Editor’s note: Jarrett Stepman’s commentaries for The Daily Signal ring bells with readers. See for yourself in this selection of responses.—Ken McIntyre
Dear Daily Signal: Jarrett Stepman writes in opposition to Seattle’s having raised the minimum wage: “Lincoln saw the ‘opportunity society’ and reaping the fruits of one’s labor as fundamental to the growth and underlying goodness of America. It was one of the many reasons he so fiercely opposed slavery.”
Yikes, this commentary sounds profoundly trite, and is a poor representation of the fundamental reasons Lincoln fiercely opposed slavery (“Seattle Hiked Its Minimum Wage. Here’s How It’s Impacting Low-Income Workers”). It also is a weak argument supporting the thesis of the article.
I think there can be a reasonable compromise that allows even low-skilled workers to earn a living wage. The problem with $7.50 an hour is that the take-home portion is simply not enough to support a person with even one dependent.
In that sense, the free market, left to itself, will perpetuate a slave class of low-wage workers. Solutions are neither easy nor obvious, in my opinion, and a $15-an-hour minimum wage probably, by itself, is not an effective “one size fits all” answer.
But arguing that Lincoln saw the “opportunity society,” etc., seems like a red herring to me. Lincoln would spin in his grave if he saw this phrase listed as one of the top 10 reasons he so fiercely opposed slavery.
It’s an interesting way to try to tie an 1850s Republican Party leader to the Republican Party of today, but in reality it’s just a ridiculous stretch.—John Levin
I guess it went over your head, John Levin, but it seems spot on and relevant to me. If you price low-skilled and inexperienced workers out of the market, you’re dooming them to be slaves to welfare. But they don’t even get the satisfaction of doing anything productive. There is no good in that.—Alan Mackenthun
There is, in reality, no middle ground when you consider government has no constitutional authority to tell me what I must pay my employees. Let the free market determine that. It worked for 200-plus years for those who are inclined to put some effort into their own existence.—Bud Chiller
Seattle is an island of its own and doesn’t represent the rest of the state of Washington. Businesses can’t pay wages that may be supported in Seattle.
Our state legislators need to take a tour of the rest of Washington; we are truly unrepresented by voting in King County, where Seattle is the county seat. I advocate one vote for each county. Then you will see all parties represented fairly.—Daniel Denchel
The results of this study on the minimum wage were well known before it was made. Any competent businessman knows his gross has to exceed his expenditures, or his business will go belly up in short order.
Had the feel-good libs paid any attention to that in college, this wouldn’t be an issue. And as long as they think it isn’t coming out of their pockets—it’s other people’s money—a $15 minimum wage has their full support.
Then they will wonder why Starbucks charges even more for their exorbitantly priced coffee.—Jim Hanson
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) June 27, 2017
The minimum wage was originally started to introduce young people into the workforce. Self-reliance and accepting responsibility while learning. It should remain that way.
However, teenagers today have another outlook concerning work. Some do want to work because their family needs the money, but others whose families have means would rather not, and see these types of jobs as beneath their stature.
Society has changed in my 76 years on this earth, and for the most part for the good, but many parents have lost their way when it comes to parenting—allowing their children to shrug off responsibility. For those who are adults in their 30s and 40s working at minimum wage, demanding more money for a position that is an entry-level position, you need take a look at yourself.
Yes, there are mentally challenged individuals who work at entry-level positions, and I applaud companies that hire them. I also applaud those who are working a second job to make ends meet. But for those who have no ambition and would rather stay at the bottom of the ladder, I say $7.25 is just the ticket.—Chuck Faraci Sr.
The minimum wage actually was not originally started to introduce young people to the workforce. It was included in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act specifically to get them out of the workforce. Child labor was ubiquitous in America’s factories and mines of the 1930s. My dad was one of them in the coal mines, working alongside his father.
Those kids were blocked from an education because they were being terribly exploited instead. We cannot ever forget or ignore why the legislation was signed, sealed, and delivered by racist Democrats and FDR.—John Kominitsky
Lost in all this is that some workers drawing the higher minimum wage do not object to their hours being cut. Why? Because at some level they would lose all their free government assistance like welfare, food stamps, rent subsidies, cell phones, and all the rest.
With hours cut, they have cash in their pockets and all the free stuff. Ah, the good life.
