The Fed. NLRB Dumped Pandora’s Entire Box On McDonald’s

McDonald'sThe Obamafolk have just paid off Big Labor with a poisoned plum. The National Labor Relations Board has decided that employees of McDonald’s franchisees are “jointly employed” by McDonald’s parent. So what? You are not excited. Perhaps you should be …

If you were of the few paying attention, you have noted that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)  has (sort of) struck McConald’s for the last couple of years in pursuit of a $15 hr. minimum wage. Most have slept through this. But the SEIU has friends in Washington.

For the union, the problem is that all the McDonald’s franchised stores are privately owned and operated. Every individual franchisee is an independent business that will have to be separately unionized and forced to conform to the union’s demands. A very tall order.

So the kindly NLRB is lending a Federal hand to the union: it has declareed that all McDonald’s franchises’ employees are also “joint employees” (a new legal concept?) of the parent. Voila! the union can organize the entire business by dealing with only the parent! (We suspect that this is a sop to the union for having to put up with the floods of non-union cheap labor being welcomed by the Obamafolk over the now highly porous border.)

Two things to note: One, there are a lot of franchises. McDonald’s of course, many of the fast food ilk but also hardware stores, dollar stores, various services, tax folk and multitudinous others. Franchising is a chunk of the U.S. economy. The economic effect of this casual revolution is not small.

Then there is the legal cesspool resulting. Legal precedent assumes that a franchiser and franchisee are at arm’s length, separate businesses. Prior labor law assumes that a contract between employer and employee is binding. Corporate law assigns liability of corporations. All these seem topsy-turvy with this decision of the bureaucrats. Courts will have to sort it out. That may require a long time, during which large fines will be assessed by the bureaucrats. And who will buy a franchise while this is underway? It is evidence that our governors love unions and hate jobs, from what we see.

Congress could of course, step in. The New York Times linked article above will inform you that one (Democrat) Representative has a bill in Congress addressing it. We will have to see whether the Republicrat uniparty acts or just, as is its wont, sustains the status quo by inaction. The U.S. Census folk say that franchised business is some 10.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But what’s that to a politician?

There’s more: If “joint employment” holds up (no bets) what will happen with liability lawsuits? With insurance? With the sometimes enormous fines for labor law violations? etc, etc. Pandora was a piker compare to our NLRB.

So middle class folks who used to invest their retirement in buying a franchise to replace their erstwhile jobs will now have to ponder. But the SEIU is no doubt, happy. Along with a lot of lawyers …

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Are Children Likely When Child Care Is Unaffordable?

Daycare“Child care costs exceed rent, tuition.” caught our eye this morning while we were reading our local New Mexico newspaper. The story turned out to be credited to Bloomfield News. A similar report surfaced on the Washington Post and several other newspapers, blogs and radio and TV sources, all traceable to a 2013 Sallie Mae report. Sallie Mae (Now Navion Corp.) was a government student loan source later privatized.

The headline in the Washington Post was: “Start Saving Now: Daycare Costs More Than college In 31 States.” Those recalling cheap teen babysitters won’t understand. Younger readers aware of recent labor law mandating in-home and child care services be subject to minimum wage, overtime, vacation and the whole cornucopia of labor goodies will get it. The cheap teen of yore is now illegal. At least, in those 31 we suppose, Democratically governed states. And for a daycare location, there are liability insurance costs, licensing and more.

The babysitter has morphed into a government-regulated industry now well on the familiar road to unaffordability with its predecessors higher education, healthcare and retirement. Summing up: Parking your kid while you work to save enough to send her to college will cost more than college. So, you won’t have money left to send her to college. Your compassionate government, protecting teen babysitters et al. Those beneficiaries are likely more grateful than you may be.

Excepting immigrants, the fertility rate has been dropping in the U.S. The average age of motherhood has been increasing. Added up, that’s fewer  Americans being born to natives. Some other places, Russia, Japan and others, face that too. Which means that a smaller class of young workers is stuck supporting a larger class of retirees who are inconveniently, living longer. Fun, right?

