The left's beloved ratchet (Updated)

From Ron Radosh at Pajamas, discussing the left's infatuation with the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire story:
Look, for example, at the article by CUNY’s labor historian Joshua Freeman, writing in The Nation. Arguing that the fire took place “at a moment of radical challenge to the national structure of power,” Freeman sees an exactly parallel situation today. He writes:
“Today, as a cult of deregulation, a rabid ethos of unrestricted capitalism and the ability of firms to play workers in one country against those in another have seemingly sent us careening back in time toward a pre–New Deal regime of labor relations, there is less domestic opposition to sweated labor than 100 years ago (though low-paid workers overseas have been increasingly militant, evident in the fusillade of strikes in China). Periodic waves of moral outrage sweep across college campuses in antisweatshop campaigns, but as an organized force, labor has weakened to the point that the percentage of privately employed workers who belong to a union is now lower than in 1911.”

These people are basically whining that all of the consequences that the right has warned them about at every step in their push for more regulation and more state control really are real. It’s like they’ve had their fingers stuck in their ears for the last six decades and are now stomping up and down in a tantrum, because the consequences are finally too big to ignore.

They wanted more-regulated workplaces with unions around every corner, work rules, and benefits galore. The right warned that this would make manufacturing less efficient, increase the cost of labor, and reduce the number of US jobs. The left said, we don’t care, we want it anyway.

They wanted tighter environmental controls on business, driving up the costs of raw materials, energy, production, and delivery. The right warned that this would make domestic manufacturing prohibitively expensive, drive factories overseas, and reduce the number of US jobs. The left said, we don’t care, we want it anyway.

The left wanted higher taxes on business, to the point where the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world. The right warned that this would place domestic companies at a disadvantage, force companies to open and incorporate elsewhere, and reduce the number of US jobs. The left said, we don’t care, we want it anyway.

The left wanted laws on corporate financial reporting so stringent, that CEO’s of private companies are afraid to grow their companies by going public, because they face the threat of federal prison if their financial statements don’t meet with government approval. Instead, they are incorporating overseas, or forgoing the capital infusions of going big and public and staying small and private. The right said that this will drive corporations to other countries, stifle domestic investment, and reduce the number of US jobs. The left said, we don’t care, we want it anyway.

The left wanted laws nearly-nationalizing healthcare insurance, eliminating reduced-coverage and reduced-price options for lower-skilled and lower-pay workers, forcing many companies to either report massive losses on their books (to great hue and cry from the left), to go on bended knee to beg the government for a waiver like a supplicant before a tyrant (my high school physics teacher often pointed out that the definition of tyrant is one who rules arbitrarily,) or to dump their employees’ insurance completely. The right warned this would reduce the number of people who could afford health insurance, increase the costs to business, increase the cost of labor, and thus reduce the number of US jobs. The left said, we don’t care, we want it anyway.

The left wanted more taxes to soak the rich. No one should be that rich, they said. We have the money in this country to do everything our little hearts desire; we just need to take it from those bastards! But those bastards don’t have a safe in the basement filled with gold. It’s invested in stocks, venture capital start-ups, real estate, and the economy. Every time taxes go up on the investor class, the right says this will cost the economy capital for investing in new businesses. Businesses won’t grow, new jobs won’t be created. The left said, we don’t care, we want it anyway.

We’ve had sixty years of the left not listening or caring what the consequences were. Sixty years of the left making it harder to do business and create jobs. We were rich enough to take the hit, they countered. Surely, we’re a rich-enough country to provide all of this. But each law, each tax, each regulation makes it harder and harder to employ people. Sooner or later, the weight of all of it forces a collapse.

What our government and the left must start doing every time a new law is proposed is to ask themselves: will this help marginal employers create jobs, or will it help to destroy jobs? In other words, what are the consequences of each turn of the tax and regulatory ratchet, because sooner or later, the ratchet drives the bolt home, and we’re all royally screwed.

Update: As if on cue, this article appears today from "Ray Buursma is a Laketown Township resident":
You are either stupid or lazy. Maybe both.

Now, I’m not referring to your work ethic or job performance. [...] I’m addressing the way you view economics and employment.
In light of what I wrote above, that's a promising start, right?
[...Y]ou continue to elect leaders who offer nothing but tax cuts, as if that would stem the flow of disappearing jobs.
You knew that was coming, right? Here's more:
Did you demand your leaders address America’s trade imbalance or continuous outsourcing of jobs? [Oh, lord!] Did you demand your leaders require foreign countries to buy a dollar’s worth of American goods for every dollar of goods they sell here? [Dude, we got a dollar's cold hard cash.]

