Shot In The Dark – Today’s News, Five Months Ago

We noted earlier this year that Philadelphia’s tax on pop was taking down soft drink sales, and jobs and stores with it.

And it turns out that that’s true – pop sales are down by half in Philly.

But people are healthier – right?

Er…right?

While researchers found that sales of sugary beverages fell in Philadelphia after the tax, beverage sales in nearby towns and counties without the tax went up. That suggests people may have been traveling to get their soda at a reduced price.

But…but…Revenue! Right?

Jazz Shaw did the math that I thought about, but didn’t, since Jazz did it…:

So, let’s look at this assuming one million ounces of soda was sold anually before the tax went into effect. If sales had remained the same, the city would have realized $62,400.00 in revenue instead of $54,300.00. But with the volume cut in half, they managed to slash their revenue to $31,200.00. (I was told there would be no math. Apparently City Hall in Philadelphia was operating on the same assumption.) Great job, guys. You gutted your revenue stream, caused layoffs in the beverage industry and depressed sales in the city’s retail outlets, likely impacting entry level jobs.

Of course, this is “unexpected” only if you haven’t followed similar stories from coast to coast, including here in Minnesota, where the rapacious and punitive increases to the cigarette tax enriched a lot of North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin convenience stores a few years back.

Unexpectedly

Rising tides, it turns out, do actually lift boats:

In April, the unemployment rate for Americans with a high school degree fell to the lowest rates since before the Great Recession. Unemployment for workers with disabilities fell from eight percent to 6.3 percent over the last 12 months, the lowest level since the measure began in 2008.
Hispanic unemployment is the lowest it has been since 1973 (also when the measure began). Black unemployment remains close to historic lows, climbing slightly since the end of 2018.
One could hardly wish for a better trend. This economy is working for every class of American.

I think if the Democrats started devoting every scrap of their energy to pushing for impeachment, taking their (what else?) collective hive mind off of policy for the next year or so, it’d be the best thing that could possibly happen to this nation’s poor.

Unexpected, Part MCLVIII

When Saint Paul opted for Tony-Soprano-style trash collection, they used a “formula” more or less like the Five Families used to divvy up racketeering in New York and New Jersey; each of the trash haulers got a slice of the city more or less equal to their market share.

This meant there was no “need” to compete for customers – and also no benefit in competing for customers.

Some small trash haulers just pulled out of Saint Paul without any further ado.

Others?

Eventually, Saint Paul is going to have three trash haulers – BFI, Waste Management and maybe Aspen. They will have monopolies in their territories, costs will rise, customer service will eventually worsen…

…oh, wait. Who said “eventually?”

“Unexpected”

UPDATE: Not sure how this piece originally ran in its unedited version.  But there you have it.

The Democrats will be holding their convention next year in Milwaukee.  

Kevin Williamson thinks that’s pretty appropriate, all in all.  

In response to a particularly stupid column by Paul Krugman a few years back, our friend Iowahawk shared an interesting discovery: Schools in progressive Wisconsin on average outperform the schools in low-spending, Republican Texas — but the schools in Texas outperform the schools in Wisconsin when it comes to outcomes for white students, black students, and Latino students, each of which group produced higher test scores in Texas than in Wisconsin. Wisconsin came out ahead not because it does a better job with any particular group of students but because it is overwhelmingly white. In other states black and Hispanic students trail their white peers, too, but seldom as much as they do in Wisconsin’s graduation rates.

The Democrats own Milwaukee, which hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1908. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al. will be cheered to know that Milwaukee has had three times as many socialist mayors as Republicans since the beginning of the 20th century.

I’m exceptionally confident we’ll find Minnesota compares identically.

“Unexpected”

SCENE: Mitch BERG is building a snow wall around his property.

Before he can close the last gap along the sidewalk, MyLyssa Silberman – reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats – pulls up in a Subaru Outback.

SILBERMAN: [stepping out of the car]Merg!

BERG: Er…hi, MyLyssa. What’s up?

SILBERMAN: I’m doing a series on the purveyors of brisk, quippy rhetorical memes and their use in disseminating “fake news”.

