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The Fight Over Voter ID Laws

September 4th, 2012

Fresh off the long Labor Day weekend, officials in Texas are promising to take their fight over voter ID all the way to the Supreme Court.  Their promise comes on the heels of a federal appeal court ruling that deemed the Lonestar state’s voter ID law — which would have required voters to show a government-issued photo ID when they arrived at the polls — racially discriminatory.

At the same time, South Carolina is going through the same thing, as lawmakers there argue their case in front of an appellate court.  In fact, the federal government is currently suing a number of states over voter ID laws.

So, what’s all the fighting about?

Several states (which happen to have predominately-Republican state legislatures) have passed laws saying that voters need to provide some form of government-issued ID in order to vote.  In fact, 30 states require some kind of proof that you are who you say you are when you show up on Election Day.

Seems like a good idea, right?  After all, this is YOUR VOTE we’re talking about!  Heck, you have to show a photo ID to buy Sudafed these days!  Why would it be tougher to clear up your runny nose than to exercise something as important as your right to vote?

Supporters of voter ID laws say that providing ID is a great way to prevent voting fraud at the polls — especially when you consider that voting fraud is alive and well (http://ourvoicecounts.com/2012/08/29/proof-that-voting-fraud-really-is-a-problem/).  Plus, they argue, getting a government-issued photo ID is free.  So, what’s the harm?

Opponents of voter ID laws say they’re racist — because many of the U.S. citizens who don’t have a government-issued photo ID are minorities.  That, they say, is proof of voter suppression.

What do you think?  Should you have to prove who you are in order to vote?

Happy Labor Day! Or Is It?

August 27th, 2012

As America gets ready to spend a three-day weekend bidding bon voyage to summer — and celebrating what has traditionally been a holiday devoted to working men and women — is it really a happy Labor Day?

After all, how many of America’s men and women are actually working?  How many of them want to be, but aren’t?

The mainstream media keeps telling us that the job market is on the rise because the unemployment rate is going down.

But there’s a big difference between a lower unemployment rate and fewer people out of work!

As of July 2012, the nation’s unemployment rate was 8.1%.  However, that 8.1% only accounts for people who are filing for unemployment benefits.  All of the people who have reached the end of their benefits are not factored into that calculation.

How many people are we talking about?

By the end of 2011, more than 5.5 million Americans had exhausted their unemployment benefits.  And, remember, that’s after Congress extended the federal benefit period to 99 weeks (almost 2 years).  Some states are in such poor shape that they qualify for additional benefits, so some Americans are getting 125 weeks of unemployment (almost 2.5 years) — and they’re STILL maxing out!

Plus, our employment rate also ignores one other very important thing — the “nonemployed”.

People who have stopped looking for work are considered “nonemployed” instead of “unemployed”.  As a result, they’re not a part of the 8.1%, either.

How many people fall into that category?

It’s hard to say exactly, but many experts are trying to calculate a number.  In fact, Antony Davies, an Associate Professor of Economics at Duquesne University and an Affiliated Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, evaluated the numbers back in May.  Back then, America’s unemployment rate sat at 8.1%.  According to Davies calculations, though, if the “nonemployed” were factored in, the unemployment rate could be as high as 11.5%!

So, is it really a happy Labor Day after all?

 

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