A useful, non-shaming guide for working with women

Riveters in WWIIDo men need a guide for how to work with women? Joanne Lipman, writing in The Wall Street Journal, has some suggestions, and they’re worth reading:

The point isn’t to blame men. In my view, there has been way too much man-shaming as it is. My aim instead is to demystify women.

The business case for this is compelling. Companies with more women in leadership posts simply perform better. Fortune 500 firms with the most female board members outperform those with the least by 26% on return on invested capital and 16% on return on sales, according to a 2011 Catalyst study.

Aside from some unfortunate stereotypes used by Lipman in her introductory paragraphs, the article has some great advice for men, particularly managers, who work with women. It goes beyond the “men’s and women’s brains are wired differently” and “men and women are socialized differently” concepts to offer some clear explanations and suggestions. Read it here.

That dastardly, poverty-relieving capitalism

Hard_LabourNot that we should give undue attention to actors who opine on economics and politics, but this article has a couple of great charts that show just how ridiculous Russell Brand’s rant against capitalism is.

Click here to read more at AEIdeas.

Here’s more, from The Economist, commenting on how free markets help pull people out of extreme poverty:

Many Westerners have reacted to recession by seeking to constrain markets and roll globalisation back in their own countries, and they want to export these ideas to the developing world, too. It does not need such advice. It is doing quite nicely, largely thanks to the same economic principles that helped the developed world grow rich and could pull the poorest of the poor out of destitution.

And from Utah Citizen Network, here’s an explanation of how free markets have reduced poverty more than any other institution.

Price-gouging, shortages and the free market

Don’t drink the water – or even bathe in it, the city of Eagle Mountain told its residents on the evening of Sept. 29, 2014. The city reported that someone had broken into one of its water storage tanks. There was no way to tell what, if anything, had been put into the city’s water supply, until state testing results came back the following day. The city advised residents not to drink, cook with, or bathe in the water. Not even boiling the water could guarantee it’d be safe to use.

The water advisory was given around 5:30 Monday evening. Two hours later this picture of the bottled water aisle at the nearest Walmart was posted online:

walmart

Empty. Some people started posting on social media in anger, yelling at others for hoarding water and not leaving any for the rest. The next day another picture was posted of another nearby Walmart, also with a barren water aisle.

What can we learn from this? First, “be prepared” ain’t just for Boy Scouts or doomsday preppers. The unexpected can happen to you. Store some extra food and water. It’s just smart.

But second, there’s an interesting economics lesson here.

Click here to read the rest of this article at Utah Citizen Network.

Curious about Piketty’s colossal 'Capital'? Try Goldberg’s concise review

French economist Thomas Piketty at the reading for his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, on 18 April 2014 at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

French economist Thomas Piketty at a reading of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” in April 2014, at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.

Here’s my blog-sized review of Jonah Goldberg’s 14-page review of Thomas Piketty’s 600-page review of capitalism: Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

If you follow Goldberg, you know that he has a class clown’s delivery furtively driven by an enormous brain that’s packed tighter than a Whole Foods recycling bin. His talent is in making historically and philosophically intractable topics enjoyable.

In his review of Piketty, Goldberg covers a century and a half of economic and social philosophy, provides handy data points and counter-arguments to progressivism’s latest income inequality meme, tosses in a smattering of current cultural references, adds a dose of cynicism, and presents a thorough takedown of the notion that punishing wealth will do anything to decrease income equality or, more importantly, to raise living standards or happiness across the board.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got since I can add nothing of value to the review except to say you should read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Even things forbidden will be compulsory

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips, Colorado baker

The state of Colorado has put out a welcome mat for recreational marijuana use but is decidedly cool to private business owners who want to act on their faith as they conduct business. Last week, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered a bakery owner to make wedding cakes for same-sex marriages and to “submit quarterly reports for two years that show how he has worked to change discriminatory practices by altering company policies and training employees” and “disclose the names of any clients who are turned away.”

One irony of this is that Colorado law, approved by voters in 2006, provides that the state will not recognize same-sex marriages. So, what the state is forbidden to do, private business owners are required to do.

It would be well to remember this in the debates over discrimination laws in Utah. It’s clear that even having a law protecting marriage as the union of a husband and wife would not necessarily prevent these kinds of results here. A law protecting individual religious expression will be necessary, period, however Utah defines marriage.

Detroit asks: Who is John Galt?

A woman reads "Atlas Shrugged." (Photo: Seth Tisue)

A woman reads “Atlas Shrugged.” (Photo: Seth Tisue)

Detroit once had the highest per-capita income of any city in the world. Yet today it stands bankrupt and abandoned. What happened to the once-great city? While there were many factors in its decline, some of the major influences are ripped straight from the pages of Ayn Rand’s seminal novel, Atlas Shrugged.