Then there are all those entry-level jobs lost to high school kids, jobs where they would learn a work ethic, dealing with the public, teamwork, and punctuality. Why would any employer hire an unskilled person at $15 an hour when he could get a more or less skilled worker for the increased minimum wage?
The whole minimum wage thing is a bad idea pushed by Seattle’s liberals thinking (whoops, wrong word, er, “feeling”) they are being compassionate and helping the poor get jobs. Wrong again.—Edmund Hickey, Oak Harbor, Wash.
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) July 6, 2017
Does the Left Want to Get Welfare Reform Right?
Dear Daily Signal: Regarding Jarrett Stepman’s commentary: I have worked with people who have asked to have their hours below a certain threshold to prevent loss of welfare programs (“Why the Left Is Wrong About Welfare Reform”). At first this seemed infuriating to me, but as a certified nursing assistant caring for the elderly, the work I was doing could last for 14 years or end without warning tomorrow.
These are not salaried workers we are talking about, these are people whose hours could be cut or vanish overnight. There has to be a better system so that people are not afraid to take the slightly uncertain jobs that would put them above thresholds for benefits that they know are stable.
Also, we need to do something about our vocational schools. Not every stable, well-paying career really needs for people to have a four-year degree; in many cases technical school would be more beneficial.
Unfortunately, technical schools have zero credibility here. It would be a lot easier for the poor to move up if they had to complete a two-year program versus a four-year program while working a full-time job.—Shauna Anderson
Requirements that food provided by welfare programs be only whole, nutritious foods would go a long way toward fixing the health care crisis as well.—Kara Bertholf Wood
South Carolina added stricter work requirements for food stamps in April 2016. The government website says by June of that year, the number of SNAP (food stamp) recipients was at its lowest point since 2009. Any data on how many South Carolinians now off food stamps got jobs?—Tyler Archer
Thirteen counties in Alabama required able-bodied adults without dependents either to work six hours, do eight hours of community service, or take eight hours of job training in one month to be eligible for three months of food stamps.
The food stamp rolls went from over 5,000 to less than 900 in six months.
Without such work requirements, people no longer would make a minimum output to get welfare. What a mess we’ve let politicians and do-gooders create.—Rob Moreland
As a very conservative guy, I never really have opposed welfare. I am happy to have my tax dollars go to people who are incapable, or trying to help themselves. My issue is with people who are unwilling to help themselves.
Unfortunately, it is my belief that there are not that many who are incapable of helping themselves, even fewer who are trying to help themselves (most rules seem to punish recipients for trying to work and pull themselves up out of poverty), and most are unwilling to help themselves.
With the left it is always the same arguments against anything: Conservatives want to “provide tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the poor.” It infuriates me.
When are we going to stop listening, both as a nation and as a political force, to this same old crap from them every time any kind of reform is proposed? Somehow they continue to use their tired arguments, and seem to shame us into acquiescence.—Tyler Derden
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) June 25, 2017
Obama, Medicaid, and the GOP Health Care Bill
Dear Daily Signal: President Obama also said we could keep our doctors and our insurance, and our rates would go down $2,500 a year (“Obama Says Health Bill Will ‘Ruin’ Medicaid. Here’s Why the Program Needs Reform”). Why should we believe anything he says now?
Of course, none of that was true. In Genesee County, Michigan, we voted in an additional tax of $50 per $100,000 assessed value of our homes. This was to help children with no medical. It was working fine here, but since we have the overpriced Obamacare, no money was taken off our tax bill.
The American people are tired of being ripped off. This health care bill was designed to eliminate the middle class. The lower classes are so much easier to control.—Judy Crane, Davison, Mich.
The biggest problem with health care cost containment: Who’s paying for the “free” stuff? None of these bills address the cost, only who pays the costs.
Here are some ideas: Control drug costs. Americans pay 200 percent to 400 percent more for the same drugs that are sold in other countries. Big Pharma has an extraordinary profit margin.
Place reasonable limits on lawsuits. The costs of “defensive medicine” drives numerous, unneeded medical procedures as the doctor tries to cover his or her rear from lawyers.
Everybody should pay something for their health care. If it is free, it is abused. I have seen many women in normal labor take an ambulance to the hospital, followed by several cars driven by relatives. The response when asked why? “The ambulance is free.”—Tommy Moorehead, Tucson, Ariz.
Any health care bill should consider the minimum common denominator of income. Many individuals and families earning the minimum wage have difficulty paying for health coverage with high premiums.
