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President Donald Trump drives people crazy.
Especially those in the media.
They hate him so much, they leap on every anti-Trump rumor.
The Federalist's Jordyn Pair points out that the press repeatedly told us that a dozen Trump administration members were about to be fired, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and strategists Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.
Months later, all still work for or with the administration.
I actually wish Sessions had been fired, but Trump's staff reshufflings are no more frequent than those of other administrations, including President Obama's. The media so desperately want something bad to happen, to prove Trump's unqualified, that they blow stuff up.
New York Times writers are so upset by Trump's rants against them that they act like he's a Venezuelan dictator who will shut them down. (Wait, don't Times socialists like Venezuelan dictators?)
"Independent Press Is Under Siege as Freedom Rings" was one recent headline.
"The First Amendment," wrote the normally sensible media columnist Jim Rutenberg, "is under near-daily assault from the highest levels of the government."
The "assault" cited was Trump's tweeting out a fake wrestling video, which depicted, as Rutenberg put it, "himself tackling and beating a figure with a CNN logo superimposed."
So what? The video, like professional wrestling, was childish and unpresidential. But it doesn't put the press "under siege." It's a lame joke.
Rutenberg goes on to ask how we can feel good about Independence Day and press freedom "when the president lashes out at The Washington Post by making a veiled threat against the business interests of its owner, Jeff Bezos, suggesting that his other company, Amazon, is a tax avoider. (Where have we seen that sort of thing before -- Russia maybe?)"
Hello? In Russia, Putin probably murdered reporters. Trump merely suggested that Bezos dodges taxes.
I threw that at Rutenberg. He emailed back, "That wasn't a reference to murder (but) to executive authority using tax code to squelch free-speech." In Russia, media that criticized Putin were raided and accused of tax fraud.
But Trump hasn't done any of that. There's speculation that he will block a Time Warner merger, but hasn't done it.
Another annoying Times headline: "The Network Against the Leader of the Free World."
The story complained about Trumps "denunciations (of CNN) in stinging tweets and slashing speeches."
Poor CNN. Except the story also quoted the company's president bragging about viewership that's "the highest in the network's history." For some reason, it didn't mention that CNN's audience is still less than half that of Fox.
But my main objection to that story's headline is the phrase "Leader of the Free World."
The line first appeared in The New York Times when I was 1 year old. An economist argued that the U.S., the "leader of the free world," should lead the fight against Communism.
That made sense. The U.S. was and is the world's wealthiest and most powerful country.
But no president is "leader of the free world." Does President Trump lead Japan? Iceland? Does he lead you?
He's not my leader. The president leads one of three branches of government. He's commander in chief of the armed services. He's not "leader of the free world."
The media obsess about Trump's speeches, tweets and narcissistic behavior as if he were king of the world. But even the president is just one man in a very large bureaucracy.
There are legitimate reasons to worry about what Trump might do. I worry that he'll start a trade war. Or a shooting war. There's plenty to worry about.
So why make things up?
If you worry that Trump will destroy your way of life, the smartest thing to do is to decrease the power of all presidents: Shrink the executive branch back to the humble role it had when the founders wrote the Constitution.
Make sure Congress passes declarations of war before the U.S. goes to war. Don't let any president rule through executive orders. Make sure Congress passes laws instead of letting federal agencies write rules.
A president's job is to execute laws. The fewer and simpler those laws, the easier it will be to prevent crazy things from happening.
John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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There are political movements to push the federal minimum hourly wage to $15. Raising the minimum wage has popular support among Americans. Their reasons include fighting poverty, preventing worker exploitation and providing a living wage. For the most part, the intentions behind the support for raising the minimum wage are decent. But when we evaluate public policy, the effect of the policy is far more important than intentions. So let's examine the effects of increases in minimum wages.
The average wage for a cashier is around $10 an hour, about $21,000 a year. That's no great shakes, but it's an honest job for full- or part-time workers and retirees wanting to earn some extra cash. In anticipation of a $15-an-hour wage becoming federal law, many firms are beginning the automation process to economize on their labor usage.
