The mock-benevolence of “compassionate” legislation 1

By Tom Quiner

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was a compassionate piece of legislation, right? It prevented discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

Anyone who opposed that piece of legislation is considered mean-spirited, devoid of a drop of humanity.

How about the extension of jobless benefits from a standard half year to closer to two years (99 months)?  These are tough times, right?  In the name of compassion, let’s subsidize unemployment.

Anyone who opposed that piece of legislation is considered mean-spirited, devoid of a drop of humanity.

And what about the minimum wage?  People should be paid what they need, not what they’re worth, right?

Anyone who opposed the two recent bumps in the minimum wage is considered mean-spirited, devoid of a drop of humanity.

These legislative initiatives are compassionate.  They make us feel good.  But do they work?

The ADA was designed to make it easier for folks with disabilities to find jobs. Researchers at MIT studied it. They found that, in fact, employment for men with disabilities between the ages of 21 and 58 dropped after the passage of the ADA.  They found it dropped for women between the ages of 21 and 39.  Why?  Because the disabled became a protected class. The number of lawsuits increased when they lost a job.  The threat of increased lawsuits is a deterrent to employers, because the cost and aggravation went up to hire the disabled.

The “hire the disabled” programs that were in place before the ADA have gone away.

What about the extension of jobless benefits from 26 to 99 weeks. Beside the cost to taxpayers for subsidizing unemployment, what could be wrong with that?  According to Harvard economist, Robert Barro, it has actually worsened the unemployment rate. I quote him from his piece in the Wall Street Journal:  “My calculations suggest the jobless rate could be as low as 6.8% instead of 9.5%, if jobless benefits hadn’t been extended to 99 weeks.”

Why?  According to Barro, more compassionate benefits distort efficiency, prolonging unemployment due to insufficient job search.  Unemployment was higher in 1982 than now, but it wasn’t as prolonged, because unemployment wasn’t subsidized as long by the taxpayers.

Finally, what about the minimum wage, what could be wrong with that?  Here’s what: it suppresses employment for the least skilled workers in society, teenagers. It especially hurts employment prospects for black teenage males.  A year ago, the minimum wage was increased to $7.25.  Unemployment for these black young men immediately shot up from about 39% to about 50%.

How could it do anything else?  If you require employers to pay people more than what they’re worth, more employers will take a pass.

So, in the name of compassion, we have passed legislation that ultimately hurts the people we’re trying to help.  Feelings trump critical thinking.

So, in the name of feelings, take a few minutes to listen the song above.  It pays tributes to legislation that truly is “nothing more than feelings.”

ObamaCare hurts Health Savings Accounts 4

By Tom Quiner

I am self-employed, the owner of a small business.  In order to control health insurance costs, my wife and I purchased a policy with a high deductible supplemented by a Health Savings Account (HSA).

The high-deductible policy reduced my premiums substantially.

The HSA allows me to save up to $5000 of tax deductible dollars to be used toward medical expenses, including dental, eyeglasses, and over-the-counter medications.

Because I pay many doctor bills directly until my deductible is reached, I have incentive to shop for the best price on prescriptions and some medical tests.  In other words, I am a conscientious consumer of medical products and services.

It makes sense.

Beginning January 1st, ObamaCare will cap my annual contribution at $2500 and will no longer allow me to purchase over-the-counter medications using my HSA (Section 9003).  ObamaCare reduces my benefits and raises my costs.  It creates a perverse incentive to purchase higher priced prescription medications which are deductible.

This is but one way ObamaCare will raise healthcare costs for middle America.

In praise of Dr. King and Mother Teresa 1

By Tom Quiner

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

August 26th was a big day.  That was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

August 28th was another big day.  That was the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s epoch “I Have a Dream” speech.

Mother Teresa didn’t know how to deliver a speech very well.  She’d stand at a podium and read her speech without looking up at the audience.  When she finished, she’d leave without fanfare.

Martin Luther King knew how to deliver a speech very well.  He’d engage his audience with the passion of man on a Godly mission.  His speeches had a rhythm, a carefully controlled cadence that kept listeners enraptured.  He was a leader, a moral authority sent by God to right a terrible wrong in this country.

Interestingly, despite her rhetorical shortcomings, Mother Teresa, too, kept her audience on the edge of the seat through the sheer power of her moral authority.

Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is a work of art. Read it in the quiet of your room and you will be roused from your chair.

Mother Teresa’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. in 1994 is also a work of art.  Read it in the quiet of your room and you will be moved to tears.

Let us compare a few similarities in their messages.

Dr. King said,

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

He was addressing one of the shames of this great country, violence directed at innocent people by the people who were supposed to protect them.  Mother Teresa had a similar concern:

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

She, too, addressed the issue of violence directed at innocent people by the people who were supposed to protect them.

