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Minimum wage workers tend to be young, single, part-time workers with less than a high school diploma
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its annual report on the “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2014,” and here are some highlights:
Age. For workers ages 16 to 19 years old, only 15.3% made the minimum wage or less in 2014 (about 1 in every 6.5 workers in that age group) and almost 85% of those workers earned more than the federal minimum wage last year. For workers ages 25 and older, only 2.5% (1 in 40) earned the federal minimum wage or less last year. So even the vast majority of teenagers (more than 8 of every 10) earn more than the federal minimum wage.
Education. For workers with less than a high school diploma, 7.3% of those workers earned the minimum wage last year, compared to 3.5% (1 in 29) of high school graduates, 2.2% (1 in 45) of workers with an associate’s degree and fewer than 2% of workers (about 1 in 53) with a bachelor’s degree or higher who earned the minimum wage last year.
Marital Status. For never married workers, who tend to also be young, 6.7% of that cohort worked last year at the minimum wage, compared to only 1.9% (about 1 in 53) of married workers with a spouse present who worked at the minimum wage in 2014.
Hours Worked. Among full-time workers only 1.8% (1 in 56) earned the minimum wage or less, compared to 9.5% (1 in 11) of part-time workers.
Bottom Line: Four important factors that will help workers earn a wage above the federal minimum wage are: 1) age (experience), 2) education, 3) marital status and 4) hours worked. Only 1-in-40 workers age 25 and above make the minimum wage, only 1-in-45 workers with an associate’s degree or higher makes the minimum wage, only 1-in-53 married workers earns the minimum wage, and only 1-in-56 workers working full-time earns the minimum wage. The evidence seems clear that the minimum wage applies only to a very small group of young, inexperienced, single, part-time workers, with a lack of education. The path to higher wages includes staying in school, getting job experience, working full-time and getting married. Raising the minimum wage will make that path to higher wages more difficult, not easier, because it will price many younger, less-educated, less experienced workers out of the labor market — and will deny them the opportunity to work, gain experience, and gain the job skills they need that paves the path to higher wages.
How about a ‘Capitalism Day’ to balance ‘Earth Day’ to remind us of what’s behind environmental improvements
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In a great editorial in 2009 (excerpts appear below), Investor’s Business Daily reminded us of the main, but unrecognized force that has driven the environmental improvements that have taken place since the first Earth Day in 1970 – capitalism, and the wealth generated by the free market. Schools all over America today will celebrate Earth Day, and students nationwide will get a heavy dose of the anti-market, pro-government message that motivates Earth Day. They’ll probably hear all about the evils of free market capitalism and its role in harming the environment, and learn that the only solutions to environmental issues are market-suppressing, heavy-handed government regulations. As Steven Landsburg observed, the messages about the environment delivered in most schools today inculcate the very dangerous substitution of biases for analysis.
To complement and offset the environmental hysteria promoted by Earth Day, IBD suggested an annual event called “Capitalism Day.” What a great idea, especially if Capitalism Day was given “equal time” in our schools nationwide to provide some academic balance for Earth Day, but whose time unfortunately will probably never come…….
Today’s airwaves, print media, cable news shows and Webosphere will be filled with nonsense about the scourge of capitalism, corporations and humanity. All of it will ignore the real truth. Buried beneath all the badgering and fear-mongering about lavish Western lifestyles is a reality that the stuck-on-green left won’t talk about and the average American isn’t aware of: The world, especially in developed nations, is a cleaner — and greener — place than it was when the environmental movement began.
We’re not saying the Earth, or even any part of it, is environmentally pristine. It’s not, it never has been and never will be. Yet there’s actually more positive news to celebrate than there are problems. Of the estimated 1 billion people who will observe Earth Day worldwide this year, few will know about the progress that has been made. Fewer still will know how it was made. The media, uninterested in looking at the real story, will simply credit the environmental movement for the improvements.
We won’t discount the movement’s contribution. Four decades ago, it helped show the world the value of global stewardship. But that movement is no longer interested in a cleaner world. Filled with extremists and anti-capitalist crusaders, its primary goals have changed. Topping the agenda of today’s environmentalist groups is the pulling down of market economies, the raising up of central planning for egalitarian goals, forced lifestyle changes and the vilification — in hopes of the elimination — of signs of wealth.
