Mafia-style Tactics

Yesterday The America Thinker posted an article about a recent event in Seattle.

The article reports:

Grocery retailer Trader Joe’s, which refused to cave in to political correctness in its product names, is experiencing new problems with Black Lives Matter protesters in Seattle, according to Breitbart News:

Black Lives Matter protesters pushed their way into a Seattle Trader Joe’s demanding the company give “15 percent at least.” The group has repeated the tactic of harassing the store’s staff and customers over the past few months.

A video tweeted Thursday night shows a large group of BLM activists entering a Seattle Trader Joe’s store. They chanted and beat drums as they marched through the grocery chain location.

Seattle has five Trader Joe’s locations, and Breitbart reports that three of them have been hit in this way.  It shows that Trader Joe’s, which resisted the demands, remains a target, based on Seattle’s failure to send police to protect them.

A Tweet included in the article notes:

This is exactly how mafia works. Either you pay us something – il “pizzo” it’s called in Italian – or we burn down the place at least. This can happen when the State is absent, that’s why defunding the police in crucial in every mafia system.

The article concludes:

BLM is led by “trained Marxists” who just happened to have learned their tactics at Hugo Chávez’s knee.  Here’s a piece I did on their pilgrimages to Caracas, where these kinds of shakedowns are what goes on in that hellhole.  And don’t think the Chavista agenda they embrace isn’t to harm the entire U.S.  Here’s one I wrote from 2019.  Venezuelans, too, have noticed the similarities.

Now their successors in the U.S. are turning Seattle into a hellhole, too, complete with Venezuela-style shakedowns. 

Seattle is getting pretty comparable to Caracas without police to enforce rule of law just on crime and disorder alone, but Trader Joe’s is no battered Venezuelan storefront shop.  It’s a huge national private corporation whose structure protects it from activist shareholders stirring up the pot and agitators calling for woke acts, allowing it to do what it always does which is put the interests of its customers first.  Instead of pay the danegeld, Trader Joe’s is in a position to walk out.

It’s shown backbone in standing up to rioters, and who knows how many shakedowns it has fended off.  But if it gets bad — and recall that Breitbart notes that three stores in Seattle have been targeted — it may well decide that the cost of doing business in Seattle outweighs the benefits and pull out of the city and open up someplace less mafia-like.

By then, the city may become a food desert — self-inflicted, based on the majority’s voting choices.

At some point, we are going to hear people who live in the cities that have refused to deal with the BLM protestors complain that there are no convenient grocery stores or other markets. At that point they will have only themselves to blame–if you keep electing people who refuse to enforce the law, eventually you have no law.

When Facts Get In The Way Of A Good Talking Point

The Washington Examiner posted an article today that highlighted one of many lies told by Joe Biden in last night’s presidential debate.

The article reports:

Former Vice President Joe Biden said during the final presidential debate Thursday night that there is “no evidence” raising the minimum wage kills businesses.

“There is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business,” Biden told Trump. “That is simply not true.”

The article notes a few statistics:

In 2017, a Harvard study concluded that a San Francisco minimum wage increase resulted in some businesses closing their doors.

According to the Heritage Foundation, minimum wage increases not only kill jobs, up to 400,000 in California alone, but also “disproportionately hurt low-income, low-skill workers and families.”

The article also includes some screenshots of some tweets. Here are a few lines from those tweets:

.@JoeBiden: “There is no evidence that when you raise the minimum wage, businesses go out of business. That is simply not true.”
A new study shows his plan to do just that could kill 2M jobs by 2027.

…Joe Biden just lied again. After raising minimum wages, fast food restaurants fired a lot of people after raising minimum wages

The above tweet notes that a bill to be introduced to the New York City Council would require employers to provide a justifiable cause to fire fast food workers.

Another tweet states:

The city’s (Seattle) escalating minimum wage has meant a slight increase in pay among workers earning up to $19 per hour, but the hours worked in such jobs have shrunk, a study commissioned by the city found. It estimates there would be 5,000 more such jobs without the Seattle law.

Part of the problem is the misunderstanding of the purpose of the minimum wage. The minimum wage was never meant to be an income that would meet the needs of an independent working person. The minimum wage was meant to allow young people to enter the workforce and learn the basic skills of being a productive worker–courtesy, working as a team, showing up on time, leaving on time, developing a work ethic. These are the skills that allow workers to move past minimum wage. If we have a society where people are remaining at minimum wage, maybe we need to look at our education system that produces those workers.

Actions Have Consequences

Yesterday The Daily Wire reported:

The Democrat-controlled Seattle City Council voted late on Monday to advance a highly controversial plan to defund the Seattle Police Department as violent crime and far-left riots have rocked the city in recent months.

