Let the living wage be the minimum wage

Anyone who works deserves a living wage. When private businesses do not pay a living wage, the difference is paid by the tax-payer. If you work, your wage should allow you a living that is not dependent on the government. For example, in Allegheny county where I live, the living wage for an adult is $8.29. In Queens county in NYC it is $12.75. And when the minimum wage is $7.25, the difference to survive is paid by the rest of us, not the private businesses. Yet in many places of South Dakota, the living wage is less than $7. So rather than a federal minimum wage, maybe the fairer way would be to have each locality have their own living wage as the minimum wage. (All my living wage numbers are from MIT’s living wage calculator). And as far as the threat of job loss goes, it is up to the businesses to devise models to afford a living wage in their localities. Else might as well get rid of the minimum wage, bring down unemployment to zero, and have a large chunk of the working-age population be supported by the government. The biggest drawback of a living wage as the minimum wage is when someone has children. When small businesses hire single parents or a person who is the sole breadwinner of a household, paying the living wage can drive them out of business. Solving this issue will require a lot of work by the legislatures and society, and that is a separate topic. A couple of big points would be to promote stronger families, less divorces, and two working parents. That will lessen the burden on a single breadwinner. But when there are two working parents, there should be stronger support system for the parents including maternal/paternal leaves and better and cheaper childcare facilities. But as a starting point, I believe that the living wage in a municipality for a single adult should be the minimum wage in that municipality.

Religious exemption from healthcare

In the United States under the new health care law, large corporations are required to provide health coverage to their full-time employees. Except many businesses with religious owners/founders are seeking exemption from providing contraceptive coverage because it violates their religious beliefs. So if I have my own corporation, would I be able to ask for complete exemption from the health care law because my personal beliefs says that prayers are the answer and medicines are not? Would it be alright if I tell my employees that they should pray – and if they get healed it is because God had always intended for them to be healed, and if they don’t get healed then it was God’s plan all along and one should not question or doubt God’s plan. Can I say that as a devout believer, healthcare and medications has no place in my business? If I say that, I would be challenged for not respecting my employees’ rights. They can have beliefs where they do not believe my nonsense about prayers over medications. If a business owner cannot get exemption from providing health care, then why should a business owner be allowed exemptions and the right to pick and choose what form of healthcare they choose to provide? Where is the line between the rights of the employer and the rights of the employee? And why does the government get into any religious exemption? In a strict boundary of state and church, the state should have no place to issue any exemptions. The rules should be made uniform for everyone. Because it is inherently unfair to grant exemptions to someone’s beliefs and not to someone else’s. And no two human beings believe the exact same thing. Healthcare rules should be based on health, not beliefs.

Representative Ryan’s balanced budget

Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal would have balanced the budget by 2040. His 2013 budget proposal would have balanced it by 2023, but it wouldn’t have touched Medicare, Social Security, and would have increased defense spending. To balance the rest in 10 years would have required nearly a 50% cut in other discretionary spending such as – Medicaid and children’s health insurance, food stamps, child tax credit, unemployment assistance, veterans benefits, transportation, education, and medical research. This isn’t a knock on Paul Ryan, but just the arithmetic of what painful cuts or tax increases would be required to balance the budget in the next few decades.

Blame the people, not their representatives

democracy originated in Greece and was adopted by the founding fathers here, but both groups knew the big flaw in this system. ergo, Plato’s philosopher-king and the founding fathers’ electoral college and checks and balances. and the flaw is that people are ignorant, hooked to self-interest, and engulfed by that strong emotion – fear. when a representative institution has an approval rating of 10% but an incumbency rating of 90%, the problem isn’t the institution but the people whom they represent. and the second biggest culprit is the media with this accurate description of what it is doing: “false equivalency – the practice of giving equal media time and space to demonstrably invalid positions for the sake of supposed reportorial balance – is dishonest, pernicious and cowardly.” (Bob Garfield – theguardian.com)

Healthcare insurance

The liberal-left thinks government knows best and is the best vehicle for social progress, ergo the liberal-left wanted a single payer government sponsored health insurance for all. The conservative-right thinks individuals know what is best for them, and individuals also have the responsibility to take care of themselves so the burden doesn’t shift to the state. Ergo, the conservative-right wanted a market-based health insurance where private companies compete for rates and coverage, but it is the responsibility of the individual to take insurance or pay a fee so that in case of emergency, the state doesn’t suffer while paying for the irresponsible individual’s health issues – either through ER visits, disability payments, unemployment payments, and lack of economic productivity of the ill/disabled individual who could not afford treatment. It was a true government knows best vs individual liberty and responsibility. Except today, for a faction of the population, socialism of medicare is untouchable, and mandated private health insurance is socialism.

The perilous path of government shutdown

When two parties run on a single issue in the general election and one party wins the most votes in the presidential, senate, and house elections…you know the people have spoken on the issue. It was true in 2004 about the Iraq War, it was true in 2012 for universal health care (disclaimer: Democrats won the popular vote in the Senate in 2004 and the House in 2012 without winning majority of the seats in either chamber). Opposition to that war was as passionate as the opposition to the affordable care act. But in a constitutional democracy, the only thing that matters is the ballot box, not the decibel level of the opposition. The people supported the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy and rising military power, just like the people supported the candidate campaigning on universal health care for two elections in a row. The people turned against the GOP in 2008 because of mismanagement of the mandate in 2004, just like the people will turn against the Democrats in 2016 if the ACA is disastrous. But the point of a presidential or a parliamentary form of government is that a candidate or a party campaigns on an issue, and is allowed to implement those policies if elected and given a chance to let it work. If a party, person, or a faction cannot accept that and holds a nation hostage, then the precedent set will be the end of representative democracy.

Speed never killed anyone. People who can’t drive kill people. Only way to stop a bad driver going at high speed on a crowded street is for a good driver to chase him down at high speed on a crowded street. It works in movies where the good driver has perfect driving skills and does not hit any innocent bystander! – Logic of the Gun Crowd…

Make voting easier

A 102 year old lady should not wait in line for 6 hours to caste her vote. Make voting easier. It is the first and foremost right of a democracy. The party that sat in silence at voting reform proposal, this is the reason why you are becoming a regional minority party.

Military Spending

we spend 63% of our federal individual income tax on the department of defense (29% of the entire federal revenue). that $716 billion represents 42% of the world’s military spending. i think it is immoral for an advanced society, deeply in debt, to spend that much on the military (a 133% increase in the last 12 years).