Friday, May 27, 2016

Transgender bathrooms — it’s not just about plumbing.

The arrogance of academic liberals who just because they think German or old Tahitian expect American women to just forget their greatest fears and allow a previously unimaginable privacy invasion because the elite left (some voluble ones anyway) think they shouldn’t care.

And always remember — as incidents reported from locker rooms to dressing rooms around the country are starting show up — that the bigger part of this ideology is that NO QUESTIONS may be asked of any male entering the previously out-of-bounds area — lest anyone feel humiliated. Incidents being of males being found in all places, offering no explanation why they are there, and employees in charge explaining that they cannot ask questions.

The following may seem snarky — it is not; I fully understand the suffering of the transgender — it is just one of those “balloon pop” connections. To wit: if transgender females are so perfectly matched in their brains, why do they not understand why other females are abhorrence of their male endowed selves invading the previously sacred precincts. Just like I wonder how many still physical males are sexually attracted to females (like Bruce!). Purely scientific curiosity (I am hung up on motives).

In Palatine, Illinois one high school girl seems to complain that the physical boy can in fact view the girls while going to and from the locker room: “There is no towel over his eyes.” So what’s next: transgender female athletic coaches? Would be consistent.

As far as I can tell Obama would rather trans girls be naked in the locker with the other girls rather than be denied access altogether, if that were the choice. (CHASE EVERYBODY TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CLOWNS — YOU NEVER CARED ABOUT OUR LIVELIHOODS ANYWAY.)

The Southern states have something right for once. The liberal elite cannot possibly just revoke tens of billions of dollars from education throughout the country — impossible. $5 million was the threat to junk education in Palatine. Shouldn’t there be reaction against that? The Republicans would probably like to see federal money sucked out of education anyway. HELP THE REPUBLICANS IN EVERY WAY, WHY DON’T YOU?!

Rch/poor country workers -- in different labor markets

Re: Social-democratic vs market-friendly progressivism – Lane Kenworthy

Hill and Bern can add a truly free LABOR MARKET to their agenda.

A 50% poor-country/50% rich-country workforce (Chicago work-force? – useful approximation) whose pay level set by collective bargaining – will have a higher level of pay than a 100% rich-country workforce whose pay is set by what I call “subsistence-plus.”
Subsistence-plus means what Karl Marx would have recognized (Teamster vet here: we are looking for good capitalist contracts; we are not looking for class enemies): bottom pay is set at the bottom tolerance level below which nobody will show up …

… $400/wk for poor country/$800/wk for rich (just to concoct a not too far off approximation to use) – e.g., foreign born taxi drivers/American born (that’s me) which latter will no longer show up for 60 grueling hours. Neither will the Crips and the Bloods who, if supermarket were paying the $800 they used to, would be stacking shelves instead of looking out for cops (that’s 100,000 out of my guesstimate 200,000 Chicago gang-age, minority males – at any one time!).

A 50-50% labor market whose pay is set by subsistence-plus – or at least a combo of subsistence-plus and collective bargaining – will not clear. A huge drop out of rich country workers will result – more or less permanently (street gangs, whatever missing American born cab drivers do now ??? I’m retired at 72).

I repeat: A 50% poor-country/50% rich-country workforce (Chicago work-force? – useful approximation) whose pay level set by collective bargaining – will have a higher level of pay than a 100% rich-country workforce whose pay is set by what I call “subsistence-plus.”
because I think this particular formulation will stick in human male heads which too quickly (instantly) vaporize any idea that is too far from current (hunting pack?) practice – doesn’t even get out the other ear. I think this formulation will stick.

And maybe Hill and Bern can add a truly free LABOR MARKET to their agenda.

(I’m just starting to work on the above – not even a first draft – but I am always over-anxious.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Introducing: my new "circadian rhythm " diet

For readers obsessed with my personal life I present my new circadian rhythm diet.

I usually ate 5 small meals a day -- Type II diabetic.  I could easily have skipped one if not for -- don't get much pleasure from eating; a waste of time like sleeping -- if not for the energy drain that sent me to fridge.

Last week I missed the noon meal.  Didn't realize it until next day when I found the food out ready to cook.  Never noticed.  Repeated that day.  No problem; no drain.

Then I put that together with my bounce back time which comes around 12:30PM, 1;30PM.  That's when, no matter how tired I might feel when I wake up, I bounce back to normal.  Seems that can get me past any food energy need until 3PM.

If I were a doctor I could probably write a book about this.  :-0

Anyway I lose about a pound for every missed 320 calorie meal.  Maybe somebody else out there in the vastness can make use of this. 

