200 Years of History, Summarized

This set of graphs, via Mark Perry at AEIdeas, tells the tale.  The full article is Max Roser‘s at Our World in Data.

The graphs are easier to read in Roser’s article.  Following are Perry’s “captions” for each of the graphs.

  1. In 1820, 90% of the world population lived in extreme poverty vs only 10% today.
  2. In 1820, 83% of the world population had not attained any education vs 14% today.
  3. In 1820, 88% of the world population was illiterate vs only 15% today.
  4. In 1820, 99% of the world population was not living in a democracy vs 44% today.

Labor Under the Radar

Rather, a labor reform bill making its way (too slowly, IMHO) in the House.  The bill has some interesting items in it:

  • require unions to obtain permission from workers to spend their dues on purposes other than collective bargaining
  • mandate a recertification election upon the expiration of a collective-bargaining agreement if a workforce has turned over by more than 50%
  • take card-check off the menu of options for holding a union election
  • allow employees to withhold their personal contact information from unions

What’s not to like?

What’s holding up the bill?

Brexit Works

It’s already paying dividends for the EU in the form of potentially extensive free market reforms as the continent begins to compete with a freed Great Britain for commerce.  Here are some doings in the competition for the financial industry currently centered in Great Britain.

France has promised changes to cut labor costs and Italy is changing its tax regime to make it less burdensome for bankers and other professionals. Spain’s markets regulator is trying to make Madrid more international by hiring native English speakers to revise and edit all communication the agency sends out in English.

Minimum Wage and Automation

Is technology—automation—really going to kill jobs?  No.  As many, including me, have written before, automation is only going to shift the nature of jobs.  Minimum wage laws are killing jobs, and will continue to and at increasing rates, by making robots cost effective despite their high up-front costs.

Wal-Mart, for instance, used to employ humans to track individual stores’ cash and manage their books.  Now at roughly 4,700 Wal-Marts, roughly 4,700 of those employees have been replaced by a machine that can track the books and while counting bills and coins at rates of 480 and 3,000 per minute, respectively.  Because it’s Wal-Mart, those folks, where they’ve wanted to, have taken jobs elsewhere in their store at the same pay, but those jobs are at risk, too.  Cashiers are being replaced by automated check-out stands, for instance.

EPA Jobs?

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent out more than 1,000 buy-out notices to its employees….

The positions are being eliminated, and the incumbents aren’t being offered positions elsewhere on the government’s teat payroll.  The horror.  The union-demanded, if not God-given, sinecures are not sinecures, after all.  American Federation of Government Employees Local 704 President Michael Mikulka is quite vocal with his dismay.

EPA wants over 1,200 of us to leave, purportedly to save money going forward and claiming that they no longer need the positions occupied by staff that in some cases worked at EPA for over 30 years[.]

It’s Time

…to sweep the ones we can’t trust from the Republican Party of Castrati and from Congress.

When Republicans voted on the repeal-only bill in 2015, they knew Mr Obama would veto it, making their vote largely symbolic. Of the GOP senators currently in the chamber, 49 voted for it at the time.  …

Moreover, many GOP lawmakers have already acknowledged that they would vote differently now that the stakes are far higher….

Now that these persons have to take action more concrete than virtue signaling, they’re exposing themselves as porch dogs.  They’re betraying their country, and more specifically, they’re betraying their constituents, to whom they promised for the last seven years, they’d repeal Obamacare and replace it.

A Union

doesn’t like Amazon buying Whole Foods.

[United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President, Marc] Perrone plans to file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, arguing that letting Amazon buy Whole Foods would trigger a wave of store closures and eventually quash customer choice.

With a straight face, he argued in his complaint (which somehow fell into The Washington Post‘s hands before the filing) that

Regardless of whether Amazon has an actual Whole Foods grocery store near a competitor, their online model and size allows them to unfairly compete with every single grocery store in the nation.

Questions for Susan Collins

Susan Collins is the Republican Senator from Maine whose refusal to vote for the health care reform bill on offer (and any of the prior efforts) is centered on her insistence that the bill’s cuts to reductions to growth in Medicaid payments to the States—Maine in particular—are too great.  Collins needs to be asked, and required to give straight, substantive answers to, a number of questions.

What is Maine’s government doing to reduce the costs to its citizens of health care and of health coverage?

What is Maine’s government doing to make health care available to its citizens in the absence of health coverage?

The Cruz Amendment

Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX) has a provision in the latest Senate health bill that’s on offer, one that would allow sellers of actual health insurance to sell non-Obamacare compliant policies on the condition that they also sold Obamacare compliant plans on the ObamaMart.  The idea, and it’s a sound one, is that those plans, better tailored their customers’ needs, would soon have commensurately lower premiums, deductibles, and copays and thereby be more affordable.

Health plan sellers don’t like it, though.

While this setup could offer healthy people less expensive policies, insurers and actuaries say it would likely prove dysfunctional over time, pushing up rates and reducing offerings for people buying the compliant plans.

The PRC and Northern Korea

The People’s Republic of China trade relations with northern Korea appear to be robust and growing, despite efforts by President Donald Trump to get PRC President Xi Jinping to do more to curb his dog.  Imports from northern Korea have actually fallen 13.2% in the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of last year, but exports have risen 29.1%, for a net increase in trade over 10%.

Huang Songping, representing the PRC’s customs agency, said

As neighbors, China and North Korea maintain normal business and trade exchanges[.]