Friday, July 13, 2018

Cruising the Web

The WSJ thinks
that Justice Alito's majority opinion in the recent Janus case has been vindicated. The majority ruled that public-sector unions' actions are inherently political so non-members shouldn't be forced to pay fees. The unions argued that they were mostly involved in collective bargaining and that wasn't political. But the American Federation of Teachers' recent actions at their annual convention demonstrate how political the union's ordinary actions are.
Most of the 90 some resolutions promote such progressive objectives as single-payer health care, free college and opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline. The union’s Berkeley affiliate wants President Trump’s “immediate resignation or removal.”

A resolution denounces Mondelez for moving Nabisco cookie production to Mexico and urges local affiliates to pressure “employers to sell or carry only Nabisco products made in free union workplaces in their schools and on their campuses.” Who knew cookies were a subject of collective bargaining?

Another resolution calls “on school districts, colleges and universities to offer their students diverse views about military service and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, balancing arguments for military service and ROTC training with the arguments of critics of military service, including its health risks.” Another urges support for “anti-war groups.”

The model U.N. even advocates for the removal of the U.S.’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, which “enhances the effectiveness of a U.S. first strike with nuclear weapons by drastically weakening any nuclear retaliation by a potential target nation such as China or North Korea.”Prior to Janus, public unions could spend non-member agency fees—typically 60% to 80% of dues—on member communications, rallies and conventions under the pretext that these expenditures related to collective bargaining. But the AFT’s resolutions support Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Janus that nearly all public union spending is political, including their positions in collective bargaining.
It's hard to argue that these actions don't demonstrate political positions. That's fine, but people shouldn't be forced to subsidize those activities. As Bret Stephens writes about the history of the policies that the Democratic Socialists of America advocates.
The Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member, believe in economies defined by state-owned enterprises and worker-owned cooperatives. Versions of this have been tried to varying degrees before: Israel in its first decades; post-independence India; Sweden in the 1960s and ’70s.

It always led to crisis: hyperinflation for Israel in 1980s; an I.M.F. bailout for India in 1991; a banking meltdown for Sweden in 1992. It’s usually a recipe for corruption: State-owned enterprises such as Pemex in Mexico or Eskom in South Africa are local bywords for graft and mismanagement. It frequently leads to dictatorship. Hugo Chávez was also a democratic socialist.

People used to know this stuff. That someone like Ocasio-Cortez apparently doesn’t is a fresh reminder that, in politics as in life, the most obvious lessons are the ones you can least afford to stop teaching.
And the desire of such socialists to have open borders immigration creates a toxic policy mix when combined with their desire to expand social welfare policies.
Today’s social democracy falls apart on the contradiction between advocating nearly unlimited government largess and nearly unlimited immigration. “Abolish ICE” is a proper rallying cry for hard-core libertarians and Davos globalists, not democratic socialists or social democrats. A federal job guarantee is an intriguing idea — assuming the jobs are for some defined “us” that doesn’t include every immigrant, asylum-seeker or undocumented worker.
Adopting such confused policies are going to create future difficulties for the Democrats.
It’s possible Democrats will surrender to the illusion that they can have both, puffing the sails of Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow travelers. But a Democratic Party seriously interested in defeating congressional Republicans in the fall and Trump in 2020 isn’t going to win by turning itself into a right-wing caricature of the left, complete with a smug embrace of whatever it conceives to be “socialism.”

If Trump is the new Nixon, the right way to oppose him isn’t to summon the ghost of George McGovern. Try some version of Bill Clinton (minus the grossness) for a change: working-class affect, middle-class politics, upper-class aspirations.

I’ve written elsewhere that a chief danger to democracy is a politics in which the center bends toward the fringe instead of the fringe bending toward the center. It’s the way Trump became president. But the antidote to one extreme isn’t another, and Democrats will only win once they reclaim the vital center of American politics.

