The Real Minimum Wage is Zero


Reason has a post up about how the $15/hour minimum wage in New York City is having an adverse effect on restaurants and restaurant employees who are seeing their hours cut or are being laid off. That’s the Real World result of trying to legislate the economic value of any person’s labor. OTOH, some folks believe a “living” minimum wage is like the rest of socialism; we just haven’t done it right yet.

Anthony Advincula, a spokesman for the ROC [Restaurant Opportunities Center], has argued that such negative effects need not happen in tandem with the city-mandated wage hikes. “Increasing to $15 would reduce income inequality, and the number of individuals living in poverty now is ridiculously high,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “This is not just a business issue, this is a race, gender, pay-equality issue.” But if New York City is any example, the measures pushed by Advincula will only serve to make those issues worse.

Let them eat … um … home cooking.

A Kept Promise


During the 2016 election, Donald Trump made a campaign promise to cut back on federal regulation by requiring bureaucrats to repeal two regulations for each new one they imposed. Paul Bedard reports over at the Washington Examiner that the Administration is claiming it has not only kept that promise but has done better still. The post quotes Russ Vought, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget as saying, “We’ve hit 13 to 1.” The OMB is claiming the resulting reduction in paperwork has saved the economy 33 billion dollars.

The most significant rollbacks have been at the Departments of Labor, Agriculture, and Education and at the EPA.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results, but wow, this sure looks like a good start!

Stressed Cities


WalletHub has a report posted listing the cities in the U.S. with the most-stressed and least-stressed populations. (H/T, Mark Tapscott at Instapundit) I took the cities with the stress scores in the 90th percentile or higher (i.e., the worst 10 percent) and looked up the party affiliations of their mayors. The Gentle Reader may make whatever he wishes of these data.

A More Basic Question


Paul Mirengoff has a post over at PowerLine with A Question for Joe Biden. Biden showed some backbone during the last debate by refusing to apologize for his position on forced school bussing of children across communities for the purpose of achieving racial balance in school. During the Obama administration, HUD promulgated regulations aimed at  “affirmatively furthering fair housing.” AFFH has the goal of moving whole families across town to new neighborhoods to racial balance neighborhood populations. The Trump administration has reinterpreted those regulations, effectively putting them on hold.

Here’s Miregoff’s question for Biden—

I’d like to hear Biden say whether he supports the idea of the federal government conditioning grants to localities on their willingness to require that a certain amount of housing in mostly White neighborhoods be occupied by African-Americans. If Biden says he does this, and I think he almost has to, I’d like to hear him explain why it’s a good idea whereas busing was a bad one.

One possible answer would be that the goal of racial balance is good and that having minority children spread through the community eliminates the need for such bandaids as forced school busing.

I have a more basic question. Is racial balance for its own sake always a good goal? The last census data is almost a decade old, but it’s what we’ve got for now. It showed that blacks make up about 12.6 percent of the U.S. population and that Hispanics make up around 16.3 percent. Should NBA teams be forced to staff their benches with more Hispanics than Blacks? Or should the Lakers have different quotas from the Celtics because of the different balances in their cities? Or should we force families to move from LA to Boston in the name of balance?

Or should we let NBA teams hire on the basis of merit? If we allow a meritocracy in sports, why not in other businesses? Why not elsewhere?

The problem of sorting for merit is that half the population is below average. As a result, any system that sorts for merit tends to disproportionally reward top performers. As a rule of thumb, roughly the square root of any population will do half the work. (This may also be stated as 20 percent of the customers drink 80 percent of the beer.) That rule implies that in a country the size of America about 18,000 people would control half the wealth—and that about a dozen would have control of ten percent of the wealth. That’s not too far off from what we see in the Real World.

So here’s a yet more basic question, if we want to allow the best to rise to the top and given that the Marxist experiments of the 20th century all ended disastrously, what can we do to provide humanely for those among us who aren’t successful?

Dust Biting


The Daily Beast reports that ThinkProgress is for sale. The Progressive news site has been the launching pad for the careers of several prominent leftwing journalists, but it’s losing more money that the Center for American Progress, the leftwing think tank that owns it, can afford. The site is expects to lose $3 million this year.

ThinkProgress has never been profitable. In the past, it has made up its shortfalls with contributions from CAP and CAP donors. Several ThinkProgress alums told The Daily Beast that they believed that CAP could continue covering the deficit but had concluded that the site was too much of an editorial headache and too big a financial drain for them to rationalize doing so.

One of the things I learned even before I took Econ 101 was that if too few people want to pay for your product, it will fail in the market place. ThinkProgress has had over a decade to find a functional business model. It doesn’t have the Real World eyeballs and clicks to survive on ad revenue. It hasn’t attracted a subscriber base. It hasn’t attracted sugar daddy donors. And now, it seems to have become more trouble that it’s worth as a propaganda arm for its related think tank.

I suspect that someone will buy it cheap (Remember when Newsweek sold for a dollar?), and it will struggle along as a vanity project á là The New Republic for a while.