Texas Creationist Freak Show: Epilogue

Our last post about this was Texas Creationist Freak Show, Day 2. As hundreds of newspaper articles have already informed you, the creationists on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), now under the leadership of Barbara Cargill, totally failed to sabotage their state’s science texts.

All the supplemental texts that had been submitted were approved, except the pitiful offering of a creationist publisher which got rejected. We suspect that one would have been the only submission to be approved back when the board was led by Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist. McLeroy’s defeat last year by Thomas Ratliff left the SBOE’s creationists not only leaderless, but also lacking an essential vote. All the efforts of teachers, scientists, publishers, and concerned witnesses would have failed if the creationists had their former political muscle yesterday — but they lost it. That’s why reason prevailed.

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) posted this: Victory for evolution in Texas. Here’s a sample of what they say:

Pop the champagne corks. The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In an 8-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers — and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.

There are 15 members of the SBOE, so we’re curious about that vote tally. But it’s the result that counts. Another excerpt from NCSE:

One hot button: the supplement from Holt McDougal. A creationist member of the review panel released a list of Holt’s supposed errors involving evolution and common descent. But in today’s hearing, the Texas Education Agency pointed out that the full membership of the review panel had not signed off on the list.

That was amusing. As we understand it, one of the reviewers appointed by the SBOE had written up a list of objections — typical creationist stuff — and the loonies on the board tried to get a vote ordering the publisher to revise its material to comply with those objections. But then it was revealed that only one reviewer had made those objections — not the whole panel. You can read about it in the Houston Chronicle: Education board chief has homework. Here’s an excerpt, with bold font added by us:

But there was pointed discussion over the handling of alleged errors in high school biology materials by publisher Holt McDougal. Eight alleged errors flagged by David Shormann dealt with common ancestry and fossil records – key parts in the evolution theory.

Shormann is a math and science teacher for Houston-area home-schooled children. His writings profess the Earth to be about 6,000 years old. Five science experts, who also reviewed the biology materials, sent board members a letter Friday disagreeing with Shormann. They dismissed his claims as “scientifically inaccurate” and based on “overtly creationist literature.”

David Shormann? Who brought that guy to the party? We learn from the Texas Freedom Network in Creationists Appointed to Science Review Panels that — surprise! — he was appointed to the textbook review panel by Barbara Cargill. Nice try, Babs! BWAHAHAHAHA!

There’s one more base we want to cover before leaving this Texas story. We want the reaction of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

You will recall their previous conduct when their efforts have failed. You don’t recall? Well, back in 2008 they failed to get a creationism bill passed in Florida. That’s when a certain “senior fellow” threw an online tantrum and we posted Buffoon Award Winner — John West. Later that year when they were successful in Louisiana they posted five self-congratulatory articles in one day, and we wrote Discovery Institute — Ecstasy Over Louisiana. When Thomas Ratliff defeated the creationist dentist last year in a Texas GOP primary, the Discoveroids lost their greatest ally on the SBOE and we posted Discovery Institute Weeps for Don McLeroy. They recently celebrated their only victory so far in 2011 when high school student Zack Kopplin’s creationism repeal campaign failed in Louisiana, and we wrote Discovery Institute: Ecstasy Over Louisiana #2.

So how are the Discoveroids dealing with their defeat in Texas? While the hearings were going on, Casey Luskin — everyone’s favorite creationist and a Curmudgeon Fellow — posted three different articles in one day. The first wasn’t about the Texas hearing so we’ll ignore it. Neither of the other two is in any way memorable, but you can find them here: first there was this, followed soon thereafter by this one. Both were Casey’s attempts to ridicule testimony by experts.

But where’s the big Discoveroid blow-out? Where’s the tantrum we’re accustomed to seeing from Casey’s superiors? That hasn’t appeared yet. When it finally shows up — and it will — the thing may be amusing enough to justify a stand-alone post from your Curmudgeon, or it may not be worth the bother. But at this point it’s nice to know they’re upset — and they probably have a lot of explaining to do to their generous patrons.

Failure is never easy — unless it’s a creationist failure. We’re enjoying this one, and we salute all who worked to make it possible.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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86 responses to “Texas Creationist Freak Show: Epilogue

  1. Yay, Texas! You go!!!

    Now, if we could just do something about that Governor Helmethair!

  2. That is great news. All of this creationist bogus is getting old. In Oklahoma there were about seven attempts in the OK Legislature to put that creationist bogus in the public school system. Although defeated, the creationists will try again. Meantime important issues like starving children, crumbling roads, and crowded prisons will be ignored by those “morality Christians” in the OK Congress.

  3. “Meantime important issues like starving children, crumbling roads, and crowded prisons will be ignored by those “morality Christians” in the OK Congress.”

    Yes, because government action on those issues is… ZOMG SOCIALIZMMM!!!!

    And you know, Jesus wasn’t for that…

  4. Starving children? In the US, the poor people are fat.

  5. Pessimist that I am, I honestly didn’t foresee this one. Kitzmas came early this year. Congratulations to all rational, fully-evolved humans in Texas and elsewhere. Maybe it’ll spread to Louisiana one day…

  6. Frederic Bastiat

    @LRA, SY: Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

  7. Nice name, Frederic Bastiat. Welcome aboard.

  8. If the state doesn’t enforce some (Note: I said *some*) restrictions/regulations/entitlements on important (Note: I said *important*) measures that need to be taken in society, then who will? The market?

