Democrats rage over whether abortion is a litmus test

Since Roe v. Wade, Democrats have used abortion as a wedge issue against Republicans. Liberals demonized pro-life conservatives for the grave crime of preventing a woman’s “right to choose” what to do with their bodies. Apparently, such liberties are far more than important than killing a human being that has no way to defend him- or herself.

However, it now appears that abortion has become a wedge issue within the party.

Breitbart recently reported that California Governor Jerry Brown made the sensible comment that Democrats should be open to pro-life candidates, for no other than practical reasons.

California Governor Jerry Brown says the Democratic Party should be open to pro-life candidates as it seeks to regain control of the House in 2018.

On NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, Brown, a Democrat, rejected the notion that his party needs to embrace “ideological purity,” and said the Democratic base is “shifting.”

“I’d say, look, even on the abortion issue, it wasn’t very long ago that a number of Catholic Democrats were opposed to abortion,” Brown said. “So the fact that somebody believes today what most people believed 50 years ago should not be the basis for their exclusion.”

“In America, we’re not ideological, we’re not like a Marxist party in 1910,” Brown added. “We are a big tent by the very definition.”

As one who has repeatedly criticized Brown on this blog for several reasons, it is encouraging to see him defend Democrats who hold traditional, and dare I say, logical positions.

It is also encouraging to see both Democratic leaders and up-and-comers with the same position. While Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or Kamala Harris can not be categorized as pro-life in any way, at the very least they reject the notion that there should be a litmus test relating to abortion.

However, the same can’t be said about the feminists and abortion advocates within the Democratic party.

Twitter has been flooded by threats by liberals threatening to hurt the Democratic party in some way if it supports pro-life candidates.

For example, “comedian” Rosie O’Donnell had some … interesting reactions to a lack of an abortion litmus test.

That party ought to do well in the electoral college. Then there’s this one.

I have three reactions to this. First, no thank you. Second, if you become pregnant, then what? Isn’t this what this is all about? Lastly, since when is it men who are the only ones concerned about the welfare of an unborn child? The premise behind the supposed patriarchy preventing women from doing something to their bodies is simply astounding.

Then there’s former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who says he’ll refuse supporting Democratic Congressional campaigns if pro-life candidates are allowed to run.

Then there’s New York Senator Kristin Gillibrand, who keeps her head high on the principle that unborn children can be killed so that women somehow stay healthy.

In short, it appears that the riff abortion has caused within the Democratic party won’t be healed anytime soon.

With respect to my own position, while Murray Rothbard famously believed that abortion was acceptable, primarily on the grounds that women have to do whatever with their bodies as they wish, Father Jim Sadowsky, a friend of Rothbard’s, disagreed strongly:

But is the infant a trespasser the moment his presence in the womb is no longer desired? Does he have no right to be there? Murray [Rothbard] and Walter [Block] simply assume that the infant has no right to be in the womb. Yet it is by no means evident that their answer is the correct one. To say that x is trespassing is to say that he is somewhere where he ought not to be. But where should a foetus be if not in its mother’s womb? This is its natural habitat. Surely people have a right to the means of life that nature gives them? If the home in which the infant grew were outside the mother’s body, we should all see that to expel him from that home would be to deprive him of the nature-given means of life. Why should the fact that his nature-given home lies within a woman’s body change the situation? What is a woman’s womb for except to house the infant’s body? It is nature that gives the child this home, this means of life. When we cast him out, we are depriving him of that which nature gave him. To do this is to violate his rights.

However many problems the Democrats may have, if pro-life candidates have an opportunity to get elected into office, at the very least the most vulnerable human beings may have a better chance of their injustices being addressed in Congress.

SJW’s gotta SJW, ESPN style

ESPN

Breitbart posted a video in which ESPN’s Sarah Spain (who?? – Mr. Fool) blasts the Baltimore Ravens for gauging fans’ interest in signing Colin Kaepernick.

Because reasons.

While Spain’s reaction can be seen here, this is how Breitbart described it:

Monday on “Around the Horn,” ESPN’s Sarah Spain ripped the Baltimore Ravens for their decision to gauge fans’ interest in bringing on free agent Colin Kaepernick to fill in for injured quarterback Joe Flacco, calling the move “disgusting” and “repulsive.”

“[T]he idea that they would think that this is a time they need to poll their fans and care about whether people want to see a player in the league is disgusting,” Spain argued.

“It’s repulsive to me that someone who hasn’t even committed a crime and did nothing more than speak out against something that is a serious issue in our society and is now donating millions of dollars and time to that issue is somebody that we need to ask the public if they are willing to watch play football,” she continued. “It’s gross.”

