Paul Krugman Hates The Poor

Beating up Paul Krugman – a Nobel Prize-winner who is a poster-child for “narrow expertise” – is a little like fact-checking Heather Martens; it’s easy, and there will never be a shortage of material.

Rich Karlgaard at Forbes spells out yet another reason Krugman is jumping from Princeton in disgrace:

Krugman says the rich sock their money in low-yield bonds. But he fails to consider the obvious. Stocks have almost tripled since March 2009. Urban real estate is in a boom. Art is in a boom. If you believe Krugman, it must be the poor folks who are feeding these asset bubbles. Because the rich, Krugman says, are stuck in low-yield bonds.

This is utter nonsense. The excess liquidity created by U.S. monetary policy does not wind up in the hands of the poor. It winds up in the hands of the rich. The rich then put it into stocks, real estate, hedge funds, and art.

It’s actually the poor and lower middle classes whose wealth — such as it is –lies fallow in no-interest bank accounts (or wealth-eroding cash if they have no bank account at all). It’s not the rich, but middle-class retirees that try to eke out a living on low-yield interest rates.

Krugman has it exactly, 180-degrees wrong. Cheap money is a transfer payment to the rich. It is a tax on the poor. The rich-poor divide grew vast under the cheap money policies of Ben Bernanke. This trend will surely accelerate under Janet Yellen.

Wonder what it’ll be like, someday – maybe decades from now, maybe in the afterlife – when “progressives” realize they’ve been squeeeeeing like a bunch of teenager grrrls at a One Direction concert over the permanent destruction of the middle class.

Here We Go Again

The completion of the “Green Line” has the urban planning dorks dreaming big again. 

Next up for Saint Paul – an “urban village” on Snelling by University, where the old MTC Bus Barn used to be.  It’ll be 4+ stories, the usual dog’s breakfast of “mixed-use” buildings a minimum of four stories tall, full of all of the “new urbanist” fads like “pedestrian friendly” spaces and “open spaces” that scream “crime-friendly!” to anyone who’s been paying attention. 

The refreshing part?  The consultants who are, er, consulting on the project admit up front it’s going to be exquisitely expensive:

The verdict? Those plans may be doable, but they won’t be cheap.

The report by Urban Investment Group, RNL and KHO Consulting examined potential development arrangements for the Snelling-Midway “SmartSite.”

The consultants found a $22 million to $31 million gap between today’s market value of the site and the cost of necessary new infrastructure, including $40 million in needed structured parking, as the land is redeveloped in phases.

The report encourages a mix of building types and uses, most of them at least four stories tall, with open spaces and pedestrian amenities to create the feel of an urban village.

It suggests a variety of approaches to close the funding gap, including tax-increment financing and grants and loans.

They’re suggesting a “public-private partnership”, which inevitably means large, rent-seeking “private” companies that are deeply in bed with government, building to a plan that has nothing to do with what the market demands but merely tries – at immense taxpayer expense – to skew the market toward the government’s (politically-driven and ultimately futile) plan. 

Think Galtier Plaza, Riverplace, Saint Anthony Main, The Conservatory, Mississippi Live…

Infallible

I’m a Protestant.  I’m a Protestant for a lot of really good theological reasons. 

I’ve got nothing against Catholicism; parts of my family are Catholic, as are a strong plurality of my friends.  Like a lot of Protestants, I admired John Paul 2, not leastly because he seemed to not only recognized that all Christians were on the Jesus Team, but  that Protestant beliefs were also a path to salvation.

But I’ve wondered sometimes; if the colonies had been majority-Catholic, would there have been an American Revolution?

I ask it when I read things like this; one of the Pope’s top advisors rips on “liberartarian” beliefs and the free market.

The pope, [Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez] Maradiaga said, grew up in Argentina and “has a profound knowledge of the life of the poor.” That is why, he said, Francis continues to insist that “the elimination of the structural causes for poverty is a matter of urgency that can no longer be postponed.”

 

“The hungry or sick child of the poor cannot wait,” the cardinal said.

So far, so good.

“Solidarity is more than a few sporadic acts of generosity,” he said.

 

Instead, he said, solidarity with the poor, as envisioned by Catholic social teaching, calls for “dealing with the structural causes of poverty and injustice.”

