Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Muted Conversation on Traditional Marriage | Andrew Cuff | First Things

A Muted Conversation on Traditional Marriage | Andrew Cuff | First Things

The interview he gave was not the one the reporter heard.

Content / Individualist Feminism -- Commentary / Transcript of my side of the debate with Jessica Valenti at Brown University - WendyMcElroy.com


So, the rape culture. A conflict within feminism about the rape culture came into focus on February 28th of this year when the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network - known as RAINN - the largest anti-sexual-violence organization in America and the most influential...and hardly a voice of conservatism - RAINN sent a 16-page letter to a new White House task force that had the mission of reforming and standardizing campus reform hearings across America
RAINN stated "there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming the rape culture for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campus. While it is helpful for pointing out the systemic barriers towards dealing with the problem it is important not to lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions of a small fraction of a community to commit a violent crime. While that may seem an obvious point it has tended to get lost in recent debates."
RAINN argued that focusing on rape culture made it harder to stop sexual violence because it removed focus from the individuals at fault and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions. I agree. The treatment of rape needs to move away from what has become the status quo assumption of feminist orthodoxy, away from rape as an expression of culture, and toward holding a small number of individuals absolutely responsible for their options. "Men" or "women" as a category do not rape - individuals do. And yet this idea runs counter to the whole idea of the rape culture. When you speak of a rape culture, you're saying rape is so widely accepted that it is a cultural norm. In short, it is a defining aspect of society.
And certainly there are cultures in which that definition fits. There are parts of Afghanistan, for example, where women are married against their will, they are murdered for men's honor, they are raped. And when they are raped they are arrested for it, and they are shunned by their family afterward. Now that's a rape culture.
But that is not North America. It doesn't resemble North America. Here rape is a crime that is severely punished. Even an accusation of sexual harassment can ruin someone's career and their lives.
A few days ago I saw a sight that made me just wither inside. A man who had - a scientist behind the Rosetta comet landing - wept in apology on TV because after the biggest achievement of his life, he basically was hounded because he wore a shirt that a female friend of his had made that showed cartoon super heroines on it. And he was made to weep in apology on TV rather than revel in an incredible accomplishment.
Who had the power there? Did he have the power there? Feminists came and said that he basically should be excoriated and he wept on TV. It was a terrible sight. It was a cruel sight.
The messages sent to men today are not that it's okay to rape. It's the opposite. And according to both RAINN and the Department of Justice the rate of rape and sexual assault as decreased by more than half since 1993 so why aren't we celebrating?
North America is not a rape culture. It is an insult to women who live in one that women here with so much freedom and so much opportunity are trying to share the same status of oppression with them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ideas: Torture and Revealed Preference

Ideas: Torture and Revealed Preference

According to news stories, the intent was to capture Abu Sayyaf, believed to play a major role in financing ISIS via black market sales of oil, for the sake of  valuable information he could provide about ISIS operations. Killing him, while better than nothing, was not the preferred outcome.

That raises an obvious question. Assuming the raiders had been successful, how did they expect to get at information in Abu Sayyaf's head? The most obvious conjecture is by torture—which the U.S. government claims not to engage in. An alternative possibility is by threatening his wife—also not, so far as I know, a tactic U.S. forces admit to using. 

A central principle of economics is revealed preference. What people do provides more reliable information than what they say.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Robert Reich: Economic malpractice on the minimum wage and a remedial assignment - AEI | Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas

Robert Reich: Economic malpractice on the minimum wage and a remedial assignment - AEI | Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas


22 Very Inconvenient Climate Truths | Watts Up With That?

22 Very Inconvenient Climate Truths | Watts Up With That?

Looks like they posted a book.  It comes out to 237 pages printed.

