Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cruising the Web

Ah, economics still works as we're seeing the impact of San Francisco's hiking of the minimum wage on restaurants. Austin Yack links to a Harvard Business School study.
According to a study published last week by the Harvard Business School, “Survival of the Fittest: The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Firm Exit,” “a $1 increase in the minimum wage [in the San Francisco Bay Area] leads to an approximate 14 percent increase in the likelihood of exit [from the industry] for the median 3.5-star restaurant.” The study utilized Yelp, a website on which customers review restaurants and businesses, when defining its one-to-five-star rating scale.

The study examined restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area between 2008 and 2016, and concluded that restaurants with lower Yelp ratings are more likely to go out of business during a time in which the city’s minimum wage is increasing on average $1 per year. The conclusion: That over the next two years, San Francisco’s restaurant industry — the industry with the highest percentage of minimum-wage workers — will likely shrink, as nearly 6,000 restaurant employers contemplate whether paying $15 per hour salaries is feasible....

That, sadly, is typical. In a city where a two-bedroom apartment to rent costs on average $4,650 per month, a $15 minimum wage will do little to help those who are struggling — especially if they lose their jobs. San Francisco already caters primarily to the rich. In an attempt to reverse course, the city has instead guaranteed that it will stay that way.
And fewer restaurants will open up.
"The impact on exit is concentrated among lower quality restaurants, which are already closer to the margin of exit. This suggests that the ability of firms to adjust to minimum wage changes could differ depending on firm quality," the study found. The higher-rated restaurants can adjust, primarily through working their employees harder.

Higher minimum wages also reduce the rate at which new restaurants open by 4-6 percent per $1 increase in the minimum, the study found.

Just what economists would have predicted. Who wouldn't realize that, if government makes it more expensive to hire employees, employers will either hire fewer employees or shut down?

Jazz Shaw comments,
Proponents of higher minimum wage levels will likely want to point to the fact that not all restaurants are affected equally. As the Harvard study found, the most expensive and highly rated restaurants don’t seem to be affected at all. The closures and cutbacks are hitting all of the more modest priced outlets with lower customer ratings. Unfortunately for San Francisco’s workforce, that’s the majority of them. And the difference they are seeing makes total sense. If a five star restaurant which already charges fifty dollars for a steak has to raise their prices by 10% to cover the higher labor costs, the clientele they are attracting probably won’t complain too much. They are serving the sorts of people who can afford to pay well for good service and top rated chow. But a price increase which hits the places serving those who are counting their pennies will drive patrons away rather quickly....

We’ve seen this in one city after another. Rapid increases in labor costs simply can’t be ignored by the free market no matter how politically popular they are. And San Francisco is just the latest location to learn this lesson the hard way.

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Having solved all his city's other problems, Rahm Emanuel has a proposal for the city's schools.
Under the proposal, all Chicago Public School students starting with this year’s freshman class would have to show an acceptance letter to a four-year university, a community college, a trade school or apprenticeship, an internship, or a branch of the armed services in order to receive their high school diploma.

“Around 62 percent of our kids are already either accepted into college or accepted into community college, and our goal is to make sure nobody spikes the ball at 12th grade,” Emanuel said on Wednesday. “We want to make 14th grade universal. That’s the new goal line.”
Bethany Mandel comments,
Wouldn’t logic dictate that if public high school, an institution that already costs taxpayers a lot of money, is failing, the answer is not to add more expensive schooling requirements but rather to improve what is already there?

Chicago’s proposal is a perfect example of what public policy looks like when it is shaped by individuals who were raised with advantages (and don’t have a clue how people without them actually live their lives). College may indeed be the obvious next step for the middle and upper-middle class, but what of the families with sons and daughters who need and want to enter the workforce right after high school? Or those engaged in an informal apprenticeship, learning a trade without officially working as an apprentice? Or those beginning work in the family business? Or young mothers and fathers who need to provide for their families?

Yet again, those in the business of expanding the government’s role in citizens’ private lives think they know better how adults should be living after graduation; so much so that the city of Chicago has the chutzpah to hold an earned high-school diploma hostage in order to ensure those graduating choose the “right” path.

Michael Moore has given himself
a mission.
Moore ponders his options:
"Can a simple movie actually bring down a sitting president of the United States?"

“Can an urgent, funny TV series meant to reach the people who watch wrestling and the shopping channels actually move them to a better place?”

“Can I go somewhere where I can just walk out and say whatever the eff I want and suddenly some citizens might be moved to peacefully, legally take him down... and take him down NOW?”

Moore says he’s offended by President Donald Trump’s policies and, thus, must take matters into his own hands
Did that work with George W. Bush?

