Saturday, January 20, 2007

Other People Say Smart Stuff, Too 2

A great analysis of the effects of a minimum wage hike was written in 1996 by the "Joint Economic Committee."

Particularly enlightening was the debunking of the myth of the "minimum wage worker trying to support a family."

Turns out that only 2.8 percent of workers earning less than minimum wage are single parents. Only 1.2 percent of all minimum wage workers were adult heads of households with incomes less than $10,000. Fifty-seven percent of minimum wage workers are single individuals, many of them living with their parents.

Check it out.

Liberals and OPM, Part 2

Recently the Congress passed legislation regarding a higher minimum wage. I’ve addressed some of the arguments about this before ("A Zero-Sum Wage" July 28, 2006; "First Post of 2007" January 5, 2007.) This legislative session, however, had a few quirks.

Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi represents California’s 8th district, which includes San Francisco. She has pushed hard for the 40% increase in the minimum wage. This federal minimum wage is supposed to affect all U.S. states, territories and possessions.

Segue to Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, the non-voting Democrat representative from Samoa. He requested an exemption for Samoa. It seems that 80% of the employment in Samoa is with two tuna processing plants, one of which belongs to StarKist tuna. The increase in the minimum wage, he said, would be devastating to his country’s economy.

The minimum wage legislation as initially proposed and promoted by Nancy Pelosi included this exemption. No other states, territories or possessions were exempt. Only Samoa.

As it turns out, StarKist tuna is owned by the Del Monte company. And the Del Monte’s company headquarters are in....San Francisco.

There was enough of an uproar by Republicans over this barefaced double standard that Pelosi was forced to back down, and Samoa is now covered by the minimum wage law. Pelosi, however, has been exposed as the fraud she is. She ignored her own arguments about "human suffering" in her zeal to protect the profits of the corporation in her district.

Also, by attempting this piece of underhanded chicanery, she acknowledged that raising the minimum wage is harmful to the economy. If it was bad for Samoa, won’t it be bad for America?

Democrats are eager to take credit for projects and programs that other people pay for. But when there’s a risk that they will have to pick up the tab, they quickly look for a way to change the rules. To Democrats, there’s no such thing as "take home pay" - it all belongs to them. They love OPM.

An addendum to highlight how the Democrats work: Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina asked a question of Democrat Barney Frank, who was in the House chair (to temporarily lead the House.) The topic was stem-cell research. McHenry began to ask about the possibility of exempting Samoa from the stem cell bill, but before he could complete his question, Frank interrupted him, and would not allow him to speak. The exchange went on for nearly five minutes, but Frank refused to allow McHenry to speak. (In all fairness, the question was one of parliamentary procedure, but Frank's refusal to let him speak was despotic.)

That's how the party in control of Congress should act. Republicans, pay attention.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Liberals and OPM, Part 1

Recently in another blog, the self-professed Liberal writer has made a large deal out of bonuses and salaries paid to businessmen (and Howard Stern.) He highlighted the sinfulness of their income by juxtaposing it with a photo of a homeless person and a cloying paragraph about how our "country is broken," and that "there are almost a million people homeless because we don't care."

The writer of this message is a lawyer who loves to highlight his toys and his trips to attend college and pro football games out of town. This Liberal lawyer lives a lifestyle that most of us would love to be able to afford. Yet he complains about others making too much money.

By all accounts, this Liberal lawyer is a nice enough guy personally. What I find offensive, though, is that he loves to point out any instance of perceived hypocrisy by church or religious leaders, while at the same time not seeing anything wrong in his own stance. This is typical of the Liberal "somebody should do something" crowd -- always eager to take control of OPM (Other People's Money.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Church, The State and Common Sense

Sometimes you have to go back a few years to get the right perspective on what's happening in America today.

" The First Amendment does not say that, in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State. Rather, it studiously defines the manner, the specific ways, in which there shall be no concert or union or dependency one on the other.

