Commentary: Response to Tarik Abdelazim

By Michael Vass | August 29, 2015

On August 29, 2015, Tarik Abdelazim (the former Director of Planning, Housing and Community Development under Democratic Mayor Matthew T. Ryan) had a partisan hit piece published in the Press & Sun newspaper. This political attack was masked by on-going issue of additional parking space in Downtown Binghamton. But the opinion of Mr. Abdelazim fails to address facts as they exist, and the repercussions of his call for inaction.
Credit: WNBF
The issue that Mr. Abdelazim purports to be addressing is the Metrocenter Courtyard and the potential of an additional 10 parking spaces. Mr. Abdelazim claims it will cost $500,000 and opposes the idea (though he never states his opposition directly). He then goes into a political attack on Mayor David and ignores the central issue of the Metrocenter.

On April 30, 2014, Ellis Brothers Contemporary Furniture burned down. This in fact is the source of the Metrocenter discussion. To ignore this is to throw all facts out the window and play partisan games to affect the upcoming elections.

Ellis Brothers is one of the oldest businesses in Binghamton. The tax revenues and jobs it provides are critical for a City that is plagued with lack of opportunity. A fact that existed during the Ryan Administration, when roughly 1 in 3 downtown storefronts were vacant. Today, the vacancies have diminished as The Colonial, Taste of Europe, Galaxy Brewing, Chenango Place and the relocation of Ellis Bros. have improved the face of Downtown Binghamton.

It was Ellis Brothers, seeking to remain in Downtown Binghamton, that requested a 15 space parking lot – where their former building had existed. Since the initial fire and relocation planning, Ellis Bros. have modified their request to a 10 space parking lot – for the amount of $300,000. It will be an improvement for their customers, and gives the company reason to remain in an area that during the Ryan Administration had a business survival rate of approximately 18 months. Without this parking space, Ellis Brothers is rethinking where they want to be. As Tom Ellis stated on August 21, 2015,

“We’re just rethinking … every single aspect of our presence downtown.”

So here are the facts that Mr. Abdelazim and the Democrats on the City Council do not want the public to think about.

    1) Keeping one of the oldest businesses in Binghamton requires additional parking. Keeping Ellis Brothers in Binghamton means keeping people employed and tax revenues in place that the City needs.

    2) The cost is NOT $500,000. Mr. Abdelazim and the Democrats of the City Council are fully aware of this. It is an exaggeration of the facts for only one apparent purpose – to create an emotional response for the benefit of an election.

    3) The request for the parking space, by Ellis Brothers, was publicly known. (July 24, 2015

    4) Unproven and blanket accusation, based apparently in political preferences do NOT equate to wrongdoing, as Mr. Abdelazim would like the public to think. While he repeatedly makes a claim of “breaking rules” and acting “behind doors”, Mr. Abdelazim never once mentions what rule was broken to support his case. As for public, one need only do a Google search if you don’t recall the public announcements at the time.

But what is the alternative that Mr. Abdelazim, and the Democrats on the City Council that he praises for endangering the jobs and tax revenues from Ellis Brothers, offer?

“…outdoor yoga sessions, jazz events on Sunday, and interactive events during First Friday.”

Exactly how many jobs can be created by temporary, transitory, weather restricted, events like yoga? Or outdoor jazz? Yes they are entertaining, during summer months on the weekend when the weather permits. But what about in the middle of winter? Much like the Downtown Binghamton Roundabout, created by the Ryan Administration under which Mr. Abdelazim served, 0 long-term jobs created, 0 tax revenues generated, $336,000 taxpayer funds (with $3.3 million in taxpayer funding indirectly coming from Federal and State funding) used which created more problems than it was supposed to resolve.

What Mr. Abdelazim (who declined to note his failed run for Broome County Executive in 2012) and Democrats are offering is higher unemployment, higher taxes, and a distraction. The cost, just the votes of the public in support of Democrats. Rest assured that if the Democrats prevail, and Ellis Brothers move out of Binghamton, the loss in jobs and higher taxes will be put firmly on the shoulders of the David Administration and Republicans.

The City of Binghamton needs jobs and tax revenues from businesses. Like the entire Southern Tier of NY, bringing in new business is challenging enough in a State ranked 50th in business friendliness. It does not serve the people to promote thinly-veiled political propaganda, for the singular purpose of swaying election voting, in place of sound long-term preservation of jobs and tax revenue.


