Friday, October 16, 2015

New Australian PM squashes envious Leftist attack on his wealth

An interesting lesson in how to do that  effectively

MALCOLM Turnbull today acknowledged he and wife Lucy had been lucky and were wealthier than most Australians who worked harder than them. But the Prime Minister, the richest member of Parliament, made no apologies for his wealth: “We’ve worked hard, we’ve paid our taxes, we’ve given back.”

Mr Turnbull was responding to Labor attacks on his investments in funds based in the Cayman Islands, a tactic that has highlighted how well-off the Prime Minister has become.

He returned the attack, accusing Labor of taking Parliament down the “the avenue of the politics of envy”.

It was a strong response, which left the Labor benches quieter than they were when Opposition Leader Bill Shorten put the question to Mr Turnbull.

“I don’t believe my wealth, or frankly most people’s wealth, is entirely a function of hard work,” Mr Turnbull said.  “Of course hard work is important but, you know, there are taxi drivers that work harder than I ever have and they don’t have much money. “There are cleaners that worker than I ever have or you ever have and they don’t have much money.

“This country is built upon hard work, people having a go and enterprise.  “Some of us will be more successful than others, some of us are fortunate in the turn of business, some of us are fortunate in the intellect we inherit from our parents.”

For a second day, the Prime Minister took questions on his and wife Lucy’s investments — all declared in public and none considered illegal — and repeated his argument he had sent his money off shore to avoid a conflict of interest from Australian investments.

He said the investment vehicles had been selected by a New York-based Australian financial adviser Josephine Lyndon, who has managed that portfolio. He said: “Is tax being paid in Australia by Australians? In my case and in Lucy’s case, in the case of our family interests, the answer is absolutely yes, in full.”

And he turned on Labor’s leader Mr Shorten who, he said, “could be talking today about the economy, could be asking about growth, could be proposing some new ideas on innovation or enterprise”.

Instead, he said, Labor wanted “Just another wander down the avenue of the politics of envy, just another smear”.



Reporters Exploded Into Cheers When Bernie Sanders Said This

Bernie Sanders’ statement that Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified data is none of the voters’ business was met with a roar of applause…

…by the very reporters who are supposed to cover the story.

“The entire press room just exploded when Bernie said that about Hillary's emails,” tweeted Rubin Report host Dave Rubin.

“Audible clapping and laughter in the press filing room after Bernie Sanders' ‘enough of the emails moment,’” tweeted Yahoo News reporter Hunter Walker.

This is what state-run media looks like.



New Paper Destroys Obamacare Claims

President Obama likes to tout the success of the Affordable Care Act by quoting the number of Americans that are now insured, a funny verbal trick that disregards the number of Americans who were forced into paying higher premiums and losing the care they liked despite explicit presidential promises to the contrary.

At the end of the day, whether or not the program HAS insured more people is not nearly as relevant as whether or not more Americans are receiving a higher quality of care. According to a new paper, they're not:

    "In a new working paper, Wharton economists Mark Pauly, Adam Levine and Scott Harrington estimate how much better or worse off the non-poor uninsured are under ObamaCare. They measure the cost of the plans, the benefits of consuming pre-paid medical care and out-of-pocket payments without obtaining coverage. They conclude that, “even under the most optimistic assumptions,” half of the formerly uninsured take on both a higher financial burden and lower welfare, and on net “average welfare for the uninsured population would be estimated to decline after the ACA if all members of that population obtained coverage.

    In other words, ObamaCare harms the people it is supposed to help. This is not a prescription for a healthy, durable program.

    Markets have also been disrupted by a cascade of failures among the ObamaCare co-ops that were intended as a liberal insurance utopia. These plans were seeded with billions of dollars in federal start-up loans and were supposed to work like the credit unions or the electric collectives of the Depression era. No profits were allowed, advertising to introduce new products was restricted and industry executives were barred from management. As it turns out, attempting to outlaw expertise and incentives tends not to produce good results."

Is this likely to change people's minds? Probably not. Liberals will likely demand endless funding for this flawed model or, failing that, a total shift to a publicly managed government healthcare system. In the interim, the American taxpayer and the American health care consumer will suffer.



Why Not Just Get Rid of Labor Law?

While politicians seem to never tire of proposing new ways to regulate the workplace, I want to propose a radically different idea: get government out of the workplace altogether. If that’s too radical for you, here is a compromise proposal: allow parallel systems under which workers in the same industry can choose to work as employees or work as independent contractors in an essentially unregulated labor market.

Public awareness of the “gig economy” seems to have started with Uber, a company with 4,000 employees and 160,000 drivers who are not employees. A class action lawsuit in California seeks to have the drivers reclassified as employees so they can “get benefits” they are not now getting and be “protected” from employer abuse.

There are two big problems with this lawsuit: (1) it’s based on bad economics and (2) Uber drivers don’t want to be employees.

