“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation.” — Igor Birman
Late last year, I ran across video of Igor Birman, who immigrated to the United States with his family as the Soviet Union was collapsing, warning against a more centralized government healthcare system. Birman, who now serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was explaining that the Soviet system relied on rationing of healthcare, which would be the end result of ObamaCare.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with Birman to discuss his story, the transformation of the United States into a police state, ObamaCare, the budget, and other destructive economic policies that are being pushed by the White House.
When asked about the recent filibuster in the Senate, Birman applauded Sen. Rand Paul and noted that it was refreshing to hear a politician be so passionate. He also compared the policies implemented as part of the “war on terror” to life in the Soviet Union, where the government frequently searched homes of ordinary citizens without cause, which he called a “fact of life,” noting that “you just accepted it as much as you did the cold weather and the long lines for the basic staples of food and water.”
Birman experienced this first-hand. “A week before we left for the United States, we went to say goodbye to my uncle in St. Petersburg and when we came back, we found our apartment just absolutely ravaged,” recalled Birman. “The authorities must have been looking for whatever lame excuse they could find to either delay or disrupt our departure.”
Read these paragraphs and see if you can figure out who wrote them:
The Federal minimum wage has been frozen at $3.35 an hour for six years. In some states, it now compares unfavorably even with welfare benefits available without working. It’s no wonder then that Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, is being pressed by organized labor to battle for an increase.
No wonder, but still a mistake. Anyone working in America surely deserves a better living standard than can be managed on $3.35 an hour. But there’s a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market. A far better way to help them would be to subsidize their wages or - better yet - help them acquire the skills needed to earn more on their own.
An increase in the minimum wage to, say, $4.35 would restore the purchasing power of bottom-tier wages. It would also permit a minimum-wage breadwinner to earn almost enough to keep a family of three above the official poverty line. There are catches, however. It would increase employers’ incentives to evade the law, expanding the underground economy. More important, it would increase unemployment: Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired.
The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable - and fundamentally flawed. It’s time to put this hoary debate behind us, and find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.
Guess? Guess? Hmm? Give up? All right then, the individual who wrote this was…
Last night during a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama gave his fifth the State of the Union address where he laid out his agenda for the next year. As was anticipated, the speech carried over the Leftist themes of last month’s inaugural address and was more aggressive in tone.
Despite recent GDP numbers showing that the economy contracted in the last quarter of 2012, President Obama started off the hour long speech by repeat a familiar line, explaining that “[t]ogether, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.”
After a couple of shots at Congress, President Obama spent a few minutes discussing the sequester, claiming that “both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.” Obama claimed, “we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”
If only that were true. In Cato Institute’s response to the State of the Union address, Michael Tanner explained, “Let’s be absolutely clear — there have been no spending cuts under this President.”
In 2010, the first year that this President was responsible for the budget, the federal government spent $3.4 trillion,” noted Tanner. “Last year, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, and for the first four of last year, we’re spending at a fast pace than the first four months of last year.”
Written by Mark A. Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Rumor has it that Democrats will include, at their up-coming convention, a proposal to increase the minimum wage. As documented in a recent Cato study, such a policy is likely to increase unemployment, especially as I noted elsewhere among teenagers. One would think that given how a weak economy is undermining Democrats’ chance to keep the White House, they’d actually make proposals to reduce, rather than increase unemployment.
It’s pretty hard to kill oneself when you’re already dead. I suppose some vampires have tried it, to end their miserable existence, but I don’t recall any zombies doing so. New York state may be the first to try, however.
The reason being is that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (the Assembly being New York’s equivalent of a “House of Representatives”) has introduced a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.25 an hour:
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, joined by dozens of colleagues from his chamber controlled by Democrats, said census data show nearly half of the U.S. population has fallen into poverty or joined the ranks of the working poor. He said New York’s minimum wage has risen 10 cents in the last six years, it is lower here than in 18 other states, and increasing it is “a matter of human dignity.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has supported previous proposals to raise the minimum and his office will review this one through the legislative session, spokesman Matthew Wing said Monday
Scott Reif, spokesman for Republicans who control the Senate, said the Senate GOP would “continue to promote policies that encourage job growth and make New York a more business-friendly state, just as we did last year partnering with Governor Cuomo.”