The Seattle City Council voted to remove approximately $3 million from the Seattle Police Department’s budget…

…“The committee voted to move the bulk of its proposal forward during its 10 a.m. session, before giving its final approval Monday evening by a 7-1 margin,” MyNorthWest reported. “Councilmember Kshama Sawant was the lone “no” vote, while Debora Juarez — who was not present at Monday’s meetings — abstained. Sawant’s vote against the package was based around her belief that it didn’t go far enough in its reductions to SPD’s funding.”

Fox News reported at the start of the month that Seattle was one of several Democrat-controlled cities that had seen a recent spike in “shootings and murders.”

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit reported:

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best will be resigning on Wednesday morning, following the city council voting to defund the police amid massive unrest.

The news of Best’s resignation came one day after dozens of businesses were looted once again.

…Q13 reports, “the council on Monday approved proposals that would reduce the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition. Chief Best was vocal in her oppostion to the cuts, which came after councilmembers pledged to redirect money from SPD to community programs amid calls from protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.”

The budget cut will slash nearly $4 million from the department’s annual budget — and the councilmembers promised to cut even more in 2021. The 7-1 vote faced objections from the city’s police chief, mayor and the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.

It does not take a genius to predict that businesses and property owners will be leaving Seattle in the near future. Community programs have value, but unless you have some semblance of law and order in a city, people don’t want to live or operate businesses there.

Warped Programming

There is a saying in computer circles, “Garbage in, garbage out.” That saying also applies to learning and governance. A person’s basic perspective on life will determine their success, their ability to get along with people, and their general happiness. All of us at one time or another have avoided someone who simply is not pleased with or grateful for anything. Their warped perspective has prevented them from being happy. Well, we are about to see another warped perspective invade an area of our government.

Yesterday The City Journal posted an article titled, “Cult Programming in Seattle.” The subheading on the title is, “The city is training white municipal employees to overcome their “internalized racial superiority.”” This sort of thinking (and training) is not going to promote racial harmony. As soon as you accuse someone of something negative because of their race, you are making a racist statement. It really doesn’t matter what race you are or what race you are attacking–it is a racist statement. What is the difference between saying ‘you are racist because you are white’ and ‘you are less intelligent because you are black’?

The article reports:

Last month, the City of Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights sent an email inviting “white City employees” to attend a training session on “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness,” a program designed to help white workers examine their “complicity in the system of white supremacy” and “interrupt racism in ways that are accountable to Black, Indigenous and People of Color.” Hoping to learn more, I submitted a public records request for all documentation related to the training. The results are disturbing.

At the beginning of the session, the trainers explain that white people have internalized a sense of racial superiority, which has made them unable to access their “humanity” and caused “harm and violence” to people of color. The trainers claim that “individualism,” “perfectionism,” “intellectualization,” and “objectivity” are all vestiges of this internalized racial oppression and must be abandoned in favor of social-justice principles. In conceptual terms, the city frames the discussion around the idea that black Americans are reducible to the essential quality of “blackness” and white Americans are reducible to the essential quality of “whiteness”—that is, the new metaphysics of good and evil.

Again, the idea that white is evil and black is good is racist, just as the reverse is racist.

The article continues:

Once the diversity trainers have established this basic conceptual framework, they encourage white employees to “practice self-talk that affirms [their] complicity in racism” and work on “undoing [their] own whiteness.” As part of this process, white employees must abandon their “white normative behavior” and learn to let go of their “comfort,” “physical safety,” “social status,” and “relationships with some other white people.” As writer James Lindsay has pointed out, this is not the language of human resources; it is the language of cult programming—persuading members they are defective in some predefined manner, exploiting their emotional vulnerabilities, and isolating them from previous relationships.

It’s important to point out that this “interrupting whiteness” training is not an anomaly. In recent years, nearly every department of Seattle city government has been recruited into the ideological fight against “white supremacy.” As I have documented, the city’s homelessness agency hosted a conference on how to “decolonize [their] collective work”; the school system released a curriculum explaining that “math is a tool for oppression”; and the city-owned power company hired a team of bureaucrats to fight “structural racism” within their organization. Dozens of private companies now offer diversity training to public agencies. The idea that all whites have unconscious, “implicit bias” that they must vigilantly program themselves to overcome has become an article of faith across corporate boardrooms, academia, and law-enforcement agencies, even though the premise is unscientific and impossible to verify.

