2019-10-02 04:30:54

I now make my living by releasing short videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I assumed you who subscribed to my feed or became Facebook “friends” would receive that video every Tuesday.

Wrong! Turns out social media companies send our posts to only some of our friends. (That’s why I ask for your email address. Then they can’t cut us off.)

Why might they cut us off?

One reason is that we’d drown in a fire hose of information if they showed us everything. The companies’ algorithms cleverly just send us what the computer determines we’ll like.

Another reason may be that the companies are biased against conservative ideas.

They deny that. But look at their actions. Social media companies say they forbid posts that “promote violence,” including ones that encourage violence offline.

But antifa groups that promote violence still have accounts. The Twitter account of the group in Portland, Oregon, that recently beat up journalist Andy Ngo, leaving him with brain damage, is still up.

“In Austin, they were calling for a paramilitary operation!” says Glenn Beck. That antifa group’s Facebook account is also still up, even though it links to a manifesto calling for opponents to be “beaten bloody.”

In my newest video, Beck, who runs a big media operation called The Blaze, says social media companies push a leftist agenda.

“They manipulate algorithms to reshape our world.”

Beck himself hasn’t been banned, but he says Facebook limits his reach, putting him in a “digital ghetto.”

“They’re shaping you,” he warns.

Is it true?

Although I’m not a conservative, sometimes I do notice odd things happening with my posts.

On average, my videos get more than a million views. But when I did one that criticized Facebook, that video got half as many views.

Because Facebook didn’t show it to many people?

I can’t know. Facebook won’t say.

Today, social media companies are pressured to cut off anyone spreading hate. In response, YouTube and Facebook say they now even demote content that almost violates policies.

But those antifa accounts are still up.

By contrast, Beck says, conservative accounts are censored merely for making fun of Democrats.

“Remember the person who slowed down (a video of House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi?” he asked.

The video made Pelosi sound drunk. It went viral, but once Facebook got complaints, the company announced it “dramatically reduced its distribution.”

When Facebook did that, notes Beck, “The person in charge happened to be one of the leaders in Nancy Pelosi’s office who had just left to go to work for Facebook.”

I told Beck that Facebook hires some Republicans. “They do,” he replied, “but only about 20 percent, and not in top level positions.”

The site Spinquark did the research Beck cites, finding dozens of Democratic campaign workers who now work for social media companies.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once invited Beck and some others to come to his offices to talk about bias.

“I sat with him and he said, ‘Why would we do that?’ And I said, ‘I want to believe you, but your actions don’t match.'”

Beck was also unhappy with conservatives at that meeting. “Some said, ‘Mark, solve this by having affirmative action…. For every liberal you hire, hire a conservative.'”

“I don’t want that!” Beck said. “We don’t need more regulation!”

We don’t.

But it’s human nature, when people see a problem, to demand government do something.

Beck himself fell prey to that when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed she saw border guards telling migrants to drink water from toilets. On his radio show, Beck said government should “prosecute anyone making outrageous charges like this!”

I gave him a hard time about that. “You want prosecution of members of Congress who say nonsense?!”

Beck laughed and quickly walked his statement back. “John, I speak five hours off script every day…. There’s a lot that I vomit out.”

The solution?

“No censorship,” says Beck.

“Publish everything?” I asked.

“Yes!” answered Beck. “We can handle it. Stop treating us like children.”

I agree. On at least some platforms, all speech should be free. The more that is blocked, the less we learn.



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2019-10-01 12:15:23

Social media companies like Facebook don’t show you all your friends’ posts. You may think they do, but they don’t. Instead, an algorithm picks which ones to show you—and which not to show you. How do they decide? The companies won’t reveal the details.

Glenn Beck, publisher of the major conservative outlet The Blaze, tells John Stossel that social media companies are biased against conservatives.

Beck says Facebook reduces his posts’ reach. And he notes that when a video made fun of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi by slowing down her voice, Facebook put a warning on the post and reduced its reach.

Beck mentions that while social media companies censor right-wing sites that might advocate violence, similar left-wing groups still have Twitter accounts.

In Portland, Oregon, antifa thugs attacked journalist Andy Ngo because he had criticized the group’s violent tactics. They kicked him and punched him in the head. The attack left Ngo with brain damage.  

