Seattle Repeals Gravity

From Powerline. Well, not quite, but nearly that silly.

You know how liberals like to attach taxes on cigarettes so we’ll buy fewer of them, and on alcohol so we’ll drink less, etc? Funny, though, how the basic lesson of supply and demand and price sensitivity falls by the wayside when it comes to the minimum wage.

The Washington Post reports today on the results of the mandated minimum wage hikes in Seattle:

A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals

By Max Ehrenfreunde

When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.

The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.

The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city. The study, published as a working paper Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not yet been peer reviewed.

On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum.

Congratulations Seattle—you’ve managed to lower wages by $1,500 a year for the people who can least afford it. But I’m sure you feel good about how you’re fighting again inequality.

About that subtle little dig about peer review (which is mostly nonsense of a different color these days).

“This strikes me as a study that is likely to influence people,” said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the research. He called the work “very credible” and “sufficiently compelling in its design and statistical power that it can change minds.”

David Autor is one of the leading figures in America in this field. Good enough for me, particularly since NBER itslef is the gold standard in the field. Besided we all said this before it happened.

If I was a retail merchant in the Emerald City, well, I’d be Sleepless in Seattle and not in the good way.


In other related news, Andrew Bolt writes that:

Here in Australia, the Greens Party keep claiming coal is dead, just like they predicted runaway warming, permanent drought and draining dams.

The Greens said coal mining was dead:

The world is moving away from coal. A report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis finds that the global market for Australian thermal coal has entered “structural decline”, with prices falling 70% since 2009.

Wrong. Coal is roaring ahead:

The world’s biggest coal users — China, the United States and India — have boosted coal mining in 2017, in an abrupt departure from last year’s record global decline for the heavily polluting fuel and a setback to efforts to rein in climate change emissions.

Mining data reviewed by The Associated Press show that production through May is up by at least 121 million tons, or 6 percent, for the three countries compared to the same period last year. The change is most dramatic in the U.S., where coal mining rose 19 percent in the first five months of the year, according to U.S. Department of Energy data.

Coal’s fortunes had appeared to hit a new low less than two weeks ago, when British energy company BP reported that tonnage mined worldwide fell 6.5 percent in 2016, the largest drop on record. China and the U.S. accounted for almost all the decline, while India showed a slight increase.

The reasons for this year’s turnaround include policy shifts in China, changes in U.S. energy markets and India’s continued push to provide electricity to more of its poor, industry experts said.

The Greens would support providing electricity to the poor, wouldn’t they?

Reader Mark M rounds up the latest evidence for the climate catastrophe we were warned would affect even food supplies:

South Africa: Silos ready for record maize harvest

As farmers in SA get down to harvesting a record maize crop, operators of grain storage facilities say there is enough space to accommodate the bumper haul.

Maize is, of course, to us Americans, corn. Good on them although I must say if we ever had a corn harvest where we had enough space to store it – well, it would be a very poor year, indeed. We’re lucky if we have enough to store the food grade corn. Also:

Australia: “Australian farmers’ record breaking season confirmed at $62.8 billion: ABARES

ABARES said even with the dip, the figure is still 9 per cent higher than the five-year average to 2015-16.

USA: California sets cherry record; big Washington crop rolling

Exactly where is this catastrophe the Greens keep seeing?

Not a lot of point in adding much to any of these, people that read around here tend to be common sense types, who understand that if one (especially one’s government) gets out of the way, amazing things will happen. And so they are.

Frau Merkel und das Vierte Reich: Bedrohung für den Westen

There is a lot here, more than we are going to unpack today, but I think Nikolaas De Jong is on to something here.

In the mainstream media, the policies of the German prime minister, Angela Merkel, are often portrayed as a form of atonement for Germany’s past sins of imperialism and genocide. Letting in a million refugees is supposedly the absolute negation of the Holocaust, and pressing for further European cooperation is seen as the opposite of Germany’s old attempts to violently bring the rest of Europe under its control. And for these very reasons, progressive politicians and intellectuals around the world are now looking up to Merkel as the defender of pluralistic Western values. […]

Let us begin with the more obvious parallel: German support for further European integration. Despite all the German talk about subordinating narrow national interests to the European project, careful observers must have noticed the coincidence that the Germans always see themselves as the leaders of this disinterested project, and that the measures deemed to be necessary for further European cooperation always seem to be German-made.

