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How To Win The Minimum Wage Argument

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Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) has been a strong advocate for an increase in the federal minimum wage. In 2019, while referencing the minimum wage for tipped workers, she was quoted as saying “Any job that pays $2.13 an hour is not a job, it’s indentured servitude.” In so much as indentured servitude is a contract between two individuals, she may be right. In her apples to oranges comparison, she leaves out that fact that a skilled server or a bartender can easily walk down the street and look for an opportunity to earn a wage increase. Your average indentured servant was far more reliant on their landowner / “employer” for many of the necessities of life and often would have to travel hundreds of miles by foot to find a better opportunity. So, while AOC’s rhetoric may make for a catchy quote, her comparison is completely wrong.

Free market advocates and conservatives may find themselves in a tough political position in addressing the minimum wage argument. Who wants to be the person who is against giving the struggling server and single parent a “minimum wage increase?” Typical arguments against a minimum wage have been all rooted in facts and logic and the data is clear: after decades upon decades of implementation, minimum wage laws are a price floor that create unemployment. Further, these laws put people (particularly the young and minorities) at a serious disadvantage usually delaying their entry into the work force where they could be learning new skills and climbing the economic ladder.

Unfortunately, these traditional, fact- based arguments based on free market principles have not had the results that free market proponents would hope for. In fact, a 2019 Pew Research poll showed that 67% of Americans support an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. AOC’s catchy rhetoric, while devoid of economic logic, appears to be winning the day.

So how can we, as free market advocates, change the narrative and win this argument? We must change our approach and go on the offensive. The very term “increase the minimum wage” is a statement of strategic offense. As proponents of not having a minimum wage we often too quickly take the bait and reply with what I will call a “defensive statement” such as “but is creates unemployment” or “small businesses can’t afford that.” Any fan of sports knows that, while defense is crucial, you must have some offense to win.

When we find ourselves in a position to argue “against the minimum wage” we must think offensively and argue for freedom. One tactic is to use what is called the Ransberger Pivot technique. Invented in 1982 by a man named Ray Ransberger, it is a communication technique that we can use to disarm our intellectual opponent. It would go something like this:
“I agree with you, that servers in the food industry should be making a lot more money. In fact, I think you will agree with me, that even more people at this skill level should have opportunities to get jobs in this industry. If the government requires employers to pay $15.00 an hour, what happens to the person who really, really wants a job and they are willing to do the job for $14.00 an hour? What if this person watched the movie Cocktail with Tom Cruise and it has always been her dream to be a bartender, and no one is hiring because $15.00 is just too high a price to be able to afford to bring on another bartender? What if this person says, “I just want to get my foot in the door, I just want a chance, I will for work $13.00 an hour, I will do it for $10.00 an hour, please!” Shouldn’t this person be free to offer their labor at this price without interference from the government?”

Let us break down this hypothetical passage above: In using the Ransberger pivot we are first seeking to let our friend on the left know that we might just have the same goal by saying right away: “I agree with you” next we insert a small hypnotic suggestion “I think you will agree with me…” again we are telling this person it is time to “agree.” From here, we will gently change the trajectory and the frame of the conversation and pivot to our own strategic offense. Now it is time for our opponent to go on the defensive. Make them defend keeping a young and eager person out of the work force. Make them defend the idea of government restrictions preventing someone from pursuing their dream of becoming the next “Cocktail superstar.” Keep using the same pattern and formula throughout the conversation: Agree, pivot to offense, insert new fact and logic, put them on the defensive.

We might next say: “Did you know that when someone is mandated to pay $15.00 an hour that they also have to pay additional legally mandated fringe benefits like Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance? This can add up to 30 percent. So really, the employer is required to pay over $20 an hour and our aspiring bartender, she is willing to do the job for $14. The employer is impressed with this young person and sees her passion and enthusiasm and he really would like to mentor her and have her on his team. Unfortunately, he just cannot afford over $20.00 an hour because he recently used his profits and upgraded all his light bulbs to LED to help fight climate change. How is it fair that he cannot give this person an opportunity because of the government?