But the account of the local group, Rose City Antifa, is still on Twitter. The group justifies the attack on Ngo on their website: “If you rally the far-right to attack our city and profit by their violence, you are one of them. And the community will stop you, however it can.”

Other antifa accounts are still up—despite supporting violence, Beck points out.

“In Austin they were actually calling for the next phase to have people be a paramilitary operation. That was up forever,” he tells Stossel. 

The Austin antifa group’s Facebook page is still up, linking to a manifesto calling for antifa’s opponents to be “beaten bloody…annihilated.”

Beck says a double standard exists because social media companies are based in left-wing San Francisco. Also, they mostly hire Democrats.

A Spinquark analysis found dozens of former Democratic staffers working at social media companies.

Stossel pushes back at Beck: “They must hire some Republicans, too.”

“They do, but it’s about 20 percent and they’re not from top-level positions,” Beck replies.

In the case of the Pelosi video that was shown to few people, Beck says, “The person who was in charge happened to be…one of the leaders in Nancy Pelosi’s office, who had just left Nancy Pelosi’s office to go to work [at Facebook].”

But Beck doesn’t want hiring quotas. He says he opposes affirmative action for conservatives in social media.

“It bothers me that there are so many conservatives [who] want more regulation,” Beck says.

Stossel suggests Beck is not consistent about that. After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) claimed immigrants were “being told by [border patrol] officers to drink out of the toilet,” Beck demanded that she be punished.

“I would prosecute anyone making outrageous charges like this,” he said on Blaze TV.

When Stossel asks about that, Beck laughed and backed off the idea.

“I speak five hours off-script every day. There’s a lot of stuff that I vomit out!” he replies.

“So, you’re not eager to prosecute Cortez?” Stossel asks.

“No. No. No.” Beck replies.

Stossel says he’s glad Beck walked that back. “Truth comes out through argument—open debate. The more social media companies censor, the less we learn.”

Stossel notes that social media companies have a right to censor—but that, on at least some social media platforms, if not all, all speech should be free.

Beck agrees, “We can handle it. Stop treating us like children.”

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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2019-09-27 15:23:35

Here is the federal witness-tampering statute (18 USC 1512(b)):

Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, … with intent to —

(1)influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding; [or]

(2)cause or induce any person to—

(A)withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official proceeding … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Here’s what our president said yesterday, at an event for UN staffers and their families:

So the whistleblower came out and said nothing. Said: ‘A couple of people told me he had a conversation with Ukraine.’ We’re at war. These people are sick. They’re sick. And nobody’s called it out like I do. I don’t understand. People are afraid to call it out. They’re afraid to say that the press is crooked. We have a crooked press. We have a dishonest media. So now they’re devastated, but they’ll always find something. I’m sure there’ll be something they’ll find in this report that will suit their lie.

But basically that person never saw the report, never saw the call. Never saw the call. Heard something, and decided that he or she or whoever the hell it is — sort of like, almost, a spy. I want to know who’s the person that gave the whistleblower, who’s the person that gave the whistleblower the information, because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right?”

I believe that his reference to “what we used to do in the old days … with spies and treason” refers to execution, which is indeed what we used to do with (convicted) spies (see, e.g., Julius and Ethel Rosenberg), though I do not believe we have executed anyone for spying since then (hence, the reference to the “old days”).

This sure looks like a prima facie case of witness tampering to me.  There is an ongoing official proceeding; we know that the whistleblower him/herself is going to be called to testify, and one can certainly expect others who were present during the July 25th call, or who had notice of the July 25 call and who might, therefore, have “[given] the whistleblower the information,” will be called to testify. The President of the United States—our chief law enforcement officer—has called these people “close to spies” and made reference to the punishment to which spies were subjected “in the old days when we were smart,” and to “treason” (a federal crime that still carries the death penalty). The effect of these comments, surely, will be to make potential witnesses think twice about providing evidence against the president (and having their identities revealed to the public and to federal prosecutors who work for the President).

