Archive for the For Free Trade Category
So, we purchased a copy of the Disney film Frozen. Meh.
Okay, in addition to the above concise and thoroughly accurate review, I feel I should add that the songs were bland and/or annoying, the “plot twist” was predictable from the first scene, the stock villains were unbelievable, and the comic relief was mediocre. Two things especially bothered me. Number one was a missed opportunity to make the bad guy complex. Spoilers follow, of course. Hans, the prince, pretends to be in love with Anna so that he can become king of Arandelle. When he does his Face-Heel turn, it feels really forced and awkward. It would have been much better, in my opinion, to have him sort of sanguine about Elsa until she accidentally hurts Anna, and subsequently conceive of the idea that Elsa needs to die. In other words, he didn’t have to be a secret jerk with an evil plan to be horribly wrong and villainous. It was too unbelievable a change. An alternative explanation for his turning into a bad guy could have been that Elsa shot him in the heart with an ice beam, and it made his heart go cold. Too obvious? Well, at least it would have made sense.
The other thing that bugged me was the treatment of the Duke of Weseltown. He’s concerned with trade and business and money, so he’s automatically a ridiculous figure and something of a bad guy, amirite? In the end, Queen Elsa declares that all trade with Weseltown is henceforth cut off. For no reason, other than that he was a ridiculous figure who reached the absolutely correct conclusion that Elsa was dangerous, and that something should be done about her–even, perhaps, something drastic. But we’re supposed to sympathise with Elsa, because she’s pretty, and scorn the Duke because he’s ridiculous, and only cares about money, I guess. The thing that really bothers me about this aspect of the film is that Elsa hasn’t really punished the Duke at all; he can just get new trading partners, or secretly trade with Arendelle through some intermediary country, or commence to smuggling. It is Elsa’s people who really suffer because of her capriciousness. They have been cut off from a country that offered goods and services that they presumably found valuable. Even if they could switch trading partners, the limitation of competition means that the Arandellians must endure higher prices and lower quality. Their lives will be worse off going forward, with lower real incomes and a generally lower standard of living. Seriously, even left-wing economists see the value of trade. Thanks a lot, Elsa, you ninny.
One other thing; Kristoff is declared the “Royal Deliverer of Ice” as some sort of reward or something. Is this a cruel joke? The queen freaking shoots ice out her hands.
Is there anything good about the film? Yes. The overall story arc is sort of an analogy of someone escaping Legalism into the equally oppressive state of Licentiousness, only to discover grace by the sacrifice of someone else–someone else to whom the protagonist had caused severe harm. Kind of surprising, really. One of the reasons some other reviewer declared that this might be the most Christian of the Disney films.
Also, Hans didn’t die by falling off a cliff. No one died, except the parents, now that I think about it. The animation was pretty good–the effects of Elsa shooting ice beams was cool and stuff.
But getting back to the trade, thing…what’s that? Oh, all right; I’ll let it go…
Yeah, they’re a bunch of liberals, but they focus on interesting stories more often than not. Also, I learn about people and phenomena that aren’t touched on in the usual talk radio sphere. Such as new artists:
For the record, I do not find the arguments for global warming persuasive, given the actual, observed evidence. I find the argument that “global climate change is man-caused” to be pseudoscientific flapdoodle. But I would welcome global warming, if it’s occurring; increased arable land, higher production of food crops. There would be definite advantages that would, in my view, outweigh any disadvantages.
This morning, on NPR, they were interviewing a “Republican Millionaire”, who was arguing for a minimum wage of $12.00 an hour in California. His reasoning was that people will be willing to take a job for $12.00 an hour that they wouldn’t take at a lower wage rate, and that by taking the job, these people will move off the welfare rolls, thus saving taxpayers money! Great idea! Except for the fact that it’s moronic!
First of all, taxpayers are consumers, too, so an increase in the price of goods and services to cover the government-mandated increase in wage rates is a form of tax–on the same group of people that the “Republican Millionaire” claims his proposal would benefit.
Second of all, basic economics tells us that raising the price of some good or service lowers the demand for that good or service. The “Republican Millionaire” made the oft-argued statement that “studies” (what studies? when were they conducted? were the conclusions really what minimum-wage proponents claim?) have shown that raising the minimum wage doesn’t really decrease the available number of jobs. He states that California raised the minimum wage by 35¢ and that the unemployment rate actually went down. I think he said this was in 1995. Since he didn’t qualify that statement, I infer that he is arguing that the price for labor and the demand for labor move in tandem, rather than being inversely related, as is commonly thought. To reiterate, he implies (or, at least, allows the listener to infer) that if the price of labor rises, then the demand for labor also rises, and that if the price for labor falls, the demand for labor falls. He is, of course, incorrect. He admitted during the interview that he has not ever taken an economics course, so maybe he can be excused for being ignorant of the relationships among price, demand, and supply.
