A recent American Enterprise Institute report suggests that the "hike" to the minimum wage that President Obama touts on the stump--and for which he receives much lusty applause from the plants seated behind him--should be called a "tax."

The reasoning is relatively straightforward. By increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10/hour:
  • businesses would pay an additional $2.85/hour for all unskilled laborers, that's an "unskilled labor tax" of $114/week; and,
  • adds $5.7k/year for each minimum wage worker employed.

That's bad enough, but the reality is actually worse:
  • Employers must contribute 6.2% to FICA, 1.45% to Medicare, and 0.6% to the federal unemployment tax.
  • The tax actually costs employers $6.17k/minimum wage worker.

Who's going to pay for the $6k+ tax?

One easy way would be for businesses to pass the costs on to consumers. But, doing so might come at the high price of losing customers.

The more likely scenario is that these business will engage in some of the following:
  • reduce the number of employees;
  • cut their hours; and,
  • halt additional hiring or find ways to utilize automation to replace employees. 

Rather than elminate positions, these businesses may cut employees' non-monetary fringe benefits.

In the end, the people who will be paying for the 39.3% hike in the minimum wage are all of those plants who are seated behind the President and applauding his geneous proposal that's guaranteed to hurt them.

Isn't "taking pleasure in pain" considered a mental disorder?


Let the discussion begin...




To read the American Enterprise Institute report, click on the following link:
"Instead of $10.10 per hour, think of the proposed minimum wage as a $5,700 annual tax per full-time unskilled worker."

 
 
The First Lady's foray into public school cafeteria, it ends up, is nothing but an unmitigated disaster. Even those who should be providing cover for her left flank--the National School Boards Association (NSBA)--are screaming "Uncle" and demanding that the "onerous requirements for federal school meal programs" be terminated.
A recent NSBA survey of school leaders revealed:
  • 83.7% saw an increase in plate waste;
  • 81.8% had an increase in cost;
  • 76.5% saw a decrease in participation by students;
  • 75% want increased federal funding to comply with the new meal program standards; and,
  • 60.3% want flexibility for school districts to improve nutrition "without harm to instruction, personnel, and other school district operations."

Who's against requiring children eat more nutritionally beneficial meals?

Probably no one. The challenge is how best to do that...just ask any Mom who struggles with this problem.

Except the nation's First Mom. She and her allies comandeered the nation's public school cafeterias with all sorts of regulations that, she and her allies believed, would change students' eating habits of students. That's the "socialist solution" to an ages-old challenge that's expanded due to the availability of more non-nutritious and tasty processed foods.

But, once the federal government takes over, guess what happens? Not only are the meals "costly and tastless," according to the NSBA survey, but students also continue dumping their full lunch trays into the trash cans.

The result is that instead of providing students more nutritious meals, trays of uneaten cafeteria food end up in trash cans, students continue to be hungry and consume other less-nutiritious edibles, and food-service programs are in debt.

The NSBA's solution? Congress needs to pour more federal taxpayers' $$$s into the program to comply with the regulations.

Isn't that typical of big government, socialist programs that are invented so solve problems? People turn to the federal government to resolve a local problem, the unitary, one-size-fits-all solution then fails, and the solution for the solution is to pour more money into the failed program and increase the number of federal regulations.

What's next? Handcuff students to cafeteria chairs and pour lunch down their throats, hold their noses (with those blue, non-toxic, non-latex, government approved gloves, of course), count to twelve, and then, leave them handcuffed to the chair for another ten minutes to make sure that the more nutritious lunch has begun digesting?

Come to think of it, it's sort of like hiring a political hack and bundler tp resolve a medical threat confronting the nation.


Let the discussion begin...




To read the NSBA survey results, click on the following link:
http://www.nsba.org/newsroom/press-releases/national-school-boards-association-celebrates-national-school-lunch-week-new

 
 
Proponents of school choice won a rare—and perhaps only short term—victory in court as the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the state's tuition tax credit program.

In 2012, New Hampshire began a tax credit program designed to provide a tax credit to businesses that donate money to organizations funding scholarships for low income students in the state. In turn, parents could use the scholarship funds to send their children to private or public school in another district. Parents could also use the funds to homeschool their children.

That wasn’t going to fly with a group of litigants—including parents, taxpayers and special interest groups—who challenged the tax credit program in January 2013. Within 5 months, as should have been expected, a New Hampshire superior court judge ruled the program unconstitutional. The “glitch” was that it granted scholarship funds to students who enrolled in religious schools.

But, in late August 2014, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire vacated the superior court ruling, insisting that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the program.