    Is it a good idea for the market to run prisons? No, clearly it is not, yet in the US we have an increasingly privatized prison system. Talk about perverse incentives!

    Is it a good idea to only have charity for people in need? No, clearly it is not, because charities can’t handle increasing need during economic hard times (like the Great Depression or, hmmm, how about now?)

    Is it a good idea to privatize the building of roads and other infrastructure? No, because infrastructure is something everyone uses and needs.

    Is it a good idea for education to be completely private? No! How is that fair to the intelligent children of poor people? Also, do industry people really want an uneducated work force now that we are living in the age of information?

    Do we need social services? Clearly.

    Do we live in a socialist society? Not by a long shot! That is right wing rhetoric that is especially hypocritical when it comes from people who claim to follow a man who called for them to serve the poor and needy.

  9. Is it a good idea to privatize the building of houses and other residences? No, because residences something everyone uses and needs.

    Is it a good idea to privatize the building of stores and other commercial buildings? No, because commerce is something everyone uses and needs.

    Is it a good idea to privatize the growing of wheat and other crops? No, because food is something everyone uses and needs.

    Is it a good idea to privatize the manufacture of clothing and other textiles? No, because clothing is something everyone uses and needs.

  10. a man who called for them to serve the poor and needy.

    How dare they forget the words of their Savior: Do something for poor people by voting for politicans who promise to do something for poor people by first taking things away from other people.

  11. No! How is that fair to the intelligent children of poor people? Also, do industry people really want an uneducated work force now that we are living in the age of information?

    A perfect illustration of Bastiat’s comment: “We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education.”

  12. LRA says:

    Is it a good idea for the market to run prisons? No, clearly it is not …

    Oh, I donno. We have private security guards. Are they a problem? Brinks drives around in what are, for all practical purposes, civilian tanks. Congress has authority to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal. We don’t commission privateers these days, but we did, and there’s no economic reason not to, really. All the other things that you don’t think should be private seem to work just fine when privately run. The good ones thrive, the bad ones don’t and either go out of business or change hands — unlike government programs which live forever under the same management. We have private toll roads and bridges. Also pipelines, power transmission lines, TV cable companies, railroads, etc. I’m not aware of any economic reason why such things should be run by the state.

  13. Darn, Gabe! You got there ahead of me.

  14. If you want to make a case for government intervention–and I think these cases exist–it’s not enough to say that everyone wants and needs something. If that’s really true, then somebody will make money providing those things to people at prices they are willing to pay–their willingness being proved by the fact that nobody compelled them to purchase that thing.

    The government can and should provide some things to people–things like law and order and defence against outside enemies. We tolerate taxation for these purposes because it is very hard to set a price on what “my share” of these services are, AND because I will reap the benefit of these things whether or not I pay for them.

    This is not true of an education, or a road, or a house. While I may derive some diffused benefit from another person having these things, the person who derives the MOST benefit is the person who actually is getting them. If I am starving (extremely rare in America today) I may turn to crime or cannibalism and in that case society may suffer some detriment by my lack of food; but if I am fed I get nearly all the benefit from that food–my consumption of a loaf of bread does not make YOU less hungry. My education does not make you smarter. My apartment does not make you less cold or wet. And so while society will bear SOME of the cost of these things, in no other way perhaps than by helping to prevent me from being murdered before I can enjoy them, or defrauded by people who promise me those things for money and don’t give them, asking “society” to bear MOST of the cost is simply allowing me to take money out of other people’s pockets to benefit myself.

  15. allowing me to take money out of other people’s pockets to benefit myself.

    Let me be the first to affirm, that I have already done this, my education and my salary being paid entirely by the taxpayers. For what it’s worth, I tried to persuade them not to, but some of them won’t listen.

    If my university tomorrow receives no more state funding and chooses to close its doors rather than subsist on tuition and donations, I will do my best to find something else to do. The taxpayer does not owe me a living.

  16. @GH:
    Outstanding. I don’t want to interrupt because you’re on a roll, but I couldn’t have said it any better.

  17. This country continues to struggle with how much we should pay for collectively and how much we should pay for individually. If we want a robust defensive capability – we need to pool our resources and fund an army. If we want an interstate highway system, it works better if we fund it collectively. I personally believe it is in our collective interest to have a well-educated population, capturing the talent and skills of everyone no matter where they live or what their economic means are, and to do that requires funding at a government level. Law enforcement, fire fighters, and similar services seem best funded by government (whether they are performed by private companies or government employees).

    On the other hand, manufacturing of all sorts, sales of goods and services, agriculture, transportation, most utilities, and many other fundamental elements of our society are clearly best performed by the private sector in a free market. There are exceptions, where the private and public sectors overlap (the new commercial space businesses for one example).

