterfield, the Stephens County GOP Chair, presented the award. It was a complete and total surprise. I had been in Florida for three days at the RNC Spring meeting. The YRs had asked me to conduct an auction at the first annual fundraiser. I agreed, even though it had been a long week and I was exhausted. When I arrived at the venue, my son and his family were there. They live in Tulsa and while somewhat political, their presence tipped me off that something else was afoot. When Hope announced the award will be given annually, I was simply blown away. I have been politically active for decades, but I don’t believe I have earned the honor of having an award named after me, but I so appreciate the thought. Three things
First, young people are the key to America’s future. I know we say that all the time, but so many older people refuse to let go of the reins for fear the ‘young folks’ will screw up what they have built. George Orwell said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” I understand that sentiment, but I give it no quarters. Every organization must have younger leaders developing and taking increased responsibility or that organization will die. Hope Sutterfield is a classic example. She is one of the youngest county GOP Chairs in the country and arguably is directing one of the most active. She has exceptional leadership skills and is guided by her strong conservative values. Democrats understand that young people are the future. That is why Sanders is able to fill huge arenas with young people, but that fact reveals a problem.
On Friday former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield said “If that(Sander’s socialist philosophy) is our future- we have no future.” He went on to point out that Sander’s socialist philosophy will fail. It always has. Socialism is not sustainable. Margaret Thacher said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend]." Rumsfield pointed out the failure of American education to teach simple economics to young people. For years, economics was a required basic course in college. Today less than 4% of colleges require a student to take Economics to earn a degree.
Second, mentors, role- models and benefactors to young people are in short supply. Some older folks simply don’t want to invest the time and energy to develop the next generation of leaders, but if not you, then who? When parents and people in leadership positions, particularly in education, fail to educate young people on basic economic principles, they are doing them a great disservice. Cashiers can’t count change and young adults can’t balance a check book, but it is because they haven’t been taught. No one took the time to sit down and explain simple economics. And in politics many young people are pushed aside because they haven’t ‘paid their dues,’ Not all young people want to be mentored. Some just want to lead without proving they have leadership skills, but there are plenty of young adults who want to learn. They just need an older person to take equity in them and show they care.
Third, the millennial generation WILL lead America. Millennials are those who were born after 1980. They number over 83 million in the United States. They are the largest block of consumers and voters in the country. They tend to be less religious and more liberal in both social and fiscal policy than either the Baby Boomers or Generation Xers. Make no mistake- they will lead America. Older leaders can complain about their lack of understanding and how if they are given the reins, they will fail, but rest assured, they will get the reins. By ignoring them and failing to come along side and mentor them, credibility and rapport with them is often non-existent.
It is an incredible honor to have an award named after you while you are living and I am even more humbled when I consider this award is for mentoring the next generation. Reagan said that freedom is just one generation from extinction. By the grace of God, I don’t want it to be the generation after me.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
This legislative session, State Representative Jason Nelson, (R-OKC) authored a proposal entitled, The Oklahoma Education Saving Account Act. Under Nelson’s bill, state government would deposit money for a child, based on a sliding scale depending on family income, into an education saving account. The money could be used for an accredited private or online school. The money could also be used to buy textbooks, get tutoring or pay for achievement tests. Florida has a similar program to what Nelson proposes. On their website, the Florida Department of Education says, “School choice can benefit all schools by introducing the pressures and incentives of the marketplace into the educational arena.” Nelson’s bill narrowly got out of the House Education committee (vote of 9-8), and never got to the floor of the full House for a vote.
The Oklahoma Education Association, not surprisingly, opposes Nelson’s idea. Linda Hampton, president of the OEA said, “The problem is, if you take money away from the public school, even if you take one child out, you still have to pay the teacher, the electric bills, buses,” she said. “You’ve still got all the expenses, but now you have less money.” Nelson contends that per-pupil funding would not decline under his proposal, but would slightly increase. Hampton says the idea is a slippery slope and that people shouldn’t be ‘opting out’ of government services that are important for society.
