With Presidential politics heating up, Candidates are making the usual promises for "improvements." I have my doubts about how beneficial some of these plans are. So I'll take my shots at a couple of the better sounding ones.
Background checks on gun sales
President Obama has been trying to pass legislation that would require all gun dealers to conduct background checks on purchasers of guns. Sounds good, right? Don't we want to keep criminals or terrorists from purchasing guns? The FBI is even speeding up the checking process. "The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun."
But how well does this work? Adam Lanza, a clearly disturbed young man who killed many children and brave teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School didn't purchase the guns he used. His mother, who by all reports was a stellar citizen, bought the guns. Mr. Lanza broke into his mother's gun safe, killed her while she was sleeping, and used her guns for his shooting rampage at the elementary school.
Some people were very critical of Mrs. Lanza for having guns around her son and even taking him to a shooting range. I used to target shoot. It isn't a violent sport. It is in fact a very precise and calming sport. If you watch the Olympic shooting events you can see that target shooting isn't the fictional shoot-um-up you see in the movies.
Most guns used in crimes are not purchased. They are stolen. I had two riffles and a shotgun stolen from my house many years ago. I don't know if they were used in any crimes. They could have be resold on the black market many times and used for whatever purposes the person who stole or bought them wanted. This is more an issue of better policing and tracking down stolen guns than asking the burglars for a background check before they can steal them.
Raising the minimum wage
Income inequality was one of Bernie Sanders' major issues. He's right. There are the very, very rich, the not so rich middle class, and many hard working people at the bottom of the economic ladder. Wouldn't it be great to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 or more?
The minimum wage in California is $10, but it is $13 in San Francisco and Gov. Brown just signed a bill increasing the state's minimum wage to $15/hr. over a six year period. New York also has a high minimum wage and Gov. Cuomo is increasing that too.
So now every hourly worker would be able to move into a nicer apartment or even buy a house. Nice thought but not likely.
We all know what happens when wages artificially go up. The cost of living in that region also goes up. So it really doesn't help as much as it sounds like it would. Not only that, a pay raise is often used as an incentive for good workers.
Joe makes the minimum wage of $10. Sally is paid $13 because she's a better, more valuable employee. If the minimum wage is raised to $13, Joe and Sally are making the same amount. Sally has been putting in extra time and effort, and now Joe is making the same amount without putting in any extra effort. Raising the minimum wage is a disincentive to work harder when everyone is getting the same pay.