Raising the Minimum Wage

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Often you hear politicians talk about raising the minimum wage, including at tonights DNC, and they make it seem as if this will solve a lot of problems for those who are less fortunate. I don't think this subject is so cut and dry. Giving higher wages to those making the least might actually hurt them in the long run. Let me explain.

Let's say the government mandates that the minimum wage is raised. This makes those who were earning minimum wage have more money in their pocket. But what other effects does this have? First you must understand what money represents. Money is just paper, it has worth because somebody's production made it worth something. The US can print all the money in the world but if it isn't backed by something of value it is worthless. So if the US mandates higher wages they can't actually increase the production of the entire country.

Economics is about supply and demand, if something is rare it is worth more and vice versa. Well now money is easier to come by so it is "worth" less. This makes everyone not given a raise poorer, and the money they have saved is worth less. For example, maybe before the raise not everyone could afford a new Honda Civic at $14,000. But because he got a raise a minimum wage earner can now afford it. Well more people want the Civic. More Civics aren't magically produced so the price of them must rise. The guy who was close to minimum wage but wasn't quite there is made worse off.

Now take the next step. The guy who earned a little more than minimum wage is going to see he is doing relatively worse than he was before. He is either going to just stay worse off or demand a raise. Well, this is one big chain so the next guy wants a raise, and the next guy, and so forth. What does this cause? Nothing but inflation. Everything will cost more and nobody is better off (actually people are worse off because inflation is bad for everyone but that is a topic for another time).

There is more. The employer now must make a choice. The higher minimum wage means that he will most likely either:

1. Decide he can't afford it and fire the person making the minimum wage
2. Raise his prices in hopes of recouping his cost
3. Lower his overall cost by reducing wages for others
4. Eat the cost and make less profit

We can all agree one is bad. It is better to have a bad paying job than no job at all

Two and three are bad for the same reasons I stated above. It's a chain reaction where sooner or later all prices will need to rise. There isn't any more production backing the money so all money becomes worth less.

Four while possible is unlikely. People are in business to make money. If they can't earn money at what they are doing they will do something else. It is wishful thinking to believe that if a business man can raise his profits he won't by any means necessary. Some small businesses might, but all the large companies who have millions of stock holders to answer to simply won't. And those are the companies who really move the economy.

So what is the answer? I'm not sure. Like I said, the above may or may not be true but it is important to see all sides of the argument and to make an informed decision. In the end I don't think it helps to re-cut the pie into different size pieces because the people most adept at cutting the pie (most likely those with the bigger piece already) will just find a way to ensure their piece stays just or big or bigger. The only thing to do is to make the whole pie larger.

Slick Willy

Monday, July 26, 2004
Got to give Slick Willy one thing, boy can he deliver a speech.

I'm not one to normally watch a National Convention, but yesterday I did watch Bill Clinton give Monday's key address. No matter what you think of him you have to admit that Bill can walk up to a mike and just flat out own it. For all his failings people still love him and I attribute a lot of that to his ouststanding oratory skills. He style is warm and inviting. His cadence and delivery are always on. His self-deprecating humor makes him likeable. And he gives a speech that not only makes you believe him but makes you believe that HE believes him. Clinton is so good I think he could make Grandma's Tuna Casserole recipe sound enthralling. His repetitive use of "send me (Kerry)" and "vote for them (Republicans)" were absolutely brilliant. Second only to "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit"

When I contrast him to George Bush, Bush looks like a child learning to read. I hate it when I hear Bush speak, not because of what he is saying which I find repulsive enough), but because his style bores me to tears. While Clinton delivers like he memorized the speech and is speaking from his heart, Bush sounds like (and is) reading the teleprompter and saying whatever the latest thing his staff wants him to say and whatever suits him in the moment. I swear Bush can't put together more than six words together without putting some sort of pause in his speech and this drives me nuts.

Sad thing is, no way Kerry tops Clinton's speech. No way he delivers lines as good as.

"When I was in office, the Republicans were pretty mean to me. When I left and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. At first I thought I should send them a thank you note -- until I realized they were sending you the bill."

During the Vietnam War, many young men -- including the current president, the vice president and me-could have gone to Vietnam but didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background and could have avoided it too. Instead he said, send me."

Selfish Work

Ricky Williams decided to retire this weekend. For those of you who don't know who he is he was the Miami Dolphins' star running back.

Now in listening to reaction from everyone, people are labeling him selfish. He didn't think about the impact on his teammates or the impact on the fans. His retirement, so close to training camp, makes it difficult for the Dolphins to find anyone else to replace him.

I couldn't agree more but I really don't think that this should be considered a negative thing. Why should Ricky Williams play for anybody but himself (or maybe his family)? Did it say in his contract that he had to play even if he didn't want to? Are we a society that forces people to work when they don't want to? I'm sorry but we fought a war over 150 years ago to make sure that wasn't the case.

