Saturday, July 13, 2019

ANS -- It’s not just paychecks: The surprising society-wide benefits of raising the minimum wage

A good summary of effects of raising the minimum wage.  In case you need it to argue with someone.  

It's not just paychecks: The surprising society-wide benefits of raising the minimum wage

In the kitchen at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London, Conn., in 2016. Food-service workers are among the most likely to be earning the minimum wage. (Stan Godlewski for The Washington Post)
July 8

The central question in the minimum-wage debate has shifted. Where economists once asked, "Will raising the wage floor kill jobs?" they now ask, "Just how transformative could a higher minimum wage be?"

This week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that raising the minimum wage to the $15 level proposed by many Democratic candidates would lift the earnings of 27.3 million workers but lead to 1.3 million lost jobs.

The estimates were released into a research climate which has changed considerably since the CBO last considered the issue in 2014. Notably, a top journal published what many economists regard as the most rigorous analysis yet. It confirms that in recent decades, the minimum wage hasn't destroyed jobs by making workers too expensive.

While the CBO report's headline result still links the minimum wage to job loss, its estimates of those losses range from no significant job loss to 3.7 million job losses. Economic Policy Institute economist Ben Zipperer says the low-job-loss scenario is an acknowledgment that raising the minimum wage hasn't proven to be as dangerous as researchers once feared. But he still found the CBO's median estimate overly pessimistic.

The CBO derived many of its estimates of the labor market response to a higher minimum wage from data in 11 academic studies. Michael Reich, a University of California Berkeley economist who was cited elsewhere in the report, said he was skeptical of this approach, noting the CBO included at least two analyses whose results had been questioned. Their inclusion, he argued, "reveals an unwillingness to recognize the major differences in scientific quality among studies."

Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute, also cited elsewhere in the report, defended the nonpartisan research agency. "CBO did a good job of weighing the evidence and coming to perfectly sensible and reasonable conclusions that reflect the state of knowledge on this issue," Strain said.

The CBO's publication schedule ruled out the inclusion of a new working paper from Reich and his colleague Anna Godoey measuring the local effect of 51 changes in the minimum wage since 2007. Their work was some of the first to look at hikes as large, in magnitude, as those that we'd see if the U.S. adopted a $15 minimum wage.

"We don't find job losses in places where the local impact of existing minimum wage is similar to what we estimate the impact of a $15 federal minimum wage would be, even in low-wage states," Godoey said.

The Berkeley team builds on a tradition of headline-making, mind-changing research dating to the work of David Card, now of Berkeley, and the late Alan Krueger, in the 1990s. Minimum-wage effects are so fiendish to disentangle given available data, prominent MIT economist David Autor said, that they have pushed scholars to pioneer multipleinnovative statistical methods now widely used in economics and related social sciences.

In the most definitive study to date, published this year in the top-rated Quarterly Journal of Economics, UMass Amherst economists Doruk Cengiz and Arindrajit Dube as well as Attila Lindner of University College London and EPI's Zipperer evaluated the local effect of more than 130 minimum-wage increases since 1979 and showed the fall in jobs paying less than the new minimum wage had been fully offset by the jump in new jobs paying just over it.

Autor called it "the most important work on minimum wage effects since Card and Krueger's work" and said that it should win over some skeptics and "shift the weight of consensus."

University of California San Diego economist Jeffrey Clemens, whose work to disentangle the effects of the Great Recession from the effects of raising the minimum wage was published in the Journal of Public Economics and cited by the CBO, cautioned against giving any one study too much weight.

"For the papers that are just getting published now," Clemens said, "the profession and the policymaking community will likely take several years before people feel like they are congealing on a final consensus."

As that consensus congeals, researchers are exploring broader ways in which a higher minimum wage can transform society. We've collected their most notable findings, many of which were cited by the CBO.

Suicides fall. As we first reported in April, raising the minimum wage by 10 percent could reduce suicides by 3.6 percent among adults with a high school degree or less, according to a team which included both Godoey and Reich.

