Justice for Kelvin Cochran

I’ve got 2 “Reconsider This” segments this time out.

First I look back at the religious freedom issue that Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran faced, and how it was resolved recently.

Then another update on the Seattle minimum wage law. Studies that look at its effect have had another year to consider what’s happened. There are some winners and losers. Unfortunately, the losers include the very people for whom the minimum wage laws are supposed to help.

Mentioned links:

Kelvin Cochran bio

VICTORY! Atlanta Pays Ex-Fire Chief $1.2 Million in Religious Liberty Lawsuit

Atlanta fire chief gets $1.2 million settlement: Journalists still avoid all Bible references

Here’s Who Was Helped — And Who Was Hurt — By Seattle’s Minimum Wage Increase

Episode 184: Reconsidering Stevie Wonder, San Bernardino, and Seattle [Consider This!]

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Show transcript

In another segment of “Reconsider This”, I want to return to the story of Kelvin Cochran. I’ve covered parts of this story in the past few years, but I want to give a bit more background on the man before talking about why he was in the news again recently.

Kelvin Cochran grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was fascinated by watching firemen do their work, like many boys at a young age. But his childhood wish to be a fireman is one he stuck with. He started with Shreveport Fire Department in 1981 as a firefighter. He worked his way up the organizational chart until he was appointed Fire Chief of the Shreveport Fire Department on August 26, 1999. In 2008 he took the job as fire chief of the City of Atlanta. Just a year and a half later, he was appointed as the United States Fire Administrator by President Barack Obama. After that, in 2010 he was re-appointed by Mayor Kasim Reed as Fire Chief of the City of Atlanta.

This is a man who was good at his job and got national attention for it. And then one day, he wrote a book, and it all came crashing down.

In 2013, Kelvin Cochran wrote a book about his Christian faith titled “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” for a men’s Bible study. That title comes from the Bible after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, and this is what God asks them. Cochran asked permission from his superior in Atlanta before he did, not that he needed to. He wrote it on his own time. Once published, he gave it to around a dozen subordinates who had either requested copies or shared his beliefs.

In this book, he discusses what the Bible says about human sexuality, again, for a men’s study group. This includes the concept that sexual relations are only ordained by God between a married man and woman, and as such homosexual relations are not permitted.

Just to clarify, these are Biblical principles that have been held by Christians for 2,000 years, and by Jews thousands of years before that. This wasn’t some opinion piece that was a reaction to the current political or social climate. This was not news to anyone, or shouldn’t have been.

But someone in the department got ahold of the book, was offended by it, complained, and Kelvin Cochran was ultimately fired from his job for it. Understand that for his whole career, he was never the subject of a discrimination complaint. He didn’t force anyone to read his book. And yet he was fired because of a book not related to his job. The mayor tried to frame this as an anti-discrimination firing, but it just didn’t hold water.

And so last week the Atlanta city council gave in and agreed that Christians don’t have to check their faith at the door. Or maybe they just wanted the bad PR to go away. They approved a $1.2 million settlement. Once again, a guy had to fight for his constitutional rights against a government that is supposed to be protecting them, and with no evidence at all that such free speech led to any actual discrimination.

This was a Thought Crime prosecution, plain and simple. I’ve seen many a meme saying that the book “1984” was a cautionary tale, not a how-to manual, but the Left seems to really like the concepts in there.

While we’re reconsidering, let’s take look at another story that got updated. Back in episode 184 in July of 2017, I commented on a preliminary study done by University of Washington on the effect of the higher minimum wage law in Seattle. This year that study plus ones from Amazon and New York University were updated. I have a link in the show notes to that earlier episode so you can hear (or read in the show notes) about the findings then. Hint: they’re not good.

A year later, with more time for the economy to settle down, there were indeed some winners, as well as losers. The winners were more experienced low-wage earners. They got a slight pay increase. Their hours were decreased, but the higher pay made up for it. So they got more pay for less work. Nice for them, I’m sure, but probably not so good for the business.

And the losers were…basically everyone else. This included less experienced low-wage workers that had their hours cut so much that the higher pay didn’t make up the difference. The irony is, minimum wages are designed to specifically help these kinds of people get jobs that give them the experience they need to work their way up in the business or find a better job elsewhere. It’s the old teenage job conundrum; I need experience to get a job, but I can’t get experience if no one will hire me. The lower wage gives businesses an incentive to hire those low skill or inexperienced workers. Instead, the Left wants to make those kinds of jobs more of a long-term thing. This means that those jobs don’t get vacated by people moving on to better jobs, and are then not available to those who could benefit from them most.

The economists concluded this, “Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance appears to have delivered higher pay to experienced workers at the cost of reduced opportunity for the inexperienced.” Again, a completely upside-down outcome.

What you’re going to hear from the Left, though, is a call to raise it even higher. When the results of a government program completely fail, they can be counted on to double down on it. Let’s not let a few facts and a few lost jobs get in the way of a really cool slogan. And let me close with a slogan I’ve heard elsewhere and it really fits here. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims.

Filed under: Economics & TaxesFree SpeechGovernmentMinimum WageReligion