The hard questions, as always in a witness-tampering case, is: Did Trump act with the “intent” to “influence” or “prevent” the testimony of these individuals? Using the ordinary (and rebuttable) presumption that a person “intends” a consequence when (a) they foresee that it will happen as a result of their conduct and (b) desire it to happen,” I think he did—though of course without more evidence (including Trump’s testimony, under oath, about what he did or did not intend, and other actions that might suggest proper, or improper, motives) one cannot be certain of that conclusion.  [That’s why it’s just a prima facie case of witness tampering at this point].

I expect, given many of the comments on my earlier postings on the Ukraine matter, that some readers will, in the face of this, continue to hold to the position that Trump has done nothing wrong. Here’s my best guess as to the arguments they will raise—and if I’ve missed any, please do set me straight in the comments.

  1. “It can’t be ‘witness tampering’ under the federal criminal code, because DOJ takes the position that the president can’t be charged with any (federal) crime.”

False. First of all, the current DOJ position is that the President cannot be charged with a federal crime while in office; if Trump were no longer the president, he could be criminally charged in connection with the Ukraine affair (or anything else).  More importantly, even though a president can’t be charged with a federal crime while in office (because, as head of the DOJ, he would in effect be acting as prosecutor and defendant in such an action), he can certainly commit a federal crime while in office.  That, of course, is the whole point of an impeachment proceeding; Presidents Nixon and Clinton were both charged with the crime of obstruction of justice, though the charge was contained not in a criminal indictment but in Articles of Impeachment.

2. It’s not “witness tampering,” because nobody’s been charged with anything at this point, and therefore there aren’t any witnesses who could have been “influence[d]” or “prevent[ed]” from testifying.

Wrong again. The statute refers to “testimony … in an official proceeding.”  An impeachment inquiry is an “official proceeding” (as is, I believe, any Congressional hearing).

3. “He was just joking—chill out! He wasn’t actually saying that the whistleblower should be executed!”

Well, that’s a harder one to deal with, I admit, especially because the President’s intent is an element of the crime.  I’m a little dubious, generally, about the “it’s a joke” defense, having heard it before, when Trump invited the Russians to hack Clinton’s server (which—coincidentally enough—began, according to various federal indictments and the Mueller Report, that very day).  And listening to the audiotape of his remarks, he certainly sounds like he’s not joking.  But again—it’s just a prima facie case we’ve got here; if Trump was joking, let him come forward, under oath, to say so.

4. “He couldn’t have intended to intimidate any potential witnesses, because he was speaking at a private event, and therefore had no reason to think that the targets of the supposed intimidation would ever hear about it.”

Again, this gets a “Maybe, but …” First off, this wasn’t really a “private” event like a family dinner or a confidential briefing by a few top aides; it was an event staged for hundreds of US employees (and their families), and it seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that Trump expected that his comments would not be made public or otherwise communicated to the officials in the White House and the Intelligence Community who were being accused of spying and treason. Furthermore, because we don’t know the identity of the individuals who were the target of Trump’s ire, and we don’t know (and perhaps Trump didn’t know) for certain that none of them were in the room.  UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, for instance, was in the room, and, as a senior official with international responsibilities, might have been the source of some of the leaked information.  So this is hardly like an offhand comment to a couple of friends over dinner; as unfortunate and intemperate as such comments might be, they wouldn’t, in that case, be directed specifically at the whistleblower or any of the whistleblower’s sources.  Here, it’s a little easier to presume—again, rebuttably—that Trump knew full well and intended that word of the threats would get to the “right” people.

As I said, perhaps some readers have other possible defenses they could proffer.  Please do—but I’d appreciate it if you could avoid discussion of the many irrelevant defenses that are simply variants of the “Fake News! Hillary’s email server! The Steele Dossier! What Biden did was worse!” etc. arguments.


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There is little question that Timothy Trybus, the obnoxious drunk who angrily confronted Mia Irizarry as she was preparing for a birthday party at a Chicago park in June 2018, was guilty of disorderly conduct. He may also have committed simple assault. But both of those offenses are Class C misdemeanors, punishable by up to 30 days in jail. So why does he face up to five years in prison?

It is entirely because of the opinions Trybus expressed during his tirade, which this week led a jury to convict him of two felony hate crimes.

