BASKETBALL (of all things)
If you don’t get this by email, you may have missed Monday’s column. It posted 16 hours late. (WordPress frequently misses its scheduled posting and then fails to retry or send a notification.) It’s the only basketball column you’ll likely ever see in this space, so I thought I’d give it a second plug.
You could watch a bunch of Republican reactions to the Presidents speech, but John Boehner’s forlorn mien I thought said most of it. Except for that nice moment where the President tipped his hat to the son of a barkeeper who became Speaker of the House — a genuinely decent man, by all accounts — his face seemed to reflect misery. Misery that he had to be the bad guy on so much he probably personally wouldn’t mind doing (like raising the minimum wage or reinstating unemployment benefits). Misery that his party has been captured by the Tea Party and their billionaire backers (click here in case you missed his rant). Misery that he couldn’t have a cigarette.
THE MINIMUM WAGE
The President wants to raise it to $10.10; mega-capitalist entrepreneur Nick Hanauer argues for $15; but today’s Republicans want to keep it at $7.25 (if we have to have one at all). They fear it could be bad for profits — which are at record highs, even as most Americans are struggling — and they claim to fear it will put people out of work (virtually all of whom, I would note, are Democrats, so the Republican effort to help them — by keeping their wages as low as possible — is especially selfless).
It is true: Some consumers will drive over to Mexico or Canada to save a dime on their big Mac. (Others might choose to order a smaller drink with their meal — not necessarily a bad thing — with no effect on employment.) But relatively few minimum wage jobs can be shipped overseas or automated.
To more than offset those that can, there is this:
higher wages = greater demand = stronger economy = greater job growth = virtuous cycle
Right? To which you could append:
stronger economy = [higher tax revenues + lower safety-net payouts] = lower deficits
WheelTug signed another 50 airplanes this week, bringing the total to 781 from 13 different airlines including 7 flag carriers. We inch forward. Imagine a world in which a Democrat is sworn in January 20, 2017, Iran has become a partner for peace, voice mail no longer makes you wait through 15 seconds of instructions before you can leave a message (has anyone ever pressed five to send a fax?), and WheelTug is netting $50,000 a year on each of 1,000 airplanes in which it’s been installed . . . with 5,000 more planes on the waiting list . . . for prospective annual profits of $300 million (versus grandparent Borealis’ current market cap of $85 million).
If you think all this is impossible, consider how impossible this would have seemed 20 years ago:
TOILET SEAT HINGES
How amazing are our lives? That we even have toilets and toilet seats, sure, but that’s not new. Here’s what’s new: if yours breaks — the plastic part that connects the seat and the back — and if you don’t want to throw the whole thing out (because it seems an environmental sin, which is the same reason I refuse to replace my microwave*) you can just Google toilet seat hinge replacement and get this on Amazon delivered to your door two days later for $8.99. Elapsed time to shop and order: 25 seconds.
*Now, this is interesting. Only the 7 button on my microwave oven works. So I can cook something only for 7 seconds or 77 seconds or 7 minutes and 77 — although I can also cook at a power level of 7 instead of the default 10, which gives me more flexibility. (And I can my iPhone timer to remind me after 3 minutes to press STOP before my soup explodes.) I called GE and found there’s no fix — whether by myself or with a service call. And, yes, the thing is 18 years old, but so what? The microwave itself is fine; it’s just some little glitch in the numeric key pad that’s bad — and my point is: why add 50 pounds of scrap to the world’s heap unless and until you really have to? Same with toilet seats.
Quote of the Day
Guys, just remember: if you get real lucky, if you make a lot of money, if you go out and buy a lot of stuff, it's gonna break. You got your biggest, fanciest mansion in the world. It has air conditioning. It has a pool. Just think of all the pumps that are going to go out. Or go to a yacht basin any place in the world. Nobody is smiling and I'll tell you why: something broke that morning. The generator's out, the microwave oven doesn't work, the cook's gay. Things just don't mean happiness.~Ross Perot to Harvard B-School students, quoted in Forbes
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