Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

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Israel, the new Czechoslovakia

Who knew Richard Cohen reads QandO?  Today’s headline on his op/ed:”Iran: The Obamacare of Foreign Policy”.

Of course he means it differently than I did yesterday.

There was no “better deal” — the fantasy of all those who hate Iran and hate Obama (which of them more is often unclear). The nuclear deal has become “such a luscious piece of Republican propaganda,” William Luers, the director of The Iran Project, whose goal is to improve American-Iranian relations, told me. And a long election season has already begun.

Or said another way, the “deal” was the goal. Not a good deal or the best deal, but any deal.  Any deal at all.

My guess is Chamberlin had exactly the same goal in mind when he returned from Munich. And we all know how that turned out.

Sorta like Iran thinks this is going to turn out:

“The US officials make boastful remarks and imagine that they can impose anything on the Iranian nation because they lack a proper knowledge of the Iranian nation.”

Also today, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said they have work to do.

The IRGC’s top commander in Tehran province, Brigadier General Mohsen Kazzemeini, told operating units undergoing drills in the capital that “they (the US and the Zionists) should know that the Islamic Revolution will continue enhancing its preparedness until it overthrows Israel and liberates Palestine,” according to Fars.

“And we will continue defending not just our own country, but also all the oppressed people of the world, specially those countries that are standing on the forefront of confrontation with the Zionists,” Kazzemeini said.

Yessiree … peace in our time!

~McQ

Stray Voltage

“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry,” Perry told local news station KMOV.

That’s a quote from a gay fellow who has decided he’s really a girl,  wears a wig and dress and therefore  believes he is “transgendered”.  In fact, he’s merely a cross-dresser since he’s not had any sort of treatment or surgery to change his gender.

As you might imagine, his demand that he be able to use the girls locker room (instead of a gender neutral bathroom available to him) has been met with stiff resistance by the girls of the school (and their parents).

A few back his demand:

But another 40 students expressed their support for Perry, who has identified as female since the age of 13.

Good for him … that doesn’t make him a female.  Biology 1o1.  He may want to revisit it, speaking of “ignorance”.

The above reminds me of a great rant I read this week:

The perpetually offended want to wrap themselves in metaphorical bubble wrap to ensure that no offense, no bad word, no insult – perceived or otherwise – grinds sand into their delicate vulvas. And they take it as a given that you must conform to their standards – protect them, spoil them, shield them from all possible indelicacies – or else…

That’s precisely what is happening in the school cited in the first paragraph.  Attention seeking narcissists and their “ignorant” backers demand others “conform to their standards” or else … bigots!

Read the whole thing.

A couple of CUNY professors write approvingly of the rise in the minimum wage (they claim government must set a floor for wages – uh, no, that’s what a market is for) but note a great number of disadvantages in doing so, among them:

Second, there are two reasons why minimum-wage increases do not significantly affect poverty rates. In 2010, only 12 percent of minimum wage workers lived in households with incomes below the poverty threshold ($23,000), and only one-third in households with incomes less than double the poverty threshold. Indeed, almost half of minimum-wage workers lived in households with incomes above the national median. Thus, the minimum wage is not well targeted to the poor.

In addition, among poor or near-poor households that do gain wage increases, most will lose significant government safety-net benefits. With higher incomes they qualify for less in food stamps, earned income tax credits, and housing and child-care subsidies. With increased payroll taxes, these households could easily give back at least half of their wage gains. For a significant share, it could be more than three-quarters.

They’ve almost convinced me that the raise would be worth it. Of course, getting all those off government benefits would never mean a tax roll-back, would it, so screw ’em.

But they do pop the bubble of the effect on poverty.

President Barack Obama locked in enough support in Congress Wednesday to ensure he can overcome bipartisan opposition and implement a landmark nuclear accord with Iran.

Yes, friends, the Democrats have again sold you down the river.  This is the Executive Department equivalent of ObamaCare and as usual, the Democrats have to pass it to see what is in it.

The NY Times remarks on the problem with murders in a number of US cities, to include, New York City:

Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year — after 86 homicides in all of 2014.

More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.

Name two things these cities all have in common.

And finally the “blender test” as applied to Hillary Cliton’s email excuses:

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tore into Hillary Clinton defenders Wednesday morning, saying anyone who believed her email excuses was too stupid to be trusted with household appliances.

