Monday, May 16, 2005
I'm Down with the Sunset Commissions
What Fund mentions, but doesn't stress enough, in my view, is how resilient the free-market economy is. In most instances where bases have been closed, local economies adjust and the bases are turned into thriving business parks, airports, and even wildlife sanctuaries. Fund uses the cliche "Turning lemons into lemonade." The lesson is applicable across just about every government function: the private sector can do things far more efficiently than the federal government ever could.
Are you listening, opponents of Social Security reform? How about those who want government to exert more control over our healthcare system?
So Much for 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty'
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Thanks for Paying the Ransom
One of the things I'm [still] doing is contemplating format changes and perhaps even a new URL. I've been thinking of this almost from the beginning, as old-time readers will no doubt recall. I'm no technowiz (and many would argue I'm no blogginwiz either) so it's tough to devote time to both blogging and learning new techie skills. If I spend hours reading news, then I'm not reading about HTML. Not whining here, just stating fact, there's only 24 hours to the day.
I'll be business traveling again this week, but keep checking back for new stuff. Of course, in the absence of fresh M3C commentary, feel free to click the permalinks on my blogroll. Those are real bloggers and excellent sources for news. They will keep you entertained and informed, no doubt. And as always, thanks for stopping by.....
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Where is the Left's Hanson?
Yesterday Harry Reid stepped in it again. Every time he opens his mouth he embarrasses himself. Nothing but negativity and obstructionism from the gentleman senator from Nevada. He's the Senate's Minority Leader too, so that makes it very difficult for the Democrats to distance themselves from such asshattery. After all, they've elevated him to a leadership position. Nancy Pelosi has the same problem, yet neither Pelosi or Reid seem capable of elevating their rhetoric. Their words and deeds ensure that neither will go down in history as one of the country's premier statesmen.
Yesterday, Victor Davis Hanson, with his usual brilliance, delivered more hammer blows to Democratic Party prospects in future elections. Here's a small taste, but do yourselves a favor and read every word of it.
When we see Democrats speaking and living like normal folks expressing worry that the United States must return to basic education and values to ensure its shaky preeminence in a cutthroat world, talking of one multiracial society united by a rare exceptional culture of the West rather than a salad bowl of competing races and tribes, and apprising the world that we are principled abroad in our support of democratic nations and quite dangerous when attacked they will be competitive again.VDH also had a piece in yesterday's Washington Post, entitled "What Happened to History?" Simply put, more brilliance. Sorry to gush like some starstruck groupie, but if the Left had such intelligent thinkers or scholars guiding their party, not only would the Dems fare better in elections, but the country would be far better off.
A side note: compare the increasingly shrill and hateful rhetoric of Harry Reid (or Howard Dean, Al Gore and Barbara Boxer) to Hanson's reasoned intelligence. Victor Hanson, in every interview I have seen or heard, is calm. That's a sign of confidence in one's ideas and suggests that the facts are on your side. Can the Democrats make such a claim?
Anyway, please also read the last link. VDH stresses the importance of teaching history (meaningful historical events, not trivial garbage like "history of the pencil"). I leave with a short excerpt and my sincerest hope that you will read "What Happened to History?" and consider its importance.
Reverence for those who came before us ensures humility about our own limitations. It restores confidence that far worse crises than our own -- slavery, the great flu epidemic, or World War II -- were endured with far less resources.Powerful stuff. Have a wonderful weekend.
By pondering those now dead, we create a certain pact: We, too, will do our part for another generation not yet born to enjoy the same privilege of America, which at such great cost was given to us by others whom we have now all but forgotten.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Cinco de Mayo Numerology
Today at 5:05:05 am & pm the time will be 05:05:05 05/05/005....
05.05.005 comes only once in 1000 years and coinciding with Thursday (5th Day of the week) comes only once in 7000 yrs...
Shame on Detroit
It saddens me that the big automakers are struggling so much. They should be a benchmark for other industries. With such highly paid workers, they should put out the finest quality cars on the planet. (Anecdotal evidence: My Ford Explorer has had three problems in less than a year, and the Chevy rental car I had last week was a certified piece of sh*t). Ford and G.M. should put out well-engineered and innovative marvels. I'm not a car expert or nut, but it sure seems like the Big 3 are failing miserably in each area. I guess the downgrade by Standard & Poors echoes this claim.
"Profit" Isn't a Four-Letter Word
First and foremost, no company should be forced to pay workers anything other than what the free market dictates. If someone is hired to do a job, they have the freedom to take the job (or not), for the pay that is offered. Companies exist to provide products or services to their customers. No one starts a company with the intent of giving people jobs, and certainly not high pay for low-skilled positions. That just doesn't make good economical sense.
