• Cambridge, Mass., Cafes Are Now Closing Earlier. Why?

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    The Boston Globe mentions the closings, says the customers are grumpy about it, and then, way down in the story, mentions why.

    It turns out that the increased minimum wage makes late-night hours unprofitable.

    So, who is the loser, besides the customer?

    The low-wage workers who are trying to make ends meet and work their way up the job ladder, starting on the lowest rung.

    The do-gooders, however well-intentioned their motives, kicked out the lower rungs out of the job ladder.

    Those rungs are most needed by the least-skilled, the least-experienced, the most-impoverished.

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    Comment: Media Bias: The Boston Globe buries the reason for the closings.

    It simply doesn’t fit their view of how the world should work, so they downplay it. That’s bias, pure and simple.

    Hat tip to Ken Freed for this story.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, April 27

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump goes BIG with proposed tax cuts

    New York Times: “Trump Proposes Sharply Cutting Tax Rates for Individuals”

    The plan is still broad strokes, rather than details, but the strokes are bold.  The point men are Steven Mnuchin at Treasury and Gary Cohn at the National Economic Council.

    The proposal envisions slashing the tax rate paid by businesses large and small to 15 percent. The number of individual income tax brackets would shrink from seven to three — 10, 25 and 35 percent — easing the tax burden on most Americans, including the president, although aides did not offer the income ranges for each bracket.

    Individual tax rates currently have a ceiling of 39.6 percent and a floor of 10 percent. Most Americans pay taxes somewhere between the two.

    The president would eliminate the estate tax and alternative minimum tax, a parallel system that primarily hits wealthier people by effectively limiting the deductions and other benefits available to them. –New York Times

    The Times also has a perceptive story: Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Reckoning for Republican Deficit Hawks

    The White House insists that economic growth will cover the cost, which could be as high as $7 trillion over a decade. But the question will dog Republicans and could fracture their party as they face the prospect of endorsing a plan that many economists and budget analysts warn will increase the deficit. –New York Times

    Comment: The main story on tax cuts is riddled with editorial attacks on Trump and often personal ones. The opening line of the lead story is that the tax cuts benefit the rich. And all the stories emphasize the NYT’s speculation–and that is all it is–that the cuts will benefit Trump personally. The implications are that he is self-dealing and that this plan is just another “favor-the-rich, Republican plutocrat” idea. They also love to follow the “benefit the rich” with the words “like Donald Trump.” They have given up all pretense of distinguishing their hard-news reporting from their editorial stance. The difference is the first thing student journalists learn.

     US THAAD anti-missile system, sent to South Korea, to be active within days  (CNN)

    Comment: The US has also sent major naval assets to the area, while China and Russia have deployed significant land forces, possibly fearing an influx of refugees if the Kim regime collapse. But also a signal to Kim Jong Un that he is facing pressure on multiple fronts. 

     Obamacare repeal: House GOP factions making progress, Senate Republicans still an obstacle.  Politico reports: GOP senators not so keen on House’s Obamacare repeal

    The House may finally be on its way to scrapping Obamacare, but don’t expect the Senate to go along: Any plan sent over will undergo major surgery — and survival is far from assured.

    The hurdles in the upper chamber were on vivid display Wednesday as House Republicans celebrated their breakthrough on the stalled repeal effort. The compromise cut with House Freedom Caucus members won over the right flank, but the changes will almost surely make it harder to pick up votes in the more moderate-minded Senate. –Politico

    Comment: The pressure to get this done will be enormous. The GOP knows that they face electoral disaster if they don’t pass their biggest promise of the past seven years.

     How good is the economy in Austin, Texas? “Employers struggling to find workers who will take less than $15 an hour” (KXAN)

    The story also notes, oddly, that unemployment there has crept up slightly in the past few months.

    Comment: When I was in Austin this winter, I asked some workers at a fast-food chain what the starting wage was. “$12 an hour.” I often ask that question when I travel since the starting wage at a McDonald’s or Dairy Queen is the effective minimum wage in the area. 

    I draw two lessons from the Austin story.

    First, the only lasting way to raise the minimum wage is to strengthen business demand for workers, which means making it easier for them to do business and prosper. That’s the Texas story, in a nutshell.

    Second, if unemployment is creeping up (though still very low in Austin) but businesses cannot find workers, then something is wrong. Either people don’t have the right skills or there are disincentives to work. Either way, those are problems that need solutions.

