Only about 3% of All Workers at any one time make the Minimum Wage

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2014

Week in Review

If you’ve heard the left talk about the urgent need to raise the minimum wage you would think half the nation is languishing under pauper’s wages.  While rich business owners are lighting their cigars with twenty dollar bills.  As they rest their feet on the back of a minimum wage worker.  But it’s not quite that bad (see The Cost of the Minimum Wage: $20 for a Burger posted 4/24/2014 on E21).

McDonald’s high turnover rate shows that most of its workers are using the job as a stepping stone to other careers or as a transition position between jobs. One in every eight U.S. workers has been a member of McDonald’s 750,000 person workforce. Economics21 director Diana Furchtgott-Roth entered the workforce scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins at about $3 an hour. She never intended to have a career in ice cream…

Ninety-seven percent of American workers make more than minimum wage, not out of the kindness of employers’ hearts but because this is the only way that employers can retain employees. Low-skill workers need jobs, wages, and work experience too, and if the minimum wage rises, these people will be priced out of a job.

So only about 3% of all workers at any one time make the minimum wage.  And the 3% from 10 years ago are most likely included in the 97% of workers today.  Because minimum wage jobs are entry-level jobs.  And what makes them so valuable is their low pay.  For these workers gain some skills and work experience.  And then get the hell out and join the 97%.  And go on to do great things.  Even become CEOs and directors.  Which they never would have done had they stayed at those minimum wage jobs.  Which they might have had if the minimum wage was a more comfortable living wage.

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Women and Men in the Exact Same Jobs are earning the Exact Same Income

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 13th, 2014

Week in Review

The Democrats are running out of ways to buy votes.  Which they desperately need as more people suffer the ravages of Obamacare.  Who will be entering the voting booth angry this fall.  Looking for someone to blame for taking away the health insurance and doctors they liked and wanted to keep.  And being that Obamacare was passed on purely partisan lines (no Republicans voted for it) the Democrats are sweating bullets as the midterm elections approach.  So they turn to an oldie but goldie.  The pay gap lie (see What pay gap? Young women out-earn men in cities, GOP pundit claims posted 4/8/2014 on PolitiFact).

We watched the debate play out between conservative pundit Sabrina Schaeffer and liberal pundit Elizabeth Plank on MSNBC’s The Reid Report, and again later between former White House adviser Anita Dunn and conservative pundit Genevieve Wood on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper.

“If you compare women to men in the same job with similar background, similar experiences that they bring to the table, the wage gap all but disappears,” Wood said. “Women have made great strides. Instead of celebrating that, this is a political year, the White House wants to portray this war on women…”

PolitiFact has given you the nuts and bolts about the 77 cents statistic — you can read the two most important works in this area here and here. Basically, there is a wage gap, but it tends to disappear when you compare women and men in the exact same jobs who have the same levels of experience and education.

Well, there it is.  Equal pay for equal work.  When men and women have the same education, experience and skills doing the same job there is no pay gap.  Case closed.  In fact, single women without children are actually earning more than single men.  Which is the key to this argument.  For a woman’s earnings fall with interruptions in her career as she takes time off to have children.  Or works reduced hours to care for her children.  This is where the pay gap comes in.  When you compare apples and oranges.  Comparing women who take time off or cut back their working hours or take lower paying jobs that allow her to spend more time with her children to men who don’t.  Because they’re single.  Or are married and have a wife who takes time off to spend more time with their children.

In fact, women are making great strides.  At the expense of men (see Is the Gender Pay Gap Closing or Has Progress Stalled? by Josh Zumbrun posted 4/11/2014 on The Wall Street Journal).

“There’s no question that one of the things that ‘77 cents’ doesn’t emphasize is that there’s been enormous gains,” said Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin.

Looking at the data above shows three clear trends that have emerged since the 1970s:

1) The spread between the sexes narrowed between 1970 and 2000. It has made little progress since.

2) Men have made no income gains in over four decades. Adjusted for inflation, men earn less today than they did in 1972.

3) Women continued to make gains until the recession began. Whatever forces slowed the income growth of men from 1970 to 2000 did not halt the income growth of women.

Simple economics.  Supply and demand.  Men were making more and more every year.  Until the Sexual Revolution.  When women began to flood the labor market.  With more labor available the cost of labor fell.  So as women gained education and experience the supply of educated and experienced workers grew.  Allowing employers to pay less for these now more plentiful educated and experienced workers.  Which is why as women enjoyed income gains men saw their income decline when adjusted for inflation.  Simple economics.  Supply and demand.

A long time ago in high school chemistry I remember my lab partner did not complete a homework assignment that was part 1 of a 2-part grade.  There was a homework part.  And a lab part.  Being a nice person I asked the teacher if we could share the grade on the homework part (which I had received an ‘A’ on.  Or a 4.0).  The teacher was more than generous.  He said, “Sure.  A 4.0 divided by 2 equals a 2.0 for each.”  Or, a ‘C’ for each.  Suffice it to say my lab partner did not get a 2.0 on the homework that went undone.