Our country says that a person should be able to survive with a minimum salary, and that includes health care. The people living paycheck to paycheck can’t afford to get sick, but that’s not realistic.
So options need to be placed on the table that will offer aid to people who need care. If Medicaid is the only option, then it serves a good purpose. How would you solve this problem?—Wayne Marx, St. Benedict, La.
Blistering: This is how Tennessee and Texas responded to California's outrageous "travel ban." https://t.co/MzODbdFubN
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) July 4, 2017
That ‘Travel Ban’ in California
Dear Daily Signal: Regarding Jarrett Stepman’s commentary, I say that any state that California pulls this nonsense on should reciprocate (“California Issues ‘Travel Ban’ on Some Red States”). In fact, if they want economic warfare, let’s give it to them.
Stop importing their fruits and vegetables, because apparently Chile is a more reliable trade partner. Stop visiting their politically correct state.
They’re already practically bankrupt. Just doing those two things would send them over the edge. Oh, and if they want to secede, let them. They need us more than we need them.—Anthony Politano
According to the Guardian newspaper in March 2016, China bans homosexuality on television. I’ll bet California’s “travel ban” won’t ever cross the Pacific to insult major trade partners like China.—Don Genson
It is ironic that the California government condones and supports an intolerant religion such as Islam, which condemns and discriminates against homosexuality.
In particular, homosexual activity carries the death penalty in Afghanistan, Brunei, the Gaza Strip (State of Palestine), Iran, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
How come California doesn’t institute a travel ban on these Muslim countries, just like it does on some states in the U.S.? It’s blatant hypocrisy.—J.C. Rochester
“California” had nothing to do with this. “California” is a fiction. Fictions cannot “do” things.
Let’s start realizing that people are who do things and some people in the place called California are psychopathic fools controlling that land area and keeping normal people from their normal business.
So get rid of the people behind this insanity and the place called California will be just fine. For there are many normal people outside the sphere of psychopathic influence that live in that area who do not agree with the psychopaths in control.—Mark Arnold Reynolds
Many sensible, conservative people live in California and love our state but despise what the libs are doing to it. We are outnumbered by the coastal strip big cities filled with Hollywood types, Pelosi-clones, and millions of illegal immigrants and legal minorities who vote overwhelmingly Democrat.
Many people are forced to flee California as the taxes and regulations drive business away and raise the cost of living to unsustainable levels. These people currently in control are completely unhinged, but we the sane don’t have enough votes to get rid of them.—Randy Reeves
— Ken McIntyre (@KenMac55) June 28, 2017
France Ponders Walling Off the Eiffel Tower
Dear Daily Signal: We used to arrive at airports 15 minutes before a flight, and make it on the plane (“Paris to Build a ‘Wall’ Around Eiffel Tower as Terrorism Becomes Mundane in Europe”). We didn’t worry about historical monuments because everyone respected history, even if it differed from our contemporary beliefs.
Tourists not only could freely arrive in a country or city, but wander around, taking in the sights. The Islamic terrorists have stolen all of this from us in an in-your-face slap intended to fulfill a 1,000-year-old prophecy: The world not under their brutal political control can be goaded into a fight on a plain with swords where their religious beliefs can be translated into political domination.
It’s time. The fight for Mosul (which was occupied by ISIS after our former president not only pulled out the troops, but told the militants when and where), shows how unspeakably cruel radical Islamists act toward the populations they control. It will not be pretty erasing their DNA from the planet. But World War II killed 60 million; do we want to repeat that?
Unfortunately, Paris is a symbol of beauty preserved. That stirs up the haters and murderers. And, like Mosul, they hide in plain sight, among the populations from the lands where their terror breeds.
Maybe the protections around the Eiffel Tower really will protect the general Muslim population in France, since an attack on such a monument would get every one of them thrown out because they cannot control the criminals in their midst.—Edward Mariner
What? Paris wants to build a wall while pointing fingers at Trump for wanting a wall at our southern border? Why, that sound so like, well, Democrats/liberals/fascists/communists.—Marron Tut
There is a flip side to the coin of embracing “diversity and multiculturalism” that some just refuse to acknowledge.—Jerry Zacney
An 8-foot, bulletproof wall is a joke. A well-placed bomb could leap that wall and destroy that tower in seconds. What a waste of money.
