Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

From Katie Pavlich over at Townhall:

Last week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, through the power of Dodd-Frank, passed a rule giving the agency unprecedented power to shut down businesses, no matter what the reason, at any time it wishes through a cease-and-desist order. Further, the rule puts businesses at the mercy of the CFPB and they cannot go back into operation until government approval or a court ruling is made over an issue. Subsequently because bureaucratic decisions and court rulings take a substantial amount of time to happen, businesses cannot survive during those waiting periods.  Here are the details:

In a notice published in today’s Federal Register, the CFPB has announced that it has adopted its interim final rule on temporary cease-and-desist orders (C&Ds) without change. The final rule takes effect on July 18, 2014.

The CFPB is authorized to issue temporary C&Ds under Section 1053(c) of Dodd-Frank. That provision authorizes a temporary C&D as an adjunct to a cease-and-desist proceeding brought under Section 1053 against a covered person or service provider. A temporary C&D is effective immediately upon service and remains in effect unless modified or terminated administratively by the CFPB or set aside on judicial review.

So they can shut any business down at any time.

regulations grow freedom dies

1053(c) of Dodd-Frank is almost incomprehensible.

(c) SPECIAL RULES FOR TEMPORARY CEASE-AND-DESIST PROCEEDINGS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Whenever the Bureau determines that the violation specified in the notice of charges served upon a person, including a service provider, pursuant to subsection (b), or the continuation thereof, is likely to cause the person to be insolvent or otherwise prejudice the interests of consumers before the completion of the proceedings conducted pursuant to subsection (b), the Bureau may issue a temporary order requiring the person to cease and desist from any such violation or practice and to take affirmative action to prevent or remedy such insolvency or other condition pending completion of such proceedings.

Such order may include any requirement authorized under this subtitle. Such order shall become effective upon service upon the person and, unless set aside, limited, or suspended by a court in proceedings authorized by paragraph (2), shall remain effective and enforceable pending the completion of the administrative proceedings pursuant to such notice and until such time as the Bureau shall dismiss the charges specified in such notice, or if a cease-and-desist order is issued against the person, until the effective date of such order.

There’s more, but it’s the same kind of legalese gibberish that basically means if there’s something questioned in a terms of service agreement or contract, a business can be shut down.

Ms. Pavlich points out some more things going on with this:

The new rule comes on the heals of revelations the Department of Justice has been smothering firearms dealerships and other “high risk” entities out of business by “choking” banks and stripping funding through Operation Choke Point.

Consumer groups are pushing back against the rule and issuing a warnings to businesses everywhere about what the rule means for them. The United States Consumer Coalition in particular is sounding the alarm:

“This unprecedented rule created by the CFPB grants the agency unilateral authority to literally shut down any business overnight. It is a doubling down of Operation Choke Point (OCP), the Administration’s program to target lawful industries by intimidating banks from doing business with them. This rule allows the CFPB to immediately issue a cease-and-desist order, which terminates all business practices — and a hearing doesn’t have to be granted for 10 days, effectively shutting down businesses for at least 10 days. This is a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ tactic of the Administration that goes against every historical notion of justice under the law in America.”

A quick primer on Operation Choke Point:

The Obama administration, after failing to get gun control passed on Capitol Hill, has resorted to using its executive power to try to put some in the firearms industry out of business, House Republican investigators say.

The assertion is included in a report recently released by California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Citing internal Justice Department documents, the committee concluded that the administration used a program known as Operation Choke Point to target legal companies that it finds “objectionable.”

The program was started in 2013 to protect consumers by “choking” alleged fraudsters’ access to the banking system. The Justice Department essentially forces banks and third-party payment processors to stop accepting payments from companies that are considered “high risk” and are supposedly violating federal law.

However, the documents released by Issa’s committee show the federal government lumped the firearms industry in with other “high-risk” businesses including those dealing with pornography, drug paraphernalia, escort services, racist materials, Ponzi schemes and online gambling.

So basically the Orwellian-named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is going to have the ability to shut down any business, any time, and we’ve already seen this administration using financial schemes to target businesses they find politically undesirable.

But what’s the best part about the Consumer Financial Protection People’s Defense Bureau?  They can’t be stopped – they’re funded by the Federal Reserve, and thus can’t even be reigned in by congress defunding them.

Republicans and Democrats on Captiol Hill continue to fight over whether the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be subject to the congressional appropriations process — that is, whether Congress should directly control how much money the fledgling agency can spend each year.

