An emotionally attractive against the minimum wage? 2

Thanks for the great comments to the previous post. There’s nothing I disagree with from the regular commenters, but I think the arguments tend to appeal more to conservatives or libertarians and illustrate how tough the challenge is.

I’d like to keep on this topic. I’ll refine the challenge a bit.

  • Two sentences max.
  • It must appeal to someone who thinks along the liberal oppressed-oppressor axis (per Kling’s 3-axis model).
  • It must be easy for just about everyone to grasp without the need to modify based on the person.

I read a good example of a short and compelling framing (on a different topic) in Steve Forbes’ recent Fact and Comment column in Forbes. Regarding Keynes’ monetary notions he wrote:

What Keynes posited was the equivalent of saying that manipulating scales is the way to attack obesity.

I think the story of Adam’s son, from the previous post’s comments, comes closest to appealing to liberals. But, I can well imagine that they spin it and say, “see, that’s why we need to guarantee him a living wage.”

Here are couple attempts:

1. Maybe smash-and-grab mobs and the knockout game wouldn’t be growing trends if the minimum wage didn’t prevent employers from paying such potential hires what they are worth — and keeping them more gainfully occupied.

2. Unfortunately, the liberal “We Care” banner is wrapped around a wrecking ball aimed at the very people they think they care about, when their actions result in continuing to fund schools that have not been educating children for decades and raising the minimum wage to make it even tougher for those uneducated children to gain job experience.

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Worth reading

My latest issue of Forbes has three editorials that I recommend reading:

1. A column that I cannot yet find on entitled, Economic Growth is Easy. Here’s a snippet:

John Stuart Mill long ago observed that we trade “products for products,” so if the desire is for increased consumption, we must stimulate the supply side of the economy. Specifically, we must remove the tax, regulatory, trade and monetary barriers to productivity. For individuals to consume, they must first produce.

Most people don’t understand that, which is one reason we keep electing fools. Consumption does not drive wealth. Investing to take a chance of realizing benefits do.

2. Another from British historian, Paul Johnson, Men Blinded by Their Brains. In it he writes how intellectuals seem to have an affinity for the powerful and evil. In the print version, this appears immediately after the subtitle, Moral Blind Spot:

Of course, intellectuals, whom I define as those who think ideas are more important than people, are notoriously bad at seeing the ordinary world and coming to moral decisions about it.

This article struck me because I’ve known such men. They could reason their way into very bad things and reason their way out of feeling any remorse or accountability for their actions.

3. Steve Forbes’ lead-off editorial, Gold and the Wicked Magicians, is top-notch and important. From his piece:

Linking the value of money to gold removes a huge source of Big Government’s power. No longer can government confiscate wealth by stealth by devaluing your money. Economists hate the gold standard because they think they’re being deprived of one of their magic wands to shape the economy.

Big Government looks after its own interests. Left to its own devices it will relentlessly expand, crushing the private sector. That’s what’s happening in Europe today. Despite all the talk of austerity, the public sector has hardly been touched, while businesses and individuals have been hit with more and more taxes.

Despite thousands of years of experience to the contrary, central bankers and countless policymakers and economists believe that money manipulation can stimulate and wisely guide an economy.

It’s a destructive delusion. The world today would be an immensely richer place were it not for these hubristic notions that a handful of people can keep an economy rolling smoothly with minimal unemployment.

Credentials please

In the February 28 issue of Forbes magazine, Steve Forbes writes about how the Internet and other technology will change higher education.  He quotes from a February 1 piece by Louis Lataif of Boston University:

If you can buy a self-paced calculus course on DVD for $67, is it worth spending $5,000 to take the same course at a private university? Of course, the mutual learning that occurs in college is of value. But is it worth spending 75 times more for the same body of knowledge?”

Good question.

I enjoyed both articles.  Though, I think they missed key aspects of the value of higher education.  Higher education isn’t just about learning.  It’s also — and maybe more — about signaling, credentialing and networking.

I’ll be interested to see if new forms of education can marginalize these aspects of education.  I believe much of this value derives from bureaucratic organizations.

Bureaucrats love to hire credentialed associates,  if only to protect their own job from when a hire turns out bad.

Well, he was from [big name school].  How was I supposed to know?

He had such-and-such experience on his resume.  How was I supposed to know?

Unfortunately, in bureaucratic organizations such nonsense is met with a shoulder shrug , a nod and better luck next time, instead of a more appropriate corrective action like, Part of your job is hiring, developing and promoting good people.  Perhaps you should look beyond things like their school or experience and evaluate your hires based more on the what they have actually accomplished–much like a basketball or baseball coach might do. You don’t hear many pro baseball coaches explaining away their duds by claiming they were from such a good baseball school.

Here are some of the things I wouldn’t be surprised to see emerge for education over the next 25 years:

  • Effective bottoms-up instructional education efforts for preschool through 8th grade will emerge away from the central command of the DoE and state control.
  • Much of the formal instruction that occurs from 9th grade through the 2nd year of college will become somewhat more of commodity and easier to intersperse with other forms of education.
  • One of those forms of education will be learning-by-doing.  That might mean that doctors start on med school a couple years earlier.  Entrepreneurs might find apprenticeships with venture capital firms, business owners will work with folks directly.   Seth Godin recently experimented with a learning-by-doing MBA project, where he screened several folks to come in and work with him on their own self-directed, intense projects over a few month period.
  • There will still be room for universities.  But in addition to degree programs, colleges will more and more offer certification programs.  These will be smaller and more specialized snippets of knowledge.

Of course, there will be many other things that make an impact.  Screen casting is just now catching on.  I’ve learned a good deal about economics while jogging and listening to podcasts.

I’m very interested to watch what will unfold.

Poisoned the Well

When Steve Forbes writes about you like this, you have to question what you’ve done.  This is from Forbes’s most recent Fact and Comment column in Forbes magazine.

A Grotesquerie

With an ice-cold disdain for public opinion and an obsession worthy of Lenin, President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed ObamaCare through the House by unprecedented parliamentary trickery, bribery and deceit. The President has thereby poisoned the national political well.