BERG: Of course you are.

SILBERMAN: If I may. In the past, you have referred to the new municipal trash collection systems in cities like Bloomington, Saint Paul and other cities as [riffles through notes] “Soviet-style trash collection”. Also [squinting] “East German”, “Tony Soprano-Style”, “Cuban” and…

BERG: North Korean.

SILBERMAN: Here in my notebook it says “North Korean”.

BERG: Yep.

SILBERMAN: Are these racist references against Russians, Germans, Sicilians, Latinos and Asians? And how are they affected by climate change?

BERG: No, and not at all.

SILBERMAN: OK, we’ll come back to that. But what do those terms mean?

BERG: It’s a reference to the fact that in countries that try to repeal the free market – among them most “socialist” nations – there is no incentive to serve customers better. In planned, marketless economies, all goods and services are essentially rationed, and there’s no impetus to provide a good or service better, more efficiently, or even more cheerfully than anyone else, since there’s no upside to it; you get paid the same whether you’re a jerk or an Employee of the Month.

SILBERMAN: OK, but how does this relate to trash collection in the Twin Cities? We haven’t suspended the free market.

BERG: Well, we’re going to need a price check on that statement. Saint Paulites are complaining about the service they’re getting from the hauler their city so graciously selected for them:

Beginning Jan. 30, [Waste Management, the hauler allocated to a large part of the East Side by the City Council’s “Sopranos”-style division of the city’s turf] skipped pickups on her street, Cottage Avenue East, for three weeks in a row. Rather than complete full collection Wednesday, drivers exited their vehicles to take pictures of overflowing trash carts and lids that couldn’t fully close. Some they emptied. Some they didn’t.
Now, residents are bracing for financial penalties.
“They drove through the alley yesterday, right past all the garbage cans that were out and not covered with or buried in snow, and only emptied two cans,” said Riggs on Thursday in an email to Ward 6 City Council member Kassim Busuri’s office. “Since that seems to be one of many excuses they use, yes, the lids are not closed, which is another thing they will charge us extra for. According to St. Paul policy, they must close. Otherwise it is $3

BERG: By the way, MyLyssa – my old trash collector would only upcharge me for an over-full container if a good chunk of the bag was visible. The new haulers are gloriously Minnesota passive-aggressive about it, and the customer service is atrocious, even in other neighborhoods.

Who picked up your trash, by the way?

SILBERMAN: I live in a condo downtown, so my trash just goes away.

BERG: Right. Continuing:

Busuri said he’s more than just sympathetic. He’s in the same boat.
“I’ve had the same problem myself,” Busuri said, “where the trash was not picked up for going on three weeks. It bothers me to see a garbage hauler not fulfilling their obligation in the contract. There’s a section in the contract where we can charge the haulers for every collection they miss. I’m looking into that

SILBERMAN: See! They’ll fix it!

BERG: Sure. The city council will cross the actions of a previous city council, most of whom have gone on to positions of bureaucratic power that .can be used against them.

SILBERMAN: What do you mean?

BERG: OK, so imagine you were to park in Teri Gross’s parking spot…

SILBERMAN: That would be really bad.

BERG: See?

SILBERMAN: No.

BERG: It’ll never get fixed. There’s no market imperative to do anything, and plenty of bureaucratic imperatives not to.

SILBERMAN: So you’re saying you’re transphobic.

BERG: Are you by some chance working on getting a PR job with the city?

And SCENE

Unexpected

Price hikes brought about by New York City’s new $15 minimum wage are causing some consumer heartburn.

Unexpectedly:

Some New Yorkers are displeased with one of the more predictable outcomes of a $15 minimum wage—restaurants all over the city are raising their prices, according to the New York Post.

The city’s minimum wage went up to $15 from $13 or $13.50 at the beginning of 2019, boosting the paychecks for numerous lower-wage workers.
Those who rely on restaurants regularly for their daily lunches, however, aren’t as happy.
“It’s obnoxious—kind of a slap in the face,” Starbucks patron Edward Beck told the Post. “Another increase, and I won’t come back.”
Restaurants are raising prices to adjust for the higher salaries they must pay workers. But, they’re increasingly worried about discouraging customers with too-high prices.
“[Restaurants] feel they’re getting to a point where the customer might reject the higher prices, choose a different way to eat out, or eat their own food,” said Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.

