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2015 April 25 Saturday
Generations Of Free Range Parents Not Being Held Accountable

Free-range vs. helicopter: What does it mean to be a good parent?

Parenting decisions that were commonplace a few decades ago are now cause for 911 calls and visits from a police officer or someone from child protective services.

Nazi war criminals, even minor figures, have been prosecuted decades after their crimes. But so far I've seen no move to go back and prosecute grandparents for the neglectful ways they raised their kids in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Tens of millions of parents neglected their kids for decades and are living free today without even being socially stigmatized.

Look, almost all living parents committed child neglect by letting their kids walk around unsupervised. To make it easy to bring them to justice how about holding all parents automatically guilty if their kids came of age before the year 2000? The odds are that even if they aren't personally guilty of failing to supervise every moment of every day of their own kids they were silent about extensive child neglect all around them. So mass guilt is the order of the day.

We could start by arresting all the major political families that are known not to have used nannies every year of upbringing of their offspring. I figure the Bushes and Clintons should all be arrested along with Mitt Romney and all the Mormons. Chances are they are all guilty of child endangerment. The big Kennedy family of course should be arrested. Governor Brown of California could take over the Presidency since he never had any kids.

This calls out for development of time machines so child neglect law enforcement can be carried into the past to capture all the people who escaped justice by dying. This can't be allowed to stand. Just about every parent for almost all of human history (until the moral enlightenment spreading in the last 10 years) has been guilty of child neglect. We should not let these people escape justice just because they live in the past.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 25 02:47 PM 
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2015 April 23 Thursday
Proposed Democrat Minimum Wage Boost Will Spur Robotics

What a great way to spur development of robots for fast food restaurants: Democrats Are Rallying Around $12 Minimum Wage. This way America will develop a technological lead over nations in robotic cooking, robotic cleaning, robotic shelf stocking, and in many other occupations done by minimum wage workers.

In the long run the people still in jobs will enjoy much higher living standards and greater convenience. A fast food restaurant could stay open 24 hours per day with little incremental cost. The robots are just going to be sitting there all night. They could be flipped on for cooking action when an order arrives from a cell phone of someone riding their robotic car looking for eats at 3 AM. That's the sort of future that awaits us as soon robotics matures.

Wait, did someone say this will cause problems? That most high school drop-outs already don't work? Sure. But that's already a problem. No, of course I do not know what all the immigration amnesty recipients are going to do for a living. Maybe the Clinton Foundation will be able to raise enough money abroad to give some of them jobs.

Back to the robots: yes, we need robots that can work as domestic servants, robots that would complain about getting paid in electric battery recharging, worn out parts replacement, and the occasional pat on the head. A higher minimum wage will make all that happen sooner. The $12 minimum wage should just be a stepping stone toward a $15 per hour minimum wage that will immanentize the eschaton.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 23 09:09 PM 
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2015 April 21 Tuesday
Norway More For Open Discussion Than Sweden

The contrast between Norway and Sweden on immigration: Norway is relatively more honest on the topic.

“Sweden is very puzzling,” said Grete Brochmann, a leading Norwegian immigration scholar. The Swedes, she said, “are extremely liberal toward immigration, but they have a very authoritarian attitude toward debate about it. In Norway the idea is, open discussion is basically good. If there’s hostility, better to get it out.”

I would like to live in a more honest society. What's the most honest Western society when it comes to discussing social issues?

See this interview with economic researcher Tino Sanandaji on what is happening with Muslim immigrants to Sweden. Free speech on immigration is prevented with job losses and shunning.

Sanandaji explains how the major political parties and media created an official lie and suppressed the real data.

Secular religions can be just as repressive and cultish as supernatural religions. The West's turn away from supernatural religions has not made public discussions more honest.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 21 05:50 PM 
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2015 April 19 Sunday
Waiting For Anointment: Hillary Clinton Wants To Be President

Gotta say, I'm conflicted about whether to write about US Presidential candidates. My odds of having any impact on the outcome are really low. Once the next President is in office I'd be best off totally ignoring the next set of bad policy choices and assorted debacles. But what pulls me in: some people think one or more of the candidates are good. They have enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton or even for Jeb Bush. Son of Brock Landers (SOBL) thinks Hillary is perfect for today's America. It is amazing and tragic what makes sense to the people who vote in America.

