December 1, 2012

In AP Climate Conference Coverage, Protest by ‘a Few Hundred’ Is News, Opposition Letter From 129 Scientists Is Not

In case you missed it, there’s yet another United Nations climate conference in progress, this time in Doha Qatar. At the Associated Press, there is a story on a protest which organizers want to characterize as a “march for peace” by “a few hundred” climate activists demanding “climate justice.” The AP’s Karl Ritter warns readers that “Dangerous (global) warming effects could include flooding of coastal cities and island nations, disruptions to agriculture and drinking water, and the spread of diseases and the extinction of species” — even though there has been no net warming in 16 years. Another AP story suggest that “SOME WISH ISLAM WOULD INFORM CLIMATE DEBATE.” I’ll suggest that the referenced “some” includes a few AP and other journalists and almost no one else.

But there has been no room at the AP, as confirmed in a search on the world “climate” at the wire service’s website at 3:30 p.m. ET and a review of possibly relevant articles, for discussion or even recognition of a November 29 open letter sent by over 125 scientists “qualified in climate-related matters” who have informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that “there is no substantiation” for the so-called “science” undergirding the U.N. meeting’s agenda (produced in full after the jump; bold is in original):
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NewsBusted (113012)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 10:15 am

Here we go:

TOPICS:
–Fiscal Cliff
–President Obama
–China Tallest Building
–Illinois Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens
–MSNBC
–Mitt Romney
–Pope and Jesus
–Osama Bin Laden
–Skeleton Sex

Best Line: “Emails have surfaced detailing the killing and burial of Osama bin Laden. The emails are considered authentic because they don’t mention President Obama as having anything to do with it.”

Positivity: Thank You, Jean Schmidt

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:09 am

Before getting to her letter, I want to personally thank Ms. Schmidt’s staff for their determined and compassionate involvement in a matter than was of utmost importance to our family. I am not able to discuss its details, but I can assure readers that her staff’s work was critical to its resolution, and I will never forget how well it was handled.

From departing Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, in the type of email I suspect most defeated congresspersons don’t even think about composing:

The two case workers in my office estimate that they have received a total of about 6,300 requests for constituent services since I came to Congress in 2005. That’s not counting the hundreds of questions that the case workers have answered each year for constituents without having to open case files.

Responding to the needs of the people who live in the seven counties that make up Ohio’s Second Congressional District has been one of my top priorities as your representative in Washington over the last 7½ years.

My current term will conclude January 3. My Hamilton County and Adams County offices are wrapping up several cases involving constituent services, but future requests for such help will be referred to the offices of Ohio’s two senators, Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.

My staff has done an extraordinary job of navigating the federal bureaucracy on behalf of the thousands of people who have telephoned or written to request help over the years.

Some cases, such as requests to expedite passports or visas, can be handled in a few days or weeks. More complex matters, such as those involving immigration, can take six months to three years to resolve. “It can be frustrating at times, but it’s always rewarding,” one of my case workers said.

Many times, my office has been the last hope for people facing financial difficulties. Common issues have included delays by the Internal Revenue Service in processing tax refunds, or demands for additional paperwork to process the payment of Medicare bills. In one case, we helped a constituent get long-overdue Social Security benefits that totaled $68,000.

Other times, my office has helped veterans or their families obtain the medals earned years ago for military service. My office has also cut through red tape to help veterans or their widows obtain tens of thousands of dollars in overdue VA benefits. Other times, my office intervened to help resolve pay or retirement issues for active-duty members of the military.

My case workers also have helped constituents with claims involving thousands of dollars in compensation and medical benefits related to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.

People who have waited on claims for months or even years have been amazed that something could be done to speed things up once a congressional office made a phone call or sent an email.

… I’ve gone to battle for farmers in Southern Ohio, opposing undue regulations and pushing for programs that ensure that our nation has the safest and most stable food supply in the world.

I’ve pushed for reforms for the food stamp program, but argued against drastic cuts that would force many Americans to go hungry. Child-nutrition issues have been a major concern of mine.

I also have championed many projects related to jobs and getting our economy back on track, including the lengthy fight to prod the administration of President Obama to support the USEC uranium-enrichment plant in Pike County.

The importance of constituent services is something I recognized long before becoming the first woman to represent Southern Ohio in Congress. Previously, I spent four years as a state representative in the Ohio House, and I was a Miami Township trustee in my native Clermont County for 11 years.

For each of those 22 years, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve you.

A $12 Minimum Wage in Retail?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:59 am

A lefty organization tries to repeal supply and demand.

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This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Thursday.

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Last week, just in time for the start of what yours truly and the vast majority of Americans call the “Christmas shopping season,” but which the press in virtual lockstep tags as the “holiday shopping season,” a policy analyst at a leftist think tank seriously proposed that all retailers voluntarily raise their employees’ minimum wage to $12.01 per hour, or $25,000 per year for those who work a forty-hour week year-round.

