Matthew DesOrmeaux

Recent Posts From Matthew DesOrmeaux

There’s a major problem with arithmetic in the minimum wage debate

minimumwage

The debate over Congress raising the minimum wage nationwide is all about numbers. What the rate should be, how many people it would help, how many jobs it would cost, how easy it would be if Evil Rich People just surrendered their money instead. But at least one of these numbers is horribly skewed, resulting in a false narrative about how many people are scraping by on pennies an hour.

The latest brick in this narrative construction project is a report from the Institute for Policy Studies showing that if all the bonuses given to Wall Street bankers were instead distributed among people working minimum wage full time, their income would double. Wow! Let’s do that! For the children! Quick, grab your pitchfork, I’ll get my torch!

Not so fast.

The report cites 1,007,000 as the number of people working full time making the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 or less. Is that right? IRS data for 2013 shows the number of people working 35 hours per week or more at or below hourly minimum wage to be exactly that number. But there’s a huge problem with that figure - it includes people who get tips.

Waiters and other tip-paid professions have a different minimum wage than most other hourly workers: currently $2.13. “What? How can anyone live on that?!”, you might gasp. They don’t, of course. $2.13 is only the base salary they are required to be paid. They are paid tips based on their performance on top of that, which usually adds up to much, much more than even the standard $7.25 minimum wage.

The Senate Letter to Iran is Dumb, But Not Unprecedented

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In case you still consider the left to be great defenders of free speech, please be advised that nearly half the US Senate is being accused of treason for the heinous crime of writing a letter.

That letter, written by the junior senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton, was sent to Iran. In it, Cotton and the other 46 signatories lay out the constitutional case that a potential nuclear disarmament (or armament, depending on your perspective) deal must be approved by Congress. Here is the full letter:

letter

Cotton is right, of course. While the chief executive conducts foreign policy, he can only make treaties with the consent of 2/3 of the US Senate. But that’s precisely what makes this so silly and pointless.

Why would Cotton & Co bother pointing this out to Iran? His chamber has the last say on any deal with Iran. If anyone needs to be reminded of that, it’s the White House, who has suggested otherwise. To go around the White House and engage a foreign government directly, especially while negotiations are ongoing, is petty and unseemly.

Hillary Clinton’s email could be far worse for national security than Edward Snowden’s leaks were alleged to have been

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In the months following the Edward Snowden disclosures of NSA surveillance procedures, hysterical establishment hawks chose to warn of the potential damage to national security from the leaks, instead of condemning the blatantly unconstitutional violations of American citizens’ privacy. Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed Snowden had helped terrorists by releasing that information. As it turns out, the private email servers she was keeping for State Department communications may have been even worse.

Not only were her unarchived communications in violation of 20-year old federal records regulations, they were also terribly, horrifically unsecure.

The government typically uses military-grade certificates and encryption schemes for its internal communications that designed with spying from foreign intelligence agencies in mind. But the ClintonEmail.com setup? “If you’re buying jam online,” says Hansen, “you’re fine.” But for anything beyond consumer-grade browsing, it’s a shoddy arrangement.

UPDATED: When Child Protective Services becomes Child Abductive Services

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UPDATE: The story here, which was previously just Reason posts based on personal emails, has been fully confirmed. Unfortunately that confirmation came in the form of a Maryland CPS ruling against the parents for “unsubstantiated child neglect”. The Meitivs are now on a 5-year probationary period, during which any further unsupervised activity by their children could lead to additional charges.

It’s generally agreed that playing outside is good for kids. Fresh air, sunlight, exercise, social interaction are all vital for proper childhood development. However, a growing herd of nanny-statists within the government, specifically state Child Protective Services agencies, have decided that playing outside without direct supervision is so dangerous that it would be better if children weren’t raised by their own parents. They risk turning our children into a generation of physically stunted, psychologically addled wards of the state. But for their own good!

Republican Presidential Candidates are Being Asked the Wrong Question on Weed

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A common question of potential Republican presidential candidates for 2016 at CPAC this year was whether they support Colorado and other states partially legalizing recreational marijuana. They have mostly given the right answer, but to the wrong question.

In a Q&A following his CPAC speech, Ted Cruz was asked and answered thusly:

I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy. If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.

Jeb Bush answered similarly:

I thought it was a bad idea, but states ought to have that right to do it. I would have voted no if I was in Colorado.