Genetic variation, classification and 'race' - Nature Genetics

Genetic variation, classification and 'race' - Nature Genetics

New genetic data has enabled scientists to re-examine the relationship between human genetic variation and 'race'. We review the results of genetic analyses that show that human genetic variation is geographically structured, in accord with historical patterns of gene flow and genetic drift. Analysis of many loci now yields reasonably accurate estimates of genetic similarity among individuals, rather than populations. Clustering of individuals is correlated with geographic origin or ancestry. These clusters are also correlated with some traditional concepts of race, but the correlations are imperfect because genetic variation tends to be distributed in a continuous, overlapping fashion among populations. Therefore, ancestry, or even race, may in some cases prove useful in the biomedical setting, but direct assessment of disease-related genetic variation will ultimately yield more accurate and beneficial information.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

About the Network of enlightened Women (NeW)

About the Network of enlightened Women (NeW)


In September 2004, a group of students at the University of Virginia founded a book club for conservative college women and called it the Network of enlightened Women, known as NeW. Within a year, women on other campuses heard about NeW and wanted to start their own chapters.  NeW began expanding nationally, growing one chapter at a time.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tackling human biases in science | Climate Etc.

Tackling human biases in science | Climate Etc.

The Ten Commandments, Killing, and Murder: A Detailed Commentary

The Ten Commandments, Killing, and Murder: A Detailed Commentary

The difference between Hebrew roots R-Tz-Ch, M-O-T, and H-R-G.

Reich, the Mandatory Minimum Wage, and Wal-Mart’s Voluntary Wage Hike


I disagree that Robert Reich “has a point” in his video when he argues that Wal-Mart’s voluntary action to raise the wages of its lowest-paid workers (as you put it) “is a sign that a higher minimum wage works.”
First, the fact that some firms profit by raising their workers’ wages in no way means that the same is true for other firms.  Not only do the fortunes of some industries and firms wane at the same time that those of other industries and firms wax, but even within the same industry different firms often operate with different production technologies.  For example, some successful firms use relatively large amounts of capital and small amounts of labor, while others use relatively smaller amounts of capital and larger amounts of labor.  (The capital-labor ratio of McDonald’s, for instance, is higher than that of an urban food truck.)  So labor policies that are today best for some industries and firms are not necessarily best for other industries and firms.  And because the economy is dynamic, even policies that work well today for some industries and firms might work poorly tomorrow for these same industries and firms.
Second, the very fact that Wal-Mart voluntarily raised its workers’ wages shows that government compulsion is unnecessary to ensure that workers’ wages rise whenever higher wages are justified economically.  Don’t buy Reich’s assertion that Wal-Mart hiked its wages in response to social pressure.  Social pressure does not increase a firm’s or its workers’ productivity.  Had Wal-Mart – which operates in the highly competitive retail sector – raised its workers’ wages for any reason other than the fact that doing so improves its productivity, it would soon start to hemorrhage financially.  My bet is that it will not so hemorrhage.
Finally and most importantly, there is zero equivalence between government raising the minimum wage and firms raising their workers’ wages voluntarily. Unlike when government hikes the minimum wage, when Wal-Mart voluntarily raises the wages it pays it does not deny to any worker the freedom to offer to work for a lower wage at Wal-Mart or at any other firm.  Put differently, while Wal-Mart’s choice to raise its workers’ wages does not constrict any worker’s freedom of contract, the very essence of government’s decision to raise the minimum wage is to artificially and arbitrarily restrict every worker’s freedom of contract.  That a government hike in the minimum wage strips a valuable bargaining chip from (especially) low-skilled workers is a huge and fundamental difference separating government-imposed minimum wages from firms’ voluntary actions to raise their workers’ wages.