The study (“Retail’s Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy”; full PDF here) came from Demos, whose nice-sounding goal is to “make equality and democracy more than just ideals.” Though it is often characterized as “non-partisan,” it boasts of “a partnership” with the openly liberal but really far-left American Prospect. Catherine Ruetschlin, the study’s author, appears to have had some possibly scrubbed involvement with Occupy Wall Street, and to have been a leader of an unsuccessful 2008-2009 effort aimed at “ridding the New School from the tyranny of Bob Kerrey.” Kerrey, the former Democratic U.S. senator, headed that New York City university for a decade before leaving when his second five-year term ended in January 2011.

According to her Demos bio, Ruetschlin “is currently completing a PhD in Economics at The New School.” Before she receives that doctorate, she should be required to retake Econ 101, especially those pesky sections dealing with the profit motive and the law of supply and demand.

I won’t even attempt to list all of the weaknesses in the Demos study, as it would require at least a term paper to thoroughly expose them all. What I will address will more than suffice to discredit it.

In Ruetschlin’s alternative universe, if retailers raised all employees’ wages to at least $12 per hour, “the new floor would mean a 27 percent pay raise” on average for those earning below that threshold. Then, as if by magic, because of that increase and others granted to higher earners who would also demand to be paid more, “More than 700,000 Americans would be lifted out of poverty, and more than 1.5 million retail workers and their families would move up from in or near poverty.” Employing her trusty Keynesian stimulus calculator, she further projects that “As a result of the economic growth from a wage increase, employers would create 100,000 to 132,000 additional jobs.” And of course, the impact on retailers’ operations would be minimal, because “The cost of the wage increase amounts to $20.8 billion, or just 1 percent of the $2.17 trillion in total annual sales by large retailers.”

It is here that Ruetschlin’s most obvious slip shows. Instead of framing the increased costs of pervasive pay raises (some of which I believe she failed to consider, including payroll taxes, workers’ comp, and other wage-based costs) as a percentage of what retailers actually have available to absorb additional costs (i.e., before-tax profits or net cash flow, and certainly not sales), she goes into a completely irrelevant rant about how some of them are engaging in stock buybacks. It’s easy to see why she dissembles. A Deloitte LLP study (very large PDF) of retailers’ 2010 financial results revealed that eight of the world’s top ten retailers (the other two are privately held) achieved net profit margins of only 3.0 percent. That is their after-tax percentage; pre-tax, it’s at most 5 percent.

Thus, what Ruetschlin really wants is for retailers to do one of three things: voluntarily reduce their pre-tax profits by about 20 percent ($20.8 billion divided by roughly $108 billion in pretax profit), force these costs on to their customers, or extract an equivalent amount from their suppliers in the form of price breaks. And this is going to stimulate job growth?

No it won’t. Here are just a few of the more obvious effects, depending on whose ox gets gored.

If companies voluntarily take the hit and take no alternative actions, their share prices will plummet, as will their ability to pay dividends. They will be less able to raise capital for future expansion. This will affect not only the so-called “one percent” who own and preside over these firms. It will also strike at the rest of us who directly own shares in these companies or indirectly hold them through retirement-plan and other mutual fund investments.

But of course, companies, at least those wishing to survive, will take alternative actions. Some will place more emphasis on their highly automated online efforts. Other will freeze or contract their brick-and-mortar store count. Still others will reduce the floor space at their existing stores. Oh, and one other thing: An entirely government-driven trend which is already underway will accelerate at warp speed. Employers will become even more determined to keep employees from meeting ObamaCare’s new definition of “full-time employment,” holding as many of their current and new workers to 30 or fewer hours per week to avoid being fined for not covering them on their health insurance plans.

Companies which simply choose to pass on the increased costs to the public will become less competitive. They will lose customers, sales and market share, and will be forced to shrink their store count and workforce. Some will go out of business.

If suppliers are the ones who get beaten down, their profits and their shareholders will suffer, along with employees who will surely be hurt by some combination of layoffs due to increased automation and compensation cuts.

At the same time, a $12.01 minimum wage in retail would put enormous pressure on those in other lower-paying industries to pay more, forcing them to raise their prices and suffer the consequences of reduced consumer demand for their goods and services.

There is virtually no doubt that if Demos and Ruetschlin were ever to get what they want, the overall economy and total employment would shrink, not grow.

What Demos, Ruetschlin and their grim band of fellow radicals refuse to recognize is that employment is not some kind of entitlement. It is instead a mutual business agreement between a worker and his or her employer that the use of their services at a given price is a win-win for both parties. If you make the cost of the agreement too dear for either party, you won’t have an agreement. If you are able to force such agreements on the unwilling anyway, you will end up with fewer of them. In the current case, the result will be fewer jobs.

What I really fear is that leftist efforts such as these are the opening shots in what will become an all-out war on employment practices at companies throughout the land. Using dreck such as that produced by Demos as support, “greedy capitalists” will be blamed for the continued and virtually inevitable failure of the economic policies of the Obama administration. And if these companies won’t do what they “should”? Why, the government will just have to take them over and run them “correctly.”

We’ve seen it happen time and again in other countries. I wish I could be confident that it can’t and won’t happen here.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (120112)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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