Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How the green movement makes war on jobs and the poorest Americans

This article by Stephen Moore from Investors Business Daily is important, because it shows that there is a cost to environmentalist advocacy.

Excerpt:

Last month we saw firsthand one impact of Big Green on our economy with the White House announcement that the Keystone XL pipeline won’t be built for at least six more months.

Ten thousand blue collar jobs, almost all paying more than $50,000 a year, down the drain.

It’s a project that polls show almost all Americans want, except for the deep-pocketed green elite in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Then the Los Angeles Times recently warned that electricity prices could be driven upward in California and other states due in part to renewable energy mandates that cause electric power shortages and spike prices paid by homeowners.

Meanwhile, around the country, from Seattle to Bangor, Maine, property owners are locked into fights with green groups preventing people from building on their land in responsible and productive ways.

Out West, the Endangered Species Act has become an Endanger the Oil and Gas Industry Act, as energy companies confront higher regulatory hurdles and bans on development on potentially tens of millions of acres.

Whole communities that depend on natural resource development are being wiped out.

Big Green is already fast at work wiping out America’s coal industry, with entire mining towns nearly shut down in states like Kentucky and West Virginia, thanks to the left’s war on coal. These are small towns where the median household income is often less than $40,000 a year. Liberals used to pretend to care about these people.

[...]In fact, the environmental movement’s entire agenda — stop fracking, stop coal development, stop pipelines, stop nuclear energy, stop drilling on federal lands, require expensive “renewable energy,” enact cap-and-trade schemes, impose carbon taxes, and on and on — victimize poor and middle-class Americans the most. Rich donors to the Sierra Club get hardly a scratch from these policies to save the planet.

If you ask most Americans whether they are more worried about global warming or having a job, they’ll say having a job is more important. Paying less for electricity is more important. Paying less for gas for their car is more important. The only people who don’t care are the rich. But not just any rich – the Hollywood rich. The people who have no idea how the economy works. If only young people and the middle class could realize what the real price tag is for all this fine environmentalist rhetoric. Maybe we should be telling them how environmental policies affect their day-to-day lives.

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Obamacare in action: Denny’s to charge 5% surcharge and cut employee hours

Story here from the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

President Obama’s election victory ensured his Affordable Care Act would remain the centerpiece of his first term in power – but that has left some business owners baulking at the extra cost Obamcare will bring.

Florida based restaurant boss John Metz, who runs approximately 40 Denny’s and owns the Hurricane Grill & Wings franchise has decided to offset that by adding a five percent surcharge to customers’ bills and will reduce his employees’ hours.

With Obamacare due to be fully implemented in January 2014, Metz has justified his move by claiming it is ‘the only alternative. I’ve got to pass on the cost to the customer.’

The fast-food business owner is set to hold meetings at his restaurants in December where he will tell employees, ‘that because of Obamacare, we are going to be cutting front-of-the-house employees to under 30 hours, effective immediately.’

I think it’s a terrible thing. It’s ridiculous that the maximum hours we can give people is 28 hours a week instead of 40,’ said Metz to the Huffington Post.

‘It’s going to force my employees to go out and get a second job.’

Obamacare requires businesses or franchises with more than 50 workers must offer an approved insurance plan or pay a penalty of $2,000 for each full-time worker over 30 workers.

The program mandates that only employees working more than 30 hours a week are covered under their employers health insurance plan, chains like Olive Garden and Red Lobster are already considering reduced worker hours.

‘Obviously, I’d love to cover all our employees under that insurance,’ said Metz.

‘But to pay $5,000 per employee would cost us $175,000 per restaurant and unfortunately, most of our restaurants don’t make $175,000 a year. I can’t afford it.’

Claiming that he is not anti-insurance Metz has said that he understands the problems this will cause for his employees.

Several other restaurants including Papa John’s, Apple Metro and Jimmy John’s have announced plans to skirt Obamacare by reducing employees hours to make them part-time.

[...]Earlier this week Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter told shareholders in a conference call this week that Obamacare would cost the company 11 to 14 cents per pizza, a cost that would be passed on to customers.

My hope is that many of the people who voted for Obama will face these higher prices. But they are probably too stupid to connect cause to effect. After all, you don’t learn about economics by watching “Dancing with the Stars” and MTV. My big fear is that after Obama inflates the gas prices with his energy regulations carbon taxes, the insurance prices with his regulations and taxes, and so on, that the people will turn against business and demand communism. I pray that it doesn’t go that far, but many Americans are so bad at understanding economics these days.

