Sunday, September 04, 2011
The Moral Gestapo
Malaise of Theory
The Moral Gestapo
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
As the Obama administration welcomes its newest top economic advisor to their team, the press has notified the masses of his intellect and his expertise in that job saving invention, minimum wage. He is an expert on the subject having studied and written about it from his position at Harvard.
Although my graduate degree came from Harvard on the Rio Grande in New Mexico and my knowledge of minimum wage is only real world, a metric from that experience is worth sharing. In 1997 following a series of minimum wage increases in California agriculture, we summarized our internal labor statistics by age group. In a company that spent more than $20 million annually in labor, the result was not insignificant and it was probably indicative of all companies in similar pursuits.
At the start of the decade, almost seven percent of all hourly summer employees were students who had traditionally sought employment during summer vacations. By 1997, that percentage had dropped to less than .2% of total expenditures.
The result was obvious. As the government coerced increases in the minimum wage, our willingness to provide summer employment for that age group was overshadowed by the reality of could we afford without reciprocal skill levels. The youth that benefited from the exposure of real world experience as well as gainful summer employment were eliminated permanently from our work force.
The minimum wage debacle is but one of a series of hoaxes that has been perpetrated on our society. In the real world, it eliminated a segment of the work force that needed exposure to entry level jobs that were never intended to be career options. Many who understand it will argue it did exactly what its proponents warned against. The mandated upward creep of dollars pushed the most vulnerable into traps between the historical benefits and the marginal existence that came from the scant gains in job opportunities.
Play the Oldies
How many other orchestrated debacles have we lived through, similarly? Shall we start with global warming, or are we just too disgusted to face that tedious issue?
The truthful historical place to start would be to describe how every real world debacle has been mirrored by the genius of a human creation, but that is mundane. A more conventional place to start is to listen to the trumpets played by the doomsday oracles.
In World History, we were taught that farming blossomed in the middle latitudes when human society evolved enough to have leisure time to contemplate agricultural practices. The lesson went on to describe how the climate was warm enough to grow crops, and adequate gathering allowed them to spend time on farming ideas, right? No, farming came from the consequences of starving to death!
The more realistic version was that nomadic tribes grew to the point that their historical ranges were impacted by expanding ranges from others and food shortages developed. Near starvation, some enterprising character figured out he could bolster the food supply by tending it, and, over time, the process became sedentary farming.
If NPR or Al Gore would have been in charge of the smoke signals, though, it would have been a pending disaster. The end of the world would have been at hand, and, if regulations weren’t put in place, appendage atrophy would occur!
Play it again, Sam
Consider other history. DDT was banned in the United States after the geek brigades convinced everybody that eagles would lay eggs that would bounce and feel like silly putty. In 1951, India experienced 75,000,000 cases of malaria. With DDT usage, the documented case load decreased to 50,000 a decade later. Untold millions of human beings were saved from terrible deaths, but we were never told the positive story.
Americans were warned that the preservation of food by irradiation would make us all sterile and “the children” would be born into a bleak world that was illuminated only by moonlight. Today, 30 countries now embrace the practice as one of the most environmentally friendly methods of food preservation.
After decades of safe use, Americans were warned that chlorinated water was the culprit in increasing birth defects. Few have been reminded similarly of the magnitude of the pollution reducing benefits of the chemical and fewer yet have been told of the trash science in the original airwave rants.
In the 1930’s . . . and ‘’40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s for that matter, Americans were warned in grisly monotones of the pending water shortages that will forever alter our way of life. Interestingly, the same grim forecasts came for oil starting in the 1850’s. How many of us remember Jimmy Carter in a national broadcast breaking the shattering news that the world only had 21 years of oil reserves left?
We could go on and reminiscence about low sperm counts being predicated on PCB’s, electric razors begetting cancer, cyclamates culturing bladder cancer, and mercury poisoning spreading from sea foods, but we could also fast forward and read today’s headlines. The same stories exist . . . the names are just changed.
Play Misty for me
The year 2004 was especially a hot year for smoke signals for mercury. That was the year that the EPA set a limit and indicated that 630,000 babies a year would be born with brain injuries. Fast forward to the finding that Japanese women with mercury levels exceeding those standards by 74% exhibit no such results was just not news worthy. Perhaps the monotone narration that week was still the developing loss of polar bear habitat and how that would impact Detroit’s economy.
I loved the history lessons how man was going to terminate himself by salting up precious farmland and the world would starve. I remain perplexed, though, by the foreboding half life of uranium conundrum especially when I see recent pictures of Hiroshima where the bomb exploded.
It is the same reaction I get when I see the highlight reel from the yearly trip to the Trinity site. It is there the curious get to inspect and touch the earth that remains covered by shards of glass created by the first atomic bomb blast. What happened to the zillion year half life and death ray issue?
Perhaps the most ridiculous warning of all was the announcement that came from the learned elite following Ben Franklin’s electrical experimentation. His findings convinced everybody to put lightning rods on their homes. It was then that the warning came forth in the literature that the practice would poison the earth. It seems the accumulation of high levels of electricity would ruin the soil and render it dangerous for the production of food!
Could this be the missing link in the global warming debate? What was Al Gores’ great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s name, anyway?
Strike up the band
Two major prevarications are in the process of being instituted on our behalf. The first is the concoction of the green job fiasco. The truth that the greatest projects remain in the heads of the dreamers is no more apparent than in the green jobs crusade. The facts are it will take nine or ten times more capital to deliver green sourced energy than from conventional generation sources. Money needed for investments in manufacturing jobs will be diverted and more of the historical manufacturers on the bubble will disappear. The green job farce will also add a minimum of .6-.7% annually to the inflation rate.
A second and very worrisome development will appear shortly from the Department of Labor. A tight lipped White House has approved changes in child labor laws that could have lasting impact on the social structure and the already tenuous recruitment process of young farmers and ranchers.
The changes will mirror European standards by again raising age levels and reducing work hours of minors working in agriculture. This time the effects will not impact a broad socioeconomic spread of youth because those American youths are no longer employed in agriculture. It will affect the children of farm families.
Heretofore, children working under the supervision of their farming parents had broad allowances to participate in the family business. The expected changes will make use of ownership structures to reclassify a swath of those young people. For example, farming operations that are organized as an LLC will no longer have the broad family supervised allowances. Technically, the child works for the LLC and not the parents, and must be treated differently. If this madness is instituted, he becomes the domain of and protected under the law by . . . the federal government!
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Do you remember the city kids who came to the country and wanted to play with you? Do you remember your reaction when they wanted to try their airy ideas? The problem today is there are too many of them . . . and they get to try out those ideas! ”