Oklahoma isn’t the only state considering school choice. Currently twenty seven states are considering mirroring Florida’s program. Lily Garcia is president of the National Education Association and says the expansion of school choice ‘terrifies’ her because it promotes the idea that school is a commodity. Garcia’s position is understandable because if school choice is expanded many parents would likely shop around for the best fit for their children and that might not be the public school system. School choice could endanger the current competition-free atmosphere that public education enjoys.
The 2013 Oklahoma Republican Party platform under the heading ‘Education’ states the following: We believe all parents should be allowed to use their education tax dollars for the family’s choice of schooling. The 2012 National Republican Party platform states: “We applaud efforts to promote school choice initiatives that give parents more control over their children’s education.” Here are three reasons that Republicans support school choice:
First, education money is taxpayer money. The money that public education receives from the legislature is your money. It belongs to you. You should have the right to determine where your money is spent on your child’s education, not the government. Parents should be involved in the decision as to where their education dollar is spent. The renowned economist Milton Friedman, who was arguing for school choice in the 1950s, said, “Parents generally have both greater interest in their children’s schooling and more intimate knowledge of their capabilities and needs than anyone else.” Friedman contended that more choices would improve public education in America. Under the current system in Oklahoma, parents who can afford it have a choice, but lower income Oklahomans must educate their kids where the government tells them to.
Second, good schools don’t need compulsion, bad ones don’t deserve it. Why should a child be compelled to go to a bad school simply because his parents can’t afford to send him to a private school? Oklahoma schools achievement test scores has been less than stellar the last few years and the answer from the education community is always the same: Give us more money. If ESAs were implemented and parents directly controlled where their educational dollars went, schools would be forced to compete in the educational marketplace. Quality educators and schools shouldn’t fear competition- they should welcome it. Good competition expands the market and results in better products and services. Competition makes you better.
Third, the purpose of public education should be to educate the public. If we are really concerned about Oklahoma kids getting an education, then why are we so focused on the venue or setting they get it? Currently 87% of children are educated in Oklahoma public schools, 10% in private schools, and 3% are home schooled, but 100% of Oklahoma taxpayer education dollars go to public education. Funding should mirror how children are being educated. It simply makes sense.Nelson’s proposal didn’t make it to the floor primarily because the legislature is facing the single largest budget deficit in state history. The price of oil has decimated state government and the timing for school choice just wasn’t right, but it is a concept whose time has come. Every Oklahoma parent should be given the right to determine the education their child receives.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
MINIMUM WAGE IS WRONG!
by Steve Fair
Minimum wage is defined as the lowest amount that employers can legally pay their workers per hour of labor. The first minimum wage law on record was passed in New Zealand back in 1894. The current minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour. Eleven states have chosen to establish a higher minimum wage than the federal mandate- the highest being Washington D.C. at $10.50 per hour. Most who support a minimum wage believe it will insure that people are paid properly for their work. Here are some simple economic principles on minimum wage:
First, companies do not pay the wages of their employees, consumers do. When the minimum wage is increased, that is simply passed onto the consumer in the form of a price increase. No company can ‘absorb’ an increase and survive. They take price increases. When the minimum wage increases, you pay more for food, gas, and every other good or service.
Second, the minimum wage law rewards the less productive. If the government requires a company to pay a ‘minimum wage’ to their employees, it means the more productive gets paid the same as the less productive. The fact is that one size doesn’t fit all. Some people are worth half of the minimum wage and others 50% more than minimum wage, but when an employer is mandated to pay both the same, the more productive employee is shortchanged. Hard workers should hate minimum wage, because slackers embrace it.
Third, minimum wage increases usually result in job losses. Every time the minimum wage is increased, companies adjust their workforce and normally lay off some workers. Most of the workers impacted are students going to school or entry level employees. Younger and less educated are the workers who usually are earning minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage hurts the very people advocates claim it is supposed to help. Some economists estimate that over 1 million jobs will be lost if the federal minimum wage is increased.
