Shrinking the Federal Government

…is more than just reducing spending; although that’s a major component of the necessary shrinkage.  Shrinking also must include reducing the physical size of the government, reducing its payroll.  To that end, the moves by President Donald Trump and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will prove valuable if Congress will cooperate.

Robot Employment Acts

That’s what Andy Puzder, the ex-CEO of CKE Restaurants, calls minimum wage laws.

In a survey released last month, the publication Nation’s Restaurant News asked 319 restaurant operators to name their biggest challenge for 2017. Nearly a quarter of them, 24%, said rising minimum wages.

And so we get:

McDonald’s said last November that it would install self-order kiosks in all 14,000 of its US restaurants. Wendy’s announced in February it would add kiosks at about 1,000 locations to “appeal to younger customers and reduce labor costs.”

Port Automation

It’s coming to west coast ports, and the unions don’t like it.

The push over the last decade by international maritime ports to fully automate operations has sparked the ire of many US longshoremen whose high-paying jobs and way of life are at stake. The trend also sets up a battle between their unions and companies and governments who see automation as a cleaner, more efficient and more cost-friendly alternative to the current system.

Never mind that west coast ports—three in particular, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland—do 40% of the nation’s (not just the west coast’s) container traffic and so costs there have sharp impact on the nation’s economy.

A Thought on Free Trade

…which I’ll assume for this post is structured between participant nations as fair trade, since it’s possible to have free and unfair trade, and it’s unfair trade that should be anathema.  Not all free trade is unfair; the parameters of any trade agreement, parameters that make the trade fair or unfair, are matters of mutual agreement (or perhaps not so mutual in the case of unfairness) among those participants.

Don Boudreaux triggered my thought with his piece in US News & World Report.

The Left Gives the Game Away

Again.  Buried at the bottom of a Wall Street Journal piece on the auto industry’s effort to get the Obama administration’s last-minute (almost literally) attempt to make permanent fuel standards (also last minute because the underlying research wasn’t even going to be complete until 2018) is this rationale from Roland Hwang, at the National Resources Defense Council’s Director, Energy & Transportation Program, as paraphrased by the WSJ.

relaxing standards could hurt Americans depending on clean-car technology jobs.

Because EPA regulations are all about creating jobs and not about mitigating pollution.

Foolish

Bill Gates, the co-founder of  Microsoft and world’s richest man, said in an interview Friday that robots  that steal human jobs should pay their fair share of taxes.

He said, and he was serious,

Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, Social Security tax, all those things.  If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.

A Terrible Nightmare for Bureaucrats

Here’s Joe Pizarchik, ex- Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Director in the Interior Department, for all of the Obama years:

My biggest disappointment is a majority in Congress ignored the will of the people.  They ignored the interests of the people in coal country, they ignored the law and they put corporate money ahead of all that.

Wow.  Just wow.  Because the people, exercising their will in electing the majority of Congress—all the members of Congress, come to that, every single one of them—had their will ignored when the majority that they elected executed on their will by rejecting a bad regulation.

A National Parental Leave Policy

AEI has a piece on this; unfortunately, their piece proceeds from some false premises.

Developing a National Paid Parental Leave Policy

It’s interesting that folks of a bent proceed from such claims. They always decline to establish, for instance, that we need a national policy for parental leave. It’s such a widespread failure that I have to conclude it’s deliberately Alinsky-esque in its attempt to control the discussion.

The United States is one of two countries without a national policy providing new mothers with rights to paid leave following the birth of a child.

Some Context For The Latest Headline Unemployment Rate

Here are some graphs, via The Wall Street Journal, that show why that headline rate of 4.6% isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.outdidelaborforce

The WSJ emphasized two points here, aside from the fact that this age group being outside the labor force has nothing to do with retirement or being in school:

First, a small but ever growing minority of 25-54-year-old men are no longer in the labor force. In the 1960s, just 2.7% of men that age were outside the labor force. As of November, it’s 11.5%.

Federal Green Expenditures

Watts Up With That has some ideas for budget cutting in the next administration.  Or, actually, these ideas come from Salon (!) via WUWT (never mind that cutting isn’t what Salon meant).

  • Energy Department

2017 climate-related budget: $8.5 billion

  • Interior Department

2017 climate-related budget: $1.1 billion

  • State Department

2017 climate-related budget: $984 million

  • NASA

2017 climate-related budget: $1.9 billion

  • Environmental Protection Agency

2017 climate-related budget: $1.1 billion

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

2017 climate-related research and development: $190 million

That works out to $13.8 billion of “useless waste.”  Yes, indeedy.