This case is highly instructive for anyone who doubts that hate crime laws punish people for what would otherwise be constitutionally protected speech. If Trybus had yelled at Irizarry because he hates birthday parties or because she was wearing a Green Bay Packers hat, he might still have been arrested for harassing her, but he would not be facing a prison sentence. Because he yelled at Irizarry about her Puerto Rican flag T-shirt, his misdemeanors became felonies.

A viral cellphone video recorded by Irizarry, which shows an audibly intoxicated and belligerent Trybus repeatedly harassing her, provided the damning evidence of his benighted views. “Why are you wearing that?” Trybus asks, pointing at the flag shirt. “This is America….You’re not gonna change us, you know that?…You should not be wearing that in the United States of America….If you’re an American citizen, you should not be wearing that shirt in America.”

Under Illinois law, Trybus’ behavior pretty clearly qualified as disorderly conduct, which includes “any act” performed “in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.” His actions may also have amounted to assault, a charge that applies to anyone who “without lawful authority…knowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.”

Trybus’ lawyer, David Goldman, questioned whether Irizarry was “reasonably in fear of receiving a battery,” noting that he never touched her and that she remained calm throughout the episode. But in these circumstances, it would not be unreasonable for an unaccompanied woman to fear that the angry, intoxicated man who repeatedly rebuked her and refused to leave her alone might be capable of violence.

Either way, both of these offenses are misdemeanors. What made them felonies was the Illinois hate crime law, which applies “when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals,” someone commits any of several offenses, including assault and disorderly conduct. A hate crime is a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to three years in prison, for a first offense and a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years in prison, for a second offense if it is committed in “a public park.”

To put it another way, the maximum sentence for Trybus’ offenses is 60 times as long as it would have been if prosecutors had not invoked the hate crime statute. And that staggering multiplier applies purely because the object of his ire was the Puerto Rican flag on Irizarry’s shirt, suggesting that he targeted her because of her race, color, or ancestry. Trybus could spend an extra 59 months behind bars for no reason other than the content of his beliefs, as opposed to the manner in which he expressed them. That clearly amounts to punishing him for his opinions, which is not something the government should be doing in a society that claims to respect freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.

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2019-09-27 16:28:27

I much enjoyed participating in this podcast, which was taped in front of a student audience Wednesday here at UCLA; here is IJ’s summary of the three cases my UCLA colleague Richard Re, Robert Everett Johnson (Jones Day), and I discussed:

After a student newspaper at the University of California, San Diego published a piece satirizing safe spaces and trigger warning, the student government pulled funding for all print media. A First Amendment violation? And…

When doling out federal grant money for community policing efforts, the DOJ gives preference to local departments that promise to cooperate with federal immigration efforts. Which, says Los Angeles, would actually undermine community trust in police. Did the DOJ exceed the powers delegated to it by Congress? And …

Religious organizations need not comply with some aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But does the so-called “ministerial exception” extend to a Catholic school that fired a fifth grade teacher who needed time off for chemotherapy?


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Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally confirmed that the vast majority of patients with vaping-related respiratory illnesses have reported using cannabis products, typically purchased on the black market. Among 514 patients for whom the information was available, the CDC found, 77 percent reported using THC products. Just 16 percent said they had vaped only nicotine, although the types, sources, and brands of the products were not identified.

Since people may be reluctant to admit illegal drug use, the true rate of THC vaping among the patients with respiratory symptoms is almost certainly higher. Prior data from several states indicated that 83 percent to 100 percent of patients reported that they had vaped THC.

Another CDC study, based on interviews with 86 patients in Wisconsin and Illinois, found that 87 percent “reported using e-cigarette products containing THC.” Two-thirds of the THC vapers said they used cartridges “sold under the brand name Dank Vapes,” one of several “largely counterfeit brands with common packaging that is easily available online and that is used by distributors to market THC-containing cartridges with no obvious centralized production or distribution.”

In light of this information, the main thrust of which has been apparent for at least a month, it is harder than ever to justify the insinuation that legal e-cigarettes are to blame for the lung disease outbreak, which involves 805 cases and 12 deaths by the CDC’s latest count. While 16 percent of the patients in the CDC’s study of 514 cases said they vaped only nicotine, those self-reports may not be reliable given the sensitivity of the subject. In any case, there is no indication so far that any of the patients were using legal e-cigarettes, as opposed to black-market pods or e-liquids, which may pose special hazards.