Here is a woman you only know due to her husband. She was in a toxic marriage where she was repeatedly humiliated on a state, national and global stage by her husband, but unlike the Lifetime movie, never left him. Wasn't feminism about escaping those bad Silent or GI generation loveless marriages of convenience? She did not divorce and run on her own. She stood by Bill and received the NY US Senate seat as political alimony. She ducked out of running for president in '04, did nothing really in the Senate but vote for the Iraq War, blew '08, and then was Secretary of State as the US saw influence and power recede globally. Her resume is "Libya", and if we ever evaluate Libya 2010 vs. 2015, that one thing looks awful. Hillary running is like the rapidly advancing female executive who is getting promotions because she is the only woman in the division.

We need some sort of improvement on democracy. This is what comes to me when I read obvious points like the ones SOBL makes above. What improvement? Is there some demographic slice of America that would make a great set of voters? Or do we need another form of government? Genetically reengineering humans to make more sense is still a distant prospect. With the humans we've got how can we get more sensible leaders?

SNL is being brutal on Hillary. I doubt this will dim her chances.

Camille Paglia states obvious things the voters do not care about.

What it takes to plan a Hillary Chipotle trip.

I think Jeb Bush is worse. Most of the Republican pack members are wrong on immigration and wrong on foreign adventures. I despair of getting a good leader again.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 19 11:25 AM 
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2015 April 18 Saturday
Why Americans Have Lost Desire To Soak The Rich

Americans think the rich have become used to living the high life and so cutting living standards of big earners with taxes would make them feel loss.

The article offers other explanations as well. Click thru if you want to be able to better guess the future of tax rates in America.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 18 01:33 PM 
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Opinion Polls Drive Russian Policy Abroad Which (Only) West Hates

Vladimir Putin's popularity had shrunk to 65% and so the Crimea invasion was necessary to drive it back up to 86%.

While Putin’s Russia is not a democracy, its leadership remains obsessed with feedback. Policies are shaped by frequent opinion polls and focus-group surveys. This helps explain some of the seemingly reckless and self-defeating moves made by the Kremlin, most of which miraculously result in high approval ratings and greater consolidation behind the regime.

In the modern Western liberal telling democracy is meant to cause governments to carry out the will of the people. What that's what Putin is doing, but with constant polling rather than occasional mass votes. This seems like a more modern form of democracy. Yet the West objects. Russian popular opinion drives policies by Russia that bring on Western sanctions, and only Western sanctions.

As the West becomes demographically much less Western will the elites in 30 or 40 years still be able to drive the sort of reaction that the West has had to Russia in (formerly) Ukrainian territory?

By Randall Parker 2015 April 18 12:59 PM 
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2015 April 15 Wednesday
Voters Treat Their Political Party Like Sports Team, Want To Win

Its not about issues, its about winning or losing. Fans do not want to be losers.

The researchers analyzed the attitudes of voters nationwide in survey data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. They found that many average voters with strong party commitments -- both Democrats and Republicans -- care more about their parties simply winning the election than they do either ideology or issues. Unlike previous research, the study found that loyalty to the party itself was the source of partisan rivalry and incivility, instead of a fundamental disagreement over issues.

Clearly democracy is not working out as planned. We need to consider alternatives. Democracy is getting worse.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 15 10:43 PM 
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Victorian Era Young Offenders Less Likely To Re-Offend Than Today

Young British criminals of today are going to re-offend. It was not always thus.

Young offenders in late Victorian times were much less likely to go on to commit other crimes after serving a sentence in an institution than their counterparts today, new research shows.

A study of the lives of 500 children committed to reformatory or industrial schools over a century ago showed that only 22% re-offended during the rest of their lives after their release. This compares with today's figure of 73% of young people re-offending within a year after release from custody.

Why? Is there less stigma associated with being a criminal today? Or are low criminality kids less likely to get convicted today and so the ones that are convicted are already worse on average before being locked up? Or do prisons today do more to make criminals harden in to more intense criminals? What is going on?

One other question: Is this a sign that society is decaying?