Gender neutral experiment: re-make the men's room only

I read on Fox News online how Megyn Kelly “blew up” the governor of Texas by showing that transgender males using female bathrooms has not led to any more crime in schools where it has been introduced.

But the primary issue is not crime — privacy is the giant day-to-day issue — even if there were never any crime involved at all. A transgender woman with male parts still intact who is sexually attracted to women is feels no different to women than any other male. Think the former Bruce Jenner — who reportedly is still interested in women. There is a case in a high school in Palatine, Illinois where the girls are up in arms — not about crime — but about a transgender boy using the locker room where they get undressed.

I know transgender is a trying condition. 19 times the suicide rate according to a New York Times story.

And I understand they feel degraded being forced to use bathrooms other than the sex they perceive themselves to be — I understand. Which gives me a desperate idea to resolve the issue. Leave women’s bathrooms women’s bathrooms. Re-model all male bathrooms into gender neutral — hopefully relieving the subjective feeling.

I said this is desperate. Anything is better — infinitely better — than allowing any physical male (including cab drivers in a hurry) to use the female facilities just by claiming (true or not!) gender dysphoria. In a San Francisco school district 1% claim gender dysphoria. Children have no reason to make up crazy stories. That’s a lot of outwardly male-appearing males to use the facilities (and then come the cab drivers in a hurry and the men’s is out of order).

This setup would not last for long I predict. Men at the local stadium would probably be irked by women using the (busy so presumably safe) men’s room rather than waiting on long lines (when you got to go you got to go. Men are much more intolerant of intrusion (even if they have infinitely less to lose). Remember mister “Don’t touch my junk!” Experimenting with the men will give a realistic idea of the kind of gross privacy intrusion you are really facing with gender neutral restrooms in public as opposed to a controlled school environments.

In the comments to one Yahoo News report is the story of a NYC public rec center where the high school swim team girls are afraid to use the locker room and shower since a very man-appearing man was spotted coming out in towel. Now all 18 of them crowd into the single spigot family shower. A crucial part of the works is that nobody may question in any way anybody who uses the neutral facility — open city. That’s the reality. Better it be experienced first by men — then we will see what happens.

Meantime the letter of the law at the airport is that once you enter the security zone you may not leave even if on opposite gender TSA agents are there to frisk you.

If you want to play gender-doesn’t-matter then take a look at police forces across the country who mostly all train their males that there is nothing illegal about them frisking females all over — even if policy (supposedly not law) suggest limits — and what-do-you-think-of-that? A women checked for guns — which you can do without touching anywhere with fingers — is not going to do the Houdini and slip the cuffs, then do an Incredible Hulk and tear the partition aside, take a sharp object out of her bra and scratch the police officer in the front seat.

They love to quote Terry v. Ohio. Terry could not have addressed the felony sex abuse limits because no female was involved and courts may only decide what is brought before them — part of checks and balances. The only sex abuse prohibition that differentiates by intent is flashing not groping.

So we can come at the gender issue from the left as well as the right. Personally, I have thought for ten years since I found out that male on female frisking was the craziest thing I ever heard of in this country in my whole life. Now with gender neutral bathrooms (and showers and locker rooms as I read in the comments to the Yahoo News comments — too bad I didn’t think to save it while it was at 400 comments; now up to 4000, almost all vehemently and at length opposed) I know what number two is. 

See also:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

All 7 million are going to die -- depending ...

All 7 million are going to die -- unlike 3 million Hep C victims -- depending ...

HF (Heart Failure) is a terrible disease , but unfortunately is very common. It is currently poorly treated, and is one of few diseases that increase in mortality YoY. More than 7 million HF patients exist in the US, with more than 800,000 new HF cases every year. The number of HF patients is expected to exceed 10 million by 2030. The HF increase in prevalence is driven by the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Additionally, 7-10% of the aging population above 65 years old suffer from HF."   

Sunshine Heart (NASDAQ:SSH) said it had halted enrolment in the pivotal US trial of its heart failure device C-Pulse to focus on a “more optimal” clinical strategy that ought to get it to market more quickly. It will need some luck."   

"The device, developed by Sunshine Heart Inc., is an extra-aortic counterpulsation system. It consists of a cuff that is placed around the patient's aorta - the largest artery in the body - and is outside of the patient's bloodstream. The cuff is attached to a small balloon that inflates and deflates in sync with the patient's heartbeat. This pumps blood through the aorta and around the body" 

"After the 20 were treated with the C-Pulse device, most of them were able to come down a point or two in heart failure class. In other words, some heart patients went from being Class III heart failure patients to Class II or Class I, some from Class IV to Class I and some stayed in their class and the disease didn’t progressively worsen, Rosa said."

