Vail Daily column: Some things to think about |

Vail Daily column: Some things to think about

Butch Mazzuca
Valley Voices
Butch Mazzuca
Butch Mazzuca |

The original title of this commentary was “If you like your part-time job, then you can keep it,” but space constraints obliged me to shorten it. Fact: Real job growth in America is at its lowest level in 30 years, and regardless of what the spinmeisters in Washington would have us believe, a true measure of employment must account for those Americans who are part-time employees but would prefer to work full-time.

There are now 800,000 fewer full-time jobs than when George W. Bush left office. Meanwhile the number of part-time jobs has increased by 60 percent. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that fewer full-time jobs and more part-time jobs means lower average wages for the American worker.

Another telling statistic about the strength or weakness of the economy is the labor-participation rate, which has fallen to 62.6 percent, a statistic that accounts for the unemployed who have stopped looking for work and have exited the workforce.

Median income is less today than it was in 2008, business investment is lackluster and American productivity has fallen off. These are the issues voters might want to consider in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. Supreme Court looked past a Congressional drafting error in its decision to uphold tax credits for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.) In effect, their decision was predicated on the principle that laws and statutes should be interpreted to fulfill the intent of the legislature. In other words, according to the court, it matters less how a law actually reads and more on how nine non-elected justices interpret the intent of the lawmakers.

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If we extrapolate that “principle,” to the 14th Amendment and its applicability to birthright citizenship, perhaps Donald Trump’s stance on the matter isn’t so far off base.

The 14th Amendment reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

In essence, the 14th Amendment guarantees the right of citizenship to anyone born on American soil, even if the child’s parents are in the U.S. illegally. However, from a historical perspective, the intent of the 14th Amendment (one of the Reconstruction Amendments) adopted on July 9, 1868, was to address citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War.

Therefore, if congressional intent is to be the criterion, as it was regarding Obamacare subsidies, Trump may have a pretty good argument regarding the legality of anchor babies.

Deja vu

“This is a good deal for the United States. North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. International inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments” — Bill Clinton on Oct. 21, 1994, in a statement about the nuclear deal to keep North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. Today, the CIA estimates North Korea possesses a half dozen nuclear bombs.

“It’s a good deal — a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon” — President Barack Obama on April 2.

Within the context of accounting for the military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program, the White House has agreed to allow Iran to inspect itself at the controversial Parchin nuclear site. Does anyone remember when Yogi Berra said, “It’s like deja vu all over again?”

Growing debt

When George W. Bush took office the national debt stood at $5.8 trillion. When he left office the national debt was a more than $11 trillion. President Obama, who called Bush unpatriotic for increasing the debt, has already added $7 trillion to that number, which is projected to climb to $20 trillion by the time he leaves office.

Last year, the U.S. spent $430 billion on interest payments alone, a number that will continue to increase unless a new administration and Congress act to change this insane fiscal trajectory. This is money that won’t be spent on education, medical research, defense or any of those “shovel ready” infrastructure projects promised in 2008.

Regardless of your ideology, through years of mismanagement, greed, corruption, incompetence and a failure to understand basic economics, politicians (both Republican and Democrat) have put us in this position.

So perhaps it’s not a bad idea to consider electing a businessperson who actually understands the economy and such arcane notions as cause and effect relationships, accountability and equal opportunity vs. the socialist notion of guaranteed equal outcomes.

Quote of the day: “The first lesson of economics is scarcity, there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson economics” — Thomas Sowell.

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

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