Archives for February 2015

Obama’s Christianity: Details Please

When Washington Post reporters Dan Balz and Robert Costa asked Wisconsin governor and presumed presidential candidate Scott Walker whether he considers president Obama to be a Christian, Walker didn’t answer the question in a way that would have made this a non-story. He instead answered it like a typical man on the street would answer such a question, saying “I don’t know,” and tacking on additional watery comments such as “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that.” That was enough for the media to blow up the story and sow seeds of doubt in people’s minds on the question of whether Walker considers Obama to be a Christian.

A simple, “Based on news reports it’s my understanding that Obama considers himself to be a Christian,” would have sufficed for an answer. And that probably would have been the end of it.

But let’s say one of the reporters would have responded, “Yes but do YOU consider Obama to be a Christian.” Counter-question: “What’s your definition of Christian?” Being so unaccustomed to counter-questions, the reporter likely would have been taken aback. But after collecting his thoughts, let’s say he would have answered, “someone who believes in Jesus Christ.” Walker then could have said, “I’m assuming that Obama believes in Jesus Christ, so according to your definition, Obama would be considered a Christian.”

And that would have been that.

Of course, simply believing in Jesus Christ does not necessarily make one a Christian. To be classified as a Christian also requires one to believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He died for our sins, that He resurrected from the dead, and that we should conduct our lives based on the teachings of the Bible and especially the Gospels.

Does Obama believe any of that? The Washington Post reporters referred to above, or any other reporters, should press the president on those and related points. Of course, they probably never will.

Sweden’s Accelerated Cultural Evolution

Sweden flagOf countries gradually transitioning culturally by immigration, Sweden is undergoing one of the most rapid transitions.

It’s a small country – just under 10 million in population – but it takes in more asylum seekers than European countries many times its size. In 2013 it accepted about 55,000 asylum seekers, many if not most from Syria. Germany took in about twice as many but its population is 80 million, so it arguably can better absorb such seekers than Sweden.

On a per-capita basis, Sweden is welcoming by far the most asylum seekers: 5,700 per 1 million inhabitants, almost five times as many as Germany. In 2013, Sweden accepted almost 20 percent of the EU’s asylum seekers – more than any other EU country. That’s amazing, considering Sweden’s small size.

Sweden’s foreign-born population was 16 percent in 2013, and including those born to two immigrant parents, it’s 21 percent of the total. The Muslim population is said to be around 10 percent. And rising fast.

This obviously has huge implications for Sweden’s cultural, political, and economic destiny, which could fill books. Here, suffice it to point out an interesting observation gleaned from an account by Theo Padnos, an American journalist who spent two years imprisoned by Islamic militants in Syria. His captors were brutal and sadistic, as you can read here. Yet it could be that some brutal and sadistic persons have made their way or are trying to make their way to Sweden, through its liberal asylum system. Writes Padnos,

That night as we finished Abu Farouk’s watermelon and were gazing up at the stars, I listened to the fighters musing about their futures. “Hey, Abu Petra,” they asked me, “what is Sweden like?” If they were to present themselves as Syrian dissidents to the authorities, what would happen next? Was I familiar with the procedures in Sweden for seeking political asylum? And what about Berlin, supposing they found their way to Germany?

One wonders how many of Sweden’s immigrants share the mindset of those fighters.

Padnos also sheds light on the phenomenon of European Muslims going to Syria and Iraq to join the fight. It’s not so much because Islamic militants there need the help. It’s because they want to instill in European Muslims the jihad mentality, so that they can go back home to Europe and teach the values of fundamentalist Islam to others in Europe. Padnos again:

The Nusra Front higher-ups were inviting Westerners to the jihad in Syria not so much because they needed more foot soldiers — they didn’t — but because they want to teach the Westerners to take the struggle into every neighborhood and subway station back home. They want these Westerners to train their 8-year-olds to do the same. Over time, they said, the jihadists would carve mini-Islamic emirates out of the Western countries, as the Islamic State had done in Syria and Iraq. There, Western Muslims would at last live with dignity, under a true Quranic dispensation.

Hundreds of years ago, Muslims staked a claim in parts of Europe suddenly and militarily. Now, thanks to the niceness of Swedes and other European peoples, they’re doing it gradually and peacefully.

Matching Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Will Breed Poverty

minimumwageBrookings Institution analyst Gary Burtless takes a dim view of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, to be instituted during the coming years. His concern mainly stems from the inevitability of would-be Seattle business owners and employers setting up shop just outside the city limits, where the minimum wage is anticipated to be much lower.

But Burtless doesn’t have a problem with a $10.10 national minimum wage proposed by President Obama. And he apparently would support Washington state raising its minimum wage to match or more closely match Seattle’s $15 wage floor.

“The risk of this kind of harm is vastly smaller when the minimum wage is increased at the state or national level,” he writes. “If the Administration can persuade Congress to boost the national minimum wage, all employers—inside and outside a city’s limits—will be required to raise the pay they offer to their most poorly paid workers.”

Burtless apparently is not concerned that a $10 or $15 state or national minimum wage will price workers out of the job market — to an even greater extent than is the case now.

If Washington state or Seattle’s surrounding communities boosted their minimum wage to $15, employers would hire workers only if those workers produced at least $15 worth of output. If a worker is being paid $15 per hour, but the extra sales thanks to that worker only amounts to an average of $14 per hour in revenue, that worker is causing the employer to lose money. And therefore the worker likely would be laid off or not be hired in the first place.

To produce $15 worth of output per hour, a worker has to have skills. It could be technical skills, management skills, people skills, verbal skills, or other types of skills. It could be skills, for example, to operate a sophisticated cash register while at the same time communicating effectively to customers. Not everyone has those kinds of skills. The existing minimum wage is one reason why the unemployment rate among minority young people approaches 40 percent. A $10 and/or $15 minimum wage will price even more people out of the job market. Already, in Washington state, the unemployment rate among 16- to 19-year-olds is about 30 percent. That’s because their relative lack of skills prevents them from producing more than $9.47 per hour of output – the state’s current minimum wage.

Whenever anyone tells you that they want to raise the minimum wage to help the poor, be aware that this course of action will mostly harm the poor. It’s a big reason for the poverty and high unemployment among America’s low-skilled and unskilled.