Reich Is Wrong About the Minimum Wage and Employer Choice


Because Reich’s case for raising the minimum wage does not rest on a claim of employer monopsony power, he correctly understands that raising the minimum wage creates a surplus of workers at the minimum wage.  Reich doesn’t use the term “surplus.  Again, he says that raising the minimum wage gives employers “more choice of whom to hire.”  But this increased choice for employers amounts to the same thing as a surplus of workers, even though Reich is deeply confused by what his realization of this truth implies about the employment effects of minimum-wage legislation.
Because minimum-wage legislation robs low-skilled workers of their ability to offer to work at hourly wages below the government-dictated minimum, the manner in which these workers effectively compete for jobs that are available at the minimum wage necessarily consists of their offering to employers something other than a discount on their hourly wage.  That ‘something’ can be any number of things that are within each worker’s control, such as offering to work harder or agreeing to a reduction in the value of their fringe benefits.  But that ‘something’ can also be any number of things that are beyond each worker’s control – such as being a member of an ethnic group for which an employer has a preference or being the son or niece of the business-owner’s next-door neighbor.
When the ability to compete for jobs along an important and economically relevant dimension such as hourly pay is blocked, the forces of competition do not disappear.  These forces of competition instead are channeled into other dimensions, many of which are economically irrelevant (such as a job-applicant’s race or sexual preferences).  The make-up of workers employed at minimum-wage jobs is thus not only different from what the make-up of workers would be at whatever wage would prevail in the absence of a minimum wage, the difference in these two ‘make-ups’ in the pools of workers is not random.

Some of this resulting bias in the pool of people working at the minimum wage will be the consequence of conscious or subconscious prejudice or even bigotry on the part of employers or, in some cases, employers’ customers (or other employees).  The racist restauranteur who has two whites and three blacks – all equally qualified – applying for the two entry-level jobs he has available is much less likely to hire any of the black applicants if they are prevented by government from offering to work at hourly wages lower than the wages demanded by the white applicants.  Ditto the hair-salon operator who, although herself non-bigoted, has a clientele that is largely anti-immgrant.  This salon operator has for her one minimum-wage job two equally qualified applicants: one an attractive white teenage girl with a darling Alabama accent, the other a plain-looking swarthy Guatemalan who speaks broken English.
Some other part, however, of the resulting bias in the pool of people working at the minimum wage will not be the consequence of any offensive or illegitimate attitudes on the part of employers (or of employers’ customers or other employees).  With more applicants than there are minimum-wage jobs available, all employers of low-wage workers will (as Reich himself correctly suggests) have greater opportunity than otherwise to screen more carefully – in excess of the amount of such screening that would occur absent a minimum wage – for the best of the best among this pool of workers.  Applicants who speak and write the best English; applicants from leafy suburbs with good schools; applicants with their own cars; applicants who present practically zero risks of being undocumented immigrants; applicants with the most job experience; applicants who dress more stylishly; applicants who are not single parents of young children; applicants who have no criminal records; – applicants such as these, for perfectly understandable and economically rational reasons, are less risky hires than are applicants who don’t possess these traits.  Over time, the pool of minimum-wage workers will contain relatively more of these ‘good’ employees and relatively fewer of the economically more risky ones.
So unless you or your children fit squarely the profile of these ‘good’ applicants, the artificially created greater employer choice that Reich celebrates is, in fact, a detriment rather than a benefit of minimum-wage legislation.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Patterico's Pontifications » Men, Stop Raping Us With Your Stares, Your Minds, Your Hearts

Patterico's Pontifications » Men, Stop Raping Us With Your Stares, Your Minds, Your Hearts

I have something to say about this. But first let me say, if this attractive young woman has a “nuanced” argument to make, I don’t care. Why should I? Clearly, her main objective is to demonize men. Nothing original there. And honestly, if you choose to smugly proclaim your nasty denigration of men, then you also choose to become a target inviting everyone who sees to take their best shot. And I aim to please.
So, what I want to know is, who gave the collective feminist permission to co-opt the word “*rape” and make it part of their whiny, self-serving lexicon and claim it as the gender’s universal badge of victimization – whether or not an actual rape has taken place?
What the feminist doesn’t seem to get is that every time “rape” is used to define anything other than the horrific sexual act of an angry, sick male who brutally shoves himself into the inner being of a woman and subsequently wounds her body, heart and soul, it’s not just the word itself that is diminished, but so too are the experiences of untold numbers of women whose lives will never quite be the same as before they were undone.
How dare they.
Men, sadly, are on the receiving end of this bullshit. Good, decent and kind men. Men like most of you, who respect women, who honor women and who know a good woman is hard to find and even harder to keep. Unfortunately in the eyes of the inflammatory feminist, you’re all one and the same. You have no choice in the matter because you are just one giant glob of rape-loving flesh who, when you aren’t wallowing in patriarchal privilege, you are raping women – with your eyes, with your minds, with your hearts. You are rape and nowhere is safe from you.
Some women are more interested in beating up on men than they are in protecting women from rape.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Instapundit » Blog Archive » SO ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY PUBLISHES A NASTY HIT JOB — Larry Correia Fisks it here — and without cont…