This is why men are earning less.  Because women have entered the workforce.  The revenue businesses use to pay their employees didn’t increase like the number of educated and experienced workers did.  So the amount of available revenue for pay and benefits was shared by more people.  Each getting less than a man did before the Sexual Revolution (when adjusted for inflation).  So instead of a single paycheck supporting a family these days it now takes two paychecks.  Because men are making less today since women have lowered the price of labor.  By increasing the supply of labor.  Not because they are paid less.  But because there are so many workers for so few jobs that businesses don’t have to pay as much as they once did to hire people.  Which is more to blame for pressure on wages than any pay gap.

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France discourages Job Creation with a Short Workweek, Confiscatory Tax Rates and Banning Emails after 6 PM

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 12th, 2014

Week in Review

For socialism to work you need businesses to provide jobs.  Because without people working the government can’t have confiscatory tax rates to fund a massive socialist state.  You’ve got to have jobs.  Which confiscatory tax rates tend to discourage.  For business and rich investors don’t want to pay confiscatory tax rates.  François Hollande ran on a socialist platform in France.  Promising to raise taxes to bring down the deficit.  Which he did.  Raise taxes.  But it didn’t lower an unemployment rate stubbornly staying above 10%.

High taxes and a poor economy caused the socialists to lose elections.  So Hollande is putting together a tax-cutting package.  To reverse their electoral losses.  You’d think the socialists would have learned their lessons that the people want jobs.  And to have jobs you need a business-friendly environment.  Which something like this is not going to help (see France bans work e-mail after 6 p.m. by John Johnson, Newser, posted 4/11/2014 on USA Today).

France already has a 35-hour work week, and a new rule is designed to make sure that it doesn’t start shading toward 40 hours because of work-related e-mail.

The Guardian reports that the rule forbids workers from checking their phones or computers for work stuff after 6 p.m., and it forbids employers from pressuring them to do so.

The move apparently doesn’t affect all workers in France, but it does cover about 1 million workers in the tech industry — including French employees of Google and Facebook…

At Fox Business, a U.S. labor expert finds it hard to believe the IT industry can manage such a draconian shut-off time.

“There’s always something going wrong off the clock — when a computer goes down, it doesn’t go down between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

It’s yet another thing to discourage business.  Things happen after hours.  Can you imagine a business wanting to open themselves to that kind of liability?  Having someone in the company send out an email without checking the clock first?  Or someone working late into the evening to catch up on a project.  Sending out a bunch of emails so people could read them first thing in the morning.  If someone else is working late do they read this email?  Perhaps this person was waiting for this email and would like to address it that evening to reduce his or her workload the following day.  Would this worker have been pressured into reading the email knowing his or her boss would have appreciated the extra effort?

There’s a reason why General Motors (GM) went bankrupt.  Well, there are a few of them.  But one of them was costly workplace rules.  Such as only allowing an electrician to change a light bulb at a work station.  Even if the person at that workstation could have changed that bulb in a couple of minutes.  Instead of waiting an hour or so for skilled trades to come around to unscrew the burnt out lamp and screw in a new lamp.

These little workplace rules add up.  And though seemingly harmless when you look at them one at a time in the aggregate they increase the cost of business.  A lot.  Just ask GM.  Something businesses look at when they are considering the location of a new factory.  Whether to expand production at an existing factory.  Or whether to shut down a factory and move production out of the country to a more business-friendly environment.  Thus killing job creation.  Jobs the socialists need for people to have so they can pay confiscatory taxes on their earnings.

A business unfriendly environment will never lower the unemployment rate.  As the socialists in France have proven.  And left-leaning governments everywhere have proven.  Confiscatory tax rates do not attract businesses.  Or rich investors.  They discourage them.  And encourage them to take their money and invest it elsewhere.  And create jobs elsewhere.  In another country that is a little kinder to business.  And job creation.

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Minimum Wage Jobs are allowing Teenagers to afford Smartphones and Tablets

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 12th, 2014

Week in Review

There’s a lot of talk about raising the minimum wage on the left.  As they are running out of ways to buy votes.  And they feel they can buy a lot by paying unskilled and inexperienced workers closer to what people with a college education make.  But minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs.  They’re the first rung on the career ladder.  The left loves to point to grown adults trying to raise their families on a minimum wage. As sad as that is the minimum wage isn’t supposed to raise families.  It can supplement a family’s income by allowing a parent to work part-time while the kids are at school.  But this is extra money.  To help cover some other expenses.  Like these (see More than 60% of U.S. teens have their own iPhone and iPad, prefer Apple products to the competition: study by AFP RELAXNEWS posted 4/9/2014 on the Daily News).

Over 60 percent of teenagers already own an iPhone and excitement is growing over the much-rumored launch of an ‘iWatch…’

… teens with an average age of 16.4 years and reveals that gadgets and electronics currently account for just 8 percent of their spending, with games systems and games accounting for a further 7 percent.

And of that small percentage, Apple products appear to account for the largest outlay. Not only do 61 percent of teens say that they own an iPhone (up from 55% in Spring 2013), 67 percent say they’re planning to purchase an iPhone within the next six months. And it’s a similar story with tablets. Piper Jaffray says that 60 percent of US teens currently own a tablet and of that group, 66 percent are using an iPad. When asked, 66 percent of non-tablet-owning teens have earmarked an iPad as a future purchase…

Over recent years, branded headphones have exploded in popularity and 56 percent of teens are planning to purchase a set over the next six months.