The CDC’s findings make sense, since legal e-cigarettes have been used by millions of Americans for years without reports of lung illnesses like these. The cases emerged only in recent months, which suggests that the problem is relatively new additives or contaminants in THC vapes, and possibly also in counterfeit nicotine pods or nicotine e-liquids of unknown provenance.

“It seems there’s too much conflating these tragic lung injuries with store-bought brands of regulated, legal e-cigs like Juul and NJOY,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb observed yesterday, “and far too little blaming THC, CBD, and bootleg nicotine vapes—where so far, the only available hard evidence points.” While “some people may be getting sick from legal e-cigs,” he said, “to save lives and make sound policy we must follow science.”

The CDC has slightly revised its muddled message about the hazards of vaping. “While this investigation is ongoing,” it says, “CDC recommends that you consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC” (emphasis added). That last part is new. The CDC also implicitly acknowledges that conventional, combustible cigarettes are more dangerous than e-cigarettes: “If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.”

Meanwhile, however, Massachusetts has banned all vaping products, leaving former and current smokers without this harm-reducing alternative. Earlier this month, Michigan and New York imposed “emergency” bans on the flavored e-cigarettes that former smokers overwhelmingly prefer. This week Rhode Island announced a similar ban, and today Washington state followed suit.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) both cited the lung disease outbreak, along with recent increases in underage vaping, as part of their justification, even though the bans they plan to impose will not apply to the products that seem to be the main culprits. All of these bans are being imposed by unilateral executive action, without any input from state legislatures.

These panicky prohibitions create a situation where former smokers may go back to a far more hazardous source of nicotine and current smokers may be deterred from quitting by the lack of appealing alternatives. The bans also give a boost to the very black-market products that have been implicated in vaping-related respiratory illnesses. The predictable result will be more diseases and deaths, which the governors presumably do not intend.

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2019-09-27 19:00:29

  • Bless the Harts. Fox. Sunday, September 29, 8:30 p.m.
  • Almost Family. Fox. Wednesday, October 2, 9 p.m.

Fox’s idea of domesticity has always been a little on the feral side. From television’s very first dysfunctional-family comedy Married … with Children to the longest-running sitcom in TV history, The Simpsons, Fox bloodlines zig-zag with wild abandon.

Having clubbed Ozzie and Harriet and the Cleavers like baby seals, the network is now turning to their modern descendants, the Bechleys, a blended family. Really blended—in test tubes and petri dishes. And there are dozens of them.

Almost Family, Fox’s comedy-drama about the aftermath of a meltdown at a fertility clinic, is easily the most promising series of the fall broadcast season: funny, poignant, and drenched in the chemistry between three charismatic actresses playing women who suddenly learn they’re sisters.

It’s also the most likely to be buried under an avalanche of political-correctness tantrums. When Fox held a press conference last summer after screening the show for TV critics, it immediately turned into a #MeToo witch hunt, with the critics ranting about what they said was Almost Family‘s flippant attitude toward “medical rape.”

Almost Family is a lot of things, but flippant isn’t one of them. The show’s premise may sound like a television contrivance, but a very similar scandal erupted at an Indianapolis clinic in 2018. (Oddly, though, that’s not the story the show is based on; it’s an adaptation of an Australian series called Sisters that launched in 2017.)

Almost Family centers around Julia Bechley (Brittany Snow, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), an only child who works as the communications director at a clinic run by her widowed father, Leon (Timothy Bottoms, Ordinary People), an irascible pioneering fertility doctor.

Their relationship, always problematic, goes completely haywire when Leon, confronted by reporters, confesses that in the uncertain early years of his practice, he used his own sperm to impregnate scores of his female patients.

Julia’s sense of personal and professional betrayal (the resulting scandal threatens to sink the clinic) only grows more profound in the face of her father’s chilly indifference. He was, he insists, just trying to bolster the crude early fertility technology to help his patents achieve positive outcomes.

“Not outcomes,” she furiously retorts. “Babies! Who grew up to be people!”

