Debating Minimum Wage In SEATTLE and NEW YORK CITY

So, I debated on whether to add this to our (Chris L. and myself conversation, posted HERE) earlier conversation, but, I decided to post it separately. So, in the same conversation he finally took a jaunt over to my MINIMUM WAGE portion of my ECON 101 page. He still doesn’t know why the minimum wage was used during the Davis/Bacon Act days (a), why the apartheid unions in South Africa used it (b), and why unions here use it and which community it hurts the most (c) — but at least he a c t u a l l y went to my link… and got it all wrong – lol:

An even more insidious substitution effect of minimum wages can be seen from a few quotations. During South Africa’s apartheid era, racist unions, which would never accept a black member, were the major supporters of minimum wages for blacks. In 1925, the South African Economic and Wage Commission said, “The method would be to fix a minimum rate for an occupation or craft so high that no Native would be likely to be employed.” Gert Beetge, secretary of the racist Building Workers’ Union, complained, “There is no job reservation left in the building industry, and in the circumstances, I support the rate for the job (minimum wage) as the second-best way of protecting our white artisans.” “Equal pay for equal work” became the rallying slogan of the South African white labor movement. These laborers knew that if employers were forced to pay black workers the same wages as white workers, there’d be reduced incentive to hire blacks.

South Africans were not alone in their minimum wage conspiracy against blacks. After a bitter 1909 strike by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen in the U.S., an arbitration board decreed that blacks and whites were to be paid equal wages. Union members expressed their delight, saying, “If this course of action is followed by the company and the incentive for employing the Negro thus removed, the strike will not have been in vain.”

Our nation’s first minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, had racist motivation. During its legislative debate, its congressional supporters made such statements as, “That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.” During hearings, American Federation of Labor President William Green complained, “Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates.”

Today’s stated intentions behind the support of minimum wages are nothing like yesteryear’s. However, intentions are irrelevant. In the name of decency, we must examine the effects….

The white labor unions and other white supremacists lobbied for other regulations which, in effect, prohibited blacks from being hired. These groups demanded that the hiring of blacks and other nonwhites be subject to the same compulsory employer compensation and minimum wage requirements granted to white union members. The intent of such legislation, Williams contends, is obvious. Such labor laws took away the only bar-gaming chip available to the blacks and other non-whites—their willingness to work for a lower wage. Many whites recognized this. In 1925, for example, the report of the Mining Regulations Commission proposed a mandatory system of minimum wages per job “in order to rescue the European miner from the economic fetters which at present render him the easy victim of advancing native competition.”

Contrary to the view accepted by many on the political left, apartheid is not the result of white businessmen attempting to maximize profits by enslaving cheap black labor. It is instead a product of political privilege. Says Williams:

The mere existence of South Africa’s extensive racial regulatory laws is evidence enough that racial privilege is difficult through free market forces. Consider South Africa’s job reservation laws, which mandate that certain jobs be performed by whites only . . . . The presence of job reservation laws suggests that at least some employers would hire blacks in the “white jobs.” The fact that they would hire blacks to do white jobs neither requires nor suggests that these employers be necessarily any less white supremacist than anyone else. It does suggest that those employers who would hire blacks considered such a course of action to be an attractive alternative because blacks were willing to work for lower wages—“uncivilized wages”—than white workers. The business pursuit of profits—which caused employers to be less ardent supporters of the white supremacist doc-trine-has always been the enemy of white privilege. This is why South African white workers resorted to government.

“The whole ugly history of apartheid has been an attack on free markets and the rights of individuals, and a glorification of centralized government power,” Williams concludes. Only when South Africa’s people—black, white, or colored—“de-dare war against centralized government power” will there be genuine progress toward freedom. Walter Williams’ new book provides powerful intellectual ammunition for that war.

  • Matthew B. Kibbe, FEE

(Via AEI)

There is no inherent reason why low-skilled or high-risk employees are any less employable than high-skilled, low-risk employees. Someone who is five times as valuable to an employer is no more or less employable than someone who is one-fifth as valuable, when the pay differences reflect their differences in benefits to the employer.

This is more than a theoretical point. Historically, lower skill levels did not prevent black males from having labor force participation rates higher than that of white males for every US Census from 1890 through 1930. Since then, the general growth of wage-fixing arrangements: minimum wage laws, labor unions, civil service pay scales, etc. has reversed that and made more and more blacks unemployable despite their rising levels of education and skills: absolutely and relative to whites.

And here’s the “money quote”:

In short, no one is employable or unemployable absolutely, but only relative to a given pay scale.