According to the BLS, approximately 2.5% of all workers earn at or below the minimum wage (people who get tips can be paid less than the minimum wage as their tips plus their wages takes them over the minimum wage).  And about a third of these workers are teenagers.   Yet over half of these teenagers can afford costly smartphones and tablets.  And the very expensive monthly cellular charges that make them work.  Also, over half of all teenagers are going to buy an expensive set of headphones.  Which can only mean one of 3 things.  The minimum wage is sufficient to buy all of these things.  They have a parent working a second (and perhaps, a minimum wage) job to help their kids pay for these.  Or 60% of all teenagers have rich parents.  Is it worth raising the cost of small business owners (who will hire fewer people when people are more costly) so about a third of all minimum wage workers can more easily afford their toys?

As far as single parents struggling to raise their family on a minimum wage, is it right to diminish the value of a higher education by paying unskilled and inexperienced workers more?  Will people still put in the extra work to get an education or training and delay having fun (our young people, not those who find themselves by circumstances beyond their control working a minimum wage job due to a divorce, death in the family, etc.) to earn the skills necessary for a higher paying job when they can get nearly the same amount by taking the easy way?  People say they hate these jobs.  Will paying them more so they have no incentive ever to leave these jobs make them hate them any less?  Or will they be locked into these miserable jobs for the rest of their miserable lives?  A lot of people take pay cuts to leave jobs they hate.  So getting paid more for a job they hate isn’t going to make them hate that job any less.

Raising the minimum wage is not going to change anything.  Other than reduce the amount of jobs available for the unskilled and inexperienced.  No.  The best way to help people earn more is to create more jobs.  For when the economy is creating jobs there will be fewer people available to fill them.  Which will cause employers to bid up wages so workers choose their jobs out of the many that are available.  But when the economy is so bad that only minimum wage, entry level jobs are available there will be few people moving up the career ladder.

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Why the Stock Market is so Good when the Economy is so Bad

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 31st, 2014

Economics 101

No One is going to get Rich by Buying and Selling only one Share of Stock

It takes money to make money.  I’m sure we all heard that before.  If you want to ‘flip’ a house you need money for a down payment to get a mortgage first.  If you want to start a business you need to save up some money first.  Or borrow it from a family member.  And if you want to get rich by playing the stock market you need money.  A lot of money.  Because you only make money by selling stocks.  And before you can sell them you have to buy them.

Stock prices may go up and down a lot.  But over a period of time the average stock price may only increase a little bit.  So if you bought one share of stock at, say, $35 and sold it later at, say, $37.50 that’s a gain of 7.14%.  Which is pretty impressive.  Just try to earn that with a savings account at a bank.  Of course, you only made a whopping $2.50.  So no one is going to get rich by buying and selling only one share of stock.

However, if you bought 10,000 shares of a stock at $35/share and then sold it later at $37.50 that’s a whole other story.  Your initial stock purchase will cost you $350,000.  And that stock will sell for $375,000 at $37.50/share.  Giving you a gain of $25,000.  Let’s say you make 6 buys and sells in a year like this with the same money.  You buy some stock, hold it a month or so and then sell it.  Then you use that money to buy some more stock, hold it for a month or so and then sell it.  Assuming you replicate the same 7.14% stock gain through all of these transactions the total gain will come to $150,000.  And if you used no more than your original investment of $350,000 during that year that $350,000 will have given you a return on investment of 42.9%.  This is why the rich get richer.  Because they have the money to make money.  Of course, if stock prices move the other way investors can have losses as big as these gains.

Rich Investors benefit most from the Fed’s Quantitative Easing that gives us Near-Zero Interest Rates

Rich investors can make an even higher return on investment by borrowing from a brokerage house.  He or she can open a margin account.  Deposit something of value in it (money, stocks, option, etc.) and use that value as collateral.  This isn’t exactly how it works but it will serve as an illustration.  In our example an investor could open a margin account with a value of $175,000.  So instead of spending $350,000 the investor can borrow $175,000 from the broker and add it to his or her $175,000.  Bringing the total stock investment to $350,000.  Earning that $25,000 by risking half of the previous amount.  Bringing the return on investment to 116.7%.  But these big returns come with even bigger risks.  For if your stock loses value it can make your losses as big as those gains.

Some investors borrow money entirely to make money.  Such as carry trades.  Where an investor will borrow a currency from a low-interest rate country to invest in the currency of a higher-interest rate country.  For example, they could borrow a foreign currency at a near zero interest rate (like the Japanese yen).  Convert that money into U.S. dollars.  And then use that money to buy an American treasury bond paying, say, 2%.  So they basically borrow money for free to invest.  Making a return on investment without using any of his or her money.  However, these carry trades can be very risky.  For if the yen gains value against the U.S. dollar the investor will have to pay back more yen than they borrowed.  Wiping out any gain they made.  Perhaps even turning that gain into a loss.  And a small swing in the exchange rate can create a huge loss.