Seems we cannot cure the 7 million for the opposite reason we cannot cure the 3 million.  Unlike the $300 billion that Gilead wants for a Sovaldi cure for all, Sunshine has no been able so far raise the $20-30 million for the trials for C-Pulse technology which  cured(!) 5 of 20 patients in the first trial, ending 2012 and improved or kept steady the rest.  All very sick people.

C-Pulse money problem is reportedly that investors are afraid any patent to the technology may be too easy to bypass by other  manufacturers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

99% of African Americans to vote? -- just donate one hour every two years

A thought just starting to germinate in my mind: you know how in Chicago our political parties used to pay citizens $10-20 to vote. First, I thought of getting out the African-American vote — and I’m thinking 99% — by pointing out that if they all voted they would benefit thousands of dollars a year in government paybacks.

I started out thinking African-American because they are so classically left out of so much government concern whether it’s second-class schools, unconscionable medical care (I went to Stroger emergency once before I got Medicare — practically in the heart of downtown here — so-called “fast track” was 10 hours, for chest pain, difficulty breathing and obstetrics; everyone else waited 24 hours, maybe should sign in and come back tomorrow), lead in the water, intrusive policing, etc., etc.

Then I thought of 99% African-American voting as donating one hour of time to a movement every two years — to get the politicians coming on their knees to find out what people want. Seems like an irresistible appeal, doesn’t it? Donate one hour of your time, change your whole world for yourself and your family.

50% voting is getting them nothing (well the Post Office delivers). !00% would raise such a “scary” political organization specter that it could have the effect of 150%.

Then of course other minorities or whomever would follow suit. One way to take the country back from the oligarchs. Just starting to germinate.

PS.  Mmm; still thinking.  Imagine if we paid say $100 to vote to the last hold-outs -- or if we Go Funded that.  Have to leave cash incentive for last so we don't look untoward (smacks of the bad old days) -- by the end it would just look like more of the fun.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Transgender bathrooms -- has anyone ever heard of AC/DC (bisexual)?

Transgender bathrooms -- has anyone ever heard of AC/DC (bisexual)?

Transgender is a tragic condition — actually having the wrong sex body to go with your brain. 19 times the suicide rate according to a New York Times story.  “Although transsexualism (defined as those who want to change or do change their body) is very rare — a recent meta-analysis estimated the prevalence at about 5 per 100,000 … ”

San Francisco school adopting gender-neutral bathrooms
By Jill Tucker Updated 7:11 am, Thursday, September 3, 2015
“The boys’ bathrooms and girls’ bathrooms will become just bathrooms at the first San Francisco school to go gender-neutral.”

“In schools across the country, though, bathrooms have become a battleground for transgender rights. On Monday, more than 100 high school students walked out of class in a small Missouri town to protest the use of the girls’ restrooms and locker room by a transgender teen.”

“So far, bathrooms in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms at Miraloma, as well as a centralized bathroom, are gender-neutral. The school will phase in the other restrooms used by older children over the next few years, including outside bathrooms with multiple stalls.”

“The school district’s responsibility is to create a safe environment for all students so they can learn and thrive, said Kevin Gogan, the district’s director of safety and wellness. That, he said, means accepting and accommodating the 1 percent of all middle and high school students who identify as transgender — who add up to more than 300 students.” [my emphasis]

“First grade twins Ari Braverman (left), and Ella Braverman (right), both 6 years old, show first grade gender neutral bathrooms at Miraloma Elementary school in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.” [caption for multi stall bathroom -- Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle (pic since changed)]

"The boys’ bathrooms and girls’ bathrooms will become just bathrooms at the first San Francisco school to go gender-neutral [for everybody -- that's what the story seems to say!?]."
* * * * * *
Anybody ever hear about AC/DC as in switch-hitter, as in bisexual? Bruce made a lot of kids before he became Caitlyn (nothing funny here — see above). Really want to allow males who may or may not be sexually attracted to females into the womens’ bathrooms.

“A transgender woman says she was raped in a unisex bathroom at the Stonewall Inn — and police are searching for the suspect who they say regularly frequents the landmark gay bar.”

One in 20,000 may be transgender (actually wrong body to go with brain) — a lot more than that identify with the opposite body gender. A lot more than one in 20,000 are willing to fake transgender for whatever nefarious or silly motive — maybe just some college frat boys drunk and mischievous.

What sex is attractive to a physical male with a female brain anyway (not to mention the 1% with gender dysphoria)? I have no idea.

I read a story the other day (can’t remember where) of a young guy (male brain — female body) who is now taking male hormones to grow a beard and muscle and hangs out with other guys in bars, etc. Who does he want to have sex with?

Who does a physical male with a female brain want to have sex with — depending on whether heterosexual or homosexual. This is where I totally lose track.

