Category Archives: Labor

As Expected $15 Minimum Wage Hurting Workers, by Sarah Cowgill

Requiring employers to pay employees more than they’re worth has consequences. Who knew, besides anyone who knows anything about economics? From Sarah Cowgill at libertynation.com:

The move to make flipping burgers and shoehorning fries into a lucrative career has been a national debate pitting hourly workers against the businesses that employ them. Granted, doubling the entry-level wage seems ideal for those struggling to survive. However, as more states and municipalities force the issue through legislation or ballot initiatives, the downside risk becomes increasingly, and painfully, obvious.

It’s a bite that the Big Apple is experiencing firsthand as the minimum wage increased 15% on Jan. 1, and employees who rely on tip wages to eke out a living are salving their dashed hopes of gaining ground because restaurant owners are slashing hours and, in many cases, abolishing hospitality positions altogether.

Well, that didn’t take long at all.

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Artificial Intelligence Or Real Stupidity? by David Robertson

Artificial intelligence has been way overhyped. From David Robertson at realinvestmentadvice.com:

It’s hard to go anywhere these days without coming across some mention of artificial intelligence (AI). You hear about it, you read about it and it’s hard to find a presentation deck (on any subject) that doesn’t mention it. There is no doubt there is a lot of hype around the subject.

While the hype does increase awareness of AI, it also facilitates some pretty silly activities and can distract people from much of the real progress being made. Disentangling the reality from the more dramatic headlines promises to provide significant advantages for investors, business people and consumers alike.

Artificial intelligence has gained its recent notoriety in large part due to high profile successes such as IBM’s Watson winning at Jeopardy and Google’s AlphaGo beating the world champion at the game “Go”. Waymo, Tesla and others have also made great strides with self-driving vehicles. The expansiveness of AI applications was captured by Richard Waters in the Financial Times [here}: “If there was a unifying message underpinning the consumer technology on display [at the Consumer Electronics Show] … it was: ‘AI in everything’.”

High profile AI successes have also captured people’s imaginations to such a degree that they have prompted other far reaching efforts. One instructive example was documented by Thomas H. Davenport and Rajeev Ronanki in the Harvard Business Review [here]. They describe, “In 2013, the MD Anderson Cancer Center launched a ‘moon shot’ project: diagnose and recommend treatment plans for certain forms of cancer using IBM’s Watson cognitive system.” Unfortunately, the system didn’t work and by 2017, “the project was put on hold after costs topped $62 million—and the system had yet to be used on patients.”

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‘The gilets jaunes are unstoppable’, by Christopher Guilluy

An entire class of French people are tired of being treated as second-class citizens. From Christopher Guilluy at spiked-online.com:

The gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement has rattled the French establishment. For several months, crowds ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands have been taking to the streets every weekend across the whole of France. They have had enormous success, extracting major concessions from the government. They continue to march.

Back in 2014, geographer Christopher Guilluy’s study of la France périphérique (peripheral France) caused a media sensation. It drew attention to the economic, cultural and political exclusion of the working classes, most of whom now live outside the major cities. It highlighted the conditions that would later give rise to the yellow-vest phenomenon. Guilluy has developed on these themes in his recent books, No Society and The Twilight of the Elite: Prosperity, the Periphery and the Future of France. spiked caught up with Guilluy to get his view on the causes and consequences of the yellow-vest movement.

spiked: What exactly do you mean by ‘peripheral France’?

Christophe Guilluy: ‘Peripheral France’ is about the geographic distribution of the working classes across France. Fifteen years ago, I noticed that the majority of working-class people actually live very far away from the major globalised cities – far from Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, and also very far from London and New York.

Technically, our globalised economic model performs well. It produces a lot of wealth. But it doesn’t need the majority of the population to function. It has no real need for the manual workers, labourers and even small-business owners outside of the big cities. Paris creates enough wealth for the whole of France, and London does the same in Britain. But you cannot build a society around this. The gilets jaunes is a revolt of the working classes who live in these places.

They tend to be people in work, but who don’t earn very much, between 1000€ and 2000€ per month. Some of them are very poor if they are unemployed. Others were once middle-class. What they all have in common is that they live in areas where there is hardly any work left. They know that even if they have a job today, they could lose it tomorrow and they won’t find anything else.