So there is big money to make in the stock market.  Making money with money.  And investors can make even more money when they borrow money.  Making money with other people’s money.  Something rich investors like doing.  Something rich investors can do because they are rich.  For having money means you don’t have to use your money to make money.  Because having money gives you collateral.  The ability to use other people’s money.  At very attractive interest rates.  In fact, it’s these rich investors that benefit most from the Fed’s quantitative easing that is giving us near-zero interest rates.

People on Wall Street are having the Time of their Lives during the Obama Administration

We are in the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  Yet the stock market is doing very well.  Investors are making a lot of money.  At a time when businesses are not hiring.  The labor force participation rate has fallen to levels not seen since the Seventies.  People can’t find full-time jobs.  Some are working a part-time job because that’s all they can find.  Some are working 2 part-time jobs.  Or more.  Others have just given up trying to find a full-time job.  People the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) no longer counts when calculating the unemployment rate.

This is the only reason why the unemployment rate has fallen.  If you add the number of people who have left the labor force since President Obama took office to the number the BLS reports as unemployed it would bring the unemployment rate up to 13.7% ((10,459,000 + 10,854,000)/155,724,000) at the end of February.  So the economy is still horrible.  No secret to those struggling in it.  And the median family who has seen their income fall.  So why is the stock market doing so well when businesses are not?  When profitable businesses operations typically drive the stock market?  For when businesses do well they grow and hire more people.  But businesses aren’t growing and hiring more people.  So if it’s not profitable businesses operations raising stock prices what is?  Just how are the rich getting richer when the economy as a whole is stuck in the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression?

Because of near zero interest rates.  The Fed has lowered interest rates to near zero to purportedly stimulate the economy.  Which it hasn’t.  When they could lower interest rates no more they started their quantitative easing.  Printing money to buy bonds on the open market.  Flooding the economy with cheap money.  But people aren’t borrowing it.  Because the employment picture is so poor that they just aren’t spending money.  Either because they don’t have a job.  Only have a part time job.  Or are terrified they may lose their job.  And if they do lose their job the last thing they want when unemployed is a lot of debt they can’t service.  And then there’s Obamacare.  Forcing people to buy costly insurance.  Leaving them less to spend on other things.  And increasing the cost of doing business.  Another reason not to hire people.

So the economy is going nowhere.  And because of the bad economy businesses have no intentions of spending or expanding.  So they don’t need any of that cheap money.  So where is it going?  Wall Street.  The only people who are borrowing and spending money.  They’re taking that super cheap money and they’re using it to buy and sell stocks.  They’re buying and selling like never before.  Making huge profits.  Thanks to other people’s money.  This is what is raising stock prices.  Not profitable businesses operations.  But investors bidding up stock prices with borrowed money.  The people on Wall Street are having the time of their lives during the Obama administration.  Because the Obama administration’s policies favor the rich on Wall Street.  Whose only worry these days is if the Fed stops printing money.  Which will raise interest rates.  And end the drunken orgy on Wall Street.  Which is why whenever it appears the Fed will taper (i.e., print less money each month) their quantitative easing because the economy is ‘showing signs of improvement’ investors panic and start selling.  In a rush to lock in their earnings before the stock prices they inflated come crashing down to reality.  For without that ‘free’ money from the Fed the orgy of buying will come to an end.  And no one wants to be the one holding on to those inflated stocks when the bubble bursts.  When there will be no more buyers.  At least, when there will be no more buyers willing to buy at those inflated stock prices.  Which is why investors today hate good economic news.  For there is nothing worse for an investor in the Obama economy than a good economy.

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Cash Flow

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 24th, 2014

Economics 101

New Complex and Confusing Regulatory Policies require Additional Accounting and Legal Fees to Comply

There have been demonstrations  to raise the minimum wage.  President Obama even called for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.  He also wants employers to pay salaried people overtime.  There have been demands for paid family leave (paying people for not working).  Unions want to organize businesses.  To get employers to pay union wages.  Provide union health care packages.  And union pensions.  Obamacare has made costly health insurance mandatory for all employees working 30 hours or more a week.

Environmental regulations have increased energy costs for businesses.  Sexual harassment training, safety training, on-the-job training (even people leaving college have to be trained before they are useful to many employers), etc., raise costs for businesses.  New financial reporting requirements require additional accounting fees to sort through.  New complex and confusing regulatory policies require additional legal fees to sort through them and comply.

With each payroll an employer has to pay state unemployment tax.  Federal unemployment tax.  Social Security tax (half of it withheld from each employee’s paycheck and half out of their pocket).  Medicare tax.  And workers’ compensation insurance.  Then there’s health insurance.  Vehicle insurance.  Sales tax.  Use tax.  Real property tax.  Personal property tax.  Licenses.  Fees.  Dues.  Office supplies.  Utilities.  Postage.  High speed Internet.  Tech support to thwart Internet attacks.  Coffee.  Snow removal.  Landscaping.  Etc.  And, of course, the labor, material, equipment and direct expenses used to produce sales.

The Problem with Guaranteed Work Hours is that there is no such thing as Guaranteed Sales

The worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression has created a dearth of full-time jobs.  In large part due to Obamacare.  As some employers struggling in the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression can’t afford to offer their full-time employees health insurance.  So they’re not hiring full-time employees.  And are pushing full-time employees to part-time.  Because they can’t afford to add anymore overhead costs.  Which is hurting a lot of people who are having their own problems trying to make ends meet in the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  Especially part-time workers.

