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Economics

Sacramento’s Latest Tax on New Jobs

By 3.30.16

In their infinite wisdom, Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Legislature have come up with five more reasons for California businesses not to hire new workers. They are introducing a bill to raise the state minimum wage gradually by $5 — from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022 (and a year later for small businesses). Methinks Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call for a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage — more than double the current $7.25 floor — has started a bidding war among Democrats who can promise workers increasingly higher wages with other people’s money.

Brown, flanked by Democratic politicians and union officials at Monday’s news conference, declared, “This is a bold proposal.” The deal would make California the “first state” to pass a $15 minimum wage. Democrats are powerless to resist any measure that’s a “first” in the nation. Apparently, they lose no sleep wondering whether perhaps there is a reason no other state has done what they are about to do.

Minimum-wage earners have reason to welcome the news; the deal means a 50 percent pay raise over the next six years. What’s not to like?

Political Hay

Donald and the Intellectual Snobs

By 3.30.16

Public opinion studies during and after the Vietnam War found that the middle-Americans, the blue collar workers, the “hardhats” who most strongly supported the war… actually didn’t. They were not so much pro-war as they were “anti-antiwar” — repulsed by an elitist antiwar movement that radiated contempt for them, their lives, and their values. I think something similar is going on with support for Donald Trump among these same working class voters (or, more accurately, their children and grandchildren).

Live From New York

Tom Wolfe’s View of Trump

By 3.30.16

One of the preeminent chroniclers of the sociological circus that is New York City, Tom Wolfe recently spoke to TAS at his Upper East Side apartment about the Big Apple’s most famous resident turned presidential candidate.

TAS: Having written so much about New York City, the rise of Donald Trump must be a subject of interest to you.

Tom Wolfe: It is. There is a lot of distress and contempt for government and he is capitalizing on that. He has also said a lot of things that are politically incorrect. He comes out and says things like, no more illegal immigrants from Mexico, no more immigrants from Islamic countries, and so on, and a lot of people say, “Hey, yeah, finally, someone has come out and said what I believe.”

Trump is not caught up in the whole ethos of politics. He goes from gaffe to gaffe and it only helps him. I have never seen anything quite like it.

The Current Crisis

Paul Ryan’s Road Ahead

By 3.30.16

The Speaker of the House, the Hon. Paul Ryan, recently expressed his hope for a “confident America.” He went on to say “we don’t shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don’t insult them into agreeing with us.” He spoke of the superiority of persuasion to execration.

Close observers of the Ryan métier thought he was addressing Donald Trump. After listening to the campaigns in both parties, I have a different view. To my mind, Ryan was urging caution on everyone campaigning for the presidency this year. Certainly his remarks were aimed at his fellow Republicans including Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Yet they were also aimed at Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, both of whom whenever they take to the podium disparage Trump, Cruz, Kasich, and forget not the infamous one percent.

Ryan calls for reflection and restraint from both parties. Nonetheless he is in a tricky position. In a year of riotous politics, he has taken a chance of offending the rabble rousers by calling for a sense of restraint. He even has a Tea Partier challenging him back home.

Special Report

Electability Is Not a Four-Letter Word

By 3.30.16

If the average of recent polls showing Donald Trump losing to Hillary Clinton by more than 11 percentage points is correct, you’d have to go back to Ulysses Grant’s 1872 thumping of Horace Greeley to find such a landslide.

Even recent elections that we think of as utter domination (1980 – Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter by 9.7%, 1988 – George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis by 7.7%, 1996 – Bill Clinton over Bob Dole by 8.5%, 2008 – Barack Obama over John McCain by 7.3%) pale in comparison to Trump’s looming loss to Clinton.

Ben Stein's Diary

How Many Laps Do I Have Left?

By 3.29.16

Monday

This morning the sky was a perfect medium blue. There were a few almost circular clouds off to the west over the Santa Rosa Mountains. The golf course was its usual emerald undulating seduction. My pool was a hypnotic blue that matched the sky. Small blue gray tiles carried my feet to the water and then dumped me out into its 88-degree welcome.