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Papa John pizza CEO: cuts to employee hours likely, because of Obamacare

Fox News reports. (H/T Dad)

Excerpt:

The CEO of popular pizza chain Papa John’s says his employees may face reduced hours and he expects his business costs to rise because President Obama’s re-election most likely insures the president’s health care reform law will be implemented in full.

NaplesNews.com reports John Schnatter made the remarks to a small group at Edison State College’s Collier County campus the day after the election.

Schnatter, who supported Mitt Romney in the election, said all Americans having health insurance under ObamaCare is a good, but estimates the change will cost Papa John’s $5 million to $8 million annually.

Schnatter estimated that these rising costs could adversely affect his workers. Since only full-time employees working 30 hours or more must be covered under the new law, he said he expects franchise owners will be forced to cut employees’ hours because they can’t afford the costs of health insurance plans.

“That’s probably what’s going to happen,” he said according to NaplesNews.com. “It’s common sense. That’s what I call lose-lose.”

The comments were not Schnatter’s first statements on ObamaCare. He made headlines in August for telling shareholders the law may lead to increases in the price of his pizza.

In addition, the Applebee’s family restaurant chain is under public attack, including the threat of boycotts after New York-area franchisee Zane Tankel told Fox Business Network that cost increases related to implementing ObamaCare might result in no expansion or additional hiring. Critics appear to have interpreted Tankel’s comments to mean he will layoff customers as a result of ObamaCare.

It’s too bad that Obama’s policies will hurt people who want to work for a living, but it’s a hard lesson that we all need to learn: socialism means that we have higher unemployment, less take home pay, lower quality goods, and higher prices. It means having less prosperity and less liberty. And we voted for it.

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Why social conservatives should support free market capitalism

The free enterprise system should not be adopted simply because it is the best system for creating wealth. The best reason to support free market capitalism is a moral reason. Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, and a Christian, describes the moral argument for free market capitalism.

Excerpt:

It might seem that the best case for free enterprise is the material one. Free enterprise lets people make more money, buy more and nicer stuff, and have a greater degree of comfort. The freer our economy is, the more competitive the US economy is vis-à-vis the rest of the world. And so on.

But these aren’t our best arguments. There is another reason, a transcendent reason, for which free enterprise matters most—and this is the case we all must be able to make today.

We all learned early on in school that the Declaration of Independence claimed for each of us the unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Note that the founders didn’t assert a right to be happy; such is the domain of tinpots and crackpots, of 1984’s “Ministry of Plenty” and Josef Stalin’s aggrandizing self-description as the Soviet Union’s “Constructor of Happiness.” So what, in practice, does this right to pursue happiness mean?

It means the right to define and earn our happiness through our ideas, hard work, and gumption, to earn our success by creating value honestly, in our own lives and in the lives of others. It doesn’t mean the pursuit of a big lottery win or an inheritance. Those bring money, but not happiness. And a mountain of evidence shows that after a fairly low threshold, more money doesn’t make us happier. The best case for free enterprise has nothing at all to do with money or material goods or wealth. Those are just icing on the cake. We must stop talking about free enterprise as just an engine of wealth creation. It’s much more than that.

In short, the secret to the pursuit of happiness is earning our own success; creating value with our lives and in the lives of others. This earned success is the fruit of hard work and just rewards in a system built on merit. Only in a free enterprise system is effort and innovation rewarded over connections and predation. (And this means that we have to draw a distinction between free enterprise, which is based on opportunity and competition between ideas, and corporate cronyism, which is just another form of statism masquerading as free enterprise.)

Here are 3 reasons why I think that social conservatives should support free market capitalism.

1) Right to work

It’s very important for Christians to have an economic system in place that allows them to work without having to promote anti-Christians ideas. But when government gets too big, what happens is that Christians are no longer free to take any job they want, and still keep a clear conscience. In some states, you have to join a union which uses your union dues to elect Democrats, who very often are liberal on social issues. Or, you have big government forcing Christians to perform abortions against their consciences. Or, you have big government forcing Christian organizations to provide health insurance plans that cover abortions and contraceptives. That’s why Christians need to vote against big government regulations on employment – we need the freedom to work at a job that does not violate our consciences.