Now there is a new push by those on the left to make employers give a 21-day notice for work schedules for part time and ‘on call’ workers.  And to guarantee them at least 20 hours a week.  Things that are just impossible to do in many small retail businesses.  As anyone who has ever worked in a small retail business can attest to.  You can schedule people to week 3 weeks in advance but what do you do when they don’t show up for work?  Which happens.  A lot.  Especially when the weather is nice.  Or on a Saturday or Sunday morning.  As some people party so much on Friday and Saturday night that they are just too hung over to go to work.  Normally you call someone else to take their shift.  Then reschedule the rest of the week.  So you don’t give too many hours to the person who filled in.  In part to keep them under 30 hours to avoid the Obamacare penalty.  But also because the other workers will get mad if that person gets more hours than they did.

The problem with guaranteed work hours is that there is no such thing as guaranteed sales.  If you schedule 5 workers 3 weeks in advance and a blizzard paralyzes the city you may not have 5 workers worth of sales.  Because people are staying home.  And if no one is coming through your doors you’re not going to want to pay 5 people to stand around and do nothing.  For with no sales where is the money going to come from to pay these workers?  Either out of the business owner’s personal bank account.  Or they will have to borrow money.  It is easy to say we should guarantee workers a minimum number of work hours.  But should a business owner have to lose money so they can?  For contrary to popular belief, business owners are not all billionaires with money to burn.  Instead, they are people losing sleep over something called cash flow.

Cash Flow is everything to a Small Business Owner because it takes Cash to pay all of their Bills

To understand cash flow imagine a large bucket full of holes.  You pour water in it and it leaks right out.  That water leaking out is expenses.  The cost of doing business (see all of those costs above).  A business owner has to keep that bucket from running out of water.  And there is only one way to do it.  By pouring new water into the bucket to replace the water leaking out.  That new water is sales revenue.  What customers pay them for their products and/or services.  For a business to remain in business they must keep water in that bucket.  For if it runs out of water they can’t pay all of their expenses.  They’ll become insolvent.  And may have no choice but to file bankruptcy.  At which point they’ll have to get a job working for someone else.

Cash flow is everything to a small business owner.  Because it takes cash to pay all of their bills.  Payroll, insurance, taxes, etc.  None of which they can NOT pay.  For if they do NOT pay these bills their employees will quit.  Their insurers will cancel their policies.  And the taxman will pay them a visit.  Which will be very, very unpleasant.  So small business owners have to make sure that at least the same amount of water is going into the bucket that is draining out of the bucket to pay their bills.  And they have to make sure more water is entering the bucket than is draining out of the bucket to pay themselves.  And to grow their business.

This is why business owners don’t want to hire full-time people now.  Because full-time people require a lot of cash (wages/salary, payroll taxes, insurances, training, etc.).  They’re nervous.  For they don’t know what next will come out of the Obama administration that will require additional cash.  For every time they want to make life better for the workers (a higher minimum wage, overtime for salaried employees, guaranteed hours, etc.) it takes more cash.  Which comes from sales.  And if sales are down future cash flow into the business will also be down.  Leaving less available for all of those holes in the bucket.  So they guard their cash closely.  And are very wary of incurring any new cash obligations.  Lest they run out of cash.  And have to file bankruptcy.  Which is why they lose sleep over cash flow.  Especially now during the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.

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The Left hates Wal-Mart but they’re OK with destroying Jobs and Industries to enjoy the things they Like

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

The left wants to raise the minimum wage.  They want to make companies pay salaried people overtime.  And they want to block Wal-Mart from entering their communities.  Because their many jobs destroy a few jobs.  And their lower prices and wider selection of goods makes it difficult for Mom and Pop stores to sell a more limited selection of goods at higher prices.

Yes, they care about the little guy.  And want the little guy to pay more for less at the local Mom and Pop stores the much richer more elite left can more easily afford.  Which they like to frequent because those higher prices, of course, keep out the riffraff.  For when it comes down to it the left likes to enjoy the things they like no matter how many jobs they destroy.  Such as in the music industry.  That went from the phonograph to the gramophone to vinyl to 8-track to compact cassette to CD to MP3 to subscription to download to streaming (see The times they are a-changin’ for the music business posted 3/21/2014 on The Economist).  And every step along the way entire industries were destroyed along with the jobs in that industry.

But this is okay.  This is creative destruction.  Where something new and better replaces something older and not as good.  A march of technology that makes our lives better.  As in the music industry.  As well as how cell phones destroyed the paid public phone industry.  How email and texting is destroying the United States Postal Service.  How digital cameras destroyed the film development industry.  How wireless internet and tablet computers have destroyed the news paper industry.  How smartphones destroyed the telephone book industry.  Etc.

Things are better with these new technologies.  And liberals love to use all of this technology as they sit sipping their espresso in their quaint coffee shops.  Having no problem with all the creative destruction that allows them to do so.  But let a Wal-Mart open up somewhere where people can hardly scrape by in life and they have a problem with that.  Because they don’t want a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood.  They want to keep it chic and unique and a little pricy.  So the elitists can enjoy their time without having to be around people they deem less desirable.  Like the shoppers at Wal-Mart.