Are the Germans really such idealistic supporters of the European project? It is more probable that in reality they see the European Union as an ideal instrument to control the rest of Europe. […]

You can be your own judge here, but I don’t see many (or any) sign that Merkel is doing anything that she perceives as against the German national interest. That doesn’t mean she is correct, like his successors, Kaiser Wilhelm II made plenty of mistakes, part of the reason that by 1919 he was unemployed, dreaming of being an American cowboy. That also includes trying to keep the British under their thumb by trying to derail Brexit. The British, even more than the Americans, are the traditional guardians of the European balance of power, engaged in, but not part of, Europe. And far more committed to individual freedom than Germany has ever been, and sixty years of Naziism followed by communism probably hasn’t changed that for the better. Tell me again what part of Germany Frau Merkel is from. Now tell me who runs Brussels.

Thus, on closer scrutiny, there is a strong continuity between the foreign policy of Wilhelm II, Hitler, and Merkel. And this continuity can easily be explained by looking at Germany’s position within Europe. On the one hand, Germany is the strongest and largest country in Europe, but on the other hand it is not strong or large enough to dominate the rest of Europe automatically. In consequence, ever since German unification in 1870, the country has been presented with the choice either to subordinate its wishes to those of the rest of Europe — which has always appeared rather humiliating — or to attempt the conquest of Europe, in order to ensure that Germany’s wishes would always prevail. […]

Lots of truth here, even in Bismarck’s campaigns (that unified Germany), Germany (or Prussia, by some reads) wasn’t quite strong enough, so it was reduced to bullying the rest of the continent to get its way. This didn’t work well, with the Soviet Union and the United States staring at each other in Germany, but with the demise of the Soviets, and the American attention being drawn elsewhere, it may well be so, again.

However, the most frightening thing is that the parallels between Merkel’s mentality and that of her authoritarian predecessors go deeper than mere geopolitics. Because the philosophical premises underlying modern German policies are also at least partly similar to those that motivated Germany in both World Wars. […]

I think he makes a pretty good case here, opposing the collectivism of the classical German, and the love of Ordnung, above all, especially as it contrasts with the classical liberalism of the Anglosphere. He includes the French here, but I find that including the French in classical liberalism is just a hair too far. Their model is far more often license, liberty without responsibility. I commented elsewhere yesterday that in some ways we are again facing the old Christian question that surfaced most strikingly in the Great War, “Gott mit uns” or “We are on the Lord’s side”. Although both sides are far less religious than they were a hundred years ago, there is still that dichotomy in how we view the world.

To conclude: far from being the defender of Western values like individual liberty and individual rights, the modern Germany is acting in a very German way indeed.

And that is very true, and rather frightening, indeed. Read the full article,  Why Germany Is Once Again a Threat to the West

The History of Pews

Luke T. Harrington wrote the other day about the history of church pews. He’s a Lutheran church historian and writes rather humorously, so enjoy.

Is there anything more reassuring than a church pew?

Simple. Humble. Sturdy. Two rough-hewn planks, fastened with a handful of nails, permanently fixed to the floor—and open to all. Occasionally padded, often not; not comfortable, exactly, but comforting. An invitation to the weary traveler to sit and hear the Word of God proclaimed; a simple reminder that we follow a humble, crucified carpenter; the perfect symbol that all are equal at the foot of the cross. From the greatest king to the poorest pauper, from the holiest saint to the most desperate sinner, all have sat in these pews before us, pondering their failings and begging for mercy. Despite the advent of stadium-style seating and auditorium-like worship halls, the simple, ancient pew endures—and no wonder, because it is, and always has been, the perfect metaphor for the faith.

Except—nothing I just said is even remotely true. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of all that. Would you like to know the true story of the pew? Okay, then—buckle up. (But not actually, though, because pews don’t have seatbelts.)

It turns out that there’s no evidence of churches having seating of any kind for at least the first 1,400 years or so of Christianity. In other words, Augustine, Athanasius, Jerome, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin—all those guys very likely lived their whole lives attending churches that were standing-room-only. During ancient Christian worship, parishioners could stand, kneel, or even mill about the nave if they so chose. There’s no record of whether they engaged in stage dives and crowd surfing, so we’re forced to assume they did. […]

In other words, seating in churches didn’t really become a thing until parishioners got bored enough to wish they were sitting down—that is, about the time of the Protestant Reformation. In order to emphasize how not-Catholic we were, we began to jettison everything from our worship: confessions, creeds, communal prayer, a weekly Eucharist—basically everything except long, boring sermons. And when your “come to church” sales pitch is essentially “Listen to me yammer about Jesus for several hours!” the response is predictably going to be “Uh, can I at least sit down for that?”

And so, the pew was born.

Sounds scarily close to right to me.