2) Right to earn

It’s very important for Christians to keep what they earn so that they have the maximum amount of money to make decisions that make sense for them, according to their consciences. Take the example of day care and education. The big government statist is constantly trying to to create more and more government-run day care and public schools. Why? They want to take money away from families so that they cannot afford individualized private and parochial schools, and lump them all into government run schools that are more “equal”. The problem is that this is bad for Christians who want more oversight into what their children learn. For example, what sense does it make for a Christian man to pay for day care and public schools when he marries a teacher who becomes a stay at home homeschooling mother for his children? He has to pay for day care and public schools he will never use, and it eats into the money he has to afford a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. Christians should oppose a day care and education system run by a secular leftist government. They will never reflect the values of Christian parents.

3) Right to spend

It’s very important for Christians to have the freedom to purchase products and services that make sense in their worldview. Take the example of health care. Secular leftists would love to force private medical insurance companies to cover things like abortion and contraception as health care. In some states, these things are specified as mandatory for every health care plan. That means that Christians who purchase health care are being forced to pay for services like abortion which they will never use themselves. This is nothing more than the redistribution of wealth in order to lower the cost of abortions for people, in order to encourage them to be sexually active before they are able to accommodate children. Christians need to oppose this – we do not want to have to pay for things that go against our consciences.

So, in addition to the reasons that Brooks mentioned (the happiness of earning your own way and serving others), it’s important for Christians to understand how free market capitalism fits into their plans. We do not want to support big government, especially when big government so often is not compatible with Judeo-Christian values. In the free market, it is much harder for ALL the businesses to conspire together to block Christians from working, earning and spending according to their consciences. We must resist top-down control of the free market so that we have the liberty to do what we ought to do in order to be virtuous.

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Should teachers be paid more money?

From the American Enterprise Institute.

Excerpt:

Mark Perry posts regarding the new AEI Education Outlook by University of Missouri economist Cory Koedel which shows Education to be by far the easiest course of study in most colleges. Mark finds additional evidence from Cornell University to back up Koedel’s claim. Education majors enter college with lower SAT scores than students majoring in other fields but leave college with higher GPAs.

[...]But, as a forthcoming paper that I have co-authored with Jason Richwine will show, the low standards applied in education degrees also complicate the task of determining whether public school teachers are fairly paid. Teachers claim to be underpaid because they receive lower average salaries than private sector workers with similar levels of education. (Our paper shows that, even if this is true, they more than make up the gap through generous benefits, but we’ll ignore that for now.) But note that the control variable here is the level of education — meaning, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and so on — and not the quality of education nor, more importantly, the ability or productivity of the worker.

[...]Put bluntly, public school teachers enter college with below-average SAT scores, major in the easiest undergraduate course of study, take Master’s degrees in education that have no appreciable impact on teaching quality, and then wonder why they’re not as well paid as someone who got a Master’s in chemical engineering. They shouldn’t.

Education is what you study when you can’t get into anything else, and you don’t learn anything in it. What we really need is to hire teachers with real degrees in math, science and business. There should not even be an education MAJOR.

Here’s a fun story about the Chicago Teacher Union (CTU).

Excerpt:

Like many Illinois citizens, the CTU has seen reports that three out of four state high school graduates are not ready for college.  And the union’s response has been, well … the CTU hasn’t really said anything about it.

You see, the fact that students are leaving Illinois’ K-12 public education system totally unprepared for college, the workplace or life in general – that’s not really the CTU’s thing.

Instead, the union is “upset” and feeling very “disrespected” because the Chicago Board of Education doesn’t have the money to pay CTU members the four percent pay raise they were promised in their contract.

The union is also steaming over the fact that more than 1,500 teachers have been laid off, some of which have been placed on a “secret” do-not-hire list, CTU President Karen Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Pay, benefits, working conditions – these are the things that the teachers unions are willing to strike over. If only 23 percent of Illinois high school grads pass a college-readiness test, well, what do you expect them to do about it? Lewis is quick to point out that union teachers are just simple “workers,” doing the best they can with the kids they are given. (It’s mostly the parents’ fault, anyway.)

Sure, some trouble making education reformers may suggest that kids are doing badly on the tests because their school days have been frittered away on silly social justice lessons, but the fact that the CTU is being stiffed on its four percent pay raise only underscores the need for such a curriculum.

Teachers don’t like it when you expect them to earn their salaries. They just go on strike.

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