And when people talk “structure”, they’re talking “political solutions”.

And when you talk “political solutions” to economic “injustice”, you’re inevitably talking top-down, government solutions. 

Without exception. 

A charismatic churchman who speaks fluent English, Maradiaga was animated in his criticism of the effects of today’s free market capitalism and he peppered his remarks with digs at economic conservatives.

 

Trickle-down economics, he said, is “a deception,” and he declared that the “invisible hand” of the free market — the famous theory advanced by the 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith — was instead being used as a cruel trick to exploit the poor.

The world is full of cruel tricks, when you’re poor. 

But the free market has virtually eliminated widespread starvation (in parts of the world that have a free market), government, thetop-down solution to “infrastructure problems” inevitably makes things worse for the poor, while enriching the administrative class with the graft that always, always follows political solutions to social issues.

Although my Catholic friends my bristle when I say this, I am exceedingly unimpresssed with Pope Francis’ reign, at least in secular and political terms, so far.

Solutions

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The panhandlers are back, stronger than ever. Used to be one per overpass, now there are four. I didn’t see them this Winter, when they could have made a bundle shoveling sidewalks. Do panhandlers hibernate, like bears, or are they migratory, like geese? Maybe the DNR should put up “No Feeding” signs.

I know the courts have ruled that panhandlers have a First Amendment right to ask the public for donations, but I got hit up in the drive-through lane at McDonalds this morning, which is a little much. At first I thought I might slide out of it: he was wearing an American flag on his jacket so I suspected he was a Tea Partier seeking donations to spread the word about Obama’s fake economic “recovery.” If that had been the case, I could have saved a buck plus sicced the IRS on him because, as everyone knows, Tea Partiers have no First Amendment rights. But no – he only wanted money for the bus to get to the homeless shelter for breakfast, so I was stuck.

This is an area where traditional DFL solutions would work: regulate, license and tax. Permit fees and registration. Make them register as licensed mendicants, same as itinerent peddlers. If they work in teams, they must provide employer-paid insurance, including unemployment and Obama care. They need a permit for each day and location of business. Hot spots require a medallion, just like a taxi at the airport. Also nobody is allowed to give alms in amounts less than $20.00. After all, beggers deserve a living handout. Or livable handout, I’ve lost track of the current terminology.

Mandatory jail for first offenders, escalating punishment for scofflaws. Traditional Liberal solutions can solve modern urban problems. We just need to implement them.

Joe Doakes

They “solve” all manner of free enterprise and prosperity.

Doakes Sunday: Dubious Solutions

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The Labour Party in Britian proposes to tie the minimum wage to average earnings.

 

Doesn’t this simply shift the fight to Whose earnings?  Everybody?  Only Union?  Excluding Government?  Basing the minimum wage paid by McDonalds on the average wage paid to bureaucrats in Washington – is that sensible?

 

Rife for political manipulation without transparency or accountability, just like every CBO report.

 

I know – let’s tie the minimum wage to an international monetary standard like the Libor, that will eliminate all chance of manipulation of the standard.

 

Joe Doakes

People seem amazed that when you turn things over to politicians, the solution is inevitably political.

Calamity

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The Swiss voted down a minimum wage of $25 per hour.   Based on what I heard from the DFL when Minnesota was debating this issue, the Swiss economy will now collapse, children will starve and a rain of frogs will begin any minute now.

 Any minute now.

 Any minute.

 Joe Doakes

Or a revolution. A revolution of McDonalds workers.

Any ol’ time.

“Free”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Dental care in Australia is free.  So everybody wants it.  So you have to wait your turn.  Might take a bit.

 “Springborg said before the NPA, patients were waiting up to 10 years for dental work.”

 And what is this NPA?  The government tossed 200 Million Australian Dollars into the fund to allow patients to go outside the system to private dentists, a one-time shot to reduce the wait which now is under a year.  The government can’t afford to repeat the subsidy, so wait times will rise again.  It’s only a toothache, right?  What’s a few months wait when it’s FREEEEEE!

 Joe Doakes

The defining trait of liberals is that they all seem to assume that if you wish hard enough for a miracle – free dental care, universal healthcare without raising taxes or the deficit or degrading healthcare, raising minimum wages without unintended consequences to employment and prices – that a unicorn will descend from the skies with the means to make it happen.

