Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Perverse Tribute To The Excesses Of the 1980s And American Consumerism

Abandoned shopping malls.  Let's hope that some of the materials now rotting away on these sites can be recycled in some productive way, though I'm inclined to doubt it. 

How Bad Is The Problem Of Banking Power Over All Of Us?

This bad.

Why School Vouchers Are Grossly Overrated

They don't produce the results they supposedly are guaranteed to produce.  All they do is provide subsidies to schools that neither need nor deserve them.

Could Medicaid Be A 2014 Election Issue?

Maybe, if the Democrats have the spine to make it one.  It's not as if they don't have ammunition.  Look here, here, and here

Medicine Cooler Than "Star Trek"'s?

It seems that that could be where we're headed.  We may not have warp drive or transporters, but we will have this.

Thanks For Putting Your Life on the Line, But We Want to Deport Your Spouse

That about sums up where House Republicans are on the subject of immigration reform.  When it comes to the undocumented, there are no mitigating circumstances.  Not even putting your life on the line for a country that, "legally," isn't even "yours."

The rule of law is meant to serve the ends of justice, and the ends of justice always include mercy where mercy is deserved, to say nothing of being earned.  Dear God(s) in heaven, is there no relief from a GOP that has no priorities but itself?

And So It Begins

Evacuation due to climate change.  Get ready, Florida; you may not be far behind.  Ditto for all of us.

Good Luck, Vermont

We desperately need single-payer health insurance, and, if you can lead the way, so much the better.

You'll Never Find A Better Anti-Gay Response Than This Commercial

If you have not already seen this, you owe it to yourself to take a look.  And, after that, you owe it to yourself to share it with everyone.  Even the anti-gay folks you know.  They need to see it the most.

How Do You Know That Obamacare Is Here To Stay?

When Republicans work to fix it, that's how.

The Opponents Of Wind Power Are Full Of Hot Air

It's already having a beneficial impact.  Take a look.

We're A Common-Law Nation--And Liberals Should Take Advantage Of It

As much as I despair over the persistent increase in climate change, and our seeming inability to do anything about it, I was equally overjoyed when I saw this article, about a group of young people operating under the name of Our Children's Trust and suing federal agencies over their failure to address the effects of climate change.  They are doing so using a novel theory of law:  the "public trust doctrine," a guarantee derived from Roman law that public resources will be safeguarded by government for the benefit of future generations.

Part of the argument being made by the petitioners is that the public trust doctrine is an aspect of sovereignty that is implicit in our Constitution.  Given the roots of the doctrine in Roman law, this may be a bit of a stretch.  Roman law, or civil law in general--that is, a legal system where statutes and not judicial decisions are the final authority--is not explicitly referenced or incorporated into the Constitution.  However, the common law--or "judge-made law," as it is sometimes called--is incorporated into it, explicitly by way of the Seventh Amendment:

          In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, 
          the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be 
          otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules 
          of the common law(Emphasis added.)

It's always puzzled me how conservatives insist that judges in the United States are meant to enforce the law, and not interpret or create it, when the common-law judicial obligation to do so is enscribed in our most basic legal document.  John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the United States, made that point in his opinion deciding the first major case in constitutional law, Marbury v. Madison:

          It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. 
          Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret 
          that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of

So, whether conservatives like it or not, judges due in fact have the power to "make" the law.  And, given the way the Supreme Court has operated under John Roberts as Chief Justice, they don't seem to be too terribly upset about.  I will leave it to the reader to determine whether this reflects simple hypocrisy, or a long-term strategy on the part of conservatives to deny the advantages of the common-law system to their liberal opponents and, ultimately, appropriate it for themselves.

I will, however, say this much:  if it reflects the latter, then liberals should have no hesitation at all to engage in creative litigation, as the petitioners of Our Children's Trust our doing.  There is plenty of room for this, and it may be the case that, in an otherwise deadlocked political system, this type of litigation offers our best chance to make real progress on progressive priorities across the board.  For my part, I would love to see someone argue before the Supreme Court that the Thirteenth Amendment nullifies the Second Amendment, as the latter was only created to protect the slave patrols.  What better way to defeat conservatism than to use its own tortured logic against it?

