The DNC platform: a commentary. Part 1.

The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree. Though at times I resort to sarcasm and outright ridicule in areas of disagreement, it is not meant as disparagement of persons with whom I am disagreeing. People of good character and vast knowledge can be found on both sides of most disagreements. These are my opinions.

The DNC platform consists of a preamble, followed by thirteen major sections.

Here we go…

Preamble

[Pages 1-3]

The preamble is a general statement of what is to come. The sentiments that are most emphasized are unity, commonality, and togetherness. Noble sentiments.

RAISE INCOMES AND RESTORE ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

[Page 3]

“Democrats believe we must break down all the barriers holding Americans back…”

Democrats believe the barriers are not holding back all Americans, just the middle class. What are the barriers? “A rigged economy” designed by “the top one percent” along with “Republican governors, legislatures, and their corporate allies.”

Democrats believe these barriers are prohibiting us from achieving the “hallmarks of a middle class life—owning a home, having access to affordable and quality childcare, retiring with dignity”.

Raising incomes and having economic security are goals with which I agree. I also agree that the “hallmarks” are nice to have. However, the economy is not rigged like Democrats would insist. There are elements that favor the rich, but I’m not poor because the top one percent have my money. And while we could argue about whether home ownership, childcare, and comfortable retirement living are hallmarks of middle class life, I’m not sure why achieving those hallmarks are the sign of a healthy economy.

The “one percent” of earners that the Democrats like to target is an easy mark. You and I will not be in that one percent, so we won’t feel threatened when they are targeted. It is easy to rail against these unknown, unnamed people, who must not care about the poor and who must be so despicable and repulsive.

Any failure of our economy isn’t due to the success of the one percent. The one percent doesn’t have to give away their money in order for the ninety-nine percent to prosper. They need to spend it. The money the government takes from them, they will not spend; so, instead of the money going to the areas of the economy that have earned the right to receive it, it goes to whatever pet program legislators determine.

As you can tell, the Democrats are not getting off to a good start.

Raising Workers’ Wages

Now we get to specifics. Sort of.

“Democrats believe that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage…We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour…”

If one person were trying to raise a family of four on 40 hours of work at minimum wage, yeah, that wouldn’t be good.

However, that’s not the purpose of the minimum wage.

I believe the Democrats lost the Presidential election on this plank in their platform alone. The absurdity of this boggles the mind. Why stop at $15 an hour? Why not $20 or $30? While we’re at it, let’s mandate that everyone gets a unicorn.

This is socialist economics at its worst. It doesn’t work. Math doesn’t allow it. In order for employers to pay $15 an hour, it has to come from somewhere. “Record profits!” Democrats insist. That doesn’t work for non-profits, does it? And what about the thousands (millions?) of small businesses that aren’t Apple or Exxon?

“We believe that Americans should…have the right to form or join a union…”

I agree with this. I also believe that those who join a union should fully enjoy the consequences of that union. If a union achieves better working conditions and fair wages, all members should enjoy those consequences. This is when unions are at their best.

If a business closes because of the unreasonable demands of the union, all members should enjoy those consequences — unemployment — as well.

“The one trillion dollars spent annually by the government on contracts, loans, and grants should be used to support good jobs that rebuild the middle class.”

So…no more contracts, loans, and grants? Or all these contracts, loans, and grants should support good jobs that rebuild the middle class? Is there no commonality at present between the two?

I’m thinking that there must be some of that one trillion dollars that could be justified apart from “good jobs that rebuild the middle class.” But I’m also thinking that some of that one trillion dollars goes towards things the Democrats still want to do, whether or not it supports jobs and the middle class. This is all remarkably vague.

What would happen if, instead of the government taking one trillion dollars from the American people, the American people had the opportunity to spend that one trillion dollars? I’m thinking it would produce some pretty good jobs.

I also wonder: why, after eight years of Obama’s leadership, does the middle class have to be rebuilt?

[Page 4]

Protecting Workers’ Fundamental Rights

“The Democratic Party believes that when workers are strong, America is strong.”

Agreed.

“Democrats will make it easier for workers, public and private, to exercise their right to organize and join unions.”

In theory, I agree. However, there are potential pitfalls, as I’ll discuss below.

“We support binding arbitration to help workers who have voted to join a union reach a first contract.”

If I understand what they’re saying, a group of workers vote to form a union. Then the employer and the union go to binding arbitration to determine what the workers will get paid. Right?

