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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 20, 2006

poor steve bainbridge

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:48 pm

Maybe it’s a professor-thing.  Steve Bainbridge is so certain he’s

got an important new perspective on minimum wage laws that he

seems to be blind to reality and particularly allergic to dissent (at

least from me; see below).  Of course, he might just have a grant

proposal or law journal article in the pipeline.


As Prof. B first stated in his post “Drum and the Minimum Wage

(April 11, 2006), and has now expanded upon, in a TCS column

titled “Minimum Behavior” (April 20, 2006), he believes that “the

minimum wage policy debate is one-sided” — proponents and

opponents of higher minimum wages have been focusing only “on

the effect of such a hike on the supply of jobs by employers.”

Steve believes that ““an equally important question” is

“what effect does a minimum wage hike have on the

demand for jobs by potential employees?”

To that insight, Prof. B. adds (as repeated at TCS) that:

“it is critical to recognize that the minimum wage debate

is mainly a debate about how much working teenagers

and twenty-somethings in their first job ought to make.”


[Hallelujah!  Sorta! Although it remains in his original post, Steve

has, to his credit, at least deleted the assertion “the minimum

wage debate is not really a debate about how much money the

working poor make” from his TCS column.  We happily take credit

for that change, and for saving Prof. B, from further embarrass-

ment over that sentence.  On the other hand, he added to the 

TCS piece that whether California should have a minimum wage

law at all is a “contested proposition.”   The “working poor”

better not count on Steve Bainbridge in their battle for better




Steve’s big contribution to the minimum wage debate, therefore,

is to ask whether raising the wage is likely to cause more youths

to drop out of high school.  Steve believes that teens actually

will base their decision to stay in school on marginal differences

in the minimum wage. Thus, his legislative recommendation is


(a) have a differential lower minimum wage for those who

have not completed a high school degree, [which] should

result in a lower dropout rate;” and


(b) have “An indexed minimum wage, which grew steadily

and no faster than inflation, [which] would avoid the potential

for biasing the choice between work and school” in the year

that a large increase is given to make up for eroded real

purchasing power.


The f/k/a Gang (from Yabut and to ethicalEsq to Jack Cliente and

dagosan) wonder what Steve is smoking, while sipping his favorite



As for the facts, which Prof. B. surely knows, as he has read at least

one BLS report, plus bainbridge speeds past the working poor,” our

post on the topic, dated April 17, 2006:

48% of the “young workers” Steve is talking about are 20 or older. 

The study he uses does not tell us how many of them are heads

of household or have dependent children, nor if they are in their

first jobs, as he asserts — nor whether they are trying to work

while studying for a better-paying career.  


Over 1.5 million hourly workers in the USA are over age 20 and

earn the minimum wage or less.




Raising the minimum wage has a ripple effect for million of workers

hovering just above the minimum.  Because 5.7 million of the working

poor in 2003 — 77% — are 25 or older, changes affect far more than 

teens in their first job (see Profile of the Working Poor, 2003,BLS,

March 2005)

As for reality, assuming rational, price-theory behavior by teens in California,

or any other state, when deciding whether to drop out of school, is the kind of

maddening Economic Man fetish that we decried last month in a blurb pointing 

to the article “The Marketplace of Perceptions(Harvard Magazine, March-April

2006).  If Prof. Bainbridge can locate a good course in Behavorial Economics,

we suggest he take it.[Marcus at Washington Syndrome seems to be in accord 

with our analysis.]   Until then, my response to an email from Steve last week,

seems solid:


Steve wrote: “The way I think about it is that I’m concerned with the kids. I want

kids to stay in school and maximize their lifetime incomes. What the heck’s wrong

with that?”


Your Editor replied:

We both agree that the kids are not making longterm-rational economic

decisions.  And, I don’t believe that their short-term financial decisions

are going to be made based on rationally looking at marginal differences

in the hourly wage available if they drop out of school early.  They’ll keep

dropping out and simply make less (I say that having had scores of adol-

escent clients as a Family Court Law Guardian, and hundreds of clients 

from poor and working-poor families).  Keeping their wage lower will make

them favored hirees by the Minimum Wage Employer, to the detriment of

others [probably older] who need those jobs.