Dear Minimum Wage Activists

We warned you.

But did you listen?  No!  You said that jobs would not be lost as pay for low-skill jobs was forced upward by government fiat, and that there’d be no unintended consequences – because all consequences, presumably, would be forestalled by foo-foo dust brought down from the skies on the backs of unicorns. 

But there is no foo-foo dust, there are no unicorns, and when you force someone to pay more or less than the free market will bear for something, there will be consequences.

And so there are.

This Is Your Obama Economy, Part MMMCCXVLIII

A report from the center-left Brookings Institution shows that not only is busines dynamism – the pace of new business openings and old business closings – the slowest it’s been, but during the Obama “Recovery” the pace of closings has far outrun the pace of new business creation, for the first time in post-Great-Depression history:


Says Brookings:

Research has firmly established that this dynamic process is vital to productivity and sustained economic growth. Entrepreneurs play a critical role in this process, and in net job creation.But recent research shows that dynamism is slowing down. Business churning and new firm formations have been on a persistent decline during the last few decades, and the pace of net job creation has been subdued. This decline has been documented across a broad range of sectors in the U.S. economy, even in high-tech. …

While the reasons explaining this decline are still unknown, if it persists, it implies a continuation of slow growth for the indefinite future, unless for equally unknown reasons or by virtue of entrepreneurship enhancing policies (such as liberalized entry of high-skilled immigrants), these trends are reversed.

Why has America become less entrepreneurial? 

I’m going to suggest it’s two things; the constant accretion of new regulations atop old regulations, which continually make new businesses harder and harder to launch, and a culture – especially a school system – that is slowly leaching the desire independence out of the citizenry.

(Via Ed)

The Unthinkable

In the eternal battle between crony controlled, politically endorsed monopolies and new service is popular among hipsters, a Minneapolis City Councilman has proposed – well, suggested – the unthinkable.

The Minneapolis city Council match in a public hearing to determine how to deal with the difference in regulation between the city sponsored taxicab monopoly, and the new ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Some cities have opted to back the monopolies.

. But in Minneapolis, the ordinance sponsor, Council Member Jacob Frey, said after the hearing that he doesn’t yet know if that’s an option but he is open to considering relaxed taxi regulations.

What will those Democrats think of next?

“…And I’m Here To Help…”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

College costs too much so students take loans. But there are no jobs so graduates can’t repay the loans. But the federal government made the loans so they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

An alternative is for private investors to offer to pay your college in return for your promise to work for them in the future. Some already are doing this.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) wants national legislation to legitimize the program and add safeguards.

Cripes, you can’t even trust Republicans to keep their greasy mitts to themselves. Look, Marco, you’re a US Senator. The US Government student loan system is busted. You are one of 534 people in the world who can do anything about it. But no, you’ve got your eye on “helping” private investors and students use an alternative arrangement. They wouldn’t need an alternative arrangement in the first place, if you were doing your job and fixing the busted system.

Joe Doakes

The idea – investors “investing” in students in exchange for future earnings – is a fascinating one.

The Fed’s involvement will quickly make it a hopeless mess.

Compare And Contrast

Governor Messinger Dayton signed an increase in the state’s minimum wage today. 

What Governor Messinger Dayton Said:  “People who work hard should be paid enough to achieve the American Dream”. 

What Governor Messinger Dayton Actually Meant:  “I have now found a way to force the private sector to buy votes for the DFL”. 

Personal note:  One of my kids is working for more than the current minimum wage, but less than the new one.  I hope it’s the children of the sitting DFL legislators who lose their jobs when the wage rises, and not my kid. 

But I’m going to guess there’s not much chance of that.

Pass All The Bucks

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

A buddy notes the insidious lure of Somebody Else’s Money:

 The old Federal rule was that you can’t get food stamps unless you qualify under income guidelines. OR if you get at least $1.00 of heat share relief. So of course the various state programs freely handed out the $1.00 because they could leverage that dollar into 50 times as much in food stamps for their citizens.