The New York Farm Bureau and the state Business Council said raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses, farms and nonprofits that are struggling to meet payrolls now. Farm Bureau President Dean Norton called it “a stealth tax.”
Now that Weiner is out of the way, let’s get back to a more pressing issue: jobs. It’s something that Obama and the Democrats haven’t been doing well on (though I’m not convinced the Republicans have the silver bullet, either.) The most recent unemployment figure rolled out has it back up at 9.1%. But that’s not really a big problem. The real big problem is here is what unemployment is doing to our youth, those aged 16-19. Looking at Table A-16 and doing a little math to combine enrolled and unenrolled, it’s 24%.
And that’s only today’s problem. Like most things political, it’s an even bigger and more disastrous issue for our country down the road. That’s why just tinkering at the edges isn’t going to help; we need to do drastic things. My solution: totally overhaul how minimum wage works, with an eye towards helping youngsters find employment.
You need a combination of two things to land a job: education and experience. As a teenager, you really don’t have experience, and whatever you’re getting out of school, its not an education. An employer could hire you, at at least $7.25 an hour, but when there are older, more experienced workers jostling for any job in this economy, why? You have no skills, no record, and who knows if you’ll be at work on time. It’s a vicious Catch-22, where you need skills and experience to get a job, and a job to get skills and experience. The only role the minimum wage law plays in this is keeping these kids unemployed and unemployable.
Since words are the weapon of choice for many in the political world, it seems to me that having a guide to translate the “feel good” words used in so many discussions of and about politics. This is the beginning of one, and I encourage you to add your own suggestions in the comments.
In case you haven’t heard, the minimum wage jumped last week to $7.25 per hour. This increase, entacted by Congress in 2007 and agreed to by George W. Bush in exchange a war-funding bill without a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
John Stossel has written a great column about the minimum wage and the effect it has on the economy:
The media are never better at displaying their economic illiteracy than when they report on the minimum wage.
How can a government make bad public policy like minimum wage even worse? Use taxpayers to subsidize it. That’s right, the New York legislature will soon increase its minimum wage to from $7.25 to $9 an hour, but they will use taxpayers to subsidize the increase:
A hike in New York’s minimum wage is a big win for Democrats, but a provision buried inside the tentative state budget shows taxpayers will be paying much of the bill.
The “minimum wage reimbursement credit” is spelled out at the bottom of a revenue bill in the budget separate from the minimum wage measure. The credit would reimburse employers for part of the difference in wages from the current $7.25 minimum wage as it rises to $9 an hour by 2016.
Once it reaches $9 an hour, employers would pay 40 cents and taxpayers $1.35 of the extra $1.75 an hour workers are paid.
The cost of the measure approved in closed-door negotiations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders won’t be known publicly until after the budget gets final legislative approval, which is expected by the end of this week. Early estimates are between $20 million and $40 million, with no cap on the total.
The increase in the minimum wage is progressive, gradually increasing over the next three years. The Associated Press notes that the minimum wage will be increased to $8 per hour next year, with taxpayers picking up the 75-cent increase. When the minimum wage rises to $8.75 in 2015, taxpayers will cover $1.31 of the cost. And by 2016, when it rises to $9 an hour, taxpayers will be paying $1.35, as noted in the excerpt above.
Thomas Sowell, a renowned free market economist and author, recently talked about his new book, Intellectuals and Race, in an appearance on Fox News. During the interview, Sowell, who is an African-American, told Tucker Carlson that minimum wage laws have hurt black workers:
In an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” with fill-in host and Daily Caller editor in chief Tucker Carlson, author Thomas Sowell argued that the federal minimum wage law has been used to undermine companies that employ blacks.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, the black unemployment rate was more than double the rate for whites. But prior to the 1930s, Sowell said, black unemployment was actually lower than white unemployment.
“What changed was the government intervention into the labor market,” Sowell said. “1930 was the last year in which there was no federal minimum wage. They brought in the Davis Bacon Act.”