Ross Mackenzie

Wandering among issues currently in the news...

-- The unemployment rate hit 9.8 percent in September -- the 21st consecutive month of job losses. Since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, the United States has erased about 7.2 million jobs, including 4.1 million lost since the beginning of this year. Those jobs may have evaporated permanently. So it's difficult to imagine the U.S. knowing a robust economy anytime soon.

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-- And the prospects for unskilled young workers are especially grim. Congress raised the minimum wage 70 cents in July, to $7.25. Right on schedule -- with clockwork precision -- by September teen unemployment had risen to 25.9 percent (up 2 percentage points from July), the highest level since World War II. Why does Congress raise the minimum wage in the face of overwhelming data showing that it forces up unemployment among the young? Evidently the congressional view is that no job at $7.25 an hour is better for unskilled teen workers than a job -- any job -- at something less.

-- The beat goes on. The latest list of public figures with their zippers down includes: Roman Polanski, Eliot Spitzer, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, David Letterman, David Vitter, John Edwards, and.... What were these people thinking?

-- Is oversight of CEO pay a legitimate government function? If the company has taken federal money, then yes: Federal money means federal control. But the stratospheric compensation of too many private-sector executives does undermine public confidence in the companies paying them.

-- Oh, and here's one: Should government control the salaries of administrators and faculty at colleges and universities accepting state and federal money -- as all but fewer than half-a-dozen do?

-- Federal employees (including the president and members of Congress) enjoy health insurance coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). They can choose among more than 200 competing plans. Will they be forced into ObamaCare instead? Hardly. ObamaCare will not be good enough for federal employees in the gold-plated FEHBP, so rest assured that Congress will exempt itself and its colleagues in the federal class.

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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