Monday, June 30, 2014

What You Should Know - Today's Supreme Court Decisions

The real action in today's Supreme Court rulings was not in the Hobby Lobby case. The Court struck down the idea that unions could extend their reach in Illinois personal health care assistants in a blow to the public employees' unions.  Because the case was decided on First Amendment grounds, the court signal that they may be willing to do away with all public employee union dues collection that goes to political purposes and may impose further limits in the future.  This could be a big blow for worker's freedom and a big drain on union coffers. See Eugene Volokh's superb analysis at Reason.

Meanwhile, the Hobby Lobby case was determined on narrow statutory grounds, not constitutional ones. The court ruled that Hobby Lobby had a right to not fund contraception under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, no free speech case here. That's not to say that there weren't important constitutional principles involved. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations can be considered persons for the purpose of guaranteeing constitutional protections. Ilya Somin helpfully explains at The Volokh Conspiracy.

What You Should Be Reading:

  • Dalrock comments on the strange convergence of conservatives and feminists regarding marriage.  Preview: He doesn't think its good.
  • KT helpfully explains the synergy between fascism and spending all of your country's cash.  
  • And more in the continuing sage of police treating ordinary citizens as subjects, the Chief of Police in Salt Lake City gets annoyed that people are protesting one of his officers shooting a family dog.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Key Minimum Wage Facts

Half of all minimum wage earners are young people entering the work force (under 24).  Source: BLS.

In 2012, almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers (64.4%) were part-time workers. Source: BLS.

About 2.8% of all workers are paid at or below the minimum wage.  Over half of that number are paid below minimum wage. Source: BLS.

Of the 3.6 million people who earned at or below minimum wage in 2012, 2.0 million earned less than the minimum wage.  Source: BLS.
---Conclusion raising the minimum wage would only help 1.6 million or 1.2% of the workforce, because those making less than minimum wage are already operating outside of the law.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Of Course Drug Laws Have Racist Component

Rand Paul, speaking in Iowa, points out the fact that our nation's drug laws disproportionately target African-Americans and Hispanics.  From Media-ite:
Paul spoke out against the racial biases present in U.S. drug laws. “I think drugs are a scourge. I think we’ve maybe gone too far and that marijuana is a problem,” Paul said. “And yet I also think it’s a problem to lock people up for 10 and 15 and 20 years for youthful mistakes.”
The history of the origin of laws against marijuana show their explicitly racist origins.
The truth is that our perceptions of marijuana—and in fact all of our drug laws—are based on early 20th century racism and “science” circa the Jim Crow era. In the early decades of the 20th century, the drug was linked to Mexican immigrants and black jazzmen, who were seen as potentially dangerous. 
Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (an early predecessor of the DEA), was one of the driving forces behind pot prohibition. He pushed it for explicitly racist reasons, saying, “Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men,” and:  
"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others."
Good for Rand Paul for taking this on.  Now if Republicans would get serious about supporting charter schools and vouchers as well, they might make inroads with black and Hispanics.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hard Truths About Minimum Wage - Who Should I Fire?

My income is fixed but decent, so I choose to employ maids and gardeners.  My choice results in extra coin in the pocket of people whom I know are not near as well off as myself.  The hard truth about a minimum wage increase of the size being contemplated by the San Diego City Council is that I can't really afford to continue to employ both.  So who should I fire, the maids or the gardeners?  This is the hard truth about the minimum wage.  My income is set by law, it's not going to change, so those are my choices to deal with rising costs.  Those arguing for the minimum wage will tell me that I am not paying those people enough, but when someone loses that income, I'll bet they would prefer that I still employed them.  Further, I won't be the only one making such a choice; some people are going to lose their jobs with a minimum wage hike.

The other hard fact is that the people who really need employment, the young, will be disproportionately shut out of the job market by a minimum wage rise.  From the BLS:
Minimum wage workers tend to be young. Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the Federal minimum wage or less. Among employed teenagers paid by the hour, about 21 percent earned the minimum wage or less, compared with about 3 percent of workers age 25 and over. 
And from the Heritage foundation (also based on 2012 statistics):
The characteristics of the teenagers and young adults who earn the minimum wage or less support the notion that these minimum-wage workers rarely work to support children and their families:
  • 79 percent work part-time jobs.
  • 62 percent are enrolled in school during non-summer months.
  • Their average family income is $65,900 per year.
  • Only 22 percent live at or below the poverty line, while 68 percent enjoy family incomes over 150 percent of the poverty line, which is $33,500 for a family of four.[6]
  • Most have not finished their education. A third have not yet finished high school, while almost a quarter have only a high school degree. Another two-fifths have taken college courses but have not yet graduated. Many of these are college students working part-time while in school. Only 3 percent have finished college and obtained a degree.

Only 3.7 million workers in the U.S. earn the minimum wage or less, which is about 2% of the workforce.  This doesn't do much about income inequality, if that is your current shibboleth.  This is a solution in search of a problem.

Finally, when we look at employment statistics, we find that the young are the ones suffering in the lack of growth in the economy:

Here is the civilian labor force participation rate for those over 55 since 2000:

U.S. Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate for age 55+. Source

And here is the same data for the youngsters (16-24).

U.S. Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate (16-24). Source

It is pretty obvious that the drop in participation rate is far greater for the younger age population. They are the ones leaving the work force; don't believe the lies that labor participation is down because baby boomers are retiring.  The old goats are hanging on to their jobs like the bitter clingers they are. Demographic trends of the older folks retiring is pure bunk. These statistics bode ill for the future because we aren't getting youth employed when they should be starting their working careers and learning skills.

You know what would really help lack of youth employment? Increasing the minimum wage to further disconnect their pay from their skill levels.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

California Primary Results - San Diego

I am leaving early on a trip, but I am pretty pleased with the early returns in San Diego.  In Council District 2, Lorie Zapf seems to have a good chance at clearing the 50% threshold to avoid a run off in November.  Propositions B & C also appear headed for defeat, a huge victory for jobs in here in the city.  I live in the 52nd CA congressional district and it looks like a Peters (D) vs DeMaio (R) match up in November.  Peters is only showing 43% of the vote in early returns, against the Republicans seeking to replace him.  I don't think that bodes well for his November odds.

At the state level, it seems as though Kashkari will beat out Donnelly for the right to face Jerry Brown.  I am under no illusions that the Republican can take back the Governor's mansion, so my support, went to the man who was having an effective outreach and effectively hammering home Jerry Brown's support for the "Crazy Train" aka High Speed Choo-Choo.  Checking other results, I am amazed to see two Republicans in the lead for State Controller at this time, Ashley Swearingin and David Evans.  

Right now I am listening to Scott Peters giving a pretty lame defense of the Bergdahl deal today, but he backtracked with "I wasn't consulted and not sure if it was a good deal."

On the down side, Democrats are still in control of this state.  Also, I didn't vote for Bonnie Dumanis, but she may avoid a run off.  I don't know if Brewer would be so great, but her ethical challenges after 12 years in office deserve closer scrutiny.