Dr. King voiced his concerns about the children:

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Mother Teresa talked about how our hope lies in children, just as Dr. King said children must have hope:

“Let us bring the child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things – to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

Hope.  We thirst for hope.  In one of the great inspirational flourishes of his generation, Dr. King invoked his hope for America

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Mother Teresa invoked the beauty of hope in an incident that occurred in Calcutta:

Then there was the man we picked up from the drain, half eaten by worms and, after we had brought him to the home, he only said:  “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die as an angel, loved and cared for.” Then, after we had removed the worms from his body, all he said, with a big smile, was: “Sister, I am going home to God” -and he died. It was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that without blaming anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel – this greatness of people who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor.

Dr. King and Mother Teresa loved the poor and the downtrodden.  They taught us to respect the dignity of life.  We live in undignified times.  We need their message today, a message of human rights from conception to natural death.  From their perch in heaven, we humbly ask them to pray for us.

A voice of peace 4

By Tom Quiner

Is an Islamic mosque a good idea at Ground Zero?

Is there a single voice today who speaks for Christianity? Obviously the Pope speaks for the Catholic world.  But in a sense he is the de facto Christian voice to the world on “big picture” issues even if all Christians don’t agree with all Catholic doctrines.

So in 1985 when Pope John Paul II traveled to Morocco, the world paid attention. There in the Casablanca Stadium, he said to the gathered Islamic youth “We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God.”

What a powerful symbolic gesture.  He was extending the hand of peace from the world of Christianity to the world of Islam.

His Papacy was marked by repeated ecumenical outreach.  In 2000, he visited the Holy Land and arranged a ceremony which included an Islamic Imam and Jewish Rabbi.  The purpose of the ceremony, complete with songs from children of the three faiths, was to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

The ceremony unraveled.  A Rabbi offended an Imam when he characterized Jerusalem as the “united eternal capital” of Israel.  The Imam walked out.

Nonetheless, the Pope, a world-wide voice for the Christian world, was seen as a voice of reason, as a leader for peace and understanding between the world’s religions.

There is no comparable voice for Islam.  That presents a problem when it comes to the Ground Zero mosque.

Americans aren’t hearing enough voices of peace coming from the world of Islam.

Americans are concerned about what is actually being said inside of mosques in this country.  They may be voices of peace.  Most probably are.  It’s the uncertainty that worries Americans.

How many mosques in this country advocate Sharia law, for example?  It doesn’t help when you hear about a study done by The Center for Security Policy that states that only 20% of mosques have no taint of Sharia.  Only 20%.  Is that really true?  It’s the doubt that bothers us.

The world hungers to hear loud voices raised in the Islamic world that proclaim their desire for peace.

The world so very much hungers for Islam to check the violent tendencies of the most extreme elements of their faith.

Until that happens, America is going to be uncomfortable with a mosque located at Ground Zero.

A victory for the little people 2

By Tom Quiner

Jesus, the embryo

Look at the photo of the human embryo above.  It is about 33 days old.  To simplify discussion of important recent events regarding its future, let’s give it a name.

How about if we call it Jesus.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has stopped President Obama in his tracks in his desire to use Jesus for scientific experimentation.

A little background:  President Bush II established limits on embryonic stem cell research which were immediately dismantled when Mr. Obama was elected.

President Obama talked about the need for “protecting free and open inquiry.”  He talked about the need for letting scientists “do their jobs, free from manipulation and coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it’s inconvenient.”  He lifted Mr. Bush’s ban.

There’s a problem.  He wants Jesus’s stem cells.  He wants scientists to prod and poke and ultimately destroy Jesus in the hope of finding cures for diseases, regardless of the loss of humanity involved in such an undertaking.  The ends justify the means.

There’s another problem:  it’s illegal.  So says Judge Lamberth.  Federal monies cannot be used to destroy human embryos.  The ban “encompasses all ‘research in which’ an embryo is destroyed, not just the ‘piece of research’ in which the embryo is destroyed.”

Jesus has gotten a reprieve for now.

When some folks hear the name Jesus, they think of the “Word become flesh.”  One of those people is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  She waxed eloquent about her belief in the Word at a recent press conference.

For non-Christians reading this article, the Word became flesh when the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  However, when Ms. Pelosi was asked to clarify at what point Jesus had a “right to life,” she refused to answer.

Ms. Pelosi and President Obama both need to answer that question.  Mr. Obama’s religious affiliation is open to some debate.  I believe the President has answered quite adequately:  he’s a Christian.  He believes that the Word became flesh.

Exactly when, Mr. President and Madame Speaker, did Jesus get a “right to life?”  If not at conception, when?

While the two most powerful elected officials in America ponder that question, let us cheer Judge Lamberth for this victory for the little people.