Monday, October 6, 2014

Eating the Seed Corn of Society

Slate has an interesting article on fertility rates in America that becomes less interesting when the author, Sharon Lerner, offers policy prescriptions.  The discussion is over the fertility divide between professional and poor women.
Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor women into sharp relief. One, from the Guttmacher Institute, shows that the rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, and finds that the gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years. The other, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents rates of childlessness among corporate professional women that are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises.
In essence, childbirth in America is increasingly likely to occur to lower income (and unmarried) women.  While the article prescribes various remedies, the fact that feminist doctrine is more effectively inculcated in professional women is not mentioned.  Nor is the fact that poorest women experience an increase in disposable income when they have children.

Why are the facts of reproductive divergence problematic for our society?  From a purely biological perspective, women are the more fragile bearers of our species' genetic material.  Eggs are more perishable than sperm.  Gestation time necessarily limits the reproductive output of women.  This is why, historically, the survival of women was more highly valued than that of men during times of crisis.  (This also resonates with our gut instincts.)  We are selecting women to reproduce who typically have below average education and resources and fathers present to insure the future success of their offspring.  Further, professional women are waiting later in life to have children, which leads to its own set of problems.  Society would be better served if a social model other the failing one of feminism was in vogue that encouraged women to have babies at a younger age and delay entry into a profession until later in life.  One could argue that this limits the productivity of society, but what we are doing is essentially similar to a farmer in days of yore increasing his current income by selling his seed corn.  Unfortunately, the time horizon for our difficulties spans generations, not just years, so it is taking a while for the interlinked problems of falling marriage rates, lower male labor participation rates and childlessness among the upper classes to make themselves known.

I know from personal knowledge that your federal government is spending tax dollars allegedly going to defense research to encourage women in their teens to prepare to enter careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I never participated in such outreach and actively avoided it.  I will continue to do so as long we keep sending the message that careers are preferable to motherhood for women.

To be clear, I am not calling for any government action, just some neutrality on the issue and an opportunity for us to change the culture.


Photo courtesy of the United States Army.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Persuading the Left

I have been thinking about how to persuade those on the left to see my point of view on at least some individual issues.  Because I don't "speak their language," it takes some research to understand their outlook.  For example, in doing research on the minimum wage, I tripped across some great examples of the left's thinking.  A scholarly paper from the left (by economist Bruce Kaufman) arguing for increasing the minimum wage argues that there is an imbalance (and implies a large one) in the bargaining power of businesses and workers.  Kaufman argues explicitly that for the unskilled, the purpose of a minimum wage is to protect the underdog and to level the playing field.  Arguments over the value of contract between two parties are given short-shrift because the unskilled workers are deemed incapable of entering into meaningful contracts because of their lack bargaining power (see p. 437).  I admit to a certain sympathy to the argument, except that the solution is not force employers to give workers more pay; but to examine and correct the causes of workers having no differentiating skills.

Even when I find an issue where common cause with the left might be possible, conservative or libertarian participation is rejected. The reasoning is revealing.  Writing in Salon in an article persuading those on the left to not ally with libertarians on the issue of NSA surveillance, Tom Watson had this to say:
That’s because libertarianism is a form of authoritarianism disguised in a narrow slice of civil liberties. In trumpeting the all-knowing, ever wise wonders of the totally free and unencumbered market, it bestows all the power on those with access to capital.
This was the purest exposition I have found of why the left thinks that libertarians and limited government conservatives are some sort of crypto-fascists.  The whole article is worth a read because of the insight it gives into the left wing mind set.  Now, my strongly held belief is that mere access to capital in a free market economy is made dangerous only because of the influence that money can wield over government.  The worst abuses of Wall Street getting rich, monopolies ripping off Americans (like my cable provider) are facilitated by government power, through the Federal Reserve and monopoly granting powers, respectively.  Reducing the size of government would certainly reduce the scope for abuse.  The left will not countenance such an outcome, because the government exists to do Good.