[...] You made concessions to your employer and hoped that would stem the exodus of jobs, or at least yours.
He then goes on to praise unions to the sky. After a while, he lets off this whopper:
Does your company offer a pension plan, or do you now fund your own 401(k)?
Take an econ course, bonehead--either you fund your own retirement plan or you take the money from your kids after you retire. There is no other way. Where the h*&% does he think the money comes from? It comes from what a worker produces, that then gets sold, and the employer keeps part of it, and passes the rest to the employee in wages and benefits. Whether those benefits are a matching contribution to the 401K or some other program. The alternate is if you don't pay for your retirement out of your own productivity, but expect your employer to pay for you later. You get a nice big fat paycheck while you're working, but your kids get screwed, because the fixed benefit pension you enjoy is coming out of their pocket, not yours. Nice work if you can get it. Or does money fall from the sky?
I warned you I’d likely offend you, and I suspect I did. But once you overcome your anger, consider my analysis. Then, either wise up and do something about it, or resign yourself to a lower standard of living for the next decade.
I'm only angered by this guy's breathtaking stupidity.

Of course that's not all. I saw this article because two of my college friends linked to it on Facebook. College educated friends, of course. I reposted it as a form of bait. A junior high teacher of mine has since posted it as well--I don't know if she saw it from me or saw it on her own.

This is the world I grew up in and have lived in all my life, first in liberal Shorewood, Wisconsin; then at liberal Grinnell College; then in liberal Minneapolis; now in Los Angeles. Every single day supplies another reason to shake my head in dismay.

Spring is Sprung

It is a beautiful Spring day here. When it's broiling hot this Summer, remind me how nice this Spring has been and how mild the Winter was.

Full Moon

Here's a big full moon, rising over our neighbors' house.


Rare picture

A sight not seen, but once, in the last 40 years. Dad, without a beard:

Public Union Law Blocked.

What a surprise. I guess I was wrong... I didn't think it would take a whole week to happen.

Code of conduct

A commenter on Instapundit:
Any other city in the world would have seen buildings flattened and the deaths of tens of thousands. To the best of my knowledge not one person in Tokyo died, although I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that some poor soul fell off a ladder.

Sound engineering, preparation, precaution, and technology saved the day. I could walk home last night secure in the knowledge that my kids, wife, and mother-in-law were completely safe despite experiencing the worst earthquake in Japanese history and the fifth-worst in the world ever.
He's absolutely right. If this quake had struck Los Angeles, much of the city would have been destroyed. Why? First this was one h&^% of an earthquake, but also because American engineering codes are not designed for the preservation of structures at all. As I was told when I was studying structural engineering, American codes are designed so that in a major earthquake the buildings fall down slowly.

Does that sound stupid? It isn't really as stupid as it sounds. Buildings in the US are designed for the preservation of life. If a building falls down slowly, the thinking is, then people will have a chance to escape. People live, the building doesn't. Billions of dollars in damage, but a low casualty and death count.

Japan has a much higher standard, both life and structures are supposed to survive.

Because a strong earthquake can be so expensive with the loss of so many structures here, there has been some discussion as to whether the US should adopt Japan's philosophy. But most of the country's earthquake zone buildings were built to the life-only standard.

As with any talk about US, earthquakes, and death and destruction, we must not only consider California, but the bigger fault line: New Madrid--sleeping soundly in the middle of the country. Let's hope it doesn't wake up.

Friendly competition

This from the USGS website:
The earthquake locations and magnitudes cited in NOAA tsunami statements and bulletins are preliminary and are superseded by USGS locations and magnitudes computed using more extensive data sets.
Do I detect a hint of friendly competition? Or something more?

Tax more!!!

Kevin Drum:
Tyler Cowen has put together a list of common mistakes made by left wing economists. I'm not an economist, but I'm left wing and I comment on economics, so close enough. So I'm going to go through the list and note where I stand on each of his items. I'm not going to explain things or justify myself, I'm just going to stake out my position in a sentence or two. Here are Tyler's 14 mistakes:...
9. Overly optimistic views of the fiscal positions of state governments. Since the states don't have the same tax-raising powers that the feds do, and since state government spending is favored, there is a tendency to see these fiscal crises as not so severe, or as caused by mere obstructionists who will not raise taxes to the required levels.
In general, there might be something to this. Right now, however, state problems are largely caused by drops in revenue, not out-of-control spending, and many state problems are indeed caused by obstructionists who will not consider tax increases in any way, shape or form. However, it's possible that I'm biased in my views because I live in California.
Hello? "Problems are indeed caused by obstructionists who will not consider tax increases" California?