I wish more people would do what Ricky Williams is doing. If you don't like your job go find something else that makes you happy. Maybe if people would just do that rather than do jobs they hate maybe we could all get some decent customer service and the world would be a happier place. I applaud people like Jenny, who instead working at a job she hates, decided to boldly set a new course in her life. Most people just don't have the courage to make such dramatic changes in their lives. Maybe I should be mad at Jenny for not taking my feelings into consideration, after all, we have one less person to go to lunch with.

No man should work for the sake of anyone but himself. If he wants to take the opinions of others into account that is every man's preogative, but just don't expect others to think the same way.

Lasik: The Touch Up

Thursday, July 22, 2004
So on Tuesday I had the touch up with Dr. Kerry Assil. Jenny was kind enough to drive me there so a special shout out to her.

So how did it go? Well the procedure itself was different than last time. This time I kind of knew what to expect so none of it came as a surprise. The big difference is that they don't recut your cornea. They just peel back the original flap (I think I read that the flap never 100% heals itself) and then zap you again. That part was actually slightly more uncomfortable. Some people don't like the Microkeratome (the blade that cuts your cornea) because it sucks in your eyeball and than you hear a drilling sound as it cuts your cornea. That part didn't really bother me all that much. This time though they kind of move your cornea around to get it loose and that part was kind of strange and uncomfortable.

They zapped me and then sent me home. This time I remember the aftermath being much more painful which is strange since they had to do much less to me. Jenny wrote that she felt like she had shampoo in her eyes afterward. After my original procedure I felt no such thing but this time around I definitely felt it. It stung like a mother f*!#$r for the first few hours. Maybe that is just what you have to feel for the first few hours after to get good sight. :)

So the final verdict. So far so good. You can't really know the final result until a few weeks after the procedure but the initial results are pretty good. I didn't have that far to go to get to acceptable and it seems OK to me now. Whereas before it was a scary proposition to drive at night and I couldn't make out faces from far away indoors (making it impossible to check people out in the gym) I can do those things now. Is it 100% perfect. I don't know. Some things seemed slightly clearer right before the surgery when I had the -0.75 prescription and the glasses. So I would put it at about 98% good. But that may just be because it is so soon after the surgery. If things change one way or another I will of course post it.

Update - See these post

All Lasik Post

Lasik Tomorrow

Monday, July 19, 2004
Tomorrow I'm going in for a touch up to my original Lasik Procedure. Thus far my vision has been pretty much the same for the last 6 months. In both eyes I have a diopter of -0.75. Not horrible but bad enough to be really annoying when I'm driving at night and when I go into a store.

I'm hopeful that Dr. Assil, the doctor performing my Lasik Procedure, will be able to get me close to 20/20. Dr. Assil is supposed to be one of the more respected Lasik surgeons in the L.A. area so I'm fairly confident it will work out. I know two other people who have gotten their Lasik done by him. One was very happy and one not so much so. But the latter was supposed to go in for her touch up recently so maybe it ended up working out for her. It is a little strange because I think I'm more nervous this time around than last. I think its because it didn't work out the way I wanted last time and I don't think I could go 6 more months with my current vision .

Thus far having slightly bad vision has caused me to have a headache on and off for the last few months. There are some people who go their whole lives with my current vision and don't ever get any glasses or contacts. How they manage is beyond me.

So everybody cross their fingers and wish me luck. I'll let everyone know on Wednesday or Thursday how everything went.

Eating what you want

Friday, July 16, 2004
I just heard a radio advertisement that really bothered me.

It was a comercial for Carl's Jr. and it basically started out by saying "Are we really supposed to believe that all those models eat whatever they want and can remain that thin?"

What if there was a commercial that said, "Are we really supposed to believe that all those overweight people are exercising and eating right and still remain overweight?"

As a person who can eat whatever they want and pretty much keep the same physique I am here to say that yes it is possible. Does that mean there aren't models who have some sort of eating disorder? Of course not. But don't make a broad statement people can't eat what they want and remain thin. I can and believe me, it isn't all that it is cracked up to be. I've tried all my life to actually put on weight. Maybe I haven't had it as bad as people who are overweight but don't pretend to understand the flip side unless you have been there.

And then it actually got worse. The last line in the commercial said, "Quit making the rest of us feel fat". I almost lost it. Nobody in this world can make you feel anything you don't want to let them feel. If you don't think you are fat than nobody can make you feel fat without your consent. Quit blaming others for making you feel inferior. If you don't want to live up to the "Ideal" then don't. It is your choice either way, just don't blame others for the things YOU feel.

Gay Marriage Amendment

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
The proposed amendment that would effectively ban gay marriage died on the floor of the senate today. Apparently, enough of the Senate Republicans decided they were not going to vote for it and so they did not get the numbers they needed for the amendment to move on.

Two thoughts on the matter.

When I first read the article the first thing I thought to myself was that these Republicans only decided to not vote in favor of it because they would not want to be known in the future as people who wanted to discriminate against homosexuals. I believe that as soon as my generation gets a little older homosexuality will become more widely accepted. Maybe its naive on my part but I just feel that my generation is a lot more tolerant than those that came before me. So, instead of making the same mistakes as those during the civil rights era most Republicans have decided to skirt around the issue rather than voting for what they really believe is right. While I'm very glad that they voted this way I can't say I agree with the means by which they arrived at the decision. As leaders, I expect them to vote their beliefs and conscience. If they really believe homosexuality is bad, then they should probably vote that way. Is it cynical for me to believe that they only voted the way they did because they just want to curry favor in the future?