Instapundit » Blog Archive » SO ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY PUBLISHES A NASTY HIT JOB — Larry Correia Fisks it here — and without cont…

SO ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY PUBLISHES A NASTY HIT JOB — Larry Correia Fisks it here — and without contacting any of the people it attacks, and then after publication, the author, Isabella Biedenharn, invites Larry to give the other side.After publication. What, did she come to Entertainment Weekly from Rolling Stone or something?
CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.
This story has been updated to more accurately reflect this. EW regrets the error.
Bottom line: Entertainment Weekly listened to some Social Justice Warrior types, made the mistake of believing them, and humiliated itself. Here’s the corrected version. Props to Entertainment Weekly for correcting so swiftly and prominently.


The Hugo Awards: How to Fight Back in the Culture War

The Hugo Awards: How to Fight Back in the Culture War

So in marched the Social Justice Warriors, a term adopted in the Gamergate controversy to describe the kind of politically correct busybodies who decide that the output of every field has to be remade to promote the proper, “progressive” social agenda—or else.
A few years back, conservative science-fiction author Larry Correia noticed that left-leaning participants at Worldcon were engaged in a whispering campaign against one of his nominated books because of his political views. Many of them had not even read his novels. They opposed him, not because of the quality of his work, but because of who he was. In effect, the Left was enforcing a blacklist in which no right-leaning science fiction writer can be allowed to win awards.
All of which sounds drearily familiar. Believe me, when you’re in my line of work, you don’t expect to win any of the mainstream awards, either. They just don’t give those things to people like us. It’s a part of our professional life that most writers on the right have just given up on. And maybe we shouldn’t have.
To counteract the voting bias, Correia organized a campaign called “Sad Puppies”—because, he explains, “boring message fiction is the leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness.” Which gives you a small sampling of the kind of goofy, irreverent humor with which the campaign has been conducted. The idea was simply to suggest a slate of authors Correia thought were likely to be overlooked or slighted because of their views—and to counteract that effect by lobbying in their favor.
His goal wasn’t even to win, but just to bring attention to the issue. Here is how he described it:
1. I said a chunk of the Hugo voters are biased toward the left, and put the author’s politics far ahead of the quality of the work. Those openly on the right are sabotaged. This was denied.

2. So I got some right wingers on the ballot.

3. The biased voters immediately got all outraged and mobilized to do exactly what I said they’d do.

4. Point made.
The goal was simply to bring the leftist bias out into open view.
But then things got out of hand. This year, the Sad Puppies campaign (and a related slate of recommendations called Rabid Puppies) swept the field. The response was a total meltdown among the leftist elites who had assumed, in previous years, that they (and their favorite publisher, Tor) basically owned the Hugos. So they did what the Left always does: they smeared everyone who disagrees with them as racists.
Correia notes that on April 6, eight different news sites, from Entertainment Weekly toThe Guardian, all published suspiciously similar hit pieces describing the Sad Puppies campaign and its organizers as racist and misogynist. Clearly, someone was feeding these sites the new official narrative, and they all swallowed it without any attempt at basic research. So for example, the original version of the Entertainment Weekly piece claimed:
The Hugo Awards have fallen victim to a campaign in which misogynist groups lobbied to nominate only white males for the science fiction book awards. These groups, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies (both of which are affiliated with last year’s GamerGate scandal), urged sci-fi fans to become members of the Hugo Awards’ voting body, World Science Fiction Convention, in order to cast votes against female writers and writers of color.
But the article had to be repeatedly corrected, adding this humiliating admission:
After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.
As the sardonic saying goes: “Other than that, the story was accurate.” Obviously, the “correction” guts the central point of the whole piece, and what is really required is a wholesale retraction. And more: any journalistic entity worthy of the name would decide that the real story is, who is smearing Sad Puppies as racist, and why?

