Seattle

So…guns are the problem Seattle?

Seattle is having a very rough time right now.  They have experienced more murders so far this year than they did all last year.  Police are looking for answers, and Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz has something - not someone - to blame.

Seattle police officials Tuesday said the outbreak of violence through Memorial Day weekend and since the beginning of the year has more to do with guns than with gangs.

Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz and Assistant Chief for Operations Paul McDonagh said that, while gang activity has played a role in the jump in homicides this year — 15 to date compared with 21 in all of 2011 — the common denominator is the use of firearms.

“A person who has a gun is more likely to use a gun,” Metz said after the weekly council briefing.

Frankly, there are things I would like to say to Metz that don’t really belong on this kind of website.  For the record, this was published yesterday with no mention of the six more that were killed at the Racer Cafe.

I was informed this morning that one of the dead who’s identity hasn’t been officially released was Kimberly Layfield.  That name means nothing to most of you, but it sure as hell means a lot to me.  Kim was a very special friend.  We went to high school together and were pretty tight in those days, over 20 years ago.  I lost touch with her after I joined the Navy, but thanks to the internet, I caught up with her several years ago.  It was like old times.  There is something like a .001% chance it’s not her though, and I still pray it’s not, but I’m not holding my breath.

The Complicated World of Bigotry

In the greater Seattle suburb of Kirkland, a very quaint and beautiful area where I would love to live someday, there is a grade-A @$$hole who has led a fevered vendetta against gay rights. He’s the pastor of Antioch Bible Church (where he’s been for over two decades) and has not only been a firm opponent of gay marriage, but of anti-discrimination legislation and domestic partnerships. He is arguably to the right of many gay marriage opponents from far more conservative areas of the country.

It’s worth noting that the pastor in question, Ken Hutcherson, is black. Whatever solidarity he is supposed to have as an ethnic minority for a sexual minority is apparently quite lost on him. Ken Hutcherson’s existence shouldn’t be shocking to those with life experience outside of textbook indoctrination. I’ve met many racists and homophobes, some white, some Hispanic, some Asian, and they all come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. It’s nearly a waste of time to confront them about it. Bigotry is not something people like to admit, and if you mention it they tend to act like they’ve been unfairly attacked.

Now that the high emotion surrounding the passage of the health care bill is in the past, it is very important to remember this. Racism and xenophobia is rampant in the culturally homogenous society of Japan, where even those of Japanese ancestry who were born elsewhere have difficulty being accepted. I’ve personally heard very disparaging remarks towards blacks from Hispanics, heard bigoted comments towards blacks from Indians, heard whites say horrible generalizations about black people and vice versa. Racism is not a homogenous factor of one particular ethnic or political group; it’s the result of the natural tribal instinct that we share with our primate cousins.

Today in Liberty: Economy shed 523,000 full-time jobs in June, conservative groups take IRS scandal to federal court

“Governments never learn. Only people learn.” — Milton Friedman

— Yeah, about June’s jobs report: On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 288,000 jobs were added in June. That sounds great on the surface, but the devil is in the details. “The Labor Department’s household survey reveals that the economy lost 523,000 full-time jobs in June. At the same time, it gained an astounding 799,000 part-time jobs - the largest such monthly jump in two decades. Part-time jobs now top 28 million for the first time since last July,” the Washington Examiner notes. “This shift to part-time labor is an echo from June 2013, when the economy added 360,000 part-time jobs and shed 240,000 full-time ones. So why has history thus seemingly repeated itself? One possibility is that Obama decided last July to delay Obamacare’s employer mandate from 2014 to 2015.” Interestingly, Politico ran a story over the weekend pointing out that many Obamacare supporters are now “abandoning the employer mandate” because the provision of the law does “more harm than good.” The relevant data from the June jobs report can be found here (under “full- or part-time status”).

Shocker: Leftist minimum wage policy forces businesses to pass costs to consumers

MasterPark Airport Parking

Travelers who park their cars at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, located in the town of SeaTac, Washington, will see first-hand how the city’s $15 minimum wage is being passed onto consumers in addition to negatively impacting workers, as Matthew Hurtt recently explained.

MasterPark Airport Parking, a valet parking service, is charging customers a 99-cent per day “living wage surcharge,” listing it on receipts with taxes and other fees patrons pay, according to the Washington Policy Center:

Many SeaTac businesses have tacked on an additional fee to mitigate the increased cost of labor. On the receipt below, a $6.93 “living wage surcharge” was added to a $84.00 parking charge. That is the equivalent of a 8.25% tax.
[…]
Contrary to what supporters claim, increasing the minimum wage does not create jobs and stimulate the economy. The higher wages are not free money. The increased cost must either be absorbed by the employer, which is impossible for many who already operate on shoe-string profit margins, or it must be passed on to workers, in the form of reduced hours and benefits, and consumers, in the form of higher prices. Either way, someone pays.

MasterPark explains the surcharge on its website, pointing out that it “covers a portion of the resulting increase in operating costs.” Here’s the copy of the receipt that a customer recently received:

Today in Liberty: Left-leaning law professor slams Obama’s lawless presidency, Bergdahl was never listed as a POW

“A lot of Republicans tend to have top down Soviet style campaigns. It’s very odd for a party that believes in the free market that they run campaigns through command and control centralized control and so they have the politburo. ‘You will go do that. You will go do that.’ And that is disempowering and it doesn’t inspire. It is far more effective having a race that empowers the grassroots.” — Sen. Ted Cruz

— Republicans shift away from “repeal and replace”: Republicans may still want to get rid of Obamacare, but you may not know that from the ads you’ll see this fall. “We are now fighting well across the center line. The entire right half of the country is galvanized against Obamacare,” one GOP ad-maker told the Washington Examiner. “We are now working to pick off people who are not ideologically opposed to it  but who believe it has failed.” David Drucker points out that some strategists are leery of the repeal because it suggests “that the GOP wants to move the country from one disliked health care system (Obamacare) to another disliked system (pre-Obamacare.)” That, of course, is a failure of congressional Republicans. They’ve focused so much on “repeal” in the last four-plus years that they haven’t gotten behind an alternative healthcare reform proposal.