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FT213: “Rich liberals support a large welfare state to assuage their wealth guilt.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 14th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

Rich People become Liberals so People don’t Shame them for their Obscene Wealth

Rich people love being rich.  They love their mansions.  Their expensive cars.  Eating at the finest restaurants.  Drinking the finest wine.  Going on lavish vacations.  Going to the best parties.  Hanging with the beautiful people.  And rich men especially like the sex with beautiful young women their wealth can make happen.  To quote the Eagles song Life in the Fast Lane rich people love having everything all of the time.

Some of the richest people in the United States are liberals.  Yes, those same people who argue for income and wealth equality.  Hollywood stars.  Televisions stars.  Authors.  And music stars.  Who are everything they stand against.  They’re part of that evil 1%.   And they live very ostentatious lives.  Their wealth is over the top.  Bling.  Cars.  Cars with bling.  Nothing but the best.  And then some.  This wealth is okay, though.  But those in the 1% other than them?  Government should raise their taxes to take as much of it away as possible.  And we should all shame them for daring to have such obscene wealth.

Of course, rich liberals like their obscene wealth.  They want to keep it.  And they want to continue their lavish lives.  But they don’t want people shaming them.  They want people to love them and adore them.  So they buy whatever they’re selling.  Movies, televisions shows, books or music.  They don’t want anyone shaming them for their obscene wealth.  So they do something very simple to avoid that shame.  They become public liberals.

Only those Businesses that Continually Please their Customers Succeed

Liberals can have the most obscene amounts of wealth without anyone shaming them for that obscene wealth.  Why?  Because they belong to the ‘right’ political party.  The one that argues against income and wealth inequality.  So they get a pass.  Which is why so many rich people are liberals.  They want to be left alone.  And their call for higher taxes on rich people?  Well, they’re so rich that they can hire the best accountants and tax attorneys to help them shield their wealth from the taxman.  There’s a reason why the tax code is so convoluted and not a simple flat tax like conservatives want.  To help rich liberals keep their money.

Then there are rich liberals who have too much of a conscious.  And they feel guilty for having obscene wealth.  But not guilty enough to give their wealth away.  These liberals are vehemently pro big government.  They want a massive welfare state.  To assuage their wealth guilt.  So they can continue to enjoy their obscene wealth.  Their 1% wealth.  Without having to feel guilty about it.  Such as, presumably, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart.

Jon Stewart is a very well-read and intelligent man.  He knows a lot of stuff.  Unfortunately, though, he draws many wrong conclusions with that knowledge.  He favors big government.  And a vast welfare state to help those in need.  He trusts government while distrusting corporations and businesses.  Because, as he has said, we have no vote with corporations and businesses like we do with government.  Via elections.  But he’s wrong.  We do have a vote with all corporations and businesses.  The moment they stop treating their customers right those customers go to other corporations and businesses.  Most new businesses fail within 5 years.  And some big companies that have been around for years fail and go out of business.  Why?  Because their customers DO have a large vote in whether they succeed or not.  And only those businesses that continually please their customers succeed.  Something you just can’t say about government.  For no matter how much they anger the people little ever changes.

Not only is there Income and Wealth Inequality there’s also Income Tax Inequality

Fox News has been talking about people scamming the welfare state.  Highlighting a surfer dude in California as a typical welfare cheat.  Stewart lambasted Fox News for that.  Saying one person (or two or three, etc.) does not mean all people on welfare are gaming the system.  Although he uses that very logic to point at corporations caught in wrong-doing.  Saying they represent all corporations and businesses.  And he joins the choir about how rich corporations and rich people are not paying their fair share of taxes.  And how some of these rich corporations and rich people are hiding their income and wealth from the taxman.  Despite their paying the lion’s share of all taxes.

According to the National Taxpayer’s Union, when it comes to income taxes it’s rich people paying the most.  So not only is there income and wealth inequality.  There’s also income tax inequality.  Through recent years the top 1% of income earners has paid approximately a third of all income taxes.  The top 5% has paid more than half of all income taxes.  And the top 10% of income earners has paid about 70% of all income taxes.  While the bottom 50% of income earners, the people rich liberals want to help, pay about 3% (or less) of all income taxes.

You don’t have to raise tax rates on the wealthy.  They’re already paying a disproportionate share of all income taxes.  In fact, if you cut tax rates and cut business regulations to help rich business and rich people get even richer more tax revenue would flow into the treasury.  This would be a good thing.  Rich people getting richer.  And more people becoming rich.  This should be what everyone wants.  Based on the amount of taxes rich people pay.  So we should stop trying to help the less fortunate by raising taxes on the rich.  And creating more onerous regulations for businesses that benefit the less fortunate.  Like Obamacare.  For it hurts the profit incentive.  Which prevents rich people from getting richer and paying more income taxes.  As well as dissuades people from becoming business owners or expanding their businesses.  Which means fewer jobs.  Fewer hours in those jobs.  And the replacement of costly people with machines.  It’s because of these things that median family income has fallen under the Obama administration.  Which is the last thing any good liberal should want.  This is why rich liberals have got to stop supporting a large welfare state to assuage their wealth guilt.  It’s killing the middle class.  And destroying the jobs that could pull the less fortunate into the middle class.  And beyond.