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Requires Abasement | According To Hoyt

Requires Abasement | According To Hoyt

*** Not only has the other side publicly declared they wouldn’t read anyone nominated by Sad Puppies because they have bad-thought cooties, but those who claim to have read Larry have CLEARLY not done it (like, they missed all the women in the book: strong, and powerful women at that) and they certainly haven’t read Brad.  And then there was, (and I wish I had the link but no time to look, and doubtless one of you can find it), the precious flower having hysterics, because what if one of us wrote a book under a pen name and she unknowingly read it and became tainted with wrong-thought?  This is a very real worry, and the buttercups SHOULD be worried.  Because some of us have plans.
Broken Hugo Fisking

One of the things that the whole Sad Puppies Affair has brought to the fore for me, personally, is my total lack of patience or respect for what you might call the Argument By Posture, or Argument From Attitude. There are a great many people, largely on the left, who believe that no logical argument is needed, all one need do is express contempt or, sometimes more artfully, mere dismissiveness by affecting a certain pose and using loaded words without dealing in actual content.
....
Well, actually, there has been a lot of argument that the Hugos were just fine, dammit, until those dastardly Sad Puppyvolk came along and Ruined Everything. It is in fact only in the past week or so that there has been acknowledgement that the nomination and voting process is deficient.
Which, please note, is what Larry Correia has been saying for three years.
But, of course, the Sad Puppies cannot be permitted to be correct, so the Old And Busted argument is “the Puppies ruined it allllll!” and The New Hotness is now “Everybody Already Knows About This, And The Fact That These Jerks Are Winning PROVES It And They Must Be Stopped!”
....
The actual problem is that the internet eliminated the need for gatekeepers, and The Establishment in each industry no longer gets to dictate to everybody else what they will like and what they can and cannot do.
....
Meadows, in a capital feat of Missing The Point, manages to ignore that the Sad Puppies maintain that it did happen sooner — that’s why Sad Puppies exists.
Oh, and Harlan Ellison was saying that it existed way back in 1995.
And the other thing Meadows completely fails at noting is that Sad Puppies played by the rules as they stand, was open and transparent about what they were doing, and were decrying the secret, behind the scenes collusion and deal-making.
....

Fundamental Concepts - Eff Off [Weirddave]


The solution is “eff off”.
We have to stop granting the left, and especially the activist left, the SJW types, the courtesy of treating them as if they are legitimate. We need to tell them to eff off. We need to stop debating and start dismissing. Most of what they are saying is so stupid and flimsy that it NEEDS the prop of our treating it seriously to lend it the mantle of legitimacy.
Now obviously I'm not talking about treating serious policy or foreign affairs issues cavalierly. Of course adult subjects need to be treated in an adult manner. There is so much clutter and noise over stupid, inconsequential shit that we need to stop wasting our time responding to it. The entire point of most of this stuff is to keep us distracted and to maneuver us into a position where we can be cast as haters or villains.
What kind of stuff am I talking about? Well, basically, anything that The Political Hat links from social media.
“I'm a dragon-kin, I demand that you respect my draconic traditions!”
No, you're not. Eff off.
“Oh, your belly dancing is cultural appropriation !”
Eff off.
“That's your white privilege talking!”
Eff off, I have the same privilege as you do, I'm a free American.
“You're fat shaming!”
Eff off and eat a salad once in a while.
“I can't stand these micro aggression from you”
How about a macro aggression? Eff off.
And so on. All of this stuff stems from three impulses:
1) A desire to assume unearned moral superiority – I'm better than you
2) A desire to assume unearned prominence – I'm more important than you
3) A desire for attention – Look at me! Aren't I special?
That's what they're looking for. Don't give it to them. Don't play their game, refuse to acknowledge that their game even exists. I just realized it right this second, but this is exactly what Breitbart did, and it drove them NUTS! They're yapping on about the oppression of the 1% and he's screaming “STOP RAPING PEOPLE!” in their face. He popped their bubble. He refused to acquiesce to their assumptions. He pointed out the reality they were purposefully attempting to ignore. Imagine how Andrew would have handled the VA frat rape hoax or the reaction to Christina Hoff Sommers' speech.
Be Breitbart. And have fun with it. The meltdowns from the special snowflakes when you refuse to grant them what they assume is theirs by right of their magnificence are AWESOME.

