Minimum Wage and the Market

People on the left (it’s always the left for this one) who claim that if you do away with minimum wage it means wages will plummet to nothing while the evil business owners gloat over their fat profits.

The fact that employers will need to compete for good workers seems to escape them. If that other company over there has good workers who are making them a bunchaton of money, you might like to hire a few away from them (unless there’s a glut of equally capable workers so that you have your pick–don’t worry; I’ll get to that soon). How are you going to get them to quit that job and come work for you (making a bunchaton of money for you)? In olden days you might launch a raid, steal their workers, and chain them in your factories, but that tends to be frowned upon these days.

These days you only have one option, you need to offer them a better deal, either in pay or in other benefits so that they can tell current employer, “I’m outta here” and come work for you instead.

Of course, other guy wants to keep the workers making them a bunchaton of money and not lose them to you. So what to they do? They see your offer and raise their own so the workers say “on second thought, I’ll stay here.”

You, of course, still want to make money so you have to increase your offer still further. Now, you eventually hit some point where it’s not worth increasing your offer because the bunchaton of money you’d be spending for the workers reduces the bunchaton of money they’d make for you to “not worth it”.

That’s called “market value” for the labor.

Maybe you can play with things a bit. The other guy offers more money but you offer better medical (for instance) and some folk will like your deal better and some folk will like their deal better. Both of you get people working for you, maybe not all you would like, but some.  Not an ideal situation for either you or your competitor but, hey, at least your still making money if not quite the same bunchaton of money you might if not for that pesky guy over their competing for the same workers.

Now suppose there is that glut of workers.  There are a lot of workers sitting idle.  They don’t have jobs.  They are earning nothing.  As a result, you can offer less to get them to work for you because something is better than nothing.  That, however, is what you find in mindless “unskilled labor” where any warm body will do the job.  Even there, however, not all unskilled labor is the same.  There are those who will throw themselves into the job giving it their all, and there are those who will do the bare minimum they can get away with, and there are those who you have to stand over every second to get them to work at all.  The third group, you want to get rid of as soon as possible.  If you have to constantly stand over them, you’re not doing the things you could otherwise be doing–finding customers, finding suppliers providing the best value, arranging for other workers.  You’re losing all that for the “gain” of a worker doing not just the absolute minimum, but requiring your constant attention to get even that much.  That worker is a net cost to you.  The worker in the middle, might be okay to keep, but only just.  The workers in the first group though, ah, they’re the ones that can be quite valuable to you.  You want to keep them.  And since you already have them and they’re already familiar with our operation, you want to keep them happy and maybe provide training so they can move up to jobs requiring more expertise where they can make more money for you.  But to do that, you have to increase their compensation because there’s always that competitor ready to hire them away once they show themselves as having more value than that “glut” of “interchangeable warm bodies” workers.

This is why as of 2017 only 2.3% of all hourly paid workers earn at or below the Federal Minimum Wage.  The belief that reducing or eliminating the minimum wage will lead to a precipitous drop in earnings is, to put it simply, ridiculous.  The market doesn’t work that way (when it’s allowed to work).

There is a flip side, however.  Note that the whole argument is about good workers who make money for their employers.  But what about the guy who doesn’t have the skills and expertise of those folk.  Is he forever locked out of getting a good paying job, of having employers compete for his labor?

While this worker might not be able to compete in skill and experience with those established workers, there’s one area he can compete on:  price.  An employer who would not be willing to chance this less experienced, less skilled worker at the same price as the established, skilled workers, the employer might be willing to give him a shot at a lesser level of compensation.  This provides an opportunity to gain the experience and skills, to demonstrate the work ethic, to show that, yes, the worker has value to contribute to an employer and, thus, get into the position where employers have to offer him more to avoid losing him to competition and taking that value with him.

Now this is where things like Minimum Wage and Union contracts and other things that limit how much the worker can compete on price come into play.  By requiring a certain level of compensation regardless of skill, experience, or work ethic, they limit the new, inexperienced, unskilled worker’s ability to compete against those who have more experience and skills.  And so it becomes harder for these folk to enter the work force in the first place.  You end up with an increase of “under the table” arrangements which is less useful for establishing value to employers (being illegal and therefore secret).

Thus, Minimum Wage ends up hurting the very people it is claimed to be intended to help–those on the bottom, having difficulty transitioning from unskilled “interchangeable warm bodies” jobs to jobs earning higher compensation.

Sure the “raise” from an increased Minimum Wage or a new above-market-value contract is great for those who have the jobs.  Not so much for those fired, or laid off, or never hired in the first place because of the enforced distortion of market forces.

The result of all this is that Minimum Wage is one of those things that sounds good if you look at it quickly and don’t think too much about it but just doesn’t work in practice.