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Chrysler turns down Government Loan for Guarantee to keep Minivans in Windsor

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 8th, 2014

Week in Review

Cities and governments have long loved big industry.  Unions, too.  Because they’re big.  And are difficult to move. Such as an automobile assembly plant.  They take a lot of real estate.  Require a lot of specialized production and assembly equipment.  And a lot of infrastructure to support them.  Making them very difficult to move.  But not impossible (see Chrysler spurns government money, Windsor to build minivans posted 3/4/2014 on CBC News Windsor).

Chrysler will continue to build its popular minivan in Windsor, Ont., and has withdrawn all requests for government financial assistance in relation to the redevelopment of its assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton…

At the Detroit auto show seven weeks ago, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that changes at the Windsor plant alone would cost at least $2 billion, and that Chrysler needed government help to finance the project.

Chrysler said in a media release Tuesday it will now “fund out of its own resources whatever capital requirements the Canadian operations require.”

Industry Minister James Moore said the government’s commitment to the auto industry is strong and he was surprised by Chrysler’s decision.

Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson, whose riding is just south of Windsor, said he believed talks were going well.

“We were prepared to invest in exchange for guarantees for Canadian production and a Canadian supply chain,” Watson said.

Money from the government doesn’t come without strings.  And the string here was a guarantee that Chrysler wouldn’t leave.  No matter how costly the government or union contracts made it to stay in Windsor.  Costs that Chrysler has to recover in the sales price of their cars.  Which can’t be so high as to price them out of the market.  So Chrysler chose to spend their own money.  So they didn’t get stuck in an adverse economic situation when trying to compete in a global market.

“It is clear to us that our projects are now being used as a political football, a process that, in our view, apart from being unnecessary and ill-advised, will ultimately not be to the benefit of Chrysler,” the company said in a news release.

“As a result, Chrysler will deal in an unfettered fashion with its strategic alternatives regarding product development and allocation, and will fund out of its own resources whatever capital requirements the Canadian operations require.”

The government wanted what was best for them.  Economic activity they could tax.  While Chrysler wanted what was best for them.  Being able to sell cars at market prices.  And leaving their options open in the future.  Should it become too costly to continue to build cars in Canada.  Due to the cost of labor.  Or new regulatory policies.  Or higher taxes to fund a welfare state struggling under the costs of an aging population.  Governments are desperate for new tax revenue.  And will make almost any promise to get it.  Making long-term deals with governments risky.

According to the Ontario government, the auto sector employs 94,000 Ontarians, and supports as many as 500,000 families through indirect jobs…

Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo, who represents hourly employees in Windsor, said he wasn’t completely surprised by Marchionne’s announcement…

Chiodo said Tuesday’s announcement is short of the $2-billion retooling and flexible manufacturing line employees were looking for in Windsor…

Chiodo said a $2.3-billion investment would secure three generations of minivans, which could secure jobs for decades…

Marchionne also wants union concessions.

Yes, they love the jobs these corporations create.  And all that economic activity those jobs create.  Economic activity they can’t create.  But they still hate corporations.  That’s why they tax them.  Regulate them.  Call them greedy.  Exploiters of labor.  And that the only way they can get them to do something decent is by making deals with them that favor them and not these evil corporations.  But sometimes these evil corporations don’t enter agreements that may harm them in the long run.  And when they do governments and unions panic.  As they fear they may have let a cash piñata slip through their fingers.  Which is a problem for them.  For they can’t create a single job those evil corporations can.

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Henry Ford, Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, Howard Schultz, Ray Kroc and Richard Branson

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 25th, 2014

 History 101

(Originally published May 8th, 2012)

Capitalism allows Entrepreneurs to bring their Great Ideas to Life

Entrepreneurs start with an idea.  Of how to do something better.  Or to create something we must have that we don’t yet know about.  They think.  They create.  They have boundless creative energies.  And the economic system that best taps that energy is capitalism.  The efficient use of capital.  Using capital to make profits.  And then using those profits to make capital.  So these ideas of genius that flicker in someone’s head can take root.  And grow.  Creating jobs.  And taxable economic activity.  Creating wealth for investors and workers.  Improving the general economy.  Pulling us out of recessions.  Improving our standard of living.  And making the world a better place.  Because of an idea.  That capitalism brought to life.