This is living. I thought as I swam slowly back and forth. This is why we work when we are young. This is why I used to take the 7th Avenue IRT down to the Wall Street Journal to write editorials and columns when I was a lad. The Journal was fine and cozy and I worked under a man named Jack Cooper who was sarcastic as hell but a funny guy. But the train stank of body odor and had no air conditioning and was a horror show.

Political Hay

John Kerry, GOP Elites, and the Embarrassing Ruling Class

By 3.29.16

The headline was stark: 

John Kerry: Republican Primary Race Is ‘An Embarrassment’

“They don’t know where it’s taking the United States of America.”

 The HuffPo version of this it-went-everywhere story said this:

Secretary of State John Kerry said the Republican presidential primary is “an embarrassment.”

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Kerry said foreign leaders are “shocked” by the rhetoric used in the race, particularly anti-Muslim statements.

“They don’t know where it’s taking the United States of America,” Kerry said. “It upsets people’s sense of equilibrium about our steadiness, about our reliability, and to some degree I must say to you, some of the questions, the way they’re posed to me, it’s clear to me that what’s happening is an embarrassment to our country.”

Main Street U.S.A.

Sanders Is Getting Away With Murder

By 3.29.16

I’ve resisted coming down too hard on the honorable Bernard Sanders of Vermont. He and I grew up in the same era, doubtless mouthing the same songs, watching on the same evenings Richard Boone and Steve McQueen clean up the Old West. By comparison with two Republican presidential candidates I decline to name, Bernie is Mr. Congeniality — which turns out to be a pity. Our friend Mr. Sanders is getting away with bloody murder.

Sanders’ sweep last weekend of caucuses and primaries in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii reveals the disquieting tenacity of the “democratic socialism” he extols, whereby we’re going to rob overstuffed Peter to feed undernourished Paul.

As it happens, governmental redistribution of wealth is the oldest con game in politics. A bit of it, practiced over decades — Social Security and Medicare being the obvious examples — can be borne with until the money runs out. Not so the notion that certain people’s money remains in their keeping only on the government’s sufferance. Such a philosophy turns the “rich,” by whomsoever defined, into the hired hands of government.

Political Hay

Advice for Anti-Trump Super PACs

By 3.29.16

A lot of money has been spent by anti-Trump super PACs with little to show for it. Trump has been nearly impervious to negative advertising because (as I am continually reminded by some of my Trump-supporting friends) his core supporters simply don’t care about Trump University, how Trump manages his resorts, or where his ties are made. They don’t even care that much about policy. What they are attracted to is his carefully crafted and fanatically guarded aura of success, that he pays no heed to political correctness, and the promise that he will sweep away a timid, self-serving “establishment.” Many have a single issue — immigration — and for everything else they have a blind faith that Trump believes what they do, or at least that he will surround himself with “great people” so that Trump’s apparent ignorance or troubling personality issues are really not that important. That may be frustrating to the anti-Trump crowd, but that’s how it is. Negative ads run by nebulous groups only play to Trump’s narrative of being the enemy of the “establishment.”

Why the Brexit Referendum Is Meaningless

By 3.29.16

In less than three months, Britons will choose whether to stay or leave the European Union in a referendum known as Brexit. 

A Yes vote could very well prove to be the beginning of the end of the EU with other member nations following the UK’s lead. If nothing else, it would represent a return to British sovereignty.

But what does it mean for British liberty?

I have no doubt that one Matthew P. Doyle probably would like an answer.

On the morning of March 23, the day after ISIS attacked Brussels killing 31 people, Mr. Doyle, who resides in the London borough of Croydon, tweeted the following:

I confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon yesterday. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said ‘nothing to do with me’. A mealy mouthed reply.

By 9 p.m., Mr. Doyle was in the custody of London Metropolitan Police “on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media.”

Simply put, Matthew P. Doyle was arrested for composing a tweet.

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