Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: May 26, 2011

SCOTUS supports state’s right to impose penalties on businesses who hire illegal immigrants

In a decision today, the Supreme Court basically upheld the portion of the Arizona state law that sanctions employers who hire illegal immigrants:

The 5-3 decision upholds the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 and its so-called business death penalty for employers who are caught repeatedly hiring illegal immigrants. The state law also requires employers to check the federal E-Verify system before hiring new workers, a provision that was also upheld Thursday.


Thursday’s decision is a defeat for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, several civil-rights groups and the Obama administration, all of whom opposed the Arizona law and its sanctions on employers. They argued that federal law said states may not impose "civil or criminal sanctions" on employers.

This ruling boosts state’s arguments that they have at least some rights in terms of controlling illegal immigration (particularly when the federal government refuses to act).  The three dissenters disagreed:

In dissent were Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. They said federal law prohibited states from imposing their own immigration-related rules on employers. Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case.

Of course federal law prohibits, or tries to prohibit such rules by states, but the court just changed that, didn’t they?  It gives states back some of their rights and reduces the power of the federal government in an area where I think it’s power needed to be reduced, particularly since it appears the problem is out of control with the fed in charge.

I have mixed feelings about the so-called “death penalty” for businesses.  I assume, or at least hope that there are appeals, etc. before it is finally imposed because such a penalty effects more than just the business owners in many cases.

By ruling that the states have the right to impose such a penalty though, illegal immigrants will find gaining employment much harder than it was before as there are few businesses who are going to figure that saving a little money hiring an illegal is worth the “death penalty” if caught.

Oh … and to save the drive by commenters the trouble – being against “illegal immigration”, note the term emphasized, does not mean one is against “immigration”, thankyouverymuch.


Twitter: @McQandO


Why are we fat and what should we do about it?

That’s a collective “we” and I’m talking about the so-called “obesity epidemic” in this country.   We’ve heard all sorts of theories and reasons for our steady weight gain – the sedentary “couch potato” lifestyle, TV, fast food, etc.

The newest study on this now includes the workplace as a partial source as well.  As we’ve transitioned form more labor intensive and active manufacturing jobs to more sedentary jobs in an office environment, that too has helped expand our waistlines.

OK.  I see no problem with that particular theory.  The study says the change in our workplace activity has, on average, seen a decline of 120 to 140 calories a day in job related physical activity.

Sounds like something those interested in losing weight need to consider and remedy, right?  

“If we’re going to try to get to the root of what’s causing the obesity epidemic, work-related physical activity needs to be in the discussion,” said Dr. Timothy S. Church, a noted exercise researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and the study’s lead author. “There are a lot of people who say it’s all about food. But the work environment has changed so much we have to rethink how we’re going to attack this problem.”

Really?  See here’s where today’s “science” and I diverge.  Thank you for the information Dr. Church, but while you may have hit upon something solid as a reason for increased obesity, and that information is useful to me, I don’t need anyone “attacking” the problem for me.  So you can leave the “we” out of it.  Because we all know what that usually means.  And you can see it in the words of those who’ve taken an interest in this aspect of fighting obesity:

Researchers said it was unlikely that the lost physical activity could ever be fully restored to the workplace, but employers do have the power to increase the physical activity of their employees by offering subsidized gym memberships or incentives to use public transit. Some companies have set up standing workstations, and marketers now offer treadmill-style desks. Employers can also redesign offices to encourage walking, by placing printers away from desks and encouraging face-to-face communication, rather than e-mail.

“The activity we get at work has to be intentional,” Dr. Ainsworth said. “When people think of obesity they always think of food first, and that’s one side of it, but it’s high time to look at the amount of time we spend inactive at work.”

It shouldn’t be up to employers to have to provide incentives or subsidies.  What happened to American willpower?   Look, I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off (a year next month).  While I wasn’t “obese” in the clinical sense, I was heavier than I needed to be and was starting to have a sugar problem (diabetes runs in my family).  I started walking every day.   I now do about 4 miles a day (day off every 5th day).   That’s approximately 500 calories burned during a walk and I just finished up a physical where my doc said “you’re in great shape, I don’t need to see you for a year”.  Seriously, it just wasn’t that hard.  Blood pressure is down, weight is appropriate, cholesterol in the 130s, sugar in the green, all the right things.  

And people, claiming that you’re just too busy or can’t make that sort of time is nonsense.  You can.  You just don’t want too.  And if you can’t make the time to walk around your neighborhood for 30 minutes, you’ll certainly not have time to take advantage of a “subsidized” gym membership, will you?

The point, of course, is it is your (speaking collectively) responsibility to monitor and do something about your weight if it is a problem.  Not business and certainly not government (whose solution is usually some one-size-fits-all abomination that penalizes everyone).  The way to “attack” the problem is to recognize it and do something about it – not rely on others to do things for you.   We all know that regardless of what others will spend to give you the opportunity to lose weight, for instance, unless you’re willing to make the lifestyle changes to do what is necessary, it is a waste of money and time.

You go to work to work, not lose weight.  That’s on you.  Not business. 

My rant/pep talk for the day.


Twitter: @McQandO


China drives the price of commodities and inflation waits in the wings (update)

As China’s middle class expands and as its business and manufacturing sector continue to grow, it is driving the price of commodities higher because of increased aggregate demand for relatively scarce commodities:

While China’s GDP is only 9.4% of the global economy, and its population is 19% of the world population…

  • Cement demand represents 53.2% of global demand
  • Iron ore = 47.7%
  • Coal = 46.9%
  • Pigs = 46.4%
  • Steel = 45.4%
  • Lead = 44.6%
  • Zinc = 41.3%
  • Aluminum = 40.6%
  • Copper = 38.9%
  • Eggs = 37.2%
  • Nickel = 36.3%

Some of that demand is relatively stable, like food consumption. The world’s largest country has a middle class that can afford meat for the first time…..

Obviously this means that competition for these commodities will push prices higher and higher.  It is these sorts of numbers that cause me to doubt seriously those who claim inflation is not a threat.  Certainly the price for commodities is going to go up based on nothing more than China’s demand.   And if it costs more for those commodities, that means costs for products based on them are going to rise as well – everywhere.    Add in the money supply woes (i.e. literally dumping trillions in dollars into the economy to no real effect) and debt problems and you have a mix of reasons why, while it may not be evident just yet, inflation seems to be a certainty in our near future.

UPDATE: More on food commodities.  Interesting article.  Much that is produced in China in terms of grain is going toward feeding livestock.  So that puts even more pressure on costs for grain, etc.

China was until recently self-sufficient in soybeans, for example.  But now they are producing the same amount as they always have (15 million metric tons) but importing 3 times that to keep up. Corn, wheat and rice are headed in the same direction:

Xiaoping said that most of the land in China that can be farmed profitably is already under cultivation and that available land is actually shrinking in the face of development. In addition, yields are beginning to plateau, he said, with little expectation of major gains.

He said he expects China to increasingly import corn to keep up with demand resulting in part from dietary changes and its use in producing biofuels.

That means upward pressure on prices for everyone.


Twitter: @McQandO