It’s 2015. Almost no one thinks states don’t have the right to legalize marijuana if they so choose. And since they’re Republicans, none of the candidates who were asked about it actually support the legalization itself, just the right to do so. That’s not newsworthy. (The worthless question could have something to do with the affable rube who asked it.)

If we really want to get to the heart of the issue, reporters and debate moderators are going to have to start asking a different question:

Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette Gives Best Performance Yet: Using Oscar Speech to Rant About Mythical Wage Gap

arquetteoscars

In a world…where women and children are being raped and slaughtered in Africa and the Middle East, where young girls are being abducted and enslaved to serve as international sex toys for wealthy lechers, leave it to Hollywood to use the biggest platform in the world, an audience of hundreds of millions globally, to bring awareness to an urgently important fairy tale.

When Patricia Arquette won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her 12-year long performance in Boyhood, she immediately went to the script, reciting a speech from a folded piece of paper. She thanked her fellow nominees, cast, crew, and her family, then, appearing to be auditioning for a role as Meryl Streep’s understudy, got confusingly political.

To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.

The reaction has been predictably swift and emotional, with little data to back it up. That’s because there isn’t any.

Why It’s Okay for Obama to Say “Islamic Extremism”

Intolerance will not be toleratedMuch hay has been made over the Obama administration’s stubbon refusal to label any act of terror an incident of Islamic extremism or its perpetrators radical Muslims. As the ISIS conquest of the Middle East escalates, this exercise in political correctness has reached farcical levels.

In a Wednesday speech about “radical extremism”, the president again refused to properly identify what kind of radical extremism he was discussing. But he was very clear (after you let him be) about who he was not discussing.

Well yes. That’s exactly what “Islamic extremism” means. Literally. Otherwise we would just call it “acts of Islam”. Which would, of course, be silly.

Gay Marriage is Racist Since Only White People Support It (Not Really)

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Usually when something becomes popular because mostly or exclusively white people enjoy it, the collective media/internet outrage machine works overtime to mock, discredit, and destroy that thing. Whether it be pumpkin spice lattes, Wes Anderson, or not vaccinating your children, Stuff White People Like is usually not good for anyone else. But what if only white people like a certain civil right?

A new poll of gay marriage support suggests that might be the case. Last week, YouGov polled nearly 1,000 online respondents and found that 48% of whites support “allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally”, but only 31% who identify as black and 39% as Hispanic do. In fact, they found that a majority of blacks oppose gay marriage.

poll

Welp.

racist

But is it really? And is it even true? (Hint: No, and probably not.) Let’s find out!

The first red flag is the top-line number. This poll finds that only 45% of respondents support same-sex marriage. I say “only” because that’s about 10-15% lower than almost every other poll conducted on the issue in the last few years. If the overall support response is that far off, the demographic breakdowns are probably a bit off too.

Liberty vs. Safety: The vaccine debate heats up in a fledgling campaign year

Rand Paul vaccine

The last few years have seen an acceleration of medical vaccines as a hot button political issue. As formerly dormant diseases have resurfaced along with communities that shun science and common sense, the backlash has been fierce. A USA Today columnist is even calling for criminal prosecution and jail time for those who don’t vaccinate their children. But in the land of the free is that really appropriate, no matter the public health risk? And do we really want our politicians weighing in?

More evidence that gridlock, not Obama policy, is fixing the economy

Washington Gridlock

From the 2012 election to the recent State of the Union Address, President Obama has claimed responsibility for the growing economy and job creation. His dutiful praetorian guard in the press has defended his claims. But there’s just one problem: The Republican House majority elected just two years into his first term kept most of Obama’s policies from being implemented. A new study released this month provides even more evidence that the failure of Obama policies to be passed has improved the economy, not the policies themselves.

The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, measured employment changes across the states over 2014 after unemployment benefit extensions were not reauthorized by Congress in the late 2013 budget deal. The extensions were opposed by Republicans but supported by Democrats and were ultimately left out of the deal that Obama signed.

As common sense and Econ101 would suggest, the study found that when you stop paying people not to work, they tend to go back to work.

In levels, 1.8 million additional jobs were created in 2014 due to the benefit cut. Almost 1 million of these jobs were filled by workers from out of the labor force who would not have participated in the labor market had benefit extensions been reauthorized.

Matthew DesOrmeaux

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married, father of two, atheist, libertarian, introvert.

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