None of these advance the planet’s environmental health. But capitalism has. Through wealth generated by the free market, we have enough resources to move beyond the subsistence economies that damage the environment, enough disposable income to fund clean-up programs, enough wealth to scrub and polish industry. Only in advanced economies can the technology needed to recycle hazardous waste or to replace dirty coal-fired power plants with cleaner gas or nuclear plants be developed. That technology cannot be produced in centrally planned economies where the profit motive is squelched and lives are marshalled by the state.
There’s nothing wrong with setting aside a day to honor the Earth. In fairness, though, it should be complemented by Capitalism Day. It’s important that the world be reminded of what has driven the environmental improvements since Earth Day began in 1970.
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In the video above from their Showtime series, Penn and Teller discuss recycling (some profanity) and explain why they conclude that “recycling is bullshit.”
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A great Dilbert cartoon for Earth Day, with some wisdom from Dogbert, as Ben Zycher pointed out today in his article for AEI titled “Earth Day and the Celebration of Suffering,” here’s the opening:
In honor of this 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day, let us recall the wisdom of Dogbert, that noted political philosopher and sage observer of the human condition: “You can’t save the earth unless you’re willing to make other people sacrifice.”
As the old saying goes, truer words were never spoken. Earth Day brings each year a worldwide religious celebration at which large masses of people both right-thinking and affluent proclaim their devotion to Gaia and their love of humanity, while displaying their contempt for the lives and well-being of actual people, the poorest among them in particular.
The whole article is worth reading, you’ll find it here.
Recommended reading for Earth Day: ‘Recycling is garbage’ from the NYTimes in 1996; it set the record for hate mail
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Today is Earth Day and to recognize that annual environmental holy day, I recommend reading the classic 1996 New York Times Magazine article titled “Recycling is Garbage” by New York Times science columnist John Tierney, especially if you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from “garbage guilt” — one of the religious components of recycling according to Tierney.
Tierney’s controversial argument that he made back in 1996 is this: recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America. “Rinsing out tuna cans and tying up newspapers may make you feel virtuous, but it’s a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.” Now you can understand why Tierney’s article set the all-time record for the greatest volume of hate mail in the history of the New York Times Magazine. Here are some excerpts of the John Tierney classic “Recycling is Garbage“:
On recycling as a religious experience:
…. the public’s obsession wouldn’t have lasted this long unless recycling met some emotional need. Americans have embraced recycling as a transcendental experience, an act of moral redemption. We’re not just reusing our garbage; we’re performing a rite of atonement for the sin of excess.
On resource scarcity:
We’re [supposedly] squandering irreplaceable natural resources. Yes, a lot of trees have been cut down to make today’s newspaper. But even more trees will probably be planted in their place. America’s supply of timber has been increasing for decades, and the nation’s forests have three times more wood today than in 1920. “We’re not running out of wood, so why do we worry so much about recycling paper?” asks Jerry Taylor, the director of natural resource studies at the Cato Institute. “Paper is an agricultural product, made from trees grown specifically for paper production. Acting to conserve trees by recycling paper is like acting to conserve cornstalks by cutting back on corn consumption.”
Some resources, of course, don’t grow back, and it may seem prudent to worry about depleting the earth’s finite stores of metals and fossil fuels. It certainly seemed so during the oil shortages of the 1970s, when the modern recycling philosophy developed. But the oil scare was temporary, just like all previous scares about resource shortages. The costs of natural resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, have been declining for thousands of years. They’ve become less scarce over time because humans have continually found new supplies or devised new technologies. Fifty years ago, for instance, tin and copper were said to be in danger of depletion, and conservationists urged mandatory recycling and rationing of these vital metals so that future generations wouldn’t be deprived of food containers and telephone wires. But today tin and copper are cheaper than ever. Most food containers don’t use any tin. Phone calls travel through fiber-optic cables of glass, which is made from sand — and should the world ever run out of sand, we could dispense with wires altogether by using cellular phones.
On “human time” as a precious, non-renewable, scarce resource:
The only resource that has been getting consistently more expensive is human time: the cost of labor has been rising for centuries. An hour of labor today buys a larger quantity of energy or raw materials than ever before. To economists, it’s wasteful to expend human labor to save raw materials that are cheap today and will probably be cheaper tomorrow. Even the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental group that strongly favors recycling and has often issued warnings about the earth’s dwindling resources, has been persuaded that there are no foreseeable shortages of most minerals. “In retrospect,” a Worldwatch report notes, “the question of scarcity may never have been the most important one.”
