After overhearing a co-worker’s comment today – and with some trepidation, I went to the popular Google search engine and typed “idiot” in Google images. 

While almost expecting my own image to appear, sure enough, my co-worker was correct. A full screen of President Donald Trump’s images immediately appeared. (I did not risk venturing beyond the first results page.)

When Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week to address concerns about a perceived anti-conservative bias, a Democrat lawmaker asked him why Trump photos appear in Google image search results for the word "idiot.”

Pichai responded that Google searches “take (a) keyword and matches it against web pages and ranks it based on over 200 signals: things like relevance, freshness, popularity and how other people are using it.”

In other words, anyone who looks up “Trump is an idiot” in an online search engine is only adding to the president’s popularity on the idiot meter.

Surely, it was the same for previous presidents since the age of Google. Yeah, right.

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Then, there was this from Fox8.com in Philadelphia, who reported that as part of the Travelers Insurance “Every Second Counts” campaign, a new survey of Philadelphia drivers found that 75 percent of drivers admit to using a mobile device while driving.

By age group, they found that 91 percent of Millennials admitted to using a mobile device while driving. Well, maybe they figured it IS a mobile device.

For Gen-Xers (whatever they are), 79 percent said they used a mobile device while driving and 64 percent of Baby boomers said they did.

They didn’t ask me for any input on the survey. Maybe they heard that I haven’t owned a cell phone since Bush 43 was in office (his first term).

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Four years ago this week, I wrote a column under the headline “Ohio lawmakers: Vote for me and I'll give myself a raise!”

It began with this question: How many candidates for the Ohio General Assembly on Nov. 4, 2014 campaigned on a platform of “Vote for me and I’ll give myself a raise?”

In late, 2014, House Bill 661 would have reinstated the COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) that previously was applied to General Assembly members' salaries, and applies the COLA in 2015 and in each calendar year thereafter.

By a 56-26 vote (with 16 not voting), the House passed HB 661, which was interestingly introduced by 75-year-old State Rep. Gerald Stebelton, a Lancaster Republican, who was serving his final term. Some might call this political expediency or, in sports terms, taking one for the team. As I said four years ago, that was a tremendous fiscal overreach by the liberal Republicans in the Statehouse.

To their credit, southwest Ohio lawmakers Doug Green, a Brown County Republican, and John Becker, a Clermont County Republican, voted against the pay hikes. So did Rep. Jim Butler, a Republican lawmaker who had been in contention for the House speakership in 2015. State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, who (prior to his FBI probe) represented the 91st House District, which includes Highland County, voted in favor of the salary increases.

As far as I can recall, the Ohio Senate didn’t act on HB 661, and it was wisely set aside. (That’s from memory, so don’t hold me to it.)

Fast-forward four years and here we are again. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports this week at https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/12/raises-ohio-lawmakers-other-elected-officials-move-ahead/2287582002/ that Ohio lawmakers are trying once again to give themselves a raise.

In a crafty addition to an otherwise reasonable bill for increasing death benefits for police officers' and firefighters' surviving relatives, “state lawmakers and other executive elected officials would receive pay increases of 4 percent, 4 percent and 3 percent. After that point, they would receive 1.75 percent over the next six years,” the Enquirer quoted Rep. Bill Seitz.

Anytime you can simply raise your own pay arbitrarily, why not do it? And if you can pass legislation to ensure a decade of annual raise – all at taxpayers’ expense – why not do that?

But you shouldn’t be campaigning as a conservative Republican once you choose this tax-and-spend philosophy. And you sure shouldn’t slip your raise into a bill for law enforcement and first responders.

The thought that a few well-paid public officials have been without a cost-of-living increase since 2008 is priceless. An even greater number of private-sector workers have been without a pay increase. For private-sector workers, the big differences are these:

• 1. In addition to not receiving a guaranteed raise in pay, their tax dollars pay for your lucrative salaries, benefits, health care and pensions.

• 2. They do not have the power to vote themselves a raise. You do.

• 3. Once you increase the tax burden on the private-sector taxpayers, you will have, in essence, reduced their pay.

You should be proud of yourselves in C-Bus. We are less so in the heartland.

Lastly, all of you knew what the job paid when you spent thousands of dollars campaigning for it. Cry me another Olentangy River, already. Maybe there’s room for more “idiots” in the Google search engine.

• Note: This week, Ohio lawmakers, including Rep. Shane Wilkin, did vote for their own pay raise, “tacking it onto a bill to increase benefits for the widows and children of fallen first responders,” as The Plain Dealer reported. See https://www.cleveland.com/politics/2018/12/ohio-lawmakers-vote-to-give-themselves-a-pay-raise.html

Again, and to their credit, Republican Reps. Becker, Butler and Green voted against the "selfie" pay raise. As Miamisburg Republican Rep. Niraj Antani, who voiced opposition to the bill on the House floor, said: lawmakers should not have been approving a pay raise bill, but instead should have been passing a tax cut for Ohioans. Ya think?

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.