Badly served

Thomas Lifson: Jason Riley’s False Black Power published today – “Riley believes that America’s African-American community has been badly served by the emphasis on achieving political power as a means to advance. Much more important, in his view, are the “skills, habits, and values” (p.43) that are necessary to personal ambition and achievement.” Political power is process. Skills, habits, and values are product.

It is not a message that will be received eagerly by nearly all of the political class that believes itself to represent black political interests. They are invested deeply in the victimology narrative in which all the troubles of blacks are attributable to white racism.

What makes this book shine is the clarity of its logic and accessibility of its writing style.

This is a dangerous book for Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Keith Ellison. I have a genuine question over how many blacks will be among its readership. It is deeply subversive, so ought to have considerable appeal. Then fact that it is available for 6 bucks on Kindle ought to encourage them to give it a try. All that is necessary is for Jesse J to denounce it in the harshest terms.

SCOTUS also hit the news with several decisions. It was 9-0 to strike down the appellate courts efforts to elevate campaign rhetoric to legally binding status. That unanimity, it appears, required carving a hole for those with relationships in the U.S. This exception received the objection of three justices but does highlight the issue of jurisdiction of the courts. It will be argued down the road.

Another case ruled 7-2 that active discrimination against religious schools is improper. Gorsuch wrote: “The general principles here do not permit discrimination against religious exercise — whether on the playground or anywhere else.”

A decision not to hear a 2nd amendment case upheld the idea that a state can deny a concealed carry permit unless convinced there is an extraordinary need for self defense. That guts the right.

Mark Perry on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage studies – “In an important article in the Seattle Weekly, Daniel Person summarizes the situation in Seattle pretty well in the title of his exposé “The City Knew the Bad Minimum Wage Report Was Coming Out, So It Called Up Berkeley,”

There’s an old joke that economics is the only field where two people can win the Nobel Prize for saying the exact opposite thing. However, by all appearances these two takeaways on Seattle’s historic minimum wage law are not a symptom of the vagaries of a social science but an object lesson in how quickly data can get weaponized in political debates like Seattle’s minimum wage fight. In short, the Mayor’s Office knew the unflattering UW report was coming out, and reached out to other researchers to kick the tires on what threatened to be a damaging report to a central achievement of Ed Murray’s tenure as mayor.

if Seattle’s risky experiment with a $15 an hour minimum wage represents the “canary in the coal mine” for cities around the country that want to increase their minimum wages to $15 an hour, those cities may want to hold off for a few years to get a final count of the “dead canaries” in Seattle before proceeding.

Walter Olson has more on the NBER: Seattle minimum wage hike hurt low-wage workers

When Seattle’s City Hall got word the adverse study was coming from members of its own research team, it quickly commissioned a pro-labor group at Berkeley to do a counter-study looking at restaurants and concluding that everything was peachy keen [Seattle Weekly] “Does City Hall really want to know the consequences, or does it want to put blinders on and pat itself on the back?” [Seattle Times editorial]

One other takeaway from the NBER: the low-wage-earner losses weren’t in restaurant jobs, which are far less mobile. Few Seattle city residents will switch to suburban eateries for everyday dining, even in response to relative shifts in cost or quality. But many blue-collar and clerical jobs can migrate to suburbs or locations farther away than that. In short, beware of restaurant-sector-only studies of local minimum wage effects, which will typically understate damage to hours worked.

This gets to the core of much modern ‘debate’ as it isn’t about reality but about finding something, anything, to try to squish reality into ideological fantasies. Fundamental implications are often ignored, obfuscated, or bypassed. In this case, the real question is where the money is going to come from in order to raise the minimum wage.

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