On the enduring myth that “it is better to recycle than to throw away“:
That enduring myth remains popular even among those who don’t believe in the garbage crisis anymore. By now, many experts and public officials acknowledge that America could simply bury its garbage, but they object to this option because it diverts trash from recycling programs. Recycling, which was originally justified as the only solution to a desperate national problem, has become a goal in itself — a goal so important that we must preserve the original problem. Why is it better to recycle? The usual justifications are that it saves money and protects the environment. These sound reasonable until you actually start handling garbage.
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I’m sure you’ve all been bombarded with the “green nitwitery” encouraging you to not print your emails, with messages like the ones below that try to burden you with “green guilt” for the environmental sin of daring to print an email and offend the green gods and goddesses like Earth Goddess Gaia:
As an alternative, here’s my preferred signature that I use in all of my emails:
Notice: It’s OK to print this email free of any “eco-guilt.” Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees. Growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of Americans. Working forests are good for the environment and provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Thanks to improved forest management, we have more trees in America today than we had 100 years ago.
That’s not original, it’s a slightly modified version of the email signature used by keyboardist (Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones), tree farmer, and environmentalist Chuck Leavell, which was published in his March 31, 2011 WSJ op-ed (with Carlton Owen) titled “Save a Forest: Print Your Emails: It’s okay to use paper. Trees are renewable, recyclable and sustainable.”
To properly celebrate (observe) Earth Day 2015 today (the “green holy day”), I encourage you to add an email signature like the one that Chuck Leavell (and now I) uses.
On Earth Day, let’s appreciate our fossil fuel energy treasures that come from the Earth’s natural environment
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Below is an updated, slightly revised version of my op-ed last year about this time in Investor’s Business Daily (“Earth Day: Hail Fossil Fuels, Energy Of The Future,” requires subscription):
It’s largely those natural energy sources that fuel our vehicles and airplanes; heat, cool, and light our homes and businesses; and power our nation’s factories, and in the process significantly raise our standard of living. Shouldn’t that be part of “increasing our awareness and appreciation of Earth’s natural environment” — to celebrate Mother Earth’s bountiful natural resources in the form of abundant, low-cost fossil fuels?
The chart above illustrates the importance of the Earth’s hydrocarbon energy treasures to the American economy — in the past, today, and in the future. Over almost a one-hundred year period from 1949 to 2040, fossil fuels have provided, and will continue to provide, the vast majority of our energy by far according to Obama’s Department of Energy. Last year, fossil fuels provided more than 83% of America’s energy consumption, which was nearly unchanged from the 85% fossil fuel share twenty years ago in the early 1990s.
Even more than a quarter of a century from now in 2040, the Department of Energy forecasts that fossil fuels will still be the dominant energy source, providing more than 81% of our energy needs. So, despite President Obama’s dismissal of oil and fossil fuels as “energy sources of the past,” the forecasts from his own Department of Energy tell a much different story of a hydrocarbon-based energy future where fossil fuels serve as the dominant energy source to power our vehicles, heat and light our homes, and fuel the US economy.
Further, President Obama’s energy policy has been primarily to force taxpayers to “invest” in “energy sources of the future” – renewables like solar and wind — instead of expanding production of oil, natural gas and coal. But again, the Department of Energy data tell a much different story. Even after billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy, renewables last year provided only 7.1% of America’s energy, which was actually less than the 9.3% share that renewables provided in 1949, more than 60 years ago – that’s not a lot of progress for the politically popular, and very expensive, renewables.
When it comes to solar and wind, those two energy sources combined provided less than 2.2% of America’s energy consumed in 2014 – an almost insignificant amount. Even in 2040, more than a quarter century from now, solar and wind together will account for only about 4.3% of America’s energy, according to government forecasts, and all renewables together (including hydropower) will provide only 9.5% of our nation’s energy – about the same as in 1949 (see chart)!
