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State Sen. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville wants to set a minimum wage in Arkansas the same way the electoral college has installed two second-place Republican presidents this century.

For that matter, it's now the same process by which Mike Maggio overruled common jurors in that nursing home case.

It's all based on a simple prevailing conservative Republican premise. It's that you can't trust official judgments formed by majorities of regular people because ... well, regular people, bless their hearts, don't know what's good for them.

Don't you understand that a partisan insider from a remote barren state chosen to be a presidential elector knows better who should be president than all those millions of actual American people living in places they don't have the good sense to leave, like California and New York and in and around Chicago?

Don't you understand that 12 jurors in Faulkner County aren't qualified to set the amount of money due a family because of negligent treatment of a loved one in a nursing home? Don't you see that a judge taking a bribe is much better-suited for an important decision like that? Don't you see that we need some "tort reform" to keep these regular people from going into those jury boxes and acting like they're in charge?

And now, by the right-wing Republican Ballinger's bill filed last week at the Capitol, you need also to understand that 68.5 percent of Arkansas voters in November were mired in cluelessness and didn't really understand what they were doing when they approved a higher minimum wage.

Surely you can grasp that they wouldn't have voted that way if they were more sophisticated in their thinking.

Ballinger's bill, SB115, is simple enough even for regular people to understand.

On that minimum wage increase the voters so overwhelmingly approved, it would exempt persons younger than 18 and employees of educational institutions, nonprofits and commercial enterprises with fewer than 50 workers.

As a publicly initiated law, the minimum wage increase could be altered only by a two-thirds majority vote of both legislative houses. Since Republicans are three-fourths of our current Legislature, there seems a reasonable chance the voters' declaration on a minimum wage will meet the same fate as the voters' declaration of a president in 2000 and 2016, not to mention the same fate as that $5.2 million jury verdict in that nursing home case that then-Judge Maggio, now of the federal pen, corrected down to $1 million.

Alas, some context about Ballinger seems appropriate.

In December it was reported that state government had filed a tax lien against him for nonpayment of a tax bill of about $1,700. He's had home mortgage payment issues over the years. He put out a statement in December that, as an attorney, he could make a lot of money but instead had chosen a life of public service and to trust that the Lord will provide.

That's not to say that Ballinger's Lord would provide a higher state minimum wage across the board as the voters decreed.

Formerly a House member, Ballinger ran for the Senate last year and took on Rep. Bryan King, a mercurial right-wing outsider populist. Ballinger had Gov. Asa Hutchinson's backing because King kept saying and doing wild things that got on Asa's nerves.

That is to make the point that we live in a state where Bob Ballinger can be the establishment moderate alternative.

King once voted against so-called tort reform. Maybe somebody needs to put in a bill saying the second-place candidate in the Ballinger-King race is the winner.

Meantime, another little bill filed by a right-wing Republican last week set off a social media firestorm.

Rep. Stephen Meeks of Greenbrier put in HB1177 to say that no employer could stick a microchip under an employee's skin without the employee's written permission.

The bill became a little less outrageous the more you learned about a trend in Sweden and an isolated instance in the United States. Employers installed microchips by which employees could pass security checks or have vending machine charges automatically taken from their accounts.

I'm not kidding here, though it surely must sound like it.

Meeks says he is merely seeking to be defensive and proactive should this practice ever reach Arkansas, and, in such an event, to protect employees from being chipped unless they want to be.

My initial take on the bill was that it was frightful. Then I thought it was silly.

Now I'm wondering if it is inadequate. Maybe it needs to be amended to ban human microchipping altogether in Arkansas, period.

After all, some of these regular people might not know any better than to agree to it.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 01/20/2019

Print Headline: JOHN BRUMMETT: This is for your own good


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    January 20, 2019 at 9:31 a.m.

    Great column, John. I'm so glad you pointed out the hypocrisy of Ballinger's positions with the filing of SB 115. It would be one thing if the vote supporting minimum wages was in the 50s, but it was almost 69% which shows overwhelming support. Arkansans sent a message to the legislature and the governor that its citizens should be paid a fair wage. Here are some facts from the Economic Policy Institute (which do match the BLS study, just in more depth):
    - Fewer than 10 percent are teenagers, and more than half are prime-age adults between the ages of 25 and 54.
    - More than half (56 percent) are women.
    - Nearly two-thirds work full time.
    - Nearly half (47 percent) have some college experience.
    - 28 percent have children.
    - The average worker with a spouse or child who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage provides 64 percent of his or her family’s total income.
    Those numbers alone show the benefit of the increase, not to mention the increase in economic impact that would be felt locally. Since those benefiting from this increase are low income workers, the increase in wages will most likely go into spending for household needs (food, clothing, child care, healthcare). That spending is purely local spending, helping boost the economy where they live. That increase will probably have greater economic impact on the state than a tax cut for the top level where savings will most likely be invested out of state in stocks, mutual funds, and the bond market.

  • GeneralMac
    January 20, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.

    I typed a rebuttal to John Burnett.
    I accused him of "crying" about the electoral college some 18 years after the 2000 election.

    It got flagged.
    It stated," watch your mouth "....g" is not allowed.


  • GeneralMac
    January 20, 2019 at 10:31 a.m.

    John Brummett

  • Waitjustaminute
    January 20, 2019 at 12:13 p.m.

    Ballinger's bill need to go down in flames. But as for Brummett's continuing "second place president" delusion, he simply doesn't want to understand how the system works. Football games are won by the team that scores the most points, not the team with the most offensive yards. Trump didn't waste his time campaigning in California where he had no chance of winning, and Hillary ran up her popular vote margin there. Trump spent his time down the stretch working in states Hillary took for granted, and that's what got her beat.
    The real rules are the real rules, not Brummett's pretend rules. Nobody cares that she racked up a thousand passing yards in California. She lost. Get over it.

  • johnnyray1004sbcglobalnet
    January 20, 2019 at 12:40 p.m.

    Of course I know and accept the rules. I just think they are unfair and should be changed, and that Republicans hold inordinate power in this country for a bunch of runnersup. And I advance the point that votes from American people are not well-compared to passing yards gained in a football game. Votes by American people are arguably more important. Brummett

  • GeneralMac
    January 20, 2019 at 12:48 p.m.

    As Hillary Clinton told Bernie Sanders when he complained about Super Delegates...

    "you knew the rules going in "

    Seems like karma bit Hillary in her big a##

  • Waitjustaminute
    January 20, 2019 at 12:55 p.m.

    It was just an analogy, but at least it got your attention. The founders of this country had to make some compromises because small states didn't want to be doninated by the large ones. I like the system we have just fine. I don't want the major population centers of this country picking our presidents year in and year out. A successful candidate should have to care about what people in Arkansas, and Kansas, and New Hampshire, etc, think about things.

  • Knuckleball1
    January 20, 2019 at 1:53 p.m.

    Yet another one of the Thieves and Crooks that thinks he knows more than the Voters.

  • pcrasehotmailcom
    January 20, 2019 at 3:16 p.m.

    Funny since the D’s have been trying to nullify an election pretty much non-stop since November 6, 2016.

  • Packman
    January 20, 2019 at 7:18 p.m.

    We all understand JB gets paid to regurgitate DNC talking points which evidently include being ignorant of America’s governing principles as a representative republic. Hard pass on allowing California, New York City, and Broward County Florida ruling over everyone else. KB’s cheap shot on Ballinger’s finances are low even for John Brummett.