California: SEIU demands increase in minimum wage, jobs be damned

**Posted by Phineas

Depression-era unemployment

“But at least we raised the minimum wage! Obama!!”

Fresno is fifth-largest city in California, the largest that’s not on the coast, and the largest in the Central Valley, that agricultural cornucopia that’s being destroyed by drought and environmentalist idiocies.

But don’t get me started on that.

Anyway, just by its position and population Fresno is important to the state’s economy, particularly our agricultural sector. (Where do you think your raisins come from?) But, like much of the Central Valley, it’s suffered more than the rest of California from the 2008 recession and the pathetic recovery: unemployment in the Fresno area in 2014 was still over 11%, well above California’s statewide average of 7.1% at the end of that year.

So, when your city is suffering from a lack of jobs, what’s the first thing you think of to increase opportunities for work?

That’s right! You demand an increase to the cost of labor!

On Wednesday, according to the Fresno Bee, over 150 people joined other workers around the country marking Tax Day by marching in rallies organized by unions as they demanded the current federal minimum wage of $7.24 an hour be raised, as well as the California $9 minimum wage.

Standing in front of a McDonald’s, the protesters–comprised of home and child care workers, county and state workers, students and community leaders, but no fast-food workers–chanted, “Hold the burgers, hold the fries. Make our wages super-sized.”

Union members from the Services Employees International (SEIU) helped lead the way; one member, Beau Reynolds with SEIU Local 100, told the Bee, “We’re here to stand up. We’re here to join forces and we are here to demand better. To demand better wages, to demand better benefits and to demand the right and respect that all working families deserve.”

Notice that none of those protesting in front of McD’s actually work there: they’re just there in service of SEIU’s political goal, which is to get a general increase in the minimum wage, which would include the union’s members, leading in turn to higher dues-revenues for the union to spend on politics. (And union bosses’ salaries…)

But the fast-food workers on the inside? The ones inside who didn’t march, the supposed beneficiaries of SEIU’s fight for economic justice? Apparently they know what happens when you raise labor costs too high:

"Welcome to the future"

“Welcome to the future”

In other words, when government raises the cost of doing business —and labor is a cost!— business owners have just a few choices: pass the cost to the consumer and risk losing their custom; reduce profits to perhaps unacceptably low levels; reduce labor costs by cutting back hours, letting people go, and not hiring; or just getting out of the business. They’re already learning this in progressive Seattle, and it looks like the Fresno McDonald’s workers understand basic economics, too, unlike SEIU.

Or maybe SEIU just doesn’t care that fast food workers can be replaced with kiosks, as long as they themselves get their cut.

Either way, they’re not helping Fresno county’s unemployment problem.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Welcome to tax season, now prepare to give your #Obamacare subsidy back

**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This item has been sitting in my files for a while (1), but, since we’re deep into tax season, it’s still relevant — especially so for people relying on that federal subsidy to help pay for their “affordable” health care:

As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm.

H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal.

While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680).

But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports.

If, like a lot of people, you’re used to getting some sort of a refund, you probably already have an idea of how much you expect and how you plan to spend it. Imagine then how happy these many millions of people will be when they’re told they’re either getting less of a refund, or that they in fact owe money. And, on top of that, their subsidy for the next year will almost certainly be lower, so even more of their money will go to the insurance companies by force of law for coverage that probably isn’t as good as they had before, or at least isn’t what was promised.

That, my friends, is a recipe for angry voters. And, oh, there’s a presidential election warming up, too. Fancy that.

If anything good comes of this fiasco, it will probably be the hard-learned lesson that government is poorly equipped to do more than a certain few tasks and running a huge, massively complicated healthcare system isn’t among them.

Call it another “teachable moment.”

Footnote:
(1) Ancient by Internet standards — a whole month!

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

NC residents may find themselves in a “Land of Confusion” come tax-filing time

Taxes

It’s tax-filing time – are you ready?

Yours truly is now officially a contributor to the Independent Journal Review, and my first piece is on the NC tax reform laws that went into effect last year and how, as a result, some residents of this state might be perplexed on how to fill out their state tax returns come tax-filing time.

