Daily Clips: April 12th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 12th, 2016

David Brooks cannot connect the dots: David Brooks thinks that our politics has gone south because “starting just after World War II, America’s community/membership mind-set gave way to an individualistic/autonomy mind-set. The idea was that individuals should be liberated to live as they chose, so long as they didn’t interfere with the rights of others.” I don’t how you actually quantify such nonsense. That point aside, why doesn’t David Brooks in fact look at the economic structure of our society and how World War II exhibited a “community/membership mindset” because we had the most equal society in our nation’s history.  Consider this : The Depression and World War II dramatically reshaped the nation’s income distribution: By 1944 the top 1%’s share was down to 11.3%, while the bottom 90% were receiving 67.5%, levels that would remain more or less constant for the next three decades. Today, the 1%’s share is up to “22.5% of all pretax income, while the bottom 90%’s share is below 50% for the first time ever (49.6%, to be precise).” So Brooks has the nerve to moan about the “individualization” of our society, when in fact the party he’s been promoting his entire life has caused the societal disconnect he’s bi**hing about. By promoting economic policies that transfer a huge amount of the nation’s resources to the very top, Republicans like Brooks have dramatically reshaped the social fabric of America. It’s ridiculous that he can write this article with a straight face. And it shows once again why he is such a vastly overrated political thinker. Republicans haven’t stopped digging their hole with Latino voters:  In order to recapture the White House, Republicans will need to gather around 40-50 percent of the Latino vote. I wrote a similar article on Republican’s tall task last year . A guide to the 5 biggest revelations of the Panama Papers so far:  Good summary. Tweet of the day: McDonald's CEO calls higher wages "a job killer." Bro I think you'll be OK. https://t.co/8QfBqrsbix pic.twitter.com/zxHE6AjjJ0 — Hanna Brooks Olsen (@mshannabrooks) April 12, 2016  

Employment Policies Institute Is a PR Firm Masquerading as a Think Tank. And They SUCK at It.

Employment Policies Institute Is a PR Firm Masquerading as a Think Tank. And They SUCK at It.

  As research director at the mendaciously named  Employment Policies Institute , Michael Saltsman has one job, and one job only: Defend his restaurant and retail industry patrons from proposals to raise the minimum wage.  And yet it is on Saltsman’s watch that the $15 minimum wage has quickly transformed from a “ near insane idea ” to codified law in Seattle, California, and New York. To borrow a phrase from the Republican frontrunner: Sad! No wonder Saltsman has taken to the pages of the Orange County Register to blindly lash out at the upstart minimum wage advocates who are, let’s be honest, totally kicking his supply-side ass: Advocates for the policy at a far-left Seattle think tank made the contrarian case that California’s rising minimum wage is entirely consistent with our past experience. Hey, that’s us! And yet in criticizing  our post , Saltsman not only fails to extend the common courtesy of throwing us a link, he refuses to even mention our name. What a dick. Here at 100% plutocrat-funded Civic Ventures , we chuckle at the notion that our shop is “far-left” (Nick Hanauer’s mission is to save capitalism, not overthrow it), though since such ideological nomenclature is inherently subjective, whatever. But to be clear: We are not, nor have we ever claimed to be a “think tank.” (I only chose the title “senior fellow” because I think it’s funny.) Compare that to Saltsman’s Employment Policies Institute, which disingenuously  claims to be a “non-profit think tank,” while actually being neither. In fact, it is actually just one of several profitable front groups run out of the offices of DC-based lobbying and PR firm Berman and Company . In a 2014 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, the New York Times‘ Eric Lipton explains how it works: LIPTON: Yeah, I was – you know, set up an interview with the research director. I got the address of his office. I went to the eighth floor of the
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Grover Norquist Thinks Pistol-Packing Frackers Who Home-School Their Kids Will Elect a Republican President in 2016

Grover Norquist Thinks Pistol-Packing Frackers Who Home-School Their Kids Will Elect a Republican President in 2016

Everybody knows Republicans are suffering from demographic troubles in presidential elections. Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 highlighted the fact that you can’t win the Oval Office with just the straight white vote. Even Republicans know  that they mathematically need the LGBT and minority vote to win the White House. But rather than going about the difficult work of reforming the party, Republicans instead doubled down on restrictive voter ID laws  to keep those people away from the ballot box. We’ll find out this fall whether these laws are successful or not. But in the meantime, Republican strategists are struggling to find ways for the party to achieve a demographic win without actually welcoming any non-white, non-straight voters to their side. The preeminent Republican mathemagician, Grover Norquist, has devised six subgroups that he believes are going to be the “soccer moms” of the 2016 election, swinging the demographics back to the Republican side. Nancy LeTourneau at Political Animal sums up his categories like this: 1. Home schoolers 2. Charter school supporters 3. Concealed-carry permit holders 4. Fracking workers 5. Users of e-cigarettes and vapor products 6. Uber drivers Uh, okay. The immediate problem with Norquist’s Six Great Republican Demographic Saviors is that I see a whole lot of overlap with the sole remaining Republican demographic of straight white people.  Homeschoolers? Yeah, the vast majority of homeschoolers are white . Whites make up 90 percent of all active concealed carry permit holders in Illinois. Whites only make up 37% of Uber drivers , but almost 90 percent of all Uber drivers are male. Norquist is not calling out many diverse groups, here. In fact, what he’s doing is taking the one piece of the pie that the Republican Party can lay claim to, dividing it into many smaller slices, and arguing that because there are more slices, Republicans somehow have a larger share of the pie. Of course, I don’t really expect political genius from Grover Norquist; he’s the schmuck who had the big idea to shame Republicans into signing his anti-tax pledge . The pledge scored Norquist visibility as a kingmaker, and
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Daily Clips: April 11th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 11th, 2016

