Friday, February 14, 2014

Last Call For Wage Enslavement

With Democrats wanting to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and Republicans wanting to get rid of it altogether and declaring that somehow businesses will actually pay more than the current minimum wage if there is none, it's nice to see the business community say "No, we really are going to exploit American workers as much as possible, and we're going to start with the desperate, long-term unemployed that we've created over the last six years."

Enter Bloomberg News columnist Michael Strain, who has a "solution".

The fate of the long-term unemployed is arguably the most immediate social and economic challenge facing the U.S. today. How have our leaders in Washington responded to it? 

The left wants to extend the maximum duration of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. This is helpful, but not nearly sufficient. And President Barack Obama recently held a meeting with chief executives urging them not to discriminate against this group -- maybe a little helpful, maybe not. If anything, the right has been worse -- with a few notable exceptions -- offering its usual menu of tax cuts, less federal spending and less regulation.
Society owes these workers better -- creative public policies to help increase their chance of staying in the labor force. They want to work; they want to earn their own successes, to help the economy grow, and to support themselves and their families. But they can’t, in large part because they happen to be alive and working during a once-in-a-generation economic downturn.

Now, if you stopped the article there, you'd still be in reality.  But that's no fun.  We need to go straight to Freakonomics land!

We know that despite Obama's plea, many companies will look at their job applications with skepticism given their long unemployment spells. An employer may be concerned that workers' long periods of joblessness will negatively affect their future job performance. Will a worker be able to tool up, learn the job and be productive in a reasonable time? Perhaps he has personal problems? Perhaps she has been unemployed for so long because she keeps blowing her job interviews? With about three unemployed workers for every job opening, companies can afford to be choosy.

Fundamentally, we are talking about risk. Because of the federal minimum wage, the company knows that it has to take at least a $7.25-an-hour chance on a worker. If we knocked the minimum wage down to, say, $4 an hour, we would significantly mitigate employers' risk from hiring a long-term unemployed worker. Allowing employers to pay this group of people 45 percent less than other minimum-wage workers provides a strong incentive for businesses to give the long-term unemployed a shot.

Awesome.  Hiring people at $7.25 an hour is too risky, and we have a readily available supply of long-term unemployed to exploit here, folks.  Let's pay these dregs of society $4 an hour, because if they were actually worth something, they'd have a job by now.  But wait, there's even more glibertarian nonsense!

Of course, we can’t just lower the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed to $4 an hour and leave it at that. Society must have as a goal that no one who works full time and heads a household lives in poverty. This policy would have to be paired with an expanded earned-income tax credit, or with more straightforward wage subsidies -- federal transfer programs that supplement a worker’s labor market earnings with tax dollars.

Specifically, he wants the federal government to pay the other $4 an hour.  So see, they'd be making $8 an hour.  Liberals if you don't love this plan you're all awful hypocrites who hate the poor!

Bonus points for paying for it by eliminating the mortgage deduction.  We need to make housing even more unaffordable and drive up rents for MOAR PROFITS.

Super bonus points for this:

Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Of course he is, darling.  Of course he is.

Legalizing Discrimination In Kansas

There's no other way to put this, other than Kansas Republican bigots are trying to enshrine the right to discriminate against LGBTQ, taxpaying Kansans using the excuse that "it's offending my religious freedoms."

Denying services to same-sex couples may soon become legal in Kansas.

House Bill 2453 explicitly protects religious individuals, groups and businesses that refuse services to same-sex couples, particularly those looking to tie the knot.

It passed the state's Republican-dominated House on Wednesdaywith a vote of 72-49, and has gone to the Senate for a vote.

Such a law may seem unnecessary in a state where same-sex marriage is banned, but some Kansas lawmakers think different.

They want to prevent religious individuals and organizations from getting sued, or otherwise punished, for not providing goods or services to gay couples -- or for not recognizing their marriages or committed relationship as valid.

This includes employees of the state.

Here's a hint, guys.  If your religion tells you that you have the right to treat your fellow humans as second-class citizens, you're missing the point of faith entirely.

On the other hand, these guys are clearly willing to see this go through the federal court system for 4-5 years because they figure by the time this gets to SCOTUS, a Republican president in 2018 will have replaced Ginsburg with another Alito, and they'll win. And even if that doesn't happen, all it takes is Anthony Kennedy deciding that religious freedom is more important than who you love.

That will motivate many, many such state bills enshrining bigotry into law and saying "We're ending discrimination by protecting the religious beliefs of Christians."

It's a pretty good bet, and you'll see more and more Republicans taking these odds. makes it more likely there will be a sweeping 5-4 SCOTUS ruling in their favor because they'll just have to act "for the good of the nation".

Love And Marriage

How appropriate that on Valentine's Day, I get to write about love.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday that he supports ending Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban and thinks voters should have a chance to repeal an amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
In 2004, Missouri became the first state to enact a constitutional prohibition on gay weddings after the Massachusetts high court permitted gay marriage there. The measure was approved by 70 percent of the state’s voters.
This was a stupid and unnecessary thing, and it's time to fix it.  It was an overreaction.  The reality is, the state has no place in the personal lives of its citizens.  Citizens have no place in the personal lives of other citizens.  This was a gross overstep of government, and it's time to allow adults to enter a legal union with whomever they choose.  Our government's job is to serve the citizens, not pass moral judgments about which people deserve the service.  Period.

Jay Nixon and I don't always see eye to eye, but on this issue we agree.  This may come right after the ACLU applies some pressure, but Nixon has been clear about his views and has gone on record.  At times his delivery was a little lackluster, but he eventually got around to the right side of things.  Scoring major points from me, he admits he has revisited the issue and has adapted to fit what he knew was right.  His actions mirror his words.  The man is telling the truth.  It's important to take victories however they may come, and this is a major one.  This entire business was a cheap shot when it went in, and there is no legal justification for it whatsoever.  Jay Nixon surely sees a great chance to score points in the face of inevitable change, but I also give credit that he has actually done something while plenty of others stand by and remain silent.  He is upgraded from a C to a B in my book, and when it comes to Missouri and LGBT issues that's as good as it gets.

Someday, same sex marriage will be legal everywhere.  In the end our grandchildren will likely never know that it was probably because of the IRS that same sex marriage got the push it needed to become recognized in all states.  I find that hilarious.  It is by no means the only factor but it deserves an honorable mention in the collapse of stupidity.

Jay Nixon thinks the voters deserve another crack at doing the right thing.  I hope it works, and despite the fact that it won't matter in the long run I hope my home state can get on the right side of history.  This change is inevitable, and oh so rightfully it will come.  People can do the right thing here and usher in the change or they can make it as painful as possible.  Here's hoping for the former and bracing for the latter.


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