I had a gay teenage boy living with me in the Bronx back in the late 70s. I quickly picked up that he approached every older woman with a salute — careful not to brush her toes (“lest she lash out at him for no reason” — as I like to put this). Me, he wasn’t too afraid of — not bad to, but sort of like you are less afraid of your mother than you father (if you are hetero).

One of his little buddies, 16 years old, would come at me disrespectfully — I would back him off — he would be visibly intimidated — next time he would be right back at me; never caught on what he was up against in a male — I was just Hillary, a noisy girl.

You can’t be sexually dangerous to the dangerous sex — you can’t be sexually endangered except by the dangerous sex. Depending on who you think is the dangerous sex.

But, how does this understanding of homosexuality — and heterosexuality — translate into which sex a (truly rare) truly transgender person is attracted to? ??? Anybody care to clear this up for me?

Those of the apparently not so rare gender dysphoric (see above) are guaranteed to be all over the place.

The only good thing I can say for the not so rare dysphoric use is that it would have come in handy when I was a taxi driver (NYC, Chi, SF): if the mens' room was dirty or out of order I could have just tried the lady's room figuring they were used to seeing men dressed as men in there -- if not used to it -- and when you have to go you have to go. 

Bottom line: Transgender Bathroom use is not mostly about crime -- it is immediately and urgently about privacy.  A transgender woman whose male parts are intact who is sexually attracted to women is no different in the next stall than any other male.  Think Bruce Jenner -- who is reportedly still interested in women.  There is a case in a local high school here in Illinois (Palatine) where the girls are up in arms about a boy in their locker room, even behind curtains -- no thought about crime.


PS.  If you go by the SF school, 1% of males who look and dress like males are going to claim gender dysphoria -- genuinely.  Young children are not going to fake this for phony reasons.  Possibly another 1% of similarly dressed males may use the ladies room for dumb to nefarious reasons: perversion, mugging, pranking or just cab drivers in a hurry.  Ergo, one out of 50 males may wish to use the ladies room.  (I often do the eighth-grade math side of things.)

This article restored my faith that my world may not be about to be blown apart -- w/o warning, w/o democratic discussion.  Or rather by the 4,000 mostly, or should I say almost universally vehement, windy opposing comments -- just like the last two Yahoo News articles I read on the issue.

To wit: "As a grandfather this BS attacks my lady, my 3 grown up daughters, my 6yr old granddaughter, my 4yr old, & 8 month old grandsons & you piece of sht libs just don't care about daddy's little girls & you seem to think there is nothing us daddy's can do about it, because Obama says so & makes it law & sht all over their privacy & culture they grew up with. You will be getting a very serious education very soon, if this bull sht does not stop!"

Wish I had saved the New York comment I read last night when there were only 400 comments.  Pictured 18 teen age girls at a rec center who are afraid to use the girls shower and all crowd up in the family shower with one spigot.  Seems a big part of this ideology is that no questions may be asked, no documentation, no physical exam may be imposed on anybody using any locker room or shower.

Just in time for an election that may decide whether democracy may any longer endure -- just in time to scare everyone (every class) away from the Democratic party.

If only Obama had the same energy for the last seven years to make everyone aware:
the minimum wage is now $4 an hour below 1969 -- double the average income later;
Republican governors fighting Medicaid expansion are fighting against recovering their own states' tax federal money from DC -- while those people are going to show up somewhere (ER, clinic), probably sicker and more expensive to treat, and their bill is going to be sicked on private premiums or other gov sources -- paying twice;
the a de-labor-unionized economy is inherently pathological, the core cause of just about every other social and economic ill that faces us -- that Americans are being denied "freedom of contract"(along with any significant political arm) -- that making union busting a felony is even more critical to our national health than sending people to federal prison for a couple of years for taking a movie in the movies.

But for allowing virtually any man in the ladies he is a ball of fire.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Re: Seattle’ s Minimum Wage:

Cautionary Note on use of Data - by Shaefer and Wilson

Seems the anti-min wage fellow was using two different data sources for the same chart -- typical anti-min slovenliness.

What is not noted out loud in the study is that the job loss was only 10,000 out of 410,000. Why do pro-mins (slovenly too? :-]) never take note that may be seen as a positive trade off - the trade off being that the other 400,000 got paid a lot more money.

The 10,000 may mostly represent the difference between the number of those who quit voluntarily because they no longer needed two (or more) jobs minus the lesser number who (re?)entered the workforce in response to a higher wage incentive ...
... that is, assuming the figures were valid in the first place.