One may suppose that the human race needs a steady supply of replacements to thrive. One would be correct. But that’s long-term thinking; politicians prefer the shorter term in which they have to live: I.e. from now to the next election.

Parsing that interval, it makes better sense to make voting age child care workers happy than it does to worry about the reproductive plans of young married folk. As for the destiny of the species, that’s way past the next election; worry about that later. Much later …

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A Negative Balance of Trade: Wherein Lies the Awfulness? (Kindly Explain, If You Can … )

Trade ImbalanceSo much of this world passes our understanding. The U.S. has had TRADE DEFICIT with China for 30 years we are told, and in the telling, clearly intended to be upset by this. But, since our knowledge of such arcane subjects is limited, we aren’t. We have constructed a lifetime trade deficit with our supermarket, after all, without negative result.

What is a trade deficit? Simple and we suppose, a political construction of no real merit. Anytime two parties to international trading do not trade equal values of goods, a deficit develops. One side holds more of the other sides’s money while that other side holds more of the first side’s goods.. That is allegedly an evil though as said, we don’t see why.

Say we have paid a lot of our money to another country for its goods while it buys nothing from us. A 100% trade imbalance. What has really happened? The seller has obtained desired money from the buyer; the buyer has obtained desired goods from the seller. No harm, no foul, right? Purely voluntary, too.

We are supposed to deplore this as a trade imbalance since one side bought nothing from the other, just stashed money for the goods it shipped.  We don’t get why this is supposed to be bad.

What is the custodian of our money going to do with it? He can’t eat it. All it is good for, is to buy stuff from its source. It has no other value. It is a claim on  goods or services, no more. Whenever they are bought, those goods or services will be sold at a profit; the original buyer’s money will return to him with a gain.

So, why do folks become upset at “negative balances of trade” wherein goods don’t flow equally in both directions? We suspect that such complaints serve some political purpose; we cannot see an economic one. But there is much that we don’t know.

As we said at the beginning, we have a lifelong negative balance of trade with our supermarket but no harm from that. We see no difference. Maybe we’re missing something?

For now, we suspect that it’s politics, not economics. Perhaps you can explain it to us …

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Will the Open Borders Bring Political Change?

A chill wind is blowing...

A chill wind is blowing…

Mars dwellers by now (if any) must be aware of the mass migration from the Middle East and Africa into Europe. Of whom has funded and organized it, not so much. Of the developing split between European governors and voters, more daily. The E.U. government is not elected and so insulated from the E.U. voters. It knows what is good for them whether or not wanted.

Mass immigration is unwanted by those who must pay for it as their own children’s futures are increasing ly uncertain. But the rulers worship at different altars: Compassion for the desperate on one hand and cheap labor on the other. Nothing that, if you are an E.U. politician, it is not your own money you are giving away.

But the local national governments must face voters; their reactions can’t be so independent.  British poll said the voters will leave Europe over the refugees issue. The E.U. right is being empowered in some places, notably Marie Le Pen in France.

Human nature assures that in these circumstances, some number of desperately needy arrivals will be received in charity; some larger and thereby more demanding number will be seen as an invasion to be resisted … to the death, if necessary.

In Europe, when an existing political party loses its hold of the voters, a new party rises to represent their desires and if it represents a majority, takes power. It is an upsetting but stabilizing regime; upsetting to entrenched political interests but stabilizing to the overall body politic, for it provides an orderly path for political changes on short notice.

In the United States two-party system, the voters are provided a choice whenever the incumbents annoy too many but as the two represent only the two extremes of the same political stream, it cannot provide for a massive gulf in the body politic. Where in Europe a new party would pop into existence, in the U.S. that is if not impossible, at least massively unlikely as local laws and the system both obstruct it.

