An Interesting Perspective On Homelessness

Christopher F. Rufo posted an article in The City Journal about the homelessness that has become so prevalent on the west coast of America. The title of the article is, “An Addiction Crisis Disguised as a Housing Crisis.” Please follow the link above to read the entire article; it is very insightful.

The article states:

By latest count, some 109,089 men and women are sleeping on the streets of major cities in California, Oregon, and Washington. The homelessness crisis in these cities has generated headlines and speculation about “root causes.” Progressive political activists allege that tech companies have inflated housing costs and forced middle-class people onto the streets. Declaring that “no two people living on Skid Row . . . ended up there for the same reasons,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, for his part, blames a housing shortage, stagnant wages, cuts to mental health services, domestic and sexual abuse, shortcomings in criminal justice, and a lack of resources for veterans. These factors may all have played a role, but the most pervasive cause of West Coast homelessness is clear: heroin, fentanyl, and synthetic opioids.

Homelessness is an addiction crisis disguised as a housing crisis. In Seattle, prosecutors and law enforcement recently estimated that the majority of the region’s homeless population is hooked on opioids, including heroin and fentanyl. If this figure holds constant throughout the West Coast, then at least 11,000 homeless opioid addicts live in Washington, 7,000 live in Oregon, and 65,000 live in California (concentrated mostly in San Francisco and Los Angeles). For the unsheltered population inhabiting tents, cars, and RVs, the opioid-addiction percentages are even higher—the City of Seattle’s homeless-outreach team estimates that 80 percent of the unsheltered population has a substance-abuse disorder. Officers must clean up used needles in almost all the homeless encampments.

The article reminds us that drug-dealing is a lucrative industry for the cartels:

For drug cartels and low-level street dealers, the business of supplying homeless addicts with heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids is extremely lucrative. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the average heavy-opioid user consumes $1,834 in drugs per month. Holding rates constant, we can project that the total business of supplying heroin and other opioids to the West Coast’s homeless population is more than $1.8 billion per year. In effect, Mexican cartels, Chinese fentanyl suppliers, and local criminal networks profit off the misery of the homeless and offload the consequences onto local governments struggling to get people off the streets.

The article concludes:

No matter how much local governments pour into affordable-housing projects, homeless opioid addicts—nearly all unemployed—will never be able to afford the rent in expensive West Coast cities. The first step in solving these intractable issues is to address the real problem: addiction is the common denominator for most of the homeless and must be confronted honestly if we have any hope of solving it.

Part of the problem here is that some cities and states are moving toward legalizing recreational drug use. Obviously not all of that drug use will lead to further problems, but a percentage of it will–adding to the homeless problem. The other problem is that treating a drug addict will not be successful unless the addict desires to be free of drugs. You can lock up an addict until he is clean, but there are no guarantees that he will stay clean once he is out on the street again.

 

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie…

I think “If you give a mouse a cookie…” is going to be my motto for 2019. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a children’s book written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. The book was published in 2015 and contains more wisdom than most adult books. The basic premise is that if you give a mouse a cookie he will want milk to go with it. Then he will want a chair to sit in and a table to sit at. You get the picture. Well, on January 11th, The Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an article that beautifully illustrates the message of the book.

The article reports:

The Fight for $15 isn’t living up to its promise.

For years, liberals have claimed that the minimum wage needs to increase to $15 an hour to provide a living wage for full-time workers. The stated goal, as socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders writes on his website, is straightforward, “We must ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty.”

In one way, the campaign has been remarkably successful. California and New York are phasing in a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage. Numerous cities, including Seattle, Minneapolis and Washington D.C., have passed $15 an hour minimum wage laws as well.

But as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, progressives are now demanding more.

“$15 an hour: A higher wage, but hardly a living,” a CBS News headline from October reads. After bemoaning the inadequacy of the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage, the CBS story asserts that “even at $15 an hour, life doesn’t get a whole lot easier.”

The article continues:

“The arrival of a $15 hourly minimum wage cannot be considered the end of something,” New York Times columnist Ginia Bellafante wrote last week. Her suggestion? A $33 an hour minimum wage for the Big Apple.

Ah, the wonders of progressive economics. Just pass a law mandating that everybody must make at least $68,000 a year — with full medical benefits, vacation time and family leave allowances, of course. But why stop there? Why with a stroke of the pen, we could all be millionaires!