    This country will never become socialist in the sense that eastern Europe was, where the government owned all property and employed most citizens. On the other hand, living in a country where few public services are provided to it’s citizens, where education is only available to those who can afford it, where there are no federal or state owned parks, museums, libraries, and the like, where infrastructure like roads are all privately owned, would be equally bleak. The point is, we will always argue over whether or not this or that activity should be government funded. I think that’s pretty healthy. It’s not whether government should be big or small, but what is the right size to provide the services we ask of it.

  18. Frederic Bastiat

    The annals of mankind are replete with instances of force employed for plunder. To retrace its history would be to reproduce almost entirely the history of all nations: Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Franks, Huns, Turks, Arabs, Mongols, Tartars, not to speak of that of the Spaniards in America, the English in India, the French in Africa, the Russians in Asia, etc., etc.

    But, at least among civilized nations, the men that produce wealth have become numerous and strong enough to defend it. Does this mean that they are no longer being plundered? Not at all; they are being plundered just as much as ever, and, what is more, they are plundering one another.

    The only difference is that the instrument of plunder has changed; it is no longer by force, it is by fraud, that the public is being despoiled of its wealth.

    ITo rob the public, it is necessary to deceive it. To deceive it is to persuade it that it is being robbed for its own benefit, and to induce it to accept, in exchange for its property, services that are fictitious or often even worse. This is the purpose of sophistry, whether it be theocratic, economic, political, or monetary. Thus, ever since brute force has been held in check, the sophism has been not merely a species of evil, but the very essence of evil. It must, in its turn, be held in check. And, to this end, the public must be made more subtle than the subtle, just as it has already become stronger than the strong.

  19. @Ed:If we want an interstate highway system, it works better if we fund it collectively.

    I’m curious how you know this. If the interstate system had been privately built, we would still receive the benefits, but we’d pay for them based on what we buy that was distrubuted by that system (the trucking companies would pass tolls on to us) and by how much we personally used it. Furthermore, the people who owned the land it was built on would benefit more directly because they would not have had their land taken by force (eminent domain), they’d have got market value for the right of way and the costs of that would have been borne by the beneficiaries of the system–the same way that cell phone customers pay for the land the cell towers are built on.

    I personally believe it is in our collective interest to have a well-educated population, capturing the talent and skills of everyone no matter where they live or what their economic means are, and to do that requires funding at a government level.

    I think so too, however the government doesn’t need to be doing the educating any more than the government needs to be growing the food and distributing it.

  20. A perfect illustration of Bastiat’s comment: “We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education.

    Not any education, but education for the people that need it the most, the poor. Even if they pass on all the savings of getting rid the education budgets to the people, the poor who struggle to pay rent are not going to use that saving on their children to go to private schools.

  21. Frederic Bastiat, if you’re going to copy the work of others, it’s proper to say so and link to the source. In the case of your last comment it was copied from here: Chapter 23: Conclusion – Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Sophisms.

  22. In Bastiat’s defense, he’s dead, and he did write the work in question. I believe Bastiat is what kids today call a “gimmick poster”.

  23. @Flakey:the poor who struggle to pay rent are not going to use that saving on their children to go to private schools.

    What if the goverment gave them their kids’s share of education spending to be spent at the school of their choice–not cash they could abuse, but, what’s the word, a voucher?

    And your blanket statement about poor people is belied by the experience of Asians–hundreds of millions of poor people in this world sacrifice a great deal to get their children the best education possible, both in Asia and in North America.

  24. aturingtest

    LRA says:
    “Is it a good idea for education to be completely private? No!”
    OMG, not when people like David Shormann are the teachers.
    Gabriel Hanna says:
    “My education does not make you smarter.”
    Between you, SC, LRA, retiredsciguy, magpie, and a few others here, it has certainly made ME smarter, if by ” smarter” you mean better informed. Your education didn’t stop at you, and, if you are a teacher (which is what I gather), I think society as a whole could be said to benefit from your education, if you think of it as the stone tossed into the pond, spreading the ripples of information.

  25. @aturingtest:Between you, SC, LRA, retiredsciguy, magpie, and a few others here, it has certainly made ME smarter, if by ” smarter” you mean better informed.

    Only because you voluntarily made the effort to seek us out and pay attention to what we had to say, doing the work yourself of sifting the nuggets from the dross. Nobody forced us to post or you to read it, paying for it out of tax money.

    if you are a teacher (which is what I gather), I think society as a whole could be said to benefit from your education,

    And they pay me to provide it. But society benefits from cell phones too, and from video games, and from all sorts of things–why does the government need to involve itself in the production of what I provide? If government got out of directly providing education, people would still want and need my services and pay me for them.

  26. Ok– clearly we’re not going to agree here. I value equality from the start. I live in a society that DOES in fact owe me the OPPORTUNITY– the EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, same as rich people’s kids– to have a decent living. That means as a child I was owed food, a decent place to live, a decent education, and anything else I needed to become a contributing adult regardless of who my parents are.