The center is Dayton and Denver, not Berkeley and Burlington. The center is Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, not Eugene Debs and Michael Harrington. Democrats who want to win should know this.

As the Democratic Party seems to be absorbing more and more socialist positions. And this will have an effect on the party.
The media try to tell us that the Democratic Socialists aren't really communists. Unfortunately, they haven't checked in with the DSA.

Rich Lowry examines
the whole "Abolish ICE" movement. Those protesting against ICE don't seem to understand that we will need some sort of agency to police immigration to keep deport criminals. Or do they?
Given the enormous number of criminal illegal aliens — nearly 1 million — ICE has plenty of work. Almost all of its arrests and deportations are of people who have criminal convictions, have been charged with a crime, or have been ordered removed by a judge.

During the last few weeks of June, ICE served an arrest warrant on a Brazilian man facing sex charges in Massachusetts. He will be deported after his prosecution, and had entered the country illegally once before. It deported a Liberian national who served as a bodyguard for war criminal Charles Taylor. It removed an Ecuadorian man wanted for rape, an El Salvadoran national affiliated with MS-13, and an Irish member of the “Cock-Wall Gang,” and transferred custody of them to law enforcement in their home countries.

This is not exactly fodder for protest, or is it? An ICE action in Oakland, Calif., last year stirred up an immediate impromptu anti-ICE protest outside the house in question. It turns out that the agents were executing a search warrant related to a sex-trafficking investigation, which presumably even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would support.

Assuming that Democrats support this kind of enforcement, who would carry it out if not ICE? Going back to the pre-ICE status quo would mean reuniting all immigration functions in an agency like the INS housed at the Justice Department and directly under the control of none other than Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
I love all these efforts by the left to increase the power of the federal government which means giving more power to the Trump administration. So all the Democrats have is a plan to abolish ICE and then figure things out later. Yeah, like that worked so well when Republicans said we should get rid of Obamacare and then didn't have any plan they agreed on.
One way to ramp up enforcement without increasing deportations would be an E-Verify system that required employers to reliably verify the legal status of workers — but Democrats oppose that, too.

“Abolish ICE,” whatever its power as a slogan on the left, is almost surely bad politics. It’s as if during the ferment over Black Lives Matter, Democrats came out for abolishing police departments and starting over — consequences be damned.
Given how many Democrats, particularly those running for the presidency in 2020 are in favor of abolishing ICE, this should be fun.
House Republican leadership said Thursday that they will bring Democrats’ new, controversial bill to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the floor for a vote.

The legislation, introduced by Progressive Caucus leader Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), would “convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals, which includes terminating the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) within one year of enactment.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is reportedly planning to bring the bill up for a vote.

“Democrats have been trying to make July 4th about abolishing ICE which is a radical, extreme position that would lead to open borders and undermine America's national security,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told The Hill. “I think it's the wrong approach. I think everyone ought to be on record about where they stand on that issue.”
It should be illuminating to get everyone on the record. This is a good wedge issue for Republicans.

UPDATE: Democrats who called for abolishing ICE are now extremely ticked off that the Republicans are actually going to introduce their bill for a vote. How dare they! So they've figured out how to get back at those eeeevil Republicans - they'll vote against their own bill! There! That'll show them.
Three Democratic congressmen declared on Thursday that they will vote “no” on their own legislation if House Speaker Paul Ryan puts their bill on the floor.

Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Adriano Espaillat of New York introduced the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement Act earlier Thursday, which would abolish ICE within one year of enactment, and also assemble a commission tasked with setting up a new immigration enforcement agency.

Hours later, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he planned to bring the proposed “Abolish ICE” bill to the floor, reported The Hill.

The three congressmen promptly released a joint statement accusing Ryan of not taking their bill seriously, and as an act of protest, they will vote down their own legislation and instead use the opportunity to discuss Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy and ICE.