I’m guessing this is because Democrats believe that the State can decide what is fair, where supply and demand would make things unfair. I disagree.

“Trump rejected some attempts by his own employees to unionize and has personally hired union-busting firms to undermine workers’ rights.”

I support people being able to form a union. I also support businesses that don’t want to have union employees. I certainly wouldn’t want to be forced to hire an employee I didn’t want to hire. I believe a worker has a right to receive the compensation to which they have agreed to receive for the work they have agreed to perform. I believe that any promises the employer makes to the worker should be fulfilled, or the worker has the right to leave. I believe that if the employer fulfills their promises, the worker should fulfill their promises as well.

If Trump doesn’t want union employees, he shouldn’t have to hire them. If people don’t want to work for Trump, they shouldn’t apply. The State shouldn’t have any say in that.

“Democrats believe so-called “right to work” laws are wrong for workers…and wrong for America.”

According to the National Right to Work Foundation, “A Right to Work law guarantees that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union.”

I disagree with the Democrats. I shouldn’t have to join a union to get a job. Unions are especially strong in government sectors, like education, which seems ridiculous to me. Think about it — the government insists that workers join a union to make sure that the government treats them right.

You start a business. You’re paying your employees $15 an hour. Then you insist that they join a union, and pay part of that $15 towards union dues, in order to raise their wages to offset the amount of the dues. Dumb.

“The Democratic Party believes consumers, workers, students, retirees, and investors who have been mistreated should never be denied their right to fight for fair treatment under the law.”

Add employers to that list. I agree.

“…we…support efforts to limit the use of forced arbitration clauses in employment and service contracts…”

I agree that forced arbitration is not good. However, if someone signs a contract knowing that if something goes wrong they will be forced into arbitration, rather than being allowed to go to court, the mistake is theirs in signing it. And why is forced arbitration bad here, but it’s good when a union is formed? Is it only good when the State forces it?

Supporting Working Families

“We will fight to secure equal pay for women…we will combat the discrimination they face on and off the job.”

Agreed. Strongly.

“Democrats will [pass] a family and medical leave act that would provide all workers at least 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or address a personal or family member’s serious health issue…[and] to allow workers the right to earn at least seven days of paid sick leave.”

Break out the unicorns. More good things that Democrats assume employers can pay for without significantly impacting their business.

Let’s say you have a worker that earns $600 a week. As an employer, you need to have an extra $7200 sitting around to pay their temporary replacement while they are out. That is $7200 you can’t use for…whatever.

“We will ensure that family caregivers have the support, respite care, and training they need to support their loved ones. We will create a strong stable paid caregiving workforce to help meet families’ needs, by raising wages, improving access to training, and giving workers the opportunity to come together to make their voices heard in support of a stronger system.”

Good concepts, unworkable in practice. How do you create a “strong stable paid caregiving workforce” by “raising wages”, while not making it more expensive for those who need care? Who pays for this?

“We will…make quality childcare more affordable, boost wages for childcare workers, and support the millions of people paying for, coordinating, or providing care for aging relatives or those with disabilities.”

It’s almost like words have no meaning. More affordable. Boost wages. Support millions who pay for it.

Unicorns. Millions of unicorns.

[Page 5]

Helping More Workers Share in Near-Record Corporate Profits

“Corporate profits are at near-record highs, but workers have not shared through rising wages.”

Let’s suppose there are 10 people. Person #1 is the owner of a company that employs the other nine. Person #1 earns $150 an hour, while her nine employees earn $15 an hour.

In the Democratic world, Person #1 is evil. Not only is she the Top One Percent, she makes more than all the 90% combined. In the Democratic world, economic disparity is evil. Everyone must earn the same amount, otherwise, someone is going to be in the Top One Percent.

In the Democratic world, if profits go up in Person #1’s company, she must automatically share those profits with all her employees, because…well, she just should. It would be unfair if she didn’t.

It might be unfair, but should the State dictate what is fair? Are there no other factors that might compel Person #1 to do what is right?

“That is why, working with business, labor, and other stakeholders, we will incentivize companies to share profits with their employees on top of wages and pay increases, while targeting the workers and businesses that need profit-sharing the most.”

Incentivize. “I’d like to offer you a deal you can’t refuse.” Uh-huh.

Democrats fail to realize that “companies” are made up of people. Everyone doesn’t do the same work. Everyone does not have the same value in the work. It’s why different positions get paid different wages.

