Archive for December 2013
There’s a new Pew research report on Americans’ views of evolution.
Unchanged since 2009 is that only 33% of Americans believe that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time” while 60% believe that “humans and other living things have evolved over time” and 7% “don’t know.”
And of course, smart people are far more likely to believe in evolution. Among college graduates, only 24% believe in creationism and 72% believe in evolution. We’ve discussed many times before that religious belief is inversely correlated with intelligence.
But here is where it gets very interesting. Since 2009, a much higher percentage of Republicans (54% vs 43%) believe in creationism while a moderately higher percentage of Democrats (30% vs 27%) now believe in evolution.
What it means to be a Republican is changing rapidly. Indentifying as a Republican is becoming less about supporting conservative economics and a strong national defense, and more about having fundamentalist religious beliefs. The Republicans are becoming the party of stupid.
* * *
It’s also noteworthy that 65% of men believe in evolution compared to 55% of women. Men are more scientific and less religious than women.
But what’s interesting is that being anti-abortion is a religious belief, yet more women support choice than men. This sex disparity has happened because the liberal mainstream media has, for decades, been promoting pro-choice as a woman’s issue and something that all women should support. In the absence of such propaganda, more women would be anti-abortion than men.
According to the NY Times, the Democrats see a minimum wage increase as a key strategy for 2014.
I don’t think that a minimum wage increase is as popular with the people as Democrats think it is. The person who is most opposed to a minimum wage increase is not the rich Republican, but rather the person who makes around $30,000 per year, and sees a minimum wage increase as extremely threatening to his social position because it will give an undeserved raise to people he has worked hard to rise above.
However, I predict that if the minimum wage is increased, there will be no discernible economic harm resulting from it. This is an easy prediction to make because past increases in the minimum wage to not cause any discernible economic harm. In fact, a minimum wage increase wills stimulate the economy by putting more money into the hands of people who tend to spend every cent they have.
This article in Jewish Week (although a year old) has some fascinating statistics about the changing demographic of “Jews” in the New York City are. And I put “Jews” in quotations marks because the ultra-orthodox and Hasidic Jews have so little in common with non-Orthodox Jews that they don’t even deserve to be given the same label.
“Orthodox Jews, because of their high birthrate, now make up nearly one-third of the Jewish community of the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester and a whopping 64 percent of its children.”
Non-Orthodox Jews are disappearing. Their birthrate is only 1.3 (according to the article), and intermarriage is high and children of mixed marriages more often than not identify with the majority Christian religion and not the niche Jewish Religion. There will probably be a tipping point in another decade or two when non-Orthodox Jews just give up on Judaism entirely.
In the future that is only a few decades away, when people think of a “Jew,” they will not think of a wealthy person involved in Hollywood or finance, no, they will think of a poor person who wears funny clothes and has eight or even more children.
Assuming that raising the minimum wage has no impact on employment because businesses just pass on the costs to consumers resulting in slightly higher prices for products and services which rely on minimum-wage labor, who benefits and who is hurt?
Let’s assume that there’s a 3% increase in the cost of fast food and a 1% increase in the cost of goods at Walmart and at supermarkets. Healthcare and education prices will remain the same because these industries don’t rely on minimum-wage workers. There may also be a 10% increase in the cost of lawn-care services and 5% increase in dry cleaning, but these are unnecessary luxury services for the rich.
Well clearly the working poor benefit, that is people who work at minimum wage jobs. They benefit a lot because their salary goes up by a much greater percentage than the costs of goods and services they buy.
People who make enough money above minimum wage such that they don’t get a salary increase will on the surface appear to be harmed because the price of a Big Mac will increase from $4.00 to $4.12. But there may be hidden benefits such as a lower tax burden because people making a higher minimum wage need fewer government benefits, and they may get better service at McDonalds because the higher minimum wage might attract higher-quality workers.
The people who are hurt are those collecting welfare, because their welfare checks will remain the same but they will have to be more money for fast food and more money at Walmart.
Thus we see that raising the minimum wage is a policy that rewards work but punishes collecting government benefits.
Last girl in the world I’d expect to give birth out-of-wedlock is the daughter of Jewish billionaire. (Judaism is relevant here because non-Orthodox Jews don’t believe in the abortion-is-evil meme.)
Let me remind readers who haven’t already to watch Jamie Johnson’s movie Born Rich in which Georgina Bloomberg is one of the children of the super-rich featured.