In the meantime, the CFPB funds itself through a bank account at the New York Fed.

Under the Dodd-Frank law, the CFPB gets its money from transfers from the Federal Reserve System, up to specific caps set by the law. The Fed can’t turn down requests under that cap.

The caps are fixed percentages of the Fed’s operating expenses, which works out to the following:
–10% of Fed operating expenses in fiscal 2011 or $498 million
–11% of Fed operating expenses in fiscal 2012 or $547.8 million
–12% in fiscal 2013 or $597.6 million
–12% each fiscal year thereafter, subject to annual adjustments for inflation

So they’re a completely unaccountable, self-funded government group who’ve just made up the rule that they can shut down any business at any time, giving themselves virtually unlimited power to unilaterally destroy any company or enterprise.

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It would seem that no advanced civilization has yet developed without a government which saw its chief aim in the protection of private property, but that again and again the further evolution and growth to which this gave rise was halted by “strong” government.

Governments strong enough to protect individuals against the violence of their fellows make possible the evolution of an increasingly complex order of spontaneous and voluntary cooperation.

Sooner or later, however, they tend to abuse that power and to suppress the freedom they had earlier secured in order to enforce their own presumedly greater wisdom and not to allow “social institutions to develop in a haphazard manner” (to take a characteristic expression that is found under the heading ‘social engineering’ in the Fontana/Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought (1977)).

– F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism

Hayek

He begins this discussion in Chapter 2 of the book and references classical antiquity and the trading societies surrounding the Mediterranean as a prime example of nations that went through that rise and decline, but as noted, modern society is going through much the same thing.  The Anointed, to borrow Thomas Sowell’s phrase, know better and begin to “nudge” society where they want it to go.  As Jonah Goldberg noted, American totalitarianism and government control comes with a smiley face, though they’re making pseudo-erudite academic arguments for more outright thuggery.

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Transcript here.

Via Drudge, from ZeroHedge:

labor force participation jan 2014

The labor force participation rate is dropping again, both as boomers retire and everyone else gets fired and gives up, or quits and goes on welfare as they ask themselves “why am I working when I could be mooching?”

not in labor force jan 2014

The overall numbers keep increasing, and that’s what’s keeping the unemployment rate down.

This is like having two kids in college and saying they just improved their overall GPA… because the one with poorer grades dropped out.

The Obama administration will use the drop in unemployment to say how we’re “recovering”, but we’re ultimately losing jobs (though RINOs and Democrats say we need amnesty to fill all the jobs we have… that Americans can’t seem to get).  We’re losing jobs, we’re losing real wages, we’re losing quality of life, and the only people gaining are the redistributors who are giving handouts to the newly unemployed in order to buy their votes.  The welfare state is having its desired effects for those who wish to control and lord over the welfare state.

In a dispassionate, purely economic view, she has an economic incentive to not work.  Her behavior is reprehensible to those who work, but in an amoral view, her behavior is quite logical.

Parasitism is rewarded, and if it provides all she desires, why not be a parasite?

Margaret Thatcher gave conservatives/libertarians/classic liberals the answer in a simple sentence years ago:

margaret-thatcher other peoples money

To the individual riding the socialist gravy train, however, that’s not a concious concern.  The welfare recipient isn’t concerned about where the next handout is going to come from as long as they keep coming, and if the handouts stop, there’s always someone to blame and some politician willing to buy votes.  The career welfare recipient is almost always someone who isn’t concerned about their long-term well-being, otherwise they’d be actively working to improve their lot in life.  Those rare few that are concerned are those who demand more from others simply because they exist.

At the point that the handouts stop completely, they’ll either starve or work.  Whether that’s because of welfare reform that stops giving people disincentives to work or whether the system collapses and no longer can give handouts, either way, the practically Randian caricature of the moocher exemplified by that caller will simply cease to exist.

If that career welfare recipient is forced to starve or work because welfare goes away by reasoned economic decision-making in government, there’s going to be gnashing of teeth, bleeding hearts bleeding, and knee-jerkers jerking knees.  There will also be private charities for those who truly need, rather than the taxation at gunpoint that leads leftists who “care about the poor” to ignore the poor since they have government to care for them.

If that career welfare recipient is forced to starve or work because welfare has gone away because of collapsing government

mad-max2

That’ll make things interesting.