 Congress, in an effort to curtail the cheating, raised the cut-off to require $20.00 in heat share assistance, thereby avoiding the token assistance cheating. Well, except that the states now simply raised the payment to $20.00. The heat share comes out of federal funding also, and in another article the funding was described as block share grants that typically have left-over funding at the end anyway. So there is no incentive not to hand out more of one welfare to qualify for more of another welfare.

 Right back to the typical hamster wheel. The voters would never vote to raise their own taxes to build a street car, or refrigerate an outdoor ice rink, or put art on $50,000 drinking fountains for the bums. We only go along with it because it’s paid for with magic federal money that doesn’t come from OUR taxes. So if we now need to kick in a small portion of the total wasted cost in order to get someone else to pay for the rest, we’ll gladly do it.

 This is akin to what is taught at the college level, of course. For one easy example: Housing on campus routinely costs double or triple what housing on the local economy will cost. (And of course either costs more than housing at the parental home but that comparison would ignore the value of NOT living at home while in school–the value of actually being part of the school environment.) Although it costs double or triple to live on campus, the financial aid office is geared to get you more in loans and grants to subsidize (short term) that inflated cost. Of course the same is true for any other cost on campus. Books that are used one day but cost $200/e. Lab fees for history class, things like that. Since it all gets hidden into the grants and loans the kid is taught that it isn’t worth discussion or worry. Just run up the tab and go with the flow.

 Joe Doakes

If you haven’t read “The End Is Near (And It’s Going To Be Awesome)” by Kevin Williamson, you need to.

Lies, Damned Lies, And Government Damned Lies

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Government statistics are unreliable.

No lie, Bwana.

In the absence of reliable data, nobody can make sensible plans for business expansion, for retirement.  Our own government is killing our economic recovery.

The aggression of our government towards its own citizens in defense of politicians’ idiotic pet programs dwarfs the threat of Russian aggression.

Government aggression toward the citizens – and its parent, government believing it’s here to govern you, rather than the other way around – are going to be make-or-break problems for this society.

I have to say I’m not feeling optimistic.

Like Waiting For “One Direction” Tickets In A Blizzard

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking his dog down Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.   He’s walking past an organic car repair shop when Avery LIBRELLE walks out, almost bumping into BERG).

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  Hah! I woke up this morning thinking “Merg must be feeling sad today! Obamacare is a huge success!”

BERG:  Well, it’s not really…

LIBRELLE:  Which bums you out more, Merg – that more people weren’t insured, or that less weren’t?

BERG:  Well, I’m just trying to figure out what all the happiness is about.

LIBRELLE:   Seven million subscribers!

BERG:  Let’s assume the Administration is giving real numbers.  That’s seven milion people who’ve signed up.  Not seven million paid, issued policies.  But if you put it up against the five million people wholosttheir coverage over the past year, that means we’re up a net two million – assuming they all actually pay their premiums, which all of them will not.

LIBRELLE:  You’re just jealous that no Republican healthcare plan gets people lining up for it!

BERG:  Wait – you say that’s a good thing!

LIBRELLE:  When people line up to buy something, that means it’s popular.    Like an iPhone!

BERG:  If that analogy held up – if Obamacare is extremely popular – then they’d have been waiting in line last October, when the plans first hit the market.  This is like people waiting in line to buy iPhone 3s before they go out of production.

LIBRELLE:  That’s stupid!  Nobody would do that!

BERG:  Unless it was your only shot at getting a phone, and you were going to wind up without a phone if you waited another day.  The “lines” had less in common with these…:

HyPsTrZ at the sacrament of unveiling.

…and much more in common with these…:

Waiting for bread in Moscow, 1980s

…or these:

Minnesota clinic, 2018. Just kidding – it’s a DMV line.

People trying to get something before an onerous deadline makes it impossible.

LIBRELLE:  Wow.  You’re a real debbie downer.

BERG:  As always, I’m a realist.  The Administration is trying to put lipstick on a dead pig in time to save the Democrats in time for the mid-terms.

LIBRELLE:  Hey – you used the word Democrat!  You hate women and their children!

(And SCENE)

Squeezed

I got this via email from a friend in Minneapolis:

Cam Winton posted about this on Facebook. The current city overseers do not want single family dwellings. They have said as much. We are not in their vision for the future. Our little happy lives living in single family homes is destroying their view of the world.