In these two short examples, we are taking the traditional, fact based, and logical arguments against the minimum wage and we are re-framing them into an emotional story and we are asking our opponent to defend the idea of keeping this enthusiastic young person out of the work force. From here, our battle is only half finished. Getting our opponent on the defensive is a key first step, but now we should offer solutions to the original problem: the idea that servers and bartenders do not make enough money. At this point we can point out the research showing that most people in the work force already make more than the minimum wage. We might share facts that show that in a free market meritocracy, very productive people will either earn a raise or take the skills they have learned to a new employer who will pay them more or they will take their skills, start a new business, and employ others. The sky is truly the limit for everyone so long as the government is not overly regulatory.

In an age of hyper partisanship and at a time when free-market principals seem to be rarely if ever defended by most of our politicians, we need to have strategies that can effectively articulate the benefits of freedom. With soaring federal deficits, runaway spending, and a feeling that an economic crisis is lying in wait we would be wise to remember Ronald Reagan’s famous words: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.” We need to take every opportunity to craft our arguments for freedom in that spirit.

 

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Education

Scottsdale School District Retaliates Against Parents Over Curriculum Meeting

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Last week, a group of Scottsdale Unified School District Parents hosted a meeting to discuss the controversial new curriculum and to educate parents on what content to be on the lookout for. In response to this meeting the school district send a cease and desist order over the use of “SUSD”.  Parents are shocked Scottsdale Unified School District administration would waste resources over such a simple matter.  One parent involved Amy Carney had the follow reaction “This time the school board has crossed a new threshold and must be held accountable for abusing their power to intimidate parents through legal action. Parents were sent a cease and desist letter for using the Scottsdale Unified School District initials to describe our recent event and for using “SUSD” as a part of a group of concerned parents in the districts’ social media name.”

Unfortunately, this situation is playing out across the country as parents continue to ask questions about their children’s education.

 

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 Full statement and Letter

STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO SCOTTSDALE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT’S LETTER SENT TO PARENTS TO CEASE AND DESIST USE OF SCHOOL DISTRICT’S INITIALS TO ORGANIZE NON DISTRICT APPROVED EVENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Scottsdale, Arizona—Scottsdale Unified School Board President, Jann Michael Greenburg, approved using taxpayer’s dollars to target and harass Scottsdale public school district parents for hosting an information night on July 28 for community members and parents.
Scottsdale mom of six, Amy Carney, co-organizer of the event, says, “We hosted this event because parents need to know what to expect when sending their kids back to school. The district is not transparent or truthful with parents so we hosted the event to share what we’ve learned and give parents the tools and information to take action this upcoming school year. The board President is now retaliating against us parents for circumventing their ability to control the conversation.”

Since August, 2020 parents have held the district and board accountable for gaslighting families on everything from school closures, to mask mandates and curriculum. On record, the board President has tried to intimidate theseoutspoken parents into silence by harassing them on social media and canceling their voices at school board meetings. Carney says, “This time the school board has crossed a new threshold and must be held accountable for abusing
their power to intimidate parents through legal action. Parents were sent a cease and desist letter for using the Scottsdale Unified School District initials to describe our recent event and for using “SUSD” as a part of a group of concerned parents in the districts’ social media name.

Unknown to the group, the board trademarked the initials in October of 2020 and is now selectively choosing who can and cannot use the Scottsdale Unified School District initials. The district’s attorney gave the unofficial Facebook group of moms and dads (formerly known as SUSD-CAN) until Friday afternoon to change the group’s name which is now the Scottsdale Unified CAN (Community Advocacy Network). Co-admin of the Facebook group (formerly known as SUSD-CAN) Trish Olson says, “Why didn’t they just ask us directly to change the name? We’ve met with Scottsdale Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel monthly, as recently as
July 8. If they wanted to keep lines of communication open with parents, why get lawyers involved?”

Scottsdale parent and Co-organizer of the event, Amanda Wray, raised awareness in the community last week when SUSD sent a controversial form by “mistake” asking parents for consent to have their child surveyed with questions about medical and mental health history and gun and ammunition ownership in the home. The district replaced the
consent form and issued a statement of retraction. Wray says, “Unfortunately, this just looks and feels like retaliation for scrutinizing the district over the repeated missteps and lack of transparency with parents. Our mission and efforts will not be diluted or discouraged by such trivial and punitive actions against our group. We encourage all parents in public schools to get involved in their child’s education and ask questions when things don’t seem right.”