The millennial generation is in for quite a painful collision with reality one day.
About half of young people between the ages of 21 and 37 anticipate being millionaires some day — despite having a collective and crippling $1 trillion in student loan, credit card and other debt hanging over their heads, according to new report from brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

The survey asked around 1,500 American millennials at what age they thought they’d hit millionaire status. And 53% believe they will become millionaires in their lifetimes, with 7% expecting it to happen by age 30; 19% predicted age 40; 16% said age 50 and 7% of people thought they’d be millionaires by 60 or later. What’s more, 4% of respondents were already millionaires.

This economic optimism is surprising, considering nearly one in five (17%) of these young adults haven’t even achieved financial independence from their parents yet, according to the survey. And the zealous planning to attain seven figures by age 30 seems like a stretch, since the same findings show that millennials don’t even plan to start saving for retirement until age 36; more than a decade, typically, after getting their first job.
No wonder this generation tends to be so clueless when it comes to public policy. If they lack realistic understanding of their own personal finances.

Ed Whelan has an interesting tweet thread
stemming from the observation that Judge Kavanaugh has not only had more female clerks, he's also had quite a few minority clerks. He contrasts that with Ruth Bader Ginsburg who, as a district court judge had never had any black employees. And as a Supreme Court justice has only had one black law clerk.

However, Ginsburg is someone who believes that judges should use disparate impact to judge whether or not a policy is discriminatory toward minorities. If only leftists would remember this sort of thing when they are pushing affirmative action policies.

What a surprise - the moral posturing that Starbucks has recently done with banning plastic straws actually isn't using less plastic than their solution.
The coffee giant says that by 2020 it hopes to have eliminated all single-use plastic straws at its 28,000 stores worldwide. It will now top all its cold drinks with fancy new strawless lids that the company currently serves with its cold brew nitro coffees. (Frappuccinos will still be served with a compostable or paper straw.)

As is to be expected, Starbucks' decision was greeted with universal adulation.

The World Wildlife Fund and Ocean Conservancy both provided ebullient quotes for Starbucks' press releases. Liberal magazine The New Republic praised the move as an "environmental milestone." Slate hailed the Starbucks straw ban as evidence of as a victory for a bona fide anti-straw movement, one that would hopefully lead to bans of more things plastic in years to come.

Yet missing from this fanfare was the inconvenient fact that by ditching plastic straws, Starbucks' will actually be increasing its plastic use. As it turns out, the new nitro lids that Starbucks is leaning on to replace straws are made up of more plastic than the company's current lid/straw combination.

Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.

(I got these results by measuring Starbucks' plastic straws and lids on two seperate scales, both of which gave me the same results.)

This means customers are at best breaking even under Starbucks' strawless scheme, or they are adding between .32 and .88 grams to their plastic consumption per drink. Given that customers are going to use a mix of the larger and smaller nitro lids, Starbucks' plastic consumption is bound to increase, although it's anybody's guess as to how much.

In response to questions about whether their strawless move will increase the company's plastic consumption, a Starbucks spokesperson told Reason "the introduction of our strawless lid as the standard for non-blended beverages by 2020 allows us to significantly reduce the number of straws and non-recyclable plastic" as the new lids are recyclable, while the plastic straws the company currently uses are not.

This is cold comfort given the fact that even most of the stuff that is put in recycling bins still winds up at the dump. The company did not address, nor did it dispute, that its transition to strawless lids would increase its overall plastic consumption.

The weight of plastic—not the raw number of plastic objects used, or whether those objects are recyclable or not—is what should really concern environmentalists.

Pictures of turtles with straws up their noses are certainly jarring. However most plastic, whatever form it enters the ocean as, will eventually be broken up into much smaller pieces known as micro-plastics. It is these micro-plastics that form those giant ocean garbage patches, pile up on the ocean floor, and leech into the stomachs and flesh of sea creatures.

Reducing the amount of micro-plastics in the ocean thus requires cutting down on the aggregate weight of plastics entering the ocean each year. It cannot be stressed enough that straws, by weight, are a tiny portion of this plastic.