There Is Growing Evidence Noncitizens Are Voting

There Is Growing Evidence Noncitizens Are Voting

When Minimum-Wage Hikes Hit a San Francisco Comic-Book Store | National Review Online

When Minimum-Wage Hikes Hit a San Francisco Comic-Book Store | National Review Online


‘I’m hearing from a lot of customers, ‘I voted for that, and I didn’t realize it would affect you.’” So says Brian Hibbs, owner and operator of Comix Experience, an iconic comic-book and graphic-novel shop on San Francisco’s Divisadero Street, of the city’s new minimum-wage law. San Francisco’s Proposition J, which 77 percent of voters approved in November, will raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 by 2018. As of today, May 1, Hibbs is required by law to pay his employees at Comix Experience, and its sister store, Comix Experience Outpost on Ocean Avenue, $12.25 per hour. That’s just the first of four incremental raises that threaten to put hundreds of such shops out of business.


Minimum Wage Myths


Why would you want to raise the minimum wage? A few possibilities: 1. Minimum-wage workers are worth more than we pay them. That is a meaningless statement; labor, like apples and oranges and widgets, is worth what you can sell it for. If you believe that we have a large supply of low-wage workers who are secretly more skilled and productive than they let on, you have to assume that everybody in the question — the workers, their employers, their employers’ competitors — has somehow overlooked that fact, but that our ingenious friends in Washington have special insight into the conditions of people they have never met and markets they have never operated in. That’s fanciful. 
2. Slight variation: You might want to raise the minimum wage because you think that markets can set prices for most things but not prices for labor. This is contrary to pretty much all of the economic evidence in existence on the question, so maybe you want to refine that and argue instead that markets may do a pretty good job of setting prices for labor, but they don’t do a good job of setting prices for labor when those laborers are at the lower end of the market. Another way of saying this is that you believe that low-income people are too stupid and hopeless to negotiate appropriate, market-value wages for themselves, and that the vast majority of businesses that employ minimum-wage labor are operated by people too stupid to see that there’s a lot of higher-value labor out there for the taking that they are simply too thick to avail themselves of. But that isn’t really an argument for a higher minimum wage; it’s an argument for a more generous food-stamp program. It’s sort of uncomfortable to argue that low-income people are too stupid to see after themselves, but that is, after all, the assumption behind things like Medicaid and Section 8 housing vouchers and food stamps — if low-income people could be trusted to make appropriate choices about things like health care and housing, we could just give them money and let them make their own decisions about whether they need an extra $1 in health care or an extra $1 in groceries. In any case, it’s not likely that that millions of low-income people are too dumb and shiftless to seek higher wages but are smart and enterprising enough to compete for those higher-wage positions. 
3. You might want to raise the minimum wage because you think that low-income people “should” make more money. The word “should,” however, has no meaning at all when it comes to questions of prices — if tomorrow people start paying more for Hyundais than for Ferraris, are we going to lecture them that the Ferrari “should” cost more? People assign their own values to things, and your opinion of the value they assign does not change anything about that. An hour of Bob’s labor is not more valuable just because you really, really wish it were so — if you really believed it were worth more, Bob would be working for you. 
4. Maybe you think that raising the minimum wage is effectively “free.” That’s what is meant when people cite studies alleging that increases in the minimum wage do not cause higher unemployment or contribute to higher prices. That may be true in some narrowly defined circumstances; to be broadly true, it would have to be the case that higher prices do not correlate with lower demand — i.e., that everything we know about basic economics is wrong — and that prices of goods and services are not in the long run affected by the prices of inputs, which is contrary to common experience. Perhaps you also expect the price of gasoline to go down when the price of oil is going up — which very well may happen in the short term, but is less likely in the long term. And the “free” model of the minimum wage of course ignores what an increase would cost employers, but, thankfully, nobody cares about them. 
5. Maybe you think the working poor deserve to have more money. If that’s your argument, then the most sensible policy is to simply write them checks. If you want to increase the purchasing power of low-income people who are employed, then you should give them money rather than trying to distort the labor markets in such a way as to get the money to them through indirect means with unintended consequences, including the possibility of higher unemployment. Nobody proposes this (or rather, proposes expanding our existing program that does this, the EITC), because nobody wants the cost of these subsidies to be known. If we wrote poor people checks (more checks), then that would show up on a budget somewhere; if we pass a law saying that other people, mostly firms in the private sector, have to write those checks, they don’t show up on the budget (the government budget, that is, the one we do together). And if they don’t show up on the budget, then that reinforces the illusion that this is effectively “free.” 
6. Maybe you think that if we “gave” low-income people more money, then they would spend that money, stimulating the economy. No doubt they would; on the other hand, their employers would have spent that money, too, perhaps on things like hiring other people or expanding lines of business or developing new products. There is not much evidence that money spent by low-income people is more stimulating in the long run than is money spent by businesses. That is, so far as I can tell, pretty much it. Most of the arguments for raising the minimum wage are variations on “I like poor people and I feel sorry for them,” which is fine, but the country and its low-income citizens would be far better off in the long run instituting something like Milton Friedman’s negative income tax than by monkeying around with the numbers, mostly after the decimal point, on low-income workers’ wages. The real scandal is that so many Americans have labor that is worth so little. But that’s an indictment of the public schools and the welfare state, not of the mean meanies at Walmart.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Productivity, Compensation and Economic Growth

