Minimum Wage Or The Price We Pay For Stupid

I have noticed a definite pattern emerging ever since before the 2008 election of BHO:  many voters have given up thinking and have decided to vote for the popular shills of humanism, otherwise known as the educated elite.

 BHO, the POTUS, is surrounded by Harvard grads, each of whom has been steeped in liberal mores taught by educators who have risen to the level of their incompetence (the Peter Principle).  I like what Tomas Sowell, economist, said about these professors:

 “Too often what are called “educated” people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings.  Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-covered buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years.”[1]

And, Walter E. Williams:

“People who denounce the free market and voluntary exchange, and are for control and coercion, believe they have more intelligence and superior wisdom to the masses. What’s more, they believe they’ve been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Of course, they have what they consider good reasons for doing so, but every tyrant that has ever existed has had what he believed were good reasons for restricting the liberty of others.”

In my estimation the American voter, though often degreed, has become less educated and intellectually apathetic. This voter has become a stage-one thinker – someone who finds some humanist value in a policy, votes for the person promoting it and doesn’t want to think any further about it, believing that they have done their good deed for the day.  Yet, the policy does not operate in isolation and, typically, havoc and damage control ensues when the policy is implemented. Our nation is left ever more crippled.  The Minimum Wage Law (MWL) is one prime example of this stage one thinking implemented and voted for by people who let others do their thinking.

Thomas Sowell in his excellent book the Thomas Sowell Reader, a compendium of his many newspaper articles and essays, wrote an article titled Minimum Wage Laws. Here are some of his thoughts from that article to ponder deeply before the next election:

 “By the simplest and most basic economics, a price artificially raised tends to cause more to be supplied and less to be demanded than when process are left to be determined by supply and demand in a free market.”[2]

 “The unemployed are made idle by wage rates artificially set above the level of their productivity.  Those who are idled in their youth are of course delayed in acquiring the job skills and experience which could make them more productive – therefore higher earner – later on.”[3]

 “Although most industrial societies have minimum wage laws, not all do.  Switzerland and Hong Kong have been among the exceptions – and both have had very low unemployment rates.”[4]

 “Higher costs for a given quantity and quality of labor tend to produce less employment, just as higher prices for other things tend to produce fewer sales. Moreover, higher costs in the form of mandated benefits have the same economic effect as higher costs in the form of minimum wage laws.  The explicit minimum wage rate understates the labor costs imposed by European governments, which also mandates various employer contributions to pension plans and health benefits, among other things.  Europe’s unemployment rates shot up when such government-mandated benefits to be for by employers grew sharply during the 1980 and 1990s.”[5]

 Average hourly compensation in Europe of manufacturing employees in the European Union countries in general is higher than in the United States or Japan.  So is unemployment.”[6]

 “Labor unions also benefit from minimum wage laws, are among the strongest proponents of such laws, even though their members typically make much more than minimum wage rate.”[7]

 “Just as businesses seek to have government impose tariffs on imported goods that compete with their products, so labor unions use minimum wage laws as tariffs to force up the price of non-union labor that competes with their members for jobs.”[8]

 “…when all is said and done, most empirical studies indicate that minimum wage laws reduce employment in general, and especially the employment of younger less skilled, and minority workers.”[9] (emphasis mine)

Thomas Sowell’s article is chock full of empirical information and common sense economics.  I could continue to quote many of his insightful words.  I’ll provide one more series of quotes about minorities and the implementation of MWLs the past century:

 “Again, it is necessary to note how price is a factor even in racial discrimination…It was only after a series of minimum wage escalations began that black male teenage unemployment not only skyrocketed but became more than double the unemployment rates among white male teenagers.[10] (emphasis mine)

 Stage-one voting creates unemployment.  Obama, the educated One, Jesse Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus should know the facts.   But in ignoring the economic data they choose “navel-gazing, hand-wringing or self-dramatization” to preach a Liberal Utopia that will never arrive on this earth. MWLs produce the opposite effect, in fact!

 Don’t ignore the data. Read. Understand. Think beyond stage-one.  Uncle Sam needs You more than ever.

