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…. is from the chapter “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business” in Ayn Rand’s book “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” (originally published in 1967):
If you care about justice to minority groups, remember that businessmen are a small minority, a very small minority, compared to the total of all the uncivilized hordes on earth. Remember how much you owe to this minority – and what disgraceful persecution it is enduring. Remember also that the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
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It has only been about a month and it’s already time for my fifth “quarterly” spelling/punctuation/grammar rant of the year (see my last four here, here, here and here) on what I think is the most common spelling/punctuation/grammar/orthographic mistake in the English language — the misuse of it’s (or its’) for its — illustrated by the examples below (and above) collected from CD comments and other sources on the Web:
1. The White House released it’s annual list of employee salaries on July 1….
2. The NRA is too powerful in it’s sick and twisted agenda.
3. The Digital India initiative is spreading it’s wings in every area possible….
4. The NSA gets it’s mass intercept authority explicitly repudiated by a court….
5. The Tax Foundation’s Jared Walczak asks, at it’s Tax Policy blog yesterday….
6. If Chipotle can’t afford to pay it’s employees more without raising prices…..
Chart of the greatest and most remarkable achievement in human history, thanks to free market capitalism
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Pope Francis has been excoriating capitalism lately, blaming it for causing global injustice and climate change, and even comparing the excesses of unfettered capitalism to the “dung of the devil.” The pontiff’s strong anti-capitalism message reminded me of the chart above. In a CD post in 2013, I suggested that a slightly different version of the chart could perhaps qualify as the “chart of the century” because it illustrates one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: the 80% reduction in world poverty in only 36 years, from 26.8% of the world’s population living on $1 or less (in 1987 dollars) in 1970 to only 5.4% in 2006 (light blue line), led by the 97% reduction in the poverty rate in East Asia (excluding Japan and Hong Kong) from 58.8% to 1.7% over that time period. The data in the chart come from a 2009 NBER working paper “Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income,” by economists Maxim Pinkovskiy (MIT) and Xavier Sala-i-Martin (Columbia).
What accounts for the greatest achievement in human history that you never hear about, and which provides some counterbalance to the anti-market message of Pope Francis? AEI president Arthur Brooks explains in the video above, summarized below :
It turns out that between 1970 and 2010 the worst poverty in the world – people who live on one dollar a day or less – that has decreased by 80 percent (see chart above). You never hear about that.
It’s the greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it.
80 percent of the world’s worst poverty has been eradicated in less than 40 years. That has never, ever happened before.
So what did that? What accounts for that? United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central planning? No.
It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world.
I will state, assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world. It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.
MP: I would argue that free market capitalism, American style, has done more to reduce world poverty than any anti-poverty efforts of the Catholic Church and the Vatican. In fact, I would even argue that just one free-market capitalist corporation – Walmart – might even do as much, or more, to alleviate poverty by providing everyday low prices and jobs for hundreds of thousands of low-income people than the anti-poverty efforts of the Catholic Church in the countries where Walmart operates (US, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, India, China, and nine African countries). In addition to reducing poverty with low-cost groceries, clothing and household goods, Walmart improves the lives of underserved individuals and communities with $1.4 billion in charitable giving every year, which is almost $4 million every day!
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A few weeks ago, Time.com featured an excellent article written by Princeton University student Tal Fortang (“38 ways college students enjoy ‘Left-wing Privilege’ on campus“), which originally appeared on The College Fix website. Here’s an excerpt and my top 15 favorite examples of “left-wing privilege” on college campuses……
One would be hard-pressed to find a more left-leaning group than college professors and admissions officers, who prioritize pulling marginalized groups out of their marginalization and adding people of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to campus conversations. Yet in their efforts to achieve a more egalitarian conversation, left-wing academics and their students completely ignore (at best) and marginalize (at worst) students and the rare colleague who disagree with them politically.
And therein lies the ultimate irony: The very voices that decry inequality in all its manifestations either accept or turn a blind eye to the stunning dearth of conservative academics and the de facto censorship of right-wing students on overwhelmingly left-wing campuses (see my Venn diagram above). Were it some other group suffering such a marginalization, there is no doubt that the left would be up in arms, crying discrimination and demanding rectification.
Some might even call such a monopoly on prevailing campus orthodoxy a type of “privilege,” defined as an asset “of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to.” While the marginalization of right-wing thinkers on campus in no way compares to the experience of black Americans throughout history, it might behoove left-wingers on college campuses to think about the various privileges from which they benefit simply by being members of the overwhelmingly dominant group in their academic communities.
1. I can spend my entire college career taking only classes with professors who think exactly as I do.
2. My professors will assume that I already think just like them, and use examples and anecdotes that testify to our philosophical uniformity.