Productivity, Compensation and Economic Growth

Abstract
Conventional wisdom holds that worker productivity has risen sharply since the 1970s while worker compensation has stagnated. This belief rests on misinterpreted economic data. Accurate and careful comparisons show that over the past 40 years measured productivity has increased 100 percent and average compensation has risen 77 percent. Inflated productivity measurements account for most of the remaining 23 percentage point difference. An apples-to-apples comparison shows that employee compensation continues to closely follow productivity. American workers continue to earn more as they become more productive. To help Americans advance economically, policymakers should seek policies that will increase productivity.

“Opposite of America” is full of lies | Rare

“Opposite of America” is full of lies 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Books and Authors Law goes into effect - National News - Jerusalem Post

Books and Authors Law goes into effect - National News - Jerusalem Post

The legislation also requires stores and publishers to reach agreements on what kind of discounts can be put on books, and those discounts can be only on books that are over 18 months old. That includes “buy one, get one free” and similar sales, and an exception will be made for Hebrew Book Week every summer.

During those 18 months, Israeli authors will receive at least 8 percent of the price (minus VAT) of the first 6,000 books sold and 10% of the price of book 6,001 and up. The bill also regulates authors’ royalties after 18 months.

As a result, analysts expect the prices of books to rise significantly in order to maintain profits for publishers, booksellers and authors, though the Culture and Sport Ministry predicted it would lower prices by increasing fair competition.

The left-wing Israel newspaper Haaretz, which usually writes in favor of “social justice” issues, conceded that the law “has had the opposite effect its backer promised it would bring.”
Publishers told Haaretz that the law “has upset the entire literary food chain” with sales of new book titles down between 40 and 60 percent and down 20 percent for books overall.
Israel’s Channel 2 television on Sunday visited booksellers who said that after their customers see the newly elevated prices of children’s books, they head straight for the toy department. Booksellers say they’ve experienced a 25 percent drop in children’s book sales in just one year, according to Channel 2.