     First settlers came to America 130,000 years ago, long before previous estimates, according to a new study.  (Science News)

    An unidentified Homo species used stone tools to crack apart mastodon bones, teeth and tusks approximately 130,700 years ago at a site near what’s now San Diego. This unsettling claim upending the scientific debate over the settling of the Americas comes from a team led by archaeologist Steven Holen of the Center for American Paleolithic Research in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and paleontologist Thomas Deméré of the San Diego Natural History Museum. If true, it means the Cerutti Mastodon site contains the oldest known evidence, by more than 100,000 years, of human or humanlike colonists in the New World, the researchers report online April 26 in Nature. –Science News

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Michael Lipson
     for the Austin, Texas, story

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, February 27

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     The Democratic Party missed a bullet by saying “no” to Keith Ellison. That Tom Perez is considered a centrist, establishment figure tells you how far left the party has shifted under Obama.

    The Washington Post has a piece on why Ellison lost, but, unfortunately, it is biased and incomplete. The piece, written by David Weigel, cites these elements:

    • Former Pres. Obama’s support for Perez and the party’s unwillingness to depart from Obama’s legacy
    • Perez’ success in minimizing the ideological space between him and Ellison
    • Common opposition to Trump lessened Democrats’ internal differences
    • A “persistent smear campaign cost Ellison votes”

    In the final days of the campaign, Ellison’s harshest critics — including Alan Dershowitz, who donates to Democrats but is not particularly involved in the party — reemerged to smear the congressman’s record on Jewish issues. The National Jewish Congress put out fresh criticisms of Ellison, which Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), an Ellison supporter, publicly disputed. –David Weigel in the Washington Post

    Comment: Weigel’s characterization of attacks on Ellison as a “smear campaign” is a good example of why the Post is accused of serious political bias. It richly deserves the characterization.

    Even if you accept Ellison’s word that he has broken completely with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Ellison’s public record of anti-Semitic statements was bound to create problems. So was his record of harshly anti-Israeli rhetoric. Those may not matter in his Congressional district, but they would matter nationally.

    Second, if the job of the DNC chair is to recruit strong local candidates and raise money for them–and that is exactly what the job is–then a candidate with Ellison’s background and record, plus his association with Bernie Sanders would be a death knell in many swing states. That’s why every Republican wanted him to win. Everyone. That’s why Republicans will point out that Ellison is now “Vice Chair” of the party. It is an honorific post, to be sure, but the Democrats have given it to someone who deserves no honor.

    Perez does have one advantage as incoming chair. No matter how bad he is, he can’t be worse than Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Donna “Here are the secret questions, Hillary” Brazile. They are the face of entrenched Washington insider backscratching.

     Millennials having troubling getting into the housing market. When they are “ready to buy a home, the pickings are slim(Washington Post/Chicago Tribune)

    Overall millennials are falling behind other generations in homeownership, with first-time home buyers, who usually consist of 40 percent of the market, stuck at 34 percent.

    That could become damaging to this generation’s future prosperity. Housing experts say homeownership remains one of the primary ways for the middle class to build wealth, despite the ups and downs of the past decade. And with mortgage rates beginning to creep up, millennials who have to wait to buy could miss out on historically low rates. –Chicago Tribune

    Comment: There are building cranes all over downtown Chicago, erecting housing. Almost all of it is rental, I’m told.

     Good news on millennials’ economic fortunes  The same article reports that many more are now in the workforce and that their wages are up sharply. Very good news, indeed.

    As the economy has improved, so have millennials’ fortunes.

    The most recent employment data shows that the percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds in the labor force is the largest in eight years. This group has also recently begun to enjoy stark wage gains. Recent census data showed that in 2015, millennials’ incomes jumped 7 percent, far more than most other groups’.

    In a stronger financial position, more millennials are starting families. The census projects that household formation will average about 1.5 million per year through 2020, up from the 900,000 annual average in the past five years.

     The high cost of higher minimum wages: Wendy’s plans self-ordering kiosks at 1,000 locations by year-end  (WHIO)

    Comment: This is not rocket-science: labor-saving devices are more attractive when wages are high.

    The substitution of computers, artificial intelligence, and robotics will happen inexorably for low-skill jobs (and increasingly for cognitively-difficult jobs). Raising wages artificially only speeds the process. The biggest losers are those who need low-wage jobs the most. Those are people just starting out who lack other marketable skills and need to prove their competence and reliability so they can move up the wage scale.

     Ted Lowi has died. He was one of the most important scholars of American politics in the mid-20th century.  (New York Times) Originally from Gadsden, Alabama, he was a professor at Cornell for many years.

    Comment: Ted was part of the Marks family, which founded my hometown in Mississippi. 

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