Panera Bread, a counter-serve cafe chain, anticipates replacing most of its cashiers with kiosks. McDonald's is rolling out self-service kiosks that allow customers to order and pay for their food without ever having to interact with a human. Momentum Machines has developed a meat-flipping robot, which can turn out 360 hamburgers an hour. These and other measures are direct responses to rising labor costs and expectations of higher minimum wages.
Here's my question to supporters of higher minimum wages: How compassionate is it to create legislation that destroys an earning opportunity? Again, making $21,000 a year as a cashier is no great shakes, but it's better than going on welfare, needing unemployment compensation or idleness. Why would anybody work for $21,000 a year if he had a higher-paying alternative? Obviously, the $21,000-a-year job is his best known opportunity. How compassionate is it to call for a government policy that destroys a person's best opportunity? I say it's cruel.
San Francisco might give us some evidence for what a $15 minimum wage does. According to the East Bay Times, about 60 restaurants around the Bay Area closed between September and January. A recent study by Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Dara Lee Luca of Mathematica Policy Research calculated that for every $1 hike in the minimum hourly wage, there is a 14 percent increase in the likelihood that a restaurant rated 3 1/2 stars on Yelp will go out of business. Fresno Bee reporter Jeremy Bagott says that even some of San Francisco's best restaurants fall prey to higher minimum wages. One saw its profit margins fall from 8.5 percent in 2012 to 1.5 percent by 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/y6wy3gne). Most restaurants are thought to require profit margins between 3 and 5 percent to survive.
Some think that it's greed that motivates businessmen to seek substitutes for labor, such as kiosks, as wages rise. But don't blame businessmen; just look in the mirror. Suppose both McDonald's and Burger King are faced with higher labor costs as a result of higher minimum wages. McDonald's lowers its labor costs by installing kiosks and laying off workers, but Burger King decides to not automate but instead keep the same amount of labor. To cover its higher labor costs, Burger King must charge higher prices for its meals, whereas McDonald's gets by while charging lower prices. Which restaurant do you think people will patronize? I'm guessing McDonald's. What customers want is an important part of a company's decision-making.
But there are other actors to whom companies are beholden. They are the companies' investors, who are looking for returns on their investments. If one company responds appropriately to higher labor costs, it will produce a higher investor return than one that does not. That means "buy" signals for the stock of a company that responds properly and "sell" signals for the stock of one that does not, as well as possible outside takeover attempts for the latter.
The best way to help low-wage workers earn higher wages is to make them more productive, and that's not accomplished simply by saying they are more productive by mandating higher wages.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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Is there no limit to the level of disgusting behavior on college campuses that parents, taxpayers, donors and legislators will accept? Colleges have become islands of intolerance, and as with fish, the rot begins at the head. Let's examine some recent episodes representative of a general trend and ask ourselves why we should tolerate it plus pay for it.
Students at Evergreen State College harassed biology professor Bret Weinstein because he refused to leave campus, challenging the school's decision to ask white people to leave campus for a day of diversity programming. The profanity-laced threats against the faculty and president can be seen on a YouTube video titled "Student takeover of Evergreen State College" (http://tinyurl.com/yah2eo3p).
What about administrators permitting students to conduct racially segregated graduation ceremonies, which many colleges have done, including Ivy League ones such as Columbia and Harvard universities? Permitting racially segregated graduation ceremonies makes a mockery of the idols of diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion, which so many college administrators worship. Or is tribalism part and parcel of diversity?
Trinity College sociology professor Johnny Eric Williams recently called white people "inhuman assholes." In the wake of the Alexandria, Virginia, shooting at a congressional baseball practice, Williams tweeted, "It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be 'white' will not do, put (an) end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemF---ingDie"
June Chu, dean of Pierson College at Yale University, recently resigned after having been placed on leave because of offensive Yelp reviews she had posted. One of her reviews described customers at a local restaurant as "white trash" and "low class folk"; another review praised a movie theater for its lack of "sketchy crowds." In another review of a movie theater, she complained about the "barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese."
Harvey Mansfield, a distinguished Harvard University professor who has taught at the school for 55 years, is not hopeful about the future of American universities. In a College Fix interview, Mansfield said, "No, I'm not very optimistic about the future of higher education, at least in the form it is now with universities under the control of politically correct faculties and administrators" (http://tinyurl.com/y7qadxlz). Once America's pride, universities, he says, are no longer a marketplace of ideas or bastions of free speech. Universities have become "bubbles of decadent liberalism" that teach students to look for offense when first examining an idea.