Sarah, it looks like I need to explain something to you as simply as possible.

After all, fools like to keep things simple.

Football, like all professional sports, is a business. A business that wants to stick around for a long time needs to make sure its customers are happy. If they aren’t happy, then they won’t be buying what the business is selling: tickets, beer, jerseys, ball caps, anything. If it doesn’t make any money, then it won’t be able to hire people to work in a concessions stand, let alone sign a quarterback to a multi-year contract.

In Kaepernick’s case, last season he was one of the first football players to protest police shootings of black men by taking a knew during the national anthem.  Those protests were among the factors behind declining TV viewership that season. Therefore, if the Ravens are considering signing Kaepernick, it makes eminent sense for it to guage how its fans would react.

That’s good business. It helps everyone who has a job in the NFL keep it.

Still don’t like how the business works, Sarah?

Then work in another one.

 

 

 

Is there only one way for wages to go up?

While I have followed Vox Day for several years, and respect him and his work, a recent post of his shows that he has an incomplete understanding of economics.

Putting together the post’s title and its beginning, he argues thusly:

The only way to raise wages [i]s to reduce the supply of labor. American workers can only benefit from the elimination of labor visas, increased limits on immigration, and stepped-up deportation, as evidenced by the response of Maine businesses to a “shortage” of H-2B visas.

Before addressing the article to which Day refers, I want to address the categorical manner in which he says wages can be raised.

Why do wages go up?

I agree that the methods Day cites will raise wages for American workers. For example, there has been increasing evidence that American companies have abused foreign worker visa processes to bring in lower-cost workers, at the expense of qualified yet higher-cost American workers.

However, I would like to think Day recognizes that this is not the only way to raise worker wages. In fact, through free markets, capital accumulation and higher wages go hand in hand. As Ludwig von Mises explains in Human Action:

In the capitalist society there prevails a tendency toward a steady increase in the per capita quota of capital invested. The accumulation of capital soars above the increase in population figures. Consequently the marginal productivity of labor, wage rates, and the wage earners’ standard of living tend to rise continually. But this improvement in well-being is not the manifestation of the operation of an inevitable law of human evolution; it is a tendency resulting from the interplay of forces that can freely produce their effects only under capitalism.

In other words, in the near term, it certainly makes sense that restricting the supply of labor will lead to its price going up. However, as time passes, there is a symbiotic relationship between capital accumulation, labor productivity, and wage rates. The less interference to that relationship, the better for everyone involved.

Now that I’ve discussed how wage rates go up, I turn to the article to which Day is referring.

Maine businesses scramble for seasonal workers

Day points to a Daily Caller report, indicating that Maine businesses are scrambling to find local workers because of a shortage in foreign guest workers.

Businesses in Bar Harbor, Maine are turning to locals to make up for a shortage of foreign guest workers that normally fill summer jobs in the bustling seaside resort town.

Because the H-2B visa program has already reached its annual quota, Bar Harbor’s hotels, restaurants and shops can’t bring in any more foreign workers for the rest of the busy summer tourist season. Like hundreds of similar coastal resort towns, Bar Harbor has for many years depended on the H-2B visas for temporary workers. The program allows non-agricultural companies to bring in foreign labor if they are unable to find suitable employees domestically.

Now they are coming up with creative ways to attract local labor, reports the Bangor Daily News.

The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce will hold a job fair Saturday in an effort to recruit significant numbers of workers from the region. Just about every kind of business in the town is looking for help, says chamber executive director Martha Searchfield.

“All types of businesses — retail, restaurants, the tour boats, all the trips, everything. All types of workers are needed,” she told the Daily News.

The shortage is so acute that companies are sweetening incentives for local workers. Searchfield says some businesses are offering flexible schedules that might appeal to older workers who might be interested in working only a day or two each week. And other companies have gone so far as to offer higher wages to entice locals.

Day, of course, applauds the situation.

That’s not a problem, that’s an indication of a solution. As long as tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed, there is absolutely zero net benefit to the economy or to American workers from immigration. All immigration accomplishes is to increase income inequality to the advantage of very large US corporations and the financial class that caters to them.

While I do not necessarily disagree with this, I also think that Day’s analysis is incomplete.

In addition to immigration, another key reason for high unemployment has been the disastrous drive across the country to raise the minimum wage.

Fortunately for Maine residents, its legislature developed some common sense and withdrew a previously-passed increase:

Last November, the Maine State Legislature voted to raise the minimum wage for restaurant servers. Then in mid-June, they voted to lower it back down.

And lots of Maine’s restaurant workers were thrilled.