So, let's get going.  To paraphrase JFK, let us not litigate out of fear, but let us never fear to litigate.  That's how much of our progress has been achieved.  And, today, it may be the best avenue for progress that we have.

Look To Kansas As Well As Connecticut

I have previously written about Connecticut's decision to increase the minimum wage, and how it effectively makes Connecticut, and other states that have taken the same step, laboratories for studying the effects of such increases on personal income, employment and the overall state of local economies.  I have not, however, written about states that have gone in a different and somewhat oppositional direction--enacting outsized tax cuts in favor of residents with high incomes.  These states have effectively become the ultimate laboratories for supply-side economics, the philosophy based on the idea that wealth is created at the top of the economic pyramid, and then "trickles down" to the rest of us.

Well, how's that working out?  If you ask folks in Kansas, one of the most reflexively conservative states in the nation, not particularly well.  Tax revenue is falling, public services are shrinking, people with little or no income are becoming increasingly desperate--and, alas, the promised economic growth is not happening.  Wealth is not trickling down in Kansas.  In all probability, it's flowing out of the state and even out of the country, to the real beneficiaries of low rates to those at the top--overseas tax shelters.

This, of course, happened at the federal level in the 1980s, when Reagan and his congressional cronies did exactly the same thing.  But they were able to sell their snake-oil in part by assuring people that state governments would benefit from all of the extra revenue that would magically spring from those tax cuts, and that local officials, closer to the problems of the people, would use that money far more wisely that Washington-based bureaucrats could or would.

We have, sadly, seen what supply-side economics have done on a national level.  Thanks to the unquestioned acceptance of this wretched philosophy by all Republicans and far too many Democrats, we are no longer the envy of the world--in fact, we are not even remotely close.  We are outranked by countries with less national wealth than ours--but who spend that wealth on all of the people, and not a fraction of them.  The Kansas "experiment," to put it politely, demonstrates the full extent of that disaster when the philosophy that makes it possible is carried all the way down the ladder of federalism.  With no level of government to cushion the blows of everyday life, we become a society that is punching itself to death.

If Kansas can find a way to learn from this, and take corrective action--i.e., electing local officials who care more about the citizens of the state then they do about their campaign contributors--it just might be a sign that their is hope for the rest of the nation.  It just might be the end to our long, national nightmare of trickle-down terror.  It just might prove Winston Churchill right when he said "You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing--after they have tried everything else."

Kansas' track record in elections doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, but it hasn't stopped me from hoping for the best.  And even if the worst is what we get instead, locally and as a nation, we will have sadly earned the destruction we have brought on ourselves.

I Miss Being A Born-Again Christian Too--But Here's How To Deal With It

Like Jessica Misener, the author of this BuzzFeed article, I used to be a born-again Christian.  And, at times, I miss certain aspects of it greatly--in particular, the friendships I cultivated during that time.  Unlike Ms. Misener, I stuck with it for twice as long as she did--twelve years, to be precise, from the ages of 18 to 30.  But, like her, I abandoned it when I reached a point at which my mind could no longer accept much of the dogma I had been fed during that period, frequently on the most dubious of Biblical grounds.  Like her, I came to understand that true power comes from knowledge--and that knowledge, and the spirit of inquiry that supports its acquisition, are not things to be avoided and feared, but should be wholeheartedly embraced and enjoyed on a lifelong basis.

But I can relate very powerfully to the void she feels about having lost the sense of mission and purpose that being an evangelical gave to her.  Let me offer her, and others in her position, a few words of helpful advice, based on my own experience in walking away from God--and, later on, walking back toward Him, Her, It or Them again.

