Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour

English: A Quarter Pounder w/Cheese from McDonald's, as sold in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon to be made by a robot near you!

Well, of course, it is. That’s simple common sense, and government can try, but the market wins every time. Look I wrote about this a bit over two years ago, here, and if anything has changed, it’s not for the better.

Here’s the takeaway quote for you:

“I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” said former McDonald’s (MCD) USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network’s Mornings with Maria.

He also said this, which is also true, although in truth we’d be better off if we simply left it to the market.

“I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country. If you’re a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you’re an entry level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what’s going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.,” he said.

Here’s the link along with the warning that it’s got an autoplay video on it. It’s a good video, though.

via Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour | Fox Business

Look none of this is rocket science done with a slide rule, it’s simple common sense. I realize that politicians with common sense are an endangered species, but this will harm those who are already hurting the most, especially our minorities. Strange, I’m a conservative white guy, how come I care more about those young black guys than all the liberal Democrats (and Bernie Sanders) put together?

Why, Indeed?

 

What America’s Founders Could Teach The European Union

Like so many of us, I have trouble conceiving of a more astute set of political theorist than the American founders. That they built for the ages, and mostly rightly is evident in what we’ve accomplished. Any, and there are some, who dispute that have one of two problems, they know nothing of history, and like all such, if we let them, will condemn us to live it yet again, although differently, most are likely tending towards being Luddites, or they are simply delusional, and believe what they believe irrespective of overwhelming evidence. Or they have an ulterior motive, I suppose is possible.

In any case, Europe has a problem. Britain is considering leaving the community. I have my opinion, as does Jess, on that, and we’ve shared them. But Europe itself seems to be floundering. Why is that? Do our founders have a few lessons for them? Why yes, I believe they do.

As a sort of lead in I want to share a joke that Oyiabrown shared recently.

Pythagoras’s theorem – 24 words. Lord’s Prayer – 66 words. Archimedes’s Principle – 67 words. 10 Commandments – 179 words. Gettysburg address – 286 words. U.S. Declaration of Independence – 1,300 words. U.S. Constitution with all 27 Amendments – 7,818 words.

EU regulations on the sale of cabbage – 26,911 words.

Think about that. If it takes almost 27K words to regulate cabbages… well you get the idea that maybe the EU is overfond of words, in 18 languages, no less, and may perhaps have a tendency to overregulate. And what are the regulatory costs of cabbage regulation anyway? In any case, a touching monument to the power of words, and the stifling of enterprise.

But to the main points.

Ask the American Founders

[…] Like Americans in the 1780s, European leaders today face an increasing security problem and a growing debt, but a lack of political power to solve it. The European Union has claimed in various stages to be a legitimate government, while few have taken its claims seriously. When the European Union is arbiter in a dispute or attempts to solve a problem, very few actually abide by the agreements made, if the agreements would solve the problem at all.

The larger the republic, the fewer factions exist, which thus preserves the liberty of its citizens.

The United States faced similar issues in the 1780s. In the “Federalist Papers,” Alexander Hamilton argued a federal constitution is necessary, because of the “unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government.” Like its contemporary European counterparts, Hamilton and many of his contemporaries thought the Articles of Confederation that held the United States together during the Revolutionary War were too weak to pay for the war debt and to provide for a strong defense against European empires.

The biggest problem the Framers faced was the issue of political factions in the federal government, comparable to “the curse of nationalism” EU officials try to cope with. Steeped in classical and Enlightenment political theory, the Framers knew factionalism eventually would destroy republics from within. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison argued in Federalist No. 9 and 10 that “a firm Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the States, as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection.

[…]EU parliamentarian and former prime minster of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt argues in his latest book “De ziekte van Europa” (“The Disease of Europe”) that decision-making in the European Union is too slow to solve past, current, and future problems and that centralization based on a federal model is the cure for this disease.

But, unlike Verhofstadt and EU officials, the Framers of the Constitution understood the difficulty of creating a large political union. The Framers argued that the United States was suited for a strong union because it was a connected and relatively homogenous nation, geographically and in spirit. A federal government would function properly because of homogeneity of language, devotion to liberty, a common history, and because, as John Jay put it, the Americans sought a united government in the revolutionary war when “their habitations were in flames, [and] when many of their citizens were bleeding.”

Probably the only commonality all Europeans share is that its peoples strongly resisted unification for centuries and still refuse to unify. Elite unification projects, such as those of Charlemagne, Napoleon, Nazi Germany, and the current European Union, all ended in failure and, more importantly, death and destruction.