* * *
Maybe they are just so far above the masses they don’t need to get married? Marriage is now just for the gays and not for the heterosexual uber-elites.
According to a NY Times article, a Japanese team dominated an international robot competition.
I predict that the United States will lose to Japan, and Japan will become the world’s new superpower based on its robot technology. China will be in second place. The United States will be left behind, full of unemployed children of immigrants who were allowed to move here under the assumption we needed low-wage labor before we realized that robots would supply all of that labor in just another two decades.
Contrary to some commenters on this blog, the New York Times sets things straight:
Forty-two presidents of private colleges were paid more than a million dollars in 2011, up from 36 for the previous two years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual analysis of the colleges’ latest available tax forms.
The three top earners were Robert J. Zimmer, University of Chicago ($3,358,723); Joseph E. Aoun, Northeastern University ($3,121,864); and Dennis J. Murray, Marist College ($2,688,148).
Yet another example of people who go into self-actualizing careers and make a killing financially. (And Robert J. Zimmer went to the same high school as I did!)
Murray didn’t even attend any good schools, but the other two both have graduate degrees from universities in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a general rule, elite eduction is required if you want to make money from self-actualizing, but as with all rules there are occasional exceptions.
* * *
Some commenters don’t know when I’m joshing with them. By the way, it’s interesting to note that Zimmer is a STEM guy, so I guess you can become rich from STEM if your STEM degree is from Harvard and you are good at fundraising.
In the NY Times Magazine, and article about how raising the minimum wage does not lead to less employment:
About 20 years ago, in the midst of a recession, New Jersey decided to boost its minimum wage to $5.05 an hour from $4.25. Its neighbor to the west, Pennsylvania, chose not to tinker with its wage floor. Two bright young economists at Princeton, David Card and Alan B. Krueger, recognized in that dull occurrence a promising natural experiment.
The two found fast-food joints along the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border, and surveyed them twice over the course of 11 months about how many people they employed. They figured that when New Jersey’s minimum wage went up, Garden State burger joints would hire fewer workers. The ones on the Pennsylvania side, acting as a kind of control, would see no change.
They were wrong. To everyone’s surprise, there was actually no change in employment in the New Jersey restaurants, relative to the Pennsylvania ones. The price of low-wage work had gone up, and somehow, demand had remained the same.
Have the laws of economics been upturned? Is it merely left-wing bull****?
Neither is the case. As I have argued before, the short-run demand for low-wage labor is very price inelastic, and that’s because people making minimum wage are a very small percentage of costs (on account of the fact that their wages are so low in the first place) and they fill necessary roles in the business. It’s like what happens when the price of gasoline increases. Everyone keeps driving to work and there isn’t much of a short-run change in habits, so they keep using the same amount of gasoline. That’s why the price of gasoline doubled since ten years ago, but consumption has remained pretty much the same.
And even if in the long run, an increase in the minimum wage causes less employment, that can be interpreted as a good thing because we should be encouraging investment in labor-saving technologies like robots if we don’t want to fall behind Japan, and it will reduce validity of the argument that we need more immigration to fill all of those mythical jobs that Americans don’t want to do.
Also, I feel that minimum-wage labor is an externality, because the majority believe the a person making minimum wage doesn’t earn enough money to support himself in a manner in which all humans in an advanced nation like the United States are entitled, so they are eligible for a host of government benefits to fill in for their low salary. If business were required to pay workers a proper living wage, this would reduce the tax burden.
Also, it is necessary for people to have money in their pockets in order for the economy to advance, and if the free-market won’t provide such money it is necessary for government to step in. People who don’t understand this are people who don’t understand post-scarcity economics.
A Yale professor was secretly a gay hustler. The tone of the NY Times article is that this was merely a quirky aspect of his personality, or maybe a manifestation of mental illness he had no control over.
One wonders if a female professor moonlighting as a prostitute would get the same treatment.
* * *
JQ writes in a comment:
One also wonders what treatment a hetero male professor would get if he was found to have sought prostitutes. Actually nm, everyone knows what treatment he deserves.
* * *
It should be noted that the GSS has shown that a high verbal IQ (using highest Wordsum score as proxy for high verbal IQ) is correlated with a man being more likely to have paid for sex.
I assumed this means that high-IQ men have a more difficult time getting women to have sex for free so they are forced to pay for prostitutes, but some had the theory that high-IQ men are likely to have higher income and therefore are better able to afford prostitutes.
In either case, college professors have high IQs so they are more likely to have paid for sex than the average man.