    The market sucks. It is easily controlled by people in power… namely, rich people. Rich people in general don’t seem to care too much about little people (of course there are notable exceptions like Bill Gates). They will squeeze us little people until we die early of heart disease and other stress-related disorders so long as they earn their livings/profit off of our sweat. Little people like me exercise our power as best we can through government. Also, I’m fortunate that I don’t have to work for a boss… I work for myself as a private tutor. I will never work for a corporation because the people who do the least amount of work get the richest there. I’m not going to work hard to make a sh*tty salary so someone else can get rich off of me and my hard work. I’m lucky that I’m smart enough to not have to do that. I’ll happily pay taxes to help people less fortunate than me. That is how I see it and I’m not going to change my mind on a blog.

  27. Gabriel Hanna says:

    If government got out of directly providing education, people would still want and need my services and pay me for them.

    Someone said the the best school was an olive grove — with Socrates in the middle of it. And Athens didn’t pay him. They killed him.

  28. “What if the goverment gave them their kids’s share of education spending to be spent at the school of their choice–not cash they could abuse, but, what’s the word, a voucher?”

    In other words you not getting rid of state education at all you just advocating a middle tier of profit seekers to get between the government and education.

    “The government can and should provide some things to people–things like law and order and defence against outside enemies”

    Your very inconsistent in this you saying that government should not provide education, and yet at the same time saying it should via vouchers or some similar system. Or are you just using the Government to be a payment collection agency for the private schools?

    Yes I know I being belying many millions in Asia, Africa, and a numerous other places. America would follow suit in this attitude, but not to the extent they do, Mostly because it a lot easier to live comfortably in America with a minimal education.

  29. @LRA:I will never work for a corporation because the people who do the least amount of work get the richest there.

    Of course you are aware that many, if not most, corporations are small family businesses? Of course you are.

    @Flakey:In other words you not getting rid of state education at all you just advocating a middle tier of profit seekers to get between the government and education.

    In other words I’m not getting rid of state housing at all I’m just advocating a middle tier of profit seekers to get between the government and housing people.

    In other words I’m not getting rid of state food production at all I’m just advocating a middle tier of profit seekers to get between the government and feeding people.

    In other words I’m not getting rid of state textile production at all I’m just advocating a middle tier of profit seekers to get between the government and clothing people.

    I’m sympathetic to the arguement that there are some things that the government should see to it that people have–but the government directly producing it is simply not the best way to provide it.

    We almost all agree that it’s ok if not everybody has an Xbox who wants one. We almost all agree that it’s NOT okay that not everybody gets K-12 education who wants it. There’s no contradiction at all, in saying that the government should even some things out, and saying that the government should not directly produce those things.

  30. @SC:And Athens didn’t pay him. They killed him.

    They paid the Sophists pretty well though. The market paid for the Sophists–the government killed Socrates, not his students. Res ipsa loquitor.

  31. It is easily controlled by people in power… namely, rich people.

    Yeah, like how in the last two years rich people bombed Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Like how all those rich farmers are running things in Zimbabwe and the poor government with its AK-47 toting thugs have no power to do anything about it.

    i don;t understand people who think power from money is unacceptable and power from guns is better. If I don’t like what a rich person produces, I don’t have to buy it. I don’t have to work for him–and as you say neither do you.

    And rich people are paying almost all of your share of the taxes.

    But I can’t opt out of government if I don’t like it. I can’t boycott it. I can;t sell my shares in it. If I don’t pay what it tells me to I go to jail. If I put a garden in my yard and the city doesn’t like it, i go to jail. Donald Trump can’t stop me unless the government condemns and seizes my land for him.

    http://www.alternet.org/food/151572/michigan_woman_faces_93_days_in_jail_for_planting_a_vegetable_garden

  32. There is no rich person who can boss me around and harass me in little ways as easily as can the lowest elected or appointed city official. That is a fact.

  33. Gabriel Hanna says: “That is a fact.”

    Indeed it is. Especially in my own home or my own business.

  34. “There is no rich person who can boss me around and harass me in little ways as easily as can the lowest elected or appointed city official. That is a fact.”

    True

  35. I see. So you don’t have to buy a car, gas, insurance, a home to live in, food to eat, and other sorts of things that corporations get together to figure out how to plan obsolescence and price gouge? No?

    And you can’t vote some jerk out of office, can you? (That is if you happen to live in a state where a majority votes similarly to you… my votes don’t mean jack in Texas except maybe at the lowest levels).

    M’kay.

  36. “There is no rich person who can boss me around and harass me in little ways as easily as can the lowest elected or appointed city official.”

    Not a fact… your very modern existence is completely dependent on your ability to spend money. No money, no life. How harrassing is it to live in poverty? Huh?

  37. LRA says:

    I see. So you don’t have to buy a car, gas, insurance, a home to live in, food to eat …

    That’s right. Nobody’s forcing you. And nobody should force you to buy those things for me.

  38. Hmmm I wonder if *every* kind of hard work in our economy pays a living wage????? Hmmmm…. fast food worker works 2 jobs and is still broke…

    Nope! Looks like only special people get to earn living wages. Dumb/ uneducated/ poor people are just S.O.L. I guess.

  39. Nobody is forcing me? Of course they are!?! How the heck am I supposed to get to work or the grocery store without a car?

    I guess I don’t need a place to live either. Or clothes. Yup… those things are just pure luxury!
    C’mon!