The European Union likes to take credit for the decades of peace in Europe after World War II, while it was obviously the protective umbrella of the United States and the NATO alliance that kept western Europe safe. In fact, contemporary social unrest in Europe can be attributed to European Union failures, such as an inadequate protection of its borders, disastrous fiscal policies, and unnecessary expansion.

via What America’s Founders Could Teach The European Union

This is an excellent article, that I think clearly shows why the Constitution worked to unify the United States, but any conceivable similar document has almost no chance in Europe. Do read the whole thing and think about it.

You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd

English: Number of self-identified Democrats v...

With politics this year, all seems in flux, doesn’t it? The GOP is in Public disarray, and the Democrats aren’t all that far behind. Why is that so? I suspect we are seeing a major realignment in the parties, neither of the Washington establishments seem to have much in common with their voters anymore, and like Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” True then, true now.

So what’s going to happen? Nobody knows, but some people have enough guts to tell us what they see, although it is truly through a glass darkly. Here’s what Michael Lind sees.

For political observers, 2016 feels like an earthquake — a once-in-a-generation event that will remake American politics. The Republican party is fracturing around support for Donald Trump. An avowed socialist has made an insurgent challenge for the Democratic Party’s nomination. On left and right, it feels as though a new era is beginning.

And a new era is beginning, but not in the way most people think. Though this election feels like the beginning of a partisan realignment, it’s actually the end of one. The partisan coalitions that defined the Democratic and Republican parties for decades in the middle of the twentieth century broke apart long ago; over the past half century, their component voting blocs — ideological, demographic, economic, geographic, cultural — have reshuffled. The reassembling of new Democratic and Republican coalitions is nearly finished.

What we’re seeing this year is the beginning of a policy realignment, when those new partisan coalitions decide which ideas and beliefs they stand for — when, in essence, the party platforms catch up to the shift in party voters that has already happened. The type of conservatism long championed by the Republican Party was destined to fall as soon as a candidate came along who could rally its voters without being beholden to its donors, experts and pundits. The future is being built before our eyes, with far-reaching consequences for every facet of American politics.

The 2016 race is a sign that American politics is changing in profound and lasting ways; by the 2020s and 2030s, partisan platforms will have changed drastically. You may find yourself voting for a party you could never imagine supporting right now. What will that political future look like?

***

Today’s Republican Party is predominantly a Midwestern, white, working-class party with its geographic epicenter in the South and interior West. Today’s Democratic Party is a coalition of relatively upscale whites with racial and ethnic minorities, concentrated in an archipelago of densely populated blue cities.

In both parties, there’s a gap between the inherited orthodoxy of a decade or two ago and the real interests of today’s electoral coalition. And in both parties, that gap between voters and policies is being closed in favor of the voters — a slight transition in the case of Hillary Clinton, but a dramatic one in the case of Donald Trump.

During the Democratic primary, pundits who focused on the clash between Clinton and Sanders missed a story that illuminated this shift: The failure of Jim Webb’s brief campaign for the presidential nomination. Webb was the only candidate who represented the old-style Democratic Party of the mid-20th century — the party whose central appeal was among white Southerners and Northern white “ethnics.” Even during the “New Democrat” era of Bill Clinton, white working-class remnants of that coalition were still important in the party. But by 2016, Webb lacked a constituency, and he was out of place among the politicians seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, which included one lifelong socialist (Bernie Sanders) and two candidates who had been raised as Republicans (Hillary Clinton and, briefly, Lincoln Chafee).

On the Republican side, the exemplary living fossil was Jeb Bush. Like his brother, Jeb pushed a neo-Reaganite synthesis of support for a hawkish foreign policy, social conservatism, and cuts in middle-class entitlements to finance further tax cuts for the rich. From the Reagan era until recently, the GOP’s economic policies have been formulated by libertarians, whose views are at odds with those of most Republican voters. In March of this year, a Pew Research Center poll showed that 68 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters opposed future reductions in Social Security benefits — almost the same amount of support found among Democrats and Dem-leaning voters (73 percent). Republicans who supported Trump were even more opposed to Social Security benefit cuts, at 73 percent. And even among those who supported Kasich, 62 percent opposed cuts in Social Security benefits — even though Kasich, himself, is in favor of cutting entitlements.