They need a border wall, a strong military presence in France, and strict immigration policies if they ever hope to see an end to the terrorism they are facing now.—Rick Shaffer
— Jarrett Stepman (@JarrettStepman) June 30, 2017
Health Savings Accounts in the Senate Bill
Dear Daily Signal: About Jarrett Stepman’s commentary, health savings accounts should allow the self-employed and Medicare recipients to pay premiums and supplement costs out of these accounts (“Here Are 3 Reasons the Senate Health Care Bill Should Expand Individual Health Accounts”).
If corporations can deduct these costs as an expense for employees, then the employee also deducts their contribution pre-payroll taxes. Also allow homeopathic cure treatment expenses such as vitamins, minerals, and essential oils, same as over-the-counter treatments.
Level the playing field and allow the patient reasonable choices.—Malcolm Harbison
There’s one reason Obamacare should be repealed and not replaced: The Constitution, specifically the 10th Amendment.—Jeffrey Smith
First and foremost, everybody should participate in paying taxes. The government’s sole income should be from a universal, flat-rate, personal income tax and a small (perhaps 5 percent), voter-approved national sales tax. The great and the least should pay the same percentage.
Health savings accounts become a debate about what qualifies as a legitimate expense. If we are going to subsidize health care expenses, then antiseptics, bandages, drugs, medical attention, etc., should be deductible or some percentage of it, from the flat (perhaps 10 percent) tax that each and everyone of us would pay.
I’m sure all the drug stores will have no problem identifying health care items on their receipts. Providing health care for the indigent is a charitable endeavor, best left to the state and local government to negotiate with local clinics for appropriate wound and disease response.
The current health care considerations are robbers consulting with robbers about how much they can take. Insurance is not illegal, but it is grave error to involve our government in it.—Michael Watson
Get government out of the health care business. Return it to the way it was, with no pre-existing conditions, and let the free market take it where it goes.
I bet the insurance companies will come up with their own less affordable plans for those who can’t afford coverage. They already were with the plans where you can go to a group of doctors at one or two hospitals. And then there is Medicaid for the poor.—Jeff Pearson
There will always be abuses in the welfare programs. Some people are just sorry and refuse to work.
I offered a man work who claimed he wanted to work. He ended up asking me if it required the use of a shovel. I told him maybe, but not much. He refused to work, saying he had to save his body.
Now this was from a 46-year-old man. I needed someone to help on a house being built. I told him to never call me again about work, but he called about two months later. Never used him again.—John McGowen
— Ken McIntyre (@KenMac55) July 6, 2017
America’s Debt to a Polish Soldier
Dear Daily Signal: I learned about Tadeusz Kosciuszko in parochial school in Brooklyn (“Trump Says West Must ‘Fight Like the Poles.’ Meet the Polish Soldier Who Fought for Our Freedom”). Ours was a Polish parish, and you had to trace to Polish ancestry on one side of the family.
Other parishes were Italian, Irish, German, and so on, and were the center of the community established by immigrants and supportive of newcomers from the homeland.
No welfare or anything like it. People helped each other. Found jobs, learned English, became citizens, and went on to live the American dream.—Anthony Moscicki
I was taught about Kosciuszko long ago. A true hero. He came for the dream, not the cash. Now quaint in many circles.—Robert Bruce Arnold
The story of the Polish soldier is a wonderful piece of history I was not familiar with, even though I’ve studied a great deal of history.—Rob Bremer, Gatlinburg, Tenn.
I greatly appreciated Jarrett Stepman’s write-up about Kosciuszko. In case you didn’t know, this year both here in the United States and in Poland we are celebrating the Year of Kosciuszko, as 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Kosciuszko’s death. The actual date is in mid-October, around which we are planning commemorations.—Matthew Stefanski, Media Adviser, Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Washington, D.C.
I am glad that Tadeusz Kosciuszko did not die in battle in America. He returned to Poland and was able to inspire the love of freedom in Poland.—Mary De Voe
Jarrett Stepman’s article and history lesson on Tadeusz Kosciuszko was one of the best I have ever read in The Daily Signal, and I am a long-time reader. I will be forwarding it to my grandchildren and friends. Great job!—Dave Arnold, St. Augustine, Fla.
Traditionally, immigrants assimilated. That seems to be missing in the Islamist invaders of today. Then, immigrants wanted to be Americans; today, I’m not so sure.—Philip Steinert
President Trump’s speech in Warsaw, Poland, which I trust each of you has read, is inspirational. The world has not received such a message of hope for a future of promise from an American president for a very long time.—Joan Smurthwaite
Christine Roe helped compile this column.