Chief among them is Senate Bill 6, more commonly known as the bathroom bill. The bill, which Republicans call privacy protection and Democrats call discrimination, arose last year when the Obama administration set a rule saying schools and other public places must allow people to use the restroom that correlates to the gender they identify with.
The purpose of the rule was to allow transgendered people the protection to use the restroom of their choice, typically one that is opposite of their biological gender. The Trump administration has done away with the rule, effectively making it a non-issue. Yet Texas, North Carolina and a few other states have pushed forward with legislation requiring people to use the restroom of the biological gender. North Carolina was quick to get a law passed and the fallout was immediate. Many entertainers and collegiate and professional sports organizations, along with other entities, withdrew their plans to hold events in the state. They claim the state law discriminates against transgendered people.
Those same entities are using the same threats to try and bully Texas out of passing a similar law. I can’t help but feel that is a form of reverse discrimination, but that’s not the point I’m going to argue here. I think there is a way to pass legislation that protects privacy without discrimination.
First of all, I think the Legislature should drop the bill for now since it is moot with the recall of the federal rule. Since that does not seem likely given the mood of Republican lawmakers, I suggest the bill be altered to focus on behavior rather than people.
I recommend removing any language regarding which gender can enter which restroom and instead criminalize any abhorrent behavior conducted inside a public restroom. Make it a crime for anyone to utilize a public restroom for any lewd, lascivious, licentious, voyeuristic, pornographic, etc., purposes. That way people can’t cry discrimination against transgendered people yet you are still protecting the privacy of individuals.
This cuts to the root of the reason we don’t want mix genders in public restrooms. It’s about behavior and intent. I feel very strongly that men do not belong in women’s restrooms and locker rooms and vice versa. I also acknowledge the complexity of that regarding transgendered people. There are degrees of transgender alteration from those who simply dress to appear as a member of the opposite sex to those who have completely undergone gender change.
I wouldn’t want to share a bathroom with Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner because he is now physically altered to be a she. Likewise, I wouldn’t want to share a restroom with a drag queen, nor would I want one using the same restroom as my wife and daughter. When it comes to use of restrooms by the transgendered, I think we are all better served by personal discretion and non-confrontation – as we have for generations – than we are to try and discriminate against anyone.
Like I said, the key here is to govern the behavior of anyone, regardless of gender, as it relates to violating the rights of others. If you’ve got a man in the women’s room or a woman in the men’s room for voyeuristic or sexually immoral purposes, that behavior should be criminalized and stopped. If you’ve got a transgendered person in the restroom to use it for its intended purpose and no malicious reason, let them be. There is a reasonable degree of privacy behind the doors of a stall.
Another bill that will be highly controversial, although highly unlikely to go anywhere, is House Bill 133, filed by our own Ron Reynolds to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Doubling the minimum wage is a well-intended but misguided attempt to reduce the poverty gap. Although it sounds generous and wonderful to help the working poor by doubling their income, the consequences of such an action are far more detrimental than beneficial.
First of all, the minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage. To treat it as such is to reward mediocrity at the expense of hard work and success. Why should entry-level, unskilled labor be compensated at or near the same rate of someone who received an education and worked their way up, earning raises and promotions? It makes no sense. The idea behind the minimum wage is to create a starting point from which a person is motivated to better themselves, not live mired in a meager, menial existence.
Secondly, it’s bad for jobs and the economy. If the minimum wage is doubled, many businesses will be forced to cut jobs. In my book, having a low-paying job is much better than being unemployed, or worse, being unemployable. The Obama administration already saddled businesses with a massive health insurance tax (better know as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare) that caused many business owners to have to cut labor costs. By doubling the minimum wage you will force some small companies out of business and many others to further reduce employment expenses (jobs).
When businesses have to pay more in wages, that means they have to charge more for products and services. That leads to inflation. When inflation levels out with increased wages, the poor are back where they started but those of us who didn’t have the benefit of having our salaries doubled are worse off.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be looking out for the poor. I agree that the minimum wage should be increased, but not doubled. I can see it going up a dollar or maybe two at the most, but not $7.50.
When I started my career 30 years ago, I made just a little over the minimum wage. I had a college degree and my salary was about the same as a first-year teacher. Over the years my income has held reasonably steady with first-year teachers. I worked my way up the ranks from cub reporter to editor, going from a weekly paper to dailies and back to weekly again.
There have been ups and downs in my income but it has basically risen. I now make a lot less than a rookie teacher right out of college, but I’m far above the minimum wage. This proposal would essentially set the minimum wage within striking distance of my current income. I hardly consider that fair at all. Any financial advantage I earned over the course of 30 years of hard work would essentially be wiped out to satiate the whims of uneducated, inexperienced, entitlement-minded upstarts who simply don’t deserve it.
Yes, there are a multitude of examples of the working poor who work hard and can’t get by. I was one of them. You will always have that no matter what you do with the minimum wage. People are always better off when you give them a hand up rather than a handout. Doubling the minimum wage is a handout. A smaller increase is a hand up.
You don’t help people up the ladder by raising the ladder. Don’t reward mediocrity by punishing success. Help people learn, earn and grow. Enable businesses to expand and provide more opportunity. It’s time to look at the bigger picture and not a small piece of the puzzle.