Surprise! Leftist minimum wage policy backfires in Seattle suburb

Seattle Minimum Wage

The Emerald City may witness the economic dangers of hiking the minimum wage to $15/hour sooner rather than later. SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle, hiked the minimum wage for certain service industry employees to $15 at the beginning of the year, and there are already signs that the sudden increase is having a negative impact.

Earlier this month, Seattle voted to raise its minimum wage gradually to $15 by the year 2020. Unlike the SeaTac wage hike, Seattle’s hike will apply to all businesses.

But 15 minutes south near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, employees are already seeing the negative effects of such a hike. A February report from the Seattle Times revealed:

At the Clarion Hotel off International Boulevard, a sit-down restaurant has been shuttered, though it might soon be replaced by a less-labor-intensive cafe…

Other businesses have adjusted in ways that run the gamut from putting more work in the hands of managers, to instituting a small “living-wage surcharge” for a daily parking space near the airport.

That’s not all. According to Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly, some employees are feeling the pinch as employers cut benefits. She recalls a conversation she had with two hotel employees who have been affected by the wage hike:

“Are you happy with the $15 wage?” I asked the full-time cleaning lady.

Today in Liberty: Rand Paul targets nominee over drones memo, young Millennials offer hope for GOP

— Busy week on Capitol Hill: Republicans will hold a vote on a contempt resolution against disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner as well as hold a vote to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups. The lower-chamber may also vote on a measure to establish a select committee on Benghazi. The Senate, however, is likely to vote on some sort of measure to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the only question of which is whether it’ll be binding or a nonbinding “Sense of the Senate” resolution.

No Junk Food, No School Programs

In a modern example of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Seen and the Unseen,” in Seattle, school adiminstrators are finding out that their ban on junk food has actually hurt student activities:

The Seattle School Board is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthful food in high schools amid complaints from student governments that the policy has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in vending-machine profits over the past seven years.

The policy, approved in 2004 — before any state or federal regulations on school nutrition had been established — put Seattle on the cutting edge of the fight against childhood obesity.

But board members now acknowledge they probably went too far. The restrictions, which are more strict than the now-crafted state and federal nutrition guidelines, allow only products such as milk, natural fruit juice, baked chips and oat-based granola bars.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many students are not particularly interested in those items.

(I just want to insert a “Duh!” in here. Like, seriously?)

In 2001, before the junk-food ban was passed, high-school associated student body (ASB) governments across the city made $214,000 in profits from vending machines, according to district data. This year, they’ve made $17,000.

The district promised in 2006 to repay ASBs for the revenue they lost because of the policy. But it never did. So the ASB organizations — which subsidize athletic uniform and transportation costs, support student clubs, hold school dances and fund the yearbook and newspaper, among other expenses — have had to cancel programs and ask students to pay significantly more to participate on athletic teams and in school clubs.

That’s one way to make the point

TSA has caught a lot of flak lately.  I can’t exactly feel bad for them either, since this is of their own making.  The “porno” scanners, groping people, thefts of personal property, and whatever other wacky hi-jinks they’ve been into haven’t made our hearts all a-flutter at the mention of their name.  Apparently, someone has figured out a way to teach them a bit of a lesson:

KC McLawson works for a cafe near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and since the body-scan and patdown controversy last November, her boss has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the TSA knows of his displeasure.“We have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren’t allowed to come into our business,” she says. “We have the right to refuse service to anyone.”

Banning TSA from a restaurant. Seems a little harsh, doesn’t it?

McLawson explains.

My boss flies quite a bit and he has an amazing ability to remember faces. If he sees a TSA agent come in we turn our backs and completely ignore them, and tell them to leave.

Their kind aren’t welcomed in our establishment.

A large majority of our customers — over 90 percent — agree with our stance and stand by our decision.

We even have the police on our side and they have helped us escort TSA agents out of our cafe. Until TSA agents start treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve, then things will change for them in the private sector.

Are Public Schools Becoming Prisons?

This comes from J. Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

It’s not right for a 6-year-old boy to be handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security officer because he “acted up” in school. But that’s exactly what happened at the Sarah T. Reed Elementary School in New Orleans. In keeping with our work to reform the abusive juvenile justice system in the Deep South, we’ve filed a lawsuit against the school district to stop the brutal and unconstitutional policy of chaining students who break minor school rules.

Our client, J.W., is a typical first-grader. He’s just four feet tall and weighs 60 pounds. He enjoys playing basketball, being read to by his parents, coloring and playing outside with friends. But his school treated him like an animal. Within one week, he was twice forcibly arrested, handcuffed and shackled to a chair for talking back to a teacher and later arguing with a classmate over a seat. The amount of force used on J.W. was simply ridiculous and, predictably, inflicted severe emotional distress. Shockingly, this level of punishment is official school policy. We’re not just fighting for the rights of J.W., but for all the students at Reed Elementary.

Unfortunately, J.W.’s story is hardly unique. All across the nation, schools have adopted draconian “zero-tolerance” policies that treat children like criminals and turn schools into prison-like environments. The primary function of school is to help educate our children so that they can become productive, well-informed adults. These policies do just the opposite — they seize on any opportunity to criminalize behavior and eject children from schools, driving up dropout rates.

 


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