Again, Thomas Sowell:

 “People who cannot be bothered to learn both sides of the issues should not bother to vote.”[11]

 


[1] Thomas Sowell, The Thomas Sowell Reader, p. 401

[2] Ibid., p. 108

[3] Ibid., p. 108

[4] Ibid., p. 109

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., p.110

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., p.111

[10] Ibid., p. 115 & 117

[11] Ibid., p.397

Note:  Mitt Romney has come out in favor of auto-increasing the MWL.  I am voting Newt Gingrich in the Illinois GOP primary.

Update:  In a 02/07/2012 RCP article regarding Mitt Romney’s faux conservatism, Thomas Sowell said:

“Nor are such consequences of minimum wage laws peculiar to blacks or to the United States. In Western European countries whose social policies liberals consider more “advanced” than our own, including more generous minimum wage laws and other employer-mandated benefits, it has been common in even prosperous years for unemployment rates among young people to be 20 percent or higher.

The economic reason is not complicated. When you set minimum wage levels higher than many inexperienced young people are worth, they don’t get hired. It is not rocket science.

Milton Friedman explained all this, half a century ago, in his popular little book for non-economists, “Capitalism and Freedom.” So have many other people. If a presidential candidate who calls himself “conservative” has still not heard of these facts, that simply shows that you can call yourself anything you want to. “

Thoughts from Uncle Miltie:

Sowell Man Friday

Here are just a few insightful quotes from Thomas Sowell’s new book, The Thomas Sowell Reader.  I highly recommend this down to earth book by Thomas Sowell, economist.  These quotes are to be found in the chapter Random Thoughts.  As you will see, the quotes are apropos for today’s political scene and the profligate Left.

“Many of those people in the so-called “helping professions” are helping people to be irresponsible and dependent on others.”

 “Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest.”

 “People who cannot be bothered to learn both sides of the issues should not bother to vote.”

 “”Funding” is one of the big phony words of our times – used by people too squeamish to say “money” but not too proud to take it, usually from the taxpayers.”

 “Envy plus rhetoric equals “social justice.”

 “The national debt is the ghost of Christmas past.”

 “Historians of the future will have hard time figuring out how so many organized groups of strident jackasses succeeded in leading us around by the nose and morally intimidating the majority into silence.”

 “Those who want to take our money and gain power over us have discovered the magic formula:  get us envious or angry at others and we will surrender, in installments, not only our money but our freedom.  The most successful dictators of the 20th century – Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao – all used this formula, and now class warfare politicians are doing the same.”

 “No matter how much people on the left talk about compassion, they have no compassion for the taxpayers.”

 “Too often what are called “educated” people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings.  Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-covered buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years.”

 “Some ideas sound so plausible that they can fail nine times in a row and still be believed the tenth time.  Other ideas sound so implausible that they can succeed nine times in a row and still not be believed the tenth time.  Government controls in the economy are among the first kinds of ideas and the operations of the free market are among the second kind.”

“Much of what are called “social problems” consists of the fact that intellectuals have theories that do not fit the real world.  From this they concluded that it is the real world which is wrong and needs changing.”

 “Egalitarians create the most dangerous inequality of all – inequality of power.  Allowing politicians to determine what all other human beings will be allowed to earn is one of the most reckless gambles imaginable.”

 “The people I feel sorry for are those who do 90 percent of what it takes to succeed.”

 “Have you ever heard a single hard fact to back up all the sweeping claims for the benefits of “diversity”?

 “A careful definition of words would destroy half the agenda of the political left and the scrutinizing evidence would destroy the other half.”

It’s Time to Cut the Crap

Get your shovels ready. 

Until we get a president in the White House and while BO is out playing with himself and passing the buck here is what I think should happen to kick-start the economy and downsize the national debt:

 1.  Stop government funding of public TV and radio immediately. I am not renouncing TV or radio.  Instead, I am saying that these communication vehicles can be funded via commercials or donations from viewers/listeners who want what they put out.