Michael "Vass" Vasquez

Michael Vasquez, president of MV Consulting Inc, former candidate for the NY 22nd Congressional District, political commentator

Michael “Vass” Vasquez

** Mr. Vasquez is the owner of M V Consulting, Inc. and a political commentator. He is a homeowner in the City of Binghamton, and ran for Congress from 2013-2014. Mr. Vasquez is also a Committeeman for the Republican Party, representing the 18th Election District in Binghamton, NY. **

Update – As seen in the comments, Mr. Abdelazim made comment on Facebook. In response the following 2 photos were added to Facebook with the attached comments:

August 29, 2015, Downtown Binghamton Metrocenter

An example of the yoga classes and jazz events proposed by Tarik Abdelazim, improving the economy in Binghamton on August 29, 2015 @ 10:30pm – as stated on Facebook

August 29, 2015 - coner of State & Court St in Binghamton NY

An example of another economic improvement for downtown Binghamton by the Ryan Administration, which Tarik Abdelazim served, on August 29, 2015 @ 10:40pm

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Who supports the Iran nuclear deal?

By Michael Vass | August 21, 2015

** originally written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez at Binghamton Political Buzz **
Photo by Andrew Burton

Since the announcement by the Obama Administration that a deal had been struck with Iran over developing nuclear weapons, the public has been slowly learning more details. Yet there are some details that remain secret, even to Congress. Still the Senate is expected to make a decision, even as the UN presses forward on the multi-nation deal.

What is known is that Iran will get access to between $150-$400 billion dollars that has been frozen due to sanctions – the variance being how the opposing sides account for the value and liquidity of these assets. Iran will also keep several thousand centrifuges capable of creating nuclear material. Iran also has the ability to engage in ballistic missile development after 8 years, with conventional weapons available after 5 years. The last critical piece is inspections, which will be discussed in a moment.

It has been noted, by President Obama (on July 15, 2015) as well as opponents to the deal, that Iran will be able to use the influx of capital to fund terrorism across the globe without restriction. While supporters of the deal state that if Iran breaks the deal international sanctions will “snapback” in place, opponents (and Iran) have stated that once the funds are released there is no realistic means to lockdown the funds once a violation occurs. Iran also has steadily refuted various claims by the White House on the nature and specifics of the deal. It should also be noted that Iran has stated, during negotiations and since, that its efforts to destroy America are unchanged.

Perhaps the most critical fact about the Iran nuclear deal are the secret provisions of the deal.  Provisions that are so secretive, no documentation of their contents exists within the US Government as explained in Congressional hearings by Secretary of State John Kerry. One of the few facts on these provisional side deals between the UN, IAEA, and Iran that is known was just revealed by the Associated Press on August 19, 2015.

“Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.”

Given these facts, all the Republican members of the Senate, and 2 high profile Democrats (Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Bob Menendez) have either declared their opposition to the deal or are leaning against it. Democrats have been more mixed as the pressure to support the Administration has been piling on. The well documented attacks, by Democrats and the White House, against Sen. Schumer for his opposition have clearly defined the issue as a partisan battle – internally as well as against Republicans.

Thus far, 26 Democrat Senators are supporting the Iran deal (according to They are:

  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin; Sen. Sherrod Brown; Sen. Barbara Boxer; Sen. Joe Donnelly; Sen. Dick Durbin; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; Sen. Al Franken; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; Sen. Martin Heinrich; Sen. Mazie Hirono; Sen. Tim Kaine; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Sen. Angus King; Sen. Patrick Leahy; Sen. Ed Markey; Sen. Claire McCaskill; Sen. Chris Murphy; Sen. Bill Nelson; Sen. Jack Reed; Sen. Bernie Sanders; Sen. Brian Schatz; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; Sen. Jon Tester; Sen. Tom Udall; Sen. Elizabeth Warren; and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

Of the other 18 Democrat Senators, President Obama needs all but 9 of the remaining Democrats. If so then he will have enough votes to counter a override of his veto – that is guaranteed to arrive on any decision to reject the Iran nuclear deal. But many of those remaining Senators have concerns that seem to be either unaddressed or refuted by known terms of the deal. As Sen. Bob Casey stated on June 14, 2015,

“Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is critical to our national security and that of our partners in the region, especially Israel.  That’s why I have consistently sponsored and supported sanctions against Iran, which brought the regime to the table in the first place, and legislation like the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.”

