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Columns
Colley: A compromise on Add the Words

The first Idaho political issue I ever heard about was something called Add the Words. I understand it isn’t the specific identification of a legislative bill. It’s the name applied by a special interest looking for extra legal protection against discrimination. Today I’d like to suggest a compromise.

Some years ago Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul gained some opprobrium for suggesting the government shouldn’t be in the business of legislating politeness. While the government can’t discriminate against you, private citizens have the God-given right to be discerning. I’m in agreement. If some bloke won’t serve you lunch, then you can go find another restaurant. If you were denied service because of a trait one business owner doesn’t like, a rival will step in and take the profit. It’s called capitalism. Since I don’t believe Mr. Paul’s view is anytime soon going to carry the day, then we’ll keep living with etiquette laws.

If an element of the community demands special treatment under the law, then perhaps the same segment is willing to negotiate. In exchange for Add the Words, how about we protect cake-bakers, wedding photographers and pastors who refuse to cooperate with same-sex unions as conscientious objectors? If politics is compromise, then it surely isn’t demand, demand, demand! One of my predecessors on the radio claimed evidence members of the LGBT community were being denied jobs and housing. Is this documented anywhere but anecdotally? Is it possible you didn’t get the apartment for another reason? Is it possibly your credit rating?

I worked for seven years at a radio station licensed to Rehoboth Beach, Del. The city is to the East Coast what San Francisco it to the Left Coast. Business brought me into contact with dozens of members of the alternative lifestyle. And I noticed they shared something with the larger community. They all aren’t liberals. About the same number are Republicans as friends I call straight. Reagan Republicans, fiscal conservatives, neo-conservatives and Rotary Republicans. Most go about running their businesses and paying their bills and pining for smaller government. Over on the leftward side are the activists. “We’re here, we’re queer!” is the refrain I recall. To claim the general population isn’t tolerant is baloney. Life continued in the area with rarely any serious disputes. Yet, the militants on the left appeared to want something more than tolerance (which, by the way, isn’t a Christian virtue). At a certain point it turns off vast swaths of the public and, in fact, I’ll wager it’s a harmful approach. I suspect it’s an element in the Add the Words opposition.

Since I find it highly unlikely anyone is asking if you’ll be paying rent with 3-dollar bills, then it’s possible someone in the LGBT community decided to be provocative. Shouting your persuasion in a job interview could convince the human resources agent you’re obnoxious and the agent may have nothing against your personal lifestyle. Maybe it’s the reason you didn’t get hired. Not because you’re gay but because you could be disruptive at work.

When I was a twenty-something and hunting for apartments I know there were landlords worried about renting to young, single men. Because sometimes young men play loud music and throw even more raucous parties. As a landlord I can attest I worry about someone punching holes in the walls of my house. The thing is even while I’ve encountered hostile landlords when I’ve been seeking a home there were always plenty of homes available and with a little shopping I found someone willing to rent me a flat and sometimes got a better deal.

A woman I worked with in Syracuse, N.Y., was a lesbian but a good conservative talk show host. Every summer she would throw a clambake and invite friends from all walks of her life. At one party she chided some of her LGBT guests when they attempted provoking the others. Am I offering anecdotes too? Of course, but they aren’t any less credible than Idaho’s discrimination claims and, again, if someone really denied you the apartment then look for another. You can’t tell me you’ve got evidence the majority of property owners (or all of them) are out to spite you. Your feelings were hurt? Sheesh, mine have been getting hurt since I was a nearsighted little boy. “Fight your own battles,” Mom told me. Instead we’ve now got a couple of generations with entitlement complexes (and of all lifestyle orientations from those generations) and when something doesn’t go their way they retreat to a safe-space and demand someone punish their tormenter.

Instead we’ll get the usual legislative dog-and-pony show this spring. The alternative lifestyle folks will tear up for the cameras and there’ll be more front-page coverage than for funding of schools and repaving roads. Editorial pages will argue “it’s the right thing.” As if editorialists have cornered the market on righteousness. Never mind there isn’t a consensus it’s the right thing. We’ll be told it’s done in Colorado/Oregon/California and we need to get out of the black-and-white 1950s and shred pages from our Bibles and prostrate ourselves before the new god of political correctness. Then when we go to our next wine-and-cheese party we can proclaim we’re enlightened and entitled to a place in civilized society.

Getting back to the compromise for religious objections: We’ll find out just how wholly enlightened the leftist activists are when they refuse to negotiate. This isn’t about tolerating you or getting along with neighbors who follow thousands of years of tradition and ignore the latest cultural fads. It’s about conquest and dominance and humiliating the Christian right. And until the homosexuals start challenging Muslim landlords and businesses in the same way, we can’t take the movement seriously.


Columns
Other view: No need for stimulus

This appeared in Monday’s Washington Post:

You would not know it from the rhetoric of the recently completed political campaign, but the United States is in pretty good economic shape.

The unemployment rate stands at a mere 4.6 percent of the labor force, the lowest level since August 2007, according to the Labor Department report published Friday. Inflation is running at a manageable 1.6 percent. The Dow Jones stock index stands at an all-time high of over 19,000. And hourly wages are growing at an annual rate of more than 2 percent.

By any conventional measure, President Barack Obama is handing his successor, Donald Trump, a far, far better situation than the one he inherited in January 2009. Reflective of that reality, the Federal Reserve is likely to continue its gradual normalization of monetary policy by raising interest rates slightly later this month.

There is, indeed, room for improvement: Broader labor-market statistics that account for underemployment (involuntary part-time work and the like) have still not quite returned to pre-recession levels. Labor-force participation remains subpar, especially among men in the prime working years between the ages of 25 and 54. Productivity growth has slowed. And the federal budget deficit has resumed growing, reflecting the continued imbalance between spending commitments (entitlement programs, defense spending) and revenues.

In short, the punishing cyclical crisis of 2008-2009 is far behind us; there is no need for large-scale, short-term stimulus. The economy faces long-standing structural issues, which call for long-term structural reforms.

In their more lucid moments, Trump and his advisers have spoken of targeted deregulation, business tax reform and other measures which might enhance the economy’s growth potential, depending on how they are actually done.

At other times, unfortunately, they have spoken of massive defense spending increases or huge tax cuts skewed in favor of the wealthy; Trump’s top political adviser, Stephen Bannon, dreams of a conservative nationalist pseudo-New Deal in the form of “a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. ... Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.”

Cooler heads must prevail. The record of nationalistic economic populism around the world is a dizzying and destructive one of boom followed by bust. Even if matters do not reach that extreme during the Trump administration, reckless expansion of the federal debt would not only violate Trump’s campaign promises, it would use up “fiscal space” the federal government needs to address a true economic emergency. Under no responsible reading of the data does our current situation fit that description.


Mailbag
Letter: Aunts need visitation rights, too

Aunts need visitation rights, too

Shouldn’t aunts and uncles get rights to see their nephews and nieces? Just because the mom or dad messes up doesn’t mean that the aunts and uncles and even grandparents should have to suffer without seeing their precious nephews and nieces! I love my nephews more than anything, and I would put my life up front for them.

I’m the aunt that my handsome nephews look up to, and every time they saw me, they ran up to me and hugged me. It’s just not fair that as aunts and uncles we have to suffer through the consequences of someone else’s choices. So that hurts the kids as well as the aunts and uncles. I believe that aunts and uncles should have the right to be able to set up visitations, no matter if the parents split up and one parent hates the other parent. To all the uncles and aunts out there, you are not alone!

Kellie Evans

Twin Falls