 2.  Stop government funding of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities immediately. I am an ardent fan of all the arts (except ballet, “Twinkles Down” *on that).  Art, in all its forms, should be subsidized by those who want it.  e.g., I support my local artists by buying their original art work.

 3.  Abolish all public education within the next five years.  All schools should be privately owned and operated. Remove the NEA teacher’s unions from the classroom. The government can provide vouchers for the very poor. Aspirations are what people need to go forward and not the never-ending government hand outs.

 4.  Abolish all minimum wage laws and all other unfunded mandates immediately so people can go back to work.

 5.  Put a five-year moratorium on all EPA regulations. Then, dispose of the EPA altogether in the sixth year.

 6.  Create a personal income flat tax of across the board on two income levels. Below a yearly income of $40,000.00 (this is an arbitrary number up for discussion) the flat tax rate would be 5% (e.g., $2000.00 for a $40,000. income).  For incomes of $40, 000.00 and above the tax rate is 15% (e.g., $6000.00 for a $40000.00 income).

Simplify the tax code to one or two sentences:  “You shall pay 15 % of your income for the year XXXX” if you made $40,000.00 or more in that year.

 State Sales taxes would be tied to the previous year’s income tax paid as one-ten thousandth of what you paid in income taxes the previous year. (e.g., you made $40,000 last year.  You paid $6000.00 in taxes. You next year’s sales tax on any item is $0.60.) A card would be mailed by the government to show what your maximum sales tax would be on any item. (This amount is given that the state should no longer fund education or social programs).

 (BTW:  These are just some ideas about taxation. The tax code must be simplified.  How many tax bureaucrats does the taxpayer pay for by using the current tax code nightmare? We have to think outside the box.)

 7. Cut corporate taxes in half for three years and then abolish all corporation taxes. Corporations provide jobs and benefits for people.

 8.  Abolish all tariffs

 9.  Immediately repeal the onerous Obamacare and Dodd-Frank Acts and all over-reaching Federal and State regulations so that the economic engine of America can fire properly. Currently, Obamacare is an unfunded mandate.

 10.  Give each Congressman a six-year term and one term only.  Doing this will make the Congressman concentrate on his job and not on creating populist programs that will win him re-election while costing the taxpayer mega-dollars. Term limits would also be devastating to any lobbyist trying to buy the Congressman’s power via re-election campaign monies.

(BTW:  The only expertise that long-term Congressmen and Congresswomen receive is how to craft a re-election. Let’s not give power-hungry people more power.)

 11.  Did it say it already?  Abolish the EPA.

 12.  Privatize the mail delivery system.

 13.  End social security in five years for those under fifty.  Those people can use IRAs or 401k plans instead (These people will make more money and more secure retirement money with these financial vehicles).

 14.  Limit the use of FEMA to national security emergencies such as 9/11. People living in hazardous locations can buy flood insurance, hurricane insurance, etc or they can move to a safer location.

15. Illinois house cleaning:  remove Pat Quinn (D-governor), Dick Durbin (D-senator, his wife is a lobbyist for Government Affairs Specialists, Inc.,in Springfield!), Mike Madigan (D-speaker of the house) and Rahm Emmanuel (D-Chicago mayor) from office ASAP.Illinois has the worst credit rating in the union thanks to the tax and spend Democrats. (And, the most felonious governors)

 16. Drill our own natural resources for natural gas and oil.

17.  Leave Afghanistan immediately and rebuild our own national fence.

18.  Never send another dollar to Pakistan or to the UN, for that matter.

19.  Get government out of the housing market.  Tear down those Fannie and Freddie walls. (and, remove Democrat Senators Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi  from office)

20.  Tie government spending to 1.1 % of GDP or better, pass a balanced budget amendment.

 21.  Eliminate all Social/Economic Tinkering:  all of the laws passed (using Stage One thinking*) in order to help Americans (e.g., Dick Durbin’s debit card price controls & the $5 BofA debit card charge) do not operate in isolation. These laws, in the aggregate, affect us negatively and hurt Americans more than they help. You will have to pay more for the use of your debit card in other ways. What goes around comes around, ipso facto.