Somebody really ought to do a survey on what proportion actually get laid off as opposed to other inputs to the minimum wage raise employment number.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wages not raised by uneducated immigrants in de-unionized US -- Social Security Trust Fund II (that's two)? -- Prisoner's Dilemma explains de-unionized labor's race-to-the-bottom

Economists Mette Foged and Giovanni Peri have issued a paper reporting that sprinkling some uneducated immigrants around (more or less randomly) in Denmark actually raised the wages of uneducated natives.  The positive outcome seems down to some immigrants having skills that complemented rather than completely replaced natives', to some natives moving up to better paying office jobs and to some uneducated natives (re?)entering the workforce (possibly for newly improved wages?).

Not very helpful over here.

The Danish labor market is unionized -- with centralized bargaining even -- while the American is on the very opposite end of spectrum. American born taxi drivers (me for 28 years) used to earn $800-900/wk up to a couple of decades ago -- now probably more like $400-500/wk for 60 grueling hours -- American born wont work for such. Ditto for fast food -- at $10/wk, Chicago's labor still all Mexican and Indian.

100,000 out of my guesstimate 200,000 Chicago gang-age minority males are in street gangs, I presume because they wont slave for $400/wk. Fed min was $440 half of today's per capita income ago (1968).

Sociological point: both our "gangs" would work for half of today's taxi or low skill wages if only it were 100 years ago and if only we understood that was the best the economy could share with us -- and we'd be happy. Beautiful thing about collective bargaining is that it makes you know you have squeezed all there is to squeeze out of the consumer/economy.

With collective bargaining disappeared from the US and with immigrants sociologically willing to work-for-less, a "market clearance" gap opens into which our de-unionized natives fall -- out of sight of the data by definition because they not looking for work.
 * * * * * *
The Social Security Trust Fund should -- as in is supposed to -- run down/run out -- why else did we save it up all that "cash" if not to pay it back out  to the generation who "saved" it?  Before it runs out -- quick! -- we ought start a new Trust Fund for the following generation -- and we need to do it in time for the new FICA money used to buy the  new Trust Fund II (that's "two") bonds can be used to cash out the old Trust Fund I bonds -- continuing to "guarantee" the next generation of Social Security retirees will get theirs (or whatever phony purpose Trust Fund I is supposed to fulfill).  :-)
 * * * * * *

Reading Sandwichman today I realized that the "Prisoner's Dilemma" can be used to explain why the ability of un-organized labor to "just go down the road" to offer their services does not constitute effective bargaining power in the labor market.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Diverting minimum wage dollars -- Perfect labor market competition? -- Re-framinig collective bargaining rights -- SS TF

If a minimum wage hike is priced right it will bring in more dollars for fewer hours of work – but the employment picture doesn’t end there.  The extra dollars will be diverted from purchases higher wage people might have made to buying decisions lower wage people make.

If lower wage people make exactly the same buying decisions as higher, then, the effect on employment will be null (it's a little trickier, but that's the idea).  The difference will be in consumption: the lower wage will consume more and the upper less (that's the idea).

In practice, consumers tend to aim their purchases somewhat more towards vendors who hire in the same pay spectrum.  Poor people buy other poor people's second-hand cars -- used car lot too pricey.  Middle wage people buy off the used car lot.  Higher wages put you in the showroom.

1/11/14, NYT article "The Vicious Circle of Income Inequality" by Professor Robert H. Frank of Cornell: " .. higher incomes of top earners have been shifting consumer demand in favor of goods whose value stems from the talents of other top earners. ... as the rich get richer, the talented people they patronize get richer, too.  Their spending, in turn, increases the incomes of other elite practitioners, and so on."

Upshot, a higher minimum wage – if priced right – should predict a few more customers at Mickey D’s and a few less at Olive Garden.  Likely that’s what we saw in Card and Krueger (1992) -- studying firms with “giant” 33% labor costs no less.

Further clarification: if orange sellers and apple sellers started out charging the same price but orange sellers toyed with their price until they could get more money for fewer oranges out of apple sellers, then, businesses that apple sellers like to buy from, cabbage sellers, would suffer – but firms that orange sellers buy from, lettuce sellers, would prosper.
 * * * * * *
Given the perpetual motion aspect of shifting demand it might seem that what economists call collecting rents via excess market power might not – as a mathematical question – make any difference to overall efficiency or output.

As a human equation top one-percenters cannot figure out to spend all their money (could you?), slowing down overall demand.  The less well educated, less healthy, less happy more under paid, etc., employees will make for a less productive economy (drug dealing doesn’t count).  But, today we are focusing on the implications of the math.