Thus we see the Democrats torn between Hillary Clinton and Socialist Bernie Sanders with others warming up in the wings while Republicans are racked upon over a dozen choices with the leader, Donald Trump, a self-appointed thorn in the side of the  GOP establishment.

As the two ends of the same political entity, neither party will anoint an extreme or independent representative without thereby committing political suicide, at least so far as the incumbent leadership is concerned. So, the world and an uncounted number of Americans laugh or shake their heads. What a lame way to govern! But such is the system.

What it amounts to, is repudiation of European instant legitimizing of political fads in favor of holding them off until one reaches such a gale force that it destroys one of the two parties and supplants it, under the cover of carrying on the same institutional name. One follows the winds of change willy nilly; theo other steers a straighter course at a cost of preserving outdated policies longer. Both have pros and cons aplenty.

But at the moment in the United States and in Europe, the developing split being widened by opposing policies between the leaders and the voters seems to be inviting some political gear-shifting on a substantial scale.

It is fun to watch, if you can stand back far enough.

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China Joins Russia in Syria? (What’s Prez Obama Gonna Say?)

Syria Friends It seems that China has dealt itself into the Middle East; we presume that Martians will be next. Perhaps, the area having attracted the interest of God Himself on three occasions (Jewish, Christian and Moslem) we should not be so surprised. He understands geopolitics better than we do, that’s all. But short of a fourth round from Him, China will do.

Britain stabilized the area after WWI. Recently, it was stabilized by minority dictatorships. In Syria, a (sort of) Shia thug sat on the majority Sunni population and cuddled with Shia Iran, though the Sunni majority would have preferred nesting with the fellow Sunni Gulf Arabs.

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used minority Sunni Arabs to run the place, to the chagrin of the majority Shia Arab Iraqis. Under Saddam, Iraq was a buffer against Shia Iran and they fought an inconclusive war a while back.

The thousands of years old game is the seesaw between the Arabs and non-Arab Iran, both of whom feel entitled to run things. But Iran could not call upon fellow Shia in Iraq with the Sunnis in charge there. Nor could the Gulf Arabs call on fellow Sunni Arabs in Syria with the Shia (Alawite) Assads on top. Sort of a stalemate. Relative peace …

Then, Prez Bush, pere, somehow allowed Saddam to believe that he would be allowed to invade Kuwait. (Oil, oil, oil …). Letting such as Saddam imagine that was a key diplomatic failure of President Bush’s administration. It require the Gulf War to restore the status quo ante with Saddam still in charge in Iraq but out of Kuwait. Bush the First has never been adequately criticized for allowing Saddam’s misadventure.

Bush the Second tipped over the apple cart; he effectively removed the Sunni seal from the Shia Iraqi bottle by toppling Saddam. Some of those dispossessed Sunnis now call themselves: ISIS. Shia took over government and are now cozying up to Shia Iran. Bagdad has just provided Russia an airbase in Iraq. The Bushes put Iraq in play. They killed a lot of people and wasted a lot of money doing it.

Seeing this and the regime changes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia et al, some Syrians arose to toss their dictator Assad. These rebels are mostly Sunni itching to dump the minority Shia government. Naturally, Assad fought back and the two were going at it when Iraqi ISIS piled on them both. The Syrian rebels weren’t pushing a religious dictatorship; ISIS wants that. Generally, Assad has been slowly losing. That distresses his sponsor Iran. Iran sent its Hezbollah militia from Lebanon to help Assad. It wasn’t quite enough.

Into this mess, President Obama was pushed by political winds; he pretended to care and events forced him to act up to it. He sent a few air strikes to help the Kurds against ISIS in Syria and a few more against ISIS in Iraq.

Iran, losing satellite Syria, asked Russia for help. Putin piled in and started saving Assad, attacking the Syrian rebels and promising to attack ISIS. Unless he wanted to fight Russia, this dealt Obama out of Syria. It bids fair to assure Syria remains in Iranian orbit, never mind what its majority Sunnis might wish. And even if Obama desired to proceed in Syria, damn the Russian torpedoes, the advent of China is too much. Syria, despite its majority Sunni Arabs, will stay in Iran’s shadow.