 (* as Thomas Sowell, economist, defines thinking that does look at all of the possible ramifications of a proposed law.  Laws do not operate in a vacuum.  I highly recommend his latest book, The Thomas Sowell Reader, copyright 2011.)

 22.  We need free trade agreements passed now.

23.  Breakup the monopoly of the US government and Federal Reserve Bank. Better, get rid of most of government and shut down the Federal Reserve Bank.

24.  Because lobbyists are voters with lots of campaign money attached and because we have a representative government we must make congress accountable to the people and not solely to lobbyists and special interests. I propose a full disclosure statement be written and posted online every time a representative interacts with a lobbyist. This statement would disclose the date and time of contact, the means of contact, the purpose of contact, the information exchanged and our representative’s disposition to said matter. This statement must be signed by both parties and posted online.  This disclosure statement must be done every time – pre, post and during office, night and day, during working hours and during their free time.  To not disclose interaction with a lobbyist (I will need legal language here to define lobbyists and special interests.) whether via phone, email, texting, in person or via a third-party would be considered a felony and would be punishable by a minimum of 30 years in prison. This law would affect aides and family, as well.

 25.  Elect Presidents with business savvy, leadership and management experience –  “Twinkles Up”.  Do not elect “buff” spoiled brats who spend most of their time looking in the mirror, blaming Bush and playing golf. That would be “Twinkles Down”.**

(**For everyone who is working and NOT a OWS protestor, “Twinkles Down” means “bad” in protestor speak.)

tête-à-tête

Though I am a political and social conservative with a strong libertarian streak I often read the opposition’s pabulum in order to discern whether I am holding on to what is good.  This deliberate questioning of my conservatism has helped me to further understand my own ideology and has helped put into contrast the false thinking that is prevalent today, most notably found in liberalism, progressivism and atheism.

 It should be noted here that I came to my understanding of my conservatism/libertarianism through my own reading (early on, Milton and Rose Friedman’s book Free to Choose) and by listening to programs such as Firing Line with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr..  My conservative ideology, as I told my attorney recently, is not the result of my viewership of FOX news. FOX News only highlights what I already know to be true and false.

An aside:  My attorney who is a Democrat once told me how he picks jurors for his accident injury trials:  The attorney asks perspective jurors if they watch FOX News or listen to Rush Limbaugh to determine if they are Republicans or Democrats. He pejoratively calls such Republicans “Rush Limbaugh Republicans”. The reason for his disdain of these Republicans:   he said that most Republicans believe in torte reform and ridding the courts of frivolous lawsuits.  My attorney won’t pick them to be a juror. They would likely vote against a substantial injury award. Ergo, my attorney wouldn’t win enough money for his client or himself (usually 40% take of the award compensation)

My attorney didn’t describe the Democrat jurors. He left me to believe that they were the opposite of Republicans with regard to willingness to make someone pay out.  Many attorneys are liberal Democrats (including their well-known lobbyists Obama, Eric Holder, Rahm Emmanuel, etc.). Many of these attorneys use frivolous lawsuits to make a living.  They are called the “ambulance chasers” (or, in Obama’s and Emmanuel’s case, the “crisis chasers”).

I let my attorney know that I did watch Fox News but that I didn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, Jon Stewart or to Bill Maher. I told him I was my own conservative:   I related to him that I was a William F. Buckley Jr.-Milton Friedman-Neal Cavuto-Christian conservative. I wasn’t bought by what money I could weasel out of someone’s pocket. (BTW, as a Conservative I am not against accident lawsuits, only injustice.)

That aside, beyond my own research into political ideology, economics and morality, in school I also studied economics, finances, accounting and business among other related courses. These studies helped me see that free market enterprise and capitalism creates the most opportunities and the most wealth for everyone. And, that charity is both what you have to give (maybe a widow’s mite) and the desire to give.

 My belief in God came through my reading of the Bible and, specifically, the eyewitness accounts recorded therein. The historically factual account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as recorded in the Gospels was sufficient proof for me.

 I am currently reading two books:  essays by Christopher Hitchens in a book titled Arguably, copyright 2011, and The Thomas Sowell Reader, copyright 2011.