Reason.com reports that the Court’s decision challenged the plaintiffs’ assertion that they had been injured by the existence of the tax credit scheme because the law would take funds away from traditional public schools. That claim, the Court maintained, was entirely “speculative,” as it was unclear whether governments would see fiscal losses from an increase in the number of students using the tax credits.

This ruling allows New Hampshire students to continue receiving to benefit from the tax credits, thus allowing more low-income children to attend the schools of their choice.

However, the Court’s ruling did not uphold the constitutionality of the program, only that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge it. It’s not going to be long before the plaintiffs gather biased data transforming their “speculative” argument into a “real injury” and run straight back to superior court for another decision in their favor.


Let the discussion begin…




To read the Reason.com article, click on the following link:
"N.H. Private School Scholarship Program Saved by a Technicality (But an Important One)." 

 
 
In late 2012, a U.S. Federal Court struck down Illinois’ ban on concealed carry permits. Ostensibly, the ban was instituted to make it more difficult for people to be shot by gun-toting murderers.

Consider the demographics of Chicago’s 60624 zip code:
  • It’s the most dangerous in Cook County, with the highest number of homicides, robberies, and narcotics incidents per capita.
  • 98% of residents are Black with a median income slightly above the poverty line.
  • It has the fewest concealed carry firearm permits per capita. Chicago's Englewood, West Englewood, and West Garfield Park neighborhoods have ~115k residents. 193 (or 0.17%) have concealed carry licenses. 

Now consider Cook County’s 60464 zip code:
  • It has experienced 1 homicide in the past 10 years.
  • 96% of its residents are White with an average income of $121k/year.
  • 1.24% of its residents have a concealed carry permit, the highest number in Cook County.

The Washington Times reports that 90% of the 7.37k active permits in Illinois have been granted to White applicants. Why?
  • Applicants must first purchase a weapon.
  • Applicants then must pay an average of $650 to secure a permit, the highest of any state. This fee includes: registration and training for fingerprinting, background checks, taxes, and logistics.

Obviously, the cost is somewhat of a stretch for people whose median income is slightly above the poverty line. Which comes first? Food and medicine or armaments and self-protection?

The fact is that only 8% of Blacks in Chicago possess concealed carry permits. Doesn’t this statistic suggest that the law is disarming law-abiding Blacks who just want to protect themselves and their families from thugs? Residents of Chicago, especially those of the 60624 zip code, shouldn’t have to make those choices. 



The Chicago Police Department appears to be feckless in stemming the City’s murder rate. Even worse yet, the Democrat legislators representing the 60624 zip code believe that disarming their constituents in the face of drug and gang violence is the best way to deal with this urban blight. When a resident asked his alderman to host a meeting to teach the public about their concealed carry right, the alderman declined.

Sad…truly sad.



Does anyone think Mayor Rahm Emanuel would move into 60624 with no security detail to protect him in order to set an example that he won’t tolerate the gun violence?



Let the discussion begin…







To read the Washington Times article, click on the following link:
"Data divulges racial disparity in Chicago's issuance of gun permits."

 
 
Union bosses and their compliant minions in the mainstream press are touting AFL-CIO’s latest poll findings reported on the CIO’s website, Executive Paywatch.

The “take away” soundbite is that “corporate CEOs have been taking a greater share of the economic pie” as wages remain stagnant for working stiffs. The “proof” is evidenced in 331-to-1 gap in compensation between the nation’s CEOs and average workers.

That particular finding emboldened the House Democratic Caucus to rally behind the “CEO/Employee Pay Fairness Act.” If the Caucus has its way, a public company would be prevented from deducting executive compensation over $1M unless it also provides rank-and-file employees raises in compensation that keep pace with the cost of living and labor productivity.

Whenever a Democrat inserts the word “fairness” into a Congressional bill, it’s time to probe the allegations giving rise to the stormy petrels and their caterwauling.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the AFL-CIO calculated the pay gap based on 350 S&P 500 CEOs. Sounds impressive. However, that sample represents .14% of U.S CEOs in 2013 (N=~249k). That’s .14%, not 1.4%, or 14%. It’s .14% (or 86% less than 1%).

The Bureau of Labor reports that the average annual salary for U.S. CEOs is $178.4k as compared to the ~$35.3k annual salary the AFL-CIO claims the average American worker earns.

So, do the math: That’s a 5-to-1 pay gap, hardly the 331-to-1 pay gap touted by the AFL-CIO union bosses and their compliant minions in the mainstream press.

