Wednesday, 4/20/16

  1. My new favorite parable
  2. One dime’s worth of difference
  3. Put a sock in “steal,” Pat
  4. How dare they?!
  5. Urbanist special pleading
  6. Balaam’s Ass speaks; will we listen?
  7. Reaping the whirlwind
  8. Naked Emperors


I think this has surpassed Harrison Bergeron as my favorite story:

Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

It has risen in my estimation as insane policies have been foisted on a semi-sane but very flaccid electorate.



In a country where the two major parties don’t differ all that much on the economy any more, the minimum wage persists as a point of divergence. Bernie seems to be hectoring Hillary into drinking the $15 KoolAid.

The hundreds of folks now employed at $12 who didn’t get laid off would be thrilled at $15. The people currently at $7.25 will likely be back on the bread lines.

They may not be as well-understood as the law of gravity, but the laws of economics are real, and lavish minimum wage boosts are a kind of crony socialism, picking (if not hand-picking) winners and losers:

One true minimum wage story is that corporations are reaping record profits while pushing down wages of the unskilled. But another true story, embodied in the vast trove of research, is that if you raise the minimum wage too high, you end up punishing less skilled workers. One study found the modest hike in the national minimum wage between 2006 and 2009 reduced employment among young people without a high school degree by almost 6 percent.

(David Brooks)


My first reaction to Pat Buchanan’s Tuesday’s pro-Trump column was “Put a sock in it, Pat.” I queued up that exact sentiment in Hootsuite, then quickly deleted it upon further reading.

Yes, Pat, put a sock in the idea that only Trump is a legitimate nominee in Cleveland. And stop saying “steal” for behavior that party rules allow and that is pretty standard issue representative governance. That’s deliberately shrill and incendiary. It’s also tiresome.

But I’ve got to think he’s right, or very close to right, about Cruz as the alternate to Trump. Yes, Cruz has his enthusiasts, including among my friends. But nominating him on the second ballot just wouldn’t pass the smell test. Maybe on the 20th ballot, if no White Knight rides in. But what White Knight would the Trumpistas see as anything but “same old same old”? Cruz is the outsidest of the remaining GOP field, is he not? And isn’t that what the Trumpistas want?


The Lakewood/Toms River area has seen exponential population growth in recent years, almost all of it Hasidic. And they inhabit their homes in a way that disrupts suburban sensibilities. Observant Jews are forbidden to operate machinery or conduct business on the Sabbath. Consequently they live in tight knit communities within walking distance of Temples, Yeshivas (religious schools), and extended family.

In an urban environment everyone walks everywhere and it’s perfectly normal for buildings to house more than one family and for residential and non residential activities to coexist in the same structure. The Hasidim have adapted to the suburban landscape by taking large single family homes and occupying them as if they were small city apartment buildings with ground floor shops.

Why not conduct religious services in the grand living room ? Why not convert the three car garage to extra bedrooms for the kids? Why not operate a home business in the bonus room? Why not run a day care center in the basement and back yard? Why not rent out rooms? Why not manage a Kosher catering service from the giant kitchen?

All this infuriates the neighbors who point out that all of these activities are absolutely illegal. How dare people use their homes for productive activities? That’s low class. It’s unhealthy. It’s dangerous. People left big cities to escape such things. It will drive down property values …

The non-Orthodox population cries foul and insists that the rules are being perverted and exploited by an insular clique with no regard for outsiders. But it’s the same basic arrangement the white majority has always used with ethnic minorities, except now middle class whites are on the receiving end and they don’t like it one bit. In the end it’s easier to move away than fight the Hasidic machine.

(Granola Shotgun, Retrofitting Suburbia Hasidic Style)


When most urbanists talk about local control, what they really mean is local freedom to implement more progressive policies, but never the freedom to choose less progressive ones. It’s another form of special pleading.

Red state politicians are doing nothing different from what the urban left would do if they had control of those states, and in fact is doing in the blue states they do control.

If the bag ban advocates in Bloomington were a majority in the Indiana General Assembly, would they hesitate for even a moment to pass a statewide ban? To ask this question is to answer it.

So long as American politics is dominated by a winner takes all dynamic, not just in red states but also in blue ones and in Washington, all I can say is that urbanites in these red states had better get used to it – or move to a more congenial locale where the state preempts localities the way they would prefer it to.

(Aaron Renn, Is There Really a Red State “War on Cities”?)


Every Sunday, my parish (and many Orthodox parishes of Russian leaning) sing “put not your trust in princes, in sons of men in whom there is no salvation.”

Balaam’s ass got nuthin’ on James Howard Kunstler, who every Monday drives that point home about princes.


Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.


Naked Emperors

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

One thought on “Wednesday, 4/20/16

  1. When I arrived in Australia in 1963, the legally enforceable minimum adult* male** wage was set and revised from time to time (annually? I don’t remember) by an independent tribunal to which government, and representatives of employers and employees made submissions. The governing principle was that one (male) wage earner should be able to provide for a wife and two children.

    I’m not sure that that tribunal still exists (I no longer live in Australia), but Fair Work Australia sets the national minimum wage, which, from July 1, 2015, was A$17.29 (US$13.36); but States are free to set their own higher minimum wages, and many do. Overtime rates are payable for work in excess of 38 hours per week and for work outside certain hours. Full-time employees are entitled to two weeks of paid sick leave and four weeks of paid annual leave, plus ten paid public holidays per year. Part-time employees get a higher hourly rate to compensate for not getting paid leave.

    The Australian economy does not seem to be suffering from such wage policies.

    * “Adult” is 21 and over. Younger employees get a specified percentage of the adult rate.

    ** Until some time in the 1970s the female rate was set at 75% of the male rate.

Comments are closed.