Second thought, are Americans really this dumb? Bill Frist said, "Will activist judges not elected by the American people destroy the institution of marriage, or will the people protect marriage as the best way to raise children? My vote is with the people."

No crap they weren't elected by the people. That's the whole point of the judicial system. Anybody who has taken a course in American Government knows something about checks and balances. The reason that the Supreme Court has life time appointments is to ensure that they do not feel the pressure of being voted in. They make rulings with absolute certainty that their job is not on the line. They do not curry favor to the majority at the sake of the minority. But Senator Frist phrases it in such a way that makes it appear as if something is wrong with the system. WRONG! That is why the system works. But are Americans dumb enough to buy whatever a politician tells him so long as he uses the right language?

Worst Trade Ever

Monday, July 12, 2004
Sorry that this has become the source for all things Lakers but I can't help but write about this. The Lakers have decided to trade Shaquille O'Neal to Miami for a pile of crap otherwise known as Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and the flies that surround it (otherwise known as Brian Grant)

For those who don't follow the Lakers I'll give a brief synopsis of what is going on. Kobe Bryant is a free agent and the Lakers are bending over backwards to make sure they get him back. Most of you know I'm a Kobe fan so I don't have a problem with this. Even though I will admit that you can't replace Shaq I don't think the Lakers have a choice in the matter. If you let Kobe go but keep Shaq, Shaq eats up so much of the salary cap ($30 out of $45 million) that you can't get more players to stay competitive. So your only choice is to sign Kobe and trade Shaq and hope to get better either via the trade or in the future when you get some more salary cap and Shaq's $30 million comes off the books. I keep Kobe because he is younger and he tries harder. He is more easily replaced than Shaq but I'm pretty sick of a guy who is 7'1" 350 lbs and can't lead the league in rebounds, blocked shots, or be on the NBA first team all defense.

But that doesn't mean you give away the farm either. And what they Laker's got is a pile of crap. Seriously, I would take a pile of crap over what the Lakers got. Why? The three players are all decent but none is a superstar. You need superstars to win, Kobe, no matter how great he is, by himself is not enough. The worse part is that Brian Grant's contract is enormous. $45 million over the next 3 years. That means you are stuck with this team for the next 3 years. Do you really think the Lakers can win a championship with this team over the next 3 years? NO WAY. I would much prefer them to get under the cap as quickly as possible and go after free agents in a year or two. If they can't sign Kobe with Shaq on the roster than so be it. Forget Kobe, and let Shaq opt out of his contract next year and start over. It's better than getting screwed in the ass.

Smart Minds Think Alike .... Or Are Taught Alike

Friday, July 09, 2004
I was reading Business Week this past weekend and read that Gary Becker would no longer be writing a weekly column. I went back to read some of his work and thought to myself, this guy is pretty smart. I agree with a lot of things he has to say since he seemed to be not only fiscally conservative like I am but also socially liberal.

I went online to see if I could find some more information about him. And what lo and behold I find out that he too graduated from Princeton by studying Economics and Mathematics. He went on the win a Nobel Prize in Economics. OK, so I won't go on to get a Nobel Prize. But it makes me wonder. Do I think the way I do because we had the same educational background? I know a lot of my Princeton friends share similar values as I do so did we get there because of that or did we learn it while there?

Coach Komplacency

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
So Kobe won't be getting the coach he wants. Most of the experts out there urged Coach K not to take the job because it would hurt his "legacy" There is no doubt that except for Coach Wooden, Mike Krychevsky might be the most successful coach in college basketball history.

What I don't understand is why everybody would urge him not to take the Laker's job. Now as a Laker fan I would actually prefer someone like Rudy Tomjanovich than Coach K. But I just don't understand the reasoning most people give for why he shouldn't take the 5 year $40 million job.

1. He has built a dynasty at Duke and shouldn't tarnish his legacy
2. Few other college coaches have succeeded in the NBA

Well the first one in my eyes is ridiculous. Could you imagine if someone told me, "You are a great programmer. You should just continue programming and not become a manager." Or how about, "You got great grades in High School. You shouldn't go to college because you can't do nearly as well." Could you imagine how hard I would laugh in that person's face? Just because I was successful at something else in the past doesn't mean I should be afraid to try something new. In fact my past success should make me want to take the next step. I can't imagine anything worse than complacency. I could never rest on my laurels. Being great means taking great risk. Nobody every scored a point who was too afraid to shoot.

About the second point, who cares? What do the people who came before me have to do with me? Just because others failed doesn't mean I will. Before me, nobody else in my high school's history went to an Ivy League school. Does that mean I should have turned down Princeton and just gone to a community college?

So tell me, why does it seem like so many people are afraid to take risk?