By Randall Parker 2015 April 15 09:05 PM 
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Iraqi Army Flees Villages Under ISIS Attack

Tribal fighters and local police were abandoned. Iraq's army has no stomach for a fight.

Anbar officials said that the army had fled the villages that were under attack, leaving tribal fighters and the local police, who they said were badly outgunned by the militants, to defend the areas. In recent days the American-led coalition struck several Islamic State targets near Ramadi, according to a Pentagon statement.

This is standard lameness, just another day.

Are Sunni fighters braver than Shia fighters? Or do Shia soldiers fight more effectively in militias than when part of a government force?

The (somewhat Shia) Houthi fighters seem to be quite effective against Sunni fighters> What's that about?

The newspapers do not explain the kinds of things I want explained. What's the relative efficacy of various fighting groups in the Middle East. What's the ratio of motivation, effectiveness, bravery between the various Middle Eastern factions? How many Iraqi Army soldiers does it take to drive 1000 ISIS fighters out of a city? 5000? 10,000? 50,000?

By Randall Parker 2015 April 15 09:04 PM 
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2015 April 11 Saturday
Jeb Bush As President Of Some Country

In 2009 Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic on a voter registration form. Since Jeb is pretty dissatisfied with Americans this mistake seems a case of his subconscious reaching out and making its feelings known.

What to do about this? I see a solution for Jeb: become president of a Latin American country that desperately needs better leadership. Choose a country with much lower quality of government. Lots of examples come to mind. He has 26 Latin American countries to choose from. This idea struck me when reading a rumor that Michael Bloomberg wants to run for mayor of London. Isn't this the next step for the transnational elite that feels less loyalty to individual nations?

I think Jeb ought to focus on the biggest problem cases. Argentina comes to mind. But easily the biggest problem country in Latin America is Venezuela, impoverished by Chavez and Maduro oppression, price controls, socialism, and assorted other stupidities. Jeb could certainly do real good in Venezuela. Currently several former heads of state from Latin American countries and Spain are going to Venezuela to help defend Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma against arrest by Maduro's thuggish administration. So other major outside figures already see a need for outside leadership. They could all serve as his cabinet ministers once he sweeps to power (by any means necessary).

This time, González will be joined by eight colleagues (as of the weekend) including former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar, as well as Fernando Henrique Cardoso from Brazil, Andrés Pastrana (Colombia), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Felipe Calderón (Mexico), Luis Alberto Lacalle (Uruguay), as well as Alan García and Alejandro Toledo (Peru). The invitation remains open, and more former presidents may join the group in the coming days.

Jeb might want to run Mexico since he and his family has long running ties with Mexico's elite. But Venezuela has the greatest need. Come on Jeb, do the right thing. Take over Venezuela and run it right. I think you'll like the ambiance and how much good you could do there.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 11 08:17 PM 
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65% Of Spaniards See Islam Not Compatible With West

Some people in Spain want to turn the “Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba" back into a Mosque even though most Spaniards see Islam as a threat to their way of life. The Catholic Church (or at least a portion of it) wants the place to be a church only. As always I expect elite interests to win.

In 2013, 65 percent of Spaniards surveyed by the Bertelsmann Foundation agreed with the statement that “Islam is not compatible with the Western world,” as compared to 55 percent in France and 45 percent in Britain.

But Spain's politicians and travel industry see a profit to be made from Islam:

At the same time, Spain is looking to cast itself as a leader in the ongoing conversation about Europe’s increasingly troubled relationship with Islam — based in part on Córdoba and Andalusia’s historical reputation for religious tolerance. The country is trying to position itself as both an international symbol of interfaith harmony and a major destination for Muslim tourism and business.

The Catholic Church's influence is declining with the decline in Christian faith in the West. So how is this going to go?

By Randall Parker 2015 April 11 04:01 PM 
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2015 April 06 Monday
David McWilliams On Insiders Versus Outsiders In Politics

David McWilliams argues that mainstream parties of insiders created the financial disaster in Greece and now are trying to crush Syriza for threatening their control. He argues that the split between insiders and outsiders is more important than the split between left and right.

