The Wage War

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Last week some flaming liberals in the House of Representatives suggested that the national minimum wage be raised from $7.50 to $10 an hour. (Probably part of the 78-81 communists in the party).

Why stop there? Let’s make it $12, $15 or maybe $25 an hour? Why not? Who wouldn’t want to be paid more.

As I’ve just demonstrated, the $10 figure is purely arbitrary, but according to the Hill Online, representative Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois and about two dozen other liberal Democrats endorsed legislation to raise the federal minimum wage immediately, thinking that this will be a hot election-year issue.

What a great idea! Once again Congress shows how out of touch they are with the business community. Of course the business community is not whom they wish to curry favor. Remember, they are for the working class, supposedly.

The Democrat leadership, however, has been a little less enthusiastic. It’s not that they don’t wish to raise the minimum wage. It’s that they wish to do it slowly, incrementally, so, like the frog, we don’t realize were being boiled alive.

The Politburo, or Democrat leadership if you like, would be more inclined to sign on to a proposal by Sen. Tom (dung heap) Harkin of Iowa. He proposes to gradually raise the rate to $9.80 over three years, but even this proposal has received scant attention from the leadership.

If you recall our beloved president issued a proclamation shortly after his 2008 victory that the minimum wage would be hiked to $9.50 an hour by 2011, but of course the compliant press would never dare call him on it.

Even the idiot consumer advocate Ralph Nader has weighed in on the subject. He said, “you get a conservative voter making eight bucks an hour at Walmart, here she is not going to say, I don’t want $10 and hour because I’m a conservative”.

No Ralph. I would hope that the people at Walmart and every person working would realize that these companies can’t just magically raise wages across the board. I would hope that the employee would say, “Hey, I’d rather make eight dollars an hour and be employed then the promise of $10 an hour and be laid off so the company could afford to pay the $10 an hour to all the other employees by using my paycheck”.

I know these are rhetorical questions, but do these dopes in Congress not understand anything about business? Have they never had to make a payroll? Have they never had to compete for business, maintain a minimum gross margin, had to lay someone off due to a down turn? Silly me. Of course not. When you can print money and deficit spend until after the cows come home, how could you know, or care.

These politicians don’t give a damn about the little guy. The little guy is who employs most Americans. The “Walmarts” of the world would be adversely affected, yes, but it really hurts the small business.

Issues that they never take into consideration are the difference between what an employee takes home in pay compared to his total compensation. Employers must pay for legally required worker benefits that include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, health and disability insurance benefits, and whatever paid leave benefits they offer, such as vacations, holidays and sick leave. It’s tempting to think of higher minimum wages as an anti-poverty weapon, but such an idea is ridiculous on it’s face. After all, if higher minimum wages could cure poverty, we could easily end worldwide poverty simply by telling poor nations to legislate higher minimum wages.

Poor people are not poor because of low wages. For the most part, they’re poor because of low productivity, and wages are connected to productivity. The effect of minimum wages is that of causing unemployment among low-skilled workers. If an employer must pay $10 an hour, plus mandates that might bring the employment cost of a worker to $14 or $15 an hour, does it pay him to hire a person who has the skills that permit him to produce only $8 worth of value per hour? Most employers would view hiring such a person as a losing economic proposition.

But, you say; are you heartless? Don’t these workers deserve a “Living Wage”? I could ask the same to those minimum wage advocates. Don’t you care about the workers?

The facts are that most studies of minimum wage laws in countries around the world show that fewer people are employed at artificially higher wage rates. Moreover, unemployment falls disproportionately on lower skilled workers, younger and inexperienced workers, and workers from minority groups. In other words, raise the wage rate & create greater unemployment.

A Cato Institute study cited data showing consistent job losses in places where local or regional “living wage” laws have been imposed. This should not be the least bit surprising. Making anything more expensive almost invariably leads to fewer purchases. That includes labor.

As imposed wage rates rise, so do job qualifications, so that less skilled or less experienced workers become “unemployable.” Think about it. Every one of us would be “unemployable” if our pay rates were raised high enough.

