Vail Daily column: Lessons of history
January 5, 2014
The founding fathers were exceptionally well-educated men who placed an enormous amount of importance on education. They understood the system of government they envisioned would flourish only if an educated electorate were involved and informed.
If we examine closely the issues facing this nation, then it wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude that many of our problems are a consequence of the unfortunate fact that too much of the electorate is uninvolved and uninformed.
No one wants to see the violence too many American communities have experienced due to the misuse of guns. But it's a fool's errand to legislate overly restrictive gun laws. One needs to look no further than the president's hometown of Chicago for a clear illustration. Chicago boasts the toughest and most restrictive guns laws in the nation, yet at the same time, that city also has the nation's highest gun related murder rate.
Seeking to limit and restrict gun ownership because of the actions of few fanatics makes about as much sense as restricting all Muslims from flying on airplanes because of the actions of a few extremists.
In an attempt to deflect attention from the rollout of Obamacare, the administration has created a new diversion — a focus on income inequality.
There is now and always will be "income inequality" for more reasons than one can innumerate, i.e., differences in motivation, attitude, education, age, location, etc. There are also two little known facts on the topic that never seem to be discussed. One, less than 3 percent of all American workers are minimum wage earners, and, two, the majority of these minimum wage earners are not heads of households.
Additionally, more than half are students or other young people, usually part-time workers in families whose average income is $53,000 a year (which is more than the average U.S. household income). Considering the foregoing, it should be obvious the administration's latest hot topic is more about politics than actually helping people.
Raising the minimum wage by governmental fiat is a simplistic, one-dimensional notion designed to rally support for an administration with declining approval ratings.
Government interference is not the answer. It's an economic reality that when government interferes with free markets the unintended consequences are manifold (see Obamacare). Additionally, according to economics Professor Emmanuel Saez at the University of California, Berkley, during the period from 2002 to 2007 (the peak of the Bush economic boom years) almost two-thirds of the income growth in the U.S. went to the top 1 percent of nation's earners.
However, since 2008, a period when government regulations and controls in virtually all areas of the economy have increased dramatically, that same 1 percent has garnered a whopping 93 percent of all the income growth in the country. The CBO provides similar statistics, which should compel us to ask if there might possibly be a connection between increased government regulation and the widening income-divide?
To paraphrase Milton Friedman, if you want to know where the masses are worst off in the world, it's in those societies that have departed from capitalism and free trade. History is absolutely clear there is no alternative way of improving the lot of the ordinary citizen that can hold a candle to the productive activities unleashed by a free enterprise system.
The socialists of 20th century Europe tried to dictate wages and prices. Their policies failed miserably and hundreds of millions suffered. When will our legislators realize that those who fail to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them?
Discussions about climate change usually center on ideology or emotion when they should more appropriately focus on science. So is man the cause of our changing climate? I can't answer that, but I do know science is based on evidence, and every theory or conclusion must be supported by observation, experimentation and analysis. And regardless of how much support a particular position has, if a theory is contradicted by even a single piece of evidence, that theory must either be subjected to further scrutiny or abandoned.
For a scientific theory to be true there can be no verifiable contradictory evidence. And at this point in earth's history a climate change model without conflicting evidence does not exist.
It is indisputable that the earth has been alternately warming and cooling for 4.5 billion years. Also undisputed is the fact that measurement — the essential component of all scientific theory — is impossible without a baseline. And this is precisely where current climate predictors fail the litmus test, because no model in existence today uses a controlled (in the scientific sense) baseline.
Perhaps man is partly responsible for modifying earth's ever-changing climate, but before the matter can truly be regarded as "settled," two simple questions must be answered. What is the optimal temperature for planet earth? And during what geological period did it occur? Until those questions are scientifically satisfied, all theories about our changing climate remain in the realm of conjecture or speculation.
Quote of the day: "The indispensible fist step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want."—Ben Stein
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.