Sharing profits on top of wages and pay increases sounds more like a disincentive. Why would I take all the risk and responsibility if I’m not going to be commensurately rewarded?

I especially dislike the all-knowing way the Democrats take with this. They want to “[target] the workers and businesses that need profit-sharing the most.” How does the State determine who needs profit-sharing the most?

Expanding Access to Affordable Housing and Homeownership

“Democrats will continue to fight for those families who suffered the loss of their homes [in the housing crisis].”

Sounds good.

“We will help those who are working toward a path of financial stability and will put sustainable home ownership into the reach of more families.”

Still sounding good. The big question is, how?

“Democrats will also combat the affordable housing crisis and skyrocketing rents in many parts of the country, which is leading too many families and workers to be pushed out of communities where they work.”

That’s good.

“We will preserve and increase the supply of affordable rental housing by expanding incentives to ease local barriers to building new affordable rental housing developments in areas of economic opportunity.”

This actually sounds promising, if by “easing local barriers”, it means reducing the red-tape and regulations that unnecessarily make housing too expensive to build, or that prohibit new housing construction altogether. Also, regulations that prevent older buildings from being used for housing in many urban areas need to be eased.

Of course, an increase in rental housing also impacts houses for sale, lowering those prices as well.

I’m not sure how well people with nice homes will take it when their property values go down when the new low-income rental housing goes in next-door.

Actually, I think I know how they’ll take it, since the same thing could very well happen to me. I don’t think they’ll like it. Oh well. It just means that my house isn’t worth as much. At least my taxes won’t be as high, right?

“We will substantially increase funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to construct, preserve, and rehabilitate millions of affordable housing rental units. Not only will this help address the affordable housing crisis, it will also create millions of good-paying jobs in the process. Democrats believe that we should provide more federal resources to the people struggling most with unaffordable housing: low- income families, people with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly.”

Think about it. The Democrats want the State to construct, preserve, and rehabilitate millions of rental units. This would take billions of dollars. Democrats claim this would create millions of jobs. Yes, it would…in the construction industry.

But the billions of dollars would be taken from citizens. Those same citizens would no longer have those billions of dollars that they would have spent across a wide variety of industries, where businesses would no longer have money to hire, give raises, or even pay employees.

This is the inevitable cost of using federal projects to “create millions of good-paying jobs.” The jobs might happen in one industry, but at the cost of many other industries.

In addition, the construction industry itself gets damaged as the supply of housing increases and resources are constrained by fiat of the State.

“We will expand efforts…We will also expand programs…We will reinvigorate…programs…increase funding…we will fight for robust funding…We will engage in a stronger, more coordinated, and better funded partnership…We will build on and expand President Obama’s promising initiatives…”

If you read that paragraph and the clanging cash register sound didn’t keep ringing in your ears…you’re either too young to remember that sound or you’re a Democrat. These initiatives and desires sound nice, but much like a thousand-mile wall, how do we pay for it!?

“We must make sure that everyone has a fair shot at homeownership…”

I agree with this opening sentence, and I think I agree with this entire paragraph.

Protecting and Expanding Social Security

“Without Social Security, nearly half of America’s seniors would be living in poverty.”

How many of America’s seniors are living in poverty with Social Security? Just wondering. And how many of America’s seniors would be living in poverty, if there were no Social Security, but they had been able to privately invest the money Social Security took away?

“Social Security is more than just a retirement program.”

Is that part of the problem?

[Page 6]

“Democrats will expand Social Security…”

…on the strength of unicorns…

“We will make sure Social Security’s guaranteed benefits continue for generations to come by asking those at the top to pay more, and will achieve this goal by taxing some of the income of people above $250,000.”

Are “those at the top” and “people above $250,000” the same thing? Is “pay more” and “taxing some” the same thing? How much is more? How much is some? If Social Security is deeply in the hole — as many say it is — how do you guarantee benefits simply by increasing taxes, unless those taxes are significant?

All incentives in this type of thinking are to stay poor, stay small. Don’t make the effort to make more, because it will simply be taken from you and given to those who don’t make as much. (This is not the same as making more so you can give to those who don’t make as much. Giving means I get to direct where it goes. Taking means others decide that for me.)

Ensuring a Secure and Dignified Retirement

The older I get, the more I am for this.

“Democrats believe it should be easier for Americans to save for retirement and prepare for unforeseen risks and expenses.”