Attribution: Walter E Williams

Tree Ring Mystery

It is a mystery which is may be beyond even Sherlock Holmes’s ability – a cosmic explosion which left no trace behind except deep within the bark of two cedar trees.

Fusa Miyake, of the Nagoya University in Japan, studied the growth rings of two trees dating back 1,200 years – and discovered that an explosion of epic proportions occurred between 774 and 775AD.

But there is no record of anything happening in our skies in that period – except perhaps for one tiny, obscure account by a 13th-century historian.

The problem – and this is where we need to call in Mr Holmes of Baker Street – is that there should be a record.

The problem is, if this was a supernova – a star exploding deep in space – we should either be able to spot the remains with modern telescopes, or find visual accounts in the written accounts of Chinese and European historians.

To get the technical details out of the way first: Trees capture particles from the atmosphere during photosynthesis, and one particle that gets buried within the annual growth rings is carbon-14.

Carbon-14 forms when cosmic rays, generally caused by massive solar flares, or by supernovae, interact with nitrogen and oxygen in our atmosphere.

In the two cedar trees, and doubtless many other tree records from the period, there was a giant increase of 1.2 per cent of carbon-14.

In comparison, the annual variation of the captured isotope is just 0.05%, making this more than a 20-fold increase.

In recorded history, at least two supernovae have exploded in the skies visible from Earth, their light travelling across light-years to hit the eyes of humans.

In 1006 and 1056, two stars went nuclear – at least, the light from their deaths arrived on Earth in those years.

Both explosions resulted in ‘stars’ that were visible in the daytime for weeks afterwards, and were recorded around the world.

Yet even such giant events, which impacted on those who saw them enough that the records survive to this day, were not powerful enough to result in much of a variation in the carbon-14 levels.

So the 774AD explosion must have been on a scale much greater.

But if a supernova had exploded of a force even just equal to the other two witnessed supernovae, we should be able to witness gas remnants – the corpse of the star – in space. But there is nothing in the skies to suggest this.

The only contemporaneous record is from a 13th-century English chronicler, called Roger of Wendover, who, according to New Scientist, is quoted as saying: “In the Year of our Lord 776, fiery and fearful signs were seen in the heavens after sunset; and serpents appeared in Sussex, as if they were sprung out of the ground, to the astonishment of all.”

This lends itself to just one other possibility, that of a solar flare. But if that were the case, it would be the largest solar flare ever recorded from our sun.

And if that had occurred, it would have seriously hurt or even entirely destroyed our ozone – and at the least leaving traces that we could identify more than 1,000 years later, let alone leading to reports from all the chroniclers of the age.

Researcher Igor Moskalenko, an astrophysicist at Stanford University, who has followed the case but was not involved in the original study, says: “I cannot imagine a single flare which would be so bright.”

Instead, he offers his own hypothesis: “It may be a series of weaker flares over the period of one to three years.”

Other tree rings have also implied something big happened in in the mid-770s, this time in the UK.

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, UK, also found the carbon-14 increase – but they have yet to publish their work.

Daniel Baker, a space physicist at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado also told New Scientist: “The work looks pretty solid – Some very energetic event occurred in about 775.”

Attribution: Mail Online, New Scientist

Does Legal = Moral?

Immoral Beyond Redemption

by: Walter E. Williams:

Benjamin Franklin, statesman and signer of our Declaration of Independence, said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” John Adams, another signer, echoed a similar statement: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Are today’s Americans virtuous and moral, or have we become corrupt and vicious? Let’s think it through with a few questions.

 Suppose I saw an elderly woman painfully huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter. She’s hungry and in need of shelter and medical attention. To help the woman, I walk up to you using intimidation and threats and demand that you give me $200. Having taken your money, I then purchase food, shelter and medical assistance for the woman. Would I be guilty of a crime? A moral person would answer in the affirmative. I’ve committed theft by taking the property of one person to give to another.