From the New Yorker:

For decades, business owners have resisted higher minimum wages by arguing that they destroy jobs, particularly for young people. At some theoretical level, high minimum wages will distort job creation, but the best empirical evidence from the past decade is aligned with common sense: a minimum wage drawn somewhat above the poverty line helps those who work full time to live decently, without having a significant impact on other job seekers or on total employment.

Except it’s wrong, ignores the loss of jobs that are never created and the subsiziding impact of welfare and low-income benefits that also siphon funds away from job creation and into government redistribution.

I’ll let Orphe Divounguy explain it again:

(For example, a study of pairs of neighboring counties with differing minimum pay found that higher wages had no adverse effect on restaurant jobs.)

Of course, he doesn’t cite the study, the amount of difference in pay, or an analysis of what jobs were lost, not created, or where these counties were.

Even so, a federal minimum wage of ten dollars or more will not solve inequality. It will not stop runaway executive pay or alter the winner-take-all forces at work in the global economy.

And here we see the true intentions.  The objective is to make equality of outcomes.  The ideology is a belief that executive pay is “runaway” and that the economy is a “winner-take-all” scenario, rather than one of mutual cooperation for benefit.  Apparently the New Yorker’s Steve Coll doesn’t understand where pencils come from.

Coll continues:

Yet it will bring millions of Americans closer to the levels of economic security and disposable income that they knew before the housing bubble burst.

No, it won’t.  It will artificially increase wages, which will then result in employers increasing their expenses to customers.  There will be a transfer of wealth from the many to the few.  There will be a visible result of a handful of people with minimum wage jobs making more money, but it will result in a less visible loss of wages by everyone who uses those services, by employers whose payrolls will be adjusted in favor of old employees versus new ones – meaning jobs that would be created will not be created, and it will result in overall economic loss.

Coll starts his piece by talking about increases in wages for baggage handlers at SeaTac airport, where the minimum wage was bumped from $10/hour to $15/hour by a ballot initiative.  Businesses spent money pushing against it, and Coll celebrates that leftists emerged triumphant, that the “grassroots left, which seemed scattered and demoralized after the Occupy movement fizzled, has revived itself this year—with help from union money and professional canvassers—by rallying voters around the argument that anyone who works full time ought not to be at risk of poverty”.

Union money was sent in by union people who can now look forward to extracting union dues from those $15/hour workers at a higher amount than when they were $10/hour workers.  Professional canvassers are leftist marxist agitators and professional shit-stirring revolutionary groups who serve no function but to create conflict that they exploit for their own personal profit.  The businesses involved opposed it as best they could, but the leftists in Seattle & Tacoma voted for it.

What that means is that the expenses against the airport have gone up, and they’ll have to come up with something to balance it out.  That may mean layoffs, it may mean no new hires, but most likely it will mean increased rates and fees to customers.  The customer is hurt at the expense of the visible aid to the fictional oppressed proletariat.

…life on fifteen thousand a year is barely plausible anymore, even in the low-cost rural areas of the Deep South and the Midwest. National Republican leaders are out of touch with the electorate on this as on much else, and they are too wary of Tea Party dissent to challenge their party’s current orthodoxies of fiscal austerity and free-market purity.

Life on $15,000 per year is not something that someone manages alone.  First off, there are massive government handouts to those of that low income group; second, as Orphe explained, a lot of times, those workers are entry-level workers just getting started – like teenagers.

The Tea Party is composed of people who understand how economics work – that you can’t just arbitrarily say “we’ll make your employer pay you more” without that money coming from somewhere.  Again, Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote comes to mind:

thatcher socialism

Coll finishes with this bleeding heart plea:

The case for a strong minimum wage has always been, in part, civic and moral. Minimum wages do not create new “entitlement” programs or otherwise enjoin the country’s sterile debates about the value of government. They are designed to insure that the dignity of work includes true economic independence for all who embrace it.

The case for strong minimum wage laws has been couched in some people’s idea of what other people are entitled to.  If you pay the neighbor kid $5 to mow your lawn, it’s not moral for the neighborhood to tell you that you MUST pay him $20.  The result will be that the neighbor kid goes without the $5 and you mow your own lawn.  There’s nothing moral about dictating to people how much a worker has to sell his labor for or how much an employer has to pay for that employee’s labor – because it destroys entry-level jobs and harms the community.

The tut-tutting busybody who wants to put the government’s gun to someone’s head and make them do what they feel should be done is not moral.