Me, too. Once again, it all comes down to details. How do Democrats intend to make this happen, by letting the State control things, or by giving citizens the freedom and opportunity to do what they think is best?

I don’t know enough to comment on this section. It all sounds good, but I don’t know what the Conflict of Interest Rule is or what the Older Americans Act is, or what other issues come into play.

Revitalizing Our Nation’s Postal Service

I’m not sure how this fits into restoring America’s middle class, but I guess it fits here as well as anywhere else.

“Democrats embrace a vibrant, public Postal Service that offers universal service, and reject any effort to privatize or marginalize it.”

As a former USPS employee, I have mixed feelings. I understand the original concept and need to form a State-run postal service. I’m just not sure that the need still exists.

No State-run entity can achieve the same efficiency or economy that a privately-run entity can. It doesn’t mean that it won’t outperform a privately-run entity, but it doesn’t have as much potential.

“We are committed to eliminating the unsustainable mandate to “pre-fund’ retiree health costs.”

I’m not sure if this was intended to be in this paragraph or with the previous paragraph. Either way, I’m not sure what the problem would be with pre-funding retiree health costs.

“Democrats also advocate for expanding postal services.”

It’s an ongoing theme. Expand what the State does. Even though it is inherently less cost effective to do so.

Think of it this way…if I take a dollar from you, in order to give that dollar to someone else, that is inherently less efficient than if you give that dollar directly to someone else. Not only does it take more time for me to take it and pass it on, I’m going to need to be compensated for my time and effort in taking the dollar and giving the dollar. I either take part of the dollar before I pass it on, or I take the dollar plus a little extra.


That is the end of the first major section.

Next: “Create Good Paying Jobs”
[This formatting of this post was edited 03-23-17, 4:00pm, to provide additional clarity.]

A politician by any other name

March 2017.

A couple months into the presidency of D.J. Trump, and the nation is still dancing to different rhythms of discord and complaint.

Here are my thoughts so far.

People thought — and to a major extent, still think — that they had a choice between a politician pursuing politics-as-usual and a businessman who is anything but usual. Those that wanted someone outside of the usual political circles in office, failed to realize that they were electing someone that has the same motivations as the politicians they opposed.

The perceived problem in electing a career politician is that they will continue to run government in the same way it has always been run, and they will continue to bow to the special interests and supporters that fund their drive to power.

Instead, they elected a business-minded person, with his own interests and economic motivations. In neither case — politician or business person — are the real economic needs of the country the primary motivator.

What does the country really need? The country is made up of a few hundred million special interests. Each of us have different things we would focus on if we were following our own agenda.

Here’s what I need.

I need less of my earned income going to pay for government items. I need more money staying where I can spend it, rather than having it spent for me by the government.

I felt this most acutely when I recently prepared my income tax return. Unexpected changes in income, deductions, and credits created a situation where I hadn’t withheld enough from my income to pay for the taxes I owed. So, I now have to pay a significant-to-me amount of money when I file my return. It’s money that, for the most part, I no longer have, and, what I do have I was intending to inject back into the economy. (That means I was going to spend it on things I wanted.) Instead, I will now have to give that money to the government to pay for things for which I do not want to pay.

Mrs. Clinton would have made the situation worse, without question. The progressive march towards socialism doesn’t take money away from citizens as much as it takes away the right to decide. In a free market, I can decide whether or not to buy. Socialism takes away that right, insisting that I buy things on behalf of others through taxation.

Mr. Trump has not been much better. Going from Obamacare to Trumpcare is simply rebadging a socialist healthcare system. Insisting on “America first” and the protection of American business and products, is simply insisting that I pay more for goods and services, whether I want to or not.

There are significant differences in the non-economic policies of the two sides, but, unfortunately, Republicans and Democrats are increasingly weakening our economy in identical ways. Though he couches his actions as being pro-business, and may, in fact, help his businesses, in the long run the President’s protectionism and government programs rob citizens of the right to decide for themselves how they will spend the money they earn.

In review…fantasy football

If you want to make someone angry, preach to them. If you just want to bore them, talk about your fantasy football team.

Take heart, I’m just here to bore you.

I only participate in one fantasy football league. That’s probably one more than you and several less than most fantasy football players. It’s a fun, harmless — when no money is involved — and relatively easy activity. I know that serious players will take hours and hours to analyze and strategize for their teams. I’m not serious and I don’t have that kind of time. (Except when I’m on vacation, like now, and can wasted time writing about something only I care about.)

