Election 2016, August 21–August 27

The presidential campaign continues.  What are your thoughts?

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42 thoughts on “Election 2016, August 21–August 27

  1. Good article on the perception of overreach by the Obama administration in its handling of transgender students.

    “While this last aspect of the decision may seem like a dry procedural back-and-forth, it speaks to the tension at the core of this court dispute: At least for the purposes of the law, the American people have not had much chance to speak out on what “sex discrimination” should mean, or who they want to be protected under the law.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/why-a-court-blocked-the-obama-administrations-transgender-guidelines/496850/

  2. WCE, my DH agrees on Obama overreach in some areas. He does labor and employment law, and they’re all still scrambling to deal with the fact that Obama doubled the overtime salary threshold. If he had raised it a little bit, or announced a multi-year phase-in, it would have been manageable, but doubling it all of a sudden has been a huge pain.

  3. There is a young transgender person in my close friends/family network. He/she presents as the desired gender, and has been using those restrooms for several years with no issues for anyone. My sample size is one, but this one would have been absolutely mortified to be singled out for special accommodating treatment or to want anyone else to be made uncomfortable in order that he/she can use the desired restroom. These issues can and should be worked out on a case-by-case basis by the people most directly affected. Instead, the administration has focused time, attention, and resources for the primary purpose of pandering to the gay and transgender communities in an election year, without regard to the real harm it may cause to a very troubled group of kids and to their larger communities. School-age transgender children are a statistical blip among the special needs population, and look how many resources have been wasted on this non-issue while other serious issues, such as the abysmal failure of many school systems to produce minimally literate graduates, are neglected.

  4. Rocky – that’s one of Obama’s domestic* policies that I’ve always supported.

    * I don’t know of any reason to disagree with his international policies.

  5. Re: Rocky’s comments about the doubling of the OT threshold, I feel the same way about $15 minimum wage. I absolutely agree it is time to raise it, but there is a lot of white space between $7 and change and $15. Incremental, planned changes so other salaries and prices can adjust makes more sense to me.

  6. It’s perfectly true that lots of “assistant managers” at fast food joints were being exploited. The salary cutoff had to go up. But doubling it overnight?

  7. RMS, I think I would enjoy a discussion with your husband. I think a $15/hr minimum wage would be inflationary and reduce the number of jobs. Lots of jobs around me that pay less than $15 are “government funded”- classroom assistants, CNA’s, school cafeteria assistants, head start assistants. The state minimum wage here is above the federal level, but the legislature recently passed an aggressive increase to be implemented over the next few years. We’ll see what happens.

    Businesses can choose to raise prices, close, or be open fewer hours as a response to the $15/hr minimum wage, but childcare centers and nursing homes are left with the option of raising prices.

  8. Finn, you’re right that the nursing homes and childcare centers could also close, but I don’t think that’s the goal of the people pushing for a $15/hr minimum wage. :)

  9. “But doubling it overnight?”

    That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…

    Beginning the first year with those whose last names start with “A” through “F,” to be followed in 1864 by those whose last names start with “G” through “L”..,

    :)

  10. I know, just joking with you. I can see the point of a gradual implementation, but maybe he was thinking that an exec order is always fragile, anyway, so best to get it done and in place and if someone wants to subsequently weaken or retract it, they’ll be taking something away.

    I normally side with business, so I’m less than comfortable on this side of the fence, but I see it more about ensuring the logical execution of existing laws, as they were intended. I also think (probably based on my Navy experience), that many employers need a stick like overtime rates to respect the time of their employees.

  11. I also think (probably based on my Navy experience), that many employers need a stick like overtime rates to respect the time of their employees.

    Employees who are not in the military can quit at any time and find other employment

  12. “Businesses can choose to raise prices…, ”

    Please explain why, if businesses can raise prices that they haven’t already done so.

  13. Cordelia, a restaurant might optimize net profit by being open 16 hr/day and paying employees $10/hr. At $15/hr, net profit might be optimized by being open only 6 hr/day.

