View 812 Wednesday, February 26, 2014
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.
Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983
If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan. Period.
Barrack Obama, famously.
In the morning before breakfast my sugar was 174, which is high but not the 301 of last night. This afternoon after lunch it was 191. My primary physician tells me to take an extra metformin (normally I take two a day) if it’s over 200. A few minutes ago after dinner it was 224, so I’ll have a glucophage with my night pills (having just had one with my after dinner pills). The steroids definitely raise blood sugar levels because I have been very good about eating, a half sandwich for lunch and a Greek salad for dinner, no desserts or sweets. And a pretty good walk. Alas no hearing improvements. In anything when I scrape the left side sound intake spot I hear that less well now than I did this morning. I took the six steroids with lunch. It’s all discouraging. It was great being able to hear for a few weeks, and I keep hoping something will get better. Better to hear with one ear than neither, of course. Count your blessings.
This in today’s Los Angeles Times
Patt Morrison Asks
Ron Unz, a mo’ money man on the minimum wage
Ron Unz knows his way around the California ballot. He ran for governor against Pete Wilson in the GOP primary 20 years ago. He lost big, but four years later he won with his Proposition 227, which altered California schools by effectively ending bilingual education and mainstreaming Spanish-speaking students. The sometimes conservative, sometimes libertarian Republican entrepreneur-turned-activist is going back to the ballot, collecting signatures for an initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12. It may seem counterintuitive but Unz contends it’s an idea that’s as conservative as they come.
Raising the minimum wage has been anathema to conservatives and Republicans. What changed your mind?
For years I’d assumed increasing the minimum wage was not a good policy, but once I did focus on it, I was surprised how strong the evidence was. My article [on the conservative Daily Caller website] strongly backing a higher minimum wage was probably what got the attention of Bill O’Reilly [and] prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly. I think a lot of people may look at the issue in a new way.
There’s a lot more. Ron is brilliant. That doesn’t mean he is right, because if he is correct then some smart people like Milt Friedman have been wrong for a very long time, and, to be blunt, so have I. I have always assumed that minimum wages are a bad idea.
But of course there was a hidden assumption in that premise about minimum wages: it was that the difference between the minimum wage and “a living wage” would not be made up by a public payment of tax money, and that this payment could not be denied to anyone including minimum wage earners.
And Ron is certainly correct in pointing out that the great financial gains made since the crash and the Great Recession have not gone to the working class or the middle class. They have gone to stock holders and no one else, and they don’t contribute all that much to middle class tax relief.
I continue to be concerned about the effects on startup small businesses. I am also concerned about the Constitution: I know that the Courts have so interpreted “Interstate Commerce” to include transactions in which a local famer sells his garden produce in a local Farmer’s Market, and window washers in an Ann Arbor office building are engaged in interstate commerce because one of the offices whose windows they don’t even wash – contracts are with individual office renters – in that building is sort of engaged in financing commerce in another state. So after two different Child Labor Amendments to the Constitution failed of ratification, the Supreme Court reversed itself and said that the Federal Government had regulatory power after all. In my judgment, minimum wages are state matters. Alas, that point is moot: the courts have said that the Feds have a joint power with the states.
My concern with small businesses is not satisfied. I think that if we are to raise the minimum wages significantly that ought to apply only to businesses of 20 or more employees; the point being that we do not want to discourage small startups. We need them. And a high minimum wage raises the capital cost of starting that business, which is already burdened with plenty of Federal regulations to begin with. I think imposing minimum wages on small startups would send us further down the drain.
David McCord Wright predicted the end of the Soviet Union. One of his lines of reasoning was that Marx’s prediction of the total concentration of power into a very tiny group was not coming true: the American practice of trust busting – the Sherman Anti-trust Act – had seen to that. But lately we are seeing that come to an end. Already we have Five Big Banks Too Big To Fail instead of, say, Fifty Large Banks Any One of Whom Could Go Bust And We’d Still Survive. And it’s increasingly true of other organizations. We’re down to it on airplane companies: when I got into the aerospace business there were a lot of companies, Boeing, McDonnell, Douglas, Hughes, North American, Lockheed, and more; not so many now. And somehow there aren’t so many innovations, and each new airplane costs double and more what the last one cost, and==
We are concentrating on big business. We let companies “grow” by buying up their competitors. Does anyone here think any of us will benefit from Comcast acquisition of Time-Warner, just to pick a current example? Concentrating everything into a few companies ends competition and the consolidation of management saves money on the bottom line, but the savings tend to go to the stockholders, not the workers.
All those economic analyses warning of the perils of raising the minimum wage — are they wrong?
In 1996 when [California] raised the minimum wage, people said it would destroy the state economy. Instead, for the next four years, unemployment dropped by a third. Obviously there are broader economic issues, but when you see huge declines in unemployment after a minimum-wage hike, it undercuts the case that it would devastate the economy.
I was surprised at how insignificant price increases would have to be to cover the cost. People said Wal-Mart would have to double their prices. The actual figure is less than 1% — about $12.50 a year [per customer].