The endgame is to make Seattle’s municipal government the arbiter of the new orthodoxy, and then work outward. At the end of the session on “internalized racial superiority,” the diversity trainers outline strategies for converting outsiders and recommend specific “practices for interrupting others’ whiteness.” In effect, the activists have organized an ideological pyramid scheme—using public dollars to establish their authority within the government, then using that authority to recruit others into the program. As Lindsay writes, “the goal is no longer to indoctrinate on what is ‘rightthink’ and ‘wrongthink.’ It is to make the [subject’s] thinking be completely in line with the view of the world described by the cult doctrine.”

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It is chilling.

News From CHAZ

The Gateway Pundit posted an update on events in CHAZ today.

The article reports:

The situation in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle is about what you would expect about now.
They built a border wall and established segregated gardens.

Today the CHAZ Community leader told all white people to give $10 to a black person.
Considering most of the people in CHAZ haven’t held a job in a while this could be quite a sacrifice.

There is a video in the article of the people in CHAZ being asked to give their $10. The person speaking seems to put the request forward to test the seriousness of those following him. The manipulation going on is amazing. Having one group of people give money to another group of people for no reason is not a way to create unity.

What is happening in CHAZ is probably not going to end well. My hope is that when in falls apart no one is seriously injured.

 

How Is This Different From The Mafia?

Yesterday The City Journal posted an article about what is happening in Seattle. As you know, Antifa has taken over a six-block square area of the city and declared it to be the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.”

The article reports:

On the new rebel state’s first night, the atmosphere was festive and triumphant. Hooded men spray-painted the police station with slogans and anarchist symbols, renaming it the “Seattle People’s Department East Precinct.” Raz Simone, a local rapper with an AK-47 slung from his shoulder and a pistol attached to his hip, screamed, “This is war!” into a white-and-red megaphone and instructed armed paramilitaries to guard the barricades in shifts. Later in the night, Simone was filmed allegedly assaulting multiple protestors who disobeyed his orders, informing them that he was the “police” now, sparking fears that he was becoming the de facto warlord of the autonomous zone. A homeless man with a baseball bat wandered along the borderline and two unofficial medics in medieval-style chain mail stood ready for action.

The article concludes:

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone has set a dangerous precedent: armed left-wing activists have asserted their dominance of the streets and established an alternative political authority over a large section of a neighborhood. They have claimed de facto police power over thousands of residents and dozens of businesses—completely outside of the democratic process. In a matter of days, Antifa-affiliated paramilitaries have created a hardened border, established a rudimentary form of government based on principles of intersectional representation, and forcibly removed unfriendly media from the territory. 

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone is an occupation and taking of hostages: none of the neighborhood’s residents voted for Antifa as their representative government. Rather than enforce the law, Seattle’s progressive political class capitulated to the mob and will likely make massive concessions over the next few months. This will embolden the Antifa coalition—and further undermine the rule of law in American cities.

Please follow the link above for further details. This bears more of a resemblance to the French Revolution than the American Revolution, and I fear that this is not going to end well for anyone.

This Needs To Be Dealt With Quickly And Forcefully

The Gateway Pundit today posted the list of demands made by the Antifa group that has taken over a six-square-block section of Seattle. Before I get to the list, let that sink in a minute–an anarchist domestic terrorist group has taken over a portion of an American city. Can you image the experience of the people living within that area?

The article lists the demands:

Given the historical moment, we’ll begin with our demands pertaining to the Justice System.

    1. The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE in the city of Seattle.
    2. In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely. No guns, no batons, no riot shields, no chemical weapons, especially against those exercising their First Amendment right as Americans to protest.
    3. We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails. Get kids out of prison, get cops out of schools. We also demand that the new youth prison being built in Seattle currently be repurposed.
    4. We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability. In particular, we demand that cases particular to Seattle and Washington be reopened where no justice has been served, namely the cases of Iosia Faletogo, Damarius Butts, Isaiah Obet, Tommy Le, Shaun Fuhr, and Charleena Lyles.
    5. We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.
    6. We demand that the City of Seattle make the names of officers involved in police brutality a matter of public record. Anonymity should not even be a privilege in public service.
    7. We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.
    8. We demand decriminalization of the acts of protest, and amnesty for protestors generally, but specifically those involved in what has been termed “The George Floyd Rebellion” against the terrorist cell that previously occupied this area known as the Seattle Police Department. This includes the immediate release of all protestors currently being held in prison after the arrests made at 11th and Pine on Sunday night and early Saturday morning June 7th and 8th, and any other protesters arrested in the past two weeks of the uprising, the name Evan Hreha in particular comes to mind who filmed Seattle police macing a young girl and is now in jail.
    9. We demand that the City of Seattle and the State Government release any prisoner currently serving time for a marijuana-related offense and expunge the related conviction.
    10. We demand the City of Seattle and State Government release any prisoner currently serving time just for resisting arrest if there are no other related charges, and that those convictions should also be expunged.
    11. We demand that prisoners currently serving time be given the full and unrestricted right to vote, and for Washington State to pass legislation specifically breaking from Federal law that prevents felons from being able to vote.
    12. We demand an end to prosecutorial immunity for police officers in the time between now and the dissolution of the SPD and extant justice system.
    13. We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.
    14. We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.
    15. We demand autonomy be given to the people to create localized anti-crime systems.
    16. We demand that the Seattle Police Department, between now and the time of its abolition in the near future, empty its “lost and found” and return property owned by denizens of the city.
    17. We demand justice for those who have been sexually harassed or abused by the Seattle Police Department or prison guards in the state of Washington.
    18. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that each and every SPD officer turn on their body cameras, and that the body camera video of all Seattle police should be a matter of easily accessible public record.
    19. We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General community development. Parks, etc.

