Archive for January 27th, 2009

January 27, 2009

Childless cities

In writing a post on the demographics of Portland, Ore., Steve Sailer linked to this 2005 article about (relatively) childless cities:

Portland is one of the nation’s top draws for the kind of educated, self-starting urbanites that midsize cities are competing to attract. But as these cities are remodeled to match the tastes of people living well in neighborhoods that were nearly abandoned a generation ago, they are struggling to hold on to enough children to keep schools running and parks alive with young voices.
San Francisco, where the median house price is now about $700,000, had the lowest percentage of people under 18 of any large city in the nation, 14.5 percent, compared with 25.7 percent nationwide, the 2000 census reported. Seattle, where there are more dogs than children, was a close second. Boston, Honolulu, Portland, Miami, Denver, Minneapolis, Austin and Atlanta, all considered, healthy, vibrant urban areas, were not far behind. The problem is not just that American women are having fewer children, reflected in the lowest birth rate ever recorded in the country.
Officials say that the very things that attract people who revitalize a city – dense vertical housing, fashionable restaurants and shops and mass transit that makes a car unnecessary – are driving out children by making the neighborhoods too expensive for young families. . . .

Worth reading the whole thing.

January 27, 2009

The business of news

“[Mexican financier Carlos] Slim may believe that newspapers are just another business. He is entitled to this view. Most journalists, for their part, believe that this isn’t — and can’t be — the only way that newspapers are evaluated. Where many of them err, however, is in thinking that newspapers can somehow transcend — or float free of — the most basic principles of profit and bottom line. Slim is here to bring them down to earth.”

January 27, 2009

Labor theory of value

You might think, more than three-quarters of a century after Mises published Socialism, that everyone would understand that the labor theory of value is bogus. You would be wrong:

One of the basic tenets of Marxism is that labor has intrinsic value that precedes and is separate from the value of management and investing. Most leftists, even those who are not Marxist, have absorbed this concept of the value of labor.
In reality, the circumstances are the exact opposite. It is the skill and judgment of managers and investors that creates the value of labor. If you don’t own your own company or freelance, you rely on someone else to choose what work you do and how you do it. Their decisions create the value of the products and services you make. When they make mistakes, the value of your labor decreases and you should charge less for it.

(Via Instapundit.) Without capital to invest in production, nothing can be produced. If no one wants to own Ford stock, then Ford has no capital. If Ford can’t make a profit, no one will want to own Ford stock. No profit, no capital, ergo no research-and-development, no new machinery, no marketing, no competitive advantage, no business — and it doesn’t matter how “fair” the terms of your employment are, if your employer is bankrupt.

The guy driving the forklift on the loading dock has no right to gripe about the gap between his wages and the salaries of the executives. If you’re making $15 an hour on the loading dock and the VP of marketing is making $300,000 a year . . . so freaking what?

If you can get somebody to hire you at $18 an hour, go get it and quit your bitching. And if you have some skill that somebody’s willing to pay $300,000 a year for, congratulations. It’s your labor, and you owe it to yourself to sell it for the best price you can get. But the fact that people are willing to pay more for a VP-marketing than for a forklift driver is not the fault of the VP-marketing, and your senseless whining about “fairness” doesn’t change the value.

Nothing is more idiotic than talk of “worker’s rights.” If you don’t like the pay or working conditions where you’re working, quit and go find another job. Otherwise, STFU. Try to think of yourself not as a “worker,” but as an entrepreur, seeking maximum value for your labor in a free market. How can I enhance my value to my current employer? What new skill can I acquire? How can I become more efficient, more effective, more valuable?

Sitting around grumbling because you imagine that your employer is being “unfair” to you is just ignorant and childish. This is the idiocy of the labor-union mentality, which supposes that workers can combine to extort from an employer what he would not be willing to pay in a free market. That strategy might appear to work for a few years, or a few decades, but ultimately, you cannot fool the market. Overpriced labor — that is to say, where wages and benefits are artificially inflated by union coercion — is non-competitive labor. And eventually, non-competitive labor will be out of work.


January 27, 2009

Thanks, Clark

Clark Stooksbury at The American Conservative suggests me (tongue-in-cheek) as ghost-writer for Sarah Palin’s $11 million book. Actually, I’d think my Donkey Cons co-author Lynn Vincent might be ideal for the job, since she’s already co-authored the bestseller Same Kind of Different As Me

Of course, on an $11 million deal, there’d be plenty of sub-contracting fees to go around . . .