  40. You know… how about anarchy? Why have any government at all? Why not just live with all warring against all.

  41. Everyone has to give up a little freedom to live in the society of others. Of course their are going to be laws, codes, zoning restrictions, etc. if one wants to live in town. If you live out of town, where there are fewer people, there are fewer restrictions.

    With respect to corporations, rich people, etc…. Corporate profit margins are higher than they have ever been – above 13% on average – while wages have stagnated for years. There is no incentive for most companies to allocate more of their earnings to wages. Likewise, the gap between rich and poor has greatly widened in this country, and the middle class has shrunk. This is unfortunate, because the economy is driven mostly by middle class purchasing power. I believe we should worry about these trends.

  42. Yes, Ed. Exactly.

  43. And Curmie, we may disagree, but at least you aren’t a hypocrite like those religious right folks. Your values may be different from mine, but at least you are consistent. Can’t say that for the supposed, so-called “Jesus-following” crowd on the right.

  44. Ed says:

    There is no incentive for most companies to allocate more of their earnings to wages.

    Huh? Have you ever run a business? It just doesn’t work like that. No one starts out with earnings and decides to donate them to employees. Earnings are what’s left at the end of the year, if anything, after all costs have been paid. Wages are whatever has to be paid to attract and keep a competent work force. No one can pay less, and it makes no sense to pay more.

  45. And then kiddies, John Galt pops out of the woodwork to save the day with his +3 magic wand of libertarianism.

    Apologies for the sarcasm, but that’s what some of this sounds like. I do appreciate intelligent opinions from those with opposing views, and there are a lot of smarts in this room. That’s why I come here.

    ALL taxes are taking money out of somebodies pocket. You have a right to complain if you are paying more than your fair share, and I have a right to complain if you aren’t pulling your weight. We have a representative democracy decide what we want or need to spend those taxes on, and prevent* too much power from accumulating in the hands of a single person or persons. We compromise. We balance between individual freedoms and the greatest good for the greatest number, and nobody gets everything they want (at least they shouldn’t).

    Intelligent people also find ways to work out their differences. We ought to be talking about thing we can agree on, how we can compromise, and ways to work around the partisan constipation that is hurting everybody.

    OK, I’m done now. Flame me all you like.

    * speaking for myself, I’m not so sure that part is working so well right now.

  46. Tomato Addict says: “OK, I’m done now. Flame me all you like.”

    Where’s your tomato avatar?

  47. Where’s your tomato avatar?

    It’s trying to catch up.

  48. SC wrote>”Where’s your tomato avatar?”

    Problems with my WP account. fixed now. new links added if anyone wants to see how I waste my time.

    Gary>”It’s trying to catch up.”

    Ooh … good one! My condiments on an excellent pun. :-)

  49. Private enterprise is much like life itself — the private companies that are managed by intelligent people are more likely to succeed, prosper, expand, hire more people at all levels, form new subsidiaries, amass wealth that can then be used for charitable purposes (Carnegie Libraries, Gates Foundation, etc.) or distributed to the stockholders in the form of dividends so that they in turn can do as they wish with the profits of their companies.

    Good ideas succeed, bad ideas fall by the wayside, and the companies managed by more intelligent people are going to be better able to adapt to a changing business environment.

    In other words, private enterprise becomes more successful as it evolves. Do government programs? Perhaps — if they are managed by intelligent people who have an incentive to make their particular program succeed. Frankly, I’m having a hard time trying to think of a government program that works that way. Perhaps you can help me, LRA.

    On the other hand, there is a very strong incentive for an ambitious, intelligent person to go into private enterprise. There is not much incentive at all for that ambitious, intelligent person to become a government bureaucrat.

  50. LRA: “Hmmm I wonder if *every* kind of hard work in our economy pays a living wage????? Hmmmm…. fast food worker works 2 jobs and is still broke…”

    I can’t let this one go by without comment. LRA, no company can be forced by law to pay a wage to a person that is more than what that person’s labor earns the company. How could that company stay in business? By receiving a government subsidy, perhaps? If so, where would the government get that money for the subsidy? Can you think of any source other than taxes or borrowing?

    And if the money is going to come from the government anyway, why don’t we cut out the middleman (private business) entirely and just give the money directly to the would-be employee. I say “would-be employee” because this person would have no incentive to work.

    Likewise, if you insist on passing laws that would force companies to pay more than their employees are worth, there would be no incentive for the would-be company owner to risk his investment by opening up shop in the first place.

    Have I over-simplified this? If so, please explain to me how.

  51. retiredsciguy says:

    LRA, no company can be forced by law to pay a wage to a person that is more than what that person’s labor earns the company.

    Unless there’s a union involved.

    How could that company stay in business?

    It takes a while. Depends on whether they have free competition. Eventually, they fold. Where’s Eastern Airlines these days?

    By receiving a government subsidy, perhaps?

    Perhaps. It works — for now — for General Motors and Chrysler.

    If so, where would the government get that money for the subsidy?

    From you and me, and by borrowing from China. Eventually it all runs down and the whole mess collapses.

  52. SC says:

    Wages are whatever has to be paid to attract and keep a competent work force. No one can pay less, and it makes no sense to pay more.

