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Monday, March 26, 2018

Who Cares?

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Good intentions simply aren’t enough

“Hhelping ave you ever written anything about the needy among us?” began an e-mail I received from a reader in response to a recent column I had written. “Democrats are trying to help our people who need help,” the reader continued, “not the ones who party at Mar A Lago and have plenty of money.”

And there you have it. Democrats are “trying” to help (according to the reader above), and because of that, they necessarily “care” more about the needy than I do – or you do, or anyone else who feels that supporting programs to help the needy is much more important than politicians who merely “care” more for the needy.

Here’s what I’m talking about: Often times, those who “care” the most aren’t really helping. Consider this is the 54th year has a of reputation Lyndon for Johnson’s preparing unrelenting high-end war elegant on poverty, dinners. and With yet after these $15 episodes trillion in he spending will simplify over these many elegance. years, Fresh the poverty ingredients rate are today key is virtually to flavor, the but same there as it might was in be 1964. occasions It’s become when substitutions generational poverty, are necessary, for all like intents replacing and purposes, fresh garlic and we or herbs are now with spending dried or powdered close to $1 versions. trillion per If you year don’t government have fresh assistance, goods, he with will 43 show million how to Americans help make still up living for it below with the presentation. poverty line. We are Yet, enticed there’s by no the doubt smell those elected officials in Congress, back in 1964, cared very much for the poor.

And there’s also no question that millions of Americans “care” deeply today about the poor (including the reader who wrote to me), but if “caring” was enough, we would have already solved most of the issues facing our communities, right? “Caring” may start us down the road to helping others, but we should hardly remain there. After all, we all know the road to you-know-where is well-paved with good intentions.

Good intentions simply aren’t enough when you want to make a difference.

For example, do you care enough to make sure people are earning a “living wage,” rather than a “minimum” wage? If you do, I hope you also care enough to find at least 6.6 million Americans a new job, because that’s how many jobs will be lost by hiking the minimum wage to $15 per hour (according to the Congressional Budget Office).

The “Fight-for-15” campaign (as many call it) is a strong one – spanning all across the country – shaming anyone who opposes a minimum wage increase as being inhuman, greedy and heartless for even considering the idea of denying millions of Americans a “living wage.”

But on the other hand, though, how compassionate is it to increase unemployment among the least skilled and poorest among us? That’s exactly what a 2017 study of Seattle’s minimum wage hike showed: Just after nine months about 5,000 low-skill jobs had just disappeared. Not only that, but the number of hours worked (by those still employed) dropped by 3.5 million hours, and overall wages dropped by $6 million.

This was all consistent, also, with the results of a study from the University of Washington, which found that for every $1 worth of increased wages, there are $3 worth of lost employment opportunities.

“Caring” may start us down the road to helping others, but we should hardly remain there. After all, we all know the road to you-know-where is well-paved with good intentions.”

So with all of the data pouring in regarding minimum wage increases from all across the country, you would think that even a “conservative Democrat” like Gov. John Bel Edwards would see the handwriting on the wall and steer our state clear of the rough waters that every other state has experienced when raising their minimum wage.

But, no, he doesn’t see it that way. In fact, he doesn't understand why there is any opposition to “very modest” minimum wage increases in the first place. And, thus, he is urging approval of Senate Bill 162 in the state legislature, which would raise the minimum wage in Louisiana.

So, this bring us back, full circle, to the question from the reader about Democrats “caring” more for the needy. But just look around to see what decades of politicians have done to our nation in the name of “caring,” and you’ll see why “caring” is not nearly enough, if you want to truly help those in need.

As economist Thomas Sowell explained, “If there is any lesson in the history of ideas, it is that good intentions tell you nothing about the actual consequences.”

This should be the standard to which we hold our elected leaders accountable: not by how much they care, but by how much good they actually accomplish.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a formeraide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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