"That is the common sense of the matter. Otherwise the state and religion would be aliens to each other -- hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly.

"Churches could not be required to pay even property taxes. Municipalities would not be permitted to render police or fire protection to religious groups. Policemen who helped parishioners into their places of worship would violate the Constitution.

"Prayers in our legislative halls; the appeals to the Almighty in the messages of the Chief Executive; the proclamations making Thanksgiving Day a holiday; "so help me God" in our courtroom oaths -- these and all other references to the Almighty that run through our laws, our public rituals, our ceremonies would be flouting the First Amendment.

"A fastidious atheist or agnostic could even object to the supplication with which the Court opens each session: 'God save the United States and this Honorable Court.'

"We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. We guarantee the freedom to worship as one chooses. When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion."
-- Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, expressing the majority opinion in Zorach v. Clauson (1952)
The modern court's hostility to Christianity is a very recent (and un-Constitutional) invention.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Best Nutrition Website on the Internet

With the onset of the new year and its attendant resolutions, many people are going on diets. Low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb -- almost all dieters (and many folks who aren't on a diet) are reading those ubiquitous nutrition labels on packaged foods. does a much, much more thorough job. The site analyzes a bazillion different foods, including fast foods, for not only nutrition, but also how a food fits into a particular kind of diet.

An unusual feature is the "fullness factor" that measures satiety against nutrition. (Along with cool full color graphs.)

For people who are interested in what they're eating, this site can't be beat.

Bon app├ętit.

Other People Say Smart Stuff, Too

"To suggest that combatants who fight without a flag or a uniform; who wipe their feet on the Geneva Convention; who disguise themselves as women; who hide in mosques and marketplaces; who slice off the heads of their prisoners; and who use children as shields; are entitled to the same safeguards as soldiers is sheer lunacy."
-- Burt Prelutsky

First Post of 2007

...So I'm working on a scene-by-scene revision of the novel, and I suddenly realize that I haven't posted on my own blog for several weeks, although I've contributed to another blog quite energetically (check the "comments" sections of anything remotely political.)

Conspiracy theorists base their beliefs on the idea that governments, institutions and leaders are competent enough to successfully engineer a conspiracy. I'm starting to believe that any kind of competence by those parties is doubtful, if not impossible.

Case in point: Saddam Hussein's execution. Justice is finally meted out and, with the exception of the usual anti-capital punishment crowd, mostly popular. Then the cell phone video turns up, showing the sectarian chants and gauche taunting of Saddam before he was executed. Suddenly, what should have been a satisfactory ending to the story becomes propaganda for our enemies. Once again.

Wouldn't an occasion that solemn and important call for searches before anyone was allowed inside? Or the ubiquitous announcement "Please turn off any pagers, cell phones, recorders..."? Apparently not.

As of this writing, the Democrats appear poised to force through a higher minimum wage, which I have addressed before. ("A Zero-Sum Wage," July 28, 2006.) The proposed minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, an increase of $2.10. This means that those companies that employee workers at minimum wage (or above; workers who were already paid $7.25 will insist on the same increase as those who were only earning the minimum) will experience a government-mandated forty percent increase in labor costs.

Let's say a businessman runs a small, family-owned restaurant, where he employees ten people at minimum wage. If all those employees work 40 hours a week, his increased weekly labor cost is $840.

Congratulations, you've just taxed the small business owner an extra $43,680 per year.

There will be a lot of meetings that culminate in "I'm sorry, but I have to let you go. I can't afford you." The workers who are fortunate enough to keep their jobs will pay more for meals at the restaurant, due to higher prices to offset the increased labor cost. Additionally, they'll pay more for all other goods and services that depend on minimum-wage workers. Not to mention the $334 more they'll pay each year in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

But the politicians can feel good about themselves, and read all the complimentary stories in the newspapers. Isn't that really what's important?

The world's crazy. I can only hope to carve out my own little pocket of sanity...then fortify it.