7.31.2015

Don't Trust Trump

Trump.  It is ironic that of all people, Donald Trump should become a temporary darling of the right - even a populist of sorts.

To criticize John McCain for being captured after his plane was shot down is not merely insensitive.  It betrays a complete and total ignorance of war, of McCain's history, of the basic mechanics of flight, and of human nature.  It is also utterly contemptible.  I don't think McCain's courage under fire or in the Hanoi Hilton gives or ought to give him a free pass in politics, but it is idiotic to deny that courage.

Right winger should bear in mind, too, that Trump has made and maintained his fortune by doing the kind of thing we found so objectionable when the Supreme Court handed down its infamous Kelo ruling.  That ruling, you may recall, validated a city planning technique in which somebody's property was confiscated by the city in order to sell it to someone who would "develop" it and thus pay higher taxes on it.

For example, say I have a house that I have inherited from my grandfather.  It's a fine house.  I like it.  I live in it.  It's up to code, is properly maintained, and so on.  But it's only a house.  Somebody like Trump wants to build a high-rise condo complex on that property.  I don't want to sell - it's the house I got from my grandfather, after all.  The city comes in, "condemns" the property even though it's perfectly fine, seizes it.  They pay me a pittance - certainly not anything approaching the actual value of the property - and then sell it to Trump.  Fifty rich people in a high-rise condo, after all, will pay more in property taxes than I do, living in my grandfather's house.  The Supreme Court said arranging to collect more in property tax constitutes a valid "public purpose" for stealing my house and land.

Donald Trump supports that idea and has personally profited from the practice, although he built casinos.

Trump has also endorsed a single-payer health care system similar to Canada's and is a crony-capitalist par excellence. He was for illegal immigration before he decided to demagogue the issue after the murder by an illegal alien in San Francisco a month or so ago.  Nothing he says can be believed as his only real devotion is to himself.  Trump is no conservative and his populism is that of a snake-oil salesman.

The notion that Donald Trump will act to benefit anyone other than Donald Trump is laughable on its face.  He is hardly fit to be the mayor of a small town, much less president of the United States - not because he couldn't handle the administrative demands of the job, but because he has no more moral character than the incumbent and maybe less.  He simply cannot be trusted.  I'd vote for McCain before I'd vote for Trump.  Hell, I'd vote for Hillary before I'd vote for Trump and I don't see myself ever voting for Hillary.

7.22.2015

Maybe We Should Just Let the Market Set Pay Scales?

So, we need to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, we're told.  Several cities have already done so.  The claim is, this has no real impact on unemployment.  Somehow, in the magical world of leftist economics, doubling the cost of something will not change how much of that something people buy.  Balderdash and other comments.  If you double the price of a unit of labor will, employers will find a way to purchase fewer units of labor.

Maybe that won't mean the current employees lose their jobs.  It may well mean that when they leave - and young people are notoriously fickle on that score - it is a lot less likely someone will be hired to replace them.  It does mean that people trying to get a job will have a much harder time.

And it means that some businesses that are close to the margin may well have to close or move outside city limits.  An iconic San Francisco comic book shop is trying a different approach, but it is not yet clear whether it will work or not.  Other stores in Seattle and San Francisco have closed already.  McDonald's is ratcheting up its move to automated kiosks, getting rid of the folks who take your order and your cash.  Stores that found people resistant to self-check-outs have instead moved to improve the technology and overcome that resistance rather than increase the number of human cashiers.

Since June 2014, the labor force participation rate of youths in the U.S. has gone from 43.2% to 36.7%.  That is the percentage of 16-19 year olds looking for or holding a job is 6.5% less than it was a year ago.  This is the only reason the youth unemployment rate has declined from 21.4% to 15.7% - that and a reduction in the overall population of 16-19 year olds by 15.5%.  Black youth unemployment, despite similar finagling with the root numbers, still hoovers just shy of 32%.

But, of course, this has nothing to do with the high cost of hiring young people foisted on businesses by the well meaning, but economically ignorant.

In an article found on Fox News, we also learn that there are other issues beyond the ones listed above.  The working poor are screwed over by the higher wage, caught between means-tested benefits and increased means.  Now I'm all for getting people off the welfare rolls onto payrolls.  I also think our welfare support is far more generous than it has to be.  But I can certainly sympathize with someone who, for example, works at a restaurant for $480/week, plus welfare benefits which would more than double that, complaining that an extra $120/week will cost them over $300/week in benefits.

While those numbers I give are just for comparison, it turns out, this is just the sort of thing happening to many marginal employees in the Seattle area who are now trying to cut their hours in order to protect their benefits.

Maybe we should just back off and let the market set the pay scales?

7.15.2015

President Dictates Iran Deal - Bypasses Impotent Congress

The president has a deal with Iran.  Great.  I wonder if he's buying ocean front property in Colorado, too.  The idea that Iran will honor any such deal is ludicrous.  But, Obama knows all, sees all, does all.  Instead of listening to alternative points of view - something he has never done in the whole course of his life - he chooses to lecture, insult, and denigrate.

Obama does not play well with others.

But that's okay.  The others who might be involved - the Congress of the United States - doesn't matter.  There will be no treaty submitted for the Senate to ratify.  There will be no enabling legislation to pass the House.  He is simply dictating what will be done.

And there is nobody in the Congress with the wherewithal to stand up to him.  They may mouth their feeble protestations, but Congress is impotent.  Perhaps they will sue the president again, pouting like petulant children before the court tells them to shut up and go back to their corner.  Congress will do so, but will go back to their districts claiming they're "fighting" for us.

No.  They aren't.  Congress surrendered years ago.

What could Congress do?  Lots of things.  They can pass some funding bills, but not others - the president can't veto bills that never get to him, and if he vetoes the ones that do, then he's shutting down the government.  Make the case.  Get in front of the game.  Show some intelligence.  They could simply ignore any and all presidential nominees until 20 January 2017.  They could ground Air Force One by reducing the funds for it.  They have all sorts of creative ways to exercise the power of the purse to put pressure on the administration.  It would require cohesion, moral courage, constant attention to the press, fortitude, and a willingness to take risks for the sake of liberty.  None of these are present in any great degree in the halls of Congress.

So we have a president who feels perfectly free to ignore Congress, bypass the Constitution, and simply do things on his own.