“She’s Secretary of State,” the Morning Joe host said. “This is her only server. You would have to be really, really stupid–”

“It’s the blender test: Do I trust you with a blender in my home to not stick your hand in there and get it all gnarled up?” Scarborough continued. “If you believe that Hillary Clinton’s only account did not receive and send classified material in high volumes, then you should not be allowed within five feet of a blender.”

There are a whole lot of people out there who don’t need to be in the same room as a blender, then.

~McQ

All lives matter … except to the media

Unfortunately, the broader point expressed below is dead on right:

Who gets believed, in our age of ever-present media, is who talks the loudest. Donald Trump, for example.

Then there’s the Black Lives Matter movement, with its clamorous dedication to the idea that white racism is behind the killing of black men around the country, nothing else — not circumstance, not misjudgment, not fear — just out-and-out racism, end of discussion, period, shut up.

And so, because they interrupt Democratic party candidate rallies and shout down speakers, they’re suddenly “believed” to be a potent and credible group.

But they’re not. They’re just loud.  And rude. Kanye West rude.  They may represent a good portion of the black population, at least in some form or fashion (i.e. the general belief that, in fact, black lives do matter), but any group that chants,  “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ’em like bacon” pointed at the police isn’t about saving black lives.  And the various factions which have taken leadership in this group have made that very clear its not really about black lives.  One even challenged blacks to kill a white, take a picture and send it to them. Yeah, that’ll ensure black lives matter won’t it?  A couple of days later, an officer is gunned down in cold blood refilling his patrol car by a cowardly murderer who happens to be black.

And if you say “all lives matter”?  Well, this vocal minority will boo you and try to shut you down.

There’s a larger point here though:

The media, which lean overwhelmingly left, and the political fraternity, with its own leftist component, don’t fool around much with narratives that contradict left-wing (aka “progressive”) essentials. Among these essentials: the conviction that American whites, having racked up a record of racial oppression, are due for a comeuppance. On such terms, a dead white cop, shot by an inner-city (or in the Harris County case, a suburban) black man isn’t half so interesting a story as an inner-city black man shot by a white cop.

That’s right, the media and the narrative they unwaveringly carry and push has culpability in the violence and unrest we suffer today.  It also has culpability in setting race relations back 30 years in favor of this false narrative.  Advocacy journalism has now replaced fact and research based journalism, much to everyone’s detriment.

The narrative and support of the narrative helps paper over the real problems and shift the blame on the less favored:

Excluding racism as a grievance causes you to fall back on more embarrassing factors: e.g., the country’s moral/cultural climate, wherein Doing Whatever You Feel Like Doing is the normal expectation; when “guilt” for the past can be made to compensate emotionally for present-day failures and shortcomings; when government remedies (gun control, more spending, etc.) can be represented as more urgent than any morally reparative work likely to come out of home or school or church.

It becomes more important, on these paltry terms, to haul away a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the University of Texas main mall (as happened over the weekend of the Minnesota fair demonstrations and the Harris County execution) than, say, to pray for human reconciliation on terms profounder than modern academic leaders are likely to understand or commend.

And we suffer because of it.

This is what decades of progressivism have wrought.  A morally rudderless nation, becoming less and less free and led by incompetent politicians who kowtow to vulgar and racist tribes by trying to make common cause with them … for their “votes”.

What a world we live in.

~McQ

When you shift blame to others, problems never get solved

Problem:

“Here is what I would like for you to know,” writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in his new book, which is addressed to his 14-year-old son. “In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body – it is heritage.”

Mr. Coates is being widely described as the heir to James Baldwin, the novelist and social critic whose powerful work on the brutal realities of race galvanized an earlier generation of Americans. Much of the nation remained segregated then. Black people were denied their voting rights, and racists blew up little girls in churches.

As Mr. Coates tells it, nothing has changed. Instead of being gunned down by the Klan, black men are gunned down by the cops. Racism is still the essence of America. White prosperity was built on black suffering, which created the privileges that white people enjoy today. Black-on-black carnage (as in Chicago, where gun crime is epidemic ) is the poisoned fruit of white supremacy, and is embedded in a structure that is dominated by whites. If you are white, you have an unfair advantage based solely on your skin colour. You are part of the problem.

Emperor Has No Clothes problem:

Mr. Coates’s book, Between the World and Me, has been lionized by the white intelligentsia. “Extraordinary,” said The New Yorker’s David Remnick. David Brooks, the usually level-headed New York Times columnist, sincerely asked if he, as a white man, has the moral standing to question any part of it. The Times’s film critic, A.O. Scott, called his writing “essential, like water or air.”