Among those people are Julia’s ex-best friend Edie Palmer (Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke, 90210), a belligerent defense attorney who stole Julia’s college boyfriend, and Roxy Doyle (Emily Osment, Hannah Montana), a fading and surly ice-skating star now known less for triple axels than a mean left hook.

The three share more than DNA. Julia’s sunny PR smile masks inner turmoil that regularly boils over into squalid bathroom hookups with men she either barely knows or wishes she didn’t. Edie’s uncertain about an outwardly model marriage that, at home, has sunken into a sexual deep-freeze. And Roxy, her body a twisted wreck after too many hard spills on the ice, believes her parents (“the losers who raised me”) see her as less a daughter than a meal ticket.

Each of the women feels a vague but insistent sense of an undefined hole in her life. “I’m sorry you picked such a broken person to be married to,” Edie tells her husband after a fight, but it’s a line that, with little alteration, could have been spoken by any of them.

Screenwriter Annie Weisman, who produced 23 episodes of Desperate Housewives, has woven Almost Family into a seamless tapestry of drama and comedy. And Snow, Echikunwoke and Osment are all equally adept at both, playing off one another like a stage ensemble that’s headed into its 800th night on Broadway. The tale they tell has legal pyrotechnics, corporate intrigue, and countless layers of betrayal. But its real story is how, out of the jagged shards of their fractured lives, these women tentatively start rebuilding something together.

Fox’s other premiere this week is also an oddball family story, one that gestated at Saturday Night Live, where creator and producer Emily Spivey wrote while stars (their voices, anyway; Bless the Harts is animated) Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph delivered the lines.

Jenny Hart (Wiig) is a single mom working in a greasy spoon in a small Southern town; her mother Betty (Rudolph) dreams of amassing a fortune through eBay trickery.  There’s not much here you haven’t seen on another Fox cartoon, King of the Hill, except it’s done with Southern accents. The pilot does feature a couple of interesting guest appearances—one by an anarchist cat working to destroy zoning laws, and another by Colin Powell doing the macarena. Call me if they get their own shows.

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Denver is mulling new legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15.87 an hour by 2021, with additional raises every subsequent year.

Introduced by Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilwoman At-large Robin Kniech, the measure would take effect in January of 2020, when businesses would be required to pay employees at least $13.87 an hour. After the additional $2 raise in 2021, that minimum would increase by 15 percent or $1.75 an hour—whichever is greater—every year after.

The current Colorado minimum wage is $11.10 an hour.

Researchers have long argued over the merits of minimum wage laws: A study from the University of Washington found that Seattle’s minimum wage hurt the city’s low-skilled workers, while a paper from the University of California, Berkeley says such reservations are unfounded, even in rural areas. It’s likely that there’s at least some truth to both conclusions: Some people earn more, some people work fewer hours for a higher hourly wage and end up breaking even, and some others might be shut out of the workforce altogether.

Yet one industry that tends to fall on the losing end of such proposals is the restaurant industry, which operates on skeletal profit margins—usually topping 6 percent at max.

Like much of the country, Denver offers a tipped wage, a lower hourly base pay for servers and bartenders that allows them to make up the rest—and more—in tips. But unlike much of the country, the Colorado Constitution stipulates that the tipped wage cannot be less than $3.02 below the state minimum, putting Denver’s current tipped base at $8.08. That’s already higher than the federal full minimum wage, which sits at $7.25 an hour. (It’s worth mentioning that, if tips don’t bring workers to the state’s minimum wage threshold, their employers are legally required to make up the difference.)

“The speed with which this hike would be implemented is extreme,” Sonia Riggs, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, tells Reason, noting that restaurants would have a grand total of two months to ready themselves for the first hike. The city council is set to vote on the measure in November. If it passes, she assumes that dining establishments across Denver will first find themselves rushing to raise prices.

“People are not willing [to] pay $25 for a cheeseburger,” says Riggs. “Less eating out is bad for everyone in this business.”

That won’t be the only effect. Riggs explains that, as it stands, servers in the city make somewhere between $20-40 on average, an even greater sum than Denver’s proposed minimum wage hike. They’ll see a considerable bump in hourly wages. But kitchen staff, who typically make a marginal rate higher than the state’s $15.87 proposal, will receive nothing at all. Back-of-house employees will thus watch front-of-house staff land a sizable raise, even though the latter were already bringing home considerably more cash.

