- published 3/27 (Larry) - unpublished ?

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Opinion Editorial

Recently, Seattle passed a law making their city's minimum wage $15 an hour. On an annual basis, that matches the starting pay of a North Carolina school teacher. The Seattle city council voted unanimously for the wage legislation that will be phased in over a period of three to seven years, depending on the employer's size. The rate is also pegged to inflation, with automatic adjustments. "With inaction at the state and national levels, it's time for cities to demonstrate bold and necessary leadership to address income inequality," commented one of Seattle’s councilmen.

The federal minimum wage was born during the Great Depression as a wage floor with the rate set at 25 cents an hour or roughly $4 an hour in today's money. The push now is to transform the minimum wage to a standard or “living” wage that will, in theory, achieve “income equality.”

The shift in terminology from minimum wage to “living wage” is ingenious. How could anyone deny someone a living wage? That's like denying them life itself, isn't it? Who wants minimum, it's an inferior thing. Greece's $5 an hour or Mexico's $5 a day are for folks who don't know what living is.

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Have we lost free speech in America? Our First Amendment right for all Americans is free speech. Protesters, journalists Civil-rights advocates, street preachers and all Americans have enjoyed the right of free speech.

Free speech gets on our nerves if the language doesn't fit our philosophy, religious teachings, traditions or political views.

Free speech can inspire, encourage, help, teach and motivate but it can also tear down, torch, blaspheme and incite people to anger. Words can bless and words can burn. It only takes a spark to get a fire going. The tongue is a powerful weapon and should be used with caution. While we are guaranteed free speech we understand that our speech will likely generate or provoke responses that will either be kind, hostile or apathetic.

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Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki has fallen on his sword by tendering his resignation. President Obama says he “takes responsibility” but believes, Shinseki had become a “distraction.” The current controversy surrounding VA hospitals including the alleged practice of delaying vital patient care, won't disappear as fast as changing a nameplate on an office door.

It's time for the system itself to retire. Of course, the solution isn't about eliminating medical care for veterans, but rather about changing the delivery vehicle. Depending on your outlook toward government, we should strive for the most efficient, or the least inefficient system possible.

The A-Team's Hannibal Smith was famous for saying, “I love it when a plan comes together.” The VA medical system is anything but a plan. It has evolved/mutated over time, especially in the aftermath of various wars. Addressing the medical needs of veterans can be traced all the way back to the American Revolution when pensions were established for disabled soldiers. However, other than a wooden leg, there wasn't a whole lot of medical treatment options available in the beginning. What has emerged today, is a twisted hybrid, driven (and hidden) at times more by political considerations than the medical needs of our veterans.

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The first TV remote control back in 1950 was named "Lazy Bones." That should have been a tip-off of things to come. Flipping between test patterns on a small black and white television, would eventually lead to easier access to all kinds of information.

Another invention that rivals the significance of “Lazy Bones” is the pocket or hand-held calculator that came onto the scene in the early 1970s. Prior to that, the portable device for computing was the slide rule, but that took too much brain power just to figure out how it worked. With a calculator, one doesn't need math skills. To figure out the sum of one times one, just mash some buttons.

Every age, in its own right could (at the time) be considered the “information age.” The difference today, is the quickness and ease information can be retrieved. Knowledge or the facsimile thereof, is both figuratively and literally at one's fingertips which opens the door for binge data consumption. It's not unlike overeating. Instead of peanut-covered M&Ms in a dish on a coffee table, it's a mobile device in your hand, or a computer on a desk with high-speed internet access. You can't just eat one piece of digital candy.

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published: 10/18/2013
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