Very excited for the opportunity to write for the IJ Review! The NY Times did a surprisingly nice profile on them last November – make sure you read it to understand why the site has become a big deal for conservatives, and make sure to bookmark the site and visit back often. :)

Surprising no one, California loses another business to Texas

**Posted by Phineas

Moving

This time, Perry’s Poachers have snagged Omnitracs LLC of San Diego, a fleet management firm that will be moving to Dallas and taking 450 jobs with it:

Fleet management software company Omnitracs LLC will relocate it headquarters to Dallas from San Diego, creating 450 jobs and $10 million in capital investment, Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Friday.

The company will move into KPMG Centre downtown.

Omnitracs is the latest in a wave of California relocations to North Texas announced this spring and summer.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is providing a $3.9 million incentive to attract Omnitracs. The new headquarters will house jobs in a variety of high-paying fields, including engineering, research and development and finance.

Omnitracs provides fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. Its services include software applications, GPS fleet tracking, platforms and information services.

Omnitracs is just the latest in a long line of businesses that have fled or are about to flee the once-Golden State. The article lists others, including Toyota, and mentions Vista Equity Partners, a California firm that specializes in buying firms and moving them to Texas.

Yes, the one business that California can keep is one that helps others get the heck out.

Well, we bloody well deserve it, with a business climate that’s designed to drive people away, not bring them here. I’m old enough to remember when California was a place to people rushed to, in order to build a future.

Now, thanks to 40 years of progressive misrule, they rush to get out, in order to save what future they have left.

via Stephen Frank

RELATED: Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow Californian, on our frivolous legislature. Must reading.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Report: Government may have erroneously paid out $100 billion in 2013

Money on trees

Apparently, the government thinks money grows on trees.

And people wonder why we think a smaller government is a better government- via the AP:

WASHINGTON — By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them — tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.

Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher.

The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked in 2010. Still, estimates from federal agencies show that some are wasting big money at a time when Congress is squeezing agency budgets and looking to save more.

“Nobody knows exactly how much taxpayer money is wasted through improper payments, but the federal government’s own astounding estimate is more than half a trillion dollars over the past five years,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. “The fact is, improper payments are staggeringly high in programs designed to help those most in need — children, seniors and low-income families.”

Mica chairs the House Oversight subcommittee on government operations. The subcommittee is holding a hearing on improper payments Wednesday afternoon.

Each year, federal agencies are required to estimate the amount of improper payments they issue. They include overpayments, underpayments, payments to the wrong recipient and payments that were made without proper documentation.

Some improper payments are the result of fraud, while others are unintentional, caused by clerical errors or mistakes in awarding benefits without proper verification.

Gotta love the smell of government incompetency first thing in the morning! /sarc o=>

America continues the decline into “part time nation” status

Unemployment line


Photo via the pepperhawkfarm blog.

Via the Washington Post:

In the new landscape of the American labor market, jobs are easier to come by but hours remain in short supply.

New government data slated for release Thursday is expected to show the economy added more than 200,000 jobs for the fifth straight month — the longest streak since the late 1990s. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 6.3 percent after falling more than a percentage point over the past year. [Note from ST: It dropped to 6.1for these reasons]

But there’s a gnawing fear among economists that the improving data provides false comfort. More than 26 million people are in part-time jobs, significantly more than before the recession, making it one of the corners of the labor market that has been slowest to heal. That has led to worries that the workforce may be becoming permanently polarized, with part-timers stuck on one side and full-time workers on the other.

“What we’re seeing is a growing trend of low-quality part-time jobs,” said Carrie Gleason, director of the Fair Work Week Initiative, which is pushing for labor reforms. “It’s creating this massive unproductive workforce that is unable to productively engage in their lives or in the economy.”

Washington has begun to take notice. As the unemployment rate has dropped, the debate among policymakers has expanded from providing aid to those without a job to include improving conditions for those who do. President Obama has raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers, many of whom are part-time. The White House is also building support for a measure that would require companies to provide paid sick leave. Nationwide protests at retailers and fast-food chains that heavily rely on part-time labor have called for more reliable schedules.