Sharyl Attkisson has created a timeline of the Obama administration's surveillance of whistleblowers, journalists, and other U.S. citizens connected to Russia. It's a reminder of the battles that the Obama people continuously fought against those who criticized them.

Bernard Goldberg has some good questions for Trump "true believers" who support him no matter what.
1. What would your reaction have been if President Barack Obama had said that President George W. Bush's administration "lied" to get us into war in Iraq?


5. What would you have said if the socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders told Bill O'Reilly that he respects Vladimir Putin and then made a case for moral equivalency between what Russia does and what the United States does?

6. What was your reaction when President Trump, in an interview that aired on Super Bowl Sunday, told Bill O'Reilly: "I do respect him (Putin)." And when reminded by O'Reilly that Putin "is a killer," Trump responded: "There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?"

7. Did you agree with Donald Trump in 2013 when he repeatedly tweeted that we should not get involved militarily in Syria?

8. What is your reaction now that he did get involved militarily in Syria?

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The WSJ, in reviewing Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes' new book, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, has a telling anecdote from the book.
For those few unhappy addicts who wish to relive the 2016 presidential campaign so soon, “Shattered” offers a number of gratifying revelations. Among them: Mrs. Clinton’s tinkering with a certain computer server. Not that server—a different one. After losing to Mr. Obama in the protracted 2008 primary, she was convinced that she had lost because some staffers—she wasn’t sure who—had been disloyal. So she “instructed a trusted aide to access the campaign’s server and download the [email] messages sent and received by top staffers.” This tells us, first, that Mrs. Clinton possesses an almost Nixonian paranoia about treachery and, second, that her use of a private email server at the State Department was never the naive “mistake” she pretended it was. In fact, she didn’t want anyone reading her emails the way she was reading those of her 2008 staffers.
As we're reading now about the mess that is the Trump White House and the rival camps that it has broken down into, it seems that Hillary's campaign had somewhat of a similar problem.
The campaign’s command structure, the authors write, was an “unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose.” Mrs. Clinton herself was inaccessible to almost everyone but Ms. Abedin, whose role was never clarified, so top staffers broke off into mutually mistrustful tribes: the campaign data analysts, Mrs. Clinton’s State Department coterie, Clinton Foundation staff, and the enthusiasts associated with the Ready for Hillary super-PAC.

This diffuse command structure was a consequence, the authors suggest, of the fact that Mrs. Clinton didn’t know why she wanted to be president. At one point no fewer than 10 senior aides were working on her campaign announcement speech; not one had a clear understanding of why Americans should cast their votes for Mrs. Clinton and not someone else. The speech, when she finally delivered it, was a flop—aimless, boring, devoid of much beyond bromides.
I can remember times during the campaign when her surrogates were asked why she should be president and they basically couldn't answer anything beyond her resume and her gender. Another problem was the campaign's reliance on data. They were under the illusion that Obama had won because he had a superior data model and that was the magic bean that could get any candidate elected.
Mr. Mook’s scientific “model” of how the campaign should run emphasized demographics, constituents’ voting histories, regional electoral patterns, and so on. When staffers objected to his directives, the authors record, the response was always the same: “The data,” as Mr. Mook at one point put it to former President Bill Clinton, “run counter to your anecdotes.” So, for instance, when campaign staffers discussed ideal locations for Mrs. Clinton’s first appearance with President Obama, several aides suggested Green Bay, Wis. Mr. Mook objected on the specious grounds that “voters there wanted change and Obama’s presence would suggest to voters that Hillary was running for his third term.” Of course, if the campaign had scheduled the event for Green Bay, Mrs. Clinton might have visited Wisconsin at least once. But she never went there, and Donald Trump won the state by less than 1%.
It sure sounds as if Hillary's aides are eager now to talk anonymously to the authors to cast blame on each other. A losing campaign is never pretty.

Michael Barone is also struck by some of the anecdotes in the book which has been rocketing to the top of Amazon's best-seller list.
1. "Hillary was already" — in spring 2015 — "inaccessible to most of her own staff, preferring to communicate through [Huma] Abedin." And Huma wasn't very accessible to anyone else. This led to screw-ups. In May 2015, communications director Jennifer Palmieri asked Abedin which TV interviewer Clinton would prefer for her first post-emails-revelation interview. Abedin said, "Brianna," and so the interview was set up with CNN's Brianna Keilar, who delivered a tough interviewer. "Only it turned out that Hillary had said 'Bianna'—as in Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo! News, the wife of former Clinton administration economic aide [and Obama OMB Director] Peter Orszag." Oops!

