The Price of Labor

…is also a cost to labor.  Minimum wage mandates took effect at the start of the year in 18 States and in 20 cities.  These mandates have drastically raised the cost to labor.

Late Monday, casual dining chain Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB) announced that it would eliminate bus boys at 570 restaurant locations, a move that is expected to save the company an estimated $8 million over the course of the coming year. The company’s chief financial officer said the decision was made in order to “address the labor increases we’ve seen.”

Congressional Districts and Gerrymandering

North Carolina’s Congressional districts are illegally drawn, says a special three-judge court.

A special three-judge court invalidated the North Carolina map after finding Republicans adopted it for the driving purpose of magnifying the party’s political power beyond its share of the electorate.

I’ll leave aside the disparate impact sewage that local districts must reflect the larger State’s electorate “demographics.”  The larger problem is with the underlying premise of gerrymandering: that some groups of Americans need their political power enhanced relative to other groups of Americans because some groups are, in some sense, fewer in numbers than other groups.

Northern Korea and Talks

Jonathan Cheng had a piece in the Wall Street Journal that talked about differences in policy held by RoK President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump, especially concerning northern Korea.  He seemed surprised that friends or allies could disagree with each other rather than one simply being a satrap of the other.

Withal, though, I want to comment on one remark he had at the end of his piece.

[Moon suggested that] the end goal of international pressure and sanctions is to “find a way for North Korea to live together in peace with the international community”—a comment that appears at odds with the US goal of denuclearization.

A Federal Judge Has Overstepped

DACA was implemented by Department of Homeland Security memorandum—not even through Rule Making—and it can be removed by the same process or by Executive Order.  There is no legislation being ignored or abused here; this is purely and solely an internal Executive Branch affair.  Alsup is nakedly insinuating himself in what is only—can only be—a political matter and not a judicial one in a blatant violation of Constitutional separation of powers.

Even ex-Progressive-Democratic President Barack Obama (D) confessed he had no Constitutional authority to order the things DACA orders—before he had his DHS Secretary issue her memorandum.

Tax, Tax, Tax

That’s the position of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.  With Great Britain going out from the European Union, Juncker says the remaining nations will have to pony up yet more money “if we are to pursue European policies and fund them adequately[.]”

Currently, the EU budget is capped at 1% of the total of the EU members’ aggregated GDP.  However, it’s not enough, though, that the remaining nations will have to fill the large-ish gap created by the British departure.  Juncker wants yet more.

Yet, even that “have to fill” bit remains unjustified in any concrete terms.

Leadership

Maybe German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is figuring a couple of things out.  Here are a couple of his remarks in an interview with Spiegel Online:

In the past, we could rely on the French, the British and, especially, the Americans, to assert our interests in the world. We have always criticized the US for being the global police, and it was often appropriate to do so. But we are now seeing what happens when the US pulls back. There is no such thing as a vacuum in international politics. If the US leaves the room, other powers immediately walk in. In Syria, it’s Russia and Iran. In trade policy, it’s China. These examples show that, ultimately, we are no longer achieving…the dissemination of our European values nor the advancement of our interests.

Censorship

Three Leftist parties in Germany want to change—to “strengthen”—the nation’s online hate speech law: the Free Democratic Party, the Green Party, and the Left Party.  (FDP claims to be a libertarian-leaning, classical liberal party, but with this move, it exposes itself as being Modern Liberal.)

The current law requires social media companies to police themselves regarding posts someone—anyone—flags as offensive.  This is too much free speech, however.

[FDP General Secretary Nicola] Beer said Germany needed a law similar to the one the FDP proposed before Christmas that would give an “appropriately endowed authority” the right to enforce the rule of law online rather than give private companies the right to determine the illegality of flagged content.

The Obama White House, the Obama DoJ, and Hezbollah

Recall the Politico report on how then-President Barack Obama (D) and his Department of Justice killed an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug dealing because Obama was so desperate for a nuclear weapons deal—any nuclear weapons deal—for his legacy.

Now we’re seeing that Derek Maltz, ex-Special Agent-in-Charge of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, had briefed Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, on Hezbollah’s performance and on the depth of their drug empire’s penetration in the US.  Maltz said that Holder was “very alarmed” by the briefing, and Maltz also said that Holder “promised to set up meetings with national security officials and was almost always ‘supportive’ of his investigations”—and nothing happened.  There was no followup.

Facebook Revamp?

Christopher Mims had a piece on this, that Facebook MFWIC Mark Zuckerberg says he’s interested in doing.  Mims opened his article with an important question:

So here’s the multibillion-dollar question: is Mr Zuckerberg willing to sacrifice revenue for the well-being of Facebook’s two billion-plus users?

Unfortunately, his piece centered on the potentially addictive nature of Facebook (among other virtual, interactive social media).  Important as money is to running a business, and important as addiction is to handle, Mims missed a number of larger questions—which bear on addiction, but not exclusively so.

Time to Visit

Li Kexin, Minister, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America, says

The day that a US Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force[.]

Kaohsiung is a major seaport on the southwest coast of the Republic of China.  Since the PRC now is threatening to invade and conquer a sovereign nation that is an ally and friend of ours, it has become imperative that we do a number of things, including:

  • send a USN combatant ship and a hospital ship to Kaohsiung for a friendly visit