NONE of which will “fix” the problem. Frankly, at this point the only thing that would fix it is to have another President in the White House who understands basic economics.  November 2016 can’t come soon enough.

Surprise: Bill & Hillary Clinton are hypocrites on the estate tax

Bill and Hillary Clinton

Masters of deception.

Bloomberg has an intriguing report detailing just exactly how hypocritical the Clintons are on the issue of the estate tax (hat tip):

Bill and Hillary Clinton have long supported an estate tax to prevent the U.S. from being dominated by inherited wealth. That doesn’t mean they want to pay it.

To reduce the tax pinch, the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now tops out at 40 percent of assets upon death.

The Clintons created residence trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York house into them in 2011, according to federal financial disclosures and local property records.

Among the tax advantages of such trusts is that any appreciation in the house’s value can happen outside their taxable estate. The move could save the Clintons hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes, said David Scott Sloan, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston.

“The goal is really be thoughtful and try to build up the nontaxable estate, and that’s really what this is,” Sloan said. “You’re creating things that are going to be on the nontaxable side of the balance sheet when they die.”

The Clintons’ finances are receiving attention as Hillary Clinton tours the country promoting her book, “Hard Choices.” She said in an interview on ABC television that the couple was “dead broke” and in debt when they left the White House in early 2001. After being criticized for her comments, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she understood the financial struggles of Americans.

Look,  I have no issue with people who want to keep more of their own money – whether they keep it themselves or try to keep it in the family. I do, however, have an issue with those who advocate one set of rules for some people while they do just the opposite, something the Clintons – Bill and Hillary both – are infamous for.

Make sure to read the full article – and take note of the journalist who wrote it, Richard Rubin, who is soon to be added to the Clinton “Enemies List” in advance of her likely decision to run for President … if he hasn’t been already.

Obamacare penalties to slam low-income Americans

**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Wait. I thought the whole point of this rolling fiasco was to make insurance  affordable for the least among us. But, according to the Congressional Budget Office, roughly one million Americans will pay the fine tax whatever the heck Roberts decided it was. Via The Washington Free Beacon:

“All told, CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] JCT estimate that about four million people will pay a penalty because they are uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf),” the report said. “An estimated $4 billion will be collected from those who are uninsured in 2016, and, on average, an estimated $5 billion will be collected per year over the 2017–2024 period.”

A chart accompanying the report revealed that 200,000 of those paying the penalty earn less than 100 percent of the poverty line. An additional 800,000 are considered low-income, earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level.

The article then points out how Obama was originally against the individual mandate, because it would be unfair to the poor. During a 2008 debate with Hillary Clinton Lady Macbeth, he said:

“You can have a situation, which we are seeing right now in the state of Massachusetts, where people are being fined for not having purchased health care, but choose to accept the fine because they still can’t afford it even with the subsidies,” he said. “They are then worse off, they then have no health care and are paying a fine above and beyond that.”

Which is …erm… kind of what’s about to happen right now under your system, sir. Not to be picky, or anything.

Of course, this is one of those predictible outcomes, like Obamacare causing increased use of emergency rooms instead of decreased use, that critics on the right have been warning about for several years. When faced with two painful choices –buy insurance you can’t afford or pay a fine– the vast majority will choose the least painful option. This was how the system was designed.

It’s a pity the Democrats who wrote it and shoved it down the nation’s throat didn’t bother read and understand it before voting on it and causing so many poor people so much pain. A pity, but not my problem, because not a single Republican voted for this anti-constitutional monstrosity.

And we need to remind them of that in November.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Half of NYC Council to Walmart: Stop making “dangerous” charitable contributions

Walmart

We’ll call this “Stuck on Stupid: NYC Edition” – via the NY Post (hat tip):

More than half the members of the City Council have fired off a letter to Walmart demanding that it stop making millions in charitable contributions to local groups here.