A new policy for attending cons by John Ringo

I’m rather small potatoes for this to matter much in my case but yeah, pretty much this.

Mad Genius Club

 A new policy for attending cons by John Ringo

So Larry Correia’s invite as GOH to Origins got rescinded because he’s ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘has sex with manatees’ etc.

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A Tale of Two Lanterns

Short one today.

Many years ago I was a big comics fan.  Not a collect comics and keep them carefully in mylar bags to preserve them in mint condition, type fan but a grab everything I could get my hands on and read it until it falls apart type fan.

I loved comic books.  I loved heroes.  People who’ve read some of my other posts should understand that about me.  People with amazing powers who use those powers of their own free will, nobody outside forcing them to do it, to help others.  Awesome.  Can’t get enough of it. (And if some get paid for it–I’m looking at you Heroes for Hire–that’s fine too.  Just so long as they’re helping people along the way.)

One of those heroes was Green Lantern.  The Green Lantern of my childhood was Hal Jordan.  And every time he had to charge his Power Ring (every 24 hours), he said his oath:

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.  Let those who worship evil’s might beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!

And so I went quite a few years.  I encountered other Lanterns from other space sectors (these Green Lantern’s were kind of like space cops, each with a sector of space to patrol).  I saw that the other Lanterns had their own oaths.  Okay, fair enough.

Times changed.  There was a “backup” Green Lantern on Earth (to take over if anything happened to Hal) named Guy Gardner.  Then something happened to him (don’t remember what) requiring another backup to be chosen.  John Stewart–the one people know from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series.

But then, some years later I encountered the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott.  His ring was quite different.  Where Hal’s was the product of alien super-science, Alan’s was from an ancient magic lantern prophesied to flare three times, once for death, once for life, and once for power.  We get the tale of the first two flares and the third flare is where Alan Scott gets his power.  He makes his ring from a part of the lantern (I know that doesn’t make sense.  It was the 40’s.  Just go with it.) and becomes the Green Lantern.  Instead of being vulnerable to the color yellow (in the sense that it can’t directly affect anything of that color), his ring is vulnerable to “natural things” (likewise) as opposed to manufactured which soon morphs into “doesn’t affect wood.”

His oath, too, was different.

I shall shed my light over dark evil, for dark things cannot stand the light.  The light of the Green Lantern.

That rocked.  For that oath alone I prefer the Alan Scott Green Lantern to the Hal Jordan one.

Hal’s oath is about power.  I don’t disparage power.  It allows one to do great things.  But Alan’s?  Alan’s is not about power.  It’s about being a light, a beacon.  Light that shines forth.  Evil cowers from it.  Good is drawn to it.

Power can be countered with power, but light?  Darkness can only retreat from it.  It can try to extinguish the light but it cannot defeat it.  As the metaphor goes, a single candle defeats the deepest darkness.

Not all of us have power, but all of us can be a light that shines in the world, the light of freedom, of courage, of ideals soaring high.

Be like Alan Scott, let your light shine forth.

Silencing Dissent (Fictional Characters Weigh In).

A couple days ago I wrote about the Origins Game Fair screeching.  This is part of a larger scheme where people, almost entirely from one end of the political spectrum (or one corner if you are into two-dimensional descriptors) of attempting to silence any dissent.

You know, it’s pretty sad when fictional characters make more sense than people who at least pretend to be real human beings.  Consider, for instance, on the case of some pretty extreme examples, what Captain America had to say about actual, self-identified neo-Nazis (and not the “Everyone I don’t like is a Nazi” that’s become so popular these days) and their Jewish extremist opponents in a long-ago issue of Captain America:

“All my life I’ve had a habit of making speeches.  Some people have criticized me for it.  They may be right.  Because I cannot express with words the horror I feel at seeing what you’ve done here today.

Don’t you realize that in your attack, you’ve attacked your own freedom as well?

The Freedom that guarantees all ideas–both noble and ignoble–the expression that is imperative if our society is to survive!

[Ed:  speaking to Jewish protestor] You!  Can’t you see that in stooping to your enemy’s level–you’re being made over in his image–that you’re becoming the very thing you loathe?

[Ed:  Speaking to Neo-nazi] And You!  In your fear and ignorance you deny reality!  Rewrite history!  I wish I could take you back with me to the day we liberated Diebenwald [Ed:  Presume this is the name given to one of the death camps in the Marvel Universe]–let you smell the stomach-churning stench of death–let you see the mountain of corpses left behind by the corrupt madman and murderer you idolize!

You two aren’t interested in the truthare you?

You’re only interested in your own self-consuming hate.

Two of  a kind.

Freedom of speech means that, yes, even people who are saying vile things have a right to speak.  You don’t have to listen to them, but you do not have the right to silence them, to prevent them from assembling (so long as it’s peaceable), from renting halls or air time, or even for speaking at your campus so long as there are people at your campus who want to hear them and they fill all the rules (which should not include limitations on content) any other speaker has to fulfill.