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French Democracy Dead or Alive? by Diana Johnstone

One impetus behind the Yellow Vest movement is to restore real democracy to a country that has become a democracy in name only. From Diana Johnstone at unz.com:

Gilets Jaunes song performed at French traffic circle: Les Gentils et les Méchants

Paris, France, 9 January 2019

French Democracy Dead or Alive? Or perhaps one should say, buried or revived? Because for the mass of ordinary people, far from the political, financial, media centers of power in Paris, democracy is already moribund, and their movement is an effort to save it. Ever since Margaret Thatcher decreed that “there is no alternative”, Western economic policy is made by technocrats for the benefit of financial markets, claiming that such benefits will trickle down to the populace. The trickle has largely dried up, and people are tired of having their needs and wishes totally ignored by an elite who “know best”.

President Emmanuel Macron’s New Year’s Eve address to the nation made it perfectly clear that after one unconvincing stab at throwing a few crumbs to the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protest movement, he has determined to get tough

France is entering a period of turmoil. The situation is very complex, but here are a few points to help grasp what this is all about.

  • The METHODS

The Yellow Vests gather in conspicuous places where they can be seen: the Champs-Elysées in Paris, main squares in other cities towns, and the numerous traffic circles on the edge of small towns. Unlike traditional demonstrations, the Paris marches were very loose and spontaneous, people just walking around and talking to each other, with no leaders and no speeches.

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Political Nightmares Multiply for Europe Ahead of Davos, by Tom Luongo

The globalist-inspired European integration dream is crumbling. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Europe’s dreams of integration are slipping away as the people wake up from the nightmare erected for them.

As we approach Act IX of the Yellow Vest protests in France and the threats of creating bank runs we get the news that both Presidents Trump and Macron will not be attending the convocation of globalists known as the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Trump’s not attending because it’s clear he’s no longer a member of The Davos Crowd and Macron isn’t because any public appearance by him will double the number of people donning high visibility safety gear and taking to the streets.

It almost feels like we’ve reached Peak Davos, with these announcements. But, clearly neither of these men are invited because in the minds of The Davos Crowd they no longer figure in their long-term plans.

Macron not attending is also a sign his government will be sacrificed on the altar of the Yellow Vests in the near future.

The Yellow Vest protests will have to be dealt with in a substantive manner that goes far beyond a few temporary injunctions against higher taxes. They are now vandalizing another symbol of middle class oppression in France, speed cameras.

All of the governments of Europe are broke. And the speed camera is simply another in a long line of instances of them trying to squeeze blood from the now impoverished and shrinking middle class.

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The War Against Globalism, by Philip Giraldi

One reason the French are rioting is because Emmanuel Macron is a poster child for globalism. Many of the French would like to get rid of both. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

We are the Little Folk—we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you’ll see
How we can drag down the State!
A Pict Song, Rudyard Kipling

Belgium has joined the list of countries that are rebelling against their elected leadership. Over the weekend the Belgian government fell over Prime Minister Charles Michel’s trip to Morocco to sign the United Nations Migration Agreement. The agreement made no distinction between legal and illegal migrants and regarded immigration as a positive phenomenon. The Belgian people apparently did not agree. Facebook registered 1,200 Belgians agreeing that the Prime Minister was a traitor. Some users expressed concern for their children’s futures, noting that Belgian democracy is dead. Others said they would get yellow vests and join the protests.

The unrest witnessed in a number of places is focused on some specific demands but it represents much broader anger. The French yellow vests initially protested against proposed increases in fuel taxes that would have affected working people dependent on transportation disproportionately. But when that demand was met by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, the demonstrations continued and even grew, suggesting that the grievances with the government were far more extensive than the issue of a single new tax. Perhaps not surprisingly, the French government is seeking for a scapegoat and is investigating “Russian interference.” The US State Department inevitably agrees, claiming that Kremlin directed websites and social media are “amplifying the conflict.”

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The Yellow Vests: Populism and Nationalism Spreading Through Europe, by Jack Kerwick

The media is trying to ignore the riots in France because riots against things like taxes, immigration, climate change policies, and the elite contradict the media’s ideology. From Jack Kerwick at lewrockwell.com:

Even though France is currently experiencing demonstrations and riots on a scale that hasn’t been seen since at least the historic year of 1968, we’ve heard relatively little about it from our media here at home.

This should suffice to elicit some measure of curiosity from the skeptical.

After all, over the last so many years, whenever France’s North African and Middle Eastern Islamic immigrants would spend a few nights burning cars and attacking police, the media, and the cable news media specifically, would expend no small measure of their time treating viewers to footage of the mayhem.

This is because such rioting served the left’s agenda, a program that consists of the promotion of massive Third World immigration into the West and that relies upon a narrative featuring white oppressors and non-white victims.  These riots could readily be spun as the consequence of unconscionable material inequality, which in turn could be interpreted as the function of the “racism” of the white oppressors.

The latest riotous demonstrations, however, are anything but friendly to most of the media’s ideology.

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