Meanwhile, your trumpeting of the lack of connection of [the Minimum Wage]

with the working poor gives the noisiest and most stingy and angry of your

readership one more excuse for railing against increases in the minimum age.


So, i do worry about overlooking the working poor in the MW debate.

Of course, Steve has a good point about getting better data on how changes in the

minimum wage affect the supply of willing workers.  But, I think his Religious Boss,

Pope Benedict XVI, has a better point when he says in Deus Caritas Est that (see

“It is true that the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of the

State and that the aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person,

according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community’s goods.



I’d like to think that my post disagreeing with Prof. B’s approach to the minimum

wage made a few points worth pondering, too.   Apparently, the facts or the tone

were so threatening or so reprehensible to Steve, that he has now twice removed

Trackbacks citations for my posts bainbridge speeds past the working poor and

minimum wages.  [Trackbacks tell you that another weblog has cited to a post.]


To be honest, that seems rather small-minded.  Steve is the famous weblogging

professor; I’m the David to his Goliath.  He has trumpeted both his credentials in

the fields of law and economics and his strong Catholic faith.  If he can’t handle his

readers finding a discussion that questions his economic reasoning and the faith–

fulness of his policy proposals to the teachings of his Church, perhaps Prof. B,

should give up his pretensions of being a “public intellectual,” and especially a

Catholic public intellectual.

tiny check By the way, I’d be interested in hearing from other  erasingSF

webloggers and weblog readers on the topic of censored

Trackback pings.  Clearly, spam can and should be re-

moved (I only wish it were quicker to do).  Also, every

weblog owner has the “right” to remove Trackbacks, but

what does that tell us about his or her desire for engaging

in an open discussion?  When would you approve or disapprove

of deleting Trackbacks?


trackback update (April 23, 2006):  This morning, I rediscovered

an ethicalEsq post from Feb. 2004, Disappeared from Law-Blog

Cyberspace, where we wrote: “I’ve recently discovered a big difference

between lawyer weblogs that were created primarily as marketing tools

and those written for the sheer joy of sharing ideas and information, or

presenting a point of view:  The marketing and reputation-oriented lawyer

weblogs appear to remove Comments, pings and blogroll listings that might

make their ‘product’ look less valuable or useful.  Of course, a lot of them

simply don’t allow unfiltered comments or pings.”  At the time, Kevin

O’Keefe disagreed with my dichotomy of types of lawyer weblogs.  In

retrospect, my reply Comment to Kevin might have been a bit naive about

law professors, when I wrote:

Lawyers and law professors who start a weblog primarly

to share ideas and expertise,  or promote a cause, and

to have a conversation with others, seem far more likely

to “allow” different viewpoints to be accessed through 

their site and to say what’s really on their minds.   Lawyers

whose primary purpose is marketing their services (no matter

how much passion  and expertise they show) seem far more

likely to need to filter what can be seen or accessed on their






the woodpecker works
one spot…
all through sunset





fresh straw for the garden–
about ten servants
at work







even the poor
workhorses of Edo sleep…
in mosquito nets!





begging hermits clamor
in their night work…
coolness at the gate





growing old–
by the hearth’s light


Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue



                                                                                               “Jesus Was a Liberal



just peggy

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:48 pm

– after too many paragraphs and too few haiku,

peggy lyles, just peggy lyles:





and melon cooling

with us in the stream








I shake the vase —

a bouquet of red roses

finds its shape






A doe’s leap

darkens the oyster shell road:







a lantern
in the pothole–


peggy lyles from The Haiku Anthology (edited by Cor van den Heuvel, 3rd Ed.,1999) 

except: “a lantern” – Roadrunner Haiku Journal (VI:1, Feb. 2006)


                                                                                                                                                       river house flip


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