“When the cook making $17 an hour sees the server getting a 50 percent raise to do the same job, the cook is going to want $20/hour,” says Riggs. “But remember, the restaurant has less money to work with here to accommodate that. So again, the restaurant has to raise prices and decrease costs, including cutting staff, in order to survive.”

Survival is the name of the game in the restaurant industry, and it’s a hard one to win. That becomes even less achievable with large minimum wage hikes: A recent study conducted by two researchers at Harvard Business School found that a median-rated restaurant on Yelp was 14 percent more likely to shutter with every dollar added to the tipped wage. For Denver, those odds would reach 67 percent come January 2021, if the legislation sails through the city council.

Riggs also remarks that restaurants in the area face a labor shortage in kitchen staff. Yet the measure would just further aggravate that problem, hamstringing the restaurateurs who want to hire more help, but who can no longer afford it.

“In the case of the restaurant industry,” she says “this proposal actually hurts the people it’s trying to help.”

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2019-09-27 21:10:43

Sex ed got a little schizophrenic in the ’70s, tugged in one direction by the sorts of moral strictures that schools had traditionally included in their curricula and in another direction by the anything-goes ethos of the day. That’s how you got classroom filmstrips like the unfortunately titled How To Get Gonorrhea, which sounds at one moment like it might be about to start moralizing (“If you are promiscuous, sooner or later you will encounter a partner who has gonorrhea, and you are going to get it”) but then starts offering teens tips on how to get tested or treated without their parents finding out.

The good folks at Uncommon Ephemera have been digitizing old filmstrips and posting them on YouTube, and this artifact from 1974 is one of their best finds yet. With psychedelic artwork, a jazzy porn-rock soundtrack, and a V.D. monster whose face, visible at the 0:46 mark, bears a striking resemblance to Monty Burns, here is How To Get Gonorrhea:

The company that produced this—Sunburst Communications—is still around today. But it’s now called the Sunburst Technology Corporation, and its chief focus is educational video games. I guess every era tries to shape young minds in its own way.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

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Of all the places to argue that only the government should be trusted with guns, Beto O’Rourke picked…Kent State University.

Kent State is, of course, the location of the infamous 1970 shooting that left four students dead and nine others injured. The shots were fired not by private citizens but by members of the Ohio National Guard, who shot at a crowd protesting America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Invoking armed agents of the state gunning down unarmed civilians is an interesting way to argue that Americans would be better off if the government forcefully disarmed private citizens. But hey, I guess that’s why we keep being told Beto’s an “unconventional” candidate.

Since the mass shooting at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, former congressman O’Rourke has tried to jump-start his flailing presidential campaign by being the candidate who is most gung-ho about gun control. He made headlines at the most recent Democratic debate by promising, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” More specifically, he is proposing a ban on “the manufacturing, sale, and possession of military-style assault weapons”—that is, semiautomatic rifles with certain cosmetic characteristics.

“Americans who own AR-15s [or] AK-47s will have to sell them to the government,” O’Rourke has explained. “We’re not going to allow them to stay on our streets, to show up in our communities, to be used against us in our synagogues, our churches, our mosques, our Walmarts, our public places.”

As J.D. Tuccille pointed out last month, there’s scant evidence to suggest that such a policy could be implemented effectively, and it’s pretty unclear how O’Rourke would get gun owners to comply with the law.

When New Jersey implemented a similar policy in the early 1990s, the state obtained a mere 18 guns of the estimated 100,000 to 300,000 firearms owned by Garden State residents—and only four were turned over voluntarily. Australia’s much ballyhooed gun buyback program netted between 650,000 and 1 million firearms, about a quarter of the estimated number of guns owned by Australians at time. There are believed to be more than 350 million privately owned guns in the United States.

Taking the rest would require a massive mobilization of federal, state, and local law enforcement.

O’Rourke’s plan to take guns out of private citizens’ hands would not have prevented the Kent State massacre. But it would create lots of new opportunities for agents of the state to point guns at Americans who aren’t a threat to anyone.

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