2. Hillary and Bill Clinton didn't think her email system was a political problem. "Her inability to just do a national interview and communicate genuine feelings of remorse and regret is now, I fear, becoming a character problem (more so than honesty)," the authors quote Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden as saying. Here and elsewhere Tanden appears a source of good judgment, and one who, like Cassandra, is usually disregarded.

3. The Clintons' misjudgment of the emails was shared by some on her staff. "The day after the Times story popped online, [Jennifer] Palmieri and [Dan] Schwerin floated the idea of inserting a joke about the emails into an upcoming speech to the abortion rights group EMILY's List." Unfortunately, the authors don't provide an example of the jokes the staffers had in mind, reporting merely that experienced staffer Mandy Grunwald shot down the idea.

4. "When Hillary had been advised by some allies not to speak to banks before the campaign, one confidant said, her response had been "They'll hit us on something." Apparently the woman who deducted as charitable contributions each piece of underwear donated to Goodwill was unwilling to give up the $225,000 per speech Goldman Sachs was prepared to pay—even when her net worth and her husband's were already above $100,000,000....

4. "When Hillary had been advised by some allies not to speak to banks before the campaign, one confidant said, her response had been "They'll hit us on something." Apparently the woman who deducted as charitable contributions each piece of underwear donated to Goodwill was unwilling to give up the $225,000 per speech Goldman Sachs was prepared to pay—even when her net worth and her husband's were already above $100,000,000.
Clinton seems to come off as lacking judgment, people skills, and organizational leadership. As Barone concludes,
Do you think, as many people do, that Donald Trump is running a chaotic and incompetent administration? Read Shattered, and you may come to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton would have done worse.

As John Podhoretz writes in his review of the book, "she was unquestionably the worst major presidential candidate in our lifetime." He diagnoses her as having a problem that other candidates such as Bob Dole, Teddy Kennedy and George H.W. Bush had - they just didn't have a reason for people to vote for them. He repeats a scene from the 1992 Bush campaign that he wrote about in his book, Hell of a Ride.
I describe a scene in which campaign chairman Bob Teeter called Bush’s speechwriters into a meeting in June 1992.

Teeter set before them a chart that looked like the layout of “Hollywood Squares” or the “Brady Bunch” title sequence. Each of the nine boxes had a message the speechwriters were to use in crafting their work — things like “I have been president for 3 ½ years: Major accomplishments/record.”

The box in the center — Paul Lynde, if you will — read: “Theme/Slogan/Name.”

There was nothing else in the box. “What I want from you,” Teeter said, “is to help me fill this empty box.”

After nearly four years as president, eight years as vice president and nearly 20 years in public life before that, Bush and his closest advisers could come up with no simple reason to give the voters for presenting him with a second term.

So, too, Hillary Clinton. Whatever Trump’s manifold weaknesses, that is what he had in abundance — Make America Great Again.

And Hillary? It was the empty box all over again.
Saying that people should vote for her because she is a woman or it's her time just didn't crack it. Nor did telling people how atrocious Trump is do enough to convince people to want to vote for her. We had two of the most dislikable people in American politics and she just couldn't come up with a reason for people to vote for her over the guy who insulted a gold-star family and was caught bragging about grabbing women by their private parts. At least Bush '41, Dole, McCain, and Romney could say that they lost to charismatic opponents. Hillary doesn't have that excuse.

And Democrats must be wondering why they thought she was the answer for them so much so that they turned their party over to her and arranged it that no one else could get the nomination. No wonder that they keep grabbing at stories about how the Russians stole the election from them.

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Nicole Gelinas has some interesting thoughts about the controversy surrounding the Fearless Girl statue standing in front of the Charging Bull statue in Manhattan and which Mayor de Blasio is supporting to remain as a symbol of women's rights.
City officials should realize they’re playing a dangerous game. De Blasio is allowing Fearless Girl to stay not because he supports free speech but because he supports this free speech.

It’ll almost certainly come back to bite the city.

That’s because the mayor has set an arbitrary precedent — this statue can stay because I like its politics — that’ll be used against the city in court. What if Black Lives Matter protesters want a statue of police brutalizing a black man in front of One Police Plaza?

But the bigger problem with Fearless Girl is that it casts stereotypes in bronze: Men do important things, and women get in the way.

The bull is the primary actor: He is charging. The girl’s job is to impede him. This is how Wall Street has long worked — and it’s changing, but slowly....

Fearless Girl fails in another way. It’s terrific to have courage and fight important battles. But it’s not a good idea — for men, women or children — to be recklessly fearless.

Fear is a good thing. If a bull is charging you, according to the farming manuals, the best thing to do is what you instinctively do: get out of the way. If you don’t pick your battles, you’ll lose them.