I rode the bus this morning with a neighbor today who shared his story of increased taxes, I shared mine, he told me of neighbors with huge jumps. At work I talked to another county employee who is ready to sell her house which is located about 4 blocks from mine. Reason…unbelievable hikes in taxes.

This is nuts. We are about to get rolled big time.

We certainly are.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are indulging in several parallel liberal conceits:

  1. “Progressives” do, in fact, believe that there’s always a few more bucks they can wring out of any population.  The correspondent wrote that, suddenly, home valuations are skyrocketing in parts of South Minneapolis.  The idea is “pay up, or move away and let us get at all that choice property!”
  2. The idea that they know better than the free market how people want to live.  The essence of the free market is that if people don’t like, or want, a product, service or idea, they just say “no”.   As long as we have a free market for homes, people will choose what they want, and say “no” to what they don’t.  As Minneapolis is not New York or San Francisco (whatever its pretensions) – it’s built in an place with lots of land – most people eventually will look for some kind of breathing room.

Joel Kotkin predicts that at some point, “cities” as we know them today will become playgrounds for the very wealthy, and warehouses for the very poor, surrounded by…not so much “suburbs”, but exurbs and smaller communities where actual people will hold actual jobs.  I think Minneapolis is well on the way.

The War On Home

It’s one of those lines conservatives have been using for a decade, maybe two; the “progressive” left wants to move people out of single-family homes with yards and driveways, and into high-density housing.

Only it’s not a “line”.  It’s here, and it’s in Minneapolis right now.

Without warning, on Friday March 7th, 2014 the Minneapolis City Council passed a Moratorium(a full stop) on all new construction and certain remodeling projects EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY in the Southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods of Linden Hills, Fulton, Armatage, Lynnhurst, and Kenny. This Moratorium prohibits anyone without a completed permit from starting construction on a project for up to one year from the effective date.

They passed it unanimously.

The moratorium hurts everyone (except progressive planners), especially taxpayers in Minneapolis:

The reduced potential property tax base and permit revenue lost from the moratorium will cause property taxes on residents to go up yet again. So the question you should ask is, “Why should I pay the same tax rates now with a moratorium that I paid when I could fully use my property?”

Dear (mostly) relentlessly PC liberals of South Minneapolis:

This was the sort of thing that, 240 years ago, impelled a bunch of other impeccable liberals to throw a…

…dare I say it? A Tea Party.

Beneficiaries

Got this via email:

Who benefits the most from a minimum wage increase?

Here are some back of an envelope calculations:
40 hrs a week X 52 weeks = 2080 hrs

FICA: employee tax = 6.2%, employer = 6.2%, total 12.4%
SECA: employee = 1.45%, employer 1.45% total 2.9%

total FICA/SECA combined = 15.3%

current govt take
2080 x $7.25 = $15,080.00 x 0.153 = $2,307.24

proposed govt take
2080 x $10.10 =$21,008.00 x 0.153 = $3,214.224

Net gain for govt = $906.984

now just for fun lets index the minimum wage to the rate of inflation, who else gets an automatic raise with that?

Government Union members!

Subtitled

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The President spoke at Union Depot in St. Paul the other day. Here is a transcript of his remarks:

***

My fellow Americans:

Our country is in a mess. I believe I’m the man to fix it. That’s why I’m announcing my candidacy for President in 2016. Yes, I know the Presidency used to be limited to two terms, but our problems are too serious to wait for Congress to act; therefore, I’ve revoked that limitation by Executive Order.

The biggest problem with the world today is that things are not equal. Inequality makes life unfair. It’s inequality and unfairness that are destroying the world and America with it. And Americans are the cause of that inequality and unfairness. It’s time for America to change. I hope Americans can change. No . . . I Know Americans can change. Ordinary Americans can change their lifestyles, and with them, the world.

Americans consume more natural resources, more energy, more food and more medical care than the rest of the world combined. Ordinary Americans need to cut back on everything so you live more like people in other countries.

Americans must eat less and let children go to bed hungry more often. Ordinary Americans must drive less and walk more, carry your groceries in reusable bags and haul purchases on your backs. Ordinary Americans must dress warmer and turn the heat down in Winter, open a window and turn off the air conditioner in Summer.

