Monday, June 13, 2016

The plain truth


The Left's Mobocracy

By Ben Shapiro

For years, the left has been desperate to paint conservatives as the real danger to civil society. Back in 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security called conservatives a threat to safety. In a report, it stated that those who oppose abortion and illegal immigration represent a serious domestic terror threat. After presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reprehensibly justified violence against protesters, the media was awash with fears that conservatives would suddenly lose their minds and begin brandishing pitchforks in search of unlucky transgender individuals.

But, for decades, the only real threat of mob violence has come from the political left.

The left proved this once again this week when rioters in San Jose, California ignored do-nothing police officers and assaulted Trump supporters after his campaign rally. They overran police barriers, punched random rallygoers and egged a woman. They spit on people, burned American flags and generally made a violent nuisance of themselves.

The left reacted by blaming Trump.

First off, let's point out that while Trump has encouraged his own rallygoers to participate in violence against peaceful protesters, there has never been a pro-Trump mob or riot. Individuals have engaged in bad behavior, but there has never been any mass activity. The same is not true of the political left, which traffics in mob action, from Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore, Maryland, to Seattle, Washington, to Occupy Wall Street.

Why? Because when conservatives act badly, they're condemned by both conservatives and leftists. But when leftists riot, leftists simply blame conservatives for the riots.

That's what happened in San Jose.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, "At some point, Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign." San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia praised his officers for failing to intervene, saying, "We are not an 'occupying force' and cannot reflect the chaotic tactics of protesters." The San Jose Police Department added that it did not intervene so as to not "further (incite) the crowd and produce more violent behavior."

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton blamed Trump, too: "He created an environment in which it seemed to be acceptable for someone running for president to be inciting violence, to be encouraging his supporters. Now we're seeing people who are against him responding in kind." The internet blogging service Vox was forced to suspend editor Emmett Rensin after telling people to "start a riot" if Trump sets foot in their town.

Trump may be a gross thug individually, but conservatives are generally uninterested in the sort of thuggish hordes that roam the streets looking for skulls to crack. We don't like those sorts of folks; we find them an affront to law and order and clean living.

The left has no such compunction. And so long as their leading lights continue to justify such lawlessness in the name of stopping the rhetoric of the right, we're doomed to more broken eggs, broken noses and broken politics.



Elitist Arrogance and stupidity behind minimum wage push

By Walter E. Williams

A basic economic premise holds that when the price of something rises, people seek to economize on its use. They seek substitutes for that which has risen in price. Recent years have seen proposals for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Some states and localities, such as Seattle, have already legislated a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Nobody should be surprised that fast-food companies such as Wendy's, Panera Bread, McDonald's and others are seeking substitutes for employees who are becoming costlier. One substitute that has emerged for cashiers is automated kiosks where, instead of having a person take your order, you select your meal and pay for it using a machine. Robots are also seen as an alternative to a $15-an-hour minimum wage. In fact, employee costs are much higher than an hourly wage suggests. For every employee paid $15 an hour, a company spends an additional $10 an hour on non-wage benefits, such as medical insurance, Social Security, workers' compensation and other taxes. That means the minimum hourly cost of hiring such an employee is close to $25.

The vision that higher mandated wages (that exceed productivity) produce no employment effects is what economists call a zero-elasticity view of the world — one in which there is no response to price changes. It assumes that customers are insensitive to higher product prices and investors are insensitive to a company's profits. There is little evidence that people are insensitive to price changes, whether they be changes in taxes, gas prices, food prices, labor prices or any other price. The issue is not whether people change their behavior when relative prices rise or fall; it is always how soon and how great the change will be. Thus, with minimum wage increases, it is not an issue of whether firms will economize on labor but an issue of how much they will economize and who will bear the burden of that economizing.

Fast-food restaurants must respond to higher prices because they have two sets of ruthless people to deal with. We can see that with a hypothetical example. Imagine that faced with higher employee costs, Burger King automates and, as a result of finding cheaper ways to do things, it can sell its hamburgers for $3. Its competitor McDonald's does not automate and keeps the same number of employees in the face of higher wages, maybe to be nice and caring. McDonald's might try to forestall declining profits by attempting to recover higher labor costs by raising product prices — say, charging $5 for a hamburger. However, consumers are not insensitive to higher prices. They would seek cheaper substitutes, thereby patronizing Burger King. The bottom line is that in the wake of higher minimum wages, surviving companies will be those that find ways to economize on labor usage.

There is another ruthless set of people. They are investors. If customers were to flock to Burger King, McDonald's profits would fall. What is your guess as to what investors would do? My guess is they would sell shares in McDonald's. An even more dismal picture for McDonald's would be the specter of corporate takeover attempts. Somebody would see that money could be made by bringing McDonald's to its senses.