Most Americans would agree that it would be theft regardless of what I did with the money. Now comes the hard part. Would it still be theft if I were able to get three people to agree that I should take your money? What if I got 100 people to agree — 100,000 or 200 million people? What if instead of personally taking your money to assist the woman, I got together with other Americans and asked Congress to use Internal Revenue Service agents to take your money? In other words, does an act that’s clearly immoral and illegal when done privately become moral when it is done legally and collectively? Put another way, does legality establish morality? Before you answer, keep in mind that slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; the Nazi’s Nuremberg Laws were legal; and the Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal. Legality alone cannot be the guide for moral people. The moral question is whether it’s right to take what belongs to one person to give to another to whom it does not belong.

Don’t get me wrong. I personally believe that assisting one’s fellow man in need by reaching into one’s own pockets is praiseworthy and laudable. Doing the same by reaching into another’s pockets is despicable, dishonest and worthy of condemnation. Some people call governmental handouts charity, but charity and legalized theft are entirely two different things. But as far as charity is concerned, James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” To my knowledge, the Constitution has not been amended to include charity as a legislative duty of Congress.

Our current economic crisis, as well as that of Europe, is a direct result of immoral conduct. Roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of our federal budget can be described as Congress’ taking the property of one American and giving it to another. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for nearly half of federal spending. Then there are corporate welfare and farm subsidies and thousands of other spending programs, such as food stamps, welfare and education. According to a 2009 Census Bureau report, nearly 139 million Americans — 46 percent — receive handouts from one or more federal programs, and nearly 50 percent have no federal income tax obligations.

In the face of our looming financial calamity, what are we debating about? It’s not about the reduction or elimination of the immoral conduct that’s delivered us to where we are. It’s about how we pay for it — namely, taxing the rich, not realizing that even if Congress imposed a 100 percent tax on earnings higher than $250,000 per year, it would keep the government running for only 141 days.

Ayn Rand, in her novel “Atlas Shrugged,” reminded us that “when you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good.”

You Just Got Cut

The makers of Men in Black 3 might not have realized that setting parts of the film in New York’s Chinatown would cause such a stir on the other side of the world.

But the Chinese government apparently saw plenty of political resonance in one scene where Will Smith, playing a US secret agent, erases the memories of a group of Chinese bystanders.

“This could have been a hint on the use of internet censorship to maintain social stability,” commented China’s Southern Daily newspaper.

Meanwhile two other scenes, where unsavory aliens disguise themselves as Chinese restaurant workers, were also judged to have cast China in a bad light.

Such micromanagement by the government is not new. Scenes showing a Chinese pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End were cut on the mainland.

“I remember watching Mission Impossible here and they garbled some of the dialogue,” said Dan Mintz, the head of DMG, a Beijing production company that is shooting the next Iron Man movie in China later this year.

Iron Man 3 is the largest movie to be co-produced in China to date, as Hollywood wakes up to the potential of the Chinese market.

However, given the Communist party’s determination to make sure China is always shown in a good light, filmmakers are facing serious hurdles in getting movies past the censors.

“Unless there is a flattering image of Chinese people, you are going to run into a challenge from the State Administration of Film, Television and Radio (SARFT),” said Robert Cain, a partner in Pacific Bridge Pictures, which specializes in Chinese productions.

“The list of taboos is so long it is very often too difficult to make anything entertaining,” he added. “I had a friend submit a script and the censors asked him to change the name of one of the characters. He could not understand why so he asked them and they said it was the pet name that Deng Xiaoping (China’s former paramount leader) used for his granddaughter.”

However, Mr Cain said there is room for negotiation with the censors, particularly if a film is more nuanced and if there is a balance between good and bad Chinese characters.

Mr Mintz said the situation has improved in the past two years: previously Chinese censors would simply block films they did not like from entering the market.

Salt, a thriller which opened in a prison in North Korea, China’s close ally, was denied entry. MGM is still said to be suffering from a decision to remake Red Dawn, an anti-Communist action film, even though Chinese villains were substituted in the film for North Koreans.