This particular slice of the "economic pie" is not stagnant salaries for others. In fact, if the entire executive team of Yum Brands was to “spread the wealth around”—as 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama famously said to Joe the Plumber while on the stump—by taking $0.00 in compensation, Yum Brand employees would receive a .05/hour pay raise (~$900/year) or a 2.78% raise.

Hardly the 333-to-1 difference touted by the AFl-CIO’s stormy petrils.

Want to know what's stagnating salaries? Begin with Obamanomics.


Let the discussion begin…




To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:
"About That CEO/Employee Pay Gap."

 
 
Let others comment about the "relatio" document coming from the first meeting of the Synod on the Family and what they think its contents mean. The Motley Monk is going to wait to read what the final document states before speculating in one way or the other.  In the mean time...

Obama administration officials and the President himself couldn’t have taken to their megaphones more quickly last week to tout the Department of Labor's unemployment and jobs numbers for September: They dropped to 5.9% and created 248k new jobs.

Wow! Bring out the band! “Happy Days are Here Again!”

Not…

Yes, unemployment rate fell in September. However, 97k Americans left the labor force in September. The labor participation rate is at a level that has not been experienced since 1978. That’s when Jimmy Carter was brilliantly managing the nation’s economy.

But, that’s not all:
  • Unemployment among teenagers increased from 19.6% to 20%.
  • Unemployment among those between 20 and 24 years of age increased from 10.6% to 11.4%.

Oh, and don’t overlook the fact that hourly earnings didn’t change. Neither did the average hours worked.

As the Wall Street Journal has reported, if part-time workers seeking full-time jobs and “discouraged” workers not seeking jobs were included, September’s unemployment rate was 11.8%.

How’s that “hopium et changium” treating the average folks?


Let the discussion begin…




To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:
http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-job-growth-rebounds-in-september-1412339557?mod=ST1

 
 
Last week, those who worship at the altar of environmentalism were busy crowing about what they considered a great victory in their war against capitalism: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS) awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to the three researchers who developed LED lighting.

RSAS made the award because replacing traditional lighting with LED lighting will "lead to a drastic reduction of electricity requirements for lighting." In support of its decision, RSAS cited some data:
  • 20% of the world's electricity goes towards lighting
  • LEDs is expected to reduce that figure to 4%.

Isn't RSAS ever so enlightened? It's now time for the UN to mandate the elimination of all light bulbs, especially those dangerous, mercury-laden CFL light bulbs the Environmental Protection Agency has handated for the United States. It's time for LED!

Not.

Even the stormy petrels' most vocal propaganda organ, the New York Times, had to admit that the RSAS' reasoning for awarding the Nobel Prize to those who developed LED lighting is flawed. Yes, LEDs may reduce energy consumption on an individual basis. But, global energy consumption increases as energy becomes more efficient.

Why so? Consider what economic history teaches:
  • Since the 1800s, the cost of lighting in the United Kingdom dropped by 3,000%.
  • As America's lighting became more efficient--moving from coal to whale oil to kerosene to the light bulb--demand for new, advanced energy technologies increased, raising overall energy consumption.
  • Cheaper energy technology has also allowed developing economies to access these technologies which, in turn, has increased overall consumption.
  • Affordable, efficient lighting options have also allowed people living in poor and emerging economies to light their homes, thus increasing demand.

In sum, lighting efficiency has been a major contributor to global economic development what is called the "rebound effect." It also has increased global social justice by making it possible for the poor to share in the progress made possible by new, advanced lighting technologies.

Considering what economic history teaches, LED lighting is a Trojan horse. It's time for those who worship at the altar of environmentalism to stop the celebrating. Far from turning the world back to the 1800s, LED lighting will enable more people across the globe to build the economy of the 22nd century that will consume more energy!


Let the discussion begin...




To read the New York Times article, click on the following link:
"The Problem With Energy Efficiency."

 
 
The economist Casey Mulligan has unearthed yet another gem: One of the “unintended” consequences of Obamacare is increased gender inequality.

Some background:
  • In 2015, Obamacare imposes a penalty on large employers, requiring them to offer full-time employees (those working at least 30 hours/week) health insurance or pay a fine. Many employers have responded by reducing their employees' hours to less than 30/week.
  • If an employer offers health insurance to full-time employees, those employees cannot access taxpayer subsidies in the Obamacare exchanges. However, part-time employees whose employers don’t offer healthcare insurance have access to those subsidies.

A Mulligan points out, simple economics would dictate reducing the number of full-time employees, increasing the number of part-time employees, and not offering healthcare insurance to part-time employees. In addition, those workers would be likely to seek only part-time work because it provides access to the federal subsidies in the Obamacare exchanges.