The argument for a higher minimum wage is that in some cities housing is very expensive. Might this be an argument for the free market? If housing is too expensive and people cannot easily afford to live there, don’t they move to places they can afford? If people can’t afford housing in a city, doesn’t the availability of housing increase and put downward pressure on the price?  It seems to me that is one of the reasons many states are losing rather than gaining population.

The article concludes:

The minimum wage was never intended to provide a living wage. Most minimum wage workers aren’t trying to make a living. A great many are earning supplemental income. Most are between 16 and 24 and work part-time. Inexperienced workers don’t produce that much value. It can still be profitable for the company to hire them — at a lower wage rate.

This creates a win-win. Companies make money by hiring less expensive workers. The workers receive the experience and training that allows them to move up the career ladder. According to the Heritage Foundation, two-thirds of minimum wage workers see their wages increase within a year of starting their job.

This normal career progression is short-circuited when politicians meddle in the marketplace and set unreasonable wage floors. As some leftists are now acknowledging, it’s not even as beneficial as advertised for the workers who manage to find work.

Raising the minimum wage isn’t going to end poverty. But it can make it worse.

If the minimum wage ever increases to $50 an hour, I promise to come out of retirement!

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

On Friday Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about a recent bill sponsored by Washington, D.C.’s city council.

The article reports:

On Tuesday, 7 of the 13 members of Washington’s city council sponsored a bill to jettison the wage hike for tipped workers that 56% of D.C. voters had approved by a ballot initiative less than a month before.

Under Initiative 77, the workers would see their minimum wage climb from the current $3.89 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026, erasing the difference between tipped and nontipped workers.

Keep in mind that D.C. is about as heavily Democratic as you can get. It went for Hillary Clinton by a 91%-4% margin.

But the D.C. council members came to understand what economists — and D.C. restaurant workers themselves — already know. Sharp increases in the minimum wage will cost lost hours, lost jobs and lost income.

The article concludes:

This wage mandate, just like the one the council is trying to repeal, will also end up hurting the very people it’s supposed to help.

That’s not speculation. It’s what happened in Seattle, which four years ago decided to gradually hike the city’s minimum to $15. Researchers from the University of Washington found that the average low-wage worker lost $125 a month as the mandate took effect and employers cut back on hours and jobs.

Other parts of the country are catching on as evidence rolls in of the job-killing side effect of these mandated wage hikes. The mayor of heavily Democratic Baltimore vetoed a minimum-wage bill last year. The city council in Flagstaff, Ariz., decided to scrap the planned hike to $12, and cap it at $10.50.

“Fight for $15” makes a good bumper sticker. But as Democrats are finding out first hand, it makes bad public policy.

Maybe the answer is not raising the pay for minimum-wage jobs, but in better educating our children so that when they enter the workforce at minimum jobs, they are able to learn skills and progress to better paying jobs. In many cases, companies have responded to increases in the minimum wage by replacing workers with machines. Minimum-wage jobs are valuable–they teach workers entering the workforce the basic principles of holding a job–showing up, working hard, being courteous to fellow employees and customers, and being dependable and on time. Drastically increasing the minimum wage will result in many minimum-wage jobs being eliminated.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences At Work

One of the political discussion of late has focused on the minimum wage. What it is, what it should be, and should it be raised. One thing that is often not considered in the debate is who are the people who work at minimum wage jobs.

The Pew Research Center reported in 2014:

Perhaps surprisingly, not very many people earn minimum wage, and they make up a smaller share of the workforce than they used to. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year 1.532 million hourly workers earned the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour; nearly 1.8 million more earned less than that because they fell under one of several exemptions (tipped employees, full-time students, certain disabled workers and others), for a total of 3.3 million hourly workers at or below the federal minimum.

That group represents 4.3% of the nation’s 75.9 million hourly-paid workers and 2.6% of all wage and salary workers. In 1979, when the BLS began regularly studying minimum-wage workers, they represented 13.4% of hourly workers and 7.9% of all wage and salary workers. (Bear in mind that the 3.3 million figure doesn’t include salaried workers, although BLS says relatively few salaried workers are paid at what would translate into below-minimum hourly rates. Also, 23 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have higher minimum wages than the federal standard; people who earned the state minimum wage in those jurisdictions aren’t included in the 3.3 million total.)