From the moment of my own conversion experience as a college freshman, which was an outcropping of my involvement with a January-term Bible study in my dorm, it was drummed into my head that any thoughts I had for my own interests and intentions were not God's will, but came either from my own sinful nature or the Devil.  This led me down a path in which I would often act against my own best interests, both in career choices and in dating, because I was absolutely convinced that, if I wanted something, that "something" could not possibly be God's will for me.

Oddly enough, the negative effects of this didn't deter me.  My evangelical friends would simply remind me that, like the great spiritual figures of Scripture, I was no doubt being prepared for some great destiny.  And they would volunteer to pray for me.  Not help me, mind you, when I needed a job or a companion.  Just pray for me.  Because prayer "works wonders."  To say nothing of the fact that it's easier and more convenient that actually providing help.

All this led me to a professional and personal dead end a few months after my 30th birthday.  It was Christmas, and I was about to be fired from a dead-end job.  I had no family of my own, no career prospects, the contempt of my parents, not even a church that really made me feel welcome.  I was in complete despair, until I realized I had a choice.  Instead of defying my instincts and desires, I could find a way to trust them, and act upon them.  If my life was destined to be a failure, then at the very least it would be a failure on my own terms--not on the terms of a God who had seemingly deserted me.

That was slightly more than 27 years ago.  Since then, I became a lawyer, passed the bar in three jurisdictions, got married, became a stepfather (and, now, a stepgrandfather), build a career in State government and helped found a law firm with my wife, who fulfilled a lifelong dream by going to law school at night during the early years of our marriage.  Along the way, I learned the best way to deal with one's desires and goals--which is not to destroy them, but to express them in ways that benefit others around you.  Self-interest and altruism are not mutually exclusive; they can work hand-in-hand, and are at their best when they do so.  I've made mistakes in the process, but I've learned from them.  And, in the process, I've found the faith to pray again.  My prayers now are more contemplative, less dogmatic, and balance personal concerns with the concerns of the world around me.

Ultimately, that is the best advice I can give to you, Ms. Misener, and those in your position.  Live your life.  Do what interests you without fear or shame, so long as you don't hurt others.  Look for ways to find the intersection of your needs and interests, and those of others.  If you do those things, you'll find that void you feel will get filled up very quickly.  And, along the way, I hope you'll discover as I have that the best way to hold on to God's hand is with a looser grip.

Reparations: An Alternative To Affirmative Action?

For over a decade, I've listened to and discussed the case for and against reparations as a means of addressing the long-term effects of the injustices dealt to African Americans.  I've never had a problem with the basis for the argument in favor of reparations--that African Americans, due to slavery, segregation and pervasive bigotry, were cheated out of the full economic benefits of their work and sacrifices.  But the logistical problems of implementing such a problem are enormous, and seem at first glance unsolvable.  There are two basic questions:  who gets the reparations, and how much should we pay?

The first question generates its own difficult questions.  Do we make payments to individuals, or families?  Do we investigate family histories, to determine whether some have suffered more than others?  Do we have a cut-off point for determining when the effects of racism have ended?  And, if we do, what should that cut-off point be?  The decision in Brown vs. Board of Education?  The enactment of the Civil Rights Act?  The election of President Obama?

And the same applies to the question of "how much."  If we measure the answer in dollars, and allow for the potential of interest and other effects of investment--capital gains, new discoveries, advancements in productivity and so on--it's clear that the cost is enormous, no matter how you try to calculate it.  This, of course, brings to mind the problem of damages in our common-law system of redressing injuries.  We can never restore the status quo ante in most cases, so we attempt to come up with a sum that reflects as best we can our outrage at the injury, in addition to helping the injured make the most of their altered lives.

In short, reparations may be a solution, but far from an easy one.  This recent article does a excellent job of supporting the case for making reparations, and summing up the difficulties in doing so.  More importantly, it suggest that overcoming those difficulties may not be impossible.  There may, in fact, be forms of reparations that are not strictly monetary, such as greater enforcement of existing laws, or ending programs such as the so-called "war on drugs" that are inherently discriminatory in effect.   As for monetary reparations, they could be broken down to address different effects of racism--from housing vouchers to investment programs designed to generate income for reparations.