And that highlights the essence of the economic logic that explains why the most vulnerable workers (low-skilled, uneducated, teenagers, etc.) are the group that is most harmed by minimum wage laws — those laws artificially raise the wages of low-skilled workers without increasing their productivity, and therefore significantly reduce their employability relative to higher-skilled workers.

For example, in the study from the team of researchers at the University of Washington on Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage, they reported (emphasis added):

Our preferred estimates suggest that the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance caused hours worked by low-skilled workers (i.e., those earning under $19 per hour) to fall by 9.4% during the three quarters when the minimum wage was $13 per hour, resulting in a loss of 3.5 million hours worked per calendar quarter. Alternative estimates show the number of low-wage jobs declined by 6.8%, which represents a loss of more than 5,000 jobs.

The work of least-paid workers might be performed more efficiently by more skilled and experienced workers commanding a substantially higher wage.

Bottom Line: Thomas Sowell’s comments illustrate an economic reality that is frequently overlooked: Workers compete against other workers (not employers) to find jobs and get the highest wages. Employers compete against other employers to find the best workers. In other words, low-skilled workers compete against high-skilled workers in the labor market. Low-skilled workers who would be employable at a low wage become unemployable at an artificially higher wage. And that explains the perverse cruelty of minimum wage laws: it inflicts the greatest harm on the very workers it is allegedly designed to help.

However, this is not the reason for this post. I merely wanted to show the hubris out there in stating propaganda (not intentionally, just in ignorance). Here is the portion that that I wanted to highlight and respond to. Here is the video so people can glean context:

So, here are the main points of the above:

  1. Minimum wage is still not $15.00 an hour
  2. It is $13.50 and in 2021 will be $13.69 (which he is right about, but we are talking about SEATTLE)
  3. [QUOTE] “Sean Giordano this is why I & everyone else should dismiss what ever you post. First minute & a half & anyone can prove she’s full of shit” [UNQUOTE]
  4. New York (remember, she said New York CITY) does not have $15.00 minimum wage, they are near $11.80
  5. California isn’t even over %15.00 an hour
  6. THEY ARE FULL OF SHIT!!

So my first response is to points #1 and #2

The Prager U video specifically mentions Seattle and New York City. This is key. I used two websites to find the current minimum wage in Seattle, Washington: MINIMUM-WAGE.ORG and SEATTLE GOVERNEMNT’S website. In the conversation I noted this many times, but granted, I wasn’t clear.

During the long discussion that followed a few paths, what I learned is that franchises are all included together as a large business. So if I were to franchise, say, The Brass Tap (bar/restaurant chain focuses mostly on its craft beer offerings), if the franchises nationwide have 501 employees, the tips earned do not lower the to $13.50. To make the point clearer I made a crude version:

A sad article of sorts was this one detailing the info:

Justices Reject Franchise Appeal Over Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage (May 2, 2016)

SEATTLE — The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage from franchise owners who say the law discriminates against them by treating them as large businesses.

Seattle was one of the first cities in the nation to adopt a law aiming for a $15 minimum wage, giving small businesses employing fewer than 500 people seven years to phase it in. Large employers must do so over three or four years, depending on whether they offer health insurance to their employees.

Five franchises and the International Franchise Association sued the city, saying the law treats Seattle’s 623 franchises like large businesses because they are part of multistate networks. But the franchises say they are small businesses and should have more time to phase in the higher wage.

[….]

“Seattle’s ordinance is blatantly discriminatory and affirmatively harms Seattle hard-working franchise small business owners every day since it has gone into effect,” Robert Cresanti said in a statement. “We are simply attempting to level the playing field for the 600 local franchise business owners employing 19,000 people in Seattle.”….

Remember, Seattle has a higher minimum wage than the rest of the state.

I likewise responded to points #4 thus

This comes from the NEW YORK CITY GOVERNMENTS website:

The minimum wage in New York City is $15.00 per hour. The New York State Department of Labor oversees wage regulations in New York State. Businesses employing people in New York State should be aware of wage requirements and regulations.

After December 31, 2019, all employees in New York City must be paid at least $15.00 per hour. …

#5 deals with California as a state

However, just like New York state/New York City and Washington state/Seattle, so to goes California. There are many cities in California that have differing minimum wage laws than the state. Here is just one example (click to enlarge):

So, there are a couple numbers not dealt with yet…

they are numbers #3 and #6

  • #3 [QUOTE] “Sean Giordano this is why I & everyone else should dismiss what ever you post. First minute & a half & anyone can prove she’s full of shit” [UNQUOTE]

If the opposite of Chris L’s premise is in fact shown, and if his position is “true” of me — that is: “why I & everyone else should dismiss what ever you post.” Why should I, or we, not dismiss whatever he says. I mean, he is full of shit (#6!!).