Monday, April 20, 2015

No, food stamps aren’t subsidies for McDonald’s and Wal-Mart - The Washington Post

No, food stamps aren’t subsidies for McDonald’s and Wal-Mart - The Washington Post


Many liberals argue that the food, health-care and cash assistance she receives from the government amounts to a subsidy to her employer, which should be paying her a higher wage. Ken Jacobs, co-author of a report on the subject out this week that received a lot of attention, writes here in The Washington Post that “American taxpayers are subsidizing people who work … because businesses do not pay a living wage.” Citing a 2013 report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), The Huffington Post writes that “low wages at the top 10 largest fast food chains cost taxpayers about $3.8 billion per year.” In testimony before Connecticut lawmakers last month, an NELP lawyer argued that “the low-wage business model practiced by many of the largest and most profitable employers in the country not only leaves many working families unable to afford the basics, but also imposes significant costs on the public as a whole.”

It is easy to sympathize with this argument. Low-wage workers have had a really difficult time for many years now. They are working hard and playing by the rules, but many can’t seem to get ahead, despite years of struggle. If they are working so hard, why should their employers pay them so little that they qualify for government assistance?

To begin answering this question, it is important to acknowledge that wages are heavily influenced by market forces. And if a worker can only bring in, for example, $9 per hour in revenue to his firm, it is simply unrealistic to expect his firm to pay him, say, $15 per hour. If it did, the firm would be losing six bucks for every hour the worker worked. That arrangement can’t last long.

And so if the “living wage” movement — which in many incarnations advocates for a $15 per hour minimum wage — had its way, we would surely have many more Americans receiving government assistance, because many fewer Americans would be able to find a job at all. This is a serious flaw in the argument against low-wage employers that many liberals are advancing.

And there remains a bigger flaw still. Their argument against low-wage employers also reflects deeper misunderstandings about the nature of society and the roles different members play.

Society should have as a goal that no one who works full time and heads a household lives in poverty. But since this is a social goal, resources from all of society should be marshaled to meet it. The argument that low-wage employers are doing wrong by paying so little that some of their workers qualify for government assistance suggests that the responsibility of ensuring an adequate standard of living for these workers falls solely on the businesses which employ them. This is a very limited vision.

McDonald’s and Wal-Mart should bear some of that responsibility, sure. But not just them. Hedge fund managers, corporate CEOs, well-to-do economists and law-firm partners should pitch in, too. Resources from all of society — including, but not limited to, low-wage employers — should be used to ensure that no one who works hard lives in poverty.

And that, of course, is exactly how society is currently organized: Wages are (largely) determined by the market, and government assistance — funded by taxpayers — is used to help low-income families meet a baseline standard of living. That some low-wage workers receive government assistance isn’t a bug in the system; it’s a feature. The government isn’t subsidizing Wal-Mart; it’s not exclusively Wal-Mart’s responsibility to make sure that Wal-Mart’s workers bring in enough cash every week. Instead, the government is helping workers who can’t command adequate wages to make ends meet.

The system doesn’t work perfectly, of course. There are flaws in the assistance we give to low-wage workers, and it is likely the case that at least some government programs do lead to lower wages for some workers. The labor market has flaws in setting workers’ pay and hours. And many non-market factors influence these outcomes as well.

But if I had to pick between a system in which the responsibility to help low-wage workers escape poverty falls on all of society or falls merely on their employers, I would go with the former every time.

This isn’t to say that we should let corporate America completely off the hook. We shouldn’t, though conservatives often do. Firms need a stronger sense of attachment to society and to their workers. The “implicit contracts” that used to govern worker-firm relationships have become too frayed, and public policy should be used to strengthen them.

Indeed, ensuring that working- and middle-class Americans have the skills needed to compete in the 21st-century labor market is one of the greatest challenges facing public policy today. As is making sure that no one who works full time and heads a household lives in poverty.

The left is correct that low-wage employers have a role in meeting these challenges. But so do we all.