When pews first began to gain in popularity, however, they weren’t anything you probably would have recognized as pews—they were more like those luxury skyboxes they have at sports stadiums. So-called “box pews,” which were particularly popular in England and America, were anything but the austere benches you’re used to, and featured four walls—often shoulder-height or higher—along with doors, windows, curtains, kneelers, tables, and sometimes even fireplaces. Basically you could hide in them and do whatever the 17th-century version of playing games on your iPad was (I’m guessing cock fights?).

They were also bought and paid for—and frequently custom-built—by each congregation’s wealthiest families, who held actual deeds to them and frequently passed them down to their children as real estate, like the world’s worst timeshares. On the rare occasion that the deed to a pew would free up, there was more often than not a public fistfight (a metaphorical one, usually) over which family would get it—being seen in a prominent pew was an important status symbol, like having the biggest beard at an Acts 29 church or having the dorkiest fedora at Hillsong.

If I recall, Boston’s Old North Church (and probably others) still has them, including their owner’s names on brass plaques. You know names like Revere, Adams, Washington, and such. Interesting history, I think. And at least it probably did minimize this.

Eventually, though, the more reasonable voices won out, and most parishes did away with their box pews, replacing them with the “free and open” wooden benches we know today, resulting in worship services where uncontained toddlers run rampant, ruling over their terrified congregations with tiny iron fists.

In any case, we had finally all learned our lesson, and now nobody goes to church to be seen, which is why we all cram into the back pews and leave right after communion.

Right, guys? Or is that just me?

Who? Me? Nah, you must be talking about that other guy over there, the one who gets his nap during the sermon and then leaves. By the way, I think that is the reason we tend to have coffee hours after church, so we’ll hang around.

Via: The History of Pews Is Just as Terrible and Embarrassing as You’d Imagine

Saturday Wrap up.

Welp, we made it to Saturday, again. Only two days left till we can try Monday all over again. Been a busy week, though. Mostly from Powerline.

Also from Powerline, this week’s Ammo Grrrll shouldn’t be missed.

[…]

They do all start with “R,” and that is close enough for the brain-dead, lazy, chickens**t losers who have to believe themselves to be part of something important and worthy. Instead of what they actually are: just cowardly, blackshirted criminals wearing little bandana masks like they wore when they were six, playing “Cowboys and Indians.” (Or Boys of Cow and Indigenous Peoples in pc language. Don’t bother learning the correct language – the game is virtually illegal now on playgrounds anyway, along with Tag, Monkey Bars, Dodgeball, and chewing your bologna into the shape of a gun.) […]

Resistance is risking torture and death in World War II Occupied France by helping to hide Jews or downed Allied pilots from the Nazis. If captured, trust me, Literally Hitler saw to it that the worst thing that happened to them was not to lose their New Year’s Eve hosting gig.

Resistance is women risking torture and death in Central American dictatorships by wearing white and making a fuss about the “disappeared,” who number in the thousands.

Resistance is trying to become some sort of law enforcement agent in Mexican cartel territory. Or being Coptic Christians in a Muslim country.

Resistance was smuggling matzoh into Communist Russia, or God forbid, trying to leave Russia, especially for Israel. Do you think those caught lost just their endorsement for the Squatty Potty? No. They lost everything – housing, jobs, families. “Wintering” in Siberia. Or lifelong confinement in a “mental hospital.”

And Resistance was the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King marching for the most elemental human rights and dignity and risking beatings, jail and death threats that were eventually carried out. The pusillanimous morons protesting white women selling burritos or demanding that all white professors exile themselves from a campus are not only NOT part of his legacy; they are simply crude and ugly racists themselves.

Noisy ill-bred louts that they are, they often remind me of something the Duke of Wellington (no not that one, although scum fits them far better than it ever did British soldiers) when he was Prime Minister, something about a “whiff of grapeshot”. Be interesting to see how fast they can run.

This is a stray comment from somewhere (I forget where, sorry)

I was having lunch with some Europeans recently (all obsessed with Trump) and they wanted to know if I thought Trump could change. I answered that Trump being himself has allowed him to become: (1) a billionaire; (2) President of the US; (3) married to a European underwear model. You think he believes he needs to change? One English lady laughed and said “I see your point.”

And, of course,

Happy Saturday.

As Hated as Notre Dame Football

Let’s have a little look at GA-06, shall we? If you’ve been hiding more effectively than the rest of us, this was the race to replace Tom Cotton who resigned to become the Secretary of Health and Human Services. It was a strange one, with somewhere north of $50 million dollars spent on it. A huge proportion of that money was Democratic money shoved in from California, New York, and Massachusetts.