“We are still in transition from propaganda to entertainment,” said Mr Mintz, while adding that Chinese censors were sympathetic if characters were more nuanced, and that their demands were part of a chorus of other hurdles facing filmmakers.

Attribution: UK Telegraph

Not too Much Now

Experts said exercising for between 30 and 60 minutes a day is ideal and beyond that would lead to ‘diminishing returns’.

People who run marathons and cycle long distances risk long-term damage to their hearts and are at greater risk of suffering a heart attack in the two years after their race, they were warned.

A review of research on endurance exercise conducted by a team at the respected Mayo Clinic in Rochester, found such exercise as marathons, iron man distance triathlons, and very long distance bicycle races may cause structural changes to the heart and large arteries.

It was also revealed last week that surgeons are seeing an increase in the number of middle-aged fitness fans who are wearing out their knee joints by playing tennis and running into their 40s and 50s.

Published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings it was found that some athletes suffer temporary changes in their heart function which return to normal in the week after their race; however for others, permanent scarring occurs.

Lead author Dr James H. O’Keefe, of Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, said: “Physically active people are much healthier than their sedentary counterparts.”

“Exercise is one of the most important things you need to do on a daily basis.”

“But what this paper points out is that a lot of people do not understand that the lion’s share of health benefits accrue at a relatively modest level. Extreme exercise is not really conducive to great cardiovascular health. Beyond 30-60 minutes per day, you reach a point of diminishing returns.”

He added: “Physical exercise, though not a drug, possesses many traits of a powerful pharmacologic agent.

“A routine of daily physical activity can be highly effective for prevention and treatment of many diseases, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, heart failure, and obesity.

“However, as with any pharmacologic agent, a safe upper dose limit potentially exists,

Traumatic

beyond which the adverse effects of physical exercise, such as musculoskeletal trauma and cardiovascular stress, may outweigh its benefits.”

As well as scarring of the heart muscle, elite athletes can develop changes in their heart rhythm which can predispose them to sudden cardiac arrest and death if not treated quickly.

Endurance sports have been linked to a five-fold increased risk of atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disturbance which requires careful treatment and can be fatal.

More research is needed to establish the level at which exercise becomes harmful to the heart so exercise programmes can be devised to maximise the health benefits while protecting the heart, Dr O’Keefe said.

Attribution: Rebecca Smith

We Must be LOST

by:  

Just like a horror movie series, evil-minded Soviet-era treaties just keep coming back to life, aided by their acolytes in the United States Senate.

John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and mate of the Heinz ketchup fortune, last week decided to revisit the aptly named Law of the Sea Treaty — or LOST.

This treaty was originally rejected by President Reagan, but the LOST agenda has been lurking around the corridors of the United Nations ever since.

The treaty, which was endorsed by the former Soviet Union, would reduce our military power, rob us of rights over our own coastal resources, subject U.S. actions in international waters to the authority of foreign countries and submit our country to an international taxing agency that would “redistribute” our wealth to other nations, including some of our enemies.

Naturally, the liberals like it. And by liberals I mean not just Democrats but some of the RINOs hiding in the GOP camp, such as the five living Republican secretaries of state, from Kissinger to Rice.

The best reasons conjured for approving LOST include joining the international community in regulating the seas, “having a seat at the table” to negotiate rights over resources and having legal recourse should other nations violate our rights. Most incredibly, promoters of this treaty seem to think we’ll believe it increases our national security.

First, joining the international community to regulate the seas: We can already do that without the United Nations being given authority over us. It’s called diplomacy and negotiation.

Having a seat at the table: Unless you’re talking about an invitation to a gourmet feast or at least Thanksgiving dinner, a seat at the table isn’t worth much. Easy marks have a seat at the table, then they get taken for everything they’re worth and dumped in a back alley for their trouble.