Criminals break the cycle. A 50-cent rise in the minimum-wage reduces the likelihood someone will return to prison within a year by 2.8 percent, according to an analysis of records for almost 6 million offenders released between 2000 and 2014. It was circulated in September 2018 by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The finding should help allay fears that a higher minimum wage will make entry-level employers less willing to hire the recently incarcerated.

Consumer spending rises. All else being equal, raising the minimum wage leads consumers to spend a bit more, especially in areas where the minimum wage affects the most workers, according to an analysis from Boston Fed and MIT economists to be published in the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. In its report, the CBO writes that it expects such effects to dissipate within about five years.

Workers are more productive. In another working paper, researchers tracked 10,000 workers at about 200 department stores and found a $1 increase in the minimum wage led a typical employee to sell about 4.5 percent more per hour. For a worker earning the minimum wage, the increase could be almost 20 percent. "These productivity gains arise mostly during periods of high unemployment where workers are afraid of losing their jobs," said author Decio Coviello, an economist at HEC Montreal.

Wage increases ripple upward. The landmark Quarterly Journal of Economics analysis mentioned above also confirmed findings that a rising minimum wage ripples through the organizational chart, helping workers who earn as much as $3 an hour more than the new minimum wage. About 40 percent of its wage benefits go to workers who aren't directly affected.

Employers do not cut benefits. In a previous working paper, UMass Amherst's Cengiz used artificial intelligence to identify workers most likely to be hit by wage increases and showed that — contrary to popular belief — employers did not reduce benefits such as employer-sponsored health insurance to free up money to cover higher wages.


Poverty rates fall. CBO projects that a $15 minimum wage would lift incomes of Americans living below the poverty line by 5.3 percent or $600 a year (adjusted for inflation) in 2025. As a result, 1.3 million of those people are projected to climb above the poverty line. Godoey and Reich's analysis shows this effect would be consistent with historical patterns.

Job-hopping falls. The CBO reports "a higher minimum wage typically reduces employee turnover." In a 2016 analysis in the Journal of Labor Economics, Dube and Reich, along with T. William Lester of the University of North Carolina, analyzed federal job-switching data to show low-wage workers switch jobs less often after a minimum-wage increase is passed.

Older folks work longer. In an analysis to be published in the journal Industrial and Labor Relations Review, researchers found a higher wage floor was associated with a modest rise in employment of older workers.

Correction: In the report and its appendixes, the CBO addressed nearly all of the downstream effects listed above, including the ripple effect of a minimum-wage hike, as well as its effects on poverty, consumer spending and productivity.

Friday, July 12, 2019

ANS -- High-tide flooding poses big problem for US, California, federal scientists warn

Here's an article about immanent flooding from climate change.  Just because we don't get details in the news....

High-tide flooding poses big problem for US, California, federal scientists warn

July 10, 2019 Updated: July 10, 2019 7:25 p.m.

The nation's coasts were hit with increased tidal flooding over the past year, part of a costly and perilous trend that will only worsen as sea levels continue to rise, federal scientists warned Wednesday.

Surging ocean water was most disruptive along the Atlantic seaboard, where roads, homes and farmland were sometimes frightfully submerged last year. Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Wilmington, N.C.; and several other cities set new records for flooding, the scientists said.

But along the West Coast, where tall cliffs and a deep continental shelf tend to blunt the impact of rising seas, there were problems, too. The most northern and southern parts of California saw significant tidal flooding, as much as 12 days of high water in some spots, according to the scientists. And most of the state is expected to experience even more flooding in the coming year — and far beyond.

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The findings are in a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While the federal government under President Trump has been loath to recognize climate change, government scientists have continued to document its increasing impacts.

With higher seas, which now rise about an inch every six years because of global warming, flooding has moved from a phenomenon that takes place during storms to something that happens along the coast even on cloudless days. A slight boost in wind or ocean currents can send elevated waters spilling across dry, developed land.