But some are skeptical of all this rapture. “This is more than admiration. It is an affirmation of enlightenment,” observed Carlos Lozada, the Washington Post’s book critic. “The more radical Coates’s critique of America, the more tightly America embraces him.”

Reality:

The racial horrors of the past are undeniable. But the reality of black life has changed immensely since the ’50s. Black governors, mayors, and a president are the new normal. Black families are far more prosperous. Although discrimination has by no means disappeared, social attitudes have undergone a revolution. Yet even as racial attitudes and racial equality evolve, enlightened people rush to don the shroud of guilt.

Yes they do, and for what reason I have yet to fathom.  I feel none of the supposed “guilt”, but then I’m conversant with history and understand that while blacks did suffer slavery in this country it was whites who stopped it and whites who’ve ensured that blacks are accepted as equals in today’s society.

Now I understand that’s heresy to the progressive mind.  And that it is my “white privilege” that allows me to believe that.  Except I grew up when Jim Crow was alive and I lived in the segregated South and I happen to know what it was like and how very far we’ve come since then.  So, unlike most of those today who parrot the grievance line, I actually know what it was like then.  And the statement above is completely true – “the reality of black life has changed immensely since the ’50s” – but you wouldn’t know it to listen to the left today.

Denial of reality and the result:

Much of the liberal establishment today is obsessed with white supremacy, and what to do about it. Schoolteachers are required to take “cultural proficiency training,” so that they can “recognize the impact of systemic oppression of people in America who are not heterosexual white men.” The New York Times is currently publishing an exhaustive series on white privilege that features interviews with intellectuals such as Joe Feagin, a (white) sociologist who claims that Americans are no less racist than they ever were (they just disguise it better), and that children are indoctrinated into racism from the time they’re babies. When Mr. Coates published an article in The Atlantic last year calling for trillions in reparations, it was received with widespread enthusiasm.

And, of course, guys like Feagin have absolutely no scientific proof of anything.  It’s pure poppycock pop science.  This drive by the progressive left to don the mantle of “white guilt” is one thing – if they want to feel guilty, let them.  But when they talk about messing with my life because they’ve chosen to feel this guilt, the ball game changes.  While they’re entitled to their fantasy, they’re not entitled, through the force of law, to fund their fantasy (i.e. reparations in payment for “white guilt”) with my money.

The problem with the fantasy:

The political commentator John McWhorter argues that the doctrine of structural racism according to Mr. Coates has become a new form of liberal religion. His book is not so much an intellectual argument as a fiery testament from the pulpit. White progressives have embraced the gospel because it allows them to feel absolved from the charge of racism. By professing their guilt, they can also display their virtue to their peers. “You have original sin, you have this guilt, you acknowledge your guilt,” Mr. McWhorter said in a recent podcast. “What you’re doing is being religious – eating the wafer and life goes on.”

Mr. McWorter calls this a form of social signalling. Whether it really helps to ease racial tensions in America – or advance the cause of black people – is beside the point. “When you acknowledge your white privilege it doesn’t do anything for us,” he said. “It has nothing to do with creating change.”

The religion of structural racism allows everyone to duck the profound challenges still faced by the black community. It disempowers people and absolves them of responsibility. If structural racism is to blame for black violence, then communities will never be able to heal themselves. Mr. McWhorter argues that blaming white racism for the existential crisis in black communities like Chicago’s is a monstrous evasion.

Indeed it is.  As long as one group is able to shift the blame for that group’s problems on another group, the first group will never face or solve their problems.  And that’s precisely what is happening.  Aided and abetted by progressives.

Secondly, McWorter is right …. “structural racism” has become a religion, primarily because one has to take it on faith it exists since no one can point it in reality.

Sad but true note:

Where is today’s equivalent of Martin Luther King? Tragically, he doesn’t exist. And if he did, nobody would listen to him. He’d be booed off the stage as an Uncle Tom. The tragedy of race relations in America today is that nihilism and rage are a bigger draw.

Obama had a chance and he chose to go in the opposite direction.

We now live with the result.

~McQ

Absurdity, thy name is UT

The freaking world is going off the rails at a faster rate than I thought. Now this silliness:

The University of Tennessee is asking students to use “ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.”

No, those words are not another language. They’re actually the gender-neutral singular versions of pronouns.

Oh, how … nice. And their purpose?

The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus. They say it alleviates a heavy burden for people expressing different genders or identities.

A more inclusive campus?  Really?  Given the SWJs and their vendettas, how inclusive will the campus be if you happen to forget to use these idiotic affectations?

“These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new,” Braquet said. “The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up.”