The left is invested in the idea of government as a countervailing force to undo the ill-effects of free enterprise.  In general, the leftist identifies with victims and the powerless.  My evidence in this area is Israel.  In the aftermath of World War II, the Jews and Israel were seen as victims.  Israel was surrounded by enemies and in danger of a second holocaust.  In general, the left supported their cause.  Over time, as Israel prevailed over the Arabs and become more and more successful militarily the left gradually shifted to outright hatred and its sympathies to the Arab losers.

I have speculated in the past on the psychological roots of such reasoning, but knowing the cause is insufficient to deal with the problem.
His [the leftist's] feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.
I think that quote is an over-generalization, but points to a way to talk to the left.  What little success I have had in communicating with the left has been to show them how government becomes the oppressor regardless of structures put in place to make it the liberator, if you will.  Understanding that the leftist argument comes from an assumption of victimhood and powerlessness is the best way to proceed in persuading.  Ordinary Americans do not feel this way, so exposing the left's assumptions are a good way to dissuade the average non-political person not to buy the left's solutions.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Raise the Balloon Walk - UPDATES

I walked in today's Raise the Balloon event down Morena Blvd.  It was a great day for a walk and by my estimate, about 350 people showed up; joining at various points along the walk.  I didn't learn much new about the problem, except the assertion that there is a lot of obfuscation at city hall as to who has the authority over this proposed change to zoning.  Allegedly, the planning commission has nothing to do with this, according to one of my co-marcher.  The change is a set-up, to automatically kick in when the trolley extension is built and blame it on SB 375 mandates to allow politicians to avoid responsibility for a clearly unpopular move.  More research is needed to judge the accuracy of this assertion.

As befits a San Diego protest, it was all very laid back, with a few squad cars keeping the marchers safe at some of the intersections we crossed. We changed to "No 60 feet" and waved to the traffic on the way.  I would like to give a shout out to "Ride On Espresso" (at the start of the march) and Jitters Espresso (near the end) who kept me adequately caffeinated to make the walk.

A few pictures from the event.

Starting out.

The balloon showing how high 60 feet would look like.

It's a great country and and a great city where a guy in shorts and tennis shoes, with a bullhorn constitutes "security." It worked. as everyone followed his directions and, in turn, he worked with police to keep traffic moving.

A friend who is temporarily living with us, just moved from Pasadena.  He told me that people who live in the Del Mar station apartments developed above lines in Pasadena aren't the sorts of folks who ride the rails to downtown LA.  They get in their cars like everyone else.  This whole idea that we will reduce our carbon footprint through trolley led development is clearly a sham.

What You Should Be Reading

  • WC Varones presciently predicts Bill Gross' departure from PIMCO.
  • Left Coast Rebel takes down Obama's characterization of Eric Holder's term in office.
  • Word Warrior explains how Obama is channeling LBJ.
UPDATES

Local CBS 8 News was the only media outlet to cover the march.  

6:30PM UPDATE | Bay Park residents fighting to keep view

Here is the legal stupidity behind the height limit changes.  Look at the big business - big green alliance.  The VOSD article hints that the new climate plan is a way for Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer to lock out opposition to new development with the help of the environmental lobby.  Brilliant strategy if it didn't wind up selectively screwing some neighborhoods at the expense of others.

In 2010, just 3 percent of the city walked to work. The plan doesn’t see that changing by 2020, but it wants to more than double it by 2035. 
Cyclists accounted for 2 percent of commuters in 2010, but that number is expected to increase to 6 percent in 2020 and 18 percent in 2035. 
And transit use would grow from 4 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2035. 
These goals are not quite as ambitious as they appear. 
Those higher numbers are limited to areas designated by the city as locations for new, dense development, areas with high levels of employment and areas serviced by the trolley or the rapid bus. 
Here’s the current list of neighborhoods that qualify: Barrio Logan, Centre City, College Area, Kearny Mesa, Linda Vista, Midway-Pacific Highway, Mira Mesa, Mission Valley, Otay Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, San Ysidro, southeastern San Diego, University and Uptown.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Green Policies Hurt Neighborhoods

In an earlier post, I laid bare the hypocrisy and mendacity of the effort to rezone Morena.  Saturday, September 27, at 10:00 a.m., you have the chance to protest the green grifters and their plans for a whoreticulture of high-rises in Bay Park.  There will be a march along Morena by the "folks" whose neighborhood is under siege on the unproven theory that density is destiny, as far as carbon is concerned.