The minimum wage for tipped workers in Maine is half that of the state’s regular minimum wage ($9). It’s called the “tip credit” rule, as it allows employers to take a credit of up to 50 percent from their employees’ wages, because servers will generally make that money back (and hopefully more) in tips. If tips and wages, together, don’t equal the state’s minimum wage, employers are required to make up the difference.

State Senator James Dill, a Democrat who initially voted to raise wages, told the Washington Post that after the Nov. referendum passed, he received “hundreds” of calls and emails from servers who were worried about their livelihood.

As a result, Dill threw his support behind a Republican measure to return the “tip credit” rule. After passing through the Senate on June 7, the bill was brought before the House on June 13, where it passed with a vote of 110-37.

Maine Governor Paul LePage signed the bill into law last week. It will go into effect 90 days after Legislature adjourned, reports the Bangor Daily News.

Restaurant workers wanted to retract the increase for two reasons.

[S]ervers were worried about the ramifications of the new laws for two reasons: first, that it would force employers to raise prices on their menu items, which could affect their current tips; and second, and perhaps more importantly, that employers might be forced to cut servers’ shifts as a result.

Preventing the minimum wage from rising encourages businesses to hire unskilled workers. Combined with competing with fewer foreign workers, lower-skilled Maine residents should have had a better shot at finding a job this summer:

Firms faced with minimum wage laws often substitute skilled for unskilled labor. In a report for the Show-Me Institute, labor economist David Neumark offers an illustrative example: Suppose that a job can be done by either three unskilled workers or two skilled workers. If the unskilled wage is $5 per hour and the skilled wage is $8 per hour, the firm will use unskilled labor and produce the output at a cost of $15. However, if we impose a minimum wage to $6 per hour, the firm will instead use two skilled workers and produce for $16 as opposed to the $18 cost of using unskilled workers. In the “official data” this shows up as a small job loss — in this case, only one job — but we see an increase in average wages to eight dollars per hour in spite of the fact that the least skilled workers are now unemployed.

This summer, it’s looking good for Maine residents who were otherwise prevented from working. Immigration abuse and a lower minimum wage is allowing them to find jobs.

In the long run, however, an unhampered free market allows capital accumulation and higher wages to coexist.

 

Should looters of ancient artifacts go to jail?

Archeology

Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archeology Review, poses a hypothetical scenario that raises pressing questions about the current state of the antiquities market:

Imagine a young Bedouin looter exploring one of the hundreds of complicated and dangerous caves in the Judean Desert by the Dead Sea. He discovers an extraordinary ancient gold artifact with a Hebrew inscription referring to King Solomon.

One of the Israeli antiquities dealers who sees it reports it to the authorities, who quickly trace it to the young Bedouin and seize it from him. It is displayed in the Israel Museum, which has to remain open until midnight to accommodate the crowds. It is an international sensation. The New York Times sends two of its most knowledgeable reporters to write the story.

The young Bedouin looter is arrested by the authorities and tried for looting and sentenced to two years in prison. The gold inscription soon comes to be regarded as Israel’s most valuable ancient inscription.

This of course is a thoroughly fictional account. But it does bear some resemblances to a real occurrence—something that is reported in the Archaeological Views column of this very issue of BAR.

What makes me feel the need to explore the situation is the fact that the looters alert the archaeologists to the existence of the other valuable finds in the cave and get sent to jail for it, while the archaeologists learn from the looters where to dig.

There are thousands of caves in the Judean Desert. They are large and twisting and dangerous. They have produced archaeological riches beyond avarice. Yet for some reason they cannot all be located and explored. They are often accidentally explored—sometimes by looters. When the looters are caught, they are jailed—instead of congratulated—for the find. Somehow it doesn’t seem right. But somehow I am pretty sure I am wrong. Maybe an archaeologist can explain why to me.

The primary problem Shanks is identifying relates to property. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog post, many countries with sizable yet undiscovered archeological artifacts have effectively nationalized their ownership to the state. While archeologists can receive permission from a government to perform digs, the price signals that could indicate their relative significance have been effectively elminated. As a result, the state treats knowledgeable locals as criminals, while their “crimes” provide clues to archeologists on where to dig next.

What both antiquities-rich nations, and the archeologists that work there, currently do not recognize is there would be a wide range of benefits if people were able to own land that held artifacts. Through the price system, property owners would be incentivized to hold and develop land believed to hold valuable objects. Archeologists could work peacefully with these landowners to obtain rights to perform digs on their land that could lead to obtaining valuable historical information. Finally, the local people would benefit because they could help landowners and archeologists with valuable services.

Unfortunately, both governments and scientists would have to be open to learn about how markets work before they would be open to such liberalization.

