Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pesky facts

Facts can be funny things.

“Minimum-wage hike = minimum sense”, Jay Ambrose’s  Providence Journal on December 6, 2013, got me thinking about how we react to what we are told are “facts”.  Some “facts” in the article:

   FACT: ”... under 3% of the workforce get the minimum wage”. 

This implies that it really wouldn’t wouldn’t be such a big deal. I think it would be a pretty big deal to those 4.6 million people.

   FACT:... “Hike the minimum wage and some people do get more, but others get fired or get fewer hours a week.”  

Maybe a fact but can’t we do better? Perhaps we could lower the exorbitant executive salary increases somewhat instead of firing the low end workers and moving business offshore.

   FACT:   “In the end, the minimum wage is a charade that interferes with rights of employers and employees to enter into contracts of their own choosing.”

This implies that both employers (Walmart) and employees (minimum-wage workers) can bargain on an equal footing. Does anyone really believe that?

   FACT:  “During the same half century since the March on Washington, more than a score of major studies have verified that basic economic theory is right: The more businesses are forced to pay, the less likely they are to have as many jobs as they used to have.”

Indeed. But they do manage to see that top executives’ pay has never been higher, and even if a CEO is fired he or she often leaves with astronomical benefits packages. Ah, that basic economic theory.

Facts can be funny things.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Will we ever get smart?

Shortly after the horrendous Newtown massacre the head of the NRA suggested that the only answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It’s all too easy to take complex and serious problems and try to solve them will simple minded answers.  Let’s look closely at this almost childish response which has become a mantra among the NRA supporters.

Since 1966 there have been 22 incidents of mass murders.  In no case did the perpetrator escape. In eleven cases the perpetrator committed suicide, in seven cases the perpetrator was killed, and four were either found mentally, incompetent or sentenced to death.

In the seven cases where the “good guys with guns” killed the perpetrator, there were 103 innocents killed.  Sounds like a terrible price to pay for the NRA’s solution of bad guys with guns.  

The answer to bad guys with guns is bad guys with no guns.  Background checks, background checks, background checks.  What's wrong with us?