“But…but, it’s from The Blaze! Your source has a point of view, and therefore is invalid!”

The same precise story is behind the lines of this story from that noted conservative tool, the Star Tribune, from last year; a local restaurant mainstay is losing customers, price point and restaurant jobs due in large part to all that social justice they’re paying for.

“Unexpected” Omission

American public media reports – or, in a sense, “Reports” – on the ironic rising cost of water in several Great Lakes-area cities and, naturally, its disproportionate effect on the poor.

The cities – they focus most especially on Cleveland, Detroit, Duluth, Buffalo and Chicago – have water rates that are rising extremely fast, as the ageing infrastructure starts to give out.

What it doesn’t mention?

Every one of the cities has been run by Democrats, according to Democrat priorities, as long as anyone can remember.

Unexpectedly

After eight years of DFL-led bureaucratic governance and repeated ta hikes, the city of  Luverne was shocked, shocked, to find that a company decided to ditch a deal and move their expansion to South Dakota:

With groundbreaking expected this summer at the Luverne site, Tru Shrimp executives said they recently discovered a state environmental rule about water discharge that could delay construction of the facility, which it calls a harbor, by one to three years.

“Our timeline is to build a harbor in 2019,” Michael Ziebell, chief executive of Tru Shrimp, said in an interview Tuesday. With investors’ money on the line, the company couldn’t afford to wait for the discharge issue to be resolved, he said.

Unexpectedly!

The board of the Balaton, Minn.-based firm in November gave final approval for the $45 million facility on 67 acres just outside Luverne. The state of Minnesota had invested nearly $2 million to build roads and utilities to the site and Luverne, a city of about 5,000 residents, invested $600,000 in the effort.

“I’m not going to kid you, it was like a gut shot and we were blindsided by it,” Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian said. “I understand it was a business decision and they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, but we had no previous interaction with Tru Shrimp that suggested the regulatory issue was going to be a real problem.”

Nobody expects the Minnesota regulatory inquisition!

Unexpected

Anti-bullying programs seem to result in…more bullying?  

Seokjin Jeong and Byung Hyn Lee set out to discover how bullying prevention programs could be effectively transferred from individual schools to schools on a national level. To their surprise, they discovered that bullying prevention programs don’t always produced the expected results:

“Surprisingly, bullying prevention had a negative effect on peer victimization. Contrary to our hypothesis, students attending schools with bullying prevention programs were more likely to have experienced peer victimization, compared to those attending schools without bullying prevention programs. It is possible that bullies have learned a variety of antibullying techniques but chose not to practice what they have learned from the program.”

Such findings bring up an important point. We spend a lot of time promoting awareness of different issues today. But while awareness of a problem should be raised, is it possible to fixate on that problem so much that we actually increase it?

The fact is, high attention on any one issue can work both ways. On the one hand, it raises focus on the victim. Being able to come out and say, “Yes, I’ve suffered, too,” even for the smallest thing, can be oddly gratifying and status boosting. On the flip side, perpetrators also stand to receive a certain level of prestige and attention for their actions, however wrong they may be.

In much the same way as saturation coverage of mass shootings creates more mass shootings I suspect.

Silent But Dea…Er, Unexpected

Is another stealth “red wave” about to break?

Well, being a fundamental pessimist, I’d say “probably not” –  but I’ve been wrong before, most noticeably two years about tomorrow.

But according to Rasmusson, there might just be something sneaking out of the fog.: I’m adding emphasis:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 60% of Likely Democratic Voters say they are more likely to let others know how they intend to vote this year compared to previous congressional elections. This compares to 49% of Republicans and 40% of voters not affiliated with either major political party. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

In August 2016, 52% of Democrats were more likely to let others know how they intended to vote in the upcoming presidential election, compared to 46% of Republicans and 34% of unaffiliated voters. Some analysts before and after Donald Trump’s upset victory suggested that most pollsters missed his hidden support among voters fearful of criticism who were unwilling to say where they stood.