Maybe reparations can be a way of getting past the debate about affirmative action programs, and the question of whether such programs operate mechanically to aid individuals who don't need it, while blocking the progress of those who do.  However well designed and well intended such programs were, it is clear that they no longer have the political support (or, at least, tolerance) they once received.  It is also no less clear that the racism affirmative action was designed to address still exists.

But what is equally clear, as the Slate author points out, is that we need a path to a national reckoning with the original sin of slavery, the sin that is baked into our national birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence.  We need to formally acknowledge the wrong that has been done, and find a way to pay for it.  This is where Chief Justice John Roberts is grievously wrong.  The way to end discrimination on the basis of race is not simply to end it.  It is to acknowledge how it was created, and the fact that it must-and will--be paid for by those who have benefited from it.

The VA Debacle May Not Be As Bipartisan As I Thought

At least, Mother Jones thinks not.  Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me.  Republicans love to hide behind images of living, healthy troops, and then hide what war does to them.  Remember this?  Or, worse, this?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Think This Is A Guaranteed Republican Year?

Don't be too sure.  Democrats may not have given up yet; they are at least showing that there's value in fighting even when their backs are to the wall.  Take a look.

Thank God For Sane Republicans

The ones who are leaving their party.  Thank you, sir.  I hope there are many more men and women like you.

Forget About Discrediting Piketty

Thomas Piketty's critique of inequality in "Capital in the 21st Century" has recently run into criticism in the Financial Times for alleged issues with its math.  I'll leave it up to Paul Krugman to dispose of that criticism.  But, even if the criticism was fair, the world we live in is raising the same issues Piketty is raising.  Here's proof.

Sorry, guys and gals on the right.  Piketty isn't the problem.  Your bad ideas are.

Why We Need Public Financing Of ALL Elections

It's the only way to avoid government run by the highest bidder.  In other words, to avoid "the Sheldon primary."  And no, I'm not talking about "The Big Bang Theory" when I say that.

And, Speaking Of A "Market" For Prisoners ...

... that's exactly what Congress has created for deportees.  My thanks to my friend and colleague, Susan Pai, for bringing this to light.

Privatization Is Never A Free Lunch

Ultimately, it does more harm than good.  And there may be no greater example than privatized prisons.  Privatized prisons merely create a "market" for prisoners.  That should terrify all of us more than "socialized" medicine (which has been "socialized" for decades) ever should.

The Real VA Scandal

The recent news stories concerning mismanagement in the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has already claimed the Department's Secretary, Eric Shinseki, as a political casualty, have elicited a predictably two-faced response from Republican lawmakers and the conservative chattering classes.  The former have expressed well-manicured "outrage," with a call for investigations that will run from now to Election Day (conveniently), while the latter have reacted with the sort of glee normally seen in children on Christmas morning.  This glee takes a number of ugly forms; personally, I find this one to be the most repugnant.  (If there's any "gift from God" here, it's Dr. Carson himself; he proves that even a great hospital like Johns Hopkins can make mistakes).

That there was mismanagement at VA is beyond doubt.  But there are two aspects of that mismanagement that form the heart of the true "scandal" here.  First VA has been mismanaged for decades, in no small part because we as a nation have never made the commitment that any nation should always make to those who put their lives on the line for it.  That's why, from a purely political perspective, turning VA's problems into a political club against Obama is not only dishonest, it is also deeply hypocritical--in light of the fact that, when it comes to budget cutting, VA is one of congressional Republicans' favorite spots to visit

Contrasted to the money they spent looking for non-existent weapons of mass destruction, this is a disgrace.  But make no mistake:  at the present time, it is a Republican disgrace.  They sadly give new meaning to the old quote, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute".  They could, of course, easily cut overall spending AND free up funds for VA.  But that would upset too many defense contractors--the ones that help pay the Republicans' political bills.  And it wouldn't play well into the basic Republican political strategy:  micromanage Obama's responsibility to execute the laws, while not giving him the money to carry it out.