Iraq was, despite its Shia Arabs, a friend of the Sunni Gulf. Now that it has been beheaded by the Bushes, it is drifting toward Shia Iran instead. Though Shia, Iraqis are Arabs; Iranians aren’t nor do the two trust. Iraqi people may not be happy with Iran as Big Brother but that seems the direction that the Iraqi government is drifting.

Betting on the outcome of this sort of witches’ brew is silly. But it seems safe to expect lots of dead people, wasted money and unexpected or at least unintended, side effects such as wars.

Compounding all this, Europe and the United States are abandoning Israel as rapidly as they are able to manage while denying any such thing. And of course, blessing Iranian nuclear ambitions while pretending to oppose them.

We can understand most of this, after a fashion. It’s all too human politics and nothing new on earth. There is one thing though, that we would like to understand much better and do not:

Who is organizing and funding the streams of refugees and other migrants into Europe and the parallel stream into the U.S? The U.N. has set up refugee camps around the trashed areas; they have been receiving their refugees for years now. In the Americas, Central American instability is on the downswing, Someone has invested much money and effort to organize these mass movements, over considerable time. Or so we suppose. WHO?

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

Alfred_E__NeumannNiblets of news for your amazement, amusement, consternation or confusion …

The Umpqua,  Oregon shooter was a British born black man, facts known at once but still unreported to many. (Maybe ‘journalism’ needs a new definition?)

A Palestinian killed 2 Israelis and wounded a toddler in Jerusalem. This is chronic; so are rockets shot into Israel by Palestinians. (Why is that never newsworthy?)

The FCC chief called for regulation of Uber, Airbnb. (Can’t have big business outside government control, eight?)

Daimler (The parent of Mercedes) is testing a self-driving truck on German highways. (Betcha: When these cars arrive, you won’t own one. You will be allowed to call one, but to own none.) Any takers?

The Secret Service appears to have targeted GOP lawmakers as the IRS targeted GOP donors. The Director’s role in leaking scandalous information seems hard to pin down.  (Is this ‘corruption?’)

 Recognition of familiarity has been controlled in rats’ brains by scientists. A new prosthesis will help people with memory loss. (We are taking our tinfoil hats a bit more seriously, of late.)

Easy gene manipulation is here and no less dangerous than nukes. (But a lot easier to get hold of, right?)

Clinton and Fiorina agree that a ‘no fly’ zone should be set in Syria. (Did these paragons of foreign policy intend Russians shoot down Americans, or vice versa?)

Des Plains, IL has been sued by the Department of Justice over denial of a zoning change to build a Moslem religious center. (“Love thy enemy” arising to new heights … )

A Foreign policy shifted as the U.S. Navy will patrol areas of Chinese encroachments in the south China Sea. (But never mind Russian encroachment in Ukraine and the Middle East.)

Jobs are up 14,000 for those foreign born; down 262,000 for natives. (Strange that the unions haven’t figured this out?)

No Fed interest rate rise, per forecast. US economy stalling.  Markets are back at panic levels. (The Fed was blamed for 1929; it is trying to duck a repeat. Given that absolving the Fed puts blame on Congress, good luck with that!)

Syria is now a gift to Iran from Russia with President Obama’s tacit (but plausibly deniable) blessing.

A new ‘rectenna’ provides DC current from light. (IF this holds up – and scales up – this will be BIG!)

Moslems have demanded the resignation of Lewiston. Maine’s Mayor for asking them to assimilate. (“Let him who has ears to hear … )

Global cooling has been discovered; thought to overcome global warming.  German/French research announced.(As this is serious science, not politics, it won’t turn up on the news, we suspect.)

WARNING: It’s Time to Take Your Gold Out of the U.S.