No, speech that you disagree with is not violence.

Let me cite another fictional character, Mike Harmon from the novel Ghost (Oh!  John Ringo, No!) to kind of illustrate the idea:

“You’re not with the police?” the girl said, totally confused.

“Oh, come on,” Mike scoffed. “I know you’re an airhead, but use at least one brain cell. Do the police commonly shoot people through the leg to get information?”

“Well, they beat people up,” Ashley said, with relentlessly liberal logic.

“Did those guys beat you?” Mike asked, gesturing at the dead terrorists.

“Yes,” Ashley said, sobbing gently.

“Would you like me to shoot you through the knee so you can tell the difference?” Mike asked, puzzling over the load list.

If you think speech is violence there are only two possibilities:  you’re a complete moron (and that’s an insult to complete morons) who has never experience violence and lacks even the rudimentary ability to imagine what it’s like, or you are lying.

I know which way I bet.

Speech is not violence.  It might incite violence, and when the incitement is immediate and direct, then that might be a cause to intervene, but just saying things you despise is not.  Examples:

  • “I hate brown haired people and wish they’d all die.” Allowed to say.  You’d be an idiot and I’m allowed to mock you and say that you’re an idiot that should eat a bag of dicks and choke.
  • (Pointing, with an angry mob listening to you) “Seize that (brown haired) guy over there and beat him to death with sticks.” No, that justifies some intervention.

In most cases, the proper thing to do when somebody says things that you consider utterly outrageous, even vile, is given by another fictional character (oh, there was a historical person of that name, but this is a fictional adaptation).  Rameses from The Ten Commandments (and while Charlton Heston may have been the “star”, Yul Brynner owned that movie):

Let him speak that men may know him mad.

Because if they are really that outrageous, then the more they speak, the more they’ll be ridiculous.  And the more people will turn away from them because they are so ridiculous.  You don’t have to silence them.  They are their own worst enemies.

However, when you go out of your way to silence them, once again what’s happening can be summed up by another fictional character, Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones:

When you tear out a man’s tongue, you do not prove him a liar.  You only show the world that you fear what he might say.

So, if you’re so afraid that what they say is so much more persuasive than what you say, you need to take a long hard look not at them but at yourself.  Why do you lack confidence in your ability to defeat their words with words of your own?

Maybe the weakness is in you.

Origins and the Social Justice Bullies

I learned yesterday that my friend Larry Correia was to be a guest of honor at the Origins Gaming Fair.  In addition to being a friend he’s also one of my favorite authors.

Since Origins was being held in Columbus, OH and just close enough that I could consider a day trip, this would have been a good opportunity to catch up with my friend and maybe get some books signed.

Only before I could run the numbers (gas, day pass membership, meals, some pocket money for myself and my daughter for the event, that sort of thing) an announcement comes up on FaceBook that, because some individuals raised a stink, Larry was “disinvited” via the following post on FaceBook:

I want to discuss our invitation to Larry Correia a guest at Origins. By all counts he is a very talented author.

Unfortunately, when he was recommended I was unaware of some personal views that are specifically unaligned with the philosophy of our show and the organization.

I want to thank those of you who brought this error to our attention.  Origins is an inclusive and family friendly event.  We focus on fun and gaming, not discourse and controversy.

I felt it necessary to recend his invitation to participate in the show.  I apologize again to those of you who were looking forward to seeing him at Origins.

John Ward, Executive Director

As somebody who was seriously considering going precisely because Larry was going to be there, apology not accepted.  You see, I know Larry so I know some things you didn’t mention.  I know that you did not speak to Larry about the accusations.  You did not get his side of the story.  You took the unsupported words of some Internet Howler Monkeys, posted the “recend” notice online (where Larry saw it before he saw the email disinviting him).

The best that could be said about the people oh so worried about Larry’s presence is that they were uncritically repeating lies told about him.  Yes, lies.

Larry is not racist, homophobic, or misogynist.  And despite what certain people of low character have claimed, he is not a rape apologist. (Suggesting that it might be a good idea for women to be able to defend themselves against those who would do them harm–and actually teaching them to do so–is no more “rape apologist” than teaching “defensive driving” and the wearing of seatbelts makes one a “traffic accident apologist.”)

A campaign of lies, libel, and outright bullying has been levied against my friend.  And I, for one, am sick of it.

Their inclusiveness is only the shallow “inclusiveness” of skin color and plumbing and how one is inclined to connect up that plumbing.  Any real diversity of thought or opinion must, to these people, be crushed and silenced.

In the words of a fictional character who, nevertheless, has more wisdom in his left pinkie toe than any dozen of these Social Justice Bullies combined. “When you tear out a man’s tongue you do not prove him a liar.  You only show the world that you fear what he might say.”