    Precisely.

    This is compounded by the fact that we are now in a global market, so a larger company can hire workers abroad for less money (sometimes much less) and there is no reason not to if the quality is equivalent. This general job outsourcing has particularly impacted the middle class. Manufacturing, engineering, and IT are all being sourced to oversees affiliates or contractors.

    The domestic labor market winds up with a greater supply of potential workers than the demand for those workers, and salaries stagnate.

    My point is not that we need massive government intervention or a return to a unionized workforce, but we do need to sort out how to balance our economy where we continue to have a large, thriving middle class and good jobs here at home. I don’t know what the answer is, but like I said in my earlier post, I think it’s something to worry about.

  53. @Ed I think the first step is recognising America will no longer the manufacturing powerhouse in the foreseeable future. America produces huge quantity of items, but as a % of the worlds share it is dropping fast. Just taking a quick example of things I own.

    Cell Phone – made in Taiwan.
    T.V. – made in China.
    X box 360 – made in China.
    Computer (tower only) – made in USA.

    The Curmudgeon is right when he said they should have let the car industries fail. Britain tried for years to keep ours propped up, but because of that, they never evolved to compete with the growing Japanese companies. The pain in the short term will be bad for those involved, but if you try to struggle on, and they do not change, it only makes the pain worse, and more widespread.

    Innovation, financial, and service industries, are a lot of the answer though. Many of the X – box and I pads are made in increasing numbers in SE Asia, but the were conceived, financed, and designed in America.

    two problems that may arise though.
    1). You need a good educational system to drive innovation, and certain segments seem to be doing their best to drive it back into dark ages.
    2). An Alliance of buggy whip makers, and their workforce, can sometimes make a huge political force. It is going to be hard for politicians not to interfere and try to keep them in business.

  54. aturingtest

    Gabe Hanna says:
    …society benefits from cell phones too, and from video games, and from all sorts of things–why does the government need to involve itself in the production of what I provide? If government got out of directly providing education, people would still want and need my services and pay me for them.
    Because, ultimately, education may be- no, strike the “may be”- IS the most important thing a society can concern itself with. Damn the toys, the cell phones and video games. And yes- people would still want and need your services. The question here, and the only one I think government should address, is the ability of some people to pay you for your services. I don’t think I can stress enough that education is that important. I say this as someone who basically lacks one (high school graduate only, and that was in 1976, In Mississippi of all places). I had the opportunities, thanks to government grants, to continue my education, and it’s nobody’s fault but mine (like the song says) that I didn’t take advantage of them. Point is- government help was, and should continue to be, available for anyone who wants to work to continue their education, because we all have a stake in a better educated society. I don’t know about government getting into anything else, like highways, manufacturing, farming, etc. I think education trumps everything.

  55. Tomato Addict

    Forgive my appeal to authority, but this seemed too good to pass up:

    The tax which will be paid for the purpose of education is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests, and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance. -Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect and author (1743-1826)

  56. I guess people’s lives are only worth $7.25 an hour.

    Working 60 hours a week (one full time and one part time job), would only earn you $1957.50 per month before taxes (that’s about $24,000 a year).. plus you’d have no health insurance (because minimum wage jobs have no benefits), no paid vacation (or sick leave), and no security.

    That’s not a living wage. That’s slave labor. That’s unacceptable.

  57. @LRA:That’s not a living wage. That’s slave labor. That’s unacceptable.

    Funny, graduate students accept it voluntarily. I worked for 6 years at less than that while getting my Ph.D.

  58. And clearly I’m only talking about the US.

    If you are in a country like China or India, you’ll make a dollar a day. That is also unacceptable because clearly companies outsource to the detriment of American workers while keeping foreign people in poverty. Unacceptable.

  59. Yes, Gabe, because you also can get student loans to supplement the rest. Also, you’ll earn a lot more after that. It’s an investment, not a life long salary. Duh.

  60. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that my assistantship paid over $22,000.

    And of course while I was going to college as an undergraduate I worked any number of minimum wage jobs; I delivered pizza, I worked at Denny’s, in supermarkets stocking shelves and in the deli and as a cashier.

    And in none of those jobs did I stay very long at minimum wage. For example, in a grovery store cashiers are paid more than other workers, and in restaraunts cooks are paid more.

    Most people who are making minimum wage are just starting out. They may be students, or people with no experience. Very few people live their lives on NOTHING but minimum wage jobs. Those few people who do are elegible for food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, subsidized housing, etc–not to mention Federal student aid which they could use to go to college, if they wanted to and had enough ability.

  61. @LRA: because you also can get student loans to supplement the rest.

    No student loans for grad school. I still have not made over $24,000 yet–thought that changes this year.

  62. “Those few people who do are elegible for food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, subsidized housing, etc–not to mention Federal student aid which they could use to go to college, if they wanted to and had enough ability.”

    And that’s exactly as it should be. People pay *taxes* to help supplement food stamps, WIC, medicaid, subsidized housing and Federal financial aid. It’s part of the welfare that is needed to balance the injustice of the markets.

  63. @LRA:If you are in a country like China or India, you’ll make a dollar a day.