If President Obama can sway 4 out of these 13 Democrat Senators, either via the merits of (the known parts of ) the deal or the threat of political action (as Sen. Schumer is an example) then the White House will win and the Iran Deal will ultimately be accepted. The key 13 Democrats are:

  • Sen. Michael Bennet; Sen. Cory Booker; Sen. Maria Cantwell; Sen. Ben Cardin; Sen. Bob Casey; Sen. Chris Coons; Sen. Heidi Heitkamp; Sen. Barbara Mikulski; Sen. Patty Murray; Sen. Gary Peters; Sen. Debbie Stabenow; Sen. Mark Warner; and Sen. Ron Wyden.

Ultimately, the Obama Administration has turned the Iran nuclear deal into an internal battle over partisan support, instead of a national safety issue. With secret terms, the funding of terrorism, and development of ICBM’s (whose only purpose is to deliver WMD’s to the US and its allies) the final decisions of 13 Democrat Senators may well be about re-election first and foremost. How this will play out in a nuclear Middle East only future history will determine.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Facebook Commentary: Nano Utica and more promised jobs

By Michael Vass | August 21, 2015

** A personal commentary that can also be seen at my Facebook page**
MIchael Vass Vasquez
So I’m listening to all the hype about Nano Utica and the jobs it will produce. 2,000 jobs are being promised – ranging from “restaurants, stores, retail shops and bars”. In fact,

“Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said there’s no doubt that the local economy will prosper.” – WKTV 8/20/15

That’s a very big promise, with wide reaching long-term impact. If it is real, its a welcome addition to NY State. But…

I also remember, not long ago, promises of “shovel-ready jobs”. I recall the wide reaching long-term scope of that promise – also made by politicians just like in Utica. That promise faded away and to this day it seems that Dems are afraid to utter the word “stimulus” since.

I am also reminded, on a more local level and far more recently, the promises of Sen. Schumer, Rep. Richard Hanna, State Senator Griffo, and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. Each of them promised, over several years, that a drone testing site would bring between 2,000-4,000 jobs to NY State and tens of millions in tax revenue. Each of them left out the detail that it would cost taxpayers millions ($2 million from the NY State budget, $5 million from Congress, with another $11 million planned soon). Still, a small upfront cost versus thousands of jobs and tens of millions is a good deal right?

Well we got the Drone Testing Site at Griffiss International Airport. Our tax dollars have been spent, with more on the way. Thus far, all of 6 jobs have been created (I have the Federal and State FOIA for proof). Each and every one of those politicians have forgotten about the jobs promised – in fact they won’t even talk about the subject when asked.

So, when I hear politicians once again make broad, ill-defined, long-term, grand promises I have 3 questions come to mind:

    1) How much will it cost taxpayers?
    2) Exactly when will we see all these promised jobs?
    3) Are these politicians willing to be held accountable to the promise they have made? In other words, will they resign or not seek re-election if they spend taxpayer money and severely miss the projected gains they are touting to the benefit of their re-election campaigns?

With that said, please help me keep track of the Nano promises. Let me know of any jobs you hear created out of this, and the cost to taxpayers. Help me keep these politicians accountable. Because NY State really can’t afford more “shovel-ready jobs” and drone testing jobs that never appear yet take money (State and Federal) out of our pockets.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Candidates for the NY State Senate address heroin crisis

By Michael Vass | August 19, 2015

**Article written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez, originally published at Binghamton Political Buzz**

Credit: WNBF News

It is no small statement to say that heroin use has once again become a problem. In fact, the issue of heroin use has risen to such a level in Northeastern States that President Obama has called for action on the matter. On August 17, 2015, the Obama Administration proposed the creation of a joint task force of law enforcement and health care coordinators to help address the addition while stemming the flow of the drug.

Heroin drug use has grown to over 4.2 million people age 12 or older. In the past decade there has been a 62% increase in the number of heroin users. The number of deaths due to Heroin overdoses has quadrupled from 2002-2013 to over 8,200 people. The most at risk groups are Whites (114% increase); women (100% increase); Ages 18-25 (109% increase); and the lower middle class – annual income $20,000-$49,999 (77% increase); and those addicted to opioid painkillers like oxycodone (40x more likely to be addicted) .