As country-and-western Republicans have gradually replaced country-club Republicans, the gap between the party’s economic orthodoxy and the economic interests of white working-class voters in the GOP base has increased. House Republicans repeatedly have passed versions of Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which is based on cutting Social Security and replacing Medicare with vouchers.

via This Is What the Future of American Politics Looks Like – POLITICO Magazine

I don’t agree, or maybe I just don’t want to, with all he says, but I do think he’s on to something here. The gaps between base and party, on both sides, have simply become too big to bridge. Will it happen as he says? Probably not, bet he may well be at least partially right,and if we care about the future, we need to be thinking about this.

The title? Here you go!

How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans

Some Kills

Some Kills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may have noticed that the FDA recently decided that E-cig should be regulated (by themselves, natch) as tobacco products. Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to me, maybe because I expect tobacco products to contain, well, I don’t know, tobacco, maybe.

Jared Meyer wrote about this the other day in The Federalist, here’s some of it.

Most people agree minors should not have access to products that contain substantial levels of nicotine (and “substantial” is used because many foods contain trace amounts of nicotine). But, in focusing on this move, commentators are missing how the FDA’s new regulations will destroy 99 percent of an industry that offers an option the Royal College of Physicians finds is 95 percent safer than cigarettes.

We Don’t Care About Your Health

The FDA’s regulations will force all e-cigarette products to go through the costly and time-consuming premarket tobacco product application process, a step that all but the big tobacco companies will not be able to comply with. (For more on how the FDA’s approval process will harm innovation and consumers, see my previous E21 article).

The fundamental reason FDA placed the public at greater risk of the health problems that come with smoking traditional cigarette was that it cannot pass up on a chance to expand its power. As the tortured language of the regulation shows, the FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences. Instead, the agency twists congressional intent in its deadly power grab.

The FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences.

Last week Nicopure Labs, an e-cigarette company, filed a lawsuit against the FDA that argued the agency’s dictates violate free speech by prohibiting e-cigarette makers from advertising that their products are smoke-free or safer than cigarettes. When addressing public comments on page 248 of the regulation, the FDA preemptively brought up this legal challenge by writing, “A few comments expressed concern that imposition of section 911 of the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act] will force e-cigarette manufacturers to implicitly lie by not permitting them to tell consumers that their products are safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes, to advertise that they do not contain tobacco, and to state that they are ‘smoke free.’”

The FDA replied to the objection by stating, “Section 911 is one of the provisions of the statute that applies automatically to deemed products. It was included in the FD&C Act to protect consumers from manufacturers making invalid or unsubstantiated claims, as many had done with respect to their designation of cigarettes as ‘light,’ ‘low,’ or ‘mild.’”

via How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that while government talks a good game about wanting us to quit smoking, they don’t really, smokers pay for a good bit of the FDA, and they provide a lot of money to both the local and federal government. Do you really think the cost of a pack of Marlboros is all that much greater now when they cost at least $5.00 than when the cost about 35¢? Nope, almost all of that difference goes to the government(s). If everybody quit smoking today, they’d be broke beyond fixing next month.

In full disclosure, I’ve been a smoker since the 60s, when all the cool kids smoked, probably averaging about 2-2½ packs a day, a good part of the time on non-filtered Pall-Malls. I always enjoyed it, and in fact, still do occasionally, although now I’m more likely to indulge in a fairly decent cigar. How did I get to that point? Easy answer, E-cigarettes. It’s very true, they allowed me to very easily quit smoking, and yes, my health has improved a lot. My stamina isn’t what it was when I was 20, but it’s a reasonable comparison to what it was at 45. I rarely cough anymore, where it was constant before, and in general, I just feel much better. And you know what else? When I was smoking, I spent around $20 a day on the habit, now I spend roughly $50 a month on its replacement. To me, that’s quite a product, that can do so much for me. And yes, I tried all the (very expensive) replacement programs too, I likely spent something like $1000 on trying (unsuccessfully) to quit smoking.

Not a good thing for either the FDA or ‘Big Tobacco’. So in true crony-capitalist fashion, it looks to me like they decided to destroy something, by taxing it out of existence, that has the usefulness to destroy one, and damage the other. And the Health of the Public, be damned, our money is much more important.

About those health benefits, the Royal College of Physicians had some things to say, these are just the ones that caught my eye, the paper is linked below.

  • Smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of death and disability, and social inequality in health, in the UK.
  • Quitting smoking is very difficult and most adults who smoke today will continue to smoke for many years.
  • NRT is most effective in helping people to stop smoking when used together with health professional input and support, but much less so when used on its own.
  • E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.
  • However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.
  • Rather, the available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
  • A regulatory strategy should, therefore, take a balanced approach in seeking to ensure product safety, enable and encourage smokers to use the product instead of tobacco, and detect and prevent effects that counter the overall goals of tobacco control policy.
  • The tobacco industry has become involved in the e-cigarette market and can be expected to try to exploit these products to market tobacco cigarettes, and to undermine wider tobacco control work.
  • However, in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.

From Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction

The FDA’s approach is very suspect because it goes against the best available evidence, which I think is brought out by the RCP paper. The FDA’s approach in collusion with the tobacco companies is, in fact, against the best interests of the taxpayers, and will cause more smokers to die of tobacco-related diseases.

Flame out: and a Farewell

MusicSome of you have heard that Bill Whittle is leaving PJ Media. This is his final Firewall. Let’s let him tell it.

I’ve loved Bill Whittle for a long time before I started this blog, I ran across one of his essays on Eject, Eject, Eject that he called Honor. It was the story of the incredible way our services honor their deceased brothers, in this case, Bill’s father, whose only claim to military fame was that he held the stopwatch at the executions at Nuremberg. He is one of the people who unknowingly inspired me to try my hand at blogging. We’ve carried many of the Afterburners, and it is only fair to append the YouTube description from this one.

Bill Whittle says goodbye to PJTV, the producers and staff, and all of you. The Afterburner jet is flaming out, but Bill’s not giving up on speaking the truth. Go to billwhittle.com and become a member, to keep his original content (and his videos with Scott Ott and Steve Green) alive.

Do support him, I know I will.

In similar news, Peter Phillips has ended his music column in The Spectator. The Spectator is, of course, one of the most renowned and ancient (since 1828, when it revived the name of an earlier publication) British conservative weekly. It’s one of my weekly reads and I enjoy it immensely.

Here is a bit of that.

This, my 479th, is to be my last contribution as a regular columnist to The Spectator. I have written here for 33 years and 4 months, a way of life really, and one I have greatly enjoyed. I thank Auberon Waugh in absentia for suggesting me to Alexander Chancellor in the first place; and Charles Moore for keeping me on in the early years, once we were up and running. I also thank three quite exceptional arts editors: Gina Lewis, Jenny Naipaul and the doyenne of these pages, Liz Anderson.

Things have moved on from my habitual think pieces, outraged rants, ad hominem demolition of palpable idiots written in the back of aeroplanes. Perhaps if I had shot less often from the hip I would have been saved some of my more unfortunate calls to order, like the occasion I was summoned to Buckingham Palace for a dressing-down, resulting in the imposition of the Official Secrets Act. It was fun, though, in retrospect. I still stand amazed at the power of the written word. People will tolerate almost anything but being on the wrong side of a published opinion.

From Peter Phillips bids farewell to his music column after 33 years

So kind of a sad post, but both Bill Whittle and The Spectator will survive and continue to enlighten us. Life goes on, and so will we, regretting those whom we no longer get to enjoy, but finding new favorites.

But do join billwhittle.com. You know we all enjoy him, and we should be willing to pay for it.

The Rising of 16

pizapcom146219386145812Jessica and I are both rather taken with Ruth Davidson, the leader of the conservative opposition in the Scottish Parliament. Jess wrote about her, here, and she just keeps sounding better and better. For instance, last Sunday, writing on one of my favorite British blogs, A Conservative Woman, Tom Gallager said this.

The SNP’s [Scotish National Party] membership swelled during the referendum which David Cameron carelessly gifted to Alex Salmond when he was First Minister, on terms that suited the SNP. Militant activists from post-industrial west-central Scotland now dominate the party. The new party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, sought to appease them by talking up the chances of another vote on Scotland’s constitutional future in an otherwise lacklustre campaign.

The Scottish Tories have got a capable team who often sound authentic because many can relate to the farmers, housewives, small business people, owner occupiers and aspirational young people overlooked by the SNP in favour of urban activist groups.

Months on the stump under a massively popular young leader, Ruth Davidson, have persuaded a lot of Scots to take a fresh look at the Tories and not dismiss them as class-ridden, out-of-touch and anti-Scottish.

