On This Date 200 Years Ago

On Sept. 12, 1814 the British disembarked 5,000 Marines at a location called “North Point” where the Patapso River meets the Chesapeake Bay about 15 miles SE of Baltimore. This group start marching NW towards Baltimore to level it like they did the month before in Washington. The British Marines ran into a small group of Americans on their way to Baltimore. Although it was not much of a Battle, the Americans lost, but scored a “win” in killing General Ross their commander. (If you go to the Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada there is a plaque with Battles won by the British in North America, and North Point is noted.) Anyway, that slowed them down. Tomorrow, the Battle of Hampstead Hill.

Economics 101: Maybe going on strike for higher wages when your jobs are already being replaced by robots isn’t the wisest idea

From USA Today:

Thousands of fast-food workers strike; arrests made
By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY 6:47 p.m. EDT September 4, 2014

The fast-food industry suffered some image indigestion Thursday when more than 430 workers demonstrating for higher wages in dozens of cities were arrested, organizers estimate.

Those arrested included Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., in West Milwaukee.

She joined fast-food workers from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles who put down their burger flippers and picked up picket signs in a strike for $15-an-hour minimum wages. The rallies included acts of civil disobedience — mostly blocking streets.

“There has to be civil disobedience because workers don’t see any other way to get $15 an hour and a union,” says Kendall Fells, organizing director of Fast Food Forward, a group backed financially by the Service Employees International Union, which organized the Thursday protests. “There’s a long history of this, from the civil rights movement to the farm workers movement.”

More at the link. The First Street Journal absolutely supports the right of employees to organize and strike. But we also support the right of business owners to keep their businesses open, and if that means replacing striking employees with people who are willing to work, then they should have that right. Employees can strike themselves right out of a job!

McDonald’s hires 7,000 touch-screen cashiers
Would you like some microchips with that burger? McDonald’s Europe strikes another blow against human interaction by installing 7,000 touch-screen computers to take your order and money.
by Amanda Kooser | @akooser May 17, 2011 4:20 PM PDT

“Welcome to McDonald’s . My name is HAL 9000. May I take your order?”

McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.

The move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. In an interview with the Financial Times, McDonald’s Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. McDonald’s could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget, and large shake you order. A calorie account tally at the end of the year could be a real shocker.

The touch screens will only accept debit or credit cards, adding to the slow death knell of cash and coins. This all goes along with an overall revamp of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide aimed at projecting a modern image as opposed to the old-fashioned golden arches with a slightly creepy (to my taste anyway) clown guy hanging around the french fries.

Somebody has to pay for wage increases; surely you didn’t think that business owners wouldn’t just pass it on?

And people have probably seen this photo as well, from an area where the local government raised the minimum wage. At least one employer decided to let his customers know why prices were increased. If the fast food workers get their demand, to have the minimum wage increased to $15.00 per hour, then that increase will have to be passed along to the customers; that’s simply the way business works.1

But let’s be honest here: businesses which can automate some functions are already doing so, and they are doing so to increase efficiency and cut labor costs, irrespective of the minimum wage. It is simply the logical and practical path for businesses to take, and is part of the increased business reliance on automation which has been going on for decades.

The sign says, “I have a Master of Arts degree in women’s studies. However, the only job I can find is as a bartender at a local restaurant. I owe over $60k in student loans. I am forced to rely on food stamps and W.I.C. to support my son. Is this the American Dream I worked so hard for? I am the 99 percent. Occupywallst.org.”

The real problem is that the economy is going to leave the lower skilled workers further and further behind, and the minimum wage employee is, almost by definition, a lower skilled worker.2 He holds a position for which a replacement can be quickly found, and trained, because it requires few skills which aren’t already common among the population, or which cannot be learned in just a couple of days.

And it also means that training and education for things which have no real economic value are worse than just useless: they add costly burdens to individuals and leave them behind people who were more wisely educated and trained for the real economy. The woman in the picture to the right decided to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree for which the only relevant positions are professorships in women’s studies,3 borrowing money which the taxpayers are subsidizing, and then being forced to live on welfare — on the backs of the taxpayers, again! — because she got a degree which trained her for nothing of any use,4 and somehow expects other people to make up for her unwise choices. She should have trained to become an electrician instead!