Let’s take the second issue first. I must have read a dozen editorials and news stories about Uber — all implying that we have a new class of workers who all of a sudden are being denied all the benefits of being employees, just like ….. hmmm … just like whom?

Did you know that just about every taxi cab driver in the United States is an independent contractor? That’s right. In this industry — that has been around for longer than any reader of this column has been alive — the drivers have never been employees. What makes Uber different is not that the drivers are independent contractors. It’s that Uber is using modern technology to compete in an industry that has become stodgy and insensitive to consumer needs.

Why are taxi cab drivers independent contractors? Because they prefer it. And so do Uber drivers. But how can that be? Employees get fringe benefits like health insurance and 401(k) matches. They are assured of a minimum wage. They get time-and-a-half for overtime — by law.

The answer is that the drivers — regardless of their formal education — are smarter than the news reporters and the opinion columnists. The drivers know there is only so much money you can get from the passengers. If some of this money goes for fringe benefits that means less take home pay. This insight has been confirmed by just about every economic study of the issue that has ever been done. Employee benefits and workers' wages are dollar for dollar substitutes. So becoming employees would not create any net gain for the drivers.

Meanwhile, there are tax advantages of not being an employee. Independent contractors, for example, can take deductions that employees typically cannot. And (ironically), since the tax relief for employer-provided health insurance is smaller than the tax credits being offered in the (Obamacare) exchanges for everyone who is earning a below-average income, millions of workers are actually better off buying insurance on their own.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was passed at a time when the country was in the middle of the Great Depression. If there was once a need for it, that need has come and gone. Today we tell teenagers they can’t be employees if they can’t produce $7.25 worth of goods and services in an hour. But if you are an independent contractor — say an artist, actor, writer, musician and, yes, even a taxi cab driver — the federal government doesn’t care how much you earn.

Other labor market regulations work pretty much the same way. Employers can’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age and God knows what else. But if you are hiring a handyman for home repairs or a gardener or a maid or hailing a taxicab, you can discriminate all day and all night. If your employer supplies you with a ladder, there are all kinds of safety regulations that apply to it. If you work for yourself and supply your own ladder, it can be as safe or unsafe as your like.

Does this mean that the non-employees are at a huge disadvantage? No, it’s the other way around. As I explained at Forbes the other day, markets are better at dealing with these issues than government. The evidence suggests that Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations have had virtually no impact on actual worker safety. And there is no evidence that antidiscrimination laws have affected the average wages of women, blacks, Hispanics or anyone else.

However, these laws and regulatory agencies do add to the administrative costs of employment. Independent contractors and their clients avoid those costs.

This may be one reason why the unregulated sector of the labor market is growing by leaps and bounds. Writing in The New York Times, Noam Scheiber notes that:

    The number for the category of jobs mostly performed by part-time freelancers or part-time independent contractors, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a labor market analytics firm, grew to 32 million from just over 20 million between 2001 and 2014, rising to almost 18 percent of all jobs.

Another study, commissioned in part by the Freelancers Union, estimates that about one-third of the work force, or 53.7 million people, now do freelance work, an increase of 700,000 from a year earlier.

All this is being helped along by a relatively new phenomenon: computer apps. Writing in The New York Times, Natasha Singer says:

    Ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber, odd-jobs marketplaces like TaskRabbit, vacation rental sites like Airbnb, and grocery-shopping apps like Instacart have clearly made travel, lodging, home renovation and dining more efficient for millions of people.

Add medicine to that list. Uber-like house calls are already available in several cities. Unless government gets in the way, they will soon be available to you.



Ending Life Is Great; Saving It, Not So Much

Leftists have always hearted death.  They are merciless killers whenever they get the chance

Just days after signing assisted suicide into law in California, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed “Right to Try” legislation. In other words, he told his citizens to drop dead. Right to Try is the idea that terminally ill patients should be able to access medicines that are certified as safe but have not yet survived the gauntlet of approval from the bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration.

So if you are terminally ill and suffering in California, the governor thinks it’s a great idea for you to commit suicide with the help of your doctor. If, however, you wish to try all avenues to avoid suffering and extend your life, well, tough luck.

Brown argued that the FDA already has a compassionate use program to meet this need, but it’s cumbersome to apply and very few people benefit from it. Brown’s seemingly clear preference for suicide here is not terribly compatible with Catholic teaching — a faith he loves to cite when it suits him. But California’s legislature passed the bill by large enough margins to override a veto, so we’ll see what happens.

On a final note, health care economics are going to play an increasing role in end-of-life decisions, and that may explain Brown’s move. Specifically, The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto observes, “What accounts for that inconsistency? Here’s one factor that may play a role: California is on the hook for millions of state employees' and retirees' generous medical benefits. When one of them receives a terminal diagnosis, it’s a lot cheaper to hasten his death than to attempt to prolong his life.”



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