 

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Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind: California and its Epic Wildfires

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California
Photo credit: Patrick Luscri

Like the 2018 Camp Fire, California’s Dixie Fire is epic. It has burned more than 220,000 acres and at least 40 structures. It’s the largest conflagration since the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise. Sadly, California wildfires are becoming as common as Florida hurricanes. Why is this happening and who’s to blame? In a word, California.

By mismanaging its forests and water sources and enabling a power provider to place profits over people, the Golden State has sown the wind and is reaping the whirlwind.

Why is every California fire season scarier and more destructive than the last? The reasons can be boiled down to these:

  1. Decades of forest mismanagement caused by environmentalists shaping policy
  2. Co-opted Northern California watersheds and water supply diversion
  3. Hotter temperatures and historic drought conditions caused by climate change
  4. Failing PG&E infrastructure
Forest mismanagement

We live five miles from the southeastern edge of the Dixie Fire. Our little mountain town of Quincy is under an evacuation warning. Many of our fellow residents live in areas of mandatory evacuation and some have lost their homes. Local firefighters and forest experts have known for years this was inevitable.

It’s common sense, really. When forest undergrowth and dead limbs and logs are allowed to pile up between trees, you may as well stack logs at their bases and light a match. Wise forest managers remove forest floor fuels and keep forests from growing dangerously dense.

Foolish forest managers allow undergrowth to flourish in order to “protect” ecological environments of certain species at the expense of overall forest ecology. This hands-off approach is pushed in Sacramento by those who think we’re only one species sharing our environment rather than caretakers of our environment.

Wise gardeners prevent weeds from diverting moisture from produce plants by removing them. This ensures a healthy garden. Why wouldn’t smart forest management include removal of undergrowth and dead or dying trees?

Water diversion

A few years ago, state biologists “gill-netted” vast quantities of fish in our local Silver Lake in order to prevent them from feeding on a certain frog. This decimated the fish population in favor of the frog population. How is this an ecological balance?

Similarly, allowing natural water sources to feed rivers and streams provides better hydration for trees—and raises critical moisture levels for forests. Diverting water from Northern California sources when levels are low exacerbates the deadly dryness of moisture-starved Sierra forests. Shouldn’t there be a better balance based on water levels?

As climate change continues to affect moisture and heat, smart and balanced water management becomes more critical. Yet California continues to base policy decisions reactively rather than proactively. If Northern California watershed areas burn for lack of moisture, poor water management will be partially to blame.

So will California’s reliance on hydroelectric power over traditional (and more effective) fossil-fuel plants. The state gets nearly 2/3 of its power from non-fossil fuel production, which is why it has to buy electricity from states like Oregon, Arizona and others.

Failing PG&E

Failed PG&E power lines are responsible for devastating California wildfires for the last five fire seasons. According to PG&E’s initial report the day the Dixie Fire started, an employee responding to an outage noticed a blown fuse at Cresta Dam in a heavily forested area of Butte County around the Feather River Canyon. He found two blown fuses and a tree leaning on a power conductor. He also found a fire on the ground near the base of the tree.

When the 2018 Camp Fire erupted, a PG&E employee noticed flames caused by a faulty transmission line in Feather River Canyon. Many of these lines are supported by electrical towers from the early 1900s. PG&E customers pay modern rates for modern electricity delivered via century-old towers.

In fairness, PG&E is finally taking steps to modernize its infrastructure with underground line burial and other measures. Sadly, these measures are long overdue and are too little too late for victims of the Camp Fire and now for those dealing with the Dixie Fire. Worse, PG&E seems to be continuing their foot-dragging regarding reporting system failures when they point to a wildfire start.

Closed market

According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), PG&E ignored regulations that require it to report wildfire-related infrastructure failures within two hours of the event. PG&E took five days to report the Dixie Fire-related failure to CPUC. As a state agency, CPUC answers to Governor Gavin Newsom and Sacramento politicians. PG&E is supposed to answer to CPUC, yet is still failing to follow the rules.

Not only is there a lack of meaningful accountability, the relationship between California and PG&E is dysfunctional. The average citizen wonders why Sacramento continues enabling a repeat offender of a power company. Another question is why California refuses to open up its utility market to competitors in order to force PG&E to modernize its infrastructure.

Something has to change or California will continue to burn every fire season. Close to home, people in our community love living in Northern California, but the Golden State will lose even more citizens if residents have to flee the flames every summer.

 

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