At most, straws account for about 2,000 tons of the 9 million tons of plastic that are estimated to enter the ocean each year, according to the Associated Press; or, .02 percent of all plastic waste. The pollution problem posed by straws looks even smaller when considering that the United States is responsible for about one percent of plastic waste entering the oceans, with straws being a smaller percentage still.

This is a great example about how employment regulations are keeping energetic, ambitious, entrepreneurial individuals from opening their own businesses. A commenter at Ricochet who writes under the appropriate nickname of "Dr. Bastiat," tells of talking to the woman cutting his hair at Sports Clips and what she told him about the difficulties she and her husband faced trying to open up their own businesses.
Kaitlyn (not her real name) just moved here from Georgia. Her husband is an auto mechanic. “He can fix anything with four wheels! Well, except my car – it runs like crap!” She went on at some length about how good he was at fixing things. His plan was to start his own shop once they moved here. They moved into a double-wide trailer that had a nice pole barn out back, which he planned to outfit with electric and a high-end air compressor, maybe even a grease pit, and start his own business.

He spent almost a year working on permits, licenses, inspections, and so on. He spoke to people from the county, city, state, feds, and the EPA. He talked to attorneys, accountants, and consultants to help wade through all the red tape. After about a year, he realized that the start-up costs were more than he was willing to gamble on the eventual success of a business that did not yet exist, so he got a job with the city, maintaining their trucks and mowing equipment. It doesn’t pay very well, but it has good benefits. It’s not a bad job, she says. Nothing to complain about. Everything is ok.

Kaitlyn did a great job on my hair, was very pleasant and personable, and is clearly very intelligent. She said that a few miles from their house, a barber recently retired. She considered buying his shop. She’s always dreamed of owning her own business. She said that’s the whole reason she went to cosmetology school. I said that sounded great – the shop is already set up, it has a large group of established customers, and she could expand from there.

She said that she spent several months looking into it, but she would need permits, licenses, inspections, and so on. I pointed out that it has been a barber’s shop for years, so the inspections, permits, and so on would already be done. She said that it would be a new business, and she would have to pay for all that to be done over again. She spoke with attorneys, accountants, and consultants to help wade through all the red tape – some of the same individuals that her husband had just consulted. She soon realized that the start-up costs were more than she was willing to gamble, so she got a job with a chain. The pay is not very good, and the benefits are lousy.
Both individuals display all the characteristics that should lead to success, but they're blocked by all the government red tape involved in trying to open up a new business. What do all these regulations do to protect the public from a mechanic or barber? If they aren't any good, people won't patronize their businesses. But they don't even have a chance to get started. How many people with an entrepreneurial spirit are blocked by such regulations?

This is where the great French 19th century economist Frédéric Bastiat comes in.
My Uncle Fred (Frederic Bastiat) described this as the seen versus the unseen. Progressives win elections because the benefits they provide are immediate and obvious. They give people free money with taxpayer dollars, or build highways with taxpayer dollars, or start new general assistance programs with taxpayer dollars. They’re working for you, and anyone with eyes can see it. The benefits provided by progressives are seen.

But the damage they cause is mostly unseen. In 30 years, Kaitlyn and her husband could have retired to a very nice community on the Gulf Coast and played golf for the rest of their lives. But they won’t. She’ll still be cutting hair for $12 an hour plus tips, and he’ll still be fixing lawn mowers for the city. Just like they are now.

They didn’t lose a fortune, because they never had the opportunity to earn one. Nothing happened. There they sit. And there they’ll stay.

Progressives may think they’re utopians who dream of a better tomorrow. But, in reality, they are the robotic defenders of the status quo. Everything stays the same because nothing happens. And when things don’t happen, those things don’t make the evening news. They didn’t happen at all, so there’s nothing to complain about. Everything is basically ok. And that’s the way it will stay.

Mitch McConnell is having a lot fun with the media and Democrats' flailing criticisms of Kavanaugh.