Nevertheless, one can always hope, right?

 

 

Algebra as a civil rights issue doesn’t add up

A social justice clown, masquerading himself as a college administrator, has once again attempted to characterize common sense as a violation of civil rights.

In this case, the chancellor of California’s community colleges believes that the requirement for college students to take algebra should be abolished.

Because it’s hard.

The chancellor of California’s community college system said he wants to abolish the college algebra requirement and called it a “civil rights issue” in a Wednesday interview.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California Community Colleges, made the argument while speaking with NPR. (But of course. ed.) He pegged algebra as overly burdensome due to the disproportionate rate at which it prevents students from graduating from community colleges; nearly 50 percent of community college students do not complete their math requirement.

“This is a civil rights issue, but this is also something that plagues all Americans — particularly low-income Americans,” said Oakley. “If you think about all the underemployed or unemployed Americans in this country who cannot connect to a job in this economy — which is unforgiving of those students who don’t have a credential — the biggest barrier for them is this algebra requirement. It’s what has kept them from achieving a credential.”

The chancellor said that other higher education institutions, such as the Carnegie Foundation and the University of Texas, were pondering the change. He suggested that statistics could replace algebra as a new requirement.

However, Oakley’s characterization about Carnegie’s position isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, it has developed tools to help community college students take, and pass, required math classes because public high schools have failed them.

Traditionally, only 5% of the 13 million community college students enrolled in developmental mathematics courses earn college level credit within one year. This high rate of failure cannot simply be attributed to a single source, such as poor curriculum materials or disengaged students, but the entire system. After analyzing the entire system that produces the traditional results and recognizing the key drivers of failure, the [network of educators established by Carnegie] created a system to address the problems across the system.

It ought to shock public high school principals that they are sending such outrageously unprepared students to community colleges. After all, those students are receiving a diploma with their school’s name on it!

However, rather than working with high schools (and their feeder schools) to help them prepare their students for what they ought to expect at community colleges, Oakley is prancing around as if the students’ lack of success is indicative of the injustices of the system! (Raise fist.)Oakley is no more an educator than I am a swimsuit model. (Trust me.) The Board of Governors of California Community Colleges ought to be embarrassed that Mr. Oakley is the chancellor.

California Assembly Speaker receives death threats over dropping single-payer health care bill

Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Breitbart reports that California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) has received death threats for blocking an Assembly vote on a single-payer health care bill.

What is fascinating about this is that Rendon actually supports a single-payer system! He just doesn’t believe that the current bill was ready from prime time, calling it “woefully incomplete”. The San Jose Mercury News quoted the following from a statement he released:

[The bill] does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation.

In light of this, I have decided SB 562 will remain in the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice.

Leftists, however, aren’t exactly known for being patient.

In return, he has begun to receive death threats. Rendon told the Sacramento Bee that he and his family have begun receiving threats through social media, including one that advised him to check “his schedule for baseball practice,” a reference to the shooting attack on several congressional Republicans at a baseball practice earlier this month.

Rendon also told the San Jose Mercury News that he felt threatened specifically because critics were accusing him of causing the death of people who, they claimed, would not have health care if it did not come from the new bill.

“What’s really bothersome for me is to read some of the threads and some of the comments from people who really believe that this bill would have actually provided services. What’s disappointing is that those folks seem to have been sold a bill of goods,” Rendon told the Bee.

One group that appears to be stirring the pot is the California Nurses Association, which has been pushing hard in Sacramento for a single-payer health care system in the state.

The California Nurses Association, which supports the single-payer bill, has reportedly dismissed Rendon’s claims about receiving death threats as an attempt to distract the public.

“There are real death threats out there,” said California Nurses Association spokesperson Chuck Idleson to the Mercury News, “for people who are facing a loss of health care.”

I’m embarrassed when I think about how I used to talk like this sanctimonious idiot.

Now where would anyone get the idea that Rendon is threatening people lives by not pursuing the bill? Could it have anything to do with the demonstration from which the above photo was taken?

On Wednesday, protesters from the California Nurses Association flooded the State Capitol and displayed a banner reading “Inaction = Death,” according to the Los Angeles Times. They also held signs depicting the California state flag, with a knife in the back of the familiar bear. They accused Speaker Rendon of stabbing the bear in the back.

Signs like these make me think twice about going to a hospital to receive treatment.

At the national level, Democrats have used similar language to protest Republicans’ effort to overhaul Obamacare, claiming the GOP is killing thousands of people.

The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the California Highway Patrol is investigating the threats against Rendon.

Something tells me that those threats were meant to be taken seriously.

