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I may eventually put something worthwhile here. Then again, perhaps I won't.

Sunday
Jun282015

Liberal intolerance

The Left's intolerance is on fully display this week with the #LoveWins hashtag. I don't really care about gay marriage one way or the other, but I object to having profound changes in society forced on us via judicial fiat. (Badly argued judicial fiat at that.)

But the whole #LoveWins bullshit is an exercise in intolerance. In the name of equalitiy, supporters of gay marriage not only are taking a victory lap, but are accusing those who do not cheer the Supreme Court's ruling of bigotry. What nonsense. But this is typical of the Left: disagree with them and, rather than argue the point, they call you names. For all their touting of "diversity," they can't stand any diversity of thought. Their totalitarian side shows at every opportunity, and this week it has been on full display.

Monday
Jun082015

Minimum wages and union hypocrisy

From the Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall);

“There are many ways to look at the minimum wage increase in Los Angeles from the current $9 an hour [under California law] to $15 by 2020—some hopeful, some cautionary, all good,” the New York Timeseditorialized last week.

The reader who alerted us to this editorial was incredulous: “ ‘All good’?! There are no downsides to a 67% increase in the minimum wage, according to the Times? Does the Times editorial board really believe this?”

Apparently not.... 

But the editorial’s biggest howler is that workers would be protected from job loss by “higher labor productivity.” That means less work is needed to produce the same output—which translates into either fewer workers or fewer hours for the same number of workers. If an employee with a machine produces as much as two employees used to, that means labor productivity has doubled. It also means one job has been obviated. Labor unions insist on burdensome work rules because the inefficiencies they impose force employers to keep more union members on the payroll than they otherwise would need to.

And speaking of unions, this report from the Los Angeles Times gives the lie to the entire minimum-wage argument:

Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces. . . .

[The delightfully named] Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Freedom of contract is a good thing—who’d have thunk it? From the standpoint of the unions’ institutional interests, it’s an even better thing to have a monopoly on freedom of contract. The Hicks proposal would give some employers an incentive to yield to unionization efforts in exchange for discounted wages (from which employees would have union dues deducted).

Implicit in the Hicks argument is an acknowledgment that a higher statutory minimum wage is detrimental to the interests of some workers. Those whose competitive advantage is their willingness to work for less are likelier to find themselves unemployable—and, as even the Times acknowledges, having to scrape by amid a higher cost of living.

The Times once understood that. In January 1987 the paper published an editorial titled “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00”:

Anyone working in America surely deserves a better living standard than can be managed on $3.35 an hour. But there’s a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market. . . .

An increase in the minimum wage to, say, $4.35 would restore the purchasing power of bottom-tier wages. It would also permit a minimum-wage breadwinner to earn almost enough to keep a family of three above the official poverty line. There are catches, however. It would increase employers’ incentives to evade the law, expanding the underground economy. More important, it would increase unemployment: Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired. . . ."

Monday
Jun082015

Incentives and crime

Here's a story from the Washington Post on the increase in crime in West Baltimore since Freddie Gray's death and subsequent arrest of six police officers.

Thursday’s deaths continue a grisly and dramatic uptick in homicides across Baltimore that has so far claimed the lives of 38 people. Meanwhile, arrests have plunged: Police are booking fewer than half the number of people they pulled off the streets last year.

Does this surprise anyone? The police are routinely villified in the neighborhoods where they're needed most. Now they're arrested and charged with a variety of crimes - most likely to see which ones will stick - in a rush to judgment. Not only do the police fear arrest themselves for any arrest that goes awry, the residents of West Baltimore also feel free to intimidate the police:

“Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” [Police Commissioner ]Batts said. 

The result:

West Baltimore residents worry they’ve been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them, leaving some neighborhoods like the Wild West without a lawman around.

Well, one solution is to appreciate the cops when they're on the beat.


Monday
Jan262015

Going where the money is

The free-spending Prez wants more More MORE for his vision of Big Government - and to secure a legacy that extends beyond the failures of Obamacare, a disasterous foreign policy, and dismal economic news - and so he reaches into the grab-bag of goodies that Democrat want to bestow on his subjects, er, citizens. Community college will be "free"; legalizing millions of aliens will be "free"; mandatory paid maternity leave will be "free"; and so on.

And his bright idea for paying for this largesse? Take it out of the middle class, because that's where the money is.

The Left can whine all it wants about giveaways to fat cats; what they really want are even more transfers of wealth from the middle class to the poor. And, of course, they refuse to be honest about it. As I've said before, if you want to take from the rich to give to the poor, then target wealthy baseball players' salaries, or movie stars' incomes. But no, the proposals are always ones that are aimed squarely at people who have jobs, save responsibly, and ask little of the government beyond basic services. That's how we end up with proposals to tax 529 college savings plans, tax capital gains more highly, and tax inherited houses more highly.

Wednesday
Jan212015

Apparently "1984" isn't required reading at Vanderbilt

From James Taranto's Best of the Web column, Jan. 20, 2015 (subscription required):

Our friend Carol Swain is back in the news. The Vanderbilt professor of political science and law, whom we defended against the Southern Poverty Law Center back in 2009, had an op-ed in the Tennessean last week titled “Charlie Hebdo Attacks Prove Critics Were Right About Islam.”

As TheCollegeFix.com reports, the op-ed has raised a ruckus on campus:

[A] Saturday afternoon protest was organized by Muslim student Farishtay Yamin, who looked on proudly as chants of “Vanderbilt united will never be divided!” and “To reach peace, teach peace!” grew louder. . . .

The overall tone of the protest, though passionate, did not attack Swain personally.

Yamin herself acknowledged after the event that Swain “has substance and that she is an educated woman” and has “a lot of qualifications to be teaching at Vanderbilt.”

But Swain’s speech must be curtailed, Yamin said: “What I’m really trying to show her is that she can’t continue to say these kinds of things on a campus that’s so liberal and diverse and tolerant.”

To be sure, there’s plenty to disagree with in Swain’s op-ed. For example, she declares: “Islam is a dangerous set of beliefs totally incompatible with Western beliefs concerning freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association”—surely an overgeneralization based on particular strains within Islam.

Then again, that astonishing quote from Yamin—“she can’t continue to say these kinds of things on a campus that’s so liberal and diverse and tolerant”—would seem to back up Swain’s generalization. But that isn’t Islam, it’s political correctness.