Who is to blame for the decline of American universities? Mansfield argues that it is a combination of administrators, students and faculties. He puts most of the blame on faculty members, some of whom are cowed by deans and presidents who don't want their professors to make trouble. I agree with Mansfield's assessment in part. Many university faculty members are hostile to free speech and open questioning of ideas. A large portion of today's faculty and administrators were once the hippies of the 1960s, and many have contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the values of personal liberty. The primary blame for the incivility and downright stupidity we see on university campuses lies with the universities' trustees. Every board of trustees has fiduciary responsibility for the governance of a university, shaping its broad policies. Unfortunately, most trustees are wealthy businessmen who are busy and aren't interested in spending time on university matters. They become trustees for the prestige it brings, and as such, they are little more than yes men for the university president and provost. If trustees want better knowledge about university goings-on, they should hire a campus ombudsman who is independent of the administration and accountable only to the board of trustees.
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Did you think about the signing of the Declaration of Independence this week?
The July 4 holiday is meant to honor that, not just fireworks. Ironically, government's grown so much since 1776 that fireworks might be illegal in your town.
The Declaration wasn't about creating rules for citizens to obey. It wasn't just about condemning the British, either.
Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues created a document steeped in the idea of individual rights. He could have written about the desire to replace a bad king with a good king, but he didn't.
The founders' bold plan was to design a completely new sort of country -- one where people could rule themselves.
The Colonies were already known around the world for being a place where enterprising people could chart their own destiny. Now they would become a nation.
The population grew quickly as opportunity attracted immigrants. There were no walls to stop people from coming ashore and few rules to stop anyone from building a home or a business, or trying out new ideas.
So people prospered.
When the Declaration was written, no one had indoor plumbing or running water. Just 3 million people lived here. Most were much poorer than their relatives in England.
But within a century, America was the most prosperous country in the world.
Although it's the Declaration that we celebrate on the Fourth, it was another document, the Constitution, ratified 12 years later, that really gave the details of the system of limited government that would shape America.
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Many Keynesian economists, including the folks in the current U.S. administration, believe that stimulating a down economy is a simple matter of spending enough money. When the private sector slows down, the government fills the gap by spending more, and they don't much care what the money is spent on, just spend it. They point to government spending and jobs programs in the 40's and 50's as proof that such stimulus can be effective. The problem is, this isn't the 40's and 50's and it wasn't the spending in and of itself that helped the economy.
The most obvious difference between then and now is the number of people required to do a large project. Back in the day, building a highway or a dam or a bridge required hundreds or even thousands of individual workers. These days the same projects can be done with dozens. That's why our nearly $1 trillion stimulus program resulted in only a handful of jobs at a ridiculous cost per job. Furthermore, with all the regulations and procedures put in place in the name of protecting the environment and workers and whatever else requires extensive study, just getting a project underway can take many years. Even President Obama learned that, and lamented that the jobs weren't as "shovel ready" as he thought.
If roads and bridges need to be built, updated, repaired, so be it. But that's not going to create a bunch of jobs or pull the economy out of recession. There just aren't enough people involved and the time period is too spread out.
Another difference between then and now is that, for the most part, public works projects were things that were actually in demand and that furthered the engineering and manufacturing revolution that came about due to World War II. There was the Trans Alaska Highway and the Hoover Dam for example. These were not roads to nowhere or speculation on technology that had not been proven in the market place.
So what's a government to do if simply spending more money isn't going to get the job done? There's really only one path left. There are thousands of small businesses within 20 miles of my house. If each had the confidence and optimism to hire one worker, that would be one heck of a jobs program. They don't need hand outs, or programs or grants from the government. They just need fewer regulations, less paperwork and the flexibility to negotiate with employees for pay and benefit packages that work for both, rather than with a government that's not involved in any aspect of the production process, except for those that slow it down and make it less efficient.
Government trying to control and direct the free market is like the Lenny character in "Of Mice and Men", and the free market is a bunny rabbit. Put the bunny down and give it some room to run before you do something you can't undo.