Braquet said if students and faculty cannot use ze, hir, hirs, xe, xem or xyr, they can also politely ask. “’Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?’ is a perfectly fine question to ask,” ze said.

Talk about infantile nonsense.  Would you ask [insert name] what “pronouns” to use to address them, or would you operate off of your ability to discriminate and choose the proper one all by your stupid little lonesome?

Yes, Ms. Braquet, the do sound a “little funny”, not to mention a little stupid and frankly totally unnecessary.  You, madam, have too much time on your hands as well as an unnecessary “job” that is one of the reasons college tuitions are higher (more admin than professors).

Please treat this woman and her silliness as the absurdity it is, students at UT.  If not, try using these “pronouns” when you graduate and apply for a job.  I can’t wait to here about the results when you do.

gender-pronouns

Oh, and irony of all … they still seem to identify someone by their … gender!  “Hir” is female and “Zir” is male – or so it seems.  “Gender neutral” would make no distinction.

Idiots!

~McQ

How to crash a country

If you want a recent example, try Venezuela where socialism was “installed” and the inevitable happened … the economy finally crashed.  In fact, its so bad that we’re now headed into hyper-inflation territory:

Venezuela is preparing to issue bank notes in higher denominations next year as rampant inflation reduces the value of a 100-bolivar bill to just 14 cents on the black market.

The new notes — of 500 and possibly 1,000 bolivars — are expected to be released sometime after congressional elections are held on Dec. 6, said a senior government official who isn’t authorized to talk about the plans publicly.

Many Venezuelans have to carry wads of cash in bags instead of wallets as soaring inflation and a declining currency increase the number of bills needed for everyday purchases. The situation is set to get worse. Inflation, already the fastest in the world, could end the year at 150 percent, said the official.

The government stopped releasing regular economic statistics in December, when it reported inflation had reached 69 percent.

We’ve chronicled and discussed the failure of Venezuela as a “socialist republic” for a few years.  Of course, as reported earlier this month, not everyone there is poor.  Apparently the daughter of Hugo Chavez is suddenly worth $4 billion.  I’m sure all of that is from Hugo’s army retirement pay.

All of that to say, I’m not sure what sort of example some people need to understand that socialism doesn’t work.  It didn’t work in the USSR.  It hasn’t worked in Cuba. And Venezuela is just the latest example of its failure.

But this is America, where a good portion of the population apparently lives in a fantasy land, is ignorant of the laws of economics or actually believes that the government has money.  And if they don’t believe the government has money, they do believe it has a “right” to yours.  Your progressive agenda from the only progressive Democrat brave enough to call himself what the rest are as well … a Socialist:

 

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We call it the “Venezuela plan”.

~McQ

White House politicizes a tragedy … again

Can’t take a break from ideology and politics to simply comment on a tragedy.  The newswoman and cameraman who were shot and killed on a live TV feed this morning were apparently the perfect fodder for the White House’s anti-gun campaign:

The White House on Wednesday redoubled its call for tougher gun laws in the wake of a shooting that killed two television journalists in Virginia.
“This is another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small all across the United States,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday.
Earnest said there are “common sense” steps Congress can take to reduce gun violence in America without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Well, as Charles C. Cooke points out, this is simply wrong. I.e. the facts (you know, those pesky little things) don’t support the implication.  For instance:
National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Beneath the long-term trend, though, are big differences by decade: Violence plunged through the 1990s, but has declined less dramatically since 2000.
Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.

The facts simply don’t support the statement that this is becoming “all too common” anywhere.  In fact, they say the opposite.  It’s becoming less common.

Don’t forget, the Charleston SC mass murderer was given a government OK to buy a gun even though we found out the background check was faulty. That’s one of those common sense steps that we entrusted to the government and guess what failed?

Cooke frames their argument in the only way that makes any (common) sense and then takes it apart:

If there is an argument to be made, it’s that America has too many gun-related deaths in absolute numbers, and that this drop does not make up for that. Personally, I don’t know what people who say this really mean. As always, we start from where we are, and we are going in the right direction. That’s good, especially given that the positive changes have come at the same time as the laws have been liberalized and the number of guns increased vastly. Either way, though, it is simply not true that there is an “epidemic” or a “surge” or that shootings are becoming “more common.” It’s not even true that mass shootings are up.

In absolute numbers, the people dying in car crashes every day is too high, but you don’t see anyone pushing for the abolishment of cars. Unlike guns, they hold the drunk or reckless or incompetent driver at fault.