  1. The First Street Journal has pointed out previously that the proposal to increase the minimum wage by such alarge amount will probably have the effect of clustering more workers nearer to the minimum wage, because those workers making more than the minimum wage would probably not see raises sufficient to keep them as far above the minimum wage as they are now.
  2. An individual minimum wage employee might be very skilled at something, but that does not mean his position requires it.
  3. For which she’s need a doctorate, not just a masters.
  4. Actually, her degree is worse than useless. While liberal arts degrees in general sometimes help, the lady in the picture basically got a degree which would make her a walking sex discrimination lawsuit, and no sensible human resources department is ever going to consider hiring her.

From Around the Blogroll

Presidential leadership in action!

Obama Delays Immigration Action, Yielding to Democratic Concerns
By Michael D Shear, September 6, 2014

As the election draws closer, some nervous Senate Democrats have told White House officials that President Obama’s actions could cost them victory at the polls. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama will delay taking executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections, bowing to pressure from fellow Democrats who feared that acting now could doom his party’s chances this fall, White House officials said on Saturday.The decision is a reversal of Mr. Obama’s vow to issue broad directives to overhaul the immigration system soon after summer’s end, and sparked swift anger from immigration advocates. The president made the promise on June 30, in the Rose Garden, where he angrily denounced Republican obstruction and said he would use the power of his office to protect immigrant families from the threat of deportation.

“Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections,” a White House official said. “Because he wants to do this in a way that’s sustainable, the president will take action on immigration before the end of the year.”

Let’s do something really radical here and tell the truth: if the President and the Democrats in Congress believe that going ahead with their plans for immigration reform would cost the Democrats seats in the 2014 elections, it means that they know that the voters would not approve of their plans, that the public oppose their plans. They believe that they are going to try to attempt something against the wishes of the citizens of the United States.

The United States is not, technically speaking, a democracy, but a democratically elected representative republic. Our representatives are supposed to represent their constituents, all of their constituents, regardless of whether any particular constituent is a member of the same — or any — party, or voted for the representative or not.

If the Democrats believe that their immigration reform plans would harm their electoral chances, the Republicans ought to point that out, loudly, vigorously and frequently, should point out that the Democrats are delaying immigration reform specifically because they know that the voters would disapprove.

Karen, the Lonely Conservative, also wrote on the topic, as did Donald Douglas.

Donna Miller of the Victory Girls smells a rat in the Kansas Senate race.

From Phineas Fahrquar, on Sister Toldjah: #Benghazi: security contractors claim CIA delayed aid

Hube on the Colossus of Rhodey: As a life-long Rams fan, I say this is patently ridiculous. Your Editor thinks that it’s patently ridiculous to be a Rams fan in the first place!

Robert Stacey Stacy McCain: Whose agenda is the feminist agenda?

William Teach: US Weather Only Matters When It Conforms To Warmist Narrative

From the much better looking Dana:

The Government: Compelling The Nonbeliever To Acknowledge The Existence Of A Supreme Being
Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:06 pm

Having recently discussed what the Christian private business owner can be compelled to do, the question now being raised is: Can the government compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being if it involves the military?

Not according to Monica Miller, an attorney with the AHA’s Apignani Humanist Legal Center, who is defending an atheist airman who was denied reenlistment in the Air Force because on the oath portion of his contract he crossed out “So help me God”.

The airman was told his only options were to sign the religious oath section of the contract without adjustment and recite an oath concluding with “so help me God,” or leave the Air Force, the AHA said.

That is unconstitutional and unacceptable, the AHA said.

“The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being,” Miller said. “Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or reenlistment contracts.”

More at the link. The Editor is somewhat amused, given the old saw that there are no atheists in foxholes, but agrees that no American can be compelled by our government to take an oath in which allegiance to a deity is implied. However, I do have to wonder if an atheist is fit to serve, in any capacity.

On Truth Before Dishonor, John Hitchcock noted the 67 senators who voted to cut veterans’ pensions.

Donald Douglas: VIDEO: Jihad Preacher Anjem Choudary Confirms Terrorism is Part of Islam. Of course, there are squishy Muslims who would never go along with that, but, in the end, the supposedly moderate Muslims are enablers of the Islamists and jihadi.

Rule 5 Blogging: Vive la France!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Estelle Lefébure in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude. This week: soldiers from France.

Gotta love women with weapons!

Gotta love women with weapons!

