Sometimes the federal government makes us a tiny bit nervous. Actually, sometimes the government seems completely bonkers.
Proof the government is nuts Argument One: A new study, by the always-conscientious Congressional Budget Office, finds that if impoverished Americans struggling to survive on $7.25 get a raise in the minimum wage so they can get out of poverty, 500,000 other Americans will lose their jobs. Just like that.
In other words, if you have a fast-food job and you make $7.25 an hour and you have to go on food stamps to feed your family, you can’t get a nationally mandated raise to $10.10 an hour, as Obama proposes, because your friend Joe who works with you will lose his job. Employers who are making gazillions of bucks feeding people hamburgers will have to make up that $2.85 somehow so they will fire Joe and 499,999 others, give or take.
Whatever happened to The American Way of creating jobs to make items that fill the demand and putting money in the pockets of workers who can then afford to buy said items?
The government-is-daft Argument Two: The ever-more-powerful Department of Homeland Security, which is so huge they’d have to kill you if you knew how big it really is, got into its head that it wanted to hire a private company to track license plates to locate “wanted individuals.”
This was so hare-brained on so many levels, we have to shudder. (Pause for some seriously significant shuddering.)
• First, hiring private contractors to launch President Obama’s health insurance overhaul hasn’t gone all that well.
• Second, this government is being rebuked around the globe for violating absolutely everyone’s civil rights and collecting way too much information while letting contractors steal sacred passwords so more secrets can be leaked. The United States even tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, had to apologize and then complained bitterly when the Russians listened in on one of our diplomats.
• Third, the ostensible reason for such an enormous privately maintained database — finding illegal immigrants and sending them back home — is nonsensical for an administration that is deporting more undocumented people than ever and can’t even process the ones they find in a timely fashion. And this is an administration that says it wants to reform immigration laws so that the 11 million people already here without papers can stay, work and eventually gain citizenship.
Doesn’t anyone in this administration ever read science fiction? Don’t they know that huge databases full of information inevitably will result in innocent people’s lives being irreparably destroyed?
Doesn’t anyone in this administration watch TV? Every night on some cop show a commercial firm is stealing private information and using it for blackmail or terrorism or some other evil intent. According to The Washington Post, nobody in DHS even bothered to figure out how long the data would be kept, what would be a valid “investigative lead” to warrant checking the database and who exactly could check the license plate database to find someone’s whereabouts.
Besides, if our government is so broke, how could we afford to pay a commercial outfit the hundreds of millions of dollars such a database collecting information on millions of law-abiding citizens would cost?
It may be of some comfort to know that within days of the contract proposal, the uproar was so huge it was abruptly canceled. The proposal is now “under review.” We can only hope that means it’s dead. But why was it put forth in the first place?
The government-is-nuts Argument Three: The United States has warned Ukraine’s government to stop its violence against its citizens “or else.” The United States also has warned Syria’s government to stop its violence against its citizens “or else.” Ditto Iraq and Afghanistan and North Korea and half the countries in Africa. Many people are beginning to ask, “Or else what?”
And all this in just one week, folks. And this is only February.
Ann McFeatters is a columnist for McClatchy-Tribune.
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