3. I do not have to fear tipping my hand about my political views in my schoolwork.
4. I can be sure that even if people disagree with me, they will not call me evil or bigoted.
5. I can avoid spending time with people whom I have been taught to disagree with, and who have learned to disagree with me.
6. I can be sure that no one will chalk up my opinions to privilege or lack of empathy.
7. I can express my views on controversial topics without my motives and character being questioned.
8. If I need a role model with whom I agree politically, I can easily find one or more.
9. I can describe my summer writing job without censoring the name of the publication or its political leanings.
10. I can be confident that no one will dismiss the sources of my news and information as biased.
11. I can easily obtain my college’s support for explicitly political events I’d like to organize.
12. I can get “trigger warnings” appended to texts that challenge me or make me feel uncomfortable.
13. I can get commencement speakers, recipients of honorary degrees, and other guests disinvited from my campus if I disagree with them.
14. I can disrupt and disrespect speakers whom I do not wish to hear; I will subsequently be praised for my denial of their freedom to speak.
15. If I find my ideas challenged, I know I always have a “safe space” to retreat to, where people will massage my challenged beliefs and sing me a lullaby of things I’d like to hear.
Adjusting state incomes for taxes and price levels may change our perceptions of which US states are poor or rich
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Earlier this week, The Tax Foundation published the map above that accompanies the article “The Real Value of $100 in Each State.” The data in the map are based on Regional Price Parities (RPPs), which measure the differences in the price levels of consumer goods and services across all US states (and DC) according to BEA data released on July 1 for the year 2013. RPPs are expressed as a percentage of the overall national price level in 2013, which is equal to 100.
In 2013, the District of Columbia’s RPP (117.7) was higher than that of any state, largely because DC housing costs are 57% above the national average and second only to Hawaii, where rents are 58.7% above the national average. Based on DC’s RPP of 117.7, that would mean that the real value (purchasing power) of $100 in DC is only $84.96 ($100 / 1.177), see map above. The four states with the highest RPPs and where the value of $100 is the lowest are Hawaii ($86.06), New York ($86.73), New Jersey ($87.34) and California ($89.05), and all of those states have housing costs that are more than one-third above the national average. The five states with the lowest RPPs and where the value of $100 is the highest are Mississippi ($115.21), Arkansas ($114.29), South Dakota ($114.16), Alabama ($114.03), and West Virginia ($113.12). Again, it’s mostly because of low housing costs that contribute to low RPPs and higher relative values for $100 – the five states with the lowest RPPs all have housing costs that are more than one-third below the national average.
The Tax Foundation makes a couple of key points:
1. Regional price differences are strikingly large; real purchasing power is 36 percent greater in Mississippi than it is in the District of Columbia. In other words: by this measure, if you have $50,000 in after tax income in Mississippi, you would have to have after-tax earnings of $68,000 in the District of Columbia just to afford the same overall standard of living. Some states, like North Dakota, have high incomes without high prices. Adjusting incomes for price level can substantially change our perceptions of which states are truly poor or rich.
2. Many policies – like minimum wage, public benefits, and tax brackets – are denominated in dollars. But with different price levels in each state, the amounts aren’t equivalent in purchasing power [see related discussion below].
The significant differences in cost-of-living by state illustrated in the map above made me ponder the following question: How does per-capita personal income vary by state, once we adjust for regional differences in both: a) personal taxes, and b) prices? The table below displays data that attempt to answer that question by comparing: a) per-capita, pre-tax personal income for each US state in 2013 and b) disposable (after tax) per-capita income for each state adjusted for prices/cost-of-living, with comments provided below the table.
|Rank||State||Per-capita Personal Income||State Price Index||New Rank||State||Per-capita Income, Adjusted for Taxes, Prices||Change in Rank|
|4||New Jersey||$55,386||114.5||4||South Dakota||$44,750||+16|
|16||Rhode Island||$46,989||98.1||16||New Jersey||$39,098||-12|
|49||S. Carolina||$35,831||90.5||49||New Mexico||$32,204||-1|
Comments: The first group of four columns in the table above shows state rankings for per-capita pre-tax personal income in 2013, along with each state’s price parity index for that year. The second group of four columns displays the state rankings for per-capita disposable (after-tax) income in 2013, adjusted for each state’s relative cost-of-living. The last column displays the change in each state’s ranking after adjusting for personal taxes and cost-of-living. Here are some of the findings:
1. Both North Dakota and Wyoming moved up five places in the state rankings, from No. 7 and No. 8 before adjusting for taxes and cost-of-living, to No. 2 and No. 3 after adjusting for both factors. Even though personal taxes paid as a share of pre-tax, per-capita personal income are higher in North Dakota (12.71%) and Wyoming (12.87%) than the US average of 10.95% in 2013, the lower-than-average cost-of-living in those two states moved them up five places to rank as the country’s two highest-income states (not counting DC).