In the book, Rand paints a picture of an economy where some people use their talents and hard work to produce valuable goods and services, thereby enriching themselves and the economy as a whole, while others use the political system to eliminate competition, enriching themselves at the expense of the economy as a whole.

The protagonist in Rand’s story, John Galt, foresees the rise and inevitable collapse of the “Takers” group and decides to speed up the process by convincing the “Producers” to abandon the world so that there would be nothing left from which to mooch. The phrase “Going Galt” has entered the modern lexicon as the term for when government manipulation of free enterprise drives out productivity and restricts economic growth.

Click here to read more about Detroit’s decline, and many other topics, at Utah Citizen Network.

Fast food strike = economic ignorance

MoneypileSometimes I just have to marvel at the total lack of common sense and disregard for basic economic principles often shown by people in the grievance industry when they throw their little hissy fits. The latest example was the union-organized nationwide strike at fast food restaurants around the country.

It’s basic economics, and also just common sense, that if you increase the price of something people will buy less of it. That applies to labor as much as it does to, oh, I don’t know, let’s say oranges. Except that since most oranges are interchangeable, the decreased sales that inevitably follow a price increase applies to all of them equally. Not so with the minimum wage. People at the lower end of the wage scale are predominantly young, less educated, unskilled, and minority. If you arbitrarily raise the cost of hiring them, it’s just simple logic that fewer will be hired, since not all of them can add as much value to a product or service as the minimum wage that’s set. Or, someone or something else can be substituted for their labor at a lower cost than the minimum wage.

Low-skill jobs are especially susceptible to being replaced by technology or outsourcing. If a fast food restaurant can take orders at a rate of pennies per order from a self-serve touch screen versus dollars per order from a young and/or low-skilled employee, which option is better for the restaurant and for the consumers who ultimately pay the bill? The question answers itself.

So how does that translate into real people with real challenges?

Read more

Dwight Howard, the Lakers, the Rockets and state tax policy

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (Licensed AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (Licensed AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Wall Street Journal highlights yet another example of how state policy (in this case, tax policy) has real implications. Los Angeles Laker big man Dwight Howard is the NBA’s most prominent free agent this off season and is being courted by five teams, with most prognosticators narrowing that list down to the Houston Rockets and the Lakers.

While Howard can certainly find pros and cons for joining each team, one significant factor could be each state’s tax policy. Texas has no state income tax; California’s is tops in the country. Also, cost of living is second-lowest in Texas and fourth-highest in California.

How does this all shake out for Howard’s bottom line? Even considering NBA labor agreements which allow the Lakers to offer $117 million over five years but limits the Rockets to $88 million over four years, Howard is better off financially heading to the Lone Star State. A lot better off. Like $8 million better off. From Harry Graver’s Wall Street Journal article:

[A]s Tony Nitti has noted in Forbes, this picture looks a lot different once the tax man cometh: “Howard would pay nearly $12 million in California tax over the four years if he signs with the Lakers, but only $600,000 in state tax should he sign with Houston. This means that a four-year deal with Houston would actually yield an additional $8 million in after-tax income.”

While Utah’s business policies are lacking in some areas (see yesterday’s blog post), Utahns are fortunate to live in a state with overall sane personal and business income tax rates and policies. Now if the Jazz could only find a premiere center looking to leave a high-tax state for a low-tax state….

Spending $24,696 per minute: The 2013-14 Utah State Budget

Spending Clock

In 41 hours, the Utah state spending has already burned through nearly $61 million of the state budget.

With the dawning of Utah’s new fiscal year, we’ve reset our state spending clock to show you, real time, how quickly the state spends our tax dollars. We understand governments have a legitimate and vital role to play in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. And we also understand the inherent and insidious “spending bias” created by the very nature of our political system.

That system is built to collect tax dollars from taxpayers to “solve” apparent “needs” in the service of the common good. The desires that drive this system are human. Legislators perceive a public need and determine resources to try to solve that need. The issue, of course, is that those resources aren’t created by government. They are created by we, the people. Those resources are otherwise sacred.

What elected officials do with these resources comes, rightly so, with increased scrutiny.

The idea of civil society within a democratic republic is that government provides an ordered framework for a free society to thrive and flourish, and lets the people voluntarily do what they do best: deliver the highest quality of life ever known to mankind. This is a very symbiotic relationship. Unfortunately, governments can turn toxic, hurting their citizens through excessive regulations, overly burdensome taxes, market manipulation, cronyism, preferential tax breaks and government competition with private enterprise. Read more