Time isn’t the reason I’m only involved in one league. It’s the matter of divided loyalties. Fantasy football involves drafting NFL players from various teams and compiling them to one team. This creates strange rooting interests. Take yesterday, for example. The team I root for, Detroit, was playing Green Bay for the division title. On my fantasy team, though, are two players from Green Bay. If I were to have more than one fantasy team, the rooting interests become even more complex.

All that prelude aside, the real point of this post was what happened with my team this season, specifically, how the draft compared with the actual results of the season. I’m not writing this for anyone’s edification but my own.

My draft was good, so I thought. Yahoo rated it an A+ draft. I got most of who I wanted.

In retrospect, my draft was not so good. Here’s who I drafted, round-by-round, and what the actual results were:

  1. Adrian Peterson. That pretty much sums up my draft. Great first pick…or so we thought at the time. Contributed nothing before he was charged with child abuse and was subsequently dropped from every team, real and fantasy.
  2. Le’Veon Bell. Best pick. 2nd only to Demarco Murray for running backs. Of course, Murray would be selected two picks later. Had my chance.
  3. Randall Cobb. Another solid performer and the best WR available at that time in the draft.
  4. Michael Crabtree. This is where actual performance vs. expected performance starts to leave the rails. Dropped him later in the season.
  5. Matt Ryan. Decent. Ended the season as my starting quarterback. And got 12 points in a game in which he threw 2 interceptions and was held without a TD.
  6. Victor Cruz. Pretty good until he got injured. Dropped.
  7. Pierre Garcon. Bleh. I had him last year and didn’t learn. Those who don’t learn from their mistakes… Dropped.
  8. Russell Wilson. Contributed a couple of times. Had an okay season. Still on my roster.
  9. Pierre Thomas. Another player I drafted against my better judgment. Dropped.
  10. Kendall Wright. Disaster. Dropped.
  11. Jeremy Hill. Yuck. Dropped.
  12. Delanie Walker. Nope. Dropped.
  13. Cincinnati’s defense. Did well in many games. In the end, they didn’t end up on my roster, because I tend to go week-to-week with defenses in the last half of the season.
  14. Eddie Lacy. He was my keeper from last season, whom I picked up as a free agent, meaning I could wait until the last round of the draft to add him in. A no brainer, and obviously, still on my roster.

There you go. 14 selections and only five are still on my roster. Must not have been a good season, right?

Actually, it was pretty good. I ended up in the top four in the regular season, making the playoffs, dropped the first playoff game and won the consolation game to finish third.

Hey! Wake up! I’m done talking about my fantasy team! Now, about your sin and bad attitude…

You want to teach these kids?

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week…or so I’m told by a post on from my sister’s Facebook page. Happy Teacher Appreciation week to my sister, Cherie, and my brother-in-law, Terry. They are great teachers who are impacting the lives of a lot of students (and parents, too.)

They are part of a group of teachers — public and private school teachers — who perform a great public service and deserve every accolade they receive. The difficulty of their job has been well-documented, and still is probably underestimated by most people.

However, this post is about another group of teachers.

The other group…

  • doesn’t get a classroom. I don’t mean they don’t have a ill-equipped, barely-stocked classroom. I mean they are given no classroom. You want to teach these kids? Figure out where, because we’re not going to give you a place.
  • doesn’t get curriculum or even basic school supplies. Again, nothing. You want to teach these kids? Figure out how and with what, because this school district isn’t giving you anything. Any item you need, buy it yourself.
  • doesn’t get training. You want to teach these kids? Good luck, because we’re not providing you with instructions or helps or seminars or other teachers to help you.
  • doesn’t get paid. You want to teach these kids? Hope you really enjoy it, because we’re not paying you. No need to think about raises, because a 2% increase of zero is still zero. In most cases, this means you don’t get discounts offered to public and private school teachers, either. No free coffee at McDonalds during FCAT week. No discount at the Apple Store. [EDIT: Thankfully, I am wrong about the Apple store!]

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to that other group. You wanted to teach those kids, so you did. You made your own classroom, acquired your own stuff, and spent countless hours getting the training you needed in order to teach, instruct, and inspire. Despite not getting paid, you are reaping huge rewards as you see your students grow, mature, and eventually graduate.

And Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to Trudi, one of that other group — homeschool teachers. Seeing our third child graduate from high school and move on to college answers well the question we asked ourselves almost 20 years ago…you want to teach these kids? I’m glad you said yes.