Fourth, there is absolutely no evidence raising the minimum wage will reduce poverty. As stated earlier, companies simply pass on the increases and consumers pay the higher wages. If prices for goods and services increase, then the higher prices must be paid for by the person earning the higher minimum wage.
Fifth, raising the minimum wage does not increase productivity. Getting employees to produce at a higher level is increased productivity. Minimum wage doesn’t do that. It simply artificially inflates the cost of goods and services. When an employee is given a wage increase, it should be based on merit, not because the government says you are worth so much per hour.
Politicians love to raise the minimum wage because it’s a great vote getting mechanism. If you tell people you will raise their wages, they will vote for you. The government loves an increase because they get more money if the minimum wage is increased.
The two major political parties have two very differing positions on minimum wage. The Democrats have made raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour a plank in their 2016 platform. Republicans are against an increase, to the point that they House unanimously voted down the proposed increase. Most economists generally agree that a large minimum wage increase will damage the economy. Republicans believe that wages should be based on skill, education, and the law of supply and demand.
Raising the minimum wage is immoral. It involves asking a productive hard worker to pay more for goods and services so someone who isn’t as productive can make a higher wage. It is wealth distribution and is not consistent with a free market society.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
BAD GUYS ARE REJOICING!
by Steve Fair
The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
In December 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders, (D, VT) said, “I will take the following concrete steps to reduce gun violence: strengthen and better enforce the instant background check system; close the gun-show loophole; make 'straw man' purchases a federal crime; ban semi-automatic assault weapons which are designed strictly for killing human beings; and work to fix our broken mental health system.”
In January, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “More than 33,000 Americans are killed by guns each year. It’s time to act. As President, I'll take on the gun lobby and fight for commonsense reforms to keep guns away from terrorists, domestic abusers, and other violent criminals—including comprehensive background checks and closing loopholes that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands.”
The 2012 Democrat platform states, “We can focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work together to enact commonsense improvements--like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole--so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.”
The 2012 Republican platform states, “We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment. We acknowledge, support, and defend the law-abiding citizen's God-given right of self-defense.”
After President Obama issued an Executive Order in January that requires any sale of a gun by done through a federal licensed agent, the 5 million member strong National Rifle Association issued this statement: "President Obama failed to pass his anti-gun agenda though Congress because the majority of Americans oppose more gun-control. Now he is doing what he always does when he doesn’t get his way, which is defy the will of the people and issue an executive order.” What wasn’t publicized in the EO was the order to the Pentagon to research the possibility of having future weapons for the military to be less lethal. It is clear the two major political Parties differ on this issue, so does gun control reduce crime?
First, criminals and terrorists don’t obey the law. California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in America, yet the San Bernardino shooters were still able to get guns. Paris has some of the most stringent gun laws in the world, but they have experienced large two mass shootings in the past two years. Every 3 hours, someone is shot in Chicago, despite the city’s strict gun laws. Restricting gun ownership just makes honest citizens sitting ducks. None of the reforms proposed by Clinton or Sanders would have prevented a mass shooting. Since the ISIS attack on Paris, private gun ownership is up for debate all over Europe. Even Europeans recognize they have a God given right to defend themselves. When someone is shooting in the marketplace, what would you rather have- an umbrella or a gun?
Second, private gun ownership actually reduces crime. Criminologist Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University did a study and found that there are approximately 2.1 to 2.5 million instances annually in which individual Americans use a gun to defend themselves. In a study of seventeen industrial nations conducted by the International Crime Victims Survey of what percent of their population had been victimized by crime, Australia led the list with more than 30 percent of its population. England was the second worst with a rate of 26 percent. The United States wasn’t even in the top 10. Australia and England have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world, but that hasn’t reduced crime.
The next president will appoint at least one justice on the SCOTUS. The current make-up of the court regarding the issue of the second amendment makes this appointment critical to both sides. If Clinton or Sanders wins, it’s a lead pipe cinch the court will be further restricting private ownership of weapons.
The Motor City Madman, rocker Ted Nugent says, “When the law disarms good guys, bad guys rejoice.”