People at or below the federal minimum are:

  • Disproportionately young: 50.4% are ages 16 to 24; 24% are teenagers (ages 16 to 19).
  • Mostly (77%) white; nearly half are white women.
  • Largely part-time workers (64% of the total).

Often minimum-wage jobs represent an opportunity for someone with little experience or job skills to enter the workforce. Minimum wage jobs teach workers to show up on time, be responsible employees, and be reliable employees. These are skills that are valued at all levels of employment.

So what happens when you raise the minimum wage? On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article on the subject.

The article reports:

 

  • IBD’s Jed Graham surveyed six big U.S. cities that hiked the minimum wage in 2015 and found they took a serious jobs hit. “Wherever cities implemented big minimum-wage hikes to $10 an hour or more last year, the latest data through December show that job creation downshifted to the slowest pace in at least five years,” Graham wrote.
  • During the 1970s, Congress forced Puerto Rico to adopt the U.S. federal minimum wage. The result, according to a 1992 study by economists Alida Castillo-Freeman and Richard Freeman: “Imposing the U.S.-level minimum reduced total island employment by 8%-10%.” So Puerto Rico lost 1 out of every 11 jobs to the minimum wage.
  • A study by the American Enterprise Institute looked at Seattle’s recent minimum wage hike. After it began phasing in a series of hikes in 2014, Seattle lost 10,000 jobs between just September and November, and its unemployment rate jumped a full percentage point. As AEI economist Mark Perry notes, Seattle’s minimum wage hike from $9.32 an hour to $15 an hour amounts to a $11,360 tax on every minimum wage job.
  • A 2014 Congressional Budget Office study estimated that raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to just $10.10 an hour would kill half a million jobs. Worst of all, those who suffer most are the young, minorities and those with little education or training.

The article at Investor’s Business Daily focused on Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder, who has begun to automate his restaurants. Because the minimum wage has increased, his expenses have gone up, and he has used technology to keep expenses down.

Before anyone gets all up in arms about this, I would like to introduce a little history into the discussion. Back in the days of dinosaurs, I attended school in New York City. My family did not have a lot of money, but I did not have the option of taking lunch to school every day. We were expected to use our one hour lunchtime to find a place to buy and eat lunch near the school [which was located in the Pam Am Building (now the Met Life Building)]. Because my allowance was small, I often ate at the automat. I would put in 35¢ and get a ham and cheese sandwich. I would put in 10¢ and get a carton of milk. If I was feeling rich, I would spend 20¢ or so on a piece of pie or cake. No one was screaming about automation then. The automat eventually disappeared from the scene, but I am not sure why. It was a great place to eat lunch.

At any rate, actions have consequences. When you raise the minimum raise past the skill level of certain jobs, you eliminate people from the work place–generally those with limited skills or limited experience. Those are the people who with a little training and experience could go on to get good jobs that pay more than minimum wage. In trying to help them by raising their wages, you are actually preventing them from getting the foot in the door that they need to become successful.

 

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

There are parents who support the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ mentality, but what happens when their children enter the business world. What happens when the CEO of a company tries to practice ‘everybody gets a trophy’ in his business. We have a recent example.

Yesterday Business Insider posted a story about Dan Price, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based credit-card-payment processing firm Gravity Payments. Mr. Price decided to raise the minimum salary at his company to $70,000. At first his employees were thrilled, but things do not work out as well as planned.

Employees are leaving. Why? Because some employees feel that some less valuable employees got increases bigger than some more valuable employees. One employee complained that the new policy did not reward work ethic–there was no incentive to do more or work extra hours to complete tasks. People who had done that in the past were treated no differently than the less conscientious employees.

The company is struggling financially because of the decision to pay everyone $70,000 a year. There is also a court case filed by Dan Price’s brother, a minority owner, which was filed soon after the pay raise.

There is something in the American psyche that expects to be paid a fair wage for a hard days work. There is also something in the American psyche that resents it when people who do not do a good job are paid the same as people who do. That is why socialism will fail in America, just as it has failed in all the other places it has been tried.

It Won’t Pay To Be A Non-Muslim In Seattle

On Monday, the Christian News reported that the Mayor of Seattle, Washington, has proposed Sharia law-compliant housing loans for Muslim residents. In case you are not aware of what a Sharia law-compliant loan is, it is a loan without interest. How many of us would like to take out a mortgage without interest?