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Vive la France!’ »

Don’t you understand? The gun-grabbers are happy about stories like these!

As far as the left are concerned, the New Jersey law is a good thing.

N.J. rethinking gun law that snared Pa. permit-holder
By Barbara Boyer | Published Thursday, September 4, 2014, 6:45 AM

TRENTON Three more South Jersey legislators support changing the law that mandates jail time for those caught carrying a gun in New Jersey that is not registered in the state even if they have a permit to carry the weapon legally in another state.

Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Jeff Van Drew announced he would formally introduce a bill Sept. 15 that he said he hopes will help Shaneen Allen, 27, of Philadelphia.

Allen, a single mother of two, was pulled over in October in Atlantic County for a traffic violation. When the officer asked for her license, she disclosed she had a permit and a .38-caliber gun in her purse. Allen, who has no criminal history, was charged with illegally carrying the weapon.

The proposed law, similar to one in the Assembly, would eliminate the mandatory sentence, and allows for discretionary prosecuting and sentencing.

With a few exceptions, it is illegal to bring a gun into New Jersey. Those convicted of doing so face a mandatory 31/2 years in prison. Before her arrest, Allen worked as a phlebotomist. Her attorney said she lost her job because of the arrest.

More at the link.

This is the problem with allowing “reasonable restrictions” on our Second Amendment rights.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

What part of “shall not be infringed” is so difficult to understand?

In McDonald v Chicago, the Supreme Court held that “the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the states.” Unfortunately, the Court did not go far enough. By not prohibiting mandatory registration, it allowed the states to enforce registration requirements, and the state of New Jersey has a registration requirement which does not accept lawful registrations from other states. In the Garden State’s law, a person of perfectly good character and no nefarious intent would be made into a felon — and thus legally barred from ever exercising her Second Amendment rights in the future — and be incarcerated for a minimum of 3½ years, and be taken away from her children, all because the state is infringing on her right to keep and bear arms. Her life will be ruined, because New Jersey, which is completely incapable of keeping firearms out of the hands of the thugs and gangs in Trenton and Camden, somehow thinks that the people are safer if law-abiding citizens are disarmed.

This is why I am an absolutist when it comes to our constitutional rights; there is always some do-gooder who thinks that his ideas trump other people’s rights. That’s why we need for the rights guaranteed under the Constitution to be absolute, why we need them to mean exactly what they say.

We told you so: The First Street Journal scooped CNBC by two years!

Our raconteur restaurateur said, a couple of days ago, “That my friend, is the exact definition of economics. Learn people, know economics.”

From CNBC:

Fed: US consumers have decided to ‘hoard money’
Jeff Cox | @JeffCoxCNBCcom | 

One of the great mysteries of the post-financial crisis world is why the U.S. has lacked inflation despite all the money being pumped into the economy.

The St. Louis Federal Reserve thinks it has the answer: A paper the central bank branch published this week blames the low level of money movement in large part on consumers and their “willingness to hoard money.” The paper also cites the Fed’s own policies as a reason for consumers’ unwillingness to spend.

Though American consumers might dispute the notion that inflation has been low, the indicators the Fed follows show it to be running well below the target rate of 2 percent that would have to come before interest rates would get pushed higher.

That has happened despite nearly six years of a zero interest rate policy and as the Fed has pushed its balance sheet to nearly $4.5 trillion.

Much of that liquidity, however, has sat fallow. Banks have put away close to $2.8 trillion in reserves, and households are sitting on $2.15 trillion in savings—about a 50 percent increase over the past five years.

“So why did the monetary base increase not cause a proportionate increase in either the general price level or (gross domestic product)?” economist Yi Wen and associate Maria A. Arias asked in the St. Louis Fed paper. “The answer lies in the private sector’s dramatic increase in their willingness to hoard money instead of spend it. Such an unprecedented increase in money demand has slowed down the velocity of money.”

More at the link. But we have mentioned the velocity of money many times on The First Street Journal, and, in fact, we told you the same thing as the CNBC article, two years ago:

A demand-side solution is fairly simple: consumers spending more money. The Obama Administration believed that Keynesian economic theory held the answers, and tried to solve the problem with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, the stimulus program, an $831 billion program to spend taxpayer dollars on projects that the Administration believed would improve our infrastructure and keep people employed at the infrastructure jobs. By keeping these people employed, they’d have more money available to buy consumer goods, which would keep more people employed all the way down the line. It was very much a velocity of money effort.