A Nobel laureate Economist was kicked off an overbooked flight for having the cheapest ticket. (“Physician, heal thyself … )

Over 50 were shot for a second Chicago weekend. (See how gun control works …)

A dog  drove a truck into a lake.

A rocky forecast now questions ‘recovery.’ (If you believe we are recovering, how would you like to own a really cheap bridge?)

A new battery design offers promise for solar, wind energy storage. (It sure does … if it is more real than our ‘recovery.’)

Medicare has paid $30 M for ambulance rides lacking supporting records. (Suppose that might relate to why none can afford healthcare?)

Research has found that washing dishes may relieve stress. (You decide.)

Hastert: Ex House Speaker mulling plea deal. (Or can he stall until a GOP president takes charge?)

NBC was caught manipulating results of a poll.

Israel continues to face Arab rock throwers and missiles. (And that continues not to be news, right?)

Women, straight virgins without experience of males are buying kids via in-vitro fertilization. (A new take on single mothers)

Anti-cholesterol statin drugs accelerate aging per new research.

The Berkeley library was shut down by bedbugs.

A naked, bloody teen wandering L.A. streets was a schizophrenic on meth, his mom said. (Where will we hear of him next?)

Thus escapeth another week, running for its life.

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Once, There Was A Thing Called: NEWS … (Now, We Must Manage With Opinions)

JournalismWe point out from time to time, that we don’t know much. Also that we aren’t thereby precluded from holding opinions. That seems to us to require a certain arrogance so we leave room for any other opinions readers might care to express politely. Here, agreement is subservient to facts and logic.

This viewpoint leaves us with a lot of questions unanswered but often enough, we can’t answer our own questions. Some of those include:

  1. Why are we listening to media news masticating an Oregon shooting by an obvious nutcase wherein the newsfolk lavish time over a paucity of facts? The less they seem to know, the more they seem to talk. Why?
  2.  Important stories include the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the economic collapse in Venezuela, Argentina and and other places plus the disintegration of society in much of Africa; why are they utterly invisible?
  3. The U.S. economy and most of those world wide, being now a single market, are shrinking in media silence. Why?
  4. Why don’t we know how things are in Canada (recession) and Mexico?

Has the entire U.S. news machine morphed into a gigantic propaganda project? Telling us what the governors want us to know or can’t prevent our learning while obscuring whatever interferes with their goals?

You decide.

We obtain our information mostly from the internet, prowling obscure sites and cross-checking for assurance. We note that the Federal government has now asserted regulatory authority over that internet, leaving us to wonder how much longer we will find our obscure news sources there. We are cynical, perhaps.

Our habitual two glasses of wine at dinner seem to help, acting as something f an anesthetic. They don’t make things better, but easier to tolerate. On occasion, we consider a third glass but as yet, nothing has been that difficult. Maybe, when we find out whom we have in our wisdom have elected President a year from November, that third glass will suggest itself. Or not.

We love that Donald Trump is infuriating all of the power elites by speaking out what they want ignored. We love a bit less the various populist policies that Trump presents as solutions to the real issues that he identifies. We cannot imagine any current Congressfolk passing his nostrums. While we would not miss our current Congressfok, we doubt that they will all be suddenly replaced. That would be nice, but seems unlikely to us.

Parsing Syria: For Obama, its a chance to expand an Oregon mass shooting into a gun control pitch, pluscover for his deal with Putin, intended to keep Syria in Iran’s orbit. For Putin, it’s a chance to appear on the world stage as a savior from ISIS of all those Arabs he doesn’t himself kill in the process. Plus to support his local ally, Iran. For the Arabs, another opportunity to rage at the perfidy of the U.S, siding with their ancient Persian enemy. And for Iran, a good laugh at the stupidity of the infidel, so effectively defeating himself for Iran’s benefit.

As we started: We know nothing but have nevertheless, opinions. Worth every penny that you pay for them …

Your opinions are welcome, too. (You have every right to be wrong!)

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