I can’t tell you the number of people who voted for Truimp who’d have never admitted it in public, fearing ostracism and reprisals.

Happening again?

We’ll know tomorrow.

Unexpected

Hard to believe our intellectual brahmins would not only fail to practice what they preach, but completely refudiate it.

Michael Moore is the worst boss ever, according to that noted BreitbartFoxNewsNeoCon tool…

Leonard Maltin?

First, Maltin says Moore stiffed workers who helped his Michigan-based film festival.

Secondly, Maltin says the far-left filmmaker, who he “respects and admires,” slandered his “dear friends” Deborah and Chapin Culter from Boston Light & Sound from the stage at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Weird.

 

Unexpected

I never cared for Donald Trump – his public persona, at least.

And I certainly have never been a big fan of Roseanne Barr.

The debut of the reboot of Rosanne shows what I know, I guess.

Roseanne made a triumphant return Tuesday night, blowing past projections with a 5.2 adults 18-49 rating and 18.2 million total viewers for the debut of its revival, which drew 10% more viewers than the original series finale 21 years ago.

While nostalgia was expected to bring in eyeballs, no one predicted such a huge turnout on premiere night for the blue-collar family sitcom with a Donald Trump-supporting protagonist, especially among the younger demographic. But then, few predicted that Trump would become the Republican nominee and would win the presidential election when he first announced his candidacy.

But one thing that has become predictable is that liberal Hollywood and New York are shocked, shocked, that people in “flyover land” can take a break from fawning over Los Angeles and New York-centered, virtue-signal-clogged, impeccably progressive entertainment to partake in a little of (let’s be honest) the cultural Resistance:

But it worked, leaving many TV insiders shellshocked today by the magnitude of the revival’s ratings success that revealed the untapped potential of comedies that provide realistic portrayal of blue-collar America. What’s more, Roseanne did that while also making a social commentary, something rarely seen since All in the Family, Norman Lear’s 1970s classic that has long been rumored to get a reboot.

Y’know what’d be fun (and never, never get greenlit)?   A reboot of All in the Family with a crusty, intolerant patriarch who was a former hippie, longtime “progressive” activist and virtue-signaling bigot, whose daughter marries a hard-working conservative square-stater.

That would be a fun reboot.

Events Of A Feather

Six years ago, Venezuela banned private firearms ownership,  via a piece of legislation that had to have sent a tingle down Linda Slocum, Erin Maye Quade, Jamie Becker-Finn and Dave Pinto’s spines.   It was done to consolidate and reinforce the control of a government that, one might suspect in concept had to have sent a tingle down Linda Slocum, Erin Maye Quade, Jamie Becker-Finn and Dave Pinto’s spines.

Of course, we know the results; socialism degenerated “unexpectedly” into thugocracy (which, being “haves” in a socialist society, wouldn’t not send a tingle down Linda Slocum, Erin Maye Quade, Jamie Becker-Finn and Dave Pinto’s spines, necessarily – socialism is a wonderful thing for the kommissars).

And here we are today.

The left would like you to consider them separate events.

They are not.

More Unexpected Results

The Canadian province of Ontario – which includes Toronto and, Ontario natives tell me, a major city named “Tronna” – raised its minimum wage in January.

Coincidentally, nearly 3% of the province’s part time jobs evaporated  that very month.  Unexpectedly!:

It gained approximately 8,500 full-time positions but lost roughly 59,300 part-time gigs, according to data provided by the
agency, which noted the figures are rounded.

That means there was 3.4 per cent or 46,100 fewer part-time posts in January 2018 than the same time the previous year.

Some economists said it’s possible Ontario’s minimum wage increase played a role in those declines, but noted it’s important not to read too much into one month of data.

Also, it’s important not to impugn the narrative.

Perhaps the economists are graduates of the Feminist Business School

“Unexpected”

Canadians raise the minimum-wage – in other words, force people to pay more for a commodity, labor, then it is otherwise worth – and are, inevitably, shocked, shocked, when it backfires.