At the local County level, in March 2015, Binghamton Mayor Rich David noted that since 2014, there had been 41 people who died of heroin overdoses. This figure does not include those saved by “Narcan” injections – a medical drug used on those overdosing from heroin – of which 7 people were saved from April to June 2015 by the Binghamton Fire Department alone. Both the number of deaths and those saved by narcan have grown since that time. So have the number of arrests with over 1500 bags of heroin being seized just in 2015 alone.

Thus the efforts announced by the Obama Administration is timely if a bit unclear in how it will help resolve the problem. As described by MSNBC’s Tony Dokoupil,

“It’s promoted as a treatment-first program, but the details lean heavily toward enforcement and incarceration. It calls for 15 drug intelligence officers and 15 health policy analysts to collect data on overdoses and trends in heroin trafficking… But public health officials don’t need to know the intricacies of trafficking in order to respond to an ongoing epidemic.”

Still other initiatives are on-going separate of the President’s proposal. On August 17, 2015, Gloucester Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello took the time to meet with local law enforcement to discuss the Angel Program, enacted June 1, 2015. Thus far the program has helped 116 addicts. The program is geared toward treatment, and addicts that volunteer will not face incarceration from coming forward.

Given the nature of the crisis, and the attention being focused on it at the Federal and State level, we sought the views of the candidates for the NY 52nd State Senate special election. We reached out to all 4 known candidates (the Democrat and Republican Party nominees, as well as the Libertarian and Independent candidates seeking petitions to be added to the ballot). We asked each, via email, to respond to the following 4 questions – sent to each candidate on August 17, 2015 at 5 AM:

  1. Do you believe that using health records will help to stop heroin trafficking (or any drug for that matter)? If so, please describe how you think it would help.
  2. Do you believe that this violates 4th Amendment rights, or HIPPA legislation?
  3. Since you are running for the 52nd State Senate seat, if you were in office right now would you support or oppose this program? Please explain why.
  4. As a State Senate member, if elected, are there any initiatives or programs that you seek to promote/expand/create to help combat heroin and other illegal drugs in NY State?

At the time of this article being published we had the following responses:

  • Barbara Fiala (nominee picked by the Democratic Party) – Thus far we have not received any response (via phone or email) to any request for comment or interview. We did receive a confirmation email on August 17, that our request for comment was received.
  • Denver Jones (Independent, seeking petitions to be added to the ballot) – The campaign had contacted us previously (in regard to an interview request) and stated that Mr. Jones would be focused solely on gaining the petitions needed to be added to the ballot. They have declined all comment until the petitions are submitted. They did not respond to our request.
  • Undersheriff Fred Akshar (nominee picked by the Republican Party) – The campaign provided us this quote,
  • Undersheriff Fred Akshar

“As a member of law enforcement for 15 years, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of the heroin crisis on individuals and on good families right here in our community. I’m convinced that strong enforcement alone cannot solve the problem, without ensuring access to more education, prevention and treatment. As our next Senator, I will work tirelessly and stand side by side with law enforcement and treatment experts to ensure that they have the resources we need to face the problem and protect our children and our families.”

  • Richard Purtell (Libertarian Party, seeking petitions to be added to the ballot) – Thus far we have not received any response (via phone or email) to any request for comment or interview.

All candidates were given 36 hours to respond to our request for comment. We delayed the release of this article to provide additional time for any response. In addition we extend to each candidate the offer to comment on this article, and to be interviewed, at any time in the future.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Facebook commentary: Black Lives Matter

By Michael Vass | August 14, 2015

“Over and over it’s “Black Lives Matter”. Here are my 2 cents on the subject.
Michael Vass Vasquez

As a Black Puerto Rican, who grew up in the Bronx during the 70′s and 80′s, I find the whole thing stupid. I grew up when AIDS and crack were epidemics ravaging the nation and especially poor (read urban) communities. I went to public school, where some 1/3 of my schoolmates were dead and/or in jail by their 21st birthday. I have, in my lifetime, been subject to police stops – at gunpoint – about 10 times that I recall right now (none with cause, at least half of those instances in a suit, virtually all before I was 21). I have never been arrested, and have gotten 1 ticket in my life (which I deserved).

That said, I have seen and known more Black on Black violence than anything police have ever done. Yes, I have experienced some stupid and racist cops. I have also several good friends that are cops – a few that started off as thugs and ruffians I might add.

