- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

Ain’t lawmaking grand?

As reported in the Associated Press article, “New year rings in multitude of new laws in states” (Nation, Sunday), the stroke of midnight on Monday brought an increase in the minimum wage rates of seven states. No doubt lawmakers in Arizona, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania feel good about themselves because this shows that they “care” about workers. In truth, they care even more about getting votes from those who are ignorant of economics.

If these lawmakers are so bighearted, why don’t they simply outlaw poverty? $7.50 per hour is still pretty shabby. Why not raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour? That certainly would make life a little easier, although it still wouldn’t be nearly enough to allow the earner of that wage to partake of very many of the pleasures of life. Shouldn’t everyone have a nice house and time to travel the country and the world? Let’s make the minimum wage $100 an hour. No, wait, $1,000 an hour. Let’s just make everyone a millionaire.

That will be $200 for that loaf of bread.

JOHN SANTOLIQUIDO

Policy associate

National Taxpayers Union

Alexandria

Siding with the rats

Contrary to the article “Animal activists hail NYSE deal on listing,” (Business, Tuesday) no animal rights activists are praising the New York Stock Exchange for listing the parent company of medical research firm Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Like many of its peers, Huntingdon is engaged in the search for AIDS, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s cures. This requires the regrettable but very necessary use of lab rats. Despite the undeniable upside for humanity, animal rights groups universally side with the rodents.

The NYSE’s decision to do the right thing will likely please no one in the animal rights movement. Not the terrorist Animal Liberation Front, nor the malevolent press-hounds at PETA, nor the comparatively mild-mannered Humane Society of the United States. Given animal activists’ preference for protecting rats before sick people, it’s hard to believe their other pronouncements — including fatwas against meat, hunting, fur and circuses — enjoy any traction with the public.

DAVID MARTOSKO

Director of research

Center for Consumer Freedom

Washington

Don’t shut them out

Vicki Huddleston (“Opportunity in Somalia,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) has it wrong when she calls for the transition “to a broad based government that excludes the Islamic militants … .” This exclusion would only increase the likelihood of an insurgency.

While I agree that the Islamic Courts were an aggressive and unsavory political force, the current ruling transitional government, although internationally backed, is not much better, being composed of many former warlords and thugs. With the loathed presence of Ethiopian troops, the country awash in guns and an extremely weak government, a violent backlash remains very likely. Indeed, some Islamists have already made veiled threats of waging an insurgency. Therefore, a concerted effort must be made to reach out and incorporate the more moderate members of the Islamic Courts into a new government.

We should learn a lesson from Iraq and not exclude and alienate members of a deposed political group. Otherwise, we could see an insurgency in Somalia, and the country become the “third” front of jihad.

MATT DIPPOLD

Falls Church

Saving Social Security

“A worthy presidential legacy,” by Richard W. Rahn (Commentary, Tuesday) accurately assesses the past and future problems of Social Security. If Congress continues to ignore the predicted fate of Social Security, all that is in doubt is the actual date when it becomes too expensive to save.

Mr. Rahn’s suggestion of implementing a savings plan for Social Security will help solve the problem. The savings plan should be a real Social Security trust fund. Initial funding of the trust fund will be no problem as Social Security will be running a big cash flow surplus for nine more years or so. The first necessary act is that our Congress show some fiscal responsibility and stop using the surplus for other than Social Security. The second is to set up the mechanism for saving and growing the Social Security cash flow surplus. The contract for operating the trust fund should be competitive and awarded to the private financial sector.

The data from the 2005 Estimated Intermediate OASDI [Old-Age and Survivors Insurance] Income and Cost in Constant Dollars was used to perform the following analysis. If the cash surplus from 2006 to 2015 is conservatively invested to produce a growth of only 2 percent over the inflation rate the balance in the “real” trust fund in 2015 would be $859 billion (today’s dollars). When the cash flow goes negative about 2017 this still growing $859 billion would sustain the present Social Security Program another 14 or so years before having to draw upon the “imaginary” Social Security trust fund.

With additional funding of Interest Income to the new trust fund from the original Social Security trust fund, the present Social Security Program could probably be extended indefinitely.