    And of course that accounts for the difference in purchasing power a dollar has in India or China, or the vast difference in lifestyle that people live in those countries.

    But this is like when you tried to tell us that George Bush “banned” stem cell research, or when the “oil companies” bought up all the patents that are keeping the GOOD electric cars off the market.

    If you really practiced critical thinking, you might try applying it to the things you think you know but aren’t so.

  64. The only time my student loans didn’t help my living circumstances was while I was at Columbia in NYC. My loans went to pay my $36,000/ year tuition and I worked 2 jobs to pay for my (enormously expensive) living costs in NYC.

    Had the government not given me loans, I couldn’t have even *thought* about going there. Because I attended Columbia, I worked for Eric Kandel and helped my career enormously. I literally have the government to thank for that.

  65. LRA says: “Unacceptable.”

    I suspect there isn’t nearly enough economic output on the whole planet to pay everyone the wages you’d like — that we’d all like, actually. The way it works in reality is that people are paid what they’re worth to their employer. If they were worth more, they’d switch jobs because some other employer would be willing to pay it.

  66. LRA says: “… to balance the injustice of the markets.”

    You really did study economics from the equivalent of Jack Chick.

  67. Whatever, Gabe.

    You clearly know nothing about how science funding works (because, yes, the govt. moratorium on stem cells effectively banned it) and I don’t recall discussing electric cars… If I recall correctly, I said that oil companies purchase patents for the purpose of suppressing new technologies in favor of theirs.

    Anyway, I’m not going to argue with you because your I don’t particularly care for your dismissive tone. You aren’t the only smart person who posts on this blog. Plenty of smart people (including me) post here. Just because we have a difference of opinion doesn’t mean you are smart and I’m dumb. So, when you can quit talking to me like I’m 5, maybe we can discuss more. Otherwise, goodnight.

  68. In China, for example–which I know a little something about, because my wife is from there–how much you make and how much you NEED to make depends on where you leave. People who live in the country are much poorer than in the city, that is true, but they also have less need for money. People who live in the city have a lifestyle little different from middle-class city people in the US, with the exception that they probably don’t have a car (my inlaws don’t). And they support this lifestyle on much less “money”, converting RMB to $, as they would need in the US, because the scale of prices is different.

    In the US it would be very difficult to live on a dollar a day–we expect to have things like electricity and plumbing. But my grandfather’s generation grew up without those things. People who make their own clothes and food don’t have as much need for money. They are poor, and abysmally poor, compared to “poverty” in the US.

    A dollar a day in America won’t buy you a Big Mac–and neither would it in China. But a Big Mac in China is an expensive foreign luxury that normal people would rarely eat.

    So you trot out this “dollar a day” nonsense without any kind of qualification or context and think it’s some kind of knock-down argument, because you’ve spent no time looking into what it means.

    And of course you also run to “furrenir are stealing our JERBS!”. Hundreds of years now opponents of free trade have said that. With all the automation and outscouring how haven’t we all starved to death since the Industrial Revolution. As SC once said, it’s the economic version of JAck Chick tracts.

  69. LRA says:

    So, when you can quit talking to me like I’m 5, maybe we can discuss more. Otherwise, goodnight.

    Calm down. He does it to me too, sometimes. It keeps me humble.

  70. “I suspect there isn’t nearly enough economic output on the whole planet to pay everyone the wages you’d like”

    Oh, really? Is that why the Forbes 400 (the richest 400 people in America) are worth more than the bottom *HALF* of people in the US?

    http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

    Please.

  71. @LRA: Still flogging “Bush banned stem cells”?

    Still can’t admit you are totally wrong?

  72. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_laws

    In 2001, George W. Bush implemented a policy limiting the number of stem cell lines that could be used for research.[2] There were some state laws concerning stem cells that were passed in the mid-2000s. New Jersey’s 2004 S1909/A2840 specifically permitted human cloning for the purpose of developing and harvesting human stem cells, and Missouri’s 2006 Amendment Two legalized certain forms of embryonic stem cell research in the state. On the other hand, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota passed laws to prohibit the creation or destruction of human embryos for medical research.[9]

    During Bush’s second term, in July 2006, he used his first Presidential veto on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act was the name of two similar bills, and both were vetoed by President George W. Bush and were not enacted into law. New Jersey congressman Chris Smith wrote a Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, which made some narrow exceptions, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

    In November 2004, California voters approved Proposition 71, creating a US$3 billion state taxpayer-funded institute for stem cell research, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It hopes to provide $300 million a year.

  73. @LRA:Oh, really? Is that why the Forbes 400 (the richest 400 people in America) are worth more than the bottom *HALF* of people in the US?

    Ah, so now we are talking about expropriation, not taxation and welfare. Worked so well every place THAT’s been tried.

  74. Because all that money, LRA, is just hidden under their beds. It’s not invested or loaned to people who use to build businesses and employ people,

  75. Oh… I see, Gabe! So that’s why Harvard and the University of California system had to take about a DECADE to get private funding to start doing stem cell research again?

    BTW, I think I have a d*nm good idea about what happened seeing as HOW I WORKED IN STEM CELL RESEARCH FOR 2 YEARS.