But in the era of postmodernism, “facts” are passe.  Now it’s all about the narrative, and the White House has again pushed the narrative forward over the still warm bodies in Roanoke.

Never let a crisis (or apparently a tragedy) go to waste, huh?

~McQ

“Cultural libertarians” v. “Social Justice Warriors”

Or said another way, anti-authoritarians v. authoritarians.  Although the author of the cited article would like you to believe his “coined phrase’ describes a new movement, yeah, not so much.  Some of us have been fighting this battle for over 25 years.  That said, it’s an interesting article.  Here’s the intro (read the whole thing):

A new force is emerging in the culture wars. Authoritarians of all stripes, from religious reactionaries to left-wing “social justice warriors,” are coming under fire from a new wave of thinkers, commentators, and new media stars who reject virtually all of their political values.

From the banning of Charlie Hebdo magazine across British university campuses on the grounds that it promoted islamophobia, to the removal of the video game Grand Theft Auto V from major retailers in Australia on the grounds that it promoted sexism, threats to cultural freedom proliferate.

But a growing number of commentators, media personalities and academics reject the arguments that underpin these assaults on free expression, in particular the idea that people are either too emotionally fragile to deal with “offence” or too corruptible to be exposed to dangerous ideas.

In a recent co-authored feature for BreitbartI coined a term to describe this new trend: cultural libertarianism. The concept was critically discussed by Daniel Pryor at the Centre for a Stateless Society, who drew attention to the increasing viciousness of cultural politics in the internet age.

There is a reason for the sound and fury. Like all insurgent movements, the emergence of cultural libertarianism is creating tensions, border skirmishes, and even the occasional war with lazy incumbent elites. Some of these rows can be breathtakingly vitriolic, as self-righteous anger from social justice types collides with mocking and occasionally caustic humour from cultural libertarians.

It’s not a new trend, folks.  It is as old as anti-authoritarianism – and that’s hardly new.  But it seems, given the nature of man, that opposition to authoritarianism has always been an “insurgent movement”.  For whatever reason, but primarily false “security”, we, as human beings seem to tend toward various aspects of authoritarianism.  My guess is because freedom is hard and it allows a lot of things many of us find a bit hard to tolerate (which is part of the irony, since SJW claim to be “tolerant” but are mostly intolerant of any ideas but their own – and don’t mind looking for ways to stifle those they don’t agree with).

Anyway, I’ve been fighting that battle in this format (blog) for 12 years.  Before that, a few years on usenet, and before the internet, on multiple BBS sites (you remember BBS’s where you used your dial up and nifty PK zip and PK unzip to send message packets).  Authoritarianism didn’t begin when the internet was invented nor has resistance to it been a recent phenomenon.

That said, it’s good that it continues and, in the age of the internet, is growing even more than it was prior to the internet.  That’s because people can find each other no matter where they may be.  And, it seems, they’re doing so.  That’s a very good thing.  It allows “calls to arms” and those of a like mind to rally in opposition.  Of course, that works for the other side as well, but, as has been my experience, when confronted with their own words, especially as they’ve tried to redefine them (especially when you deconstruct them), well, they are rarely ever able to explain the hypocrisy. The phrase “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” has never been more true with confronting SJWs.

The other important thing that happens is the anti-authoritarian arguments are now broadcast more widely, so for those who are interested, they’re readily available.  Some folks know that what they’re hearing from the SJWs isn’t quite right, but they can’t put their finger on the explanation or counter argument.  With the number of well written arguments now published on line in opposition to the authoritarian/SJW arguments, that’s no longer a problem.

Because of the internet, that formerly insurgent movement isn’t necessarily isolated to a geographic region or cultural group.  It’s no longer necessarily “insurgent”.  It now has the ability to spread and spread quickly.  I find that to be a consummate “good thing”, even if some guy at Breitbart who is likely in his mid 20s, thinks this is all “new”.

~McQ

This is how dumb Hillary thinks you are

What a lame, lame, lame excuse – both as a candidate and as an explanation for why everyone should shrug off her possible criminality in the server issue:

Whether the material in her emails that has been flagged as classified is in fact classified is open to debate, Clinton told reporters in Las Vegas Tuesday. “That is not in any way agreed upon,” she said. “The State Department disagrees. That happens all the time in these efforts to say what can go out and what can’t go out. That is a part of the ordinary process.”

Moreover, Clinton said, investigations like the one currently taking place with her emails are nothing new. “Everybody is acting like this is the first time it’s ever happened,” she said. “It happens all the time. And I can only tell you that the State Department has said over and over again, we disagree [that the material is classified]. So, that’s what they’re sorting out and that’s what happens a lot of the times.”