When looking at politics in mature democracies, I prefer to use the term insider vs outsider, rather than right vs left, urban vs rural or conservative vs liberal, to describe the electoral fault lines.

The insiders are those, literally, on the inside. They are the people with influence, with a voice at the table, those with a stake in the society. Insiders can either be on the left or the right. They can be traditional public sector trade unions who want no reform or they can be bank bosses who want a bailout. Their game plan is to gouge the state and extract as much rent as possible for their members and interests.

The insiders form coalitions across the left-right divide to keep out upstart parties.

Think about our Fine Gael/Labour coalition, or today’s German CDU and SPD grand coalition or even the Tory/Lib Dem pact in Britain. These are all parties of the apparent right in bed with parties of the alleged left.

If you feel inclined to click thru and read his whole piece I'd be very curious to hear your reactions in the comments. I think the same thing happens in the mainstream press too. Fox and MSNBC are not as far apart as they pretend to be.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 06 08:44 PM 
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2015 April 05 Sunday
Comparing International GDP Per Hour Worked And Growth Rates

With the recent death of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew there has been a lot debate about whether Singapore is an exception due to his semi-dictatorial leadership and the values he promoted in Singaporean society. The real signal content in most of the commentary is quite low. So I went looking for data comparing industrialized countries over decades for per capita GDP per hour worked. We would need further controlling for natural resources, market size, intelligence levels, and other factors to really tease out how much each government adds or subtracts from economic growth rates and levels of productivity achieved. But the data below certainly allows knocking out some arguments pretty easily. From the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics real GDP per hour worked for 20 developed countries and rates of change over various time periods starting from 1960:

If you click through on the link you will also see GDP per person, GDP per person who works, and other measures. These measures must be approached very thoughtfully to minimize misinterpretations of the data. For example, a country that has less of the left half of the IQ bell curve working (e.g. because of welfare benefits for the less able) will have an inflated GDP per person who who works. For example, the United States has a huge difference in Employment-Population Ratio By Education Level and this boosts GDP per worker over a country that has more of its high school drop-outs working.

Real GDP per hour worked, by country, 1960–2011

Table 3a. Converted to U.S. dollars using 2011 PPPs (2011 U.S. dollars)

Country

1960 1979 1990 2000 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
United States NA 35.94 41.57 49.50 57.08 57.51 59.00 60.41 60.59
Canada NA 31.97 35.70 42.40 45.54 45.35 45.62 46.20 46.61
Australia NA 29.16 33.59 41.11 46.97 45.46 46.77 46.79 46.84
Japan NA 18.30 27.56 33.71 37.73 37.89 37.37 38.76 39.70
Republic of Korea NA NA 10.13 17.33 23.14 24.09 24.30 25.93 27.14
Singapore NA 13.73 22.50 33.50 41.17 38.51 36.70 40.88 41.27
Austria NA NA NA 43.86 49.82 50.03 49.79 50.83 51.45
Belgium NA 35.24 45.77 57.14 60.78 59.98 59.07 59.86 60.17
Czech Republic NA NA NA 20.95 29.35 29.46 29.00 29.79 30.55
Denmark NA 32.34 41.03 49.71 53.23 51.92 50.90 52.72 53.20
Finland NA 22.26 30.91 41.42 49.09 48.51 45.98 47.42 48.08
France NA 31.45 42.48 51.74 57.08 56.49 56.17 56.93 57.70
Germany NA 29.03 36.88 48.97 55.20 55.13 53.76 54.50 55.26
Ireland NA NA 32.37 50.15 59.39 59.45 62.53 64.83 66.74
Italy NA NA 37.57 43.57 44.46 44.17 43.15 44.28 44.43
Netherlands NA 39.27 46.68 53.17 59.44 59.49 58.06 59.35 59.49
Norway NA 44.88 58.44 77.06 84.50 81.68 81.70 81.61 81.47
Spain NA 27.90 38.11 42.71 44.66 45.01 46.25 47.32 48.13
Sweden NA NA 34.18 43.17 51.45 50.49 49.37 50.80 51.61
United Kingdom NA 23.27 30.15 39.93 46.96 46.32 45.81 46.40 46.82

NA = Not available.
Note: Data for Germany for years before 1991 pertain to the former West Germany.
PPPs = purchasing power parities.