The new report finds that coastal communities averaged five days of "sunny day" flooding, or "high tide" flooding, between May of 2018 and April of this year. That ties the record set for the same period ending in 2016 and marks a nearly twofold increase since the same period ending in 2001.

The north Atlantic coast tallied the most days of tidal flooding — a median of 10 days — largely because of nor'easters — fierce East Coast storms — on top of sea level rise. Boston had 19 flood days in the one-year period.

"In essence, the future is already here in terms of high tide impacts," said William Sweet, an oceanographer for NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services and lead author of the report.

In California, tidal flooding was greatest in Humboldt Bay, according to the report. The region in the state's far north experienced 12 flood days over the past year, three times as much as the same period ending in 2001. San Diego, meanwhile, had eight flood days, compared with two during the same period ending in 2001.

San Francisco didn't see any tidal flooding last year, the report said.

NOAA narrowly defines tidal flooding as seawater jumping at least 0.5 meters above the high tide line, as measured by the agency's tide gauges at 98 locations in the United States. At such levels, federal scientists say water is extremely disruptive and potentially dangerous.

In the coming year, San Francisco is projected to experience up to two flood days. El NiƱo conditions alongside sea level rise are expected to drive the slight boost. By midcentury, like most parts of the country, the risk will jump significantly, with the city seeing a median of six to 25 flood days, the report concludes.

Of NOAA's 98 measured locations nationwide, more than 40 are seeing "rapid" increases in the annual rate of high tide flooding, the scientists said. Another 25 areas are trending upward but more gradually.

NOAA's report, titled 2018 State of High Tide Flooding and 2019 Outlook, is intended to help coastal communities brace for the future. It's the agency's fifth such annual release, which relies on its tide gauges, many of which have been collecting data for more than a century.

"We cannot wait to act," said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA's National Ocean Service. "This issue gets only more urgent and more complex with each passing day."

The Bay Area is more prepared for rising tides than many places, but the region still has a long way to go to withstand projections of as much of 2 feet of sea level rise by 2050.

Last year, San Francisco voters approved a $425 million bond to upgrade the seawall along the Embarcadero. In 2016, Bay Area voters agreed to a new parcel tax to raise $500 million for wetland restoration and flood-control projects to help absorb the blow of rising seas.

Estimates, though, suggest the cost of safeguarding the region will run into the tens of billions of dollars. San Francisco Bay, with its 400 miles of shoreline, is lined with homes, airports, marinas and landfills, all of which will likely need protection.

"It's a challenge of enormous magnitude," said Warner Chabot, executive director of the San Francisco Estuary Institute, an organization leading the region's effort for climate adaptation. "The good news is that there is an almost explosion of interest and commitment and activity by regional government agencies and business and resource managers.

"We have a huge task ahead of us," he said.

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @kurtisalexander

ANS -- Do you guys want to hear a fun little story about being a legal immigrant? IDC here it go

Here's a short little piece about why our immigration system needs a full overhaul -- separate from the issue of kids at the border.  It's about how they (we) are trying hard to sabotage our legal immigrants, and just let in the rich ones.  