I have no reason to doubt (and I have little incentive to research the question) that California did raise the minimum wage, and that subsequently the unemployment rate fell. So, why would this situation occur if the price and demand of labor is inversely related? The most likely answer is that the minimum wage hike did not push the wage above the market rate. That is, if the “general market rate” for labor were higher than the minimum wage, all other things being equal, then one would not expect to see the unemployement rate affected. I put “general market rate” in quotes because, in the end, not all labor is the same. You can’t fire your accountant and hire a burger flipper to do your taxes and expect to get the same quality labor. So, a hike in the minimum wage would not affect all types of labor equally.
What it would do is price certain low-skilled laborers out of the market. If an employer is considering hiring a non-skilled worker and a skilled worker, and he must pay the same regardless of which he hires, then he has little incentive to hire the non-skilled worker. The government has effectively denied the non-skilled worker the use of his competitive advantage–underbidding his skilled rival for the job. In addition, one could expect that skilled workers would be willing to bid for a lower-stress job that pays the same or just a little less than his current job.
Another thing of which the “Republican Millionaire” seems to be ignorant is that there are players at the margin. He talked at some length about how Wal-Mart would only need to raise its prices by 1% to cover the minimum wage hike he proposes. However, he does not speak of (and may not even have thought of) the smaller firms that would not be able to absorb the wage hike. The firms, like the low-skilled worker, must often compete by charging lower prices for their goods or services. In order to charge lower prices, they must maintain lower costs. An increase in the cost of labor will likely push the firms operating with thin profit margins into bankruptcy. It will also induce the owners of some firms that remain profitable to close shop, if the owners feel they could make better use of their time and resources. The point is that competition will decrease, and when competition decreases, prices rise and the quality of goods and services fall. A minimum wage is actually a boon to the larger firms, since it eliminates the competition provided by smaller firms.
Now, I am aware that President Obama is urging Congress to increase the minimum wage, while he also is promising to use an Executive Order to compel firms that bid on government contracts to pay a minimum wage of $10.10. A national minimum wage would have the same effect, of course; just on a national scale.
In the end, a minimum wage is a bad idea. It is an unwarranted interference in the lives of people, because it prevents them from making arrangements that they feel is in their best interests. It misallocates resources by incentivizing firms and individuals to allocate labor to less productive uses. It is a boon to larger firms because it eliminates competition. It is anti-humanity, because it pushes people out of the workforce and makes them dependent on government largesse. It increases the cost of goods and services, even if the increase may seem negligible. It is a bad idea.
Okay, that title was a little misleading, I’m afraid. This will make up for it:
Ever played the game “The Oregon Trail”? Ever wonder what the songs were at the various stopping points/river crossings?
Here you go. (Scroll down to the section entitled “Production Credits”)
“MELODIES AT LANDMARKS, FORTS OR RIVER CROSSINGS; Theme for the Oregon Trail Composed by: Lon Koenig, Larry Phenow; Independence, MO “Yankee Doodle”; Kansas River Crossing “I Gave My Love a Cherry”; Big Blue River Crossing “Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be?”; Fort Kearney “The Campbells are Coming”; Chimney Rock “Auld Lang Syne” Sung by: Brad Shrag, Mark Durkin, Larry Phenow; Fort Laramie “Billy Boy”; Independence Rock “Wayfarin’ Stranger” Sung by: Larry Phenow; South Pass “Believe Me, Of All Those Endearing Young Charms”; Fort Bridger “Where Has My Laddie Gone?”; Green River Crossing “All Through The Night”; Soda Springs “Charlie is My Darling”; Fort Hall “Skip to My Lou” Sung by: Jan Delozier; Snake River Crossing “Shenandoah” Sung by: Larry Phenow; Fort Boise “On Top Of Old Smokey” Sung by: Jan Delozier; Blue Mountains “Long, Long Ago” Sung by: Jan Delozier; Fort Walla Walla “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton”; The Dalles “Jimmy Crack Corn”; Willamette Valley “Viva la Companie” Led by: Brad Schrag and Larry Phenow with voices by MECC staff “