Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

November 29, 2005

Workers Price-Gouging Employers in New Orleans

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:54 pm

Dave Gallagher reports on the Ludwig von Mises blog on an article (no longer online) that appeared in the Arizona Republic:

BATON ROUGE, La. – Burger King is offering a $6,000 signing bonus to anyone who agrees to work for a year at one of its New Orleans outlets. Rally’s, a local restaurant chain, has nearly doubled its pay for new employees to $10 an hour…

On any given day, contractors and business owners pass out flyers in downtown New Orleans promising $17 to $20 an hour, plus benefits, for people willing to swing a sledgehammer or cart away stinking debris from homes and businesses devastated by Hurricane Katrina …

“I’d say I’m paying two to three times as much as I would in normal circumstances,” said Iggie Perrin, the president of Southern Electronics, a supplier in New Orleans, who has offered as much as $30 an hour when seeking salvage workers on Canal Street…

“This region is going to be going through a huge boom for the next three to five years rebuilding the coast,” Bollinger said. “That’s very good news for those who want work and really worrisome news for employers who have to compete with everyone else for labor.”…

For Bollinger, welders are just one of his labor headaches. His company pays welders $16 to $17 an hour. “When Sheetrock layers start paying $25 an hour,” he said, “I’m either going to match it or I’m out of luck….”

The right way to think about this is: When everyone evacuates and a substantial percentage of houses are damaged too much to be lived in, the labor supply decreases because people aren’t there, and the labor demand (for construction jobs at least) increase because there’s so much to rebuild. Both of these push the price of labor up, so employers have to pay more.

The wrong way to look at this: The employees are “price gouging” — taking advantage of the disaster to raise prices, even though their costs of working (the amount of time and muscle power they have to use) has stayed the same.

When gas stations do this, it’s illegal and the gas station owner is arrested — even if in that particular case his costs actually did go up. But when workers do it, everyone celebrates.

Why is it that employers have to pay these higher wages, but get arrested if they raise prices?

Bloggers Save Lives

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:44 pm

A couple of bloggers wound up saving not one, but two lives — based on a comment left on a military blog, and an amazing “coincidence.”

Why do people have abortions?

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:42 pm

Well, let’s ask. But first, let’s ask why people perform abortions. (Actually, the Los Angeles Times asked for us.)

[Dr. William F.] Harrison opened an obstetrics and gynecology practice, but after the Supreme Court established abortion as a constitutional right in 1973, he decided to take on an additional specialty. Now 70, Harrison estimates he’s terminated at least 20,000 pregnancies.

He calls himself an “abortionist” and says, “I am destroying life.”

In the years since, Harrison has become more outspoken.

But he also feels he’s giving life: He calls his patients “born again.”

“When you end what the woman considers a disastrous pregnancy, she has literally been given her life back,” he says.

Note the religious imagery here — “born again.” Now I’ve heard some right-wing commentators describe abortion as a “sacrament” of the left-wingers, but hearing it in such terms from an abortionist is a new one to me. Maybe it really is a sacrament of leftism.

But I digress. Let’s see from one of Dr. Harrison’s patients what it means to “literally” be given her life back:

His first patient of the day, Sarah, 23, says it never occurred to her to use birth control, though she has been sexually active for six years. When she became pregnant this fall, Sarah, who works in real estate, was in the midst of planning her wedding. “I don’t think my dress would have fit with a baby in there,” she says.

Well now, at least we know what the stakes are now.

ADDENDUM (12/5/05):

I should have pointed out that the article is a “puff piece” — it seems obviously intended to portray Dr. Harrison and his career, if not his patients as well, in a positive light. If you read the entire story, the context of the paragraph above makes it clear that “Sarah” is meant to be portrayed in a sympathetic light, without any irony. It is as if to say anyone who would oppose Sarah’s right to an abortion is just a killjoy out to ruin her dream wedding.