“Efficient-market hypothesis”/”rational expectations”/”perfect competition” focused folks are often caught up in the presumption that -- assuming we let every market actor just do their thing – maximum output will result (could be) along with fairest distribution (“by definition?”).
But, like random atoms blown out by the Big Bang, individual economic actors tend to coalesce into structures that do not automatically maximize fairest distribution.  Businesses tend to coalesce into one-buyer monopsonies.  Labor, where in the world it can, will gravitate to collective bargaining units (unions).

If we didn’t know the topic of conversation was labor unions I don’t think anybody would disagree with the statement that: efficiency and output cannot be any better than if economic output is sorted out by pure consumer choice rather than by monopsony putting maximum squeeze on whatever random parts of the supply chain.

When we calibrate the minimum wage we think consumer choice.  Ditto for collective bargaining.

Further down the slide-to-the-bottom:  monopsonist (by definition) employers competing with other monopsonists would if they could squeeze employees harder and harder – not just for extra profit, but for survival. Think formerly sanguine supermarket managements squeezing employees to Walmart pay levels (can happen if both are unionized -- centralized bargaining solves the latter -- Walmart closed 88 big boxes in sector-wide bargaining Germany).
Further clarification: legally prescribed and protected balancing of monopsony power (one buyer -- ownership) with monopoly power (one seller -- labor union) sounds much closer to the definition of perfect competition (for those concerned with such) than what results when employees are cut loose to fend for themselves.
* * * * * *
The idea that more progressive states (WA, OR, CA, NV, IL, MD?) could individually make union busting a felony -- make prohibitions against coercion in the labor market actually enforceable -- doesn't seem to be getting much traction -- though it is so simple and so vital. There's no legal bar to states adding to federal labor protections that I know of -- California's labor laws for instance are stricter than Uncle Sam's.

Maybe it's more a matter of the culture. We are just so used to looking upon the firing of organizers and joiners as civil matters -- un-enforced by laughable-at remedies -- rather than as criminal matters that we just can't shake off the habit.

Try to manipulate or coerce markets for goods or services (try to take a movie in the movies and tell them you were only kidding -- see you in a couple of years, for real) and it is big jail time. But in the most important market of all -- that decides the personal lives and political influence of the broad majority of Americans -- coercion of employees is just our (not any other modern economy's or culture's) way of life.

Union racketeering does less harm to pocketbooks (maybe no political damage at all) than eliminating unions altogether. But, racketeers are identifiable bad guys, leg breaking hoods. Union busters happen to be the pillars of the community -- really are -- who organize and operate our economy. That image may help sneak them by our usual sense of outrage. Time to get past outmoded habitudes (no sic) and flawed culture and to get logical about the economic and politically ruinous truth of union busting. 
 * * * * * *
Last little tasty: why would we build a Social Security retirement Trust Fund (TF) if we did not intend to deplete it at some point?  Possible real usefulness: to cover any temporary shortfall in FICA revenue while Congress gets around to upping FICA or cutting benefits.  From that standpoint, today’s TF is equipped for about a 20 year long “emergency.”

Would it make sense to maintain today’s giant TF at today’s level forever – “slush fund”? – if income and outgo varied back and forth year to year but basically balanced out?  Even less sense to keep inflating the TF?  That would just define a permanent mechanism for converting FICA revenue – supposedly being saved for the future – into cash for current expenses that would otherwise be funded with income tax.

No fear.  By the time the TF is running out it will be paying 25% of SS retirement – with income tax – or as much as $250 billion (quarter of a trillion!) a year.  Just lower the income tax by the same amount we hike the FICA tax.  Without further ado: by then per capita income should be up 20-30% (along with whatever free gifts of technology).  What me worry?

Ultimately I think it boils down to this: If the trust fund is really "savings" to cover the retirement of one generation -- that's all it can do, no? -- WHERE ARE ALL THE TRUST FUNDS FOR ALL THE SUBSEQUENT GENERATIONS? 

Maybe the real solution (to frozen-thinking, that we have to use the trust fund the way it was un-thinkingly designed) is to start another trust fund for the next generation -- and pay for it with the same dollars we would have used to cash the trust fund bonds. 

IOW, raise the FICA tax to extract as much money as the income tax would have been raised to cash the bonds. This will go down great with Republicans since FICA money is extracted from the bottom 90% -- and 40% (!) of income tax is extracted from the top 10%. Can't have that -- "47%" Mitt and the Donald will go along with that.

Of course we could cover bond cashing with income tax by printing money -- can't run a deficit with FICA. OTH, with the new trust fund you could say we are printing the bonds. :-)

EXTRA  ADDENDUM (to first part above)
Just to think min wage re-distribution of spending through a little further (a little is all I'm capable of):
 -- Suppose higher income people usually spent 100 dollars on lower wage hours (fast food) and 100 dollars on medium wage hours (widget making).
 -- Suppose after a minimum wage raise they spent 110 dollars on 90 minimum wage hours with only 90 for medium wage hours.
 -- Suppose the minimum wage workers spent the extra 10 dollars in exactly the same places (almost): 10 on fast food and 10 on widgets.

