LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Of misleading numbers and the minimum wage

In response to Mr. Clemens’ [Opinion page] article in the State News on 1/12/17 (“Justice needs to be on the bargaining table”), I would like to start by saying thank you for reading my Opinion page] article of 1/2/17 [“The election, the future of our nation and Delaware”], and then responding. To be sure, we disagree, but the beauty of living in this great nation of ours is that we can have this open dialogue.

That said, I was saddened to see your comment of “… socialist hate list.” I am not a socialist, and use of the inflammatory rhetoric of the left only makes an open dialogue more difficult. It’s OK that you disagree with my thoughts, but is rhetoric of that nature really necessary?

As a former high school (I introduced the AP Statistics course at Smyrna High) and college math teacher, I would opine that once a number is printed, it tends to grow a life of its own. The problem is, what does the number really mean, and what was the data used to calculate that number?

You discuss job growth in both the general market and the manufacturing sector. If we’ve had “75 straight months of job growth,” why has the economy only grown 1 to 2 percent per year under Obama? It is a known fact that we’ve lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. Your logic implies the manufacturing plants remaining have been able to absorb those lost jobs, and at the same time, increase the number by 317,000.

How, especially when we are told the unemployment rate is in the 4-plus percent range, but the employment participation rate is in the 60-percent range? Those sets of numbers are not mutually exclusive. It’s easy to print a number, but it can be difficult to truly explain what the number means. I would recommend that one not only look at the data, but how the calculation is made.

If more Americans than ever are on government programs, how has poverty even “decreased somewhat” under Obama? Understand that even with the number of government programs we have for those in need, the best those folks will ever attain in economic status is at, or just below, the poverty level. There isn’t enough government money to get you above that level. You must earn your way out of poverty.

All four of my grandparents emigrated from Italy through Ellis Island in the earlier 1900s. They came here with one thing in mind, to become Americans and provide a better life for their families. Does everyone we are “vetting” today have that same thought process?

You mention the minimum wage. I would offer that the real minimum wage is zero ($0). If you don’t have a job, how much are you making per hour? The left has taken the minimum-wage argument and turned it into a “living wage” argument. You must know that not every job can be thought of providing a “living wage.” The compensation of a position is based on its economic value to the company. If the government starts deciding, via a minimum wage, what that value is, a lot of businesses will be forced out of business. Just look at what the fast-food industry is experimenting with today. We are fast approaching a break-even point where the introduction of kiosks is economically feasible. What will the politicians who pushed for that point tell their constituents who are now unemployed?

I may have been off on the stating number of the debt, but it’s the ending number that scares me. The most difficult process the president-elect will need to maneuver is his balancing of fiscal and monetary policy. It is a tightrope that will be extremely difficult to walk. If he errs, the resulting stock- and bond-market collapses will make 1929 look like a walk in the park. Don’t believe that it can never happen again.

I don’t know how you can think Obamacare is anything but a fiasco. Remember all of his promises? And, when challenged, the deciding vote and opinion written by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stated that since the Congress has the power to tax, the law is legal. While there are some good points to the law, if you truly understand its costs, you’d know it was written to be the precursor of a single-payer system.

As a graduate of the Army War College, and thinking from a strategic standpoint, going into Iraq was a mistake. That said, not giving the military a well-defined “end state,” by either president was wrong. Never commit American troops to combat without an end state that everyone understands. By telling the enemy our timetable for departure and not renewing the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) with Iraq, Obama walked away from the thousands of Americans killed in Iraq and opened the door for ISIS.

They are now in over a dozen countries around the world. Also, the Taliban are on the verge of retaking and controlling all of Afghanistan. Obama did not have the courage to provide the military with an end-state in either country, unleash our combat power, and finish the job. As for Syria, he threatened Assad, and when Assad called his bluff, he blinked. That, sir, is leading from behind.

Lastly, you mention that Medicare, Social Security, and the VA are not my “socialist hate list?” Medicare is a single-payer system for a segment of our society. The program is permeated with fraud, waste and abuse. Clean that up, and it’s probably decent. As a veteran, it saddens me that the VA is so terribly mismanaged. I can only hope that the Secretary-designate will turn that institution into the intent of its Congressional creators. The Congress raided the Social Security trust fund a long time ago, refused to listen to the actuaries, and look at where we are now.

I would submit to you that justice is always on the bargaining table. It’s coming to the table with understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent, outlining a strategy to get them to move from their position, and then, hammering out a deal acceptable to both sides. If you come to the table with the mindset of the left, use inflammatory rhetoric and redefine terms that make people look racist and uncaring, you will never win. All you need do is look at what’s transpiring at the Senate confirmation hearings.

Instead of thinking about the country, many of our elite Democratic politicians can’t get over the fact that they blew it, and are showing the American public just how narcissistic they really are. And yes, there are many elite Republican politicians who are no better.

I hope and pray that the president-elect will reunite this country and bring it back to the status it once had.

Frank Daniels
Retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel

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