Minimum Wage Laws Make for Great Politics, but Fewer Jobs

“if you artificially hike the price of labor, you reduce demand for workers. In California, this is playing out in terms of lost jobs, increased automation, and other consequences that result when politicians signal a unicorns-and-rainbows vision of the marketplace to their allies and leave the public to deal with the resulting mess.”

“”A California state law is set to raise fast-food workers’ wages in April to $20 an hour. Some restaurants there are already laying off staff and reducing hours for workers as they try to cut costs,” Heather Haddon reported for The Wall Street Journal. “California restaurants, particularly pizza joints, have outlined plans to cut hundreds of jobs in the months leading up to the April 1 wage mandate, according to state records. Other operators said they have halted hiring or are scaling back workers’ hours.”

This comes after California Pizza Hut franchisees laid off over 1,200 delivery drivers in anticipation of the minimum wage hike. It comes in the wake of McDonald’s and Chipotle Mexican Grill announcing higher menu prices to accommodate labor costs; those higher prices can be expected to drive away some customers, resulting in less need for workers to service lower demand.”

“less customer traffic isn’t the only way to reduce staffing needs; you can also replace people with technology. Chipotle announced plans to use robots to assemble burrito bowls. El Pollo Loco is doing the same for making salsa. Other restaurants are adopting automated fryers and burger-flippers to reduce the costs of employees.”

https://reason.com/2024/03/29/minimum-wage-laws-make-for-great-politics-but-fewer-jobs/

The Economy Is Doing Way Better Than Many Believe

“A new paper by the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Corinth and Federal Reserve Board’s Jeff Larrimore looks at income levels by generation in a variety of ways. They find that each of the past four generations had higher inflation-adjusted incomes than did the previous generation. Further, they find that this trend doesn’t seem to be driven by women entering the workforce.”

“as early as 1978, 50 percent of married couples were dual earners and just 25.6 percent relied only on a husband’s income. I also assume that there are more dual-income earners now than there were in the ’80s. While this may in fact be true for married couples (61 percent of married parents are now dual-earners), because marriage itself has declined, single-earner families have become relatively more common.”

“Another report by Angela Rachidi looks at whether the decline in marriage, fertility, and the increase in out-of-wedlock childbirths are the result of economic hardship. She finds that contrary to the prevailing narrative, “household and family-level income show growth in recent decades after accounting for taxes and transfers.” Not only that, but “the costs of raising a family—including housing, childcare, and higher education costs—have not grown so substantially over the past several decades that they indicate an affordability crisis.””

“So, what exactly is bumming people out? We may find an answer in the 1984 Ronald Reagan campaign ad commonly known as “Morning in America.” It begins with serene images of an idyllic American landscape waking up to a new day. It features visuals of people going to work, flags waving in front of homes, and ordinary families in peaceful settings. The narrator speaks over these images, detailing improvements in the American condition over the past four years, including job creation, economic growth, and national pride.
I believe this feeling is what people are nostalgic about. It seems that they are nostalgic about a time when America was more united and it was clearer what being American meant. Never mind that this nostalgia is often based on an incomplete and idealized memory of an era that, like ours, was not perfect.

This is a serious challenge that we need to figure out how to address. One thing that won’t help, though, is to erroneously claim that people were economically better off back then and call on government to fix an imaginary problem.”

https://reason.com/2024/02/29/the-economy-is-doing-way-better-than-many-believe/

Putin’s war economy ‘has grown weaker’ as West considers ‘zero trade option’ | Timothy Ash

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXQlmpdydPY

Why is Biden blocking the cheapest, most popular EVs in the world?

“You can’t buy the Seagull in the US. But I bet you wish you could.
A small hatchback around the size of a Mini Cooper, the Seagull is a fast-charging electric car and claims a range of up to 250 miles (at least according to its home country’s generous tests); BYD, its Chinese manufacturer, claims it can go from 30 percent to 80 percent charged in a half-hour using a DC plug. It’s hardly a luxury car but it’s well-equipped, with a power driver’s seat and cruise control. “If I were looking for an inexpensive commuter car … this would be perfect,” veteran car journalist John McElroy said after taking a drive.

The best part? Its base model costs about $10,700 in China. That’s about a third of the cost of the cheapest EV you can buy in the US. In South America, it’s a little pricier, but still fairly affordable, at under $24,000 for a top-trim version. Even in Europe, you can get an entry-level BYD for under €30,000.

These are absolutely screaming deals — exactly the kind of products that could turbocharge our transition away from gas and toward electric vehicles.

And it’s just one of many BYD electric cars on offer, from the compact e2/e3 hatchback and sedan (think a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla) to the full-size, luxe Han EV, a more expensive option nonetheless selling for under $33,000 in China (it costs more than double that in Europe). Many of the options have an aquatic themed name: the Seal, the Dolphin, the Sea Lion.

The problem for Americans? The Biden administration is hell-bent on preventing you from buying BYD’s product, and if Donald Trump returns to office, he is likely to fight it as well.

That’s because the BYD cars are made in China, and both Biden and Trump are committed to an ultranationalist trade policy meant to keep BYD’s products out. They’ve seen what’s happened in other global markets that Chinese EV companies have entered. Shipments to Europe have increased astronomically; Chinese companies sold 0.5 percent of EVs in Europe in 2019 but they’re already over 9 percent as of last year. Companies like BYD make cheap, reasonably good-quality cars people are eager to buy.”

https://www.vox.com/climate/2024/3/4/24087919/biden-tariff-chinese-ev-byd-battery-detroit

iRobot Lays Off 350 Employees as Amazon Kills Merger Elizabeth Warren Opposed

“Today, Amazon terminated its planned acquisition of iRobot, manufacturer of Roomba robot vacuums, as the companies saw “no path to regulatory approval.” iRobot then announced that it would be cutting nearly one-third of its work force.
While the companies blamed regulators in the European Union for the termination, meddlesome U.S. lawmakers played their own part in souring the deal.”

“as the companies waited on regulators, iRobot was losing money: The company took out a $200 million bridge loan in July 2023 to tie it over until the deal closed (at which point Amazon lowered its offer to account for the new debt). With the deal scuttled, Amazon will now pay a $94 million termination fee, but iRobot expects to report an operating loss of as much as $285 million for 2023.

It’s worth wondering, then, if this is what lawmakers like Warren had in mind. The FTC letter worried the merger “could harm consumers and reduce competition and innovation in the home robotics market.” But without the merger, iRobot could very well face insolvency, and nearly one-third of its work force will lose their jobs—and considering the company is based in Massachusetts, a substantial number of them may very well be Warren’s constituents.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/29/irobot-lays-off-350-employees-as-amazon-kills-merger-elizabeth-warren-opposed/

The Government Is Better at Picking Losers Than Winners

“All investment is risky. What better way to avoid that risk than to use other people’s money? Federal, state, and local governments dispense gifts, grants, and loans to private companies, generously funded by taxpayers and usually with vague promises of economic development in return. While politicians say they don’t like to pick winners and losers, even the “winners” sometimes turn out to be losers for taxpayers.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/25/picking-winners-and-losers/