    I suspect the business wants to maximize net profit, not maximize individual prices.

  14. Cordelia – I know, I know. It gives me no pleasure to take this position.

    But…would you say the same about OSHA? Coal miners can find other work if they think the mine’s particulate or toxic DAC is too dangerous.

  15. I agree that businesses want to maximize net profit. However, if they could raise prices without losing business they would have already done so.

  16. To me, a higher minimum wage would change the business community to be more like that in Scandinavia. For example, you would have a dramatic decrease in the number of restaurants, the remaining ones would be more expensive, and people would cook more at home. Retail establishments would probably decrease in number and be open fewer hours. Farms/businesses whose price is based on a rough price model would be badly hurt, but the effect wouldn’t be much different than, for example, the endanger species act on logging or the effect of a carbon tax on coal mining.

    I think a $15/hr minimum wage is a stupid idea, but it’s coming to my state.

  17. WCE, what leads you to conclude that there are fewer restaurants per capita in Scandinavia? I recalled Stockholm as having plenty of restaurants, although that was some time ago. My googling hasn’t turned up any actual statistics, but lots of repetitions of the claim that Stockholm has the highest / one of the highest numbers of restaurants per capita in Europe. And on a per country basis, the best I could find was this http://www.statista.com/statistics/204575/restaurant-visits-per-capita-2010-by-country/ , with the U.S. in the middle of the pack with European countries on either side of us (no Scandinavian ones listed) and Japan as the high-end outlier.

  18. I didn’t mean to say there were fewer restaurants per capita, but that fewer meals were eaten in restaurants. I think it depends on the definition of restaurant (sausage at a convenience store isn’t taxed like served restaurant food). I don’t have any statistics, just comments from friends who have visited/lived over there and my own observations a dozen years ago.

    It’s certainly possible that as families sizes have shrunk and Stockholm has become wealthier, people are eating out more.

  19. I also think (probably based on my Navy experience), that many employers need a stick like overtime rates to respect the time of their employees.

    Absolutely.

  20. “WCE, my DH agrees on Obama overreach in some areas. He does labor and employment law, and they’re all still scrambling to deal with the fact that Obama doubled the overtime salary threshold. If he had raised it a little bit, or announced a multi-year phase-in, it would have been manageable, but doubling it all of a sudden has been a huge pain.”

    this was long past due, but I can see your point, maybe it should have had a tier in there

  21. Fast food pricing has gotten interesting (primarily at McDonald’s, but many others have followed suit to some degree), because they openly operate it on two tiers. There’s the main, advertised menu of all the items with big pictures and new products moving in and out–Chicken and Bacon McClub, or something–and you’ll pay about $4 for the entree or $7 for a meal with fries and a drink. And then there’s the value menu off to the side, with the old McChicken, and the McDouble*, and they’re using the same chicken patty that goes on the McClub, and they’re using the same beef patties that go on the Big Mac, but they’re different menu items and are maybe $1.50. And you can add a small fries and a small drink (the size of which is mostly irrelevant with free refills) and it’s $3.50. I suspect that there’s a significant portion of their customers who operate exclusively from the Value Menu.

    I think WCE’s analysis that a lot of places like 24-hour retailers will find it’s not profitable to stay open from midnight to 4 am under $15/hr min. wage, and others will find it’s not profitable to open at all in certain locations, but a big effect to McDonald’s will probably be that they effectively eliminate the lower-tiered half of the menu.

    *The McDouble replaced the Double Cheeseburger when they were still trying to hang onto the Dollar Menu title. They’re the same sandwich, minus the second slice of American cheese.

    Interesting article at the other end of the low-wage spectrum:
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/graduate-students-can-unionize-at-private-colleges-u-s-labor-panel-rules-1471972147

  22. OSHA is valuable. Worker safety is important, however, as with most things, the level of detail and nitpickiness is crucial. Also, the government should be subject to all the same regulations it imposes on private businesses.

