Saturday, January 24, 2004

The One-Two Punch

It's Saturday and The Register can have the attention of working people (not labor... not workers...) for more than 15 minutes of article scanning. That means it's story time children. It's time to give the readers a valuable lesson in socialism. Oh, I'm sorry... did I actually write that. I meant "social responsibility".

How does the Register go about convincing its readers to bleed their pocketbooks dry... I mean expose their readers to social issues. It's an old technique... as old as the periodical. You set them up with the front page lead and then knock them out with the corresponding Editorial. Cogent presentation of facts followed by analysis and opinion. This tried and true journalistic one-two punch, when done with subtly and depth, can be thought provoking, powerful and insightful.

On the other hand, in the Saturday Register... you get this:

Thousands of Iowans' jobless pay set to end

and this:
Beyond Welfare reform

If you try really hard, you can almost guess where this is going.

From the front page story:

LaRayne Deardorff knows the math. One farm, one husband, three kids at home, one in college - and for her, zero paycheck.

Here we go kids... get out the hankys. One wonders how LaRayne's math skills let her get into this mess? But, I'm sure we'll find out in this fair and fully balanced report.

"I don't want people to really feel sorry for me," said Deardorff, 48, who lives near Yale in Guthrie County. But Deardorff knows her family's finances will take a major hit once her state unemployment benefits of $522 every two weeks end later this month.

No help is on the way from the government.

No... she does not want us to feel sorry for her. She just wants our money... to the tune of $1,044 a month. Well, I guess that's fair. She and her family needs it, after all. Who are we to say: "No! Enough!"?

Then we get the background on unemployment benefits... how they have been extended for tens of thousands of recipients. Allow me to summarize the "math":

* $140 million in extended unemployment to 60,000 Iowans
* Average weekly benefit of $239 per recipient
* National unemployment down from 5.9% to 5.7%
* Iowa December unemployment at 4.4%, up .2% from November.

Intermixed with the "math" you get some factual tidbits... I know that you'll find this shocking but...:

* Republicans control both houses of Congress
* There's a Republican in the White House
* Our Democratic Senator wants to extend the benefit term
* Our Republican Senator does NOT (at least for now... Sorry...)want to extend them
* Our Democratic Governor wants more Federal money pumped into the state

Well, that certainly put things into perspective.

Then, oh so predictably, it's back to LaRane and her family troubles.

"I am seriously looking for a job," Deardorff said, adding that prospects appear slim unless she makes the nearly 60-mile drive to Des Moines and spends up to two hours on the road every day.

Oh no!!! An hour commute each way!!! Everyone just shut up and give that woman her check! So much for that pioneer spirit exemplified by the family farmer...

She and her husband, Danny, farm, but both need to hold down other jobs. He drives a school bus and works in town in the winter.

Okay... I know that this is a sensitive topic in this state, but... LaRayne and Danny... maybe it's time to realize that you're apparently not successful farmers. Maybe it's time to get out of the business. Farm land is selling for record prices. Why should your fellow citizens subsidize your failures?

We soon learn that the family pays over $600 a month for health insurance. Hmmmm... at that premium cost it sounds like Cobra coverage with full benefits. You wonder if LaRayne and Danny investigated a Major Medical policy? At a fraction of the cost they could defend their family from catatrophic financial loss due to a major accident or illness and still have more dollars each month to spend on necessities. But that of course, would not let the Register pitch universal health insurance...

Until something shows up, Deardorff said the federal benefits would aid not only her but Iowa businesses.

Until something shows up???!!! Whew, what a slip of the tongue. Well, yeah girl... getting $1,000 a month from the "Gubmint" will allow you to "wait until something shows up". Without realizing it, the Register lets it slip.

This slip is followed by a massive rationalization:

"I'm a consumer and this money is going to flow back right away into the economy,"

This must be "New Math", LaRayne. Yep, that money comes from nowhere... from freakin' Oz and it's just going to go right back into the economy. LaRayne has discovered the perpetual money machine! She's does let slip a bit of truth... she's a "consumer" alright.

So... have you got the setup? People... through absolutely no fault of their own are suffering. What are we to do...? How can we help...?

Well, my friends... just turn to the Register Editorial Page and they'll tell you:

Congress is now two years overdue in reauthorizing welfare benefits for the very poorest Americans because lawmakers haven't been able to agree on the details. Make the poor work more? Push them into marriage?