From the Raise the Balloon web site:

Path of Balloon march -Click Here

*Enter march from any adjoining street to Morena as Balloon approaches: (Ingulf, Jellett, Lister, Milton, Ashton, Littlefield, Asher, Vega, Dorcas, Buenos, or Cushman at Arizona Tile). 
*Linda Vista participants will join the march at Arizona Tile & Morena Blvd
*Marchers must remain on sidewalk (EAST side of Morena Blvd) -Single file is best for visual effect (volunteers- those holding bouquets of small red balloons-will help guide marchers)
*Stops will be made at various traffic lights/intersections
*Grassy area at City Chevrolet is available for our seasoned citizens to set up lawn chairs to view march
*Wear your Raise The Balloon T-shirts or order one for the march (we will will-call online orders at march) or wear something red
Part of my joy over this mass movement is the opportunity slash with a radicalinsky rapier against the forces of the red/green alliance who have used Alinskyite techniques to trample our freedoms.  At the same time, the parasite class with political pull can be denied the opportunity to make money at our expense.

I look forward to seeing you there.


Friday, September 19, 2014

The "Living Wage" Sham

The campaign to raise the minimum wage here in San Diego has been fraught with distortions and misleading information.  Thankfully, it looks like we will see the wage hike put to the voters in June 2015 2016.  Why the wait?  I'll find out.

The arguments for a minimum wage boost are fraught with emotionalism: always expected from the left.  But how much help does the minimum wage boost provide and does it do what its supporters say it will?  Since 79% of those receiving the minimum wage work part-time (national statistic), let's assume that a minimum wage worker averages 29 hours per week (from 2010 census data).  The San Diego minimum was set to increase $11.50 per hour against a new state minimum of $10.00 per hour (as of 2016).  That works out to $17,342 vs. $15,008 per year.  Can anyone support a family on $15,600 per year?  Of course not, but $17K isn't going to cut it either.

The main argument for increasing the minimum wage is that we should pay a "living wage" (also called a social wage by some economists).  The theory is that wages below that needed to pay for basic living expenses are exploitive because the employer shifts social costs to society. It presupposes that such workers are forever stuck in such jobs and have no other options.  It also presupposes that large numbers of people earn what the minimum wage law dictates, but that is only about 2% of the workforce.

In fact, minimum wage jobs are intended to be stepping stones as employees gain skills and work experience.  A study that is now over a decade old stated that nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers get a pay raise after a year on the job.  We also know that minimum wage workers are likely to be young (less than 24).  I posit that they are often living with their parents. This makes the calculation of a "living wage" problematic because the "social cost" of labor varies widely with age.  Certainly there are other circumstances that greatly vary the social cost of labor.  In order to help the relatively few workers who are full time heads of household, are we going to reduce employment opportunities for younger workers who need to build work experience?

The other myth regarding the "living wage" is that heads of household earning the minimum wage have no other supplements to income (some data based on two parents, one child making $17,000 per year):
  • Many minimum wage workers are in industries where tips supplement income.  Nationally, tips earn an average of $8 an hour.  (I have no local figures.)
  • The Earned Income tax credit can provide up to $3250 in additional annual income.
  • The annual value of food stamps is $1789 in California for low income persons.
  • The annual value of Medicaid for poor families is equivalent to a $4500 insurance policy in California.
  • Students who earn the minimum wage may use student loans for room and board while they gain skills to increase their employment value.  (Helping students was one of the arguments raised by the proponents of the increase.)
In general, we provide social safety nets for those making the minimum wage.  Raising it may feel good, but it penalizes employers whom we need to keep our fragile economic recovery on track.