Drugs have done more damage than all bad cops combined. The wholesale commercialization of what is “Black” (gansta rap, clothes, movies, the rejection of knowledge, ect.) has been devastating. The loss of the Black family, in part due to the entitlement culture and war on poverty, has reinforced these negatives.

How can “Black Lives Matter” if the community refuses to address the drive to be “ghettofabulous” (a true oxymoron if there ever was one). As a community we praise rappers and entertainers (sports mostly) above lawyers, doctors, or any profession. We regard rappers who have been imprisoned as role models, and emulate bad behavior fed to us in music and movies to a degree not seen in any other community. We instill in our children a need and focus on transitory irrelevant material goods ($500 jeans, air jordans, tricked out cars, ect.) rather than investments in their future (the stock market, homes, education, politics, ect.).

How can we expect anyone else, as a community, to respect Black lives if our actions and intentions indicate we don’t respect those very same lives as well?

In fact, the whole movement of “Black Lives Matter” comes out of the Ferguson incident, where a criminal (who happened to be Black) assaulted a police officer (who happened to be White) and died in major part due his own actions. At its core, the “Black Lives Matter” movement is a celebration of criminality (Ferguson) and racial discrimination (using race to excuse behavior of all sorts) using political correctness to exclude opposition and isolate race, while throwing a blanket over the most important and prominent factors affecting Blacks to allow focus on what is literally the least significant factor affecting Black lives.

In the end, do Black lives matter? As much, and no more, as all lives matter. But to have to say that is ludicrous, as preserving life is the major tenant of all religions and law and morality.”

Michael “Vass” Vasquez – 8/14/15 @1:26pm

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Facebook commentary: the end goal

By Michael Vass | August 12, 2015

“So I was told a great statement and asked 2 great questions tonight. I want to share them with you.

“I want to ignore your [posts and articles], but I can’t”

Thank you to everyone who reads what I write. I wish I could say that I make money for my political commentary efforts, but I don’t (feel free to donate and change that). Ultimately I do it because we the people deserve to know what is going on. It’s our Government, and politicians at all levels need to be held accountable to that reality.

“What do you want to get out of this?”

At the end of the day I want people to vote. I don’t care who you vote for (though I tend to prefer Republican candidates) as long as you vote. I guarantee things will never get better if you don’t vote, and they might get better if we all vote. No matter who you choose, your vote matters. Saying it doesn’t only helps those that count on the public being uninformed – and I refer back to the guarantee that if you don’t vote, things won’t get better.

“Why should I vote?”

The best answer is, has not voting improved anything? Is being uninvolved in the issues that affect your job, your paycheck, your quality of life helped to make any of that better? The answer is NO. If politicians (of ANY party) are held unaccountable, if they can be corrupt and play favorites, and still be (re-)elected year after year, you will NEVER see a better government. But if you vote, if you are involved, if for no other reason than self-preservation, politicians will act and at least a few things will get better.

I will not ask anyone to vote blindly. I don’t ask people to believe what I believe. But I do ask that everyone be involved, at least in voting. And again, I thank you for the attention you have given me so far, and hopefully in the future too.”

Michael “Vass” Vasquez – 8/8/15 @ 3:37am

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Facebook commentary: Hillary Clinton

By Michael Vass | August 12, 2015

Michael Vass Vasquez
“So after a mere 8+ months, Hillary Clinton has finally suggested she will give up her email server. How magnanimous.

It only took a request from a judge, multiple investigations from the FBI, and Justice Dept, and 3 demands from Congress.

Don’t mind the fact that she has lied about how many email accounts she had, the security breach she enacted, the directive to subordinates to destroy evidence, and the contradiction of how she treated an ambassador for doing the same thing she was doing while she was in charge. And this is the short list. On just this issue alone.

Yes, this qualifies her for the presidency. Because she would never abuse power. Her past history is exactly what we expect from a future president. And of course she is a woman so that trumps any other factor, unless we be called a dreaded sexist.

Really people. Why are we still considering her in the running?”

Michael “Vass” Vasquez – 8/11/15 @ 9:58pm

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Facebook commentary: minimum wage

By Michael Vass | August 12, 2015

Michael "Vass" Vasquez

Michael Vasquez, president of MV Consulting Inc, former candidate for the NY 22nd Congressional District, political commentator

“So have you ever wondered why NY only selected fast food workers for the $15/hr minimum wage fiasco?