I’ve always joked, without really joking, that being a progressive requires being ignorant of history as well as economics. It would seem current events also has to be pretty dodgy as well.

“Unexpected”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Article examines why Alabama voters shifting back toward Moore.  Weakness of claims, distracting news accounts (Weinstein, Franken, Lauer), traditional Republican state, all likely true but I suspect the real reason is timing.

The Washington Post released the article as an October Surprise, intended to create the drop in the polls that it did create.  But they dropped the bomb too early.  They were relying on the traditional news cycle of print and monopoly television to get out damaging information while guarding against exculpatory information.  The plan was to keep voters upset at Moore until the clock ran out. That’s the way it always worked in the past.

They miscalculated the way people now get their news, instantly, from multiple sources.  Using those faster sources, Moore had time to recover.  The recovery was helped by all the other factors in the article, sure, but if the Post had dropped the bomb closer to the election, the recovery would have come too late for Moore and the plan to smear him into losing the election would have succeeded.

Count on Liberals to remember it next time.

Joe Doakes

My two cents:  It’s a collective FU to the establishment that gave Clinton and the like a pass on things just as bad as Moore is accused of.

Unexpected!

Last summer, when the people of the UK voted to leave the EU in the fabled “Brexit”, the same pundits who routinely Americans for “voting against their best interests” took a time out to chide Brits for voting…against their “best interests”.   The Brit economy was going to tank, returning the UK, if not to the Third World, at least into an impemetrable economic fog.

The landed punditry hasn’t been doing so well this year:

Business activity hit a 17-month high last month, meaning that the economy grew by 2.2 per cent last year — more than the six other leading nations, including the US, Germany and Japan.

Far from slowing after the referendum in June, as predicted by the Treasury and Bank of England, [and a rogue’s gallery of American pundits with portfolio – Ed.] growth appeared to have improved. GDP grew at 0.3 per cent and 0.6 per cent in the first two quarters of last year, compared with 0.6 per cent and an estimated 0.5 per cent in the final period.

On the one hand, time will tell.

On the other hand, our departing president wishes he’d had two consecutive quarters as good as that particular “failed experiment”.

Unexpected!

As carry permit applications, pre-purchase background checks, and gun and ammo sales roar to new all-time records, the NRA is being crushed with new and renewing members.

Scarcely a peep in the media (especially about the membership).

But one Democrat politician and “NRA member” “quits” – and the media is lined up out the door.

If I were a betting man (and I’m not), I’d wager good money that:

  1. He was an “NRA member” for the same reason I “joined the teachers union” when I taught a semester at Metro State, and
  2. Come his next campaign, he’s going to have at least one pic in his campaign lit, decked out in hunting camo with a duck gun.

But I won’t blame anyone for not taking any action on that bet.

Unexpected

The “Obama Recovery” still isn’t

The U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 2.9 percent during the first three months of 2014, government bean counters announced this morning. That matches the worst non-recession contraction of the U.S. economy in over 40 years.

Perhaps, taking a cue from minimum wage hike laws, the Administration could issue a decree for everyone to build, spend and borrow more?
 

“Unexpected”

For the fourth straight month, Minnesota’s revenues came in below forecast – and the rate of the shortfalls is accelerating.  That is according to Minnesota Management and Budget, which is nominally non-partisan (but whose leadership depends on Mark Dayton for their employment, and whose rank and file work for AFSCME). 

Exactly as fiscal conservatives said they would.

Over the past four months, the shortfalls add up to over $200 million dollars – enough for a couple of Senate Office Buildings (hat tip: Ben Kruse). 

So what does this mean? 

Forward To The Past!:  Remember 2010?  When the DFL/Media harped on the “six billion dollar deficit” that two years of DFL control of the legislature had left us? 

The deficit that two years of GOP control in the Legislature erased and converted – in the year after the DFL took control, when GOP policies were finally taking effect – to over a billion in surpluses? 

The “D” word is back.  Oh, not that the Strib is going to make anything of it, not yet – not until there are Republicans to blame – but this adds new impetus to the predictions that the state budget – which the GOP dragged out of six billion dollars worth of deficit in 2011-2012 – is heading back to deficit in the budget’s off-year. 