Table 3b. Average annual rates of change

Country

1979-2011 1979-90 1990-00 2000-07 2007-11 2009-10 2010-11
United States 1.6 1.3 1.8 2.1 1.5 2.4 0.3
Canada 1.2 1.0 1.7 1.0 0.6 1.3 0.9
Australia 1.5 1.3 2.0 1.9 -0.1  0.1 0.1
Japan 2.4 3.8 2.0 1.6 1.3 3.7 2.4
Republic of Korea NA NA 5.5 4.2 4.1 6.7 4.6
Singapore 3.5 4.6 4.1 3.0 0.1 11.4  0.9
Austria NA NA NA 1.8 0.8 2.1 1.2
Belgium 1.7 2.4 2.2 0.9 -0.3  1.3 0.5
Czech Republic NA NA NA 4.9 1.0 2.7 2.6
Denmark 1.6 2.2 1.9 1.0 0.0 3.6 0.9
Finland 2.4 3.0 3.0 2.5 -0.5  3.1 1.4
France 1.9 2.8 2.0 1.4 0.3 1.4 1.4
Germany NA 2.2 NA 1.7 0.0 1.4 1.4
Ireland NA NA 4.5 2.4 3.0 3.7 2.9
Italy NA NA 1.5 0.3 0.0 2.6 0.3
Netherlands 1.3 1.6 1.3 1.6 0.0 2.2 0.2
Norway 1.9 2.4 2.8 1.3 -0.9  -0.1  -0.2 
Spain 1.7 2.9 1.1 0.6 1.9 2.3 1.7
Sweden NA NA 2.4 2.5 0.1 2.9 1.6
United Kingdom 2.2 2.4 2.9 2.3 -0.1  1.3 0.9

NA = Not available.
Note: Data for Germany for years before 1991 pertain to the former West Germany.
Percent changes were calculated using the compound rate method.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 05 11:33 AM 
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An Upside To California's Drought For Liberal Upper Class

So the Gray Lady has noticed that lack of water could become a limit to California's population growth. I say to upper class liberals: thank nature for this gift.

As part the Mainstream Media's plan to black-out discussion of immigration (the plebs can not be trusted to reach politically correct conclusions) the New York Times makes no mention of how California came to have almost 40 million people. The MSM propaganda managers do not want us to think about that. The drought will help the liberal upper class deal with this problem without having to think about it.

Given how California came to have so many people (a large fraction of which are low earners) and what higher water prices will do to the state's demographics is a nature-imposed limit to growth really a bad think for the liberal upper classes in California? Think about how this will play out. If fewer houses get built then houses will cost more. So lower classes will have a harder time affording housing in California and some of them will leave. The liberal upper classes will then have to pay less to subsidize zero (and negative) marginal productivity workers (or, rather, non-workers). The net taxpayers in California will therefore be relieved of some of their burdens while other states will absorb the low skilled overflow.

Granted, fruits and vegetables will cost more. But that seems like a small price to pay. The net benefits will be quite large - again for those who remain who own homes or who pay rent that is a small fraction of their income.

In order for the drought to benefit the liberal upper class it has to cut into housing construction. The extent to which that will happens depends on how far the water supply drops and how much desalinization costs. Doubling the cost of residential water will not cut demand much because it does not cost much to begin with. But the political response to the drought (done by governments after all) might be done in a way that prevents water prices to increase much. There might just be many forced conservation measures (ban lawn watering, force installation of more efficient toilets, and the like). Can this reduce water usage per person enough to allow housing construction?

If you follow the California drought take note for each policy response whether it will tend to place limits on housing growth. The policy responses that limit housing construction will work to the advantage of California's liberal upper class.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 05 09:54 AM 
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2015 April 04 Saturday
The New Moral Majority And Memories Pizza

The Overton Window around homosexuality and freedom of association has shifted with amazing speed in America. Death threats were directed against the operators of Memories Pizza in Walkerton Indiana the owners they said they would not cater a gay wedding. The Left's reaction (both the threats and the leftist political commentary) has Orthodox Christian Rod Dreher fearful about the consequences of delegitimization of Christian moral beliefs and the willingness of some Leftists to force people to abandon any profession of support for their beliefs. Catholic NY Times moderate conservative columnist Ross Douthat wonders how far will the Overton Window shift and wants people on the Left to address questions he raises about the next steps in the redefinition of what is legitimate by the Left. Since the Left dominates media, universities, and government their new Overton Window will be our Overton Window. Certainly a 5 or, even better, 10 year forceast on what will be morally legitimate would be useful to have.