Later in the conversation discussion about the effects of minimum wage hurting restaurants, to which Chris posted the following:

I merely responded with

  • The hospitality group, which lobbies on behalf of the restaurant and hotel industry, concluded that Seattle was the hardest-hit city in Washington state, with 624 bars and bistros that have permanently shut down. (BLOG.RESTUARANT)

So, if 29 opened up DESPITE minimum wage and covid… would the 624 be closed BECAUSE of the minimum wage and covid?

So the verdict?

  1. Minimum wage is still not $15.00 an hour
  2. It is $13.50 and in 2021 will be $13.69 (which he is right about, but we are talking about SEATTLE)
  3. [QUOTE] “Sean Giordano this is why I & everyone else should dismiss what ever you post. First minute & a half & anyone can prove she’s full of shit” [UNQUOTE]
  4. New York (remember, she said New York CITY) does not have $15.00 minimum wage, they are near $11.80
  5. California isn’t even over %15.00 an hour
  6. THEY ARE FULL OF SHIT!!

A Pandemic Caused By Red Tape (Government IS the Problem)

Regulations have delayed test kits, “telehealth”, and hospital innovation, making the coronavirus pandemic worse. They set America back months in responding.

Before the excellent PPE story from Front Page, On Wednesday-March 25th, New York’s PPE shortage was filled:

On Wednesday, Cuomo announced via Twitter that the state received a donation of 1.4 million masks, clearly helping to fill the PPE gap.

“NEW: [Soft Bank] donated 1.4 million critically needed N-95 masks to us. New York State thanks you,” the Democrat said. “We are so grateful for this PPE that protects our healthcare workers.”

(DAILY WIRE)

Supporting the above info from John Stossel comes this excellent FRONT-PAGE MAGAZINE:

But why aren’t there any masks?

Surgical masks, like anything in the medical field, are tightly regulated. You can’t just make a mask. Some masks have to be certified by the FDA and others by the CDC. Some are certified by both the FDA and the CDC.

Until recently, the public had no problem buying N95 respirators for use in construction. These masks are certified by the CDC. Why is the CDC in the business of certifying industrial masks, you may wonder? Because, as discussed previously, the CDC does every possible thing except what people think it does. The component of the CDC that does this is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

NIOSH is not to be confused with OSHA, even though they were created at the same time, through the same law, and serve a very similar function: making this another skein in the infinitely tangled web of the federal bureaucracy.

The Open PPE Project launched an effort to quickly create N95 masks only to be told by NIOSH that approving a new mask production facility would take between 45 and 90 days.

Meanwhile there are reports of large stockpiles of masks sitting around waiting for an FDA inspector.

The United States government has a stockpile of 12 million NIOSH approved masks and 5 million that are expired, and are therefore not approved by NIOSH. Except it may approve some conditionally for use.

The FDA and CDC bureaucracy are not up to speed with the current crisis. There aren’t enough inspectors and the Wuhan Virus won’t wait on inspectors from the FDA or NIOSH to do their job.

Instead of streamlining its approvals and inspection process, the CDC lowered its mask protection recommendation for health care workers on the front lines.

The CDC is willing to tell health care professionals to use scarves, rather than accelerate approvals.

Meanwhile N95 mask manufacturers feared being sued if masks meant for industry were used in surgical settings, which meant that they wouldn’t sell those masks to health care providers. At least not until a law protecting them against lawsuits was passed. All this, of course, took even more time.

Smaller manufacturers have tried to get in the game, only to discover the regulatory challenges of it. Fashion businesses that tried to jump in have settled for trying to make surgical masks that they hope will be FDA certified. Meanwhile the big manufacturers were making masks in the People’s Republic of China. And those masks are not leaving ChiCom territory except by the express will of its government.

Worse still, as the crisis grew, the People’s Republic of China bought up **THE WORLD’S SUPPLY OF MASKS, at one point importing 20 million masks in 24 hours. American companies even eagerly donated masks.

**The U.S. mask gap stands in stark contrast to what other nations have on hand: the U.S. has one mask for every three Americans (masks are not supposed to be shared), while Australia has 2.5 masks per resident and Great Britain boasts six. “With the recent outbreak of the novel H1N1 influenza virus,” warned Representative Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, “it has become clear that we need to purchase more medical supplies and replenish the Strategic National Stockpile.” (Read “How to Prepare for a Pandemic.”)