And the rest of the scandal?  Well, I can illustrate that simply by referring back to the "wisdom" of the good Dr. Carson.  What Christian--for that matter, what person of any faith or simple decency--would treat a tragedy such as this as a "gift from God"?  Not someone who believes in God as being something other, or more, than a tribune for the GOP and conservatism.  Not someone who follows the Jesus of the New Testament, who built His ministry around those who suffered the most for the least reason.  Not someone who follows the Old Testament injunctions to look after the poor and needy amongst us.

Dr. Carson doesn't have the political instincts or, I suspect, the common sense to realize what he's done with his deeply offensive observation.  He's exposed modern conservatism as standing for nothing bigger than itself, and its ability to control everything outside of it.  It is why conservatism has, over the past several decades, disintegrated in this country from an honorable desire to not throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water to an almost onanistic worship to dominate everything.  To rule, rather than to govern.

Sadly, until conservatism changes, and until the Republicans thereafter understand that there is no walking away from spending whatever it takes to care for those who gave whatever we asked, VA will never be able to function the way it should.  The harm our veterans suffer in the process is terrible.  The fate of our nation as a result may be even worse.  The world may yet find that that the ultimate "gift from God" here is the end of the United States--one more dead empire that failed to stop the rot from within.

The Road To The Center Now Runs To The Left

When I started this blog five years ago, I did so with a commitment to operate under the premise that, although a committed progressive, I would deal fairly with the other side of the debate.  I have strived, however imperfectly, to do so.  But, from time to time, it raises in my mind the question of whether there is any value in trying to steer the political debate toward some sort of "centrist" position, as Thomas Friedman is so fond of doing in his New York Times column.

It does so in part because, in my own personal evolution, I have not been a knee-jerk liberal by any means.  In the 1970s, during New York's fiscal crisis, I saw the need to cut both spending and taxes as a way of putting both the State and the City on a sound financial footing--one that would ensure that the commitment of both to the disadvantaged could be maintained for decades to come.  Around the same time, as I began to get more interested in Broadway and the professional theater in general, I was appalled by the union work rules that wasted time and money for producers, theater-owners, and audiences.  Finally, this was the period when I began my evangelical walk of faith--and, in the process of doing so, began to wonder if the "anti-" side of the abortion argument didn't have a point or two.  Should abortion be a form of birth control?  Does that not ultimately harm the mothers who opt to have abortions, and perhaps also deprive the world of men and women who might help it enormously?  Those are not easy questions with easy answers--and I still feel that way, even though I have ultimately come down on the side of letting the mothers answer those questions.

All of this was somewhat new to me, because I was born to and raised by a pair of New Deal Democrats whose commitment to their politics knew few, if any, exceptions.  Like most children, I reflexively accepted their political views as my own, simply because they were my parents views.  But, as I moved from high school to college to full-time employment, I began to form my own views.  And, though my voting tendencies did not stray very far from those of my parents, I began to understand what I still believe today--that neither "side" holds a monopoly on the best solutions to our problems as a society and a nation.  In fact, that was why Jimmy Carter was a good political fit for me, religiously and politically.  Then and now, he seemed to understand, as JFK did, that the best solution is not always the Democratic or Republican solution.

But then came Reagan, and Bush, and Gingrich, and another Bush.  And, along with them, came a conservative movement of pundits and fundraisers and special-interest groups.  All together, they seemed to make no distinction between the conservative solution and the best solution.  As a consequence, conservatism, over the past 35 years, has somehow come to be the only option for people looking to find meaning in the "center."  And that fact, more than any other, is the main reason the center can no longer hold.  Gun rights are but one of many issues where conservative stubbornness (and, sadly, liberal fussiness about seeming "unbiased") have dragged the center very far in the wrong direction, toward a world in which open-carry is the norm, and those who don't want guns in their lives don't have the right to exclude them anywhere.