They left out paramedics, nurses, and a host of people making less than $15/hr. It can’t be because they believe that $15 should be the minimum otherwise they would have done it for everyone. Thus the reason is far less benevolent.

Was it because of the backing of unions, who hold massive power in NY State? Maybe partially, though members of unions in other industries get overlooked.
Was it out of sympathy for the poor? NO. All poor people do not work in fast food. Again, there are a host of other industries with workers under $15, many with poor people, that are ignored.

Is it because such a massive strain on the system would kill the NY economy? Probably in part. If this were a statewide requirement many industries would just move out of the State to cheaper States. Plus inflation would skyrocket prices, increasing the exodus out of NY that has been on-going for 60 yrs straight.

We are left with the reason, that this will make some politicians look good with a targeted group of voters that will ensure (re-)election options. When you eliminate the illogical and least likely answers what you are left with is likely the truth. Therefore, its all about control of politics and has NOTHING to do with people.

Yes, every single person praising the selective and limited $15/hr minimum wage – ONLY for fast food workers – is just a marketing tool for a small group of politicians trying to keep power and control. Plus the hope of other selected industries being next (especially if they too have unions) will funnel votes from even more people hoping for a boost in salary – for those that are not fired to pay for the increased wages.

When you think about it, in political terms, it is an excellent word of mouth campaign, designed to take advantage of low information voters over a long period of time, with a built in bad guy (any political opponent) for when it goes belly up. All it requires is a distinct disregard for the welfare, long-term, for the constituents of the politicians involved.

But why should they worry. It’s not like the majority of people will read this to the end, or pay attention to almost any news longer than 30-seconds or a headline. Quite the plan this $15 minimum wage is, don’t you think?”

Michael “Vass” Vasquez – 8/11/15 @ 9:04pm

Rating 3.00 out of 5

As found on Facebook

By Michael Vass | August 12, 2015

Sometimes what has to be said just takes a few lines. Sometimes you just need to write about something you just read immediately. Sometimes you just need to respond to a meme or comment that is completely out of context, factually incorrect, or both. Often in those cases, I will just write on my Facebook page instead of here. Often it is more personal commentary than the more neutral and political commentary on this site. But I wanted to share a few things I have said on Facebook, as I have nothing to hide.


“Do you ever wonder: If the Obama Stimulus saved the economy, if Obamacare created jobs and saved money, if the trade deals of the Democrats brought back jobs from overseas, if trade with Cuba is so beneficial then why do we have to force businesses to raise wages and why are there over 150 million Americans getting government aid?

Weren’t the Obama and Democrat policies (that already have been enacted) supposed to eliminate income inequality and spur job growth? Of course some will blame Republicans, but they didn’t promise these would work (in fact they warned they wouldn’t and not to pass them which Democrats did anyway).

Perhaps it takes more than redistributing someone else’s stuff, raising taxes on the people paying the taxes, and the promises of politicians seeking re-election for the 3rd decade in a row. It’s a radical idea but maybe it’s time to try something else besides tax, redistribute, and spend.”

Michael “Vass” Vasquez – 8/11/15 @ 3:13pm

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Commentary: The scam of the year

By Michael Vass | August 12, 2015

In the very best scams, popular ideals of the public are used to coerce the target into taking an action they would otherwise never do. Modern politics, especially as used by the Obama Administration, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and several Democrat stronghold States (like New York), and specifically on the subject of minimum wage use the same principles.

Credit: Branco/
The first objective of a scam is to identify what the mark is looking for. In this case its easy. People want something for nothing. Quick gains with no apparent consequences. It’s part of the reason Lotto is so popular. Increases of minimum wage fits the bill nicely. It actually only affects about 3% of the working population – even less of the total population. But it fits into the mantra of income equality, and appeals to the poorest of voters.

The second objective is to catch the attention of the mark. Between the constant declaration of the woes of income equality from the White House, and the headline grabbing declaration from Sen. Elizabeth Warren for a national $15/hr minimum wage, attention was easy. Counting on the fact that the news media would promote the controversial statements, and that the mass of voters have been trained to only read headlines and 30 second soundbites, the call for a $15/hr minimum wage has circulated on social media almost non-stop for over a year. The desire for free money, in the form of a wage increase without commensurate increase in productivity or qualifications, has drowned out all mentions of economic infeasibility and consequences (such as loss of government aid, increased taxes, and loss of jobs).

