Tag Archives: Obama

Ostrich policies delay the inevitable

Following in the wake of the recent school shooting in Florida, corporations all across this great land of ours are falling all over themselves to virtue signal their adherence to right-thought by distancing themselves from an organization (the NRA) that had zero culpability in the recent shooting. Brilliant. Supposedly the NRA stands as some bulwark against “common sense” gun control being passed – even though such “common sense” laws already exist and would have thrown a roadblock at the shooter’s attempt to obtain a weapon had the federal government minded their own business. The irony is that a fair portion of culpability falls at the feet of leftist “do-gooders” and not the NRA.

During the Obama administration a new policy was established that had the goal of reducing racial “disparities” in suspensions and expulsions from school, part of Obama’s overall “School Leniency Policy”. Basically the policy was this: don’t report serious crimes to the cops, try to solve the issue “in house.” That’s a laudable goal perhaps, but not when the crime is extremely violent or the incidents are persistent. After the first year of implementing this policy more than 30,000 incidents of students physically assaulting teachers went unpunished and unreported to police. The shooter, Cruz, benefited from this system of see no evil, hear no evil. His repeated misbehavior and violent threats were quietly swept under the rug in order to achieve the goals of this federal program. Indeed, Broward county went quickly from leading Florida in student arrests to having one of the lowest arrest rates in the state. Pay attention here: this is exactly the same technique by which Cuba is able to report ultra low infant mortality (ignore the problem by killing preemies or aborting anything suspect) or that the UK can show very low homicide rates (only count homicides in which someone is caught and convicted… unsolved cases are ignored in the statistic). Very easy to get the result you want if you just ignore the problem.

In any event, because Cruz managed to evade getting caught up in the criminal justice system, he had no criminal record and thus easily passed the legally mandated federal criminal background check when he purchased his AR-15 in February 2017. In other words, President Obama is far more culpable in this particular case than is the NRA. If he had merely kept the Federal government’s nose out of how local schools manage their discipline problems Cruz would have been arrested many times and never passed a criminal background check. As an aside, it has been put forth that this is why the FBI did nothing with the tips about him; he wasn’t “in the system” so was not thought to be a credible threat.

One of the companies involved in the NRA tie cutting (discount loss for members) is the Georgia based Delta Airlines. In response, the fascist/cronyist Georgia legislature decided to swat them on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. A tax bill that was wending its way through the legislature had some juicy sales-tax breaks for jet fuel that would have greatly benefited Delta. The legislature threatened Delta with the loss of those breaks unless they restored the NRA discount. Delta did not, and the legislature made good on their threat. As a private company Delta has the right to associate or not associate with whomever they please (unless they make wedding cakes, then they have to associate with everyone) so it is a glaring failure of democracy that it is possible for those in power to abuse it so. But it is also a failure that such corporate favoritism (i.e. cronyist direct tax breaks) can take place. Sometimes two wrongs do make a right.

Eyes Wide Shut

Trump’s most recent executive order (EO) regarding entry to the US of aliens and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries has sparked a level of public outrage we have not seen since, well, a week ago during the “Women’s March”. At least this time the protestors have a legitimate reason to complain. This heavy-handed approach to preventing terrorist attacks in the US by barring entry of potential terrorists rests on the ill-advised principle that it is better that a thousand innocents be punished lest one guilty party go free. Some have argued that the choice of countries barred is illogical since there have been no known terrorists attacks in the US from citizens of those countries while citizens of Saudi Arabia who were involved in 9/11 are not on the list. But I would go one further: it doesn’t matter which country you put on the list, this process will be wholly ineffective. Actual terrorists trying to get in would not take the lengthy 2-year route of refugee status or try to travel commercial air where they would be quickly identified. They would find any number of other clandestine means to enter. The radicalized, but as of yet inactive, terrorist will easily pass. Lying is quite effective since we have no way to read minds or predict future events. Indeed, this EO would have not prevented the three most recent terrorist attacks in this country (Boston, Orlando, San Bernardino).