Until the election, the Democrats spent all their time telling us how important it was, how it would be the last straw in Trump’s Presidency and other such rot. Since they lost, it apparently wasn’t important, at all. I still don’t understand how that works, maybe I’m simply too old to think cognitive dissonance is fun. In any case, over at Leavenworth Street, Street Sweeper reconstructed a Twitter post (for easy reading) by an actual resident. Makes for good reading.

#GA06 summary, from an actual resident:

So it’s time for some post-runoff Gaming Theory, from an actual resident of GA06.

If you lived in the 6th, you were bombarded by fliers, signs, ads, door-knockers, and most of all, phone calls. At least once a day (and usually more than once), the phone would ring from an out-of-state area code. First it was robocalls, then the last couple of weeks, call centers. They weren’t targeted. They were calling everybody, every day. And they wouldn’t take “Go to Hell” for an answer—trust me on this one.

Now, imagine for a moment that the roles in the ’16 election were reversed, and Hillary had nominated a Bay Area Dem for her cabinet. California would have called a special election. Imagine millions of dollars and tons of vicious social media rhetoric Flowing out of, say, Georgia to the Republican candidate for that race. How do you think Californians would have reacted to that?

Self-awareness not being a notable Leftie trait at the best of times, today the Left coast is declaring GA06 a mass Klan meeting. That’ll go over just as well here in 18 months, dudes. You should definitely keep that up.

The big factor that was missed by the national press: the sheer annoyance of the race. Not only did this special and the runoff extend the godawful 2016 election for another 8 months in a district where neither major presidential nominee was remotely popular, the ridiculous amount of money that poured into the Ossoff campaign from out of state resulted in wall-to-wall ads.

You not turn on the radio or TV without hearing/seeing a campaign commercial, and Ossoff’s fans seemed determined to cover every square inch of Georgia with “Jon Ossoff” signs. The state will probably have to dig a new landfill to get rid of them.

That strategy made sense in the jungle primary: put this nice-looking kid out there, use the money to flood the zone and slip him through the crowded ballot on name recognition.

That was a smart strategy. It very nearly worked—in April.

Back then, Ossoff never uttered the word “Democrat,” nor did it appear in his ads. But yesterday, there were only two names and two parties on the ballot.

Karen Handel might as well have her name next to “Generic Republican” in the dictionary. Ossoff, thanks to the media blitz on both sides, might as well have had “Nancy Pelosi” on his ballot.

Trump is not popular here, I doubt he ever will be. @baseballcrank does an fine job of tallying that reality.

But “unpopular” is not the same as “toxic.” Leftie media types started griping yesterday about the GOP putting Pelosi on anti-Ossoff ads. There’s good reason for that: she’s toxic everywhere except hard-Left enclaves.

GA06 is a lot of things, but hard Left isn’t one. Pelosi, her caucus and its nutball fan club are as disliked as Notre Dame fball here.

When Ossoff couldn’t hide in the crowd of the primary, the crowd he really was hanging with—Hollywood and Pelosi was instantly toxic in Cobb and north Fulton; somewhat less so in more Democractic Dekalb, but the damage was done.

I’ll add another factor that the national media wants to ignore: the post-election temper tantrums on the Left.

Once again, Trump isn’t popular in this district. But you know what’s a lot less popular? Riots. Morons in black masks with clubs. Kids who’ve never thought about paying a mortgage telling you you’re a terrible person because you wouldn’t vote for a corrupt old liar in a pantsuit.

Those things are really, really unpopular. And the Left’s bratty insistence that it deserves a do-over after it lost an eminently winnable election Isn’t getting any traction in middle America.

Today’s run of the usual suspects saying Ossoff lost because he didn’t go full Bolshevik are right up the same alley. And they’ll result in similar reactions in later elections especially those that aren’t bolstered by $30M in now-wasted activist money that simply filled the coffers ff D consultants and advertisers and broadcasters.

When all they really succeeded in doing was pissing off the people they needed to get votes from. Bad strategy, bad politics.

Image is Curly Bill (Powers Booth) from the 1993 classic, Tombstone.

And so, Jon @Ossoff, we who actually live in GA06 say to you, your loopy fans, and most of all your phone centers:

That’s what I heard all over yesterday, from GA-06.

How bad was Ossoff? All over everything other than Democratic talk shops he was referred to as Pajama Boy, reminding everybody of this unfortunate image used to promote Obamacare. That is not an image that is going to work in very much at all of America.

Although at a much lower volume level, I gather it was much the same in South Carolina. From Street Sweeper, again,

But we are also told over and over and over and over how UN-popular the President is, and how the message must be sent how much people hate him.

Not dislike. HATE.

And then in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, Georgia…and Omaha, voters note that they’ll stick with the Republicans.

