2016 February 21 Sunday
Oregon Could Get $14.75 Minimum Wage

Political support for more robots and less low skilled immigration continues to build. Oregon House of Representatives votes for $14.75 per hour minimum wage. It is actually 3-tiered with the highest rate for Portland. This will accelerate Portland's gentrification. Great news for people in Portland who want fewer lower class people around. They'll all move to lower wage areas, even out of state. The cool part of it for left-leaning upper class Portlanders: They can tell themselves they support this move for the benefit of the lower classes.

The Republican states are being foolish about the minimum wage. Rather than drive out the lower classes, cut welfare costs, and get a more favorable electorate the Republicans insist on keeping wage costs low for lower value businesses. The result will be an electorate that goes Left faster as the people who can't get a job in a high min wage state move to Republican states.

In Alabama the state legislature looks set to block local increases in minimum wages. This is like getting hit on the head lessons.

Meanwhile, in New York State Governor Cuomo and Democrats in the state legislature plan to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 statewide by 2021. The great news: businesses will respond by doing more automation.

Restaurant owners have threatened that they would turn more to kiosks to replace cashiers.

The article quotes a young single mom (who is irresponsibly pregnant with her second baby!) saying she needs that wage increase sooner. I'm wondering if she'll still have a job (at least in New York State) in 2022. Perhaps not. Great news for New York State if she needs to move to a Republican state where she'll still be employable. Hey Utah and Idaho, cut off her job supply with a high min wage before she shows up.

We live in exciting times. If this keeps up we won't need to try to get a waitress's attention when we want to order some food. Tablets at every desk will take the orders and robots will deliver it. Faster service. High minimum wages will help make America great again.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 21 08:57 PM 
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2016 February 20 Saturday
Jonathan Haidt On Universities In Moralistic Death Spiral

Read this:

JONATHAN HAIDT: Yes. We had no idea that the universities were about to commit suicide. We had no idea that they were going to blow up just a few weeks after we launched the site. So we launched in September. I wrote a post about our big review paper in social psychology. And we got a lot of attention the first week or two. Then it died down. And then we get the Missouri fiasco, the Yale fiasco, the Amherst fiasco, the Brown fiasco. You get place after place where protesters are making demands of college presidents, and college presidents roll over and give in.

Haidt is a moral psychology researcher at NYU. The interview is about a site that Haidt was involved in founding: Heterodox Academy. Also see:

Kristian Niemietz argues politically correct people keep move the bar because they want to be morally superior to others. The problem is they've moved the bar so far in terms of what is not permissible to say or think that they've got to take absurd positions in order to still be different.

A positional good is a good that people acquire to signalise where they stand in a social hierarchy; it is acquired in order to set oneself apart from others. Positional goods therefore have a peculiar property: the utility their consumers derive from them is inversely related to the number of people who can access them.

...

PC-brigadiers behave exactly like owners of a positional good who panic because wider availability of that good threatens their social status. The PC brigade has been highly successful in creating new social taboos, but their success is their very problem. Moral superiority is a prime example of a positional good, because we cannot all be morally superior to each other. Once you have successfully exorcised a word or an opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from others now? You need new things to be outraged about, new ways of asserting your imagined moral superiority.

This phenomenon is helped along by the fact that the social justice warriors are concentrated in university social science and humanities departments. They've segregated themselves into groups that share similar (and probably innate) ways to do moral reasoning. I expect this segregation by innate moral tendencies will be further accelerated by offspring genetic engineering. Imagine SJWs choosing genes that make their kids even more intensely SJWs. Other groups will similarly become even more pronounced in their distinct outlooks and moral preferences.

What should the rest of us do about the moralistic crazies? First of all, don't invite them to house parties or dinners. Just plain try to avoid them. If they are in significant numbers in your work place then try to find a new and better job. Need to get a college education? Avoid the departments they control and stay away from the craziest universities. Try to do more of your education online.

There is a lot to be said for avoidance. You can't do that much to make the world less crazy. But it is a big world with lots of local variations. So you can do a lot of navigating to avoid quite a bit of the madnesses of our age. Better to seek out non-crazies than try to argue with crazies. Better to look for local majorities of sane people in work and social circles rather than try to transform circles that have gone over into madness.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 20 08:16 PM 
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2016 February 13 Saturday
France, Eastern Europeans Rebelling Against Germany On Refugees

4 Eastern European countries plan to help Macedonia and Bulgaria seal their borders with Greece. Angela Merkel and company in Berlin are telling them they can't do that. The capital of the EU is in Berlin, not Brussels?

Borders are going back up all over Europe. Blame German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She seems unwilling to learn from her mistake. But she'll get a warm welcome in Davos for years to come if she sticks to her guns.

Of course the Greeks are getting shafted. Their cratered economy will be left with hundreds of thousands (millions?) of refugees unless they start intercepting them at sea and towing them back to Turkey. Will they find the political will to save themselves?

The migrant arrival rate has risen in spite of winter weather. Imagine what it'll be like in spring if Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia don't go thru with their plans to seal off Europe from Greece. The Prime Minister of Austria is going to seal off their border from refugees once they hit a numeric limit. So Macedonia needs to seal off theirs before they get many refugees that have no path to Germany. Also, Turkey is threatening to boost the flow of refugees unless it gets a lot more money to keep them in Turkey. Greece looks to be in the worst trouble.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 13 06:02 PM 
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How To Cut Your Cable Bill

Worth a try: How to negotiate with your cable TV/internet/phone provider.