Minimum wage laws inflict an entitlement by force.  The dignity of work comes from what people put into it – and earning a paycheck, not having the government hold a gun to your employer’s head – leaving you either paid more than you’re worth or unemployed entirely.

There is no “true economic independence” for a $10/hour job, a $15/hour job.  Idle rich and trust fund babies have “true economic independence” – and even they can lose it if economies change.  Economic independence comes from having one’s own skills that are marketable in different job environments.

If Coll and clowns who publish his Marxist drivel want to provide “dignity” and “true economic independence”, why not mandate a $100/hour minimum wage?  If people made $8000 every two weeks, they’d be doing pretty well.  Why not a $1000/hour minimum wage?  Or a $10,000/hour minimum wage?  You could work for a day and pay off student loans and buy a new car all in one.

If he’s got intellect greater than that of a grapefruit, he’d respond with “but businesses can’t afford to pay $10,000/hour.”  And just the same, they can’t afford to pay any other artificial minimum wage without modifying their business model.  Some businesses could handle $10,000/hour minimum wages, but it would harm them severely and result in cutting many employees, hiring no more employees, and passing costs off to customers.  Some businesses can handle a bump to $15/hour minimum wages, but it will harm them as well, it will harm future employment, and the business will pass costs off to their customers.

He wonders why the Midwest and South have a lower cost of living – and that is due in no small part to not having to deal with wage inflation – those costs are passed on to businesses, which pass them back on to us.

Update: Some leftist union organizers have decided to stage strikes for higher fast food wages across the country.  When they get the government to force their employers to pay them $15/hour, they’ll find that those businesses can’t stay open because no one wants to pay $17 for a Whopper or $13 for a Big Mac.  They won’t be able to afford the Taco Grande meals they make.

The fast-food effort is backed by the Service Employees International Union and is also demanding that restaurants allow workers to unionize without the threat of retaliation.

It’s like I should just write “the usual suspects are at it again”.

Beating a dead horse – if they’re not worth the pay, they’re not worth the pay.  That’s not a measure of their value as a human being, just their respective value in their chosen job.   Demanding more wages because you’ve chosen to make an entry-level job a career is a problem with the individual’s ambition and drive and desire to sit on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, not a question of whether their employer is a greedy robber baron capitalist pig-dog.

From the Weekly Standard:

“Jessica Sanford was cited by the president as an Obamacare success story at a health care event he had here at the White House in the Rose Garden on October 21,” says a reporter for CNN from the White House. “That of course being just last month….”

Of course, she found out her coverage was being taken away by Obamacare and she can’t afford what she’s offered by Obamacare.

Jonah Goldberg over at NRO has decided to just sit back and enjoy watching Obama fail.  After all, this was warned against for a long, long, long time.  They were warned, they were told it wouldn’t work, they were told why it wouldn’t work, and they rammed it down our throats anyway… and now they get to fail.

If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place.  …

The hubris of our ocean-commanding commander-in-chief surely isn’t news to readers of this website. He’s said that he’s smarter and better than everyone who works for him. His wife informed us that he has “brought us out of the dark and into the light” and that he would fix our broken souls. The man defined sin itself as “being out of alignment with my values.” We may be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but at the same time, everyone has been waiting for him. Or as he put it in 2007, “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there.”

In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality.  …

During the government shutdown, Barack Obama held fast, heroically refusing to give an inch to the hostage-taking, barbaric orcs of the Tea Party who insisted on delaying Obamacare. It was a triumph for the master strategist in the White House, who finally maneuvered the Republicans into revealing their extremism. But we didn’t know something back then: Obama desperately needed a delay of Healthcare.gov. In his arrogance, though, he couldn’t bring himself to admit it. The other possibility is that he is such an incompetent manager, who has cultivated such a culture of yes-men, that he was completely in the dark about the problems. That’s the reigning storyline right now from the White House. Obama was betrayed. “If I had known,” he told his staff, “we could have delayed the website.”

This is how you know we’re in the political sweet spot: when the only plausible excuses for the administration are equally disastrous indictments.

Of course we’re all going to suffer for the government takeover of 1/6 of the US economy, but at least we can enjoy watching the left fail at it.  We can enjoy some schadenfreude watching the leftist supporters have their hopes and dreams dashed as they look on in baffled confusion and pain like a dog who’s just discovered how skunks work.