To further appreciate the Earth’s natural environment on Earth Day, we should celebrate the revolutionary extraction technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that have allowed us to tap into what were previously inaccessible, natural energy treasures trapped in tight shale rock miles below the Earth’s surface. It’s an important point that those shale resources have been part of the Earth’s “natural environment” for hundreds of thousands of years, but have only become usable natural resources in the last seven years, because of the human resourcefulness that led to breakthroughs in drilling and extraction technologies.
Therefore, the full awareness and appreciation of Earth’s natural environment really only makes sense as a greater appreciation of the human resourcefulness and human ingenuity that have transformed natural resources like sand into computer chips, and oil and gas trapped in shale rock formations miles below the ground into usable energy products.
Mother Nature provides us with an almost infinite abundance of natural resources, but without any “instruction manuals” that tell us how to process those resources into useable products that improve our lives and raise our standard of living. On Earth Day, let’s not forget to celebrate and appreciate the human resources — knowledge, ingenuity, know-how, creativity, “petropreneurship,” and imagination, i.e. the “instruction manuals” – that transform otherwise unusable resources like shale hydrocarbons into energy treasures that will power our economy for generations to come.
18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year
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In the May 2000 issue of Reason Magazine, award-winning science correspondent Ronald Bailey wrote an excellent article titled “Earth Day, Then and Now” to provide some historical perspective on the 30th anniversary of Earth Day. In that article, Bailey noted that around the time of the first Earth Day, and in the years following, there was a “torrent of apocalyptic predictions” and many of those predictions were featured in his Reason article. Well, it’s now the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, and a good time to ask the question again that Bailey asked 15 years ago: How accurate were the predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970? The answer: “The prophets of doom were not simply wrong, but spectacularly wrong,” according to Bailey. Here are 18 examples of the spectacularly wrong predictions made around 1970 when the “green holy day” (aka Earth Day) started:
1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.
3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”
7. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.
8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
9. In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
10. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.
12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in his 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.
13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out.
14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.'”
15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.
16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
17. In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”
18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
MP: Let’s keep those spectacularly wrong predictions from the first Earth Day 1970 in mind when we’re bombarded tomorrow with media hype, and claims like this from the official Earth Day website:
Scientists warn us that climate change could accelerate beyond our control, threatening our survival and everything we love. We call on you to keep global temperature rise under the unacceptably dangerous level of 2 degrees C, by phasing out carbon pollution to zero. To achieve this, you must urgently forge realistic global, national and local agreements, to rapidly shift our societies and economies to 100% clean energy by 2050. Do this fairly, with support to the most vulnerable among us. Our world is worth saving and now is our moment to act. But to change everything, we need everyone. Join us.
Finally, think about this question, posed by Ronald Bailey in 2000: What will Earth look like when Earth Day 60 rolls around in 2030? Bailey predicts a much cleaner, and much richer future world, with less hunger and malnutrition, less poverty, and longer life expectancy, and with lower mineral and metal prices. But he makes one final prediction about Earth Day 2030: “There will be a disproportionately influential group of doomsters predicting that the future–and the present–never looked so bleak.” In other words, the hype, hysteria and spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the “environmental grievance hustlers.”
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An excerpt from my op-ed in The Hill yesterday:
When Congress approved the ban on crude oil exports 40 years ago in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo, there was no reason to expect then that the United States would ever have a surplus of domestically produced oil. But a new era of energy abundance has arrived in America in recent years as a result of the shale revolution. Petroleum imports have dropped to less than 27 percent of what we consume, down from more than 60 percent a decade ago – and the United States is more energy secure and self-sufficient than it has been in at least thirty years.
It’s time for Congress to overturn the outdated ban on oil exports. Lifting the ban would not only provide access to an international market for shale oil but would also create a wide range of jobs in the oil drilling supply chain and broader economy, according to a new study by the research firm IHS. The study says that nearly a million new jobs could be created by 2018 if the ban on crude oil exports is lifted. Only 10 percent of the jobs would be created in actual oil production, while 30 percent would come from industries that support drilling, such as construction, oil field trucks and information technology. And 60 percent of the new jobs would come from the broader economy.
The current export ban represents an unacceptable repudiation of free trade, one of the bedrock economic principles of US foreign policy. Rescinding the ban would save U.S. consumers more than $200 billion over the next decade by reducing gasoline prices according to IHS, while generating new investment in U.S. oil production, creating jobs and revenue, and generally bolstering the nation’s economy with an energy-driven stimulus. Let’s make it happen.