Yesterday, May 1, 2014, a Seattle mayor’s committee approved a phased in $15 an hour minimum wage for all workers in Seattle. The details are complicated by a compromise that included input from businesses and workers’ groups.

The one proposal offered by a business owner is a lower training wage, usually paid for a determinate period of time. The way this is wrong is too many businesses just fire workers at the end of the training period because it is so easy to train new people and take advantage of the lower wage. Sears, which is following Montgomery Wards into oblivion, is famous for doing that to escape paying health benefits in Washington State.
I will grant that any job with a modicum of complexity that takes a good period of time to learn won’t fall prey to this scam. So anyone who isn’t cleaver enough to learn the more complicated job would just have to live with the training wage. Fortunately, this is not a part of the proposal in Seattle and, with vigilance, activists can keep it from happening.

Here is the challenge for activist groups. Don’t waste time trying to get a $15 an hour now. Keep your eyes on the sparrow, and make sure the proposal doesn’t get messed up with bad parts.

As I’ve long believed, companies whose workers are unionized thrive; while those who don’t don’t. Case in point: I once worked for Airborne Express. A coworker proudly announced, “We aren’t unionized. Airborne couldn’t survive if we were.” Not being particularly astute to the workers’ rights I didn’t have a response. Sometimes I feel like the “watcher” in the series “Highlander”. The “watcher” character didn’t have an active roll but did offer counsel to the main immortals. I don’t even try to offer unsolicited counsel. I prefer to follow Dale Carnegie’s idea that “you can’t tell anybody anything. You can only seek to inspire…” At least that’s a paraphrase of what he said. But I digress. The point is: there are two other thriving shippers, Fed Ex and United Parcel Service. And, guess what: they both thrive and are union. And where is Airborne Express these days? It was bought out by another multinational and you don’t see their (DHL) delivery trucks around here any more. So, today I see an article in a side-bar on page A8 of today’s Seattle Times, “Strike vs. Amazon” that the Amazon.com workers in Germany (unionized) are striking for more wages. That would seem to indicate that unions are somewhat strong in Germany (I’d have to check that one out) and, guess what is the strongest economy in Europe? You guessed it: Germany. I googled “unions in Germany” and, boy did I get an education… just by reading the citation headings. One could do a study on the subject by following the links. Another article in today’s Seattle Times tells of the newly elected Seattle City Counsel who proudly proclaims she is a socialist! She addressed a union gathering and advanced an idea she has had for quite a while that the government should use eminent domain and take Boeing and sell it to the workers…

Reading a column in the  July 26, 2011 edition of the Kitsap Sun headlines “The New Party of Ronald Reagan” I am filled with a new introspection of an issue of economics that has been formulating in me for years.

I am reflecting on a short conversation I had with a certain bus driver many years ago at the outdoor part of the then Cafe Destino. She made the point that the good or bad that occurs during an administration’s years are the results of policies of the previous administration. If she is right, then logic would seem to dictate that the economic meltdown during George Bush’s administration might be the result of policies of Bill Clinton’s administration. One of the bragging points that Bill often talks about is his balancing the budget. So, did balancing the budget result in the economic woes that came about in the next administration?

We can have some measure of certainty that the current economic woes are brought about by how Dubya mishandled the economy in his administration. I often remember the political cartoon published early in Dubya’s administration showing a relay race. The runner who is finishing his part of the race hands off a sputtering torch named “economy” to the next runner. Of course the finishing runner was Bill Clinton and the new runner was Dubya. Sometimes I think political cartoons are dead on, in terms of accuracy… especially years later after the ensuing turns of events.

I hope I can see the bus driver sometime in the future to exchange reflections.

Back to The Power to Harm

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

It was sometime in 1992 or 1993 that an article in a national news magazine caught my eye. I could not believe the couple of paragraphs devoted to a scandal that started in Wenatchee, Washington. You can read the whole sordid story in Wikipedia if you google “Wenatchee the power to harm”.

So why, via my thoughts, do revisit this 21 years later? An article detailing incompetence and mischief in Wenatchee, on page A12 of today’s (Wednesday, November 6, 2013) by Bloomberg news reporter Brian Chappatta brought memories of horror at the gross injustices perpetrated on citizens of Wenatchee. Only when a local woman suspected there was something really wrong going on and mortgaged her home to engage a Seattle lawyer to take the case of a Wenatchee reverend and his wife. As I observe apparent gaps in the legal system over the years I am reminded of this and, up to now, googling “the power to harm” simply doesn’t get you where you want to go. So, the phrase I invoked get me there and opened a really better source than the original Seattle PI series on the subject.

It is a common weakness for us to agree with polling results if they agree with our beliefs, and point out the weaknesses of polling methods if they disagree. When informed with the actual questions and the interpretations of polling data that are the results of responses to these questions we see through some faulty conclusions.

So, how can we improve polling to give us better guidance from their results? I propose weighing responses by results of a short quiz on relevant facts that determines the knowledge of the respondents. A high score on the quiz would give the response a greater numerical value than a score that reflects a woeful ignorance of the facts.

To make the polling data more useful all information, including the actual questions posed in the quiz, should be included. I’m sure our lawmakers, as well as the public at large, would appreciate a better reading of polls to guide their decisions.

Some infamous polling results include the reported 70% of Americans agreed with the Iraq invasion when it was being considered, and the slim majority of Americans who don’t like Obamacare. Of course the latter doesn’t delineate between those who don’t like it for different perceived failings (i. e. some prefer a single payer system).