Like Labour before it, a mediocre SNP has ramped up the anti-Tory rhetoric to make up for its glaring deficiencies during 9 years in office. But outside some Clydeside areas, this opportunistic tactic has obtained diminishing returns.  Six Tories have been elected for single constituencies instead of relying on salvation by getting a place on the list system which makes voting in Scotland roughly proportional. They include Davidson herself in Edinburgh, Adam Tomkins in Glasgow, an academic who played a formidable role in the 2014 referendum, and a swathe of new MSPs right across southern Scotland.

via Tom Gallagher: The SNP is obsessed with social engineering – The Conservative Woman

Yep, and you know, part of what I detest about politics here, and in Britain as well, is all the negativity and campaigning by running down your opponent. Since Jess moved to Edinburgh (and had the pleasure of voting for Ms. Davidson, which I envy) I’ve been watching the Scottish news fairly regularly, and if anything Ms. Sturgeon comes off worse to me than Tom says above.

Not much of that with Ms. Davidson. She seems to be all about responsible government, improvements, especially in education, Britain’s educational system is in almost as bad shape as ours, and for the same reasons, mostly. Tom also made this point.

The SNP is dominated by lawyers and managerial types who along with mobilised minorities have sought to turn Scotland into a laboratory for  ever more radical forms of equality laws, which are a screen for heavy state control of society by ‘experts’ and overseers.

It is well-known that Ruth Davidson is a lesbian, less well-known that she is a practising Christian who has boosted the appeal of her party by offering common sense answers to problems rather than ideological prescriptions. She is committed to making government more transparent and less centralised and arbitrary. With this approach she struck a chord with numerous Scots throrougly fed up with SNP autocracy.

The Scottish Tories are stronger in terms of brains, experience and broad appeal than any of their competitors. This is quite a turn around for a political force written off by academics and media commentators as moribund or from another age. They will make their presence felt in the committee system of parliament where the SNP has been able to ram through civil service blueprints for turning Scotland into a thoroughly state-controlled entity.

As I said to Jess recently, Davidson portrays conservative parties as they should be, both here and there. What I said was this, “The party of productive people at all levels, and all (how do I say this) lifestyles.” because as conservatives, we know that what you do at home isn’t our business, it’s yours, and likely something for you to take up with God, not the politicos. That to me is the worst part of the very leftist SNP, they really do want to stick their nose in your bedroom.

But let Ruth Davidson speak for herself.

Too often, our parliament has focused on the powers it hasn’t got and on endless debates about the constitution.

The time for that is over.

Whatever else Nicola Sturgeon has, she doesn’t have a mandate to drag independence back to the forefront of political debate.

This is one area where I will be uncompromising. There can be no excuse for the SNP to continually hold our country to ransom.

We’ve had enough of the grievance. Enough of the dog-whistle politics which always seeks to lay the blame at Westminster. Enough of the clumsy attempts to claim that whatever the problem in Scotland is, the answer is independence.

The SNP were sent a clear message last week.

The people of Scotland asked them to govern for five more years.

In denying them an overall majority, the voters put them on a shorter leash.

The SNP need to focus on the day job. Making sure they do will be my guiding mission for the next five years.

via: Ruth Davidson: I will work with the SNP as opposition leader – But there will be NO second referendum on my watch

My sort of conservative, she is!

The title? Well, if you know your history, you’ll know that in 1715, there was a rebellion in Scotland against King George I, attempting to restore to the Throne King James II, after King George had purged the Tories from government, and amongst other things, imprisoned in the Tower Robert Harley, for supposed financial mismanagement. The rebellion succeeded for a time in Scotland under the earl of Mar but ultimately failed, almost everyone was pardoned, except for Rob Roy MacGregor, eventually, the entire Clan Gregor was mostly suppressed, many coming to America. In fact, MacGregor, Iowa is named for the clan. The rebellion has come down to us as ‘The Rising of 15’.

And that made me think of a few line from Walter Scott’s poem Glenfinlas

Not so, by high Dunlathmon’s fire,
Thy heart was froze to love and joy,
When gaily rung thy raptured lyre
To wanton Morna’s melting eye.

Angry and afraid, Moy replies,

And thou! when by the blazing oak
I lay, to her and love resign’d,
Say, rode ye on the eddying smoke,
Or sail’d ye on the midnight wind?

Not thine a race of mortal blood
Nor old Glengyle’s pretended line;
Thy dame, the Lady of the Flood—
Thy sire, the Monarch of the Mine.

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