The Diversity Police
Is it your experience that a federal employee visits meetings of committees of scientists as they discuss to whom federal grants from agencies, such as NIH and NSF, should be awarded to “remind” them that diversity (in the form of minority (Hispanic and African-American, not Asian) and female) must be considered? I know of one such instance. Is this routine? I thought we wanted the best scientific research our taxpayer money could buy.
1. In a 1993 book, Hollywood v. America, Michael Medved laid out the case about the effect of movies and other forms of “entertainment” on those who see or hear it. He likened it to why companies pay so much advertise their goods. They’re not throwing their money away!
Pleasurable activity becomes habitual activity.
Not only do videogamers watch the videogame, they interact with it. The interaction of the senses of sight, touch, and hearing heightens the pleasure. It becomes habitual.
And do videogamers just put down their joysticks and walk away like playing the game made no difference in their lives?
2. Any discussion of alternatives should distinguish between general street crime and mass murders. With respect to mass murders: You can look at them and try to figure out why they happened and how they can be prevented. You can also look at mass murders that did NOT occur and figure why they did not:
--instances where violent young men did not pick up a gun; (the scope is young men and only guns);
--instances where they picked up a gun and went to a crowded place with the intent to kill/injure, but did not fire; (the scope is crowded places);
--in the crowded place they fired, but did not hurt anyone, or hurt a few, before stopping or being stopped.
The events of the last example include Fort Hood and the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
POTUS’ SOTU and Early Childhood Education
Let’s extrapolate. (Sounds exciting!) President Obama addressed the Congress in 2009 and 52 million watched, 2010 and 48 million, 2011 and 43 million, 2011 and 38 million, 2013 and 33 million. Therefore, we extrapolate to under 21 million television viewers of President Obama’s State of the Union address (SOTU) in 2016.
Much can be, and has been, said about the SOTU. Let’s take a look at one proposal. The President argued for federal taxpayer support for an expansion of early childhood education. It’s an investment in which the children, and all of us, will reap rewards, he says. In Decatur, Georgia, on Feb. 14, he said, the rewards include reducing rates of imprisonment and teen pregnancy. “We all pay the price” for 70% of 4-year olds not being enrolled in a “high-quality” preschool program.” He wants every child to participate and federal taxpayers will pay 50% and states the other 50% for children below 200% of the federal poverty rate.
Why didn’t he suggest that the way to provide this education to children is by mandating employers to include it in their benefits? This would reach all children of employees, including the children of the working poor. And the Feds could subsidize the children of adults who are not working.
After all, Obamacare mandates that employers provide health insurance to their employees (or pay a penalty, er, a tax). Health care and health insurance have no necessary relationship to employment. Employers started offering it, voluntarily, to attract workers some 70 years ago and the Feds allowed it as a deductible business expense. But health care and health insurance are not like the 40-hour week, the 8-hour day, or holidays, or minimum wage – since the number of hours one works, the number of days one can get paid for taking off, the wages one is paid – these are all necessary parts of employment. So, education for the children of employees is as related to employment as health care for children of employees. By what principle would the President and the Democratic Party mandate the latter and not the former?
And while we’re discussing Obamacare: If Obama and the Democrats can require employers to provide (and raise the rates of) health insurance coverage to the 24 and 25-year old adult children of their employees on the principle that many of them are unemployed and without insurance, then why don’t they require employers to provide health insurance coverage to the 50 and 60-year old parents of their employees on the principle that many of them are unemployed and without insurance?
The Post Office: The Federal Government Writ Small
We have a federal government agency that provides the population with a benefit. A true entitlement allows the denied beneficiary a right to sue. Postal addressees don’t have a right to sue if delivery is reduced from six to five days a week. Nonetheless, every American who has a mailing address of some sort believes he or she is entitled to having mail delivered six days a week. It’s an American birthright. Older than Medicare (1965). Older than Social Security (1932).
And the Federal Government will continue to provide this benefit, keep the price well below costs for the recipients, and borrow the money from abroad (China) to make up the difference, imposing the burden of paying interest on, and the principal of, the debt, on children not yet born. If the Congress can’t fix the Postal Service, it can’t fix anything.
Spero columnist James M. Thunder is an attorney practicing in Washington DC.