    But keep thinking you are right. Please.

  76. LRA says:

    Oh, really? Is that why the Forbes 400 (the richest 400 people in America) are worth more than the bottom *HALF* of people in the US?

    Do the math. Line up those rich guys, shoot them, and confiscate their wealth. Now what?

    Here you go: A billion, divided up “fairly” among 100 million people, works out to be — brace yourself — ten bucks for each! How many billions can you grab by shooting Bill Gates, etc.? How “rich” will that make everyone else? And when your party is over — it won’t be much of a party and it won’t last very long — what will you do for your second act?

  77. Well, you had to bring math into it, didn’t ya, C?
    Here are my calculations:

    The top 15 people in the country are worth a sum of $389.6 billion. Source:

    http://www.forbes.com/wealth/forbes-400

    I didn’t go through all 400 people but I set the remaining 385 at a conservative average of $3 billion. That makes them worth $1155 billion.

    Combined, these 400 folds are conservatively worth $1544.6 billion and if we only take half of what these folks are worth and distribute it to the lower 150 million poor people, then the pay out would be $5148.67 per person. A nice amount of money to help someone in desperate need.

    Now imagine what we can do with the top 5% of income earners redistributing their wealth at only 50%.

  78. LRA says: “A nice amount of money to help someone in desperate need.”

    Then what? You can only do that once. And there are consequences. Like what? Oh, for one thing, there will never be such people in the US again. Any who survive your original sweep will flee to places like Hong Kong. So you’ve had your one-time party. After that you’re stuck with the very different country you’ve created. it’s been done before, and things are always worse. Think about Zimbabwe.

  79. I guess people’s lives are only worth $7.25 an hour.

    Yes, for young, inexperienced, unskilled workers. In fact, I’d argue that this might even be too high. But the nice thing about the free enterprise system is economic mobility (of people making minimum wage 15 years ago, how many are still making minimum wage today?) and creative destruction (how many of the most highly valued 20 companies in the US were on the top 500 list 20 years ago, or for that matter, even existed?).

    Perhaps it’s my lack of a Cadillac education like yours (I went to a public school that cost $350 a semester for tuition and worked two jobs to support myself) that resulted in me having a deep distrust of rule by the elite and a high regard for individual liberty…

  80. Sy–
    My mom is a single secretary from Venezuela and my dad hasn’t been a part of my life since I was 12. I went to Columbia because I earned it and I paid for it myself. My undergraduate degree is from Texas A&M where I got a full scholarship because despite going to 12 schools in 12 years (public school), I managed to graduate in the top 6% of my class. I am no where near a Cadillac person. I’m a poor person who got lucky to be born with a decent brain.

    Curmie, if people want to flee to Hong Kong, then they can go ahead. The US tax code requires them to pay taxes even 10 years after they renounce citizenship here. And I doubt Hong Kong is the capitalist paradise they think it is… there are no corporate bail outs in Hong Kong. My ex-husband lived there for a number of years and used to tell me horror stories about it.

  81. Ps. Liberty isn’t just the freedom to do things, but the freedom from lack/ want as well.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/

  82. @LRA:I think I have a d*nm good idea about what happened seeing as HOW I WORKED IN STEM CELL RESEARCH FOR 2 YEARS.

    Which means you knew, all along, that Federal funding for stem cell research was never ended, and that stem cell research was never banned. Yet you chose to tell us it was banned anyway. Knowing it was false. Everyone following this little conversation knows it now too, if they didn’t before, because I linked to the evidence.

    I said that oil companies purchase patents for the purpose of suppressing new technologies in favor of theirs.

    Forgive me now for not taking your word on this. Perhaps you could be so good as to cite which patents these are and which companies purchased them? Of course you are aware that patents are not secret–disclosing the invention is a condition of receiving the patent–and that they expire after a few years.

    Combined, these 400 folds are conservatively worth $1544.6 billion and if we only take half of what these folks are worth and distribute it to the lower 150 million poor people, then the pay out would be $5148.67 per person. A nice amount of money to help someone in desperate need.

    Less than 10 months rent for me, and I don’t live in an expensive place. Bringing math into this didn’t do your argument much good, did it? Because as SC pointed out, you can’t go to that well a second time.

    But helping the desperately poor is not what this is about, and never had been:

    “They will squeeze us little people until we die early of heart disease and other stress-related disorders so long as they earn their livings/profit off of our sweat. ”

    Stalin and Hitler’s propaganda arms couldn’t have said it better.

  83. Gabriel Hanna says:

    But helping the desperately poor is not what this is about, and never had been

    What? Remember the timeless words of the Founders: “Life, liberty, and food stamps!” And then there’s Patrick Henry’s immortal: “Give me food stamps or give me death!” Don’t forget Ben Franklin’s warning: “A welfare state, if you can keep it.”

  84. Gabe, you really need to educate yourself:

    http://www.cirm.ca.gov/Video_LiftingRestrictions

    Concerning freedom, I maintain that freedom from want is just as valuable as other forms of freedom. I’m not going to change my mind about that.

  85. LRA says: “I’m not going to change my mind about that.”

    I know. We love you anyway.

  86. Aw! Thanks! :D