A note to you guys in Britain and Europe, we’re not all that enthralled by Donald Trump, but we tend to look at actions, and we like what we see. In any case, he was by far the best choice we had last November. We really do believe that quote from Theodore Roosevelt up in my sidebar, and so far, he’s one of the best Presidents we’ve had in twenty years. He’s not going to resign, and if the House is so stupid as to impeach him (hint: they’re not) they will have a world of trouble on their doorstep.

The American electorate is normally a pretty quiescent bunch, right now, we’re not, we’re basically seriously pissed off at Washington, especially the Republicans with their continuing act of telling us one thing and doing another. Add to that a media which has made itself worse than useless, taking almost all European media (BBC/Guardian, I’m looking at you!) with them. To the point that we don’t believe a word they say.

[Update:] About our feelings about the media, this pretty much says it all:

Actually, that resident of GA-06 understated it. Note Dame football (hated as it is, by almost everyone) is a lot more popular than most of the political-media complex.

 

Amazon – Whole Foods

So Amazon has agreed to buy Whole Foods. It’s an interesting agreement. Amazon is for the early 21st century rather what Sears and/or Montgomery Ward was to the old west. The purveyor of everything that you can’t find in the old general store. If you remember the old ‘wish book’ (the Christmas catalog) you’ll know what I mean. Man, when I was a kid, there were things in that catalog that I never knew they made, and that was the toy section! 🙂

You and I know that Amazon is like that too. They got stuff there that I never dreamed of, and it may be the best bookstore short of robbing the British Library. Yes, my friends who write books are not fond of them, but for me, sitting out here on the prairie, they are a boon.

Strangely enough, even in food. A few months ago my local grocery store was bought. That saddened me, I’ve liked it for years, pretty good quality and not bad pricing. A dream for a small town. Anyway, since the new owner took over the quality is reducing (in fact, a couple weeks ago, I had one of the worst steaks I ever had, from there for $10/pound. Not worth it was an understatement. Canned goods are another example, established, OK quality brands gone, replaced by cheap stuff, at high prices.

Anyway, there is a Wal-Mart about 15 miles away, that can solve the canned goods, without too much hassle, but I don’t much care for their meat. Well, as always planning helps. 60 miles away are other stores, good ones. There are also the friends of mine that raise cattle, a quarter or half of a cow custom-packed is always an option. And there is Amazon.

Funny thing is that for what I pay for a steak here, if I watch the sales I can buy from Omaha Steaks, either their website or Amazon. Yeah, surprised the dickens out of me too. Not on Amazon but there is a site I stumbled across where I can get English bacon for the same money I pay for (not very good, too much fat) American bacon.

Stuff, I haven’t seen in years, like B&M Beans (and Boston brown bread). Didn’t know they were still made. In my cart, hope they’re as good as I remember. Branson Pickle from the UK, same with Mincemeat tarts, hardly buyable in the US anymore. In some ways, I’m spending the same to a bit more money, but buying much higher quality.

Prices are basically from 15% below what I pay here to 20% or so higher, and the UPS guy puts them on my front porch. Doesn’t get much more convenient than that.

So, how does Whole Foods fit into that? Well, we’ve all heard the jokes about Whole Paycheck stores. My closest one is about 300 miles, so I’ve never been. Who knows? Kristin Wong has some thoughts.

It’s too soon to say what Amazon officially plans to do with Whole Foods, but rumors have been circling and experts have a few predictions. For one, it’s likely that Whole Foods will actually drop its notoriously high prices. Believe it or not, Whole Foods has already been testing price reductions on certain products due to competition from Walmart and Trader Joe’s. This could be good news even if you don’t shop at Whole Foods. Analysts say other grocery stores will probably lower their prices and improve their loyalty programs to keep up with the acquisition. CNBC reported:

“This transaction is going to change the landscape of how you buy food,” Mickey Chadha, Moody’s vice president and senior credit officer who covers Whole Foods, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday morning. He expects Amazon to put pressure on grocery stores to lower prices.

They add that the merger is probably even better news for Amazon Prime and Fresh customers, who usually get Amazon’s best deals. Moneyish reported:

“Coincidentally, Whole Foods is slated to roll out a loyalty program of its own later this year and those enrolled will likely get direct discounts on select products. “They will push pretty heavily to integrate Whole Foods with Amazon, I’m sure there’ll be Prime rewards for shopping at Whole Foods,” Barnett says.”

Guess we’ll see. Given a rational price structure, it might be a godsend for people like me. Several Whole Foods are well within overnight delivery range. And if there is one thing Amazon (especially Prime) is good at, it’s delivery logistics.

Interesting world, ain’t it?

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