Some Questions to Ask About Those New York Nail Salons

The New York Times has a fascinating story by Sarah Maslin Nir about conditions in New York nail salons. According to her, thousands of immigrant nail technicians are being exploited by salon owners. As if on cue, cavalcades of battered Ford Econoline vans grumble to the curbs, and the women jump in. It is the […]

It Helps To Get the Elementary Economics Right

One of the places I look for blog material is the Post Everything section at the Washington Post, and one of the regular contributors is Jared Bernstein, who bills himself as “former chief economist to Vice President Biden,” which doesn’t sound like the kind of employment you’d want to brag about. Anyway, Bernstein has a post […]

Equal Pay Won’t Help GDP

I stumbled across an In These Times article by Amy Domini and Sofia Faruqi called “5 Ways To Reduce Inequality By Holding Corporations Responsible.” It’s pretty much the usual progressive game plan, but one particular sentence in the last proposal caught my eye (emphasis mine): 5. Help women to prosper: Women are twice as likely as […]

It Helps To Have an Argument

Somebody named Joe left a comment explaining that he didn’t like my post about New York rent control. I was going to reply in the comments, but my response got long enough that I decided to make it a post. Normally, I do that when a commenter brings up interesting points, but in this case […]

Clap If You Believe In Rent Control

While idling my brain on Twitter, I stumbled across Jordan Fraade promoting his Baffler article about how New York needs rent control. It’s a little like discovering a grown-up who believes in fairies. For something that so deeply affects the workings of the city’s housing market, rent regulation in New York is widely misunderstood. At […]

The Unappreciated Virtues of Low Prices

Former Joe Biden chief economist Jared Bernstein has a piece up at PostEverything extolling the virtues of the $20/hour wage rate paid to McDonald’s employees — and other fast food workers — in Denmark. The base pay for a fast-food worker in Denmark is $20, and the pay package includes considerable non-wage benefits, including five […]

What Could Be Worse Than Raising the Minimum Wage?

I see that our mayor has proposed a city ordinance to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour. The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25/hour, a buck over the federal minimum, so that amounts to a 58% hike. This follows Seattle’s decision to increase their minimum wage to $15 a few months ago, […]

5 Years of the Business Cycle

I’ve been seeing this chart meme in a few places lately: The URL at the bottom indicates it’s from the folks at “I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President.” I’m assuming the numbers are accurate. There’s no date on it, but with that Dow number it has […]

Gary Becker on Crime

One of the giant minds of economics, Gary Becker, passed away on Saturday. Among other things, he and Kevin Murphy were pioneers in the idea of rational addiction, which I wrote about last year. That was just one example of his approach to applying the tools of economic thinking to a wide variety of other […]

An Argument From Envy

Over at In These Times, United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard has an opinion piece in which he purports to explain “Why the GOP Really Fears Minimum-Wage Hikes.” Republicans in America suffer a crippling anxiety. It’s the terrible fear of corporations paying poor workers too much. I don’t have any special claim to understanding why Republicans […]

Plenty of Blame to Go Around for the National Debt

I spotted this awful meme image on Facebook, from the Being Liberal page: Aside from the poor grammar and gratuitous attention-getting reference to 9/11, its implications about the history of our national debt are just plain wrong. On 9/11 we were attacked. Immediately after military expenditures doubled. Do you recall the Bush administration seeking added […]

Poor Ain’t Stupid

Poor people get a bad rap. I’m not talking about accusations of welfare fraud, and I don’t just mean politicians who call them “moochers” and “takers.” I’m talking about the people who think that if they were born poor, they could do better. They believe most poor people could move into the middle class if […]

Sequestration — Bring It On

I’ve been reading President Obama’s helpful guide to the things that sequestration will force the goverment to cut (the link is to the Illinois version) and I’ve realized that most of the cuts from sequestration fall into two categories: The first category consists of cuts that would be pretty damned awesome: …Illinois will lose about […]

Obama Wins, Markets Do Something

It’s easy to make fun of “up-down” financial market reporting, which is why I do it. Every day, some poor fool pretends to understand why thousands of investors made millions of of decisions about billions of dollars and boil it down to a single cause, such as “profit taking,” “hunting for bargains,” or “declining investor confidence […]

“Obama Loves American Car Workers”

…and hates American car owners. Over at In These Times, the President of the United Steelworkers International union, Leo Gerard, is praising President Obama for propping up politically connected businesses, although that’s not quite how he puts it: President Barack Obama…has given some love to American car companies and American car workers. He also gave […]