Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wage Law Balance, Presidential Influence on Media, and Worst Toilets in the World

Quick Hits for April 22, 2010

* I am always puzzled by the debates about wage laws. I hear some on the left talk about a living wage, as if a law could magically create that utopia. The truth is if a living wage is $40,000 today and you mandated everyone have at least that wage, by tomorrow inflation would make it a poverty wage. It is unfortunate, but any capitalist based society will always have rich and poor. However, it is what drives a lot of our advancement. Be happy that America's poor have it far better than 80% of the world's middle class.

The flip side that makes little sense is this notion that there should be no minimum wage and a complete failure to understand the role minimum wage plays in our society. We know that minimum wage increases also tend to increase other wages. So the role minimum wage laws really have isn't mandating some living wage, but rather to create pressure to increase wages when wages aren't keeping up with inflation.

It isn't that wages or profits should dominate each other, but rather that economics is about balance: the balance between profit taking and taxation, the balance between profit taking and re-investment, the balance between costs and affordability, and more. When someone tells you that one factor is the all important factor in any economic discussion, call BS because economics is always about balancing two or more factors, not the domination of a single factor like low tax rates.

* It is interesting but laughable to hear Fox News claim that the Obama Administration "controls the media" as if President Obama was somehow the CEO of each of the news organizations all at once. It is laughable because it assumes some grand conspiracy to keep it secret from the rest of the world, but Fox and the right love a good conspiracy of the left to take over the world.

What makes it interesting is that it is completely and utterly devoid of any understanding of how the White House has historically "controlled" the media over the years. Kristina Borgesson's Into The Buzzsaw detailed the subtle influence of the White House over the years regardless of political party of the President through using access to information, interviews, and "leaks" in modern times and the number of books on government influence on the media through manipulation run rampant.

It isn't some Stalinist-like control as much as the same kind of manipulation that Presidents from Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, and many others have used to influence organizations. News organizations live off of access through exclusive interviews, relationships that help "leak" stories, and the perception that they have the "breaking story" that others don't have. Administrations have long used this access or the threat of losing it to limit the questions media asks.

Whether or not President Obama's administration did anything like that for this story has yet to be shown, but this whole notion of a grand White House censorship conspiracy is laughable and indicates Fox journalists simply don't know much or lie about what they do know for political influence.

* Gotta love a ranking of the World's Worst Toilets, yet in viewing it, I have seen far worse toilets in The Philippines, which I am positive are not the worst in the world. Something tells me the toilets here were done by someone with limited travel experience. What are your worst toilets in the world?

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