7 hours ago16 tweets, 3 min read  Read on Twitter
Do you guys want to hear a fun little story about being a legal immigrant?
IDC here it go
To maintain legal status, I must disclose my address to immigration.
At no point in time are they ever in the dark about where any legal or formerly legal immigrant.
So of course when they require me to come in, reasonably it would be at one of their many offices in your state
1 week ago, I was informed I was expected to be at an appointment at my "port of entry"...SEVEN STATES AWAY.
I could delay the appointment ( not recommended) but I couldn't even request a different location
Plane tickets were over $500. Not including the cost of getting to and from the airport.
Driving required hundreds of dollars, days off, food, a solution for housing my dog.
In order to make this appointment, I had to have certain privileges. I needed to have savings enough to cover the unexpected cost, I needed to have a job that would let me take off with such short notice, I would have to be have a car that could make the journey +
I would need to be lucky and privileged.
This time I was. Had they asked this of me 8 months, I would have been unable to make it.
Immigrants who don't make their appointments are ruled against.
Immigrants who delay appointments are ruled against
I fully believe that the intention was for me to miss this appointment. There is a USCIS office 30 mins from me. There are dozens in my state.
I asked the agent checking me in and she smirked and tossed my id and said "you made it though, didn't you?"
Of note, I just spent upwards of $1000 to renew my visa. This came unexpectedly almost right after I spent a good chunk of money.
Had just one thing gone differently for me financially, I would have been FUCKED
When we talk about Black immigrants doing financially "better" than AfAms, this is why the data looks that way:
Black immigrants are deported at 5x our rate of entry. And for things like missing court appointments. The only way many of us stay legal is by having money and luck
Poor Black immigrants get deported or we "hide." We don't answer census questions and we rarely if ever disclose our status.
If I had spent $100 more or blown a tire I would have been very likely denied a right to stay any longer than my current visa.
Yes, I luckily made my appointment but I could have easily missed it. I drove 48 hours for a 15 minute appointment.
What was the point of that if not to add undue hardship and create a pretext to deny my request to stay?
We tell people to immigrate legally and then create near impossible hoops for them to jump through.
If you delay or miss your appointment, any appointment, with USCIS you are regarded as not taking the legal process seriously and it's held against you.
And yet appointments are being intentionally set outside people's states. 
I was lucky. I was incredibly lucky and for that I am grateful.
However, our systems should not work only if the person is lucky
Full of typos because I just got home and am exhausted.
I tried to turn it into a fun experience and spend time with my family and dog since I had to drive SO FAR for 15 mins but I am still hurt about depleting my savings (again) and being kind of certain that was the point

ANS -- On Healthcare, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris Think You’re Stupid

Here's another piece by Benjamin Studebaker.  It's about single-payer healthcare versus the wishy-washy plans candidates want you to think are equivalent.  I am disappointed about this -- I was leaning toward Warren.  But we need real single-payer, for everyone.  Fairly short article.  


Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

On Healthcare, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris Think You're Stupid

by Benjamin Studebaker

Politicians are really good at fooling voters. Voters have jobs and kids and lives to lead. They are too busy to look very closely at things politicians say and do, and increasingly journalists are every bit as overtaxed and unable to do the job in their stead. We saw this during the Democratic debates. The moderators asked the candidates to raise their hands if they supported Medicare-For-All, and most of the candidates obliged. But several of the hand-raisers routinely deploy a rhetorical sleight of hand I call the "Many Paths" trick. It works like this:

  1. Claim to support Medicare-For-All.
  2. Cosponsor or otherwise express public support for several different pieces of healthcare legislation. Ensure that one of the bills is Bernie Sanders' Medicare-For-All bill, but also support one of the Medicare "buy-in" bills, which are permutations of Barack Obama's 2009 public option.
  3. When asked how you would achieve Medicare-For-All, claim that you believe there are "many paths" to it.

A Medicare buy-in bill is really quite different from Sanders' Medicare-For-All plan, because the Sanders bill creates a single payer system in which healthcare is free to the patient at the point of access. We pay tax to support Medicare, and in return Medicare covers everyone regardless of wealth or income. No individual has to worry about being left out of the rain. In stark contrast, the buy-in bills turn Medicare into just another insurance program, albeit one which is publicly run. If you have to pay to access Medicare, it's possible that you might not have enough money to purchase access, and that means low-income citizens can still be denied access to Medicare. Some would continue to do without insurance while others would be stuck on lower quality Medicaid plans.

In short, a "buy-in" bill does not create a universal right to healthcare. It makes Medicare available only to those who can afford to buy-in. So a buy-in bill is not a "path" to Medicare-For-All, it is just a re-run of the "public option". We discussed the other dayhow Pete Buttigieg plays games with this, calling his version of 2009 Obamacare "Medicare For All Who Want It". But Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris play an even more insidious game. On Harris' website, she says:

Medicare for All will eliminate premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

But Harris is also a co-sponsor of Jeff Merkely's legislation, which would enable Americans to "buy-in" to Medicare. What's more, she's even co-sponsored Michael Bennett's bill, which straightforwardly calls for a public option. When asked about the discrepancy, Harris' press secretary said:

Medicare-for-all is the plan that she believes will solve the problem and get all Americans covered. Period…She has co-sponsored other pieces of legislation that she sees as a path to getting us there, but this is the plan she is running on.