Twenty-six of the 51 members of the Council charged in the letter that the world’s biggest retailer’s support of local causes is a cynical ploy to enter the market here.

“We know how desperate you are to find a foothold in New York City to buy influence and support here,” says the letter, obtained by The Post and addressed to Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation.

“Stop spending your dangerous dollars in our city,” the testy letter demands. “That’s right: this is a cease-and-desist letter.”

Last week, Walmart announced that it distributed $3 million last year to charities here, including $1 million to the New York Women’s Foundation, which offers job training, and $30,000 to Bailey House, which distributes groceries to low-income residents.

Walmart, which has been thwarted by union-backed opposition for more than a decade, said the handouts “can make a difference on big issues like hunger relief and career development.”

The retail giant said its business agenda “aligns with supporting the local organizations that are important to our customers and associates.”

But Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called the donations “toxic money,” and accused Walmart of waging a “cynical public-relations campaign that disguises Walmart’s backwards anti-job agenda.”

Hot Air’s Erika Johnsen provides a partial transcript of an interview Fox News’ Neil Cavuto did yesterday with NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in which Van Bramer tries to defend his stance:

BRAMER: Walmart has a history of abusing its workers and profiting on the backs of hardworking men and women. … I think that where the [charitable donations] come from and where the money has been accumulated matters.  …

CAVUTO: If you are a New York City resident and you’re paying through the nose for everything from milk and coffee to bread to drugs, what’s wrong with a big-box retailer like Walmart coming in and offering you $4 prescription drugs, offering consumers in this city who could surely use a break, a break?

BRAMER: I don’t think you have to choose between having a retailer that offers competitive prices for its good and a retailer that treats its workers well. … When Walmart comes into a city, they take more than they give.

CAVUTO: Do you know how many people apply for the roughly 200 positions that the typical Walmart offers? 8,000. 8,000.

BRAMER: It doesn’t mean that those are good jobs.

Dontcha just love it?  Walmart is engaged in a number of things here that liberals normally would be over the moon about: They provide low cost prescription drugs and other goods and services to residents who need them. They employee hundreds of thousands of people with steady jobs.  They donate millions to charities that help minorities and working families.  But because it’s not the “right” kind of jobs – i.e., union jobs with a “living wage”, they aren’t “good enough” for the community and therefore they should stop doing all of it – stop providing low cost goods, decent paying  jobs, and generous contributions to charity.  The liberals who signed onto this letter to Walmart would rather citizens go without the low-cost prescriptions they need, be out of work and on unemployment, and have local charities have to turn people away all over their hatred of capitalism as demonstrated by Walmart.

And as far as Walmart trying to “buy” influence among NYC’s politicos, since when did New York Democrats EVER have a problem with a donor supposedly trying to “buy” their way into the good graces of local and state governments?

If this isn’t a classic example of the warped, chillingly controlling nature of the liberal Democrat mindset, I don’t know what is.  Disturbing.

Austinite who always votes for raising taxes can’t afford to live there anymore

Overtaxed

Will the rest of American left soon come to the same realization when it comes to overtaxing & change their ways? Don’t count on it!

How much do you want to bet this person is a liberal Democrat?

On a recent evening, more than 300 homeowners who are worried about their rising property tax bills filled First Unitarian Universalist Church in North Austin for a town hall meeting. If something doesn’t change, many said, they will soon be priced out of their homes.

Two nights later, a similar discussion played out in South Austin, where homeowners gathered at Grace United Methodist Church in Travis Heights to talk about what can be done to slow escalating residential tax values.

“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.

“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”

These are the same types of people who, when faced with similar situations, move to other cities or states with lower taxes and then turn around and try to do the same d*mn thing there!   Then, they move again. And again, not understanding that they put themselves into their own over-taxed predicament time and time again. I have zero sympathy for them. Zilch, nada. They made their beds – now they get to lay in them.   And while we’re on the subject, I hope they stay the hell out of my state. Their attitudes and hypocritical stances on taxes and government intrusion into my wallet are not welcomed.