Entrepreneurs Risked Capital to bring Great Things to Market and to Create Jobs

Henry Ford established the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899.  Which failed.  He reorganized it into the Henry Ford Company in 1901.  Ford had a fight with his financial backers.  And quit.  Taking the Ford name with him.  And $900.  The Henry Ford Company was renamed Cadillac and went on to great success.  Ford tried again and partnered with Alexander Malcomson.  After running short of funds they reorganized and incorporated Ford Motor Company in 1903 with 12 investors.  The company was successful.  Some internal friction and an unexpected death of the president put Ford in charge.  Ford Motor built the Model A, the Model K and the Model S.  Then came the Model T.  And the moving assembly line.  Mass production greatly increased the number of cars he could build.  But it was monotonous work for the assembly line worker.  Turnover was high.  So to keep good workers he doubled pay in 1914 and reduced the 9-hour shift to 8 hours.  This increased productivity and lowered the cost per Model T.  Allowing those who built the cars to buy what they built.  In 2011 the Ford Motor Company employed approximately 164,000 people worldwide.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1939.  In a garage.  They raised $538 in start-up capital.  In that garage they created their first successful commercial product.  A precision audio oscillator.  Used in electronic testing.  It was better and cheaper than the competition.  Walt Disney Productions bought this oscillator to certify Fantasound surround sound systems in theaters playing the Disney movie Fantasia.  From this garage HP grew and gave us calculators, desktop and laptop computers, inkjet and laser printers, all-in-one multifunction printer/scanner/faxes, digital cameras, etc.  In 2010 HP employed approximately 324,600 employees worldwide.  (Steve Wozniak was working for HP when he designed the Apple I.  Which he helped fund by selling his HP calculator.  Wozniak offered his design to HP.  They passed.)

Steve Jobs had an idea to sell a computer.  He convinced his friend since high school, Steve Wozniak, to join him.  They sold some of their things to raise some capital.  Jobs sold his Volkswagen van.  Wozniak sold his HP scientific calculator.  They raised about $1,300.  And formed Apple.  They created the Apple I home computer in 1976 in Steve Jobs’ garage.  From these humble beginnings Apple gave us the iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro and iTunes.  In 2011 Apple had approximately 60,400 full time employees.

Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker opened the first Starbucks in 1971 in Seattle, Washington.  About 10 years later Howard Schultz drank his first cup of Starbucks coffee.  And he liked it.  Within a year he joined Starbucks.  Within another year while traveling in Italy he experienced the Italian coffeehouse.  He loved it.  And had an idea.  Bring the Italian coffeehouse to America.  A place to meet people in the community and converse.  Sort of like a bar.  Only where the people stayed sober.  Soon millions of people were enjoying these tasty and expensive coffee beverages at Starbucks throughout the world.  In 2011 Starbucks employed approximately 149,000 people.

Ray Kroc sold Prince Castle Multi-Mixer milk shakes mixers to a couple of brothers who owned a restaurant.  Who made hamburgers fast.  Richard and Maurice McDonald had implemented the Speedee Service System.  It was the dawn of fast food.  Kroc was impressed.  Facing tough competition in the mixer business he opened a McDonald’s franchise in 1955.  Bringing the grand total of McDonald’s restaurants to 9.  He would go on to buy out the McDonald brothers (some would say unscrupulously).  Today there are over 30,000 stores worldwide.  In 2010 McDonald’s employed approximately 400,000 people.

Richard Branson started a magazine at 16.  He then sold records out of a church crypt at discount prices.  The beginning of Virgin Records.  In 1971 he opened a record store.  He launched a record label in 1972.  And a recording studio.  Signing the Sex Pistols.  And Culture Club.  In 1984 he formed an airline.  Virgin Atlantic Airways.  In 1999 he went into the cellular phone business.  Virgin Mobile.  In 2004 he founded Virgin Galactic.  To enter the space tourism business.  His Virgin Group now totals some 400 companies.  And employs about 50,000 people.

The Decline of Capitalism and the Rise of the Welfare State caused the European Sovereign Debt Crisis

And we could go on.  For every big corporation out there will have a similar beginning.  Corporations that use capital efficiently.  Bringing great things to market.  Introducing us to new things.  Always making our lives better.  And more comfortable.  One thing you will not find is a great success story like this starting in the Soviet Union.  The People’s Republic of China (back in the days of Mao Zedong).  East Germany (before the Berlin Wall fell).  North Korea.  Or Cuba.  No.  The command economies of communist countries basically froze in time.  Where there was no innovation.  No ideas brought to life.  Because the government kind of frowned on that sort of thing.

There is a reason why the West won the Cold War.  And why we won that war without the Warsaw Pack and NATO forces fighting World War III.  And why was this?  Because we didn’t need to.  For the communist world simply could not withstand the forces of living well in the West.  Whenever they could their people escaped to the West.  To escape their nasty, short and brutish lives.  In the command economies of their communist states.  Where the state planners failed to provide for their people.  Even failing to feed their people.  The Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and North Korea all suffered population reducing famines.  But not in the West.  Where we are not only well fed.  But our poor suffer from obesity.  Which is not a good thing.  But it sure beats dying in a famine.

Sadly, though, the West is moving towards the state planning of their one time communist foes.  Social democracies are pushing nations in the European Union to bankruptcy.  Japan’s generous welfare state is about to implode as an aging population begins to retire.  Even in the United States there has been a growth of government into the private sector economy like never before.  Which is causing the Great Recession to linger on.  As it caused Japan’s lost decade to become two decades.  And counting.  As it is prolonging the European sovereign debt crisis.  With no end in sight.  The cause of all their problems?  The decline of capitalism.  And the rise of the welfare state.  Which just kills the entrepreneurial spirit.  And the creation of jobs.  Which is one cure for all that ails these countries.  And the only one.  For only robust economic activity can pull a country out of recession.  And for that you need new jobs.  And the entrepreneurial spirit.  In short, you need capitalism.

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