Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Unanticipated Consequences of Minimum Wage Hikes

A reported 21 states from Maine to California will increase their state minimum wage this year. It will mean bigger paychecks for some workers—and no paychecks for others.
Already, restaurants are laying off workers. Others are raising prices.
Neither outcome should come as a surprise. Both are among the entirely predictable "unintended" consequences of minimum-wage laws.

To offset their higher labor costs, some San Diego restaurants, for example, already have raised menu prices or added a surcharge of 3 percent to 5 percent on meals.
Natalie Kitroeff reports at The Los Angeles Times:
When the minimum wage in California rose to $10.50 an hour Jan. 1, more than a million people got a raise. But for an untold number of families across the state, that pay bump could price them out of child care.
This year, for the first time, two parents working full time at minimum-wage jobs, with one child, will be considered too well off to qualify for state subsidies for day care and preschool. It’s been 10 years since the state set the threshold for who is poor enough to get the benefit, which is pegged to 2005 income levels.
“It’s an unintended consequence that was never part of the plan,” says Rich Winefield, the former executive director of Bananas, a day-care and preschool referral agency in Oakland. “It’s unbelievable that we have policy that creates this.”
In August, the state Senate Appropriations Committee held back a bill that would have updated the criteria for child-care subsidies to use the current state median income because of concerns that it would be too expensive. The Department of Finance estimated that raising the threshold would lead to costs “in the low tens of millions.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Trump v. African Americans

Yamiche Alcindor reports at The New York Times:
Days before his inauguration, President-elect Donald J. Trump is engaged in a high-profile feud with some of the country’s most prominent African-American leaders, setting off anger in a constituency already wary of him after a contentious presidential campaign.
Mr. Trump’s criticism of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a widely admired leader of the civil rights movement, has prompted a number of Democratic lawmakers to say they will not attend his inauguration on Friday.
Blacks around the country have reacted to Mr. Trump’s remarks with fury, and the subject has dominated social media and discussions among black activists. Mr. Trump said on Saturday on Twitter that Mr. Lewis, who asserted last week that Mr. Trump was not a “legitimate president,” should focus on his district and “the burning and crime infested inner-cities.”
The angry reaction is driven not only by Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts but by what many blacks say they reveal about the president-elect’s lack of understanding of the reverence with which the civil rights movement and its leaders are viewed by African-Americans.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Another Trump Database

John Templeton and colleagues report at Buzzfeed:
No American president has taken office with a giant network of businesses, investments, and corporate connections like that amassed by Donald J. Trump. His family and advisers have touched a staggering number of ventures, from a hotel in Azerbaijan to a poker company in Las Vegas.

So we compiled a list of as many as we could to keep track of them all.
...We spent two months building the dataset from public records, news reports, and other sources on the Trump family, his Cabinet picks, and top advisers — more than 1,500 people and organizations altogether. BuzzFeed News is the first news organization to publish such an exhaustive list of Trump’s business interests, and we hope it will help you, the public, better understand the new administration.
Please send tips and information to (If you’d like to send your tip securely and anonymously, see these instructions.)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

“Someday, we will find that the inefficiencies of the Senate will have saved our liberties."

Al From, late of the DLC, writes at the Huffington Post that Senator Edmund Muskie understood the Founders' design:
At the hearing, just before the early press deadline (in those days before cable news and the internet, making the newspaper deadline was crucial), Virginia Governor Linwood Holton launched into a tirade about how impatient President Nixon was with Congress’ handling of his proposals to dismantle the War on Poverty. Holton, the chairman of Republican Governors Association, had been briefed by the White House, which wanted to shape the news story out of the hearing.

Muskie answered Holton for the record, and then turned to me (as subcommittee staff director sitting next to him) and said:

“Someday, we will find that the inefficiencies of the Senate will have saved our liberties.” [emphasis in original]

Muskie believed in protecting congressional prerogatives, including those that resulted in “the inefficiencies of the Senate,” as a safeguard against excessive presidential power or the power of the majority party to run roughshod over the minority. Muskie learned the importance the minority party rights as governor of Maine, he didn’t have enough Democrats in his legislature to sustain his veto.

The lesson I learned from him that day is that major systemic reforms should be undertaken only after considering the long-term consequences, not to achieve a desired outcome on a particular issue or short term political gain. Muskie was an ardent reformer, but he was always mindful of the consequences when political circumstances changed and the shoe was on the other foot, when today’s minority party became tomorrow’s majority party.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Trying to Kill Tenure

Colleen Flaherty reports at Inside Higher Ed:
Lawmakers in two states this week introduced legislation that would eliminate tenure for public college and university professors. A bill in Missouri would end tenure for all new faculty hires starting in 2018 and require more student access to information about the job market for majors. Legislation in Iowa would end tenure even for those who already have it.
The bills, along with the recent gutting of tenure in Wisconsin and other events, have some worrying about a trend.
“These are serious attempts to undermine universities and the role of universities in society,” said Hans-Joerg Tiede, senior program officer for academic freedom, tenure and shared governance at the American Association of University Professors. “If they’re not directly coordinated, there’s a strong current going through all of them.”

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Technology Usage

Aaron Smith reports at Pew:
Roughly three-quarters of Americans (77%) now own a smartphone, with lower-income Americans and those ages 50 and older exhibiting a sharp uptick in ownership over the past year, according a Pew Research Center survey conducted in November 2016. Smartphone adoption has more than doubled since the Center began surveying on this topic in 2011: That year, 35% of Americans reported that they owned a smartphone of some kind.
When the Center started tracking social media adoption in 2005, just 5% of Americans said they used these platforms. Today, 69% of U.S. adults are social media users.
When the Center first began tracking tablet ownership in 2010, just 3% of Americans owned a tablet of some kind. That figure has risen to 51% as of November 2016.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Trump Uses Nazi Analogy

From the Anti-Defamation League:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today voiced concern about a tweet from President-Elect Donald Trump that posed the question, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” in response to news coverage over intelligence agency revelations on alleged Russian government intervention in the 2016 election.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:
The President-Elect’s use of Nazi Germany to make a political analogy is not only an inappropriate comparison on the merits, but it also coarsens our discourse and diminishes the horror of the Holocaust.
There are legitimate questions on all sides regarding foreign influence in the 2016 presidential race. But the United States has democratic elections, a free press, rule of law and a civil service -- including our intelligence agencies -- that is deeply loyal to the U.S. Constitution. These facts invalidate any analogies between America and totalitarian societies.
ADL always has maintained that glib comparisons to Nazi Germany are offensive and a trivialization of the Holocaust. We have a long record of speaking out when both Democrats and Republicans engage in such overheated rhetoric. It would be helpful for the President-Elect to explain his intentions or apologize for the remark.