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Tom Crouser: Some political ideas are gutter balls (Opinion)

Not all ideas in the Democrat presidential primary are strikes out here in the hinterlands. Candidates try to “out progressive” each other, which only highlights the outlandish. It’s like they’re rolling gutter balls. Take these proposals, for instance.

Prisoners voting:

  • According to an article from PolitiFact, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said, “all prisoners — including ‘terrible people,’ like the Boston Marathon bomber — should be allowed to vote. He said people serving time, no matter how serious their offense, deserve enfranchisement.”

Sanders’ home state of Vermont, and neighboring Maine, have long allowed prisoners to vote while incarcerated. A measure to permit the same failed in Connecticut, but bills to do so are active in Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

It won’t get traction here. Why? Numbers.

The National Institute of Corrections (Department of Justice) lists West Virginia with a prison population of 7,118 in 2015, with another 4,027 in jails or adult correctional facilities in 2013. That’s 11,145, or 0.6 percent, of about 1.8 million residents. Add to that the 7,008 adults on probation and the 3,123 on parole, and we’re still only up to 21,276, or 1.2 percent, and not all of them would be affected.

Besides, only 57 percent of those eligible to vote did so in 2016. So, I don’t know how enthusiastic prisoners would be.

Gutter ball, in my view.

Popular vote for president:

  • Presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are behind a proposal to eliminate the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote for president. Additionally, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is “open to the discussion.”

This is another gutter ball here (I’ve written about it twice this year). Why? It would lessen West Virginia’s influence and would require a constitutional amendment to change (two-thirds vote in House and Senate; then ratification by three-fourths of the states).

So, I’m with longshot Democrat presidential candidate and former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md, when he dismisses it as a waste of time.

Attacks on old white men:

  • West Virginia Democrats should shy away from any attacks on “old white men.” Why? With a median age of 41.9 years, we have the oldest population in the country, according to World Population Review. Also, 49.4 percent of us are male; and 93.4 percent of us are white. So, attacking “old white men” is no way to win friends and influence people in West Virginia.

Green New Deal:

  • While not presidential candidates, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., lurched the Democratic presidential debate to the left with the Green New Deal.

Democrats say the ideas are something to aspire to. Republicans say they’re socialism. I say they needlessly burn debate time.

For instance, it proposes to cure social inequities by, “guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.” Nice concept, until someone does the math.

There’s no official cost estimate, but opponent Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, quoted $93 trillion based on a right-leaning-think-tank study, rated by PolitiFact as false. The study authors even said $50 trillion to $90 trillion would be more descriptive.

So, let’s use the lower $50 trillion estimate, and then cut that in half to $25 trillion. Maybe not the best estimate, but we’ll circle back when there’s a more serious one.

Now compare that $25 trillion to our current national debt of $22 trillion, which already grew $1.3 trillion in 2018.

So, potentially the Green New Deal could double our national debt? Gutter ball.

These are all ideas. They’re just not good ones. Why aren’t they good? Because time wasted debating these gutter balls will be that much less time spent debating real issues.

Like what? I say the fact that our national debt increased $1.3 trillion in 2018 alone, during a “great” economy, is a much bigger one.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant living in Mink Shoals. Reach him at and follow his tweets on Twitter @TomCrouser. Also connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.

Funerals for Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Berdine, Robert - 2 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Arnoldsburg.

Bonsall, Buddy - 11 a.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Holstein, Gary - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Keener, John - 8 p.m., Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Miller, Edward - 1 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Wright, Virginia - 11 a.m., Nitro Church of God, Nitro.