However, as much as our friends on the left decry “trickle-down” economics, the stimulus program was based on the trickle-down notion. A construction worker keeps his job and makes more money, and therefore spends more money, so that trickles down through the economy, another way of defining the velocity of money. What the Administration and its economists didn’t count on, or at least hoped would not happen, is that with the economic downturn, people who kept their jobs became more conservative about their spending habits. Many people who kept their jobs were still very concerned that they might be the next ones to lose their jobs, and those people, those consumers did the completely sensible thing of paying down bills and saving their money. People behaving sensibly slowed down the velocity of money. In fact, they slowed it way down.

More at the original, but this was Hoagie’s point all along: the professional economists knew the models and they understood the statistics and they worked with the theories, but what they did not anticipate was that people can, and sometimes do, change their economic behavior based upon their perceptions of what is wisest and what is in their economic better interests. The economy did not perform the way the economists projected because the economy is, in the end, the aggregate decisions of hundreds of millions of economic actors taking literally billions of economic choices every day, and the economists simply did not understand the pressures on the people taking those decisions.

It’s easy enough to understand why: the economists who were putting together these things were well-to-do professionals, people who made good livings and who were not worried that they’d be the next ones applying for unemployment, that they’d be the next ones worrying that they might lose their homes. Yet, somehow, a concrete plant manager and a sub shop owner could see it. I wonder how that happened.

Nothing Is Coincidental in ObamaLand

Two storieds popped up on Facebook that should raise eybrows around Europe Especially. Taken individually, it’s a well??? But together it should set off ALARM BELLS across at least Europe. First is that Islamist (no brand or flavor mentioned, but is that necessary?) stole ELEVEN Planes from Tripoli AP. Then our dear leader opens the ability of Flight Training to Libyans. 9/11 anyone. I’m 99% sure they won’t make it here, but Europe, especially Italy are close. ISIS already has a price on Pope Francis’s Head. Need I speculate more?

11 Planes Taken From Tripoli AP
(by Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon) — Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.

Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.

More Here



Obama Lifts Ban on Libyans Attending U.S. Flight Schools, Training In Nuke Science
Ban has been in place since 1983

BY: Adam Kredo
August 12, 2014 7:45 am

The Obama administration has lifted longtime restrictions on Libyans attending flight schools in the United States and training here in nuclear science, according to a final amendment of the ban recently approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Less than two years after the deadly terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is poised to sign off on an amendment reversing the ban, which was enacted following a wave or terrorist attacks in 1980s and prevents Libyans from studying these sensitive trades in the United States.

More of this HERE:


The work ethic

My darling bride (of 35 years, 3 months and 14 days) was watching “Chopped” on the Food Network yesterday. Now, I’m not a fan of that kind of competition show, because it puts chefs in competition with each other in a tightly timed format, and creativity in cooking takes some consideration. It seems to me that the competition takes the most important part of cooking out of the mix.1

But one of the contestants introduced himself as Chef Van Bao (or something like that.) His family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when he was only five months old. He said that he grew up poor, with ten brothers and sisters, and that his family and he were always treated differently, but his parents stressed education, and every one of the siblings went to and was graduated from college.

As it happens, I knew several Vietnamese immigrants from the company where I worked in the nineties. They were all hard-working, and showed up, on time, every day, and did their jobs. The story of Chef Van Bao reminded me of one of them, who was already in his sixties when I met him, and working as a loader operator on an aggregate yard. His English was pretty marginal, even after having been here for twenty years or so. He was a stringy old guy, with maybe four teeth, and he had lived a rough life. But he and his wife had worked hard, despite being members of a racial minority — and remember: Vietnamese immigrants weren’t particularly well-loved in the US in the aftermath of the Vietnam War — and while they never went to college themselves, they put every one of their children through college, and paid cash to do it.

Well, if they could do it, if people who came here with nothing but the clothes on their backs, many speaking little or no English, could pick themselves up and make a living for themselves and a better life for their children, anyone can.

This is why I don’t accept excuses; this is why complaints that some particular group has had it too hard do not impress me in the slightest. I have seen, first hand, how people can succeed, despite handicaps, despite long odds, despite hardships, if they will just work at it!

  1. This is also one of my criticisms of candidate debates.