California is one of the most heavily taxed states in the country. High property taxes, high income taxes, high car taxes, high sales taxes, high business taxes, high environmental taxes, high breathing taxes. And yet Drum calls out California's tax "obstructionists" as being at fault in our fiscal nightmare? How about the fact that, despite full knowledge of California's meltdown, spending has skyrocketed under Schwarzenegger. Since 2003 spending has increased by 40%. This despite the fact that Grey Davis was recalled in part because of the cost overruns of the state government. Schwarzenegger and the Democrats went right on spending for the better part of another decade. And Drum thinks it's the revenue side that's the problem?

How about tallying up the unfunded mandates--in particular the unfunded pension leviathan?
Overall the numbers look like this: California's state retirement systems have promised current and retired workers around $3.35 trillion in pension, health care, and other post-employment befits as of 2008 but have $2.35 trillion on hand to pay for them. Strictly looking at the retirement system, there were $454 billion in pension and benefits on the book in 2008, $59 billion was unfunded liability, that means that the fund had the assets to cover 87 percent of its obligations. [ Data originated with a Pew Center study.]
Sure, Drum. It's the revenue side that's the problem, not the insane amount of spending and promising to spend. California has been doomed for over a decade because the politicians can't help but spend our money, our kids' money, our grandkids' money, our great grandkids' money....

Run! Run for your lives!!!

Of course that's what everyone with five brain cells and the ability to do so is doing.

One Day, Maybe Two...

... before some judge declares the Wisconsin Senates's action re collective bargaining for public employees null and void. It's a sure thing, no?

Color Me Skeptical

I am mulling over the following, which I posted as a comment here.

I have a question about Iowahawk’s analysis. In his follow-up post he describes Simpson’s paradox…:

“Hitter B has a higher batting average against both righties and lefties, but Hitter A has a higher overall average by dint of facing a different mix of pitchers. Now comes the question: it’s the bottom of the 9th, two out, and you need a base hit. Who would you insert as a pinch hitter, A or B? The detailed data suggests Hitter B, irrespective of whether the pitcher was right- or left-handed. The overall average, in this context, is worse than meaningless – it leads you to exactly the wrong conclusion.”

If this is legit analysis, it opens a can of worms, I think. Suppose that instead of handedness, we had pitchers with and without some “X Factor.” Suppose we didn’t even know what the X Factor is. Suppose we didn’t even know what the proportion of pitchers in the league have the X Factor. But suppose some third party did know, and simply provided us with a breakdown of our two hitters’ averages against the two types of pitchers, and they formed a Simpson’s paradox. Would it still be “wrong” to put in hitter A? Is it better to put in B, because he is better at hitting against both X and not-X pitchers? Color me skeptical.

Science reporting

How stupid are science reporters? How about this from MSNBC:
"The images show that refrozen ice makes up 24 percent of an area known as Dome A, a 13,800-foot-high plateau roughly the size of California. Much of the sheet and refrozen ice lies atop an underground mountain range."
What is this, Jules Verne? Journey to the Center of the Earth? How can you have an UNDERGROUND mountain range???

Someone's out of touch

THE HILL POLL: U.S. future depends on cutting debt, voters say
By Bernie Becker - 03/07/11 06:10 AM ET

Likely voters overwhelmingly believe deficit reduction is crucial to America’s future, but generally oppose raising revenue through tax reform to cut those deficits, a new poll conducted for The Hill found.

A full 95 percent of likely voters believe that lowering the debt is either very or somewhat important, the poll found
The other 5% seem to be all my friends on Facebook. I've heard: "When will people realize that socialism is the answer!!" and echoing Michael Moore's "There's no problem, we have plenty of money!!!" even before he said it, and "We can pay off everything if we kill the DoD, so what's the problem?"


I love this on Instapundit today
AT AMAZON, a sale on typewriters. They still make those? As with VCRs, I’m tempted to buy a couple just to hoard against the day when they don’t . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ben Samuels doesn’t like that manual typewriter link: “Geebus, Glenn – did you read the reviews??? They say it’s a worthless piece of Chinese crap. You’d have been better off giving readers the link to a used Selectric.”

I replied: “I didn’t think anyone would actually buy one. I mean, good God. Maybe after an EMP attack you’d want a manual typewriter, except how much typing would you actually do?”

MORE: The inevitable followup email:
I know somebody who knows a guy who can get you a great deal on a sturdy 40 year old model that can handle superscripting.

Dan Rather
Heh. (Via Brian Gates.)

Not a Parody

Something else caused by Climate Change: insanity.

Now I'm changing my life again. Today, underneath the solar panels, there's a new set of deadbolt locks on all my doors. There's a new Honda GX390 portable power generator in my garage, ready to provide backup electricity. And last week I bought a starter kit to raise tomatoes and lettuce behind barred basement windows.

I'm not a survivalist or an "end times" enthusiast. When it comes to climate change, I'm just a realist.

Does the Washington Post think this guy's thoughts are rational? Very sad.