Month: August 2016

Why I write: A columnist answers your questions

This summer marks the beginning of my fourth year writing a weekly conservative opinion column for these pages, and during that time I've received many compliments – and more than a few criticisms – from our readers. Most comments have been reasonable. Some have been quite thoughtful and have strongly challenged my arguments. A few may have been harsh, but that's to be expected, even welcomed. Throughout it all, I've been blessed with an opportunity to write – and to be written to – about our time's most pressing political and cultural issues. We've managed to discuss everything from faith to free markets in this column, and hopefully I've done a fair job of representing the perspective of a typical American conservative. You might have even learned something about me in the process; I've certainly learned more about you, our state, and our nation. Still, many of you have emailed me with questions over the years – some rhetorical, of course – trying to learn more about why and how I write these things. So, to mark the beginning of this column's fourth year, below you'll find the top five most common questions found in my email inbox over the years, and my best attempts to answer them. 1. "Who the hell are you to be writing such things?" I wrote an entire column last year answering that question, but suffice it to say I'm just a regular American with an opinion, just like anyone else. The only difference is…

A lottery will make the poor pay their ‘fair share’

We often hear that the rich should be made to pay their "fair share," but the top 20% of earners are already paying about 84% of our nation's income taxes. Some say that's a reasonable apportionment from each according to their ability, but here's a modest proposal for consideration: maybe it's time for the poor to actually start paying their fair share in taxes. Outrageous? No more than feeding our unwanted children to the rich. But still, how can we tax the poor without seeming like a monstrous mix of Ebenezer Scrooge and Montgomery Burns? Our lawmakers in Alabama have finally found the secret answer: a lottery. You may be skeptical that a lottery could deliver additional revenue on the backs of the poor, but other states have experimented with them for decades and have thoroughly perfected the trick. Duke University found that the poorest third of households buy more than half of all lottery tickets, and a University of Buffalo survey showed that the lowest fifth on the socioeconomic scale had the "highest rate of lottery gambling (61%)." Studies in Texas, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Minnesota also show that those with below-average incomes purchase a majority of scratch-off tickets. That's partly because, as the Duke study found, poorer neighborhoods are saturated with get-rich-quick lottery advertisements for games with tempting names like "Win for Life, " "Golden Ticket," and "Holiday Cash." And get this: a study in California found that lottery sales actually increase with poverty rates. It's recession proof!…

Obamacare’s motto should be “Raze and Replace”

Some conservatives have long suspected that Obamacare's hidden objective is to actually destroy private insurance companies rather than its advertised goal of simply augmenting their plans with government subsidies – and strings of regulation – for low income customers. Instead of the Republicans openly wanting to "Repeal and Replace" the plan, the thinking goes that Democrats have secretly conspired to "Raze and Replace" the entire private insurance market in our nation with a single government insurance plan. Hard to believe, right? Well ... maybe. Obamacare is like a Trojan Horse, the theorists claim, and once the gift is hauled into the marketplace its increased coverage requirements and decreased premium revenue will eat the insurance providers from the inside out. Rates will rise, revenues will decrease, and insurance companies will eventually abandon entire sectors of the market or face bankruptcy. The only entity capable of stepping into the breach at that point, the theory goes, would be the federal government. At long last the left's dream of a national healthcare system wouldn't simply be viewed as just another liberal policy preference; it'd be sold as an urgent human rights necessity. They'll shame us by asking, "How can Americans allow people to go without healthcare simply because corrupt insurance companies failed?" Conspiracy theories, especially those requiring collusion with government bureaucracies, are indeed hard to believe. But when one only depends upon those bureaucracies to be bumbling, over-regulating, ineffective messes of central planning, then the conspiracy doesn't seem so farfetched. It only needs…

Why we’re still sticking with the Boy Scouts

Last month it was reported that despite worries that the Boy Scouts of America would collapse after lifting its ban on homosexual leaders, the organization's decade-long decline is finally stabilizing. It now counts about 2.35 million Scouts, down from 2.6 million three years ago and from a peak of 4 million in years past. That decrease sounds bad, but it could be much worse. Like many conservative fathers, I also considered removing my son from the Scouts and placing him in one of the more traditional, faith-centered outdoor youth organizations that have sprung up in the past decade. I had plenty of reasons, and the other groups seem worthwhile and are led by people who I know are good and honest men, but I chose to stick with the Scouts. Here's why. Scouting is part of my family life. It's a requirement, actually, along with faith formation, good grades, sports, and music. It offers a time-tested program that ensures children gain knowledge and experiences that would otherwise be missed, especially in an era when kids are more often looking down at smartphones rather than looking up at the world around them. More than all of that, though, is the structured development of their character, their values, and their principles. That's why we love the Boy Scouts ... but that's also why we loath the liberal activism that its national leaders have embarrassedly allowed to creep into their camp in recent years. There are the small things, like how the national…