The article reports:

“For our low—and moderate—income Muslim neighbors who follow Sharia law—which prohibits the payment of interest or fees for loans of money—there are limited options for financing a home,” the proposed plan reads. “Some Muslims are unable to use conventional mortgage products due to religious convictions.”

The City will convene lenders, housing nonprofits and community leaders to explore the best options for increasing access to Sharia-compliant loan products to help these residents become homeowners in Seattle,” it says.

Arsalan Bukhari, chapter executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Puget Sound Business Journal that he believes that there are approximately two hundred Seattle residents who identify as Muslim that avoid taking out home loans because of their religion.

“[T]hey don’t want to pay interest,” he said.

Mayor Ed Murray mentioned the proposal at a recent press conference, which will go to city counsel for consideration.

“We will work to develop new tools for Muslims who are prevented from using conventional mortgage products due to their religious beliefs,” he said.

Non-Muslim Americans will still be paying interest on the loans they take out. Aside from the fact that one of the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood is to bring Sharia Law to America slowly, so that we won’t object to it, what about the Americans who will be paying more for their loans because of the Muslims who will not pay interest? This is stupid on many levels. Is beating your wife (legal under Sharia Law) now going to be legal in Seattle?

While The Press Was Covering Ferguson…

Yesterday, Hot Air reported on four murders that the press seems to have overlooked. Ali Muhammad Brown was suspected of killing three Seattle men. He is now accused of shooting 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin eight times at a West Orange traffic light in New Jersey in June.

The article reports:

He sought revenge against America for what he said was the wanton killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tevlin was allegedly Brown’s fourth victim.

Brown’s victims, with the exception of Tevlin, had a similar background: they were young, gay men.

…Brown may eventually face federal and/or state-level terrorism charges, but few press accounts of his attacks – most of them in local outlets — state clearly that Islamic jihadist ideology inspired him. “All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life,” court documents allege Brown said of United States actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some outlets are not mincing words about the nature of Brown’s crimes. A July report via a Seattle-based Fox affiliate described Brown as a “radical jihadist” who targeted homosexual men, but few have followed suit.

Brown was an Islamist who targeted homosexual men. Under Sharia Law, homosexuals are subject to the death penalty. He was simply acting within the bounds of his religion. Somehow the press does not seem to be concerned with this man who killed four men in America in the name of jihad. The jihadis are already among us. Unfortunately, the press is not keeping us informed.

.

 

The Dangers Of Bureaucratic Overreach

Yesterday Mary Katharine Ham posted an article at Hot Air about Michael Arrington, a prominent tech blogger, who sold his site Tech Crunch to AOL in 2010. Mr. Arrington lives in Seattle, Washington, and recently bought a boat. The boat was made in Canada, so Mr. Arrington had to fill out paperwork with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to bring the boat into America.

When Mr. Arrington went to pick up his boat and fill out the forms, there was a problem with the forms. The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars. Mr. Arrington suggested that the DHS change the form so that the amount would be correct. Mr. Arrington points out that the form has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block. Since he was being asked to swear that the information on the form was correct, he thought that the information on the form should be correct.

The article then explains that the DHS agent called another agent over and stated that Mr. Arrington would not sign the form. Mr. Arrington asked to speak to that agent to give them a more complete picture of the situation. She wouldn’t allow that. The agent then seized the boat and took possession of it.

The article states:

A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn’t do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.

…Arrington got back his boat, largely he says because the company that built it went to great lengths to extract it from DHS. The company has no doubt dealt with the customs office before, knows who to call, and has more sway than a single citizen. But you shouldn’t need to know the right people to simply sail the boat you own. Arrington says it succinctly: “My point in writing this isn’t to whine. Like I said, this will get worked out one way or another. No, it’s to highlight how screwed up our government bureaucracy has become.”

And, if it’s this hard for a well-educated and well-heeled citizen who can get a lawyer to navigate the system, there are many more with fewer advantages dealing with this kind of abuse at every level about whom we never hear.

Please follow the link above and read the entire article for a very insightful perspective on American bureaucracy.

I have no idea how to deal with the runaway bureaucracy we have created in this country, but I do know that we need to deal with it before it gets worse. A law-abiding citizen had his boat temporarily seized because he tried to correct a government mistake in the paperwork. That is not the America I grew up in.Enhanced by Zemanta