 

I don’t know when this madness in the Golden State is going to end, but there’s no sign of calmness returning anytime soon.

Veritas Project releases “American Pravda: Part 1, CNN”

Last night, James O’Keefe of Veritas Project released a teaser video on Twitter in which a hidden camera captures a CNN producer saying that the Russian narrative is bull**it.

Today, Veritas Project released Part 1 of its American Pravda series, in which the focus is on CNN.

The ominous title hints in a not-so-subtle manner that the American Pravda series will be targeting other MSM outfits.

So far, the video Veritas has captured so far is damning. John Bonifield clearly states that media is a business, and their editorial slant is geared towards satisfying liberal viewers who liked Obama but hate Trump.

That’s why the network has been focusing so much on Russia. There’s no real evidence indicating Russia actually tried to manipulate the previous presidential election. However, this focus is terrific for CNN’s ratings.

If this is only Part 1 of American Pravda, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

 

 

 

Seymour Hersh: The US attacked Syria knowing sarin wasn’t used in “gas attack”

In an earlier post, I documented my disgust with President Trump when he launched Tomahawk missiles against Syrian targets, in apparent retaliation of Syria’s use of sarin gas in an attack.

However, Seymour Hersh reports that while the American intelligence community knew that the Syrian did not use chemical weapons in general, and sarin particular, in the attack in question, Trump ordered the bombing anyways.

On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives.

Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

Hersh’s article is lengthy, and is worth reading in its entirety. However, the jist of the article is clear and, frankly, shocking.

 

Trump tweets on Obama turn tables on Democrats

For months, Democrats have tried to come up with some sort of evidence, any sort of evidence, demonstrating that Trump was somehow colluding with the Russians to win the 2016 election. Since November, all of the heat was generated by the left, and directed towards Trump.

However, earlier today, Trump launched four tweets that not only can the Democrats not ignore, but will more likely send them into an uncontrollable tizzy.

Frankly, what Trump did was ingenious. He took what the Democrats have been arguing all along, and reframed the discussion that puts the spotlight squarely on them.

When Democrats whine about how Trump’s tweets are not presidential, it has nothing to do with maintaining the dignity of the office. However, it has everything to do with trying everything they can to control what he says.

The Democrats simply can’t handle Trump. Their policies don’t work, and they can’t intimidate him into backing down.

The fact that they have no idea what Trump will post next makes them extremely uncomfortable.

Good.

 

U of Washington study shows the minimum wage isn’t working in Seattle

For decades, liberals have been under the illusion that raising the minimum wage magically raises incomes for poor people. Unfortunately, unless one slept through Econ 101, one cannot help but recognize that raising the minimum wage helps only a portion of the working poor, and keeps the marginally productive out of the workforce.

Seattle was one of the first cities who noisily proclaimed the dawn of a new era for the working poor by gradually raising the minimum wage in that city to $15 an hour. However, a new study by University of Washington economists shows statistically what ought to be obvious logically.

When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.

The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.

The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city. The study, published as a working paper Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not yet been peer reviewed.

On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum.

The reaction among liberal “economists” (a phrase that I’ll address later) has been swift, primarily because past statistical studies have shown presumably the positive impact from raising the minimum wage.

The paper’s conclusions contradict years of research on the minimum wage. Many past studies, by contrast, have found that the benefits of increases for low-wage workers exceed the costs in terms of reduced employment — often by a factor of four or five to one.

“This strikes me as a study that is likely to influence people,” said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the research. He called the work “very credible” and “sufficiently compelling in its design and statistical power that it can change minds.”

Yet the study will not put an end to the dispute. Experts cautioned that the effects of the minimum wage may vary according to the industries dominant in the cities where they are implemented along with overall economic conditions in the country as a whole.

And critics of the research pointed out what they saw as serious shortcomings. In particular, to avoid confusing establishments that were subject to the minimum with those that were not, the authors did not include large employers with locations both inside and outside of Seattle in their calculations. Skeptics argued that omission could explain the unusual results.

The article clearly demonstrates how economics is currently practiced. Essentially, economists are no more than statisticians who use data to back up preferable policy objectives. They do not explain how people create and exchange scarce resources so much as come up with equations and relationships that rationalize what they think government policy ought to be.

In comparison, Austrian School economists seek to understand how people act in the as value-free a manner as possible. While they may have their own opinions about what government policy ought to be, the Austrian School seeks to understand how people actually behave. It is through this process that one can understand, without the need of economic data, the harmful effects raising the minimum wage would have on the working poor.

While it is encouraging to see a statistical study come to the same conclusion, do not expect liberal economists to change their mind on the matter anytime soon.