What I don’t see here is an analysis of the effect on small startups. Wal-Mart is not your local hardware store, or the little ap designer shop operating out of mother’s basement. Or even Philippe Kahn starting Borland Software.
Understand, Ron Unz is no fool. He tends to be sure he is right, and prefers debate to discussion, but he’s good at it.
How would it affect illegal immigration?
It would remove the incentive businesses have to hire illegal immigrants. Right now the wages for certain businesses are so low that the only people who will take those jobs have just arrived from other countries, desperate for work. You see a lot of industries that used to have reasonable wages now have wages that are much lower. [That] drives down wages for everybody, including the immigrants themselves. The best way to protect against that is to have a high minimum wage; people can earn a reasonable living.
Which is an interesting point.
In fact it is all interesting. Read the article and send me your comments. I am convinced that a universal minimum wage would be devastating – indeed I think that some of the devastation Victor Hansen sees in the California Central Valley comes from that big minimum wage hikes California periodically undertakes, but I can’t prove it. It seems to me that if you force me to pay someone more than the work he does will make for me, in general I won’t hire him; particularly I won’t hire a beginner in the hopes that he’ll one day be worth it, if in fact at first he ain’t worth nothing to me. But Ron is pretty smart and he’s written a lot about it.
The Conservative Case for a Higher Minimum Wage
February 3, 2014
Over the last couple of months the minimum wage has moved into the political headlines, but most of the arguments for raising it have come from liberals. That’s fine, but since I’m not a liberal, I’d rather focus on the conservative reasons for supporting a much higher minimum wage, which are just as compelling.
Cutting Social Welfare Spending and Reducing Hidden Government Subsidies
Each year the American government spends over $250 billion on social welfare programs for the working-poor, individuals who have jobs but can’t survive on their wages. This funding represents a hidden government subsidy to low-wage businesses, allowing them to shift the burden of their low-wage employees over to the taxpayer.
A much higher minimum wage would force these businesses to stand on their own two feet and cover the costs of their own workers. Once those workers were no longer so poor, they would automatically lose eligibility for many anti-poverty programs, saving the government huge amounts of money. For example, establishing a $12 per hour minimum wage in California would save American taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
And I continue to wonder. The transfer payments from taxpayers to Citizens (and illegals) continue. The poor get richer, the middle class sort of holds its own or gets poorer, skilled workers lose jobs and get a lot poorer, and the rich certainly get richer. And more and more pay no taxes but get richer off those who do. If something can’t go on forever it will stop.
‘You want a higher minimum wage? Turn off the spigot of low-wage workers pouring in to the U.S. and it will rise on its own through the iron law of supply and demand.’
That certainly sounds like the first thing to do. Improving the schools would be the second.
"This is essentially a case of a physicist, who may be very good in his sub-discipline, talking about a subject about which he is abysmally ignorant."
And then some!
And more food for thought:
‘By trading with China and helping it grow into an economic powerhouse, Taiwan has helped create a burgeoning Goliath with revisionist goals that include ending Taiwan’s independence and making it an integral part of China.’
We were urged by George Washington not to become involved in the territorial disputes of Europe. We were warned by MacArthur and others not to engage in a land war in Asia. We are said to be the last hope of freedom and the world’s policeman but not to be interventionists or isolationists, and —
Walter Lippmann long ago wrote that Foreign Policy is like checks written against power, which ultimately comes from trade and the military as the assets the checks are written against. We have written large checks to Taiwan and Japan. Most are against Navy power, of course. We also wrote large checks on Iraqi and Afghan democracy; those are definitely going to bounce, and many, including me, say they should not have been written in the first place. Staying in Iraq after reducing its ruling mechanism to a shambles left us trying to plant democracy among people who don’t want it – since they are not a nation, and the Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish factions do not think of themselves as a nation. A vote is like the barnyard animals deciding who will be eaten. Christians and Jews, of course, but after that who’s next. And in Afghanistan the writ of the Mayor of Kabul has never run very far; the one thing that unites Afghanistan is the sight of armed foreigners in Afghanistan. We defeated the Taliban; we could have left Afghanistan to the Afghanis. Instead we decided to implant Democracy in a nation that never had it, rule of law in a nation that never had it, and – but that is another story. We don’t have a large enough bank account to honor that particular check.
The Cold War was close; Containment was the cheapest strategy, and yet it was very expensive. Reagan threw in enough chips to bleed the Soviet Union faster than we were bleeding. Viet Nam was costly to the Russians, costly in industrial goods shipped at great expense to Hanoi only to be destroyed. And the Afghanistan war bled Russia in the way that Viet Nam had bled the United States. I suspect they see our struggles there as the cream of the jest.
Russia is not the USSR. The Cold War is over. There is a new realism in the world.
And it’s now 2330 and my blood sugar is 318, so I will definitely take another Glucophage with my night pills. Still no improvement in hearing. Incidentally, I have been taking LipoFlavenoid for months now, four tablets a day, and it has definitely ended tinnitus; but it didn’t do much for hearing. That was done by the COSTCO hearing aids ($2,000 and worth it); but then came the Sudden Hearing Loss in my left ear. See earlier logs this week on that. The steroids are supposed to help. We’re hoping. Prayer may help too.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.