Research the alternatives first. Note their talking points.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 13 12:12 PM 
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2016 February 07 Sunday
Cognitive Elite In California Support Rest Of State

Silicon Valley is carrying the rest of the state.

The San Francisco Bay Area has accounted for more than half of all job growth in California since 2007, though it accounts for less than one-fifth of the state’s population. Robust Silicon Valley earnings have also driven up income among the state’s elite and bolstered California’s budget. Last year, capital gains—profit from the sale of investments—accounted for nearly 10 percent of general fund revenues.

Bring in brains and thrive. Bring in people to do your manual labor, well then don't thrive.

Los Angeles is in with the losing parts of the state.

L.A.’s struggles predate the recession of 2008. In the past 20 years, greater Los Angeles has lost 3.1 percent of its jobs, according to a 2014 study by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

The pattern in California fits a larger national pattern. America is dividing up into tiers with big differences of income. Rural counties are going down along with some urban areas. Other urban areas have the brightest knowledge workers and they are thriving.

I expect this trend to become even more pronounced as more routine work gets automated. Already the employment prospects for the intellectually less able are dismal.

In a sane world we'd use knowledge of these patterns to set immigration policy and trade policy. But we don't live in a sane world. The great awakening is still some years off but probably less than 10 years.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 07 09:47 AM 
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EU To Pay Macedonia To Isolate Greece

EU ministers are proposing to pay non-member Macedonia to build up border obstacles to prevent the immigrant horde from leaving Greece to enter Macedonia on their way into the heart of Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated the stampede and she's refused to say that Germany will stop accept the Middle Eastern and North African immigrants.

The European Union is upset with Greece for not spending money they don't have to block the flow of immigrants,many of whom are not war refugees and those who were already had safe haven in Muslim Turkey). The EU mininsters want to bottle the up the hundreds of thousands and eventually millions of immigrants in Greece.

Greece isn't allowed to deport the immigrants. This is considered inhumane to refugees.

Europe has decayed.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 07 09:33 AM 
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2016 February 03 Wednesday
EU Shameless: Blames Greece For Refugee Crisis

Guess which of Greece's borders the EU is talking about: EU gives Greece warning to fix border 'neglect' and EU exerts pressure on Greece via Schengen threat and EU urges Greece to take steps to tighten bloc's border and this EU call to more tightly control Greece's border:

“Greece is seriously neglecting its obligations and there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by the Greek authorities.”

By external borders you might think the EU is referring to Greece's border with Turkey. After all, that's where the refugees (called forth by Germany chancellor Angela Merkel) come from. Nope. The EU wants Greece to stop the flow of refugees out of Greece northward!

Only the Dutch are being practical: Dutch suggest EU sends migrants heading to Greece back to Turkey.

Think about it. The leader of the most powerful state in the European Union makes statements that cause a stampede of people to head from the Middle East and Africa to the EU. Poor Greece is overrun and told it can't stop refugees from entering from Turkey. Angela Merkel makes like her position is high moral principle as well as a boon for the entire EU. But now the EU is threatening to kick Greece out of the Schengen area unless Greece bottles up migrants in Greece so they can't make it to Germany.

Really, think about it.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 03 10:07 PM 
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2016 February 01 Monday
White Middle Class Rebelling Against Both American Parties

How Both Parties Lost the White Middle Class

Today, the vast middle of the middle fears that unless you're on the way up, you're on the way down.

I've been making that argument here for years because it seems correct. I've been arguing that you had better try to go up because if you aren't trying to go up you are very likely headed down. My sense of it was that a lot of people in the middle are in denial on this point. I'd expect government workers to feel immune and perhaps people in some industries that haven't been hit yet by lots of automation and outsourcing.

In the essay above R.R. Reno argues that a big split is between those who benefit from globalization and those who are doing poorly as a result of globalization. But he only captures one part of it. The three causes of this split are automation, global trade, and immigration.

Reno is right when he argues the Left derides the white middle class:

The message: White middle-class Americans aren't just irrelevant to America's future, they're in the way.

Meanwhile the Right has people deriding anyone who isn't an innovator or entrepreneur. So the (shrinking) middle feels abandoned by both parties. Makes sense. They really have been abandoned by both parties. Hard to believe this would happen and so they've been slow to figure it out. They've just finally started to express themselves by voting for candidates who at least pretend to feel loyal to them.

My favorite Bureau of Labor Statistics page (yes, I have a favorite BLS page) is about employment population ratio by educational level. Look at how the high school grads and high school drop-outs are faring against those with some college or a bachelor's degree or better. I think this drop in status and employment is a long term trend that won't reverse any time soon.

My advice continues to be the same: go for skills and move to places that will give you better opportunities for advancement. Even if Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders gets elected in November 2016 the prospects for the middle will not brighten. I think Trump could slow the decline but not reverse the fortunes of the middle class. Sanders probably can't even do that much.

By Randall Parker 2016 February 01 10:44 PM 
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