Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ah, that's why I'm not a Democrat

Smoking ban aside, I can't agree with the Democrats in Congress today.

Iraq: When halfway across the river, best to swim to the other side. I've never agreed with this war from the outset. It's a tragedy. But I fear things will be even worse for Iraq if we pull out now.

The problem is that W didn't think he'd need to do any conquering, just some overthrowing. He didn't count on what happens when you take out a repressive dictatorship: The pendulum swings the other way. Those docile whilst subjugated become ferocious and bold when free. And they have some scores to settle. Plus, they hate each other.

There aren't enough competent "If you break a law, there will be consequences" types in the country. Nor are there institutions and a culture to back them up. So folks run amok. And while it's nice to hope folks can solve their problems through democratic processes, I think the end of security will justify the means of beefing up an enforcement presence. I hate to see more folks sent there, but the current numbers don't seem to be projecting a sufficient presence to keep folks in line. Though another 20,000 doesn't seem like a big enough move to change much, either.

I think "stability at any cost" is the right short term guiding principal. If that means Iran and Syria help out, fine. If that means we send more troops, fine. Let's let those poor people try to have normal lives without worrying about themselves or their loved ones disappearing and turning up days later dumped in the street with three bullets in their heads. If there's a Hell, W's going there, for sure.

St. Peter: Who are you again?

W: The Presidint of the United States of 'Merica

St. Peter: Didn't you create a bunch of lies to invade a country which then plunged into anarchic chaos and bloodshed, costing tens of thousands of lives and relegating the existences of the entire remaining population into fear and hopelessness?

W: Yer givin' hope to the terrists talkin' like that.

St. Peter: Well Satan's not without a sense of irony. I think he's got you and Saddam rooming together.

I know simply sending more troops isn't "the solution", but I think it's a part of a solution.

Raising the minimum wage: The poor stay poor, they just have nominally more money.

"Hi! We're Democrats! We like inflation, and we like meddling in the economy, since labor markets aren't efficient. So the minimum price for a worker with little to no skills is going up. Because we think poor people are cute."

Let markets decide prices. If folks will work for $5.25/ hour, then let them work for it. When we raise the price of labor without raising the productivity of labor, we suck economic value out of the equation. Which will rebalance as the hike in wages becomes a hike in costs which becomes a hike in prices which requires a hike in wages and salaries to make the same goods and services as affordable as they used to be. And eventually we settle into a new equilibrium in which a value meal at McDonald's still costs one minimum wage hour of work. Today's $5.15 for 2000 trans-fatty calories becomes tomorrow's $7.25 for 2000 trans-fatty calories. The working poor still have to work just as hard to have the same standard of living. Wages are higher, prices are higher. Problem not solved.