There are some other myths used to support a minimum wage rise that I will take on in other columns.  I note that the studies regarding macro-economic benefits of minimum wage increases apply to states or countries, not individual cities and there is reason to believe that they wouldn't hold up for a single city.

What You Should Be Reading





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Screwing My Neighborhood for SB 375

I live in the Bay Park area of San Diego as many of you know.  During the Council District 2 race, I became aware of a controversy regarding a change to height limits to buildings along Morena Blvd, which runs north-south in parallel with I-5 on the west side of Mission Bay.  Since both main candidates opposed the changes, I figured this was a dead on arrival proposal and didn't think much more about it.  However, I continue to see homemade signs and professional yard signs in my neighborhood, which piqued my interest.  Here is the issue in a nutshell: In order to meet SB 375 targets to reduce per capita emissions from vehicles, the city planners are proposing to build high density, six story condominiums near the future trolley stations along Morena Blvd.  Screw that, to coin a phrase. As a current resident of the area, I am going to suffer massive traffic congestion to meet ephemeral emissions targets as no provision will be made for the influx of traffic.  No way will a majority of new residents be using the trolley to get to work downtown.  Hence the inevitable traffic mess.  Because the plan is intended to "reduce emissions," there won't be any more lanes on Morena Blvd, Clairemont Drive or Sea World Drive to handle all the extra traffic. (Have you tried to get on I-5 north from Sea World Drive during rush hour, even now?)


Annotated plan delivered to my doorstep by RaiseTheBalloon.com.  Click for larger image.

All the rezoning going on this city is designed for social engineering to get the subjects in line with the goals set by the state's political elite.  If you want to reduce emissions, the better path is through a carbon tax that increases incentives to use fuel efficient vehicles without severely disrupting the economy or the value of our homes.  Of course, the left has never supported a carbon tax as a means to tackle pollution or climate change proving that their real goals are social engineering and socialism.

According to the CA Air Resource Board, San Diego region is required by SB 375, to cut per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 7% by 2020.  Somehow, building high rise condominiums close to new trolley lines is supposed to achieve that goal.  No mention of whether the fossil fuels consumed to build the trolley lines and the condos will count against the emissions cap.  Here is the Orwellian double-speak from the 2010 press release announcing the targets:
"These targets are ambitious, achievable and very good news for California communities.  Improved planning means cleaner air in our cities, less time stuck in your car, and healthier, more sustainable communities," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "Cities that choose to develop Sustainable Communities Plans that meet these targets have an advantage when it comes to attracting the kinds of vibrant, healthy development that people want."
"Less time stuck in your car" translates we want to prevent you from driving by making driving living hell for you.  Thanks.  The folks at RaiseTheBalloon are a lot more polite in their criticism:
The pressure being exerted on our neighborhood to carry the 3 trolleys and the proposed development could lead to unsustainable urban compacting, displacement of our elderly and poorer residents, and put an unreasonable strain on our infrastructure while clogging our routes into and out of (ingress and egress) Bay Park, Bay Ho, and the Mission Bay areas.  We are encouraging the entire Clairemont Community to get involved and understand the issues.  Please see understandtheplan.info for more information.
If you troll through the planning document (Morena Blvd Station Area Planning Study), you will find that despite the planned increase to urban density, no changes to accommodate more traffic are contemplated (p. 121):

  • Motor vehicle traffic lane configurations and capacity on each of the major and  collector streets within the study area would remain essentially unchanged under the adopted community plan. 
  • Morena Boulevard (north and south of the two splits with West Morena) and West Morena would remain designated as major streets. Since major streets are to be designed to 45 mile per hour (mph) design speeds, existing travel lane widths and intersection designs are expected to remain. 
  • Traffic capacity enhancements would be limited to the planned extension of Knoxville Street as a 2-lane collector to West Morena Boulevard to provide a direct connection with the planned Tecolote station, while also allowing some motorists to avoid delays at the Morena/Tecolote intersection by providing an alternate route with a direct connection to West Morena. 
However, since there is considerable rush hour traffic out of Point Loma into this area, and no connection from Sea World Drive to West Morena, this does little to alleviate the foreseeable problems at the Morena/Tecolote intersection.  (Tecolote is an extension of Sea World Drive).

