Sunday, March 26, 2006

Half of all economists think werewolves negatively impact interest rates

Being an idealist at heart while at the same time a hopeless political junkie, I rely on rationalism as a compass for steering the middle road between these yin and yang aspects of my personality. I believe there are many people with a similar dilemma out there. Why? Look at the way most people view economics and economists. They steer clear, because for an IPJ, economist's claims are hazardous to our health. Trying to use reason to evaluate competing economist's claims is about as effective as Peter Boyle's Wizard trying to counsel Travis Bickle by telling him he should not "worry so much." So, when John Edwards called in The Ethical Werewolf to make the case for an increase in the minimum wage, I approached it with some trepidation.

You can't swing an indicted Republican without smacking a conservative who will tell you increasing the minimum wage costs jobs, replete with reams of Cato studies. But,
TEW cites no less than five economists with three different studies ( 1: "Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage" David Card and Alan B. Krueger, 2:"The Effect of the Minimum Wage on the Fast Food Industry" Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Kruegar, 3: "The Effects of New Jersey's Minimum Wage Increase on Fast
Food Employment: A Re-Evaluation Using Payroll Records."
David Neumark, William Wascher) showing that increasing the minimum wage does not significantly affect unemployment. Neumark and Wascher's results are notable as they are opponents of increased minimum wage and initiated their study with the intention of refuting Card and Krueger.

Granted, the above studies were done in the 90's. But as TEW notes, Florida raised the MW in 2005 with no negligible effect on jobs. When Michael Sasso asked David Denslow, research economist at the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research (an opponent of MW increases) Sasso quoted him saying, "I think it's really quite clear that the effect of the minimum wage is quite small"

Now, Maryland serves up another test case and short of an economist cage match (sponsored by Cato?), no satisfying conclusion is anywhere in sight for long suffering IPJ's.

Let anecdotes be in reason's good stead. From the Sasso piece:

One independent retailer, Ronald "Mac" Walter, who owns two discount furniture stores in Tampa, doubts that the amendment will seriously hurt the job market.

"I don't think it's going to kill jobs because you need the people to do the work no matter what," said Walter, owner of Highland Park Furniture, which has a license to use the trade name Macy's Furniture & Mattress Clearance Center. "But it might hurt profits, and it sounds better to say it's going to hurt jobs than hurt profits."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Muddy Mo Quiz #1: KMOV Brain Trust?

St. Louis' CBS affiliate KMOV posted a web story last Saturday with the headline, "State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri's official religion" By comparing this story with the facts, see if you can determine which brain in this picture is most like the KMOV brain trust.

The story begins, "Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official 'majority' religion."

The first clue comes from... The Church Lady!:
When is a state bill NOT a state bill? Now, when could that be? Could it be ....when it is a Resolution? David Sater, Missouri's State Representative from the 68th District in Cassville Missouri, introduced House Concurrent Resolution No. 13 ( HRC 13) to the 93rd General Assembly. Note to the KMOV brain trust: Politician's resolutions are theatrical, no one takes them seriously. Sort of like your attempt to be journalists.

The second clue: The story breathlessly announces, "Karen Aroesty of the Anti-defamation league, along with other watch-groups, began a letter writing campaign..." A visit to the regional ADL website . has not one word about this resolution or any campaign. Of course there is always the, "other watch-groups" Wow. Really?

Did you guess the KMOV brain trust most closely resembles a Gorilla's brain? YW say, "Damn, dog, you where I am"

Some have questioned this answer and said, "Mud Man, the KMOV brain trust could not possibly be like a Gorilla's brain, which is so large. The Mouse brain is much more likely. " So, I asked them, "Which of these brains belong to the animal which most frequenlty consumes its own feces?"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Gender Gap: Bush's Free Fall in the Polls

Digby looks deeper in the poll numbers and wonders, "Wither the Gender Gap?" How soon we forget.

I think I can pinpoint when things started going sour for the President with female voters: When Cindy Sheehan showed up in Crawford.

Every day for nearly four weeks, there was Cindy in her lawn chair, sweltering in the Texas sun, watching while Bush's motorcade came roaring down that narrow country road, kicking the dust in Cindy's eyes!

We heard about Bush's loutish behavior at the White House, "Who're we all honorin' here today?" when he met with the Sheehan family for condolences on the death of her son Casey. Candlelight vigils held every evening, all around the country.


Then, just as the right-wing echo chamber's "Swift Boating" of Sheehan really began to take: Hurricane Katrina.

Update: Removed superfluous closing comment about God working in mysterious ways. It seemed clever, but it really wasn't.