Maskmakers are worried too, especially since ramping up production in the midst of a pandemic won’t be easy. Most maskmaking operations have moved outside the U.S., and 90% of masks sold in the U.S. now come from Mexico or China. But if the U.S. suddenly put in orders for millions of masks, Mexico and China would be unlikely to export their supplies before making sure their own populations were fully protected. “HHS knows the problem exists and yet they won’t tell the health-care industry,” says Mike Bowen of Texas-based Prestige Ameritech, the largest and one of the last remaining American mask manufacturers. “If they would only admit the problem exists, American hospitals would buy American masks and the manufacturing infrastructure would return.” (Read “Battling Swine Flu: The Lessons from SARS.”) (TIME)

But why was the United States so unprepared for a run on masks before the pandemic arrived?

After Katrina, the Bush administration had set a goal of billions of masks in case of a major disaster. But that goal was never met. When the H1N1 swine flu outbreak arrived, we were badly unprepared.

The last run on masks took place during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak under Obama. Hospitals and health care providers began running low on masks and the Strategic National Stockpile released 85 million N95 masks. The stockpile was never replenished and today there are only 12 million N95s.

There were warnings back then that “maskmaking operations have moved outside the U.S., and 90% of masks sold in the U.S. now come from Mexico or China” and that “Mexico and China would be unlikely to export their supplies before making sure their own populations were fully protected.”

While the Obama administration threw billions at assorted solar and wind boondoggles, it failed to invest the money that would have set up reliable mask production in the United States of America. All the experts who claimed that “science” predicted the imminent demise of the planet had been too busy trying to control the weather through higher taxes to spend money on anything as crude as masks.

The secret warehouses where the strategic mask reserve was supposed to be kept are a mess and millions of the masks are expired. New York City asked for millions of masks and got 78,000 expired masks. Oklahoma got 500,000 expired masks. This is the situation, not just at the federal level, but state mask stockpiles, where they exist, also often consisted of storehouses of expired N95 masks.

Had the Bush administration’s National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza been followed, there would be no mask shortage. And had the Obama administration at replaced the masks that it withdrew from the Strategic National Stockpile, we might have had 100 million or so masks in the stockpile.

And had we brought mask manufacturing back to America, we would have a pipeline for making more.

Instead the Wuhan Virus brought a perfect storm, cutting us off from our manufacturing sources in the People’s Republic of China, after the Obama administration had depleted our mask reserve, while regulatory barriers make it difficult for companies quickly get in the game and produce more masks.

President Trump has done his best to cope with a sudden disaster that was decades in the making….

Armstrong and Getty read a letter from a listener discussing the “red-tape” of government stalling and interfering with supplies and innovation this pandemic needs.

George Gilder said something during an interview that stuck with me over the years:

  • “A fundamental principle of information theory is that you can’t guarantee outcomes… in order for an experiment to yield knowledge, it has to be able to fail. If you have guaranteed experiments, you have zero knowledge”

And that is the heart of the issue these guys tackled. During the above excerpt, Armstrong and Getty mentioned their extended podcast with Lanhee Chen:

  • An extended (and off-air) conversation with Lanhee Chen about “Bureaucracy Disease” and how our bloated government agencies can steered in the right direction. (LISTEN)

Larry Elder discussed a FOX NEWS article…

…to which I use the NEW YORK TIMES to make the point that the attack on Trump (as if this is his fault) is unwarranted:

….“So much that was predicted has come to pass,” said Marcia Crosse, former head of the healthcare section of the Government Accountability Office. Since the early 2000s, the GAO, the federal government’s leading internal watchdog, has issued a steady stream of reports about poor pandemic planning.

[….]

That is only the most recent warning. As early as 2003, the GAO cautioned that many urban hospitals lacked enough ventilators to treat a large number of patients suffering from respiratory problems that would be expected in an anthrax or botulism outbreak.

“Ventilators have long been recognized as a weak link,” said Crosse, who spent 35 years at GAO before retiring in 2018.

[….]

Federal policymakers concentrated heavily on pandemic preparedness in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and anthrax scare in 2001, which both exposed gaps in the nation’s emergency response system.

In 2005, the administration of President George W. Bush published a landmark “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.” The document, among other things, highlighted the need for plans to distribute necessary medical supplies from the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile and to support state and local efforts to “surge” medical personnel and facilities to handle an outbreak.