Now for the part people don’t want to hear. This action of Trump is what the state does every day: harms innocent people. For every supposed “beneficial” state action that you can point to as being “good” there are a multitude of unseen victims, sometimes unintended, sometimes intended. In that regard I’m glad Trump implemented this EO. It has finally awakened my friends on the left from their 8-year slumber. They are once again outraged when the state victimizes the individual on the altar of the nation or society. But, this reawakening will only have lasting effects if they can see and admit to themselves that what Trump is doing is a difference in degree, not kind, when compared to the actions of Obama in this arena. The US has always had policies that restricted travel of certain individuals. Sometimes when those policies were enforced innocent people were unfairly barred from entry. And sometimes those policies would arbitrarily change on a dime. Indeed just a week before he left office Obama ended a long-standing policy that would have permitted Cuban refugee (and many more just like him) Alexander Gutierrez Garcia entry into the US. Many were literally mere steps away from crossing the US-Mexico border when the order came down, crushing their dreams of freedom. So you see, a Democrat can also unfairly impose arbitrary rules that harm innocent individuals with hopes of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. To my liberal friends, please try to remember that in 4-8 years when “your guy” (or gal) is back in office. I’ll be waiting.

Dear Mr. President

The White House recently posted an “Email from President Obama: An Update on Overtime” on the whitehouse.gov website. For some reason I was not on the distribution list for that e-mail. Had I been, here’s what I would have said:

“I wanted you to be the first to know about some important news on an issue I know you care deeply about: making sure you’re paid fairly.”

By “make sure” do you mean men with guns will insert themselves into the employer-employee relationship and substitute your notion of “fairness” for ours?

“Tomorrow, we’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded. If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it”

So people that are paid a salary aren’t paid for their work? That’s news to me. Last time I checked a salary covers ALL hours worked in a week, whether that is 25, 35, 40 or 60.

You do realize that there are two sides to this equation – sometimes a salaried worker may work 50 hours in a week and sometimes they may work 30. Regardless, they are paid the same amount each week. Oddly all the focus has been on the hours above forty worked but not on those that have the flexibility to work fewer hours when needed. Over time these fluctuations averages out to a level that satisfies both the employer and employee. There are benefits to both parties to being salaried. Salaried employees have an incentive to work as efficiently and productively as possible. If productivity exceeds both parties’ initial expectations, that can then become the basis to negotiate a raise. But, if one is not allowed to work more than 40 hours in a week (something many employers will now do to mitigate the cost increases) it becomes that much more difficult to justify a higher wage.

People who earn a salary take some measure of pride in that fact; punching a clock is seen as something teenagers do, not professional adults. Earning a salary means your employer is putting their trust in your ability to accomplish the necessary tasks without constant micromanaging. But overtime laws gag the employer and make it illegal for them to treat some employees as adults – they have no choice but to infantilize them with a “non-exempt” (hourly) classification. We (Seachem) have employees that are presently salaried but who stand to lose that status with this coming change. They view it as a demotion. I hope that they, and millions like them, do understand that it is you (and your progressive ilk) that is doing the demoting, come Election Day.

It is peculiar that some businesses can legally sell their wares at a flat rate (cell phone service, gym memberships, satellite TV, all you can eat buffets, etc.) but those who sell their labor are not afforded that same measure of autonomy. It’s almost like the government thinks individuals don’t have the capacity to make the “right” choice and so require a paternalistic helping hand.

“or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones.”

No, no you can’t. Read your own statutes Mr. President. What you just described is called “comp time” and that is illegal under the FLSA. At least for private employers and their non-exempt employees it is. “Public” employers are free to engage in this practice. I guess private employers are not as enlightened as their public brethren and so can’t be trusted to fairly give time off in lieu of extra hours worked even if that is what the employee wants.

“It’s one of most important steps we’re taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.”

Right, instead of raising taxes on the employer directly, we’ll just raise them indirectly by finding another way to compel businesses to redistribute even more of their profits (wages are on average four-times the size of net profit) to those that bore no risk in earning them. Remember; when a business loses money employees still get paid. But when a business makes money employees expect even more money. Heads I win, tails you lose.

