Shut Up and Give Me More Money!

by Steve Miller

Last month I wrote about the fifteen dollar minimum wage being demanded by fast food workers everywhere. It seemed strange to me that a burger flipper in Manhattan is asking for the same $15 that a worker in Norman, Oklahoma, where the cost of living is about twenty-five percent lower. I don’t expect these guys to be economists. I don’t even expect them to be good at arithmetic. In fact, I don’t expect them to be good at anything except for menial and closely supervised tasks.  That’s why fast food workers have pictures of the food item on cash register keys.

While we may not expect them to be capable of doing anything else, that doesn’t mean that’s all the typical minimum wage earner is capable of.  Most are capable of much more and their minimum wage job is a stepping stone to bigger and better things.  Students and others with full-time commitments use these jobs to either earn extra income or bridge the time until they’re qualified and ready for more rewarding employment.  Many of today’s executives started behind the counter of a fast food restaurant.  These jobs were never intended to be a career or to provide a living wage for a family of six. Some folks never got that message.

15-now-on-a-roll-minimum-wage-debate-flares-a-L-rgReExIt seems that the Progressives were listening carefully to the cry for more money from the masses. Now, the Democratic Party platform calls for a $15 per hour national minimum wage for all hourly workers. (Note that I blatantly bolded some key words. We’ll get to those in a minute). Based upon a 30 hour week, that would put flippers, lawn mowers, car washers, and Wal-Mart greeters at over $31,200 per year based upon a 40-hour work week. But wait, there’s more.

Here’s why I bolded a few words in the previous paragraph: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average non-supervisory hourly employee works over four hours of overtime per week. That’s an additional $4,680 per year, which brings our minimum wage earner up to a minimum of $35,880 per year. Continue reading

A Symbol of Southwestern Wilderness

Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195)

By Steve Miller

Think of it as a bill of rights for horses. This act ensures their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness – unless they live along the Salt River.

Public outrage ensued earlier this month when the US Forest Service announced that they were going to dispose of feral horses along the Salt River. Most people rattled their sabers and some even went to court to stop the USFS from doing anything stupid. I use the word “stupid” because their announcement, which left precious little time for intervention or challenge, stated that the horses that weren’t claimed by owners, if there were owners, would be rounded up and “…sold at public sale may be sold at private sale or condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of.”

wild horsesBoth of Arizona’s US Senators and the Governor weighed in on the issue in support of the horses. A conservation group supporting the horses, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, proposed some alternative solution to eradicating these beautiful animals from the landscape, but that fell upon deaf ears at the USFS. The news media was abuzz with stories of the impending doom of the wild horses and all of the effort being made to stop the Forest Service from removing them.

It seems like a no-brainier. Everyone loves the horses. Nobody can come up with a good reason to remove them except for the lame “we are not authorized to manage wild horses” excuse given by the USFS. Look, these horses are completely self-supporting. They aren’t hurting anything… or are they? Continue reading

US – Cuba Relations: A Failure of Leadership

By Steve Miller

Yesterday, the United States opened an embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961.   For some, it was an event that brought about a warm fuzzy feeling of friendship for many. However, even an untrained observer could detect a chill surrounding each diplomatically chosen word and carefully choreographed action at the embassy’s opening ceremony.

To me, this whole thing is reminiscent of a couple of 5th graders, standing in the principal’s office after a fisticuffs on the playground, and forced to shake hands and make up. They do, but it’s reluctant and without ceremony. It’s the epitome of hypocrisy that the United States can broker peace deals in the Middle East when and at the same time support continued animosity with one of their closest neighbors.

Havana, Cuba 33 The icy winds blowing across the Caribbean aren’t just coming from one direction. While the US made it known that they want to see democratic reforms and human rights improvements before they join any group hugs with the Cubans, Raul Castro stepped on his dick by making a statement that the United States owed Cuba millions of dollars for the damage that the American-imposed embargo caused to the Cuban economy.   An opportunity to gain favor with the most powerful economic influence in the world was just flushed down the toilet. Continue reading

American Justice – Hollywood Style

By Steve Miller

How does an illegal lane change warrant a trip to jail? No, there wasn’t any impairment. There wasn’t a weapon, an outstanding warrant, or any drug possession involved. We’re talking about someone who’s going the speed limit, changes lanes, and forgets to signal the change.

Imagine this: Within seconds of changing lanes, your rear view mirror lights up with red and blue flashing lights. You’re not sure why but you immediately pull over to the curb as you’re supposed to do. Nervously, you light up a cigarette as you wait to hear why you’re being stopped. Minutes later, you have an officer screaming at you, then ordering you out of your car. Seconds after that, as righteous indignation turns to terror, you’re ordered at gunpoint to the curb.dontshoot_590_447

A really pissed off cop with a 9mm pistol pointed at you screams for you to get on the ground. Before you can comply, he smashes your face into the dirt.

You’re probably thinking that this couldn’t happen to you. After all, you’re not a criminal.   You’re not black. You’re an American citizen on US soil.  The black lady in the incident that I am talking about didn’t commit a crime either. Her transgression wasn’t even a misdemeanor or a violation of a civic ordinance. It was a traffic infraction of the very least significance.

And don’t think this doesn’t happen to white people too. It does. It’s just that when it happens to blacks, it’s more likely to make the news.   Media scrutiny over cases like these is bringing to light a growing problem in our country, which is disregard for due process and civil liberties by authorities. It’s not a new problem but it’s one that we’re finding is more prevalent that most would imagine. Continue reading