Finding the center isn't always a question of half-a-loaf to each side, especially when each side isn't really getting half a loaf.  Movement conservatism has adopted Trent Lott's math when it comes to splitting the proverbial difference--90% for the right, 10% for the left.  That's the reason our political system seems to be out of balance--it is out of balance.

And that's why, if you want to get to the center, the real center, the only road to get there runs to the left.  Not comfortable running on it?  You'd better get comfortable, or you will find yourself one day living in an America where the eagle has only one wing--the one on the right.  I worry about the potential for things to swing back too far the other way as well, just as I did in the 1970s.  But we're not even close to that danger.  Not yet.  The danger is from the other direction.  Heed it, and move to the left to avoid it.  I'll thank you for it but, more importantly, so will your children.  And grandchildren.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Global Warming As A Security Threat?

So says the U.N..  And it is no longer alone.  Both our military and our insurance companies now agree--and, in both cases, the ability to analyze and anticipate threats is their reason for being.

Can we all get along for the sake of our mutual survival and STOP PRETENDING THIS IS A HOAX?

Let's See What Happens With Connecticut Jobs Now

Now, that is, that the state has the highest minimum wage in the nation.  There will be some surprises, I am sure.  But the unpleasant ones will be for conservatives.

Is Liberalism Good For Your Health?

Mother Jones thinks so, and they've got the facts to prove it.

Why Religious Freedom For Corporations Is Not A Good Thing Even For Corporations

It would upset a row of legal dominoes that would, ultimately, end the basic rationale for a corporate structure in the first place:  limited liability.  Leave it to Daily Kos to explain why.

A Capitalist Who Understands The Value Of Labor

Henry Ford, despicable anti-Semite that he was, at least understood the marketing value of having employees who could not only stand behind his product, but use it as well.  That's why he paid his employees enough money so that they could buy the cars they built for him.

It's reassuring to know that one of his descendants understands as he did that labor and capital need each other--and is willing to talk about it publicly.  Capitalism would be in better shape if there were more capitalists like this.

Real Estate Made From A Renewable Resource

Paper, to be exact.  Take a look.

And THIS Might Be The Type Of Conservatism I Can't Stand The Most

Critiquing progressive ideas and then going through the back door to adopt them, that is.

You may have seen this type of politicking with regard to the "safety net," as that well-know former Democrat, Ronald Reagan, referred to it.  After all, that's why there were "Reagan Democrats" in the first place, blue-collar white ethics who were convinced that ol' Dutch was on their side not only when it came to the counter-culture, but also Social Security and Medicare.  In fairness to Reagan, however, even he couldn't quite stoop to the level of George W. Bush and, today, Paul Ryan, by arguing with something close to a straight face that we need to "save" social programs by "privatizing" them--in other words, destroying the rational for such programs in the first place, as hedges against the ups and downs of market economics.

That level of subterfuge, however, tacitly concedes an inconvenient truth for conservatives, one that explains the subterfuge in the first place.  Social programs designed for what the Gipper himself called the "truly needy"--children, single parents, the sick and elderly, the long-term unemployed--are popular because even working-class Americans can hate high taxes and admit that there are cases where tax dollars are needed.  Those working-class Americans are voters, as well as taxpayers.  And that is why conservatives can only go so far in attacking the so-called "welfare state,"  before effectively admitting that some degree of welfare state is inevitable and even necessary.

Which brings me to this Carl Cannon piece from   I am not a regular reader of his work but, from the little that I've seen, he tends to lean to the right.  He certainly does so in this article, which seems to be a protracted argument against raising the minimum wage but, after he finishes arguing for a floor to compensation, he argues for a ceiling--by going after executive compensation, and arguing for a cap on CEO payments.