Please visit www.RaiseTheBalloon.com for more information on how to end this social engineering.

What You Should Be Reading

  • The CA Air Resources Board (CARB) is set to implement a cap-and-trade system for transportation fuel (gasoline) that will increase costs at the pump starting on January 1, 2015.  Bet voters didn't know they approved a gas tax with AB 32.  Tank the Tax has the FAQs
  • Dalrock is great reading for a Christian interested in the intersection of our faith with modern feminism.  He nails it again, pointing out the troubles from delaying marriage.
  • KTCat has some advise for San Diegans diving the Point Loma kelp beds

Friday, August 15, 2014

Minimum Wage Referendum Expected and Desired - UPDATE

San Diego's 10News is reporting that a campaign to repeal an expected rise in the minimum wage is being organized by the San Diego Small Business Coalition. (I urge you to "like" their Facebook page.)
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the measure, but the San Diego City Council is expected to override it. If that happens, Jason Roe, spokesman for the San Diego Small Business Coalition, says he has already begun to fundraise and has "substantial commitments from small businesses." 
Roe says the group is ready to launch a ballot drive to repeal the hike. Some 34,000 signatures must be gathered in a month to get it on the ballot in June 2016.
Meanwhile Council President Todd Gloria is already asking people not to sign the expected petition.  Pretty clear that the referendum fight is game on.  The petition is a great idea that I will support by getting signatures and making donations.

If the minimum wage hike stands, it is going to be a nightmare to have a different wage in San Diego than in neighboring communities.  Enforcement will be tough.  How will the City Attorney collect records from out of town businesses?  Further, such a measure erodes the competitive edge of San Diego businesses at the margins.  The minimum wage hike will only hurt the working poor and punish businesses.  All the energy expended on an issue that only helps a very small 2% of the workforce is all the proof I need that something foul is afoot.  Minimum wage hikes are a back door way for unions to get wage concessions without bothering to bargain or strike.  When some thug tries to stop me from gathering signatures on my petition, I guarantee that they will have been paid by a union.

UPDATE - From the U-T:
The San Diego City Council voted Monday to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of gradual increases in the local minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017, starting the clock on a referendum campaign that business leaders have said they’ll pursue.
If opponents can collect the 34,000 valid signatures required for a referendum by Sept. 17, the wage increases will be held in abeyance pending an election in June 2016.

What You Should Be Reading
  • The supposed death of the Tea Party has been greatly exaggerated.  
  • Meanwhile the left is pinning their hopes of defeating Carl DeMaio's challenge to Scott Peters by tying Carl to the Tea Party.  (I guess its not good enough to actually be LGBT to get support from that community, you have to be the right kind of LGBT.)  
  • The VOSD fact checks claims and counter-claims in the Peters-DeMaio race regarding Peters' role in the pension scandal.  While they take DeMaio's claims to task, they also note that Peters' did not in fact solve the problem.  His involvement in the pension mess is surely a liability that no amount of left-leaning fact checking will wash away.  To be fair, I like a lot of the VOSD reporting, despite their clear bias.
  •  Having a tough time blogging, research getting tough?  Consider hiring a virtual assistant (VA) for $5 per hour.  Wait, will the city attorney come looking for me if my VA is in India, but I benefit from the work?  (Seriously, I have considered this, as the research and editing is slowing down my writing.)
Wouldn't you rather be doing internet research for me?



Public domain image of 1903 Chicago "sweatshop" workers.