Third on the list is the draw the mark in. To this end politicians in California and New York, as well as in Seattle, where Democrats hold strong sway over public opinion, have rushed legislation through the system to enact limited minimum wage increases. In New York, as an example, the unjustified increase in wages is targeted to only fast food workers. This is done for several reasons.

By limiting the increase to this group, support from several large unions is gained (and in New York politics unions are critical for Democrats). In addition, jealousy combined with the desire for “free money” adds to the swell of those also seeking the increase. This places pressure on additional unions to join the fray. It also builds in a default scapegoat for any problems or negative repercussions. Any opposition is the source of all problems (from the view of those seeking the “free money”).

Lastly, the mark is taken. The masses, ignorant of consequences of an increased minimum wage that have gone unspoken by supporters and ignored by opponents as their arguments are too long for the headline focused majority, willfully lend their support to those offering the “consequence free money.” This takes the form of donations, votes, and positive word of mouth. Is it any wonder that Sen. Bernie Sanders advocates for the $15/hr minimum wage (though he is unwilling to pay his campaign staff this amount) and is surging in Democrat polls for the nomination?

In a successful scam, the mark (voters in this case) are felt either unaware they have been taken, or unaware of the consequences of being taken – at least until it is far too late. In this case, after donation have been made (and politicians are hoping after votes cast) the public is left with the following:

  • Instead of income equality, a new class of income disparity is created. Fast Food workers will have their income raised while other food preparers and workers will not. Nursing assistants, paramedics, day care workers, teaching assistants, and a host of skilled workers will be relegated to a lower class of pay much too their disdain.
  • Jobs will be lost, not created or “saved.” Already ample proof has been found in Seattle that many businesses cannot support the higher cost – even after passing part or all of the increase onto consumers. Those businesses in Seattle have closed, resulting in fewer workers. Even for those businesses that do remain open, the higher cost to consumers has also been matched with a reduction in the number of employees. In several fast food chains, reports are flowing in of expedited efforts to automate vast portions of the business to take into account the higher cost of the new minimum wage. Again, this results in net firings and more people hurt, not helped, by the unearned wage increase.
  • Costs to consumers are increased. As a result of having to find the funds for the higher wage, businesses can only cost cut so much before they are faced with closing the business. An interim step is to pass the cost onto consumers. At least a portion of the consumers affected are the very same low income voters who did NOT get the wage increase. Thus that group either loses more income for the same product at no added benefit, or they will forgo the product and the business will suffer from decreases in revenues – which can result in more people fired.
  • Loss of government benefits. At least a portion of the fast food workers make up part of the 150 million Americans receiving aid from the government. With the increase in wages, these workers will be salary capped out of those benefits. This includes food stamps, rent assistance, student loans and grants, Obamacare subsidies, and other assistance. While the higher wage theoretically pays for these losses, in the real world that is often not the case when the loss of all these programs are removed and taxes are considered.
  • Increased taxes. The bane of all working Americans. With an increase in wages, those getting the increase will enter a new category of taxation. Many will no longer receive refunds from the IRS, while others may owe taxes. Subsidies for Obamacare will decrease, shifting the burden for the healthcare cost onto the workers – something that they previously may not have had to account for. In fact, the change in Obamacare status may require a repayment of subsidies given, on top of any additional costs and higher taxes.
  • Loss of business. As has happened in Seattle, some businesses cannot afford to operate with the $15/hr minimum wage and will close. Some will choose to move to a location where it is more affordable and business friendly to operate. Either way, it means a closed business and job losses affecting the very people that were promised the increase in wage would benefit. Plus it will affect consumers that previously were using those services. States and local communities will also lose tax revenues from these businesses – which may require increases to make up the difference. That of course just hits the middle class, who otherwise were not involved in this.

    The trade off to get all these predictable consequences (and likely even more), is that politicians will continue to be elected to the offices they hold. The poor, as a whole will not be helped. The selected poor may suffer directly and indirectly. The middle class may well get tax hikes. The unemployed will remain unemployed. Businesses may suffer. In essence, a small sliver of the small percentage of jobs will benefit. And people wonder why the politicians touting the increase in minimum wage won’t answer the question, ‘and what happens after the increase takes place?’ But once the elections are over, and the low information voters have done their part of the scam and been used, when the repercussions hit, it will be too late. The politicians will have won and all others will suffer. How generous of them.

    Rating 4.00 out of 5