American Elephants

Bad Economic Ideas Aren’t Going to Create Lots of Jobs. by The Elephant's Child

Democrats mostly don’t read Republican stuff, whether history, economics, or foreign policy. We are the enemy and our opinions and our writings are suspect. A liberal member of the family refused to read a piece I had extracted from the Wall Street Journal because he considered the Journal to be right-wing territory — even though only the Opinion page leans right and the news pages lean left. Anecdotal, of course, but typical of many on the left.

Do you suppose that many Democrats have watched the great videos of Milton Friedman explaining troublesome ideas like the minimum wage, or extending unemployment benefits. They just don’t. And they would reject it, not because it didn’t make sense, but because they were enemy ideas.

Republicans study issues to determine what works. Democrats cite studies that they believe will help them win. Republicans are looking for growth in the economy and successful strategies to get there. Democrats are looking for issues that will sway their voting groups, and testing potential language to see what words will be most effective.

Many studies over time have shown that increasing the minimum wage is an unemployment act for young people. Many states have minimum wage rates that are higher than the national minimum wage. It is meant as a starter wage for people just learning to work, not as a wage to support a family. The official poverty level for a one person household is $11,490. A full-time worker earning $7.25 an hour is above the poverty level. For a two-person household, the poverty level is $15,510, and two people earning the minimum wage would not qualify as being below the poverty level. In most cases, the person who earns the minimum wage belongs to a household where the family income is $50,000 or more. Most people who earn the minimum wage get an increase within a year. Most businesses that hire people at the minimum wage are finding it advantageous to replace workers with self-checkout aisles, and mechanization and robots will soon be replacing more. Then where do beginners learn how to work?

New research shows that extending unemployment benefits is a net economic drag. The liberal case for extension of benefits rests on the supposedly stimulative effect of greater disposable income for the unemployed. The new study conducted by economists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York contends that any such stimulus is dwarfed by the economic damage done by extending jobless benefits. People respond to incentives, and unemployment benefits reduce one’s incentive to look for a job. They allow some people to wallow in discouragement longer than they otherwise would, or encourage the recipients to wait for a better job.

The White House pays women less than it pays men.

Universal pre-kindergarten does not improve outcomes. There are modest positive effects during the preschool era, but they do not last even into kindergarten, much less through elementary years.

There is no evidence that Michelle Obama’s obesity initiatives for children have reduced obesity. Mostly, the kids won, because they hate the lunch menus.

Maybe some people spend a lot of time worrying about those who make more money than they do. It has always seemed to me that it is only a challenge to yourself. What matters is your own success at the things that matter to you. Some mothers take a part-time job so they can be home with their kids when they aren’t in school. When you retire, you and your company part company, They are through with you and concerned with current employees. When you ponder your accomplishments in your old age, it will have more to do with your family and friends than with what you did at work. I just don’t think people spend a lot of time envying those who make more money, though the federal government it insistent on encouraging envy.

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