So what does this mean?

Remember that $1.1 billion surplus that the DFL inherited from two years of GOP control?

Well, memories are all we have. If revenues keep falling at this rate, and the shorftall keeps growing at the rate it’s been accelerating this past few months, we’re going to be at over a billion dollars in deficits by the end of this year. 

And the worse news? 

Underperforming:  The budget forecasts were based on the projections of economic activity using the activity of the years of GOP control as a baseline, with growth predictions factored in.

The growth isn’t happening as predicted. 

So for all the DFL/Media’s happy talk about Minnesota’s economy, the MInnesota economy is like a Summit Avenue mansion; the main floor, where the Fortune 500 folks like Target, Best Buy, Ecolab, 3M and the like hang out looks just great – but the foundation is rotting away.

Strib: “Oops – Sorry About All Those Unexpected Property Tax Hikes”

If there’s a “broken record” phrase in all of Minnesota conservative alt-media, it’s “the Star Tribune is carrying the water for the DFL”.

It’s like saying “Boy, isn’t Lady Gaga weird”.  It’s the baseline.  It hardly needs to be said.

As Strib observers and critics go, I’m more jaded and cynical than most, which is another way of saying “almost cynical enough”.

But even I – who doesn’t really doubt that the Strib’s editors, and likely some “journalists”, are on the local version of “Journo-List” with the DFL, Take Action, Alliance for a Better Minnesota and Alida Messinger – wasn’t ready for the avalanche of lies and bald-faced image-shaping in this editorial.

The subtitle says it all:  “Relief not as sizable as hoped, but help goes where it’s most needed.”

There was no relief, and the “help” was taken from most Minnesotans and given to the Minnesotans whose votes the DFL wants to buy!

It only gets worse:

As many previous statehouse politicians learned to their sorrow, local property taxes are hard to control from the Capitol. That reality has hit home to the DFLers in charge of the Legislature and the governor’s office.

 They thought they set the table in 2013 for noticeable reductions in property taxes around the state. Instead, they got mixed results and a muddled message. Total K-12 school and local government levies are up $125 million this year, giving Republican politicians the chance to crow that the DFL’s tax-suppression strategy failed.

There was no “DFL Tax-Suppression Strategy, other than repeating “raising Local Government Aid will lower property taxes!” enough times for the incurious to believe it. 

None! 

But DFLers also engineered an increase in property tax refunds for both homeowners and renters, distributed on an income-based formula to low- and middle-income taxpayers facing high tax bills. Factor in estimated claims for the richer refunds, and net property taxes in 2014 are down slightly from 2013 — by $8 million, or 0.1 percent…But count us too among fans of the $133 million boost this year in refunds to qualifying taxpayers. The income-driven property tax refund and renters’ credit are well-designed programs that this year will reach an estimated 550,000 property owners and renters — up from 140,000 previously eligible.

“Income based formula”.

In other words, the DFL took money from some people, and gave it to others. 

That’s not a tax cut.  That’s redistribution.  That’s the state picking winners and losers. 

 That leaves plenty of Minnesota’s 2.1 million households staring at higher taxes again this spring. This is the 12th year in a row for increases in total property tax burdens, with yearly increases averaging $332 million.

 But the credits are helping to stabilize housing for low-income Minnesotans by sending help to those whose property tax bills are high enough in proportion to their incomes that their ability to remain in their homes could otherwise be in doubt.

That’s not “property tax relief”.  That’s a social program, using the state to funnel money to overextended low-income home owners.

 The refunds may not stifle political criticism, but they’re sound policy.

No.  They are DFL campaign spending.

Fact: after two years of the DFL claiming at every turn that the GOP’s cuts to LGA hiked property taxes, and that their reinstatement would “cut property taxes” – their words, over and over and over again – nearly 80% of Minnesota’s jurisdictions raised property taxes. 

The DFL lied to the people.

TheStrib, in this editorial, is covering for the lie, and doing it clumsily. 

Well, too clumsily to fool anyone that’s paying attention. 

But the Strib’s political coverage isn’t aimed at that audience.