The saddest aspect of the minimum wage story is the damage it does to human beings. The current hourly wage for a fast-food restaurant cashier is $7.25 to $9 per hour. That produces a yearly salary of $15,000 to $20,000, plus fringes. That's no great shakes, but it is honest work and a start in life. It might be the very best some people could do. Enter the arrogance and callousness of the elite. Their vision of what a person should earn, expressed by higher minimum wages, destroys people's best alternative without offering a superior one in its place. Maybe the elite believe that welfare, unemployment compensation and possibly engaging in illegal activities are a superior alternative to earning an honest and respectable living on a cashier's salary. That is a despicable vision.



The Key Economic Facts Obama’s Recovery Narrative Ignores

President Barack Obama took an economic victory lap in Elkhart, Indiana, on Wednesday.

In a major speech he argued his policies have brought the economy back. He blamed remaining economic weaknesses on trends preceding his administration.

This analysis has the economic facts precisely backwards: Economic growth benefitted Americans up and down the income distribution until the Great Recession. Since then, Americans have struggled considerably.

Obama argued his policies have brought the economy back. While labor market conditions have certainly improved from the depths of the recession—the official unemployment rate has even returned to pre-recession levels—these numbers do not tell the whole story.

Millions of working-age Americans stopped looking for work during the recession. Many have not returned to the labor market. The working-age labor force participation rate remains 2 percentage points below pre-recession levels. The government does not count these ex-workers as unemployed— even if they would have jobs in a stronger economy.

This explains why the unemployment rate has officially recovered in the Elkhart metropolitan area despite it still having fewer jobs today than in 2007.

Workers also take significantly longer to find new jobs today. The average jobless worker still spends over six months unemployed. This recovery has gone far slower than the White House promised when proposing Obama’s recovery plan.

Obama argues pre-existing trends caused this economic weakness:

… where we haven’t finished the job, where folks have good reason to feel anxious, is addressing some of the longer-term trends in the economy—that started long before I was elected—that make working families feel less secure. These are trends that have been happening for decades now and that we’ve got to do more to reverse.

This argument rewrites economic history.

Until the recession family incomes were growing up and down the income ladder. Congressional Budget Office data show market incomes for the middle quintile of (non-elderly) households grew by a third between 1979 and 2007.

Other academic economists estimate higher middle class income growth over that period. Market incomes for families in the bottom quintile grew even faster—by more than 50 percent.

Unsurprisingly, most Americans were happy with the state of the economy then. In February 2007, Gallup polled Americans‘ perceptions of the state of the economy. Forty-three percent said “excellent” or “good.” Only 16 percent answered “poor.”

Then the recession hit and the recovery dragged on. Between 2007 and 2011, middle class households’ market incomes dropped by a tenth (the Congressional Budget Office data only goes through 2011). More Americans today tell Gallup they think the economy is in poor shape than in excellent or good condition. It’s hard to blame this newfound dissatisfaction on long-term trends.

The president argued his administration deserves credit for the recovery thus far. If so, he has engineered the weakest recovery of the post-war era.



CFPB Announces New Proposed Rule to Make Poor People's Lives Harder

Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a proposed rule that would allow them to eliminate banking options for poor Americans. Did you miss that headline? Perhaps that’s because the Obama administration and its allies in the press described these new regulations as “cracking down on payday lenders.”

But this spin ignores a crucial detail: many poor Americans do not have and cannot afford traditional banking options such as checking and savings accounts because fees make these products prohibitively expensive for people with low incomes. Payday lenders often provide crucial basic banking services for these poor Americans. For people struggling to make ends meet, a short term loan may be the difference in being able to buy groceries or making a rent payment on time. They should have the freedom to contract and obtain the loans they believe they need, not be subject to the whims of regulators in Washington DC.

Now it is certainly the case that there are unscrupulous companies in the payday loan industry, as in any industry, but every state has regulators watching this industry and making sure that this valuable service is offered safely and ethically. As the Heritage Foundation’s Norbert Michel notes: “Not only does the CFPB lack evidence to support its claims that these lenders engage in ‘predatory behavior,’ the evidence actually suggests just the opposite." These new heavy-handed federal regulations are not meant to protect consumers: state regulators already do that. These rules are meant to eliminate payday lenders because they are disfavored by the left-wing federal administrative state.

In the world of the all-powerful administrative state in which we live, we have an agency in the CFPB which is unaccountable to Congress or the public. It can make rules designed to destroy a targeted industry. Today, they may come for an unpopular industry like payday lenders, but what can stop them from coming for your business or job next?

There is still a chance to stop these destructive and unnecessary regulations. These rules are still just in proposed status, which gives the public and affected companies and consumers the opportunity to comment and express their opposition. This comment period will last until September 14th, 2016. And given the destructive nature of the rules there will likely be court challenges. This rulemaking is yet another signpost on the road to regulatory tyranny and should be rejected.



Refugees in Europe


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