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1.  What can be better for a union than a minimum wage increase that prices low skilled competition out of labor markets?

The answer is obvious. It’s a minimum wage increase that prices competition out of the market while exempting companies with a unionized work force.

This article by Partrice Lee at the Independent Women’s Forum points out how, in many of the cities where unions are vociferously supporting a $15 minimum wage, those same unions are simultaneously negotiating exemptions for workers who are subject to a union contract. Of course this creates an incentive for non-unionized companies to accept unionization. If you want to avoid the high minimum wage, go union. According to Lee:

In many major cities where the minimum wage has been hiked, local unions have strategically negotiated behind closed doors through last-minute lobbying efforts to secure carve-outs or waivers for their members from the higher wage laws as a part of a collective-bargaining agreement. Understandably, business groups are ticked off.

San Francisco ($15.00 per hours by 2018), Chicago ($13.00 by 2019), San Jose ($10.30 currently), and Washington, D.C. ($11.50 by 2016) are cities that have raised their minimum wages above the prevailing federal and state minimums, but secured special exemptions for unionized workers.

Of course this won’t only reduce competition in labor markets (effectively blocking the lowest of low skilled workers from employment completely) and encourage non-unionized businesses that employ lower skilled people like grocery and department stores and restaurants to unionize, but it will also reduce competition among businesses. Low end, inexpensive grocery and retail chains rely on the use of very low skilled workers in order to keep costs, and therefore prices, low. The lower prices make life easier for the poorest among us. These stores compete with stores that are even one or two levels above them in quality and service by offering lower prices which, in part, are made possible by the fact that their work force typically is very low skilled with little work experience. In other words, this is how a Family Dollar, a Dollar General, or a local ethnic grocery store like one of the many Hispanic Tiendas that have sprung up around North Carolina, can compete with a Target or Walmart.  Indeed this is probably why big corporations like Walmart have come out strongly in favor of higher minimum wages. It is a well know fact that high minimum wage laws cut off the bottom rung of the economic ladder for lower skilled workers, but by eliminating competition among businesses that cater to low income consumers they also cut off the bottom rung of the consumer ladder. They reduce the available options in terms of goods and services that very low income people are presented with in the market place.  

2. Obama’s CO2 rules — cruel and regressive

The National Black Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a study attempting to measure the impact of Obama’s new so-called Clean Power Plant regulations on the poor and minorities. Here are some of its findings:

The EPA rules would: 1) Significantly reduce U.S. GDP every year over the next two decades — over $2.3 trillion; 2) Destroy millions of jobs; 3) More than double the cost of power and natural gas to over $1 trillion; 4) Require the average family to pay over $1,225 more for power and gas in 2030 than in 2012. The EPA regulations will increase Hispanic poverty by more than 26% and Black poverty by more than 23%. The energy burdens for Blacks and Hispanics will increase and large numbers of both groups will be forced into energy poverty (Figure AB-1), and Black and Hispanic household incomes will decline by increasing amounts each year (Figure AB-2). There would be increasing job losses: By 2035, cumulative job losses for Blacks will total about 7 million and for Hispanics will total 12 million. Most job losses would occur in the states in which Blacks and Hispanics are most heavily concentrated.

Oh yes, and unless one forgets, all of this to reduce global temperatures by 2/100ths of a degree by the year 2100 relative to what would occur if we did nothing.

3. Ozone Report

The 2015 ozone season began on April 1 and, as I have been doing since this newsletter was started, each week during the ozone season this newsletter will report how many, if any, high ozone days have been experienced throughout the state during the previous week, where they were experienced, and how many have been recorded during the entire season to date. (Note: ground level ozone, which is what we are reporting on, is often called "smog.") According to current EPA standards a region or county experiences a high ozone day if a monitor in that area registers the amount of ozone in the air as 76 parts per billion (ppb) or greater. The official ozone season will end on October 31. All reported data is preliminary and issued by the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, which is part of the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Thus far this season there have been 5 high ozone days recorded on any of the state’s 42 monitors. Three occurred on June 25th and 2 on August 5th.

The table below shows all of the North Carolina’s ozone monitors and the high reading on those monitors for each day of the 7-day period, August 10-August 16.

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