    For example, in my state, there are regulations regarding heat safety. First note that Little League does not follow these same rules and conditions that are too onerous for grown adults are just find for 8 year olds.

    These regulations require that under certain conditions (temps over 85 degrees) employers provide water and shade. Note that this is the California, not the eastern humid places where 85 degrees is really equivalent to 105. However, the state is not required to provide its employees water or shade. As employers, we are required to make sure that employees drink water and not energy drinks or sodas. Exactly how am I supposed to enforce that rule, and keep my employees? They would be insulted.if I tell them they can’t have a monster drink, they can only drink water.

  23. Regarding minimum wage, I am not certain that fast food joints are the most relevant businesses to discuss, although Seattle’s experiment is instructive. They raised minimum wage to $15 within city limits. Apparently there is already business migration. Fast food joint have both an extremely local and relatively price insensitive client base.

  24. What other kinds of businesses, Cordelia? This is an honest question. I always associate minimum wage with fast food.

  25. RMS,

    I was thinking of manufacturing and farming. Basically industries that compete globally, and so compete against other companies with different cost structures. My competitors in Spain, Australia, China and Chile have significantly cost structures and regulatory environments than I do. Some are to my benefit, others not.

    Minimum wage is often a jumping off point for wage negotiations. In my experience, few people want to hire or be minimum wage workers. If someone is hired at minimum wage, it is generally because they are unskilled, and to see if they are trainable. If they are trainable, dependable, and can learn the job, then either they get a pay raise, or they go work for someone else at a higher rate. Any person who has some skills, dependability, trainability will not work at minimum wage. They expect minimum wage plus X.

    So, industries that don’t pay their workers minimum wage will still see an increase in labor costs because their employees will demand a higher pay rate. Employers are always balancing labor and capital expenses. If labor costs increase, one response is to invest more heavily in capital and use less labor.

    I recently went on a tour of a manufacturing plant and one of the striking features was the relative scarcity of employees and the technologies strategies that management was using to maintain productivity.

    I am not sure is this answers your question, and I think I am rambling.

  26. I thought farming largely depended on undocumented workers who work for less than minimum wage.

  27. I thought farming largely depended on undocumented workers who work for less than minimum wage.

    While a large proportion of farm labor is from the illegal alien pool, paying people less than minimum wage is insanely risky. I believe the workers get treble damages, if they are paid less than the legal amount, and the employer is still on the hook for all applicable employment taxes as if they had paid the legal wage.

  28. I think pickers are largely paid by the piece, which often does not add up to minimum wage

  29. The law states that if you pay piecework rates employees must make at least minimum wage. The state employment development department should enforce the law.

    According to that article, the pickers met with the grower and came up with a solution that fulfilled the law. Hamilton jr alleged that he was paid less than minimum wage in other states, but has no proof.

    NPR is generally fairly anti ag:

  30. Blueberries as a whole do not even constitute their own category in the Ag Statistics put out by the National Ag Statistics Service.
    https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Ag_Statistics/2015/Cover%20and%20front%20pages.pdf

    So it is very unclear how representative Michigan blueberries are about ag in general. Apparently, Michigan only produced 92 millions lbs of blueberries in 2014, which, although that placed it as third in the nation in blueberry production. That level of production is miniscule
    http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-top-blueberry-states-in-america.html

  31. RMS, HRC is an intelligent, competent politician playing the game by the rules politicians (of both parties) have long played by. People who investigate her foundation’s activities are “enemies” in the same sense that people who supported Gore over Bush are Bush’s “enemies.”

    I will admit to being puzzled by those who admire HRC’s rise to riches “even knowing that her tax returns would be routinely scrutinized.” She used her past and likely future position to compel tribute from Wall Street firms. While not illegal, giving speeches for pay based on one’s political position is in no way comparable to starting or running a successful company and is not, in my opinion, even comparable to Mitt Romney’s career in business.

  32. I had not heard of that meme before you posted it, RMS, but I want the tee shirt!

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