This all happened against the backdrop of a national debate about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As Gabriel Maior explains at that link, other states have one and RFRA did not use to be considered controversial.

Unlike Ross and Rod I've got no religion. But I support religious freedom, at least as long as the believers of the religion in question don't want to turn non-believers into Dhimmis or kill them or put women into tent clothing. I also do not want to see people held to a growing list of ideological litmus tests in order to own a business, work at another business, or work in a government agency. However, as a member of a shrinking minority (white male right-leaning secularist and rationalist) I do not think I have any say in the matter and think I should focus more on guessing where the Left will go.

A lot of possibilities come to mind. For example, the Mennonites and Amish could come into the crosshairs of the New Moral Majority. What the technologically impaired (quoting Al Yankovic) teach their kids (mostly Christianity from a couple of centuries ago is my guess) strikes me as likely objectionable for our masters. Could be painted as child abuse pretty easily by the sorts of people hating Memories Pizza. So the low tech old style Christian religious could get seriously beat up on at some point. Though it is possible that Orthodox Jews could rally to their aid if the Orthodox Jews decided that they needed to stop a progression that would eventually lead to their doorsteps. Don't know if they'd see it that way. Anyone know enough to guess?

Then there Christian religious schools. Assaults on their curricula and independence seem like more probable future steps that assaults on Mennonites and Amish if only because no one sees the Mennonites or Amish as political players. There isn't much of a sense of political victory to be gotten from beating them up with laws and regulations and child protective services agencies seizures of children. Though I could be underestimating the likelihood of such a development. When the carnivores are hungry any meat that they notice suddenly starts the salivary juices flowing. Prey! Keep an eye out for articles on HuffPo, Slate, The Atlantic, and similar publications for articles meant to prepare the left-leaning masses for an assault on the Amish.

So I mentioned child protective services agencies. These government agencies might become major tools for the Left's war against the Right. Take a Donkey-dominated state with a substantial blue collar Elephant minority. In such a state a kid could tell his public school teacher some belief imparted to him at sunday school or, even worse, at home from mom and dad and suddenly it is time to separate kid from parent. Also the schools which do not teach the left's doctrines could have their tax exemption lifted or accreditation lifted.

Suppose you are like me and pretty indifferent to sexual preferences of the people around you and can't get worked up about gay marriage culture war (which already has clear winners). What about our own heresies against leftist orthodoxy? Are we going to see intensifying hunts of heretics who commit thought crimes against other secular doctrines? Which ones? How soon?

By Randall Parker 2015 April 04 01:55 PM 
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2015 April 01 Wednesday
McDonalds To Raise Wages In Restaurants It Owns In USA

McDonalds employees going to be living large. Going up to around $10 per hour.

That's 91,000 employees. The franchisees employ another 750,000. McDonalds made $5 billion last year in profit. Imagine that all that profit was made in the USA. That's not true. But bear with me. If we divide that $5 bil in profit by the 841,000 McDonalds fast food workers in the USA that works out to $5945 per employee. Really, it is much less than that due to foreign profits. Anyone know what McD makes just in USA?

But if the $5945 per employee was made only in the US and McDonalds decided to run for 0 profit and pay employees of US stores more then it could only pay them an additional $5945 per year. Not much. Fast food workers aren't going to make much money unless prices rise. Automation isn't going to do it. To even have a chance of paying employees well the stores have to become highly automated and lay off most of their workers. Then only if the remaining work was highly skilled (say robot repair) could the remaining works get a decent wage.

A $15 minimum wage would lead to a shift toward food that is faster and easier to prepare along with development of food prep robots. I hope that happens since the results will be highly educational for everyone and speed up the development of robots.

By Randall Parker 2015 April 01 09:50 PM 
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