A recent video showed how little some respondents knew about Obamacare (including the fact that Obamacare is the same as the affordable care act). Respondents said they liked the affordable care act, but didn’t like Obamacare. And when they were asked whether they liked certain benefits included in Obamacare, they universally responded they did. This was an exercise on The Jerry Kimmel Live show.

If anyone out there remembers the phrase “The rich get richer…” you might remember where it comes from. There is a song (I think it was written by Cole Porter) that says “The rich get richer and the poor gets poorer… In the meantime, in between time, ain’t we got fun?” But go further and you’ll find it was a main theme of Communists (or was it the unions?) in the 20’s and 30’s. OMG!!! the pinko MSM is repeating commy propaganda!!! Can you dig it? Oh, I guess I should tell you how this popped into my head. I was reading a piece “Updated Study (headline:) Top 1% take record share of U. S. Income”. But wait, there’s more. This is a reprint from a N. Y. Times article by Annie Lowrey. I caught it at the very bottom of page 1 of today’s Seattle Times. When the Seattle Post Intelligencer was a competitor to the Seattle Times, the former was considered the liberal and the latter was the conservative.

Ok. So I’ve only been awake for a little over an hour and I’ve had my first cup of coffee. What I am reading in an article posted from MSN News “1 hour ago” (this being 12:15 PM) is Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavlov is proposing that Syria transfer control of their chemical weapons to international control within Russia for destruction. My immediate reaction is OMG! Then I think is this a ploy by Russia and Syria to delay an attack proposed by the Obama administration; this being advanced by the MSN News article’s author.

As I absorb the ramifications of this development I am just overjoyed at the possibility of sparing Obama the embarrassment of being the first U. S. President to be rebuffed by congress in his attempt to get their approval for a limited attack on a sovereign nation for humanitarian or any other reason.

I am anxious to read or hear other analysts make observations. My views are frequently altered by opinions that seem reasonable.

What Seems Irrational

Posted: April 29, 2013 in Economy, Politics

I’m sorry, I just can’t help being skeptical of claims that the anti-tax bunch are raising against the proposed federal law to enforce the sales tax for on-line sales is irrational on their face. But, wait a minute. The same argument we have been making during the first Obama term, that the R’s agenda to make him a one term president is what was the real agenda for their apparently nonsensical arguments. Now, they would have us believe that is no longer an issue. But, keeping a Democratic president from being in office as the economy recovers and revenues begin to flow to local and state coffers – enabling much needed jobs – is a real possibility.

If you want an example of a totally irrational argument, try labeling the bill the “Let the People in Alabama loot the People in New York Act.” Nobody in New York will pay a single dime to the people in Alabama if this bill passes into law. The only people who will pay are the people in Alabama, when they purchase something from a business in New York. The closest issue that has any traction at all is the claim that it will cause undue hardship on companies that have on line businesses. I could see that if it were a real small business, but a well written software application would make the inconvenience minimal.

So, forget it anti-tax zealots. You’re losing! Join with us in spurring rational revenue raising to get this country going again. The number of critical infrastructure projects left undone are legend. You just can’t keep cutting from the poor and disenfranchised until you have enough money to do what is necessary. And instituting tolls to pay for each and every improvement is not an option. That’s the only way you can make those who use a service or improvement pay for itself.

Back Page Surprise

Posted: April 27, 2013 in News and politics, Security

“Syria likely crossed line on nerve agents, U. S. says” is the headline of an article on page one of today’s Seattle Times. The stampede has begun to get involved militarily as the “red line” has obviously been crossed. Leaders from both parties in congress have called for action…

But, not so fast. On the back page near the end of the article is a huge caveat. “A person familiar with the issue, who asked not to be further identified, said that only a miniscule trace of a “byproduct” – a toxic residue left behind after use of a nerve agent, and which he did not identify – had been found in a soil sample.

“The found trace amounts of a byproduct in soil, but there are also fertilizers that give out the same byproduct,” the person said, “It’s far from conclusive.”

This the same kind of misgivings that, if heeded, could have kept us out of the Iraq debacle.

At this point let’s pause and look at who wrote this and for which news agency it comes. The byline is “By Anne Gearan and Craig Whitlock The Washington Post”. Is this a unique source? Let’s google the phrase “miniscule amount of sarin”… Whoa! This is going to take awhile…

The very first (top of the page) link is Sarin bomb – Car Forums and Automotive Chat. Even though its from a post dated, 05 – 25 – 2004, it is by Scott Ritter. Hmm. That’s a familiar name. Oh, THAT Scott Ritter

• Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq (1991-1998) and is author of ‘Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America.’

And it does have some relevant information… and there is a link to none other than The Christian Science Monitor. That’s a pretty reliable publication, in case anybody asks you.
One can get a wealth of information via Google, so do so before you jump on the bandwagon. I would offer this precaution to congressmen who are quick to urge the administration to make bold military steps… as long as other peoples’ family members go into the valley of death and destruction.

This whole debacle about the “false(?)” arrest of the part time Elvis imitator, Paul Kevin Curtis, leaves a bad taste in my mouth (mind). In an article from Los Angeles Times and Associated Press and printed in today’s Seattle Times, it appears the only evidence the authorities had against this suspect was some letters (contents not divulged) and social media postings. Entering “Paul Curtis” and “Paul Kevin Curtis” both in the search window of facebook, and google turns up many hits. All of these sources taken together give us a good picture of the whole mess.

What bothers me the most is the way authorities use even the most innocuous leads to try to build a case for reasonable suspicion… or whatever criteria they use to arrest somebody. This leads to a precautionary admonition. Be careful what you post! If that sounds paranoid… welll… as the pundit once said, “Even the paranoid have enemies”.