Legal recourse against other nations that violate our rights: We have that already, again without the U.N. It’s called the United States military –and it’s a lot more effective than a pronouncement from some international courtroom.

As for increasing our national security, only a liberal could think that joining a treaty that requires us to give away secrets and our best technology to foreign nations that may use it against us is a way to secure the country.

The biggest stupidity of this treaty, however, is its granting of taxing authority to a Jamaica-based International Seabed Authority, especially at a time when the U.S. economy is suffering under its third year of recession. To raise taxes now would drive a stake through American businesses and the middle class.

The LOST convention represents a complete violation of the trust voters put in their representatives. Naturally, President Obama is already on board. Conservative voters need to tell their Senators to vote against it and keep LOST from being ratified.

Just Shut Them All Down

from:  of The Blaze:

Back in 1992, in his speech to the Republican National Convention, Pat Buchanan railed against the “environmental extremists who put birds and rats and insects ahead of families, workers, and jobs.”

This was widely seen as an unfair caricature of liberal environmental policy in 1992. In 2012, it’s practically a bloodless statement of fact.

The Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has, in fact, been doing its best to validate this description, either through policy or highly revealing slips of the tongue. The most recent of the slips comes from EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding, who was captured in a video released by the office of Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) telling an audience at Yale University the following:

“But know right now, we are, we are struggling. We are struggling because we are trying to do our jobs. Lisa Jackson has put forth a very powerful message to the country. Just two days ago, the decision on greenhouse gas performance standard and saying basically gas plants are the performance standard which means if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem. That was a huge decision. You can’t imagine how tough that was. Because you got to remember if you go to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all those places, you have coal communities who depend on coal. And to say that we just think those communities should just go away, we can’t do that. But she had to do what the law and policy suggested. And it’s painful. It’s painful every step of the way.”

Hear the comments from Spalding’s own mouth here:

To Spalding’s credit, he at least sounds regretful that the EPA (according to him) absolutely has to drive an entire industry into the ground for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, this video will do nothing to assuage the image of President Obama as an essentially anti-coal President who is using his EPA to try to strangle the industry – an image that has yielded political humiliation for the President in Appalachia, where coal is one of the leading sources of employment.

One almost feels sorry for President Obama’s sake that “birds and rats and insects” can’t vote…at least, not outside Chicago.

The Mile High Club

Vintage plane parts destined for the scrap heap have been given a new lease on life and being transformed into beds chairs and desks.

Californian company Motoart spends hours transforming wings, doors and engine cowls into stylish furniture.

Many of the parts require more than 100 hours of cutting, grinding, buffing and polishing before they are ready for purchase.

The company’s bomber seats even come with the original ejector pin and ‘remove before flight’ warning tag.

Their prices range from from $100 for a desk watch to $60,000 for a one-of-a-kind conference table, made from a wing.

Dave Hall, joint owner of Motoart, based next to Los Angeles International Airport, said:

“The mile high beds are very popular with men – and they are almost always bachelors.”

“The bed frames are made from the tail fins of a DC-9 aircraft.”

“They cost between $15,000 and $31,000 but all our prices reflect the rarity of the aeroplane model.”

“We only have 12 of the ejector seats left, so they are priced at $12,000 each.”

Motoart has produced items for A-list celebrities, royalty in the Middle East, and big business clients including Microsoft and Boeing.

Mr Hall said: “A business executive who buys one of our desks certainly has a conversation starter when someone walks into their office.”

Mr Hall 45, set up Motoart in 2001 with Donovan Fell, 64.

The business now employs 17 people and takes in around $40 million a year.

They first got the idea of transforming aircraft parts after selling a set of formerly scrap propellors as art, in the late 1990s.

Mr Hall said “Donovan had his doubts at first, but we cleaned the propellors up and sold them for $10,000 a piece – so we knew we were on to a winner.”

“The scrap parts make up ancient aircraft history. The engineering that went into them is incredible and we only enhance that.”

“Why wouldn’t you want to own a piece of history that looks this good?”

Attribution: Daily Mail