Some data:
  • In 1975, the majority of full-time work in the United States was performed by men. Many women didn’t participate in the workforce or performed part-time jobs.
  • In 2013, only 18% of employed women were working part time. 82% of employed women had full-time jobs.

Forget “bending the cost curve down.” Obamacare is beating women back, as women are currently 200% more likely to hold part-time jobs (that is, 30-39 hours/week). Under Obamacare, these jobs most likely will be reduced to 29 hours/week due to Obamacare incentives.

So, who’s really waging the so-called “War on Women”?


Let the discussion begin…




To read Casey Mulligan’s study, click on the following link:
"How Obamacare Begets Gender Inequality."

 
 
The mainstream media is touting the “retirement crisis” confronting the nation, projecting that 53% to 84% of Americans are unprepared for retirement.

Don’t be duped. This is a not-too-thinly veiled ploy to seek increases in Social Security entitlements and to limit the incentives written into the tax code to encourage private retirement plans, like IRAs and 401k’s.

The goal is to scare people nearing retirement into fearing for their future, feeling insecure that they will be left out on the street having to beg for a few coins to survive because their children won’t be able to (or interested in) helping them survive.

However, a Wall Street Journal article indicates that this narrative wildly overstates the facts. To wit:
  • In 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) determined that the average American retiree has an income equivalent to 92% of the typical American income.
  • Retirement incomes in the USA are the second highest in the world, in fact, 53% above the average OECD retirement income.
  • In 2012, the median 67-year-old had an income that exceeded his average earnings during his career. That’s a higher standard of living than they did during their working years.

Contrary to the myth the mainstream media is touting, the average American born between 1966 and 1975 is likely to have a retirement income 110% of average working earnings (higher than the 109% level of those born during the Depression). Why? They will be investing more into IRAs and 401(k)s to fund retirement.

Don’t be fooled: Increasing Social Security benefits is not the answer. OECD data indicate that every addition of $1 dollar to Social Security benefits leads to 94 cents less income from savings or employment. The simple fact is that as Social Security benefits become increasingly generous, retirees tend to save and, hence, collect less income for other sources (e.g., work and savings).


Let the discussion begin…




To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:
"The Imaginary Retirement-Income Crisis."

 
 
A recent Friedman Foundation poll concerning the cost of public education found that 25%+ of the folks polled believed that states are spending <$4k/student. That’s the perception. In reality, the states are spending $10k+/student.

When respondents learned the true costs, support for additional funding for public schools dropped 9% with the majority not being willing to pay higher taxes to increase spending on public education.

So, why the public’s perception that the states spend 60% less than they actually do to fund public schools?

Consider some recent poll data from the Commonwealth Foundation of Pennsylvania:
  • Pennsylvania spends $14.6/student. In fact, 73% of those polled believed spending was 46% lower ($6.7k+) than its actual level ($14.6k+/student) in 2012-2013.
  • 66%+ were surprised when told that Pennsylvania spends $3.k/student more than the national average.
  • 82% underestimate the average public school teachers’ salary by 26% (the actual average salary is $63k).
  • 66% were surprised when informed that Pennsylvania spends $2.9 more/student than the national average

A question: If Pennsylvania’s schools are so well funded, then why are so many school districts having to cut the number of teachers and curtail programs?

An answer: Pension payments that are unsustainable for the long term yet are being politicized by public school teachers’ unions, their bosses, and their compliant media. The costs of teachers’ pensions have increased by 500% (that is, $2B—the equivalent of 30k teachers).

In Pennsylvania, the loss of $1B in federal stimulus funds—President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—meant the public school system and its proponents had to launch a public relations campaign to make it appear that spending on public education has been drastically cut by the Commonwealth’s Governor, Tom Corbett, who just happens to be up for re-election this year.

Perceptions oftentimes are the reality but this particular campaign isn’t a “misinformation” but a “disinformation” campaign, one aimed at duping the public into believing the Commonwealth’s public schools are underfunded. In contrast, the reality is that those who are waging the campaign—and the public school teachers’ union bosses, in particular—want an ever-increasing stream of tax $$$s flowing into their coffers.

One lesson? Always “follow the money.”



A second lesson? Low information voters get exactly what they deserve. So much for hopium and changium.


Let the discussion begin…




To read the Friedman Foundation poll, click on the following link:
http://www.edchoice.org/Documents/Research/2014/2014-Schooling-in-America-Survey/Toplines---2014-Schooling-in-America-Survey

To read the Commonwealth Foundation poll, click on the following link:
http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/issues/detail/poll-voters-vastly-underestimate-education-spending-majority-grade-schools-d-or-f