It’s amazing what America could do with the money the rich hide overseas: In the United States, the Treasury would collect about $124 billion a year in additional taxes — $36 billion from individual taxpayers and $88 billion from multinational corporations — if it weren’t for such schemes, according to  estimates by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley. Ivanka and Eric Trump didn’t register in time to vote for their dad in New York:  Trump joked that he “might cut off their allowances.” Interestingly, New York State “has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation” — an honor I wouldn’t have expected for a liberal bastion. Get this: to vote in New York’s GOP primary, you would have had to register as a Republican by October 9th! Recent polls show that Trump may not need his kids to vote anyway. He is well beyond the reach of either of his rivals — a Fox News poll showed “that 54 percent of likely Republican voters support Trump, with 22 percent for Kasich and 15 percent for Cruz.” More GOP politicians have been arrested for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than trans people — “Obviously we need laws against senators using bathrooms, not trans people” There’s a widening gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor:  Predictable. And it’s gotten worse over time. “Between 2001 and 2014 life expectancy increased by 2.3 years for men and 2.9 years for women in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, but increased by only. 0.3 years for men and 0.04 years for women in the bottom 5 percent.” Tweet of the day: Eric Bolling shows his ignorance on min wage: https://t.co/r29Jaz9MpM pic.twitter.com/PAgAb56Gec — Invictus (@TBPInvictus) April 10, 2016

Sorry Liberals, Education is not the Solution To Everything

Sorry Liberals, Education is not the Solution To Everything

I am one of those progressives who is adamant about the necessity of free public college. In a recent column , I warned that Hillary Clinton’s opposition to such a policy would end up “only hurting [her] own precious credibility on economic matters as well as the economic wellbeing of Americans.” The evidence bears out this claim. According to the National Center for Education Statistics , “in 2013 median earnings for young adults with a bachelor’s degree were $48,500, compared with $23,900 for those without a high school credential, $30,000 for those with a high school credential, and $37,500 for those with an associate’s degree.” Clearly, some form of postsecondary education helps increase the earnings of Americans. That would suggest it is a necessary step in an economy where wages are frustratingly stagnant. My clear-eyed solution to this matter was giving a dose of reality while reading Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal . In this fantastic book, Frank (a big liberal himself) argues that, “to the liberal class, every big economic problem is really an education problem, a failure by the losers to learn the right skills and get the credentials everyone knows you’ll need in the society of the future.” He cites a bevy of influential liberal thinkers who attest to these privileged beliefs, including Thomas Friedman — a thinker who has greatly influenced me on educational policy. In this instance, Friedman is quoted as saying, “improving educational outcomes for more young people is now the most important lever for increasing economic growth and narrowing income inequality.” Frank highlights how education is the source of economic prosperity for liberals. It “is a fixed idea,” he argues, “as open to evidence-based refutation as creationism is to fundamentalists: if poor people want to stop being poor, poor people must go to college.” What’s peculiar about this position is that it’s not “really an answer at all; it’s a moral judgment, handed down by the successful from
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Daily Clips: April 8th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 8th, 2016

Obama pursued transformation as GOP chose self-destruction:  While at first glance this headline seems to be rather editorialized, Fareed Zakaria’s  take on the state of US politics is remarkably honest. First, he lays out why he thinks Obama has succeeded at being a “transformational president”: 1. He saved the economy. 2. He created health care, where now 90 percent of Americans are covered. 3. He helped transform US energy policy. He gives this example: “solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3,000 percent.” 4. Obama has pursued a limited foreign policy that curtails “US involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism.” For the most part, I agree with Zakaria’s praise. It’s a very good article which I’d highly recommend. Pope says weapons manufacturers can’t call themselves Christian:  I guess you can rape children and still be Christian, however. A Republican judge’s ruling threatens a key pillar of post-crisis financial regulation: Great read on the GOP’s blind hatred of financial regulations. Tweet of the day: 54% of people murdered with guns in 2010 were under the age of 30: https://t.co/6odZ9psgQl — American Progress (@amprog) April 8, 2016

Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up, Already! The Minimum Wage Does NOT Kill Jobs!

Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up, Already! The Minimum Wage Does NOT Kill Jobs!

While the headline is worse than what follows, Peter Coy’s latest piece in Bloomberg Businessweek — “ The $15 Minimum Wage Will Kill Jobs. Should You Care? ” — is an object lesson in the power of sheer repetition to overwhelm the actual facts. Oy: Start with an unpopular but irrefutable fact: Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as some states are doing, will create both winners and losers. The winners will be workers who get paid more, of course. The losers will be low-skilled workers who don’t get paid at all, because employers couldn’t afford to keep them on. In the short term, no doubt, yes. Some businesses will struggle to adapt, and fail. Some workers will lose their current jobs. But then, that’s true of every economic innovation, from new technologies to new regulatory policies. The more pertinent question is not whether $15 will cause some workers to lose their jobs, but whether it will cause net job loss in the aggregate over time.* And on this, there is simply no historical evidence to suggest that it will. Coy repeats former Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Katherine Abraham’s claim that we “have no experience with an increase in the national minimum of that size,” but a quick glance at past hikes shows that this simply isn’t true. We have plenty of experience with 50 percent, 60 percent, even 94 percent minimum wage increases phased in over several years, with no evidence of any discernible correlation between rising wages and rising unemployment. Might $15 result in a substantial net loss of jobs? I suppose. As they say in the footnote to all those investment brochures, “past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.” But while Coy’s job losses remain theoretical, I can absolutely guarantee you that the wage gains are real. So yeah, despite how frequently and faithfully it is repeated, the assertion that “the $15 minimum wage will kill
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What if Minimum Wage Opponents are Frauds?

What if Minimum Wage Opponents are Frauds?

(Andrew Napolitano, the senior judicial analyst for Fox News, wrote  an editorial for Reason about the $15 minimum wage that consists of nothing but rhetorical questions, which inspired us to wonder: can’t we do that too?) What if the longest-running craze among the trickle-down crowd in both major political parties is to use threats about the mysterious “invisible hand” to force employees to work for less than a living wage? What if those artificially low wages are a violation of the employer-employee relationship? What if employers are effectively saying that they know the financial worth of employees’ services despite the fact that wages have been stagnant for decades ? What if the minimum wage, now on the verge of being raised to $15 per hour everywhere in the land, is really an attempt to ensure that Americans who work 40 hours a week don’t have to live under the poverty line? What if the $15-per-hour figure was actually lower than if the minimum wage tracked American productivity since 1968—a stunning $21.72 an hour ? What if the minimum wage increase will have profound economic consequences and will positively affect everyone by increasing the spending power of minimum-wage workers within their communities? What if the employees who get raises show their gratitude to their employers by increasing productivity and staying at their jobs longer than they would have at a lower minimum wage, thereby lowering the high costs of hiring and training new employees? What if the right of an employee to sell labor by going to work and the right of an employer to purchase that labor by paying a livable salary are part of the general welfare, which the Constitution was written to promote? What if during America’s most prosperous periods, workers’ right to a livable minimum wage was protected by lawmakers? What if there are clauses in the Constitution that protect the right
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Daily Clips: April 7th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 7th, 2016

/r/politics needs to be renamed to /r/sanders. Seriously.  Police fatally shoot unarmed black men at disproportionate rates, study finds :  Black men accounted for about 40 percent of the unarmed people fatally shot by police and when adjusted by population were seven times as likely as unarmed white men to die from police gunfire, The Post found. Why Republicans cry political correctness: Dressing up bigotry and authoritarianism as truth-telling is the right wing’s favorite talking point. Their false victimization is so nauseating. Tweet of the day: Rand Paul: I'll support Trump if he's the nominee. https://t.co/E8UKdke5tw Because fascism = liberty. — Bruce Bartlett (@BruceBartlett) April 1, 2016

People Are Not Bananas (Except for Tim Worstall)

People Are Not Bananas (Except for Tim Worstall)

As a proud “Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London,” you’d think the one thing Forbes blogger Tim Worstall might have a firm grasp of is, well, Adam Smith. But you wouldn’t know it from Tim’s nuance-free depiction of the labor market : This is very basic economic stuff: If we have a surplus of something then that means that the price is above the market clearing price. This is true of bananas and it’s also true of labor. The answer to getting all the bananas sold is to lower the price. The answer to getting all the people who want to offer labor employed is to lower the price of that labor. Oy. If by “very basic” Tim means “simplistic to the point of absurdity,” then sure. The most obvious problem with Tim’s labor/bananas analogy is that people are not bananas. For example, if the demand for bananas far outstrips supply, people can always choose to eat apples or oranges or any number of other fruits. Because markets! But regardless of the state of the labor market, people still need to eat. And as Smith explains in The Wealth of Nations, this fundamental human condition — eat or die — is just one of the factors that inherently distorts the labor market decisively to the advantage of employers : What are the common wages of labour, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible. The former are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour. It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. … In all such disputes the masters can
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