The world is over-crowded. We must reduce the surplus population. It’s essential that Ordinary Americans cut back on prenatal and infant care so more babies die prematurely. We must eliminate end-of-life care so old people pass more quickly. We need to double, even triple the number of abortions performed every day, to make room for new generations of illegal immigrants to take the place of natural-born Americans. All of you must live more simply, closer to nature, and for a shorter lifetime, the way the rest of the world does.

As President, I will oversee the transformation of every American’s lifestyle to one that I deem more appropriate for that person. I will use every power at my command to make Ordinary American lives hungrier, poorer, sicker and shorter. I know it’s a giant task but I do not shrink from it, and I will not be alone in my efforts: I will ask my most important friends and donors to assist me in redistributing the country’s wealth and reordering American society. And when Ordinary Americans finally achieve equality with the rest of the poverty-stricken world, when there is no First World, no Second World, no Third World, but only One World, I will voluntarily resign as President to accept the position of King of the World, to ensure that these good works continue with full vigor, that no Ordinary American will ever raise his head above another person, that equality of misery will be world-wide, universal and forever.

Thank you for your support.

***

Well, those may not have been his exact words, but I think that’s the gist of it.

Joe Doakes

“Fake but accurate”.

The War We Lost

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the “War on Poverty” – the only “war” at which the United States has ever been comprehensively defeated unto humiliation – John C. Goodman analyzes the results.

On the one hand, avoiding poverty – or rising out of it, with time and hard work – is at least conceptually fairly simple (although obviously requires work, patience and perseverence):

We now know a lot about how behavior affects poverty. In fact, if you do these four things, it’s almost impossible to remain poor:

1. Finish high school,

2. Get a job,

3. Get married, and

4. Don’t have children until you get married.

Simple – right?

But throughout the “War on Poverty”, we’ve been disincenting those exact behaviors:

So how does welfare affect behavior? In the late 1960s the federal government sought to find that out in what Charles Murray calls “the most ambitious social science experiment in history.”

The experiments were all conducted by social scientists who believed in the welfare state and had no doubt about its capacity to be successful…Randomly selected people were assigned to a “control group” and an “experimental group.” The latter received a guaranteed income, and the program even used Milton Friedman’s term for it: a negative income tax. The largest, longest and best-evaluated of these experiments was SIME/DIME (Seattle Income Maintenance Experiment/Denver Income Maintenance Experiment) in Seattle and Denver. And the results were not pretty. To the dismay of the researchers, they largely confirmed what conventional wisdom had thought all along. As I reported in “Privatizing the Welfare State”:

  • The number of hours worked dropped 9% for husbands and 20% for wives, relative to the control group. For young male adults it dropped 43% more.
  • The length of unemployment increased 27% among husbands and 42% for wives, relative to the control group. For single female heads of households it increased 60% more.
  • Divorce increased 36% more among whites and 42% more among blacks. (In a New Jersey experiment, the divorce rate was 84% higher among Hispanics.)

BTW, these results have been studied and studied over and over again and there is a large literature on them ? almost all of it written by researchers who detested the outcomes. Good summaries are provided by Charles Murray and Martin Anderson.

It’s like going to war – the real kind – and giving your soldiers Nerf guns.

The results?

Poverty is stuck at 1966 levels, and has been for almost fifty years.

Spending has soared in absolute dollars and in share of GDP.

And it’s entirely unsustainable – and things that can’t be sustained, won’t.

All In A Day’s Work

A high school friend of mine who lives in Texas, Jim, posted this on Facebook over the weekend:

———-

Q: Why does world-famous violinist Joshua Bell make $1M for each performance?

A: Because no one is stupid enough to pay him $2M – he’s just not worth that much.

(Implication: what you do has value. A finite value. And if someone else can and will do the same things you can do, for less money, then your value has been reduced to that lower amount. Unless, of course, one of a number of things happens:

  1. that other person is already working for someone else (more jobs, scarcity of labor),
  2.  you increase your value (through experience, education, or any of a sea of other factors),
  3. you decide to assume a greater share of the risk (starting your own business doing what you do, for example), or
  4. you find something new that you can do which will have greater value (new career, more responsibility, …).