 Christopher Hitchens is a well-known left-winger and atheist, born in England and living in America.  He became an American citizen in 2007.  He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate and The Atlantic. His books include, among many, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America and God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

 I am reading Hitchens’ book even though I do not agree with his positions on most issues and most decidedly his atheism. His pronouncements against the fascism of Islam I do agree with.  I do like his breadth of knowledge in literature and his love of the English language. I enjoy his way of writing and his way of stating things. And, as I read I do make marginal notes wherever I disagree with his thinking. As a writer I continue to learn a lot about the art of essay writing from Hitchens.

 Here is a blurb about Hitchens’ book, ARGUABLY, from the Richard Dawkins Foundation website:

 The first new book of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, ARGUABLY offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for the enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, ARGUABLY burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.” (emphasis mine)

 Regarding this blurb, while I would certainly disagree with the relevance of Karl Marx as an answer to anything I would agree with what is said about Hitchens’ art. It is a product of one of the greatest living essayists in the English language.

 About Christopher Hitchen’s athesim, I believe that those who are most adamantly opposed to knowledge of God are often those who are the closest to the Truth, as was the case of another profound English writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis.  Lewis was an atheist turned agnostic turned believer.   Lewis’s writings are characterized by a lightly carried erudition, critical thinking, psychological insight, humor and sympathy. 

It is my prayer that Christopher Hitchens will someday soon come “kicking and screaming into the Kingdom of God” just as Lewis, a reluctant convert. (Update:  Hitchens died recently.)

 Christopher Hitchens currently has throat cancer. He has difficulty speaking and certainly cannot lecture.  From a lover of the  English language perspective, this throat business must give him great pain and a deep sense of loss. Pray for him.

 Turning to Thomas Sowell’s The Thomas Sowell Reader I find a treasure trove of wonderful essays and articles written by a well read economist, social theorist, political philosopher and conservative Black American. Sowell uses easy to understand commonsense language in his writings. Most would find this book accessible and informative. It is this simplicity which more than anything defines truth and true conservatism. Liberalism, much like in Hitchens’ writing, seeks to overwhelm the reader with its own great knowledge and pompous profundity. Not so with Thomas Sowell. His plain spoken and humble writing speaks louder than any hubris.

 Here are some excerpts from a chapter titled The Survival of the Left, from The Thomas Sowell Reader:

 Biologists explain how organisms adapt to their physical environment, but ideologues also adapt to their social environment.  The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields I which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine—and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up.  It should not be surprising that all other fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination of the left on campuses across the country

 You might think that the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe would be considered a decisive failure for Marxism, but academic Marxists in America are utterly undaunted.  Their paychecks and their tenure are unaffected.  Their theories continue to flourish in the classrooms and their journals continue to litter the library shelves.

 Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it..

 Nor is economic failure the worst of it.  The millions slaughtered by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot for political reasons are an even grimmer reality…

 Academia is only one of the places where totally subjective criteria rule—and where leftists dominate.

 Sowell goes on to list these “places”:  foundations, museums, cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities and taxpayer supported “public” TV and radio.

 These endowed and insulated institutions, often full of contempt for the values of American society and Western civilization, are not the only bastions of the left counter-culture. So are Hollywood and Broadway.  Although show biz faces the financial need to get an audience, the truth of what they portray is hardly crucial.  If they can make it punchy and sexy, then those who complain about historical inaccuracies and ideological bias can be dismissed as irrelevant pedants.

 Why are leftists able to crowd out other kinds of people from these places?  Because those who are willing to subject themselves to the test of reality, whether as a businessman in the marketplace or as surgeon in an operating room, have many other places to work and live.They do not need special sheltered niches in which to hide and to cherish their precious notions.

 Darwinian adaptation to environment applies not only to nature but also to society. Just as you don’t find eagles living in the ocean or fish living on mountain tops, so you don’t find leftists concentrated where ideas have to stand the test of performance. (emphasis mine)

I have to get back to my reading… Here’s Christopher Hitchens and William F. Buckley Jr. in conversation.