See that word? Path. The press secretary frames these other pieces of legislation as paths to Medicare-For-All, when they blatantly do not guarantee Medicare to all.

Elizabeth Warren is even more explicit. Like Harris, she has cosponsored other legislation, including a bill to establish a state public option through Medicaid–not Medicare. At a town hall, Warren said:

When we talk about Medicare for All, there are a lot of different pathways.

She then proceeded to suggest buy-in plans, presenting them as if they were simply another way of achieving single payer:

 Some folks are talking about "Let's start lowering the age. Maybe bring it down to 60, 55, 50″…Some people say "Do it the other way. Let's bring it up, from, uh, everybody under 30 gets covered by Medicare." Others say "Let employers be able to buy into the Medicare plans." Others say "Let's let employees buy into the Medicare plans." For me, what's key is we get everybody at the table on this…I've also co-sponsored other bills including expanding Medicaid as another approach that we use.

Warren tells you what other people are saying but doesn't take a clear stance of her own. Tellingly, despite her habit of attempting to demonstrate seriousness with detailed policy plans, there is no plan for Medicare-For-All on Warren's campaign website. She doesn't even discuss it in broad terms–the issue is totally absent. She has more than two dozen plans on the website and Medicare-For-All features in none of them.

If the next president is going to get Medicare-For-All passed, they are going to need support from congress, and that means they are going to need to put a lot of public pressure on recalcitrant senators. To put together that kind of pressure, they need to prioritise the issue and they need to have a clear, compelling, inspiring plan for implementing Medicare-For-All. Candidates who don't put the issue on their websites or argue that buy-in bills are legitimate "paths" are not going to push hard enough for sufficiently robust reforms. Their support for Medicare-For-All is in name only. They will willingly support Joe Biden's plan to implement the public option if that's the way the winds are blowing. They won't lead the party on healthcare–they will be led by it. For these candidates, one "path" is as good as another because the issue doesn't matter to them. They don't care.

Of course, they'll try to convince you otherwise. Kamala Harris will tell you her sob story about her mother's cancer. You know who else uses personal tragedies to cover up for banal healthcare policy? Joe Biden–who used the death of his wife and daughter to meekly push the public option:

When my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident, my two boys were very badly injured, I couldn't imagine what it would have been like had we not had adequate health care available…We build on Obamacare and make sure everyone has an option."

But at least Joe Biden takes a clear position in favour of remaining within the constraints of Obamacare. Harris and Warren play games. Harris may sound sympathetic when she speaks about her mother, but her communications director has a more flippant attitude behind the scenes, comparing different healthcare plans to varieties of Mexican-American cuisine:

"Wanting" Medicare-For-All isn't good enough. It needs to be demanded and prioritised. Because if we settle for the public option, that means that millions of Americans continue paying exorbitant premiums with no end in sight. The strength and power of a Medicare-For-All, single payer system is that it gives Medicare monopoly power over the patient pool, enabling it to dictate more affordable terms to providers. If everyone is on Medicare, providers cannot hope to earn a living without providing healthcare to Medicare's patients on Medicare's terms. As soon as we move away from this "single" payer and embrace multiple payers, the possibility of ever-escalating costs is reintroduced. Joe Biden's public option isn't a "taco"–it leaves millions of Americans without access to affordable healthcare, and it leaves the rest of us on a highway to premium hell.

There is no excuse for this. Sob stories and "many paths" speeches should not enable presidential candidates to get away with condemning innocent people to death and financial torment. Journalists must learn to recognise the "Many Paths" trick and hold those who engage in it to account.

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