“What you’re seeing now is a disagreement between agencies saying, you know what? They should have, and the other saying no, they shouldn’t,” Clinton concluded. “That has nothing to do with me.”

Well yes it most certainly does.  Because, you see, if you were following instructions to do business on a secure server within the parameters you are required to operate on, Ms. Clinton, the argument would be moot.  You’d be precisely right.  But because you chose to circumvent those safeguards anput an ad hoc insecure server in place outside the system, it is has everything to do with you!

Anyone who swallows this load of Hillary dung deserves to be laughed at when they try to talk about anything seriously.

Because to swallow it, you have to willingly disengage your brain.

~McQ

Ignorance is bliss – until you’re out of work

The more I watch this ignorant populist desire to raise the minimum wage (as far as I’m concerned, the minimum wage is $0) to $15 dollars, the more I wonder why people don’t actually think about the issue and its ramifications before staking out a position “for” the hike.

Oh, wait … think.  Yeah, never mind.  It simply doesn’t happen anymore.  And by the way, the thinking one must do isn’t rocket brain surgery.  It’s pretty much common sense.  So, given the local burger flipper wants $15 bucks an hour to keep flipping those burgers, what is at risk.  Well, mostly, his or her job:

Many chains are already at work looking for ingenious ways to take humans out of the picture, threatening workers in an industry that employs 2.4 million wait staffers, nearly 3 million cooks and food preparers and many of the nation’s 3.3 million cashiers.

Of course they are.  Why?

“When I first started at McDonald’s making 85 cents an hour, everything we made was by hand,” Rensi said — from cutting the shortcakes to stirring syrups into the milk for shakes. Over the years, though, ingredients started to arrive packaged and pre-mixed, ready to be heated up, bagged and handed out the window.

So what does that mean?

Crowded. That’s how Ed Rensi remembers what life was like working at McDonald’s in 1966. There were about double the number of people working in the store — 70 or 80, as opposed to the 30 or 40 there today — because preparing the food just took a lot more doing.

That’s right, as automation and packaging and pre-mix advanced, fewer workers were needed.  It had nothing to do with wages, per se, it had to do with efficiency.  What produced the most money for the work involved.

How does one make a profit?  Well one way is by being efficient.  I.e. producing product at a lower cost than your competition.  So how is the fast food business doing in that department?  Not so hot.

The market research company IBISWorld has calculated that the average number of employees at fast-food restaurants declined by fewer than two people over the past decade, from 17.16 employees to 15.28. And restaurants tend to rely more on labor than other food outlets: According to the National Restaurant Association, dining establishments average $84,000 in sales per worker, compared with $304,000 for grocery stores and $855,000 for gas stations.

So, raise double the wage and what happens to the already poor efficiency?  Right, it goes down.

Then add to that the fact that no manager is going to work for the same wages as his employees.  So if management is earning $15 an hour now, what does that have to go to in order to keep good people (it is one of the primary reasons unions back all minimum wage increases – because they get an increase too)?  And what does that do to the price of a burger?

It makes it skyrocket.

Given that, what will employers in an already inefficient market likely choose to do?  Well right up at the top of the list is a note to reduce staff.  And then there’s “introduce efficiencies” to keep costs down.

Like:

The labor-saving technology that has so far been rolled out most extensively — kiosk and ­tablet-based ordering — could be used to replace cashiers and the part of the wait staff’s job that involves taking orders and bringing checks. Olive Garden said earlier this year that it would roll out the Ziosk system at all its restaurants, which means that all a server has to do is bring out the food.

Robots can even help cut down on the need for high-skilled workers such as sushi chefs. A number of high-end restaurants use machines for rolling rice out on sheets of nori, a relatively menial task that takes lots of time. Even though sushi chefs tend to make more than $15 an hour, they could be on the chopping block if servers need to make $15 an hour, too.

A service contract is much less costly than payroll benefits and there’s no sick leave or missed days involved.

As technology advances, even more jobs will be eliminated.  Not necessarily because employers want to eliminate them, but because bird-brained idiots want to force them to pay $15 for a $5 job.    Who gets hurt?  2.4 million wait staff, 3 million cooks and 3.3 million cashiers.  Yes, that’s right, the stupidly conceived push for a $15 minimum wage will jeopardize 8.7 million jobs.

And as we’ve been asking for a long time, what is $15 x 0?

~McQ

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