Similarly, South Dakota moved up 16 places in the rankings from No. 20 to No. 4 due to a combination of being a low cost-of-living state (12.4% below the national average) and the state with the third lowest personal tax rate (8.63% of pre-tax, per-capita personal income). Iowa and Kansas moved up 16 places in the state rankings after adjusting per-capita personal income for taxes and living costs (from No. 24 and No. 25 to No. 8 and 9), due to a combination of a below-average tax burden for both states, and a cost-of-living in each state almost 10% below the national average.
2. As expected, the states that moved down the most in the rankings were high-tax, high cost-of-living states like California (fourth highest tax burden, fifth highest cost-of-living), which moved down 25 places from No. 12 to No. 37, New York (second highest tax burden, third highest cost-of-living), which moved down 24 places from No. 5 to No. 29, and New Jersey (fifth highest tax burden, fourth highest cost-of-living), which moved down 12 places from No. 4 to No. 16.
Bottom Line: Personal taxes and cost-of-living differences vary widely among US states. To emphasize and expand on a point made by The Tax Foundation, adjusting state per-capita personal incomes for both differences in taxes and price levels can substantially change our perceptions of which states are poor or rich. And those perceptions change the most for high tax, high cost-of-living states like California, which goes from being in the top 25% of America’s states by pre-tax, per-capita personal income, to being in the bottom 25% of US states (and below Alabama and Arkansas) after adjusting for the state’s high tax burden and high cost-of-living. Likewise, New York drops from being America’s fifth highest-income state before adjusting for taxes and cost-of-living to being in the bottom half of states (and below Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee) on an after-tax, cost-of-living adjusted basis. On the other hand, a state like South Dakota that appears average based on pre-tax, per-capita personal income rises to become America’s fourth highest-income state after adjusting for taxes and cost-of-living.
Finally, in regard to the significant differences in regional costs-of-living discussed above, it’s an important factor that policymakers frequently overlook when proposing legislation like a uniform, once-size-fits-
all–none $10.10 per hour national minimum wage. In fact, regional differences in purchasing power make a national minimum wage unworkable for low-wage, low-cost communities, as my AEI colleague Andrew Biggs and I argued last year in our article “A National Minimum Wage Is a Bad Fit for Low-Cost Communities.” Here’s our conclusion:
Even proponents of the minimum wage would have to concede that a universally applied minimum wage, without any adjustments for the significant differences in the cost of living across the country, has to have disproportionate effects by location. And proponents have to also agree that a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour will be far too high for low-cost rural areas, and will have adverse effects on low-skilled workers in those communities, even if low-skilled workers in high-cost, high-wage communities are relatively unaffected.
Before raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, we should carefully consider the long-lasting damage that will be inflicted on thousands of America’s low-wage, low-cost communities from that “one-size-fits-all” national minimum wage.
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1. Steve Cuozzo writing in the New York Post tells New Yorkers that “Uber Can Save Us from Yellow-Cab Horrors,” and says that “The sorry state of the ‘regulated’ taxi industry is the main reason why Uber and its ilk deserve free rein on our streets.”
2. Black business leader wants NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt cap on new Uber cars. U.S. Black Chambers CEO Ron Busby in a letter to the mayor last week said the proposed one-year restriction on new black and livery cars will put up a roadblock to job opportunities for New Yorkers of color in the outerboroughs. Source.
3. Move over Uber and Lyft: China’s Didi Kauidi taxi and ride sharing app may be coming to the US.
5. Uber, but for carpooling: Google jumps into the ridesharing business with an upgrade to Waze
6. Warren Meyer (Coyote Blog): Streetcars: A Scam That is All About Class:
I am increasingly convinced that the appeal of streetcars and light rail has everything to do with class. From any rational perspective, these systems make no sense — they are 10-100x more expensive than buses and lack the flexibility that buses have to adjust to shifting demand patterns over time. A single extra lane of highway adds more capacity than any light rail line.
Streetcar’s single, solitary advantage is that middle and upper class whites who would not be caught dead on a bus seem to be willing to ride streetcars. I don’t know if this is because of some feature of the streetcars (they are shiny and painted pretty) or if it is some sort of self-segregation (the upper classes want to ride on something that is not filled with “riffraff”).
Warren links to the Reason.tv video below.
7. Video from Reason.tv: “The Secret Scam of Streetcars: How to Sell a 100-Year-Old Technology as the Future of Transportation,” watch it below and find out more here.
From an equity research report issued to investors by global investment banking and wealth management firm William Blair on Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) – “Price Increases Have Begun Early in Third Quarter” (received privately):
• In our weekly survey of ten of Chipotle’s markets, we found the company implemented price increases in half of the surveyed markets this week—San Francisco, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Orlando. In most markets, the price increases have been limited to beef and average about 4% on barbacoa and steak, toward the lower end of management’s expectation for a 4% to 6% price increase on beef.