We also have economic demands that must be addressed.

    1. We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control.
    2. We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle.
    3. We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.
    4. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that Seattle Police be prohibited from performing “homeless sweeps” that displace and disturb our homeless neighbors, and on equal footing we demand an end to all evictions.
    5. We demand a decentralized election process to give the citizens of Seattle a greater ability to select candidates for public office such that we are not forced to choose at the poll between equally undesirable options. There are multiple systems and policies in place which make it impractical at best for working-class people to run for public office, all of which must go, starting with any fees associated with applying to run for public office.

Related to economic demands, we also have demands pertaining to what we would formally call “Health and Human Services.”

    1. We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.
    2. We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses. Your money is our power and sustainability.
    3. We demand that the city create an entirely separate system staffed by mental health experts to respond to 911 calls pertaining to mental health crises, and insist that all involved in such a program be put through thorough, rigorous training in conflict de-escalation.

Finally, let us now address our demands regarding the education system in the City of Seattle and State of Washington.

    1. We demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the Washington State education curriculum.
    2. We demand that thorough anti-bias training become a legal requirement for all jobs in the education system, as well as in the medical profession and in mass media.
    3. We demand the City of Seattle and State of Washington remove any and all monuments dedicated to historical figures of the Confederacy, whose treasonous attempts to build an America with slavery as a permanent fixture were an affront to the human race.

Transcribed by @irie_kenya and @AustinCHowe. Special thanks to Magik for starting and facilitating the discussion to create this list, to Omari Salisbury for the idea to break the list into categories, and as well a thanks to Kshama Sawant for being the only Seattle official to discuss with the people on Free Capitol Hill the night that it was liberated.

Bringing in the National Guard would not look good, but I believe it needs to be done. This is the equivalent of a foreign entity taking over a portion of an American city. This cannot be allowed to stand.

When ‘Real’ Security Is Present

As the riots continue, the violence continues. The ‘protestors’ have been involved in beating innocent people, looting stores, and shootings. On Sunday, PJ Media posted an article that provides some good news.

The article reports:

In Seattle, riotous thugs “honored” the memory of George Floyd, who was killed while in Minneapolis police custody earlier this week, by blocking Interstate 5 for most of the day in the busiest downtown portion of the freeway. They looted a Nordstrom store, smashed windows of downtown businesses and set cars on fire. It was part of a nation wide series of riots that began in Minneapolis and quickly metastasized to the West Coast and all the way to the White House gates.

Somehow in the melee, KING 5 News, captured video of bandanna wearing antifa dirtbag who stole an AR-15 type rifle from one of two smashed up police cars. The cars, one of which was burning, was tagged with the Left’s favorite anti-cop epithet ACAB – All Cops Are Bastards.

Knowing antifa’s thuggery and how cops are too busy to protect anyone, one TV news station had the foresight to hire what they called a “security guard.”

This was no mall cop.

George Orwell famously said “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” And thank God a Seattle TV station hired one.

As the mayor ordered police officers and National Guard troops to corral the protesters, fetch them water and and cut their meat for them, there was this guy.

This is what happened next:

He moved on the antifa boy and his buddies so fast, grabbed the stolen AR-15 and ejected the magazine so quickly and efficiently, without looking, that it impressed this retired cop friend who told me he was duly impressed.

The article at PJ Media includes a video of the incident. Had this man not acted swiftly there is a high probability that innocent lives would have been lost.