But that $12 billion figure is a pipe dream. These overtime rules changes will not raise worker income anywhere near to what you believe. To the extent it does raise it for some, it will be at the expense of others that are either laid off or that can’t be hired because too much of payroll is going toward paying excessive overtime. What this rule change will do, however, is ensure that America becomes less and less productive as businesses opt to send employees home at 40 hours. Payrolls will remain the same but output will decline. Although this is effectively a raise (the same money for less work) it actually harms both parties. The employee, being constrained to only 40 hours, is now in a weaker position to demonstrate their value. Likewise the employer realizes less output for the same amount of money. On net for the country less work will be done, growth will slow down and we’ll all wonder why the private sector appears to operate more and more like the Post Office or DMV.

Capital investments, which propel improvements to productivity, are the natural method to improve workers’ standard of living. Productivity gains translate into more goods for the same amount of work and income. Effectively everything becomes cheaper and thus more affordable. But these gains have all but been eroded by 40+ years of inflation wrought by the duopolic partnership of the Federal Reserve and Federal Government.

“But after years of inflation and lobbyists’ efforts to weaken overtime protections, that security has eroded for too many families”

Inflation is a 100% government phenomenon. The US Treasury issues bonds to prop up annual budget deficits. The Federal Reserve buys those bonds (directly or indirectly through open market operations) by using money literally created from nothing. More dollars equals more inflation, and the cycle continues year after year. If the government is serious about ending wage and benefit erosion it has the power to end it by ceasing all inflationary policies. It really is that simple.

“One of the many Americans who has been working hard but struggling to keep up is a single mom from Tucson, Arizona, Elizabeth Paredes. As an assistant manager at a sandwich shop, Elizabeth sometimes worked as many as 70 hours a week, without a dime of overtime pay.”

Seen benefit, unseen harm. You really should read more Bastiat. For every worker that benefits thousands more will be harmed by lost jobs, fewer hours, or simply not being hired in the first place. Forcing her employer to pay her more makes about as much sense as raising the minimum wage to $50/hour because you found a single mother with ten children who can’t get by working for $8/hour.

If someone wants to earn more money, then they should enhance their skills and find a new job. Dissatisfaction with low-skill wages is like buying a home by the airport and then being upset about the noise. Demanding changes to overtime or minimum wage laws would then be like adding new noise regulations that would make air travel cost more for everyone; concentrated benefits for some, increased costs for everyone else. Don’t ask others to pay the penalty for your choices.

“When workers have more income, they spend it – often at businesses in their local community – and that helps grow the economy for everyone.”

It is unclear why the economy would grow more if an employee spends money vs. the employer. Is the purchase of one set of goods “better” for the economy than another? I presume this line of reasoning comes from the flawed Keynesian notion that it is consumer spending that drives the economy. This viewpoint of course ignores the fact that consumers can’t buy anything until businesses/employers have first spent money on hiring employees, building plants, opening stores and so on. Consumer spending rests on the bedrock of business spending which itself lays on the firm foundation of savings. The lower the profit, the slower the savings, and thus everything else built upon it. Consumption does not grow an economy. Only savings and investment into capital goods will do that by making it easier to produce more goods with less effort. That is what improves the standard of living for everyone.

“Americans have spent too long working long hours and getting less in return. So wherever and whenever I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work and responsibility, that’s what I’m going to do.”

The fact that a thief can improve his standing at the expense of his victim(s) does not justify thievery as a legitimate means to improve one’s condition. Employers and employees have come to mutually beneficial arrangements that both parties agreed to. The employer is free to fire the employee and the employee is free to quit. No one is forcing these arrangements. There is no rational basis to suggest a disinterested third party has the right to interject themselves in these negotiations and supplant their judgment for the judgment of both parties.

When you remove choice from either party you rob them of their agency to live as independent, free individuals. In short, you turn them into de facto children. We are not children Mr. Obama. We are free men and women. Let us live our lives as we see fit, not as you do.