Filed under: — Different River @ 2:28 pm

I’ve been remiss lately in posting links to “blog carnivals,” including some -but-not-all of which link here. Mea culpa! To find good stuff to read, consider these:

  • Carnival of Healing — articles about wellness and health.
  • Carnival of the Clueless — “where bloggers highlight the stupidity of various loons, goons, poltroons, dirty necked galoots and the odd idiotarian whose behavior marks them for entry into the blog slaughterhouse.”
  • Carnival Of Liberty — “blogging and thinking about liberty and freedom.”
  • Carnival Of Classiness — “a weekly roundup of 15 blog posts deemed classy by the carnival organizer. The criteria for submissions: incisive original analysis, quirky topics nobody else is covering, fantastic graphics, or other posts that took a lot of work.”
  • Virginia Blog Carnival – articles about Virginia, and by bloggers in Virginia.
  • Grand Rounds (last week, and today) Medical and health-related articles, now promoted by Medscape.
  • Carnival of the Capitalists — posts on economics, business, regulation, etc.

UPDATE (11/30/05 1140am):

In Memoriam, Stan Berenstain

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:03 pm

Papa Bear-enstain — that is, Stan Berenstain, the co-creator of the “The Berenstain Bears,” has passed away.

Urban Legends About the Iraq War

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:23 am

In my humble opinion, everyone should read this.

Iraqis Against U.S. Withdrawal

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:09 am

“Anti-war” activists in the U.S. repeatedly claim that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq because we have no right to “impose” our will on the Iraqi people. They should, perhaps, consider that they have no such right either — and that a U.S. withdrawal is opposed by the vast majority of Iraqis.

Here’s what Joe Lieberman — a Democratic Senator — has to say today:

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood–unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is progress.

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

In the face of terrorist threats and escalating violence, eight million Iraqis voted for their interim national government in January, almost 10 million participated in the referendum on their new constitution in October, and even more than that are expected to vote in the elections for a full-term government on Dec. 15. Every time the 27 million Iraqis have been given the chance since Saddam was overthrown, they have voted for self-government and hope over the violence and hatred the 10,000 terrorists offer them. Most encouraging has been the behavior of the Sunni community, which, when disappointed by the proposed constitution, registered to vote and went to the polls instead of taking up arms and going to the streets. Last week, I was thrilled to see a vigorous political campaign, and a large number of independent television stations and newspapers covering it.

None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.

The leaders of Iraq’s duly elected government understand this, and they asked me for reassurance about America’s commitment. The question is whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this. I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November’s elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.

Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America’s bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.

Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration’s recent use of the banner “clear, hold and build” accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.

I cannot say enough about the U.S. Army and Marines who are carrying most of the fight for us in Iraq. They are courageous, smart, effective, innovative, very honorable and very proud. After a Thanksgiving meal with a great group of Marines at Camp Fallujah in western Iraq, I asked their commander whether the morale of his troops had been hurt by the growing public dissent in America over the war in Iraq. His answer was insightful, instructive and inspirational: “I would guess that if the opposition and division at home go on a lot longer and get a lot deeper it might have some effect, but, Senator, my Marines are motivated by their devotion to each other and the cause, not by political debates.”

Some might object to Senator Lieberman’s comments on the grounds that despite being a Democrat, he supported the war, and not just in a “voted for it before I voted against it” fashion. However, Lieberman also ran for President in 2004 when Bush was the incumbent, and thus can hardly be considered a shill for the current administration.

Everyone who opposes the American presence in Iraq needs to take a serious look inside themselves and ask, “Whose benefit do I seek?” If you seek to benefit the peaceful citizens of Iraq and not the terrorists who seek to murder Iraqis and Americans alike, then you need to seriously re-think your position. If you seek the benefit of terrorists bent on murdering innocents, both Muslim and “infidel,” Iraqi and American and otherwise, in pursuit of jihad — then go right ahead and support an American withdrawal from Iraq.

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

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