What is exciting about all of these options is that, except for the first one, all are activities that you can do yourself. They don’t require that you supine yourself before some benefactor who will then own your future. What went so wrong with a society that no longer recognizes the beauty inherent in self-determination?

———-

What’s wrong is that we have a large, powerful interest in our society that profits handsomely from selling victimhood and dependence; the idea that all violinists, even people who’ve just picked up the instrument, should be making a “living fee” for their performances, just from pure fairness.

It’s a way of buying votes but making someone else pay for it.

Economic Whack-A-Mole

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberal rag Washington Post finally notices that student loans prevent young people from buying a home.  And it’s getting worse as home prices are starting to climb in some areas.  Holy Study Hall, Batman: debt is Bad!

Geez, ya think?  It all comes back to the Instapundit’s observation on middle class markers. That’s the mentality that got us into this mess.

Middle class people need decent jobs.  Decent jobs require college degrees.  College is expensive so government gives out student loans to help people achieve the middle class marker of having a college degree to get a decent job.  Makes sense, right?

Middle class people own their own homes.  Homes are expensive so government guarantees home loans to help people achieve the middle class marker of owning a home.  Seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

Everything sounds great until we realize that student loan debt makes students ineligible for guaranteed home loans.  Worse, we can’t give debt relief to students because the profits from student loan interest payments are pledged to pay for Obama-care — we need the money from Peter’s student loans to pay Paul’s health insurance premiums.

Wouldn’t be so bad if homes were more affordable except the reason home prices are high is the Fed is pumping $60 Billion Per Month into the banking economy to shore up home prices so existing homeowners feel like we’re in a recovery, thus freezing out future generations from buying.

Do you ever wonder what would happen if we just stopped?  Just . . . stopped?

Stop subsidizing student loans.  What would happen?  Colleges would restructure themselves to become affordable.

Stop subsidizing banks.  What would happen?  Banks would adopt sensible banking practices to stay afloat.

Stop propping up home prices.  What would happen?  Home prices would collapse now so our children can afford to buy them (you and I are hosed already, we’ll never see prices return to save us).

Stop propping up any sector of the economy, just let everyone sort it out themselves.  Could it truly be any worse than what we have now?

Joe Doakes

That which can’t be sustained, won’t. That which can’t be sustained but is by brute government force, will – until the money runs out.

And it’s gonna run out.

Sophie’s Raise

The Congressional Budget Office has released one of those rare financial reports that has both sides crowing and declaring victory.

Who you believe – or weight the highest – likely depends on your economic literacy, politics, and what you do for a living.

The headline on NPR  - “CBO: Minimum Wage Hike Could Boost Paychecks – And Cut Jobs” – left wiggle room both ways:

Whatever you already believed about raising the federal minimum wage, you now have more ammo for your argument, thanks to a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, titled “The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income.”

Yes, you’re right: Raising the wage in steps to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would push employers to cut jobs — about 500,000 of them, says the CBO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

On the one hand, according to one reading of the report, a hike to 10.10/hour – about 40% – would “lift nearly 1 million” out of poverty, and put money into “wallets of workers who are eager to spend”, and give a “raise” to 16.5 million people.

But then there’s those 500,000 jobs lost.

By the way, that’s about the softest estimate you can imagine; the CBO report itself says “As with any such estimates, however, the actual losses could be smaller or larger; in CBO’s assessment, there is about a two-thirds chance that the effect would be in the range between a very slight reduction in employment and a reduction in employment of 1.0 million workers” – meaning about a 30% chance that over a million jobs would be lost.

I’d bet those odds.

Oh, yeah – and “the poor” aren’t necessarily working for minimum wage, and it’s not “the poor” who’ll be getting most of the benefits:

Just 19 percent of the $31 billion would accrue to families

with earnings below the poverty threshold, whereas 29 percent would accrue to families earning more than three times the poverty threshold, CBO estimates.

That’s three dollars going to the middle class – mostly teenagers and other children of moderately well-off families – for every two going to “the poor” (that actually get to keep their jobs).

So like the protagonist in “Sophies Choice”, what do you do?  Make life marginally easier for “the poor”, at the expense of creating many more of them?