Same hours worked -- different consumption of goodies?

Problem with that is that 10 dollars now spent for min wager hours will now buy 9 only hours of work.

But wait; the 9 min wage hours will now pay an extra 10%. Suppose those workers in turn spend them in the same proportion. Then, the extra money that goes to the next min wage hour in turn ...
... starts to sound like how banks create money with credit while holding back 10% for liquidity doesn't it?

Just saying. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What is the multiplier effect of investing political capital in increasing union density?

I wonder what is the multiplier effect of investing political capital in increasing union density?

” They worry that Mr. Sanders, as president, would exhaust his political capital on what they call a fool’s errand, at the expense of other initiatives on education, infrastructure, climate change, worker benefits — and the Affordable Care Act itself. "

” if Mr. Sanders were elected and fought for a single-payer plan, it ‘would rapidly destroy his administration by using up every ounce of political capital he’s got.’ ”

My comment over at Economists View:
The answer is to build up an unbeatable mountain of political capita by rebuilding union density. How? Starting in progressive states with Democratic legislative majorities — make union busting a felony.

There are all sorts of restrictions on union bargaining methods — e.g., no secondary picket lines — that are enforceable. None of the restrictions on illegal union busting are the slightest bit enforceable.

Make unions attractive by example — let people in red states see how positively they work — make people in red states jealous. Change the culture — get more union states. Then — on only then — we can get everything we want.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Social welfare spending hasn't reduced poverty much? No surprise.

Social welfare spending hasn't reduced poverty much?  No surprise. Example: EITC, $60 billion -- sound like a lot?  Equals 1/3 of one percent of GDP in an economy where 45% of the workers are earning less than what the minimum wage could very practicably be: $15 an hour.

BTW, that minimum wage would shift 5% of income from the 55% who now take 90% of overall income to the 45% (or should we say shift 5% of income from the 54% who now take 70%?).

What are needed are non-skilled jobs that pay between $600 and $800 a week -- the same jobs that exist now but don't pay enough to keep 100,000 Chicago gang age males (out of approx 200,000) out of street gangs.  My old job doesn't pay even near $800 any more: taxi driving (NYC, Chi, SF).  Fast food work in Chi is owned by Mexican and Indian immigrants because American born wont work for so little (even $10 an hour minimum in Chi -- of course the min was $11 in 1968 when per capita income was half today's).

The money is there -- to pay people to work.  If it isn't there we can forever forget about reducing poverty.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Re: "The costs of inequality: When a fair shake isn’t" by Alivin Powell

Re: “Inequality, it’s not just about wealth, it’s about power. It isn’t just that somebody has some yachts, it’s the effect on democracy. For me, the big issue is the power problem. … I think we’re in a really scary place.”
— Marshall Ganz

We can trace poor education in ghetto schools down to low pay in the low skill (entry level, e.g., retail clerk) job market. We can trace crime (especially homicides -- e.g., Chicago's daily shoot-em-ups) down low pay in the low skill job market.

Berkeley professor Martín Sánchez-Jankowski learned that ghetto schools don't work because students (and teachers!) didn't see anything remunerative enough waiting for them in the job market to make any extra effort -- while spending nine years on the streets of five poverty stricken neighborhoods in NYC and LA.

100,000 out of my guesstimate 200,000 Chicago, gang-age minority males are in street gangs. My assumption -- based on my and my fellow co-workers parallel experience (below)-- because the kind of jobs easily available pay about half a grown man minimally needs to earn to live like an adult (even with another adult): only about $400 a week.

Noto Bene: Back when Lydon Johnson was president -- and per capita income was only half of today's ($15,000 v. $30,000) the federal minimum wage was $440 a week! !!!

My old (especially "old" -- I'm 71) Chicago taxi drivers "gang" used to make about twice what I guess these guys make today. That was before the fare dropped off 50 cents a mile, while 40% more cabs were added, opened unlimited limos and build subways to both airports. Unlike the former lease system (60/40 split) ALL the fare shortfall now comes out of the drivers' ends.

The money is obviously there for the drivers -- it was there before. $15 an hour is there (without waiting 5 years to sneak up on it) for high labor costs businesses like fast food (uniquely 33%). $20 an hour should be there for 10-15% labor costs businesses. Was before in supermarkets -- before Walmart two-tiered their contracts. Is definitely there for very high skilled regional airline pilots who are making $500 a week hoping to move up to the "big time" while living on food stamps!