I take a back seat to no one in agreeing with such an idea.  There isn't a CEO on the planet Earth that is worth the compensation packages doled out today in corporate America.  And no one should be paid so much that it not only threatens the finances of the paying organization, but also gives the recipient no incentive to do his or her best work.  Why should they?  They're effectively already set for life.  They can screw over their benefactor with complete impunity.  And, all too often, that's exactly what they do.  How many times have you read about a bankrupt corporation whose senior management was allowed to keep their executive compensation packages--or most of it, at any rate?  Combine that reality with incestuous, interlocking corporate boards, and there is no reason whatsoever to "trust" corporate America.  Corporate America has the goldmine, and the power to give the rest of America the shaft.

I have believed for a long time that there needs to be some sort of "soft cap" on corporate compensation, tied to some sort of market standard, either macroeconomic (e.g., the state of the stock market) or microeconomic (e.g., the amount of debt a given corporation is carrying)--and that, in any event, when a company goes belly-up, the first people to pay the price are the folks at the time who put it there in the first place.  But, when it comes to compensation, why shouldn't there be a floor as well as a ceiling, Mr. Cannon.  Having a living minimum wage is one way to insure against an economic collapse, by ensuring the consumer purchasing power that supports so many jobs.

Above all, Mr. Cannon, stop pretending that the left has no good ideas, then adopting those ideas as your own.  The cliché that a conservative is a worshiper of dead radicals is true for a reason.  You want our ideas?  Admit they're good ones.  And admit they're ours.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

THIS Is The Type Of Liberalism I Can't Stand

The type that doesn't have the courage of its alleged convictions.

This piece by Jordan Weissmann on fits into a particular type of commentary:  the "I'm a Democrat/liberal/progressive, but ..." type.  I've never understood why the people who write this drivel are Democrats in the first place.  Maybe it's because of a family connection, or because they live in a predominantly blue part of the country, or because they or their family has somehow benefited from some particular form of public spending.  At least those people have naked self-interest on their side.  The worst members of this group are the ones who openly flagellate their self-interest and the public interest they allegedly stand for in the name of "bipartisanship"--or more specifically, the Republican form of "bipartisanship," best characterized by JFK as "what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable."

I'm not sure which of these sub-categories Weissmann fits into and, frankly, I don't care at all.  It's bad enough that he uses the Web to attack a policy that has demonstrated time and again that it's an economic boon.  There is no evidence--zero, none, zip, nada, zilch--that raising the minimum wage costs jobs.  If anything, there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary:  that raising the minimum wage creates jobs.  And to anyone who understands wealth creation, that makes perfect sense.  Contrary to the Ayn Rands of the world, who think that wealth is born Athena-style from the brains of the investing class, wealth is a transactional process.  My spending is someone else's income, your income is someone's else's spending, and vice versa (with apologies to Paul Krugman).  Investors need consumers, or they will ultimately lose their investment.  If it makes sense to put more money in the hands of investors, doesn't it also make sense to put more money in the hands of consumers?  If anything, doing so protects the money in investors' hands, by expanding the purchasing power of their consumer audience.

And, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, raising the minimum wage boosts competition as well as consumption.  Raising the minimum wage enables small businesses to compete for talent more effectively with corporate America, by offering talented new employees the chance to help build an enterprise from the ground up while still being able to support themselves and their families. As far-fetched as it may sound, I'm not alone in thinking this way.  And I'm certainly not alone in making the obvious point that raising the minimum wage increases tax revenues while decreasing the reliance of the public on overstretched social programs.

We've spent more than three decades giving the investing class the equivalent of much more than a $15-per-hour minimum wage.  We've seen the results of banana Republican economics.  Isn't it time to see what happens when we give a break to people on both sides of our transactional economy?  Do we really have anything to lose?  Ultimately, even Weissman doesn't think so; he tenatively argues that Seattle should go for it.  I do, too.  I'm betting the rewards will ultimately overwhelm any sense of risk.