Two years overdue...? Man, I LOVE government gridlock!

Make the poor work more...? Oh... God no! Anything but that. Push them into marriage? Well... only before they have children.

Long hours in Washington will be spent again this year deciding what "to do" about "all those" welfare mothers.

Excellent use of "sneer quotes" boardmembers! Let's not do anything to stop the cycle. Let's just give them the money so they can produce another generation.

Yet only about 2 million American families collect a monthly welfare check, and that small number acts as a distraction from the more prevalent problem of the poor in this country. Nearly 35 million Americans live below the poverty line of about $18,000 for a family of four.

You see, by concentrating on the truly poor, the Congress refuses to pump up the welfare system to it's pre-reform days. But, that's precisely what the Register wants to do... And MUCH MORE.

The poor are the people working in the check-out lanes, stocking the shelves, standing on the assembly lines and caring for this country's children and elderly.

Where the editorial board sees "Poverty" I see opportunity and the way that upward mobility is supposed to work. I shop at Dahl's on Ingersoll. The checkout clerks and baggers are mostly immigrants. They do indeed work hard. They are making their way up. Many of the younger Somalis and Bosnians will go to technical school or a state university. The sons and daughters of the older ones will most likely only work at Dahls while they are in high school.

It takes time and not everyone makes it. But everyone MUST make it, says the Register. And away we go...

Things to do: Create a full-employment economy in which market forces would drive up wages. Change labor laws to strengthen the rights of workers. Make health care available to everyone. Expand child care and public preschool. Stop taxing earned income more heavily than investment income. Provide more worker retraining and affordable college opportunities to create a climate where it really is possible for people to get ahead.

More programs... more taxes. Hey kids, I know what government can do today. Let's create a "full-employment economy"! That'll be fun! Let's make it harder for businesses to do business and make money. Let's especially raise the taxes on money that would otherwise go toward the creation of new jobs.

And, while we're at it let's "create a climate". Central economic planning does that the best!

Just ask those Bosnians at Dahls. They'll tell you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Bush's SOTU Speech

The first third, which covered the war, was everything I had hoped. Here's the nut:

I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all. They view terrorism more as a crime -- a problem to be solved mainly with law enforcement and indictments. After the World Trade Center was first attacked in 1993, some of the guilty were indicted, tried, convicted, and sent to prison. But the matter was not settled. The terrorists were still training and plotting in other nations, and drawing up more ambitious plans. After the chaos and carnage of September 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States -- and war is what they got.

The second third touted the income tax cut (okay... not bad...) and the rebounding economy (yeah...).

The last third, a cavalcade of feel good domestic programs, was... well... Clinton without the penache or conviction. By the time he got to the danger of steroids, I had switched off. Steroids...? Come on...

However... as long as he demonstrates that he's willing to take the war to Islamo-Fascists, he has my vote. If $1.3 billion to "promote marriage" is the collateral cost, so be it.

Monday, January 19, 2004

It's Over... Thank You Jesus

At this writing, we seem to have a winner. With 67% of the results in, it's John "Kennedy Hair" Kerry with 38%. Kerry is followed closely by Edwards with 33%. Dean a distant third with 18%. Gephardt... 11% - goodbye. Kucinich had a whopping 1% topping both Liberman (wow!) and Sharpton.

The Dean campaign chairwoman just came on the local CBS affiliate and had a ten-thousand yard stare on big time. She blubbered about how Dean loves to be an underdog and covets that position going into New Hampshire. Yeah... right. Be brave.

The turnout so far has been way lower than predicted. The record in 1988 was 124,000. Right now, attendance sits at about 84,000. Well, it's cold. And, perhaps the Democrat true believers are as riled up as we were led to believe.

God, I'm glad it's over. The growing crescendo of campaign advertising that we've endured over the last few months has been brutal. This is my second Iowa Caucus as an Iowa resident. It kind of reminds me of the musical Brigadoon. Iowa appears from the mist of obscurity every four years. Strangers enter our enchanted land. There's romance, a bit of conflict and a lot of song and dance. Then, back into the mist we go. Back to the sleepy-time land of soy futures, no rush hour traffic and decent public schools.

And none too soon.