The money is there because the consumer has it (two generations after the minimum wage was $11 -- something about economic growth) and is willing to pay it. But, the only way employees can test consumers' willingness to pay (other than a minimum wage at the very bottom) is collective bargaining with the employer (with one eye on how far to push the consumer -- just like when you set the minimum wage).

There's not even that much money involved: about 5% of income shift will pay for $15 min wage -- maybe 10% (pure guess) to get most low skill jobs more in the range of $20 (collective bargaining will keep a sharp eye on the consumer here). Remember, per capita income typically grows 20% over 10 years -- along with the free gifts of technology -- so the consumer will get it back. That is, if the top 1% stops bleeding off all the growth; high labor density (AND ONLY HIGH UNION DENSITY!) will take care of that -- by hook or by crook.

At one time we had high union density and everything worked fine. The legal mechanism even then didn't say too much more than that if management stole it had to give some of the money back -- meaning if they fired organizers and joiners they had to re-hire. As such labor union law as sort of on the honor system, but because of social consensus it somehow worked ...

... which consensus has long since disappeared and taken the whole nation's economic and political health down system with it.

Union busting is much more pernicious than labor union racketeering. Racketeering only bleeds some of what you've got. Busting steals it all (including your political sinews) before you get it -- but busting is done by the upstanding natural leaders of the community, so we just don't seem to catch on.

To approach perfect competition the monopsony condition of the labor market (one buyer) must be balanced off by the monopoly of a labor union (one seller) -- only way for half the means of production (the labor half) to test the willingness of the (ultimate) consumer to pay.

Management can claim there are many monopsonists in the labor market (therefore many buyers) but that just prevents on super monopsonist from paying computer programmers as much (as little) as burger flippers. That sets up what we have in the US -- what I call a subsistence-plus labor market where labor's price is set according to what it has to offer compared to other labor -- rather than what the consumer market is willing to pay.

The perfectly competitive market is exactly what labor needs -- as long as you know exactly what a perfectly competitive labor market really means.

Any other form of market warping and muscling is quite rightly heavily penalized (try to take a movie in the movies and tell them you were only kidding -- see you in a couple of years). Forget Congressional help for now. Progressive states are beginning to understand that they can set their own labor standards that add but not subtract (federal preemption) from federal law (just as with local minimum wages).

To restore American economic and political health, progressive states can make union busting a felony -- automatically invoking RICO for persistent abusers (which can deter "playing at" union busting -- 33 states have their own RICO statutes).

In Maryland for just one instance Democrats have a 33-17 edge in the State Senate and a 91-50 edge in the House. WA, OR, CA, IL, NY, anybody listening?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Collective bargaining is closer to perfect competition

Collective bargaining moves closer to the definition of "perfect competition" -- for whatever that's worth.

Jimmy Hoffa would say that labor owned half the means of production -- the labor half -- and that short of a law requiring labor, ownership and the (ultimate) consumer to get together to set all product prices (an impractical way to sell candy bars), that collective bargaining is the only way to keep labor in the price setting game.

I know the dictionary definition of "perfect competition."  I don't know if economists (or some economists and not others) think that any deviation from such results in lower efficiency.  Seems to me that unblanced market power just rearranges distribution of the "lump of product."  No matter.

What I want to load on the balance in favor of labor union practicality is that, by definition, unions bring the market closer to perfect competition -- by balancing the monopoly power of labor -- one seller (ask any conservative if a labor union is a monopoly) -- against the monopsony power of ownership -- one buyer.

Ownership could counter that there are many "one buyers" in today's labor market.  Which surely moves the market closer to perfect competition than the extreme of one big buyer hiring all labor: which might allow ownership to pay computer programmers the same as burger flippers.  What multiple monopsonists do create (what we do have in the US today) is a subsistence-plus market wherein labor's price is set by subsistence (if that much) plus how ever much more labor is worth compared to other labor -- working up a skill increment ladder -- rather than paying labor by however much the ultimate consumer might have been willing to shell out.

If another definition of perfect competion/efficiency might be the balancing of market satisfactions/dissatisfactions all around -- as is achieved when labor/owner/(ultimate) buyer get together to make a deal -- then collective bargaining is the only known way to achieve that kind of balance. 

US labor market monopsony hits the lower skill labor market three-ways hard: the customary race-to-the-bottom price problem, aggravated by the infinite supply of interchangeable employees, which employees have to sell today or "throw away" (maybe miss meals).  

A subsistence-plus labor market ultimately distorts output in favor of which employees may be manhandled the most/least.  Collective bargaining more structures an economy to produce in accordance with pure consumer preference.