I am Shocked, Shocked

Recall Amazon.com’s playing off of several cities against each other in order to maximize the tax breaks and other returns that company might get for building its second headquarters in the “winning” city.  Now we discover this in the offing:

US cities vying for Amazon.com Inc’s second headquarters risk facing an unexpected consequence to victory: other companies will demand the same hefty tax breaks conferred on the online retail giant.

How amazing is that?  Other companies want in on the goodies.

I’m not shocked at that; I’m shocked that those cities’ managers didn’t see this coming.  Their lack of anticipation speaks poorly of their ability to respond to those demands.

Agency Fees

These are fees unions in a raft of jurisdictions are allowed to charge non-union members as a condition of those workers’ right to work at all.  Ostensibly, the fees are for the unions’ labor efforts in negotiating wages, benefits, and working conditions for everyone in the workplace.  The Supreme Court is considering a case, Janus v AFSCME, concerning whether such fees are constitutional.

It’s already the case that

Agency fees already are forbidden from paying for advocacy and other political activity.

Against Their Own Interest

Fast food workers began protesting yesterday, demanding higher wages and the right to join a union.  Ashley Cathey, a 29-year-old Memphis fast food person, had this:

Fast-food cooks and cashiers like me are fighting for higher pay and union rights, the same things striking sanitation workers fought for 50 years ago.  We’re not striking and marching just to commemorate what they did—we’re carrying their fight forward. And we won’t stop until everyone in this country can be paid $15 an hour and has the right to join a union.

Deep States, Bureaucrats, and Incumbency

Whether the current idea of a Deep State plotting against the current administration is accurate or not, it has been clear for some period of years that bureaucrats who have been in Federal employ for too long become entrenched and begin working at cross purposes with those of their agency bosses.  The latter, being political appointees, are, at least indirectly, selected by the Federal government’s employer, us citizens.

While we can cure the overt incumbency problem of our politicians by electing others in their stead, the incumbency of bureaucrats, none of them elected, is both generally unseen and harder to correct.

More Jobs

JP Morgan Chase says it’s going to spend its tax cut savings to

develop hundreds of new branches in the US, increase wages and benefits for hourly US employees, make increased small business and mortgage lending commitments, add 4,000 jobs, and increase philanthropic investments.

Nor is this a one-shot affair.  It’s a five year, $20 billion investment.  So much for pocketing the money and cutting out charity work, the loud Leftist refrain during the debates over tax reform.

Martin Feldstein Thinks the Markets are Headed for a Fall

He’s right, to an extent.  The Price-Earnings ratio for aggregated publicly owned businesses is at historic highs.  His reasoning centers on four factors: the Fed’s raising of its benchmark interest rates, which will make money cost more for businesses; the Fed’s reducing its own government bond holdings, which will contribute to upward pressure on interest rates generally; the Federal government’s needing to borrow to cover its still enormous deficits; and heretofore easy money has made the labor market too tight.



Kentucky has decided to take advantage of new Federal Medicaid rules and add a work requirement to those receiving Medicaid payments in order for them to be eligible for continued payments.  Recipients in the typical working age range of 19-64 must do 80 hours—two weeks—of what the State terms “community engagement.”  There are, of course, exceptions for those who cannot work.

As Kentucky’s governor Matt Bevin (R) noted in his tweet about his decision to approve the new rule,

There is dignity associated with earning the value of something that you receive. The vast majority of men and women, able-bodied men and women … they want the dignity associated with being able to earn and have engagement.

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.”

A Thought on Student Loans

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is taking steps to redress the Obama administration travesty of a student loan program, but these can only be interim steps and by themselves are entirely insufficient.

Unfortunately, the student loan programs are entirely dysfunctional and want complete revamping. My high-level suggestions:

  1. student loan discharge only via bankruptcy, no special treatment of these loans
  2. let schools and students write their own loan agreements, including interest rates and payback provisions, without Government interference
  3. hold those schools and students to those agreements
  4. if Government guarantees any student loans, do so IAW the following:

Paul Krugman Struck Again

An oldie but goodie that demonstrates the awesome durability of the New York Times‘ writer’s acumen.  Uncovered by my wife.