The Homeless Are A Danger To Themselves And To The Rest Of Us

The once beautiful streets of San Francisco are now littered with needles and human waste. The homeless commit crimes to support various drug habits. Diseases that we have not seen in America for decades are appearing in the community. Who knows how the coronavirus will impact these people. The city does not seem to be able to deal with the problem. Where do you start?

On Tuesday The City Journal posted an article about the homelessness problem. The article reminds us that new data undermines the idea that homelessness is the result of high rents and lack of economic opportunity.

The article reports:

But new data are undermining this narrative. As residents of West Coast cities witness the disorder associated with homeless encampments, they have found it harder to accept the progressive consensus—especially in the context of the coronavirus epidemic, which has all Americans worried about contagion. An emerging body of evidence confirms what people see plainly on the streets: homelessness is deeply connected to addiction, mental illness, and crime.

Homeless advocates argue that substance abuse is a small contributor to the problem, and that no more than 20 percent of the homeless population abuses drugs. Last year, when I suggested that homelessness is primarily an addiction crisis—citing Seattle and King County data that suggested half of homeless individuals suffered from opioid addiction—activists denounced me on social media and wrote letters to the editor demanding a retraction. But according to a recent Los Angeles Times investigation, 46 percent of the homeless and 75 percent of the unsheltered homeless have a substance-abuse disorder—more than three times higher than official estimates from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

In the interest of preventing “stigmatization,” progressives downplay the connection between schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder, and homelessness. In general, cities have claimed that roughly 25 percent to 39 percent of the homeless suffer from mental-health disorders. As new data from the California Policy Lab show, it’s likely that 50 percent of the homeless and 78 percent of the unsheltered homeless have a serious mental health condition. For residents of cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, this should come as no surprise. The people smashing up property and yelling in the streets are clearly suffering from mental illness. The numbers confirm the ground-level reality.

The article concludes:

Residents in the most progressive enclaves of West Coast cities have quietly begun to demand policy changes to address the obvious causes of the homelessness crisis. In San Francisco, city leaders have launched a new initiative to focus on the 4,000 individuals who suffer from the “perilous trifecta” of homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. Mayor London Breed has spoken frankly about the human causes of homelessness, and Anton Nigusse Bland, a physician and director of mental health reform for the city, has pledged to “develop a strategic approach to mental health and substance use services for people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco.”

This is a small but promising step. Especially now, with the threat of an infectious disease becoming a national crisis, it is imperative that city leaders come to grips with the dangers of letting people live in encampments that lack even rudimentary sanitation. We can only hope that this new awareness extends to other cities. For now, more than 100,000 people in California, Oregon, and Washington continue to languish in the streets.

Rhode Island has put in place a program that has been successful in dealing with the problem of homelessness. The problem includes counseling, drug rehabilitation, reintegration into the community and reintegration into family units. The program is a public-private partnership that has been successful in getting many of the homeless reintegrated into society. Similar programs need to be instituted on the west coast. It is a disgrace that America has not done more to help those among us living on the street. Throwing money at the problem or ignoring it is not the answer. It takes a commitment to helping the homeless deal with the mental problems that have resulted in their living on the street.

More Insanity In Our Public Schools

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line Blog about the oppressive nature of mathematics. Barbie said that math class was hard, but I don’t remember her using the word oppressive.

The article reports:

The Seattle public schools have developed a new “ethnic studies” curriculum that tells students that mathematics is a tool of oppression. Sure, some of us thought that back in junior high school, especially when we didn’t get around to doing our homework. But to have this view endorsed by the schools is remarkable. Robby Soave reports at Reason:

The [Seattle public school] district has proposed a new social justice-infused curriculum that would focus on “power and oppression” and “history of resistance and liberation” within the field of mathematics. The curriculum isn’t mandatory, but provides a resource for teachers who want to introduce ethnic studies into the classroom vis a vis math.

Why, exactly, would you introduce “ethnic studies” into mathematics? This is from Education Week:

If adopted, its ideas will be included in existing math classes as part of the district’s broader effort to infuse ethnic studies into all subjects across the K-12 spectrum.

Again: why would a school district do this, unless it is deliberately trying to foment ethnic division? The rot, sadly, is not confined to Seattle:

“Seattle is definitely on the forefront with this,” said Robert Q. Berry III, the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “What they’re doing follows the line of work we hope we can move forward as we think about the history of math and who contributes to that, and also about deepening students’ connection with identity and agency.”

Why is it the mission of the public schools to “deepen students’ connection with identity and agency”? If “identity” means ethnic identity, which I understand it does, I would think the public schools should be trying to do the opposite.

For whatever reason, our education system and our political leaders are more focused on emphasizing the things that divide us rather than the things that unite us. Why not encourage all students to identify as Americans?

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.

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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