• San Francisco, however, saw across-the-board price increases averaging over 10%, including 10% increases on chicken, carnitas (pork), sofritas (tofu), and vegetarian entrees along with a 14% increase on steak and barbacoa.We believe the outsized San Francisco price hike was likely because of increased minimum wages (which rose by 14% from $10.74 per hour to $12.25 on May 1) as well as scheduled minimum wage increases in future years (to $13 next year, $14 in 2017, and $15 in 2018).
Economic Lesson: TANSTAAFMWH, — “there ain’t no such thing as a free minimum wage hike.” Or to paraphrase David French, vice-president of the National Retail Federation, “There simply isn’t any magic pot of money that lets employers pay higher wages just because the government says so, without making adjustments elsewhere like cutting workers’ hours, reducing their non-cash fringe benefits, and/or passing the higher wages along to consumers in the form of higher prices.” After all, the minimum wage is not really a political problem, it’s a math problem. And the 10-14% price increases at Chipotles in San Francisco are just the new math problem now facing the restaurant chain’s customers, who’ll now be paying about $1 extra for each burrito bowl….
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Arthur Kling explains here why the term “sustainable capitalism” is redundant and why “environmental sustainability” is really “primitivism“:
Capitalism is inherently sustainable, relentlessly producing more human satisfaction using fewer resources. What environmentalists call “sustainability” ought to be called primitivism, producing less human satisfaction using more resources.
Katherine Kersten explains here why The Church of Sustainability isn’t just the new religion of college campuses, it’s become the new home of the entire liberal agenda:
Every decade or so, another academic “fashion du jour” sweeps America’s college campuses. In the 1990s, it was multiculturalism. That morphed into “diversity” — now such a mantra that students can spell it backward in their sleep. Today, excitement is surging for a new fad, “sustainability,” that’s taking higher education by storm.
Sustainability now permeates campuses from the classroom to the dorm, dining hall, faculty lounge, physical plant and alumni office. The word conjures up images of clean water, recycling, and DDT-free songbirds at the back-yard feeder. Responsible environmental stewardship — what’s not to like about that?
Sustainability, it turns out, is the new battle cry in an old war. It’s a wraparound concept that links the old, familiar liberal causes of environmental activism, animosity toward free markets, and a progressive take on “social justice.” But it repackages them and lends them urgency by maintaining that embrace of its ideological agenda is imperative to avoid a looming ecological and social catastrophe.
In other words, the campus sustainability movement’s mission is to transform our fundamental social, economic and political institutions, and to do so by manipulating, cajoling and browbeating a generation of college students into accepting the movement’s worldview and cultural norms.
Sustainability is not an academic discipline but an ideological “lens” through which to view all of life. Today, 475 colleges in 65 states or Canadian provinces offer a total of 1,436 degree or certificate programs in sustainability, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. In addition, there are countless elective classes. Cornell University offers more than 40.
Responsible environmental stewardship is commendable. So is the prudent use of energy and other natural resources. But in higher education today, sustainability is an ideology — not a proposition to be discussed, but a baseline assumption to be taken on authority. Dissent is harshly suppressed. Scientists who question climate change, for example, are branded 21st-century heretics.
The Church of Sustainability derives many of its major themes from Judeo-Christianity. It teaches that the Earth — once a pristine Eden — is now fallen and polluted because of human sinfulness, and that an apocalyptic Judgment Day looms unless mankind repents. Absolution and salvation are possible if humans heed the enlightened saints and prophets who warn us of impending doom.
It’s ironic that college campuses are home base for the sustainability movement. For higher education is among the least sustainable of our contemporary institutions. Colleges and universities are caught in a death spiral of rising costs and declining benefits. Nevertheless, they obsess about recyclable napkins, solar panels and fossil-fuel divestment, and pour $3.2 billion annually — frequently without assessing effectiveness — into achieving their dreams of sustainability.
Today, colleges and universities are charging students huge, unsustainable sums — often upward of $50,000 a year — for the privilege of (among other things) living out an elite, politically correct fad. Many emerge with a crushing load of debt more than 50 percent of recent graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. For these young people, there’s no better guarantee of an unsustainable future.
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Writing in 2006, John Hood (former president of the John Locke Foundation) explains:
The Founding Fathers were bloggers.
Well, okay, let me rephrase that. Many of the Founders were the 18th-century equivalent of a certain category of modern-day bloggers – writers on political topics, typically using a pen name, who are also connected to formal journalism and simultaneously active in partisan politics.
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Gouveuneur Morris – these and other notables of the Founding were not just drafters and signers of America’s founding documents, wartime leaders, statesmen, diplomats, and jurists. They were also prolific media commentators capable of great works of political philosophy (such as The Federalist Papers and Cato’s Letters, both originally published as newspaper columns) as well as ribald jests, character assassination, and political rumor-mongering.