That’s why they want to silence Larry, they fear that he can make his case better than they can for their ideas cannot hold up to scrutiny or comparison.  It is only by silencing dissent that they can push their views.

Fortunately, his continuing to amass royalties, the readership of his blog, his voice on social media, echoed far and wide show that he’s in no danger of being silenced.

The Social Justice Bullies only show themselves to be petty and fearful.

On the other hand, there was this mailing from the folk putting on Origins:

Hello Exhibitors

GAMA is releasing a few rooms to the public for Origins 2018. If you are looking for some rooms, you can try; Courtyard, Renaissance, and Holiday Inn. Just reach out to the hotel and reserve the space!

Can’t wait to see everyone next month!

I’m sure there’s no connection whatsoever.  Mind you, there is a connection to one exhibitor (also a friend of mine) who basically said “I’m done.  I want my money back,” over this.


Stop. Just…stop. A Blast from the Past

I recently (as of the original writing) saw a blog post over on IO9 about 10 scientific ideas that scientists wish people would top using (incorrectly).  They missed my personal pet peeve–the use of quantum theory, badly understood or not understood at all, to supposedly explain new-agey magic (of the wizard and witch kind rather than the stage type) or psychic phenomena.

In quantum mechanics observation changes the thing observed, but that doesn’t mean you can use that to cast spells that do whatever folk claim to do with magic.  Here’s how it works:

Imagine you’re in a dark room.  There are objects in that room.  You have a big pile of baseballs and want to know where the objects are in the room.  You can throw the baseballs in various directions.  In certain directions the baseballs bounce back.  When they do, you know they hit some object.  You can then use things like the speed and direction in which you threw the ball and how long it took to bounce back to tell you in what direction and how far the object is.  Throw enough balls and you can get some idea of the size and shape of the objects.

Now, all the objects in the room are on casters.  When you hit them with a thrown ball, they move.  If they’re big and heavy they don’t move much.  If they’re small and light they move a lot.  Observing them, by throwing these balls at them, is going to affect them.

Consider the balls themselves.  The size of the balls limits what you can “see” with them.  Anything smaller than the ball itself you might see that it’s there, but you won’t be able to tell it’s size and shape.  And when you hit it with that ball it’s more likely to go sailing across the room and you only know where it was, not where it is now (after it got hit).  If you want to see smaller objects, you need smaller balls.

Now, this is the tricky part.  There’s a rule.  The smaller the “ball” the heavier it has to be.  That’s backwards from what we usually think of things, but to describe quantum effects you need that rule.

So you can see smaller objects by using smaller “balls”, but the result is that you’re going to hit the objects harder with those heavier balls and knock them just that much farther and faster away.

This, right here, is “observation changes the thing observed.”  The balls are whatever we use to look at something, whether sound waves, quanta (discrete packets) of light, electrons in an electron microscope, or anything else.  We “shine” the light or whatever on the object we wish to see (throw balls at it) and look at either what’s reflected or what passes through it to “see” the object.

At a basic level, when it comes to light the size of the “balls” (the wavelength of the light) is given by the following formula:

Eλ = hc

E = energy
λ = the wavelength (size of the “balls”)
h = Planck’s Constant a really, really, really small number. (Okay, it’s
6.62606957 × 10−34 joule∙second, but at this level what you need to know is that it’s really small.)
c = the speed of light.

For “particles” like electrons that have mass, the equation is a bit different:

λp = h

Here p = momentum.

In both cases, to get a small wavelength (small “balls” to look at small stuff) you need to have either a high energy (light) or high momentum (particles with mass).  Heavier balls that you throw harder.  And, when you throw heavier balls harder at the thing you’re observing, you knock it around more.

That’s “observation affects the thing observed.” It’s not magic.  It’s the simple fact that to observe something you essentially throw things at it.  And when they hit it, they knock it away.  The things you’re throwing are just really, really tiny things (see that Planck’s Constant).  And the effect is only important on really, really small things, things like electrons, sometimes atoms themselves.  To affect larger things that way, you need a bunchaton of energy.

This analogy only scratches the surface.  There’s a lot more I could do. (Quantum tunneling:  the balls are “squishy” and can sometimes get through holes that are nominally too small for them.) But that will be enough for now, I think.

So, if you see someone claiming quantum mechanics as we understand it* allows for “magic” or “psychic phenomena”.

*One caveat:  there’s always the possibility of some new discovery requiring us to alter our understanding of physics and with it our understanding of what is and is not possible.  But the possibility of new physics changing our understanding of something from “impossible” to “possible” is not at all the same thing as saying “quantum physics makes it possible”.  A lot of things were possible to quantum mechanics that were not possible to classical mechanics, but not everything is.