The longer Congress delays taking action, the less chance there is to save Social Security in its present form.

JOHN T. MCVICKAR

Vienna

Don’t shut them out

Vicki Huddleston (“Opportunity in Somalia,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) has it wrong when she calls for the transition “to a broad based government that excludes the Islamic militants … .” This exclusion would only increase the likelihood of an insurgency.

While I agree that the Islamic Courts were an aggressive and unsavory political force, the current ruling transitional government, although internationally backed, is not much better, being composed of many former warlords and thugs. With the loathed presence of Ethiopian troops, the country awash in guns and an extremely weak government, a violent backlash remains very likely. Indeed, some Islamists have already made veiled threats of waging an insurgency. Therefore, a concerted effort must be made to reach out and incorporate the more moderate members of the Islamic Courts into a new government.

We should learn a lesson from Iraq and not exclude and alienate members of a deposed political group. Otherwise, we could see an insurgency in Somalia, and the country become the “third” front of jihad.

MATT DIPPOLD

Falls Church

Saving Social Security

“A worthy presidential legacy,” by Richard W. Rahn (Commentary, Tuesday) accurately assesses the past and future problems of Social Security. If Congress continues to ignore the predicted fate of Social Security, all that is in doubt is the actual date when it becomes too expensive to save.

Mr. Rahn’s suggestion of implementing a savings plan for Social Security will help solve the problem. The savings plan should be a real Social Security trust fund. Initial funding of the trust fund will be no problem as Social Security will be running a big cash flow surplus for nine more years or so. The first necessary act is that our Congress show some fiscal responsibility and stop using the surplus for other than Social Security. The second is to set up the mechanism for saving and growing the Social Security cash flow surplus. The contract for operating the trust fund should be competitive and awarded to the private financial sector.

The data from the 2005 Estimated Intermediate OASDI [Old-Age and Survivors Insurance] Income and Cost in Constant Dollars was used to perform the following analysis. If the cash surplus from 2006 to 2015 is conservatively invested to produce a growth of only 2 percent over the inflation rate the balance in the “real” trust fund in 2015 would be $859 billion (today’s dollars). When the cash flow goes negative about 2017 this still growing $859 billion would sustain the present Social Security Program another 14 or so years before having to draw upon the “imaginary” Social Security trust fund.

With additional funding of Interest Income to the new trust fund from the original Social Security trust fund, the present Social Security Program could probably be extended indefinitely.

The longer Congress delays taking action, the less chance there is to save Social Security in its present form.

JOHN T. MCVICKAR

Vienna

Stocking stuffers for the handful

Their congressional votes notwithstanding, here’s a list of holiday stocking stuffers I would have given the senators mentioned in the editorial “5 Dems, 5 hopefuls, key votes” (Wednesday):

Joe Biden of Delaware: His first presidential campaign ended when he was busted for plagiarism in 1988. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he’ll have more to say about how and when the troops come home from Iraq than most. Therein lies the problem: He’s a talker, not a listener. Mr. Biden needs headphones so he will listen to what’s being said.

Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York: She may be considered the front-runner today, but I’m not sure that will hold for long. If it’s power she wants, then my suggestion is to stay in the Senate. Here’s one stocking stuffer I’ll bet Mrs. Clinton’s never received: a map of Washington. Some members of Congress have been more influential than the presidents they serve.

Christopher Dodd of Connecticut: What can you say about an old soul who thinks he’s a fresh face? I’d put a mirror in his stocking. Mr. Dodd needs to take a long, hard look at himself before jumping into the race.

John Kerry of Massachusetts: The 2004 presidential nominee did himself in with his “botched joke.” Look for some mascara in his stocking. Not for the Vietnam vet, but for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hers must have been running while she watched Mr. Kerry explain his “joke” to a relentless press corps one week before the national elections.

Barack Obama of Illinois: If there is one candidate who qualifies as a supernova, Mr. Obama’s the one. In three short years, he has gone from unknown state senator to savior of the Democratic Party. Because he wasn’t in the Senate when the all-important vote was taken on Iraq, Mr. Obama will receive a clean slate in his stocking.

DENNY FREIDENRICH

Laguna Beach, Calif.

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