According to Wal-Mart, $9.68 is the average wage for full-time workers. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. What exactly is the problem? We aren't talking about brain surgeons here. These are cashiers, shelf stockers, and shopping cart, um, "valets." Again, not highly skilled positions.
If Wal-Mart spent $3.50 an hour more for wages and benefits of its full-time employees, that would cost the company about $6.5 billion a year. At less than 3 percent of its sales in the United States, critics say, Wal-Mart could absorb these costs by slightly raising its prices or accepting somewhat lower profits. (Emphasis mine).
So if Wal-Mart raises its prices, would they expect to gain or lose business? And if they accept lower profits, will shareholders be pleased or displeased? If sales stayed the same, this would wipe out 2/3 of Wal-Mart's profit (I guess that's "somewhat" lower). And it isn't a safe assumption to think that sales would remain constant if prices go up, usually the opposite is true.
Isn't it more likely that if Wal-Mart pays its employees 35% more (a very steep increase in their labor factor) it will hire fewer employees to do the same amount of work? So wouldn't fewer workers working be a bad thing? Wal-Mart doesn't operate in a vacuum, they have competition. Wal-Mart's actions will have consequences for their employees and shareholders in the marketplace.So just who exactly is criticizing Wal-Mart for it's low wages? According to the Times' piece, "a coalition of lawmakers (doesn't mention who), community groups, labor unions, women's advocates, and environmental groups." Think any of them are conservative? Doubt it. This quote passes for good reporting at the New York Times (emphasis mine):
Well if you can't live on that wage, go across the street and get a job at Costco. Or Target. Better yet, get yourself a college degree (and take some economics and accounting coursework while you're at it). You are worth what you negotiate.
But Jason Mrkwa, 27, a high school graduate who stocks frozen food at a Wal-Mart in Independence, Kan., maintains that he is underpaid. "I make $8.53, even though every one of my evaluations has been above standard," Mr. Mrkwa (pronounced MARK-wah) said. "You can't really live on this."
Wal-Mart critics often note that corporations like Ford and G.M. led a race to the top, providing high wages and generous benefits that other companies emulated. They ask why Wal-Mart, with some $10 billion in profit on about $288 billion in revenue last year, cannot act similarly.
Burt Flickinger, another retailing consultant, said it would be in Wal-Mart's long-run interest to pay better. "Wal-Mart's turnover will be close to half a million workers this year," he said. "By paying higher wages, Wal-Mart will make its employees happier and will reduce turnover. A lot of its new workers, for instance, don't know where to stock things. Higher wages will mean more productivity per person, and that should help raise profits."
Companies must turn a profit. This simple fact is lost on the Marxist coalitions and most NY Times journalists it seems. If companies aren't profitable, they don't hire many employees. They won't open more stores, and they won't be in business very long. Profits are good. Profits are necessary.
I think we start down a very slippery slope when we start discussing "how much" profit is fair or just. Similarly, I was never comfortable with the notion that certain executives (or sports players) are overpaid. Or that certain corporations (Wal-Mart, Microsoft) are "too large" or "too powerful." I certainly don't want anyone telling me I'm overpaid, so I'm not going to do it to anyone else. Ditto corporations. If a company's profits are obscenely large, then the market has provided an opportunity for some other corporation to come in and do a better job for less money.
The constant harangue of Wal-Mart (or other large, successful corporations) ignores basic economic realities and in my view it is bad for business. And when we create or foster an environment that is bad for business, it is the worker that will be hurt most. The leftist agitators who claim to be for the working man are actually hurting him with their misguided goals.
Idol Reject Corey Clark Back in the News
Could This Be Corey's Dad?
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Patterico Must Be Loving This
The Times' woes are not unlike those of CBS News (and so many other MSM dinosaurs). Their credibility is shot, no matter how they spin the numbers. Ratings for the networks continue slow, steady declines. Ditto major newspaper circulation numbers. And with a declining audience goes declining influence. I think Patterico is correct, there is a connection between financial success and the reputation for honesty. This applies to all businesses, industries, and individuals. Watching the L.A. Times shriveling is a good life lesson. They've done it to themselves.
I tend not to focus on circulation numbers, because I’m far more concerned with whether a paper is telling the truth than whether it is a market success. If the paper were reporting tremendous circulation and were still distorting the news the way it does today, it would not be a success in my eyes.
Still, I mention it because some people see importance in such matters – and because there is an arguable connection between a media outlet’s reputation for honesty and its financial success. (Also, if I don’t say anything about the circulation numbers, I’ll start getting e-mails and comments from people asking if I’d heard about them.)
Monday, May 02, 2005