Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The New York Times Wonders Why San Francisco Waiters Are Disappearing, Blames Everything But $15/Hr. Minimum Wage

The New York Times struggles vainly to blame everything but San Francisco's $15/hour minimum wage (which goes into full effect on July 1) for the disappearance of table waiting jobs:
So burgers get more expensive as houses do. But even wealthy tech workers will pay only so much to eat one. “If we were to pay what we need to pay people to make a living in San Francisco, a $10 hamburger would be a $20 hamburger, and it wouldn’t make sense anymore,” said Anjan Mitra, who owns two high-end Indian restaurants in the city, both named Dosa. “Something has to give.”

If customers won’t buy $20 burgers, or $25 dosas, and the staff in the kitchen can’t be cut, that something is service. “And that is what we did — we got rid of our servers,” Mr. Mitra said.
This brings up an important point: productivity increases are a prerequisite to rising real wages. Today's waiters have the same productivity, more or less, as their predecessors a century ago; there's only so many people one person can feed in an hour. It's basically an unskilled job, so the competition for labor is essentially infinite.

The second quoted graf above brings up something Brian Doherty wrote in Reason back in 2013: if there is a social obligation to pay a "living wage", why does it only fall on business owners? In other words, if business owners need to raise prices to meet the new, higher payroll, why is there no similar obligation on the part of patrons to spend more? The circle-squarers of the left never consider these kinds of problems. Their utopias rely upon ignoring second-order effects.

The city also requires employers with at least 20 workers to pay health care costs beyond the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, in addition to paid sick leave and parental leave.
I guess if those jobs don't exist, then it doesn't matter what they're "guaranteed".

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Insanity Of Maxine Waters' Mobs

So, a rural Virginia restaurant named the Red Hen refused service to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the president's press secretary, and her party. The owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, did this on the grounds that "the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation". Sanders and her party left without further incident.

Public establishments appear to have the right to eject people based on their political leanings, and thus Robby Soave's defense of Wilkinson's ejection in Reason. I do not think this is a terrific precedent, one that is likely to backfire in numerous ways. Particularly, that became obvious after long-time Representative Maxine Waters called for an escalation:
Waters said, “If you think we’re rallying now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. You have members of your cabinet being booed out of restaurants. You have protesters taking up at their house. We say no peace, no sleep. No peace, so sleep. And guess what? We’re going to win this battle, because while you try to quote the Bible, Jeff Sessions and others, you really don’t know the Bible. God is on our side. On the side of the children. On the side of what’s right. On the side of what’s honorable. On the side of understanding that if we can’t protect the children, we can’t protect anybody, and so let’s stay the course. Let’s make sure that we show up where ever we have to show up. If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out, and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
The first problem I see here is that of charitable reading of Waters' statement. It is in no way clear that she intended for mobs to attack, although it is easy to read it in that way. ("Push back" is not the same thing as "push", i.e. physical assault.) But mobs do not do nuance. They are also not in charge of the venues she mentions. As Soave put it,
Waters seems to be encouraging people to form angry mobs to harass Trump officials; if such a practice became normal, it could very well get out of hand quickly. Besides, Waters doesn't get to decide the rules of engagement in department stores, gas stations, and restaurants—the owners of those properties do. I bet a lot of them would prefer if people didn't harass other customers, regardless of whether those customers work for Trump.
 The plain problems raised by such incendiary gabble sparked a response from no less a figure than Nancy Pelosi:
Leaving aside the problem of whether America is beautiful with only the right political leadership, Pelosi's tweet was as close to a public (if coded) rebuke as another member of the same party could ever offer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Conor Friedersdorf Clanks Again: The Anti-Male Agenda Of Modern Academic Feminism

Conor Friedersdorf and his milquetoast attacks on feminist extremists (viz., his response to the Scott Aaronson fracas) continue with a review of Suzanna Danuta Walters’ two-minutes’-hate against men in the pages of the Washington Post, of all places. (Imagining that paper publish a screed against women — can anyone do it?) Friedersdorf argues that her
argument is actually a perversion of “Team Feminism”—that is, the web is awash with feminists earnestly dismissing the notion that “Team Feminism” hates men, and the view is so unrepresentative of the various strands of “in real life” feminism that it is encountered more commonly among ideological enemies trying to parody or undermine feminism than among earnest advocates like Walters.
The problem with such gabble is that none of it is true. Pen poison pieces like this, and it gets you multiple tenured professorships — including as the founder of Indiana University's Women's Studies program. Presume men are always guilty of sex crimes, and you get to head the Title IX bureaucracy in a perverse redefinition of "civil rights". Vote for anybody other than Hillary Clinton as a Democrat, and you're slandered as a sexist ("Bernie bro"). Go off the ideological reservation, and get canned by a corporate feminist political officer. Offer criticism of a beloved comedy franchise's clumsy, unfunny, political reboot, and get waylaid as misogynist. "Team feminism", in reality, is the majority in the trade, if not the only kind on tap.

Perhaps my assessment of causality is wrong; perhaps Walters wasn't extreme enough in her prior writing, perhaps she is doing this as a plea for help, or attention. The only way men can win this game is not to play. Friedersdorf fails to even survey the landscape.