Fair Ball?

My kids fight a lot. Every argument they have can basically fit into one of the following categories.

1. One son is trying to help the other son. The one being helped doesn’t wan’t to be helped.

2. Two kids. One toy. The word, “Mine!” is thrown around a lot. Inevitably, one will come to me and tell me that something isn’t fair.

With their track record of helping those who don’t want it and trying to make everything fair, my two young sons are already qualified for jobs with the federal government.

Take, for example, the United States Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. As you’ll see in the video below, they caught wind of an excellent opportunity to help some kids at a Michigan high school by making things fair.

It was hard to watch baseball games at Plymouth High School. Not because the team was bad. It’s just that the seating was bad. So six years ago, a few parents got together, raised their own money and built a very nice seating section and scoreboard for the baseball team.

Problem solved.

Not so fast.

How absurd of these private citizens to attempt to solve a local problem with their own money and without the help of the federal government. So the federal government, in their determination to help victims by making things fair, demanded that the seats at the baseball field be torn down.

Why?

Because the girl’s softball field only has bleachers and those bleachers aren’t nearly as spiffy as the ones at the boy’s baseball field.

When I correct my fighting sons, I do so by telling them that sometimes people just don’t want to be helped. And sometimes helping can actually make matters worse. I go on to tell them that life isn’t always fair.

Maybe while the federal government is listening in on my conversations, they could pay a little better attention to those talks.

History shows us that there are a few things we can count on when the federal government tries to help by making things fair.

1.) Unless their help involves sending out a group of SEALs to eliminate some deranged dictator, help from the federal government is usually anything but helpful. Generally speaking, you can expect to spend the next 4 to 7 years filling out paperwork and paying fines. But don’t worry. It’s for your own good.

2.) When the federal government tries to make things fair, they hardly ever do so by paving the way for the so-called victims to make a bad situation better. They usually do it by tearing down a pretty good situation that already existed.

They tell us, in their best 1940s German accent, “You will both sit on the dirt to watch your children play their sporting games. And you will like it. This is the fair way.”

The feds are very good at tearing things down (see: small countries, families, small businesses). They aren’t so good at building new things (see: public libraries in Clayton County, Georgia. If we’re ever invaded by visitors from another planet, the aliens will get off of their ship, take one look at those library buildings and assume that some other group of aliens already showed up 20 years ago. They might be right).

All the softball parents had to do was to follow the example of the baseball parents and raise money to build their own new stands. But that could take months, even years. And who’s got time for that when all you have to do is make an anonymous phone call to the feds?

Such is the American way.

There was a time when civil rights meant that blacks and whites should be allowed to drink from the same water fountain. Now it means that Shannon should be allowed to play for the high school girls basketball team and the high school boys basketball team while mom and dad sit and watch from the luxury box that you paid for along with Shannon’s upcoming gender reassignment surgery.

In the classic movie, Cool Hand Luke, the captain of a chain gang tries to justify his harsh treatment of inmate Lucas Jackson, played by Paul Newman, by telling him that the chains are for his own good.

“I wish you’d stop being so good to me, Captain.”

There are several parents up in Michigan who wish that the federal government would stop being so good to them.

Those parents are not alone.

The Grade School Economist

photo-30

There comes a point in one’s educational journey when you arrive at the realization that what you are learning, as good as it may be, isn’t the way it is in the real world. For me, that happened in my 12th grade wood shop class when I figured out that I would probably never use a table saw. I got transferred to an electronics class.

For my son, it happened this week when he brought home an economics study guide. The material on the study guide was excellent. But sadly, it isn’t being applied in today’s America.

Here are a few examples.

Study Guide: “Economics is the study of how people use resources. Natural resources are resources from God such as water, fish, and farmland.”

Today’s America: “Economics are rules that only get in the way of the government trying to give you what’s best for you. Natural resources such as water, fish, and farmland belong to the government. Never use natural resources, you selfish pig.”

Study Guide: “Producers sell goods and services.”

Today’s America: “Producers are greedy, old men who own fast food restaurants and only want to make more money so that they can golf more. They have no compassion for their hard working, completely non-greedy minimum wage employees who go on strike every two weeks because they want more money to spend on video games.”

Study Guide: “A budget shows how much you earn and spend.”

Today’s America: “A what?”

Study Guide: “Savings can be used for sudden expenses.”

Today’s America: “Credit cards are used for sudden expenses. Or, in the case of the federal government, money printing machines are used for sudden expenses. Either way, it’s free money. Savings accounts are only for those greedy fast-food restaurant owners.”

Study Guide: “People earn an income by working.”

Today’s America: “People earn an income by watching Judge Judy, having kids, developing a drug addiction, creating art that they could never sell without the aid of the government, having more kids, getting their own reality show, voting for people who promise to increase their wages for doing nothing and having kids. Anything but work. Oh, and did I mention having kids?”

Study Guide: “Prices of items are determined by the supply and demand.”

Today’s America: “Prices of items are determined by the government after they establish a monopoly by bailing out their ‘too big to fail’ corporate buddies andĀ forcing the small, private producers out of business.”

Study Guide: “Wants are things that people would like to have.”

Today’s America: “If I want it, I have a right to it. And if I can’t afford it, someone else has to pay for my right to whatever it is that I want. Now give me my smart phone!”

Study Guide: “A factory is a place in which people use machines to make goods.”

Today’s America: “A factory is a place where people once used machines to make goods. But then it had to shut down because the owner of the factory couldn’t afford the new federally mandated insurance plans and the mandatory minimum wage increase. A factory is now something in another country where small children are used to make goods.”

I didn’t learn economics until the 9th grade. My son is learning it before he turns ten years old. I couldn’t believe it when he came home and showed me his study guide. That night, I even brought it to bed with me to read again.

I’m thinking about mailing it to the folks up in D.C.

Do Gooders and Special Interests

There’s a lot of talk about raising the minimum wage. Most of those arguing in the affirmative do so from an emotional viewpoint. But policies that are based solely on emotional arguments usually end up hurting the very ones promoting them. In this clip, Milton Friedman explains how government mandates regarding minimum wage laws always do much more harm than good.