Medical equipment such as masks and protective clothing in particular were given high priority as planners recognized that doctors, nurses and other medical staff were most vulnerable.

After the swine flu epidemic in 2009, a safety-equipment industry association and a federally sponsored task force both recommended that depleted supplies of N95 respirator masks, which filter out airborne particles, be replenished by the stockpile, which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That didn’t happen, according to Charles Johnson, president of the International Safety Equipment Assn.

The stockpile drew down about 100 million masks during the 2009 epidemic, Johnson said…..

Why Can’t America Fill a Pothole?

Why can’t America build or repair infrastructure on a par with countries in Europe or Asia? Why are our bridges, roads, and airports not what they should be? Aren’t we the richest and most technologically savvy country in the world? Who or what is holding us back? Kyle Smith of National Review has the surprising (and frustrating) answer.

BIG UNIONS and Politicians (Public and School Unions)

Public-sector unions have been gaming the political system for decades, bankrupting whole cities and plunging states into massive debt. How did this happen and can it be stopped? Akash Chougule, senior policy fellow for Americans for Prosperity, has the answers in this sobering video from Prager University.

Who poses the biggest threat to America’s economy by striking deals with crooked politicians? Big Oil, Big Pharma, or Big Unions? Daniel DiSalvo, political science professor at the City College of New York, gives the answer.

There is a dilemma in American education. On the one hand, teachers are essential to student achievement. On the other, teachers unions promote self-interests of their members which are antithetical to the interests of students. So, how do we fix this problem? In five minutes, Terry Moe, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, delineates this quandary and offers solutions.

Can every child receive a good education? With school choice and competition, yes. The problem? Powerful teachers unions oppose school choice. But when teachers and parents understand why school choice works, they support it. Rebecca Friedrichs, a public school teacher who took her case against the teachers union all the way to the Supreme Court, explains why school choice is the right choice.

America’s public education system is failing. We’re spending more money on education but not getting better results for our children.

That’s because the machine that runs the K-12 education system isn’t designed to produce better schools. It’s designed to produce more money for unions and more donations for politicians.

For decades, teachers’ unions have been among our nation’s largest political donors. As Reason Foundation’s Lisa Snell has noted, the National Education Association (NEA) alone spent $40 million on the 2010 election cycle (source: http://reason.org/news/printer/big-ed…). As the country’s largest teachers union, the NEA is only one cog in the infernal machine that robs parents of their tax dollars and students of their futures.

Students, teachers, parents, and hardworking Americans are all victims of this political machine–a system that takes money out of taxpayers’ wallets and gives it to union bosses, who put it in the pockets of politicians.

Our kids deserve better.

Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration (Prager | Zmirak)

Here is the full interview… followed by links to the topical breakdown of it:


Dennis Prager interviews John Zmirak, who is the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.” This was quite an interview. I will be splitting some of this up into topical segments in a bit. But Mr. Zmirak is a guy I would love to sit and have a beer with (a few of em’).

Here are the edited portions:

 

Professor John Eastman Discusses the SCOTUS Cases and More

Larry Elder interviews Professor John Eastman in regards to the recent Supreme Court decisions and the nomination process for Justice Kennedy’s replacement. Discussion about the Courts purpose and how States should have more say, and audio of Kennedy attacking Bork is added (the start of this whole politicization of the nomination process BTW). Enjoy.

Is Fascism Right Or Left?

Here is an extended quote from Dinesh D’Souza’s book, THE BIG LIE, detailing the easy switch from socialist leaders and unions to fascist — overnight:

…on March 23, 1919, one of the most famous socialists in Italy founded a new party, the Fasci di Combattimento, a term that means “fascist combat squad.” This was the first official fascist party and thus its founding represents the true birth of fascism. By the same token, this man was the first fascist. The term “fascism” can be traced back to 1914, when he founded the Fasci Rivoluzionari d’Azione Internazionalista, a political movement whose members called them­selves fascisti or fascists.

In 1914, this founding father of fascism was, together with Vladimir Lenin of Russia, Rosa Luxemburg of Germany, and Antonio Gramsci of Italy, one of the best known Marxists in the world. His fellow Marx­ists and socialists recognized him as a great leader of socialism. His decision to become a fascist was controversial, yet he received congratu­lations from Lenin who continued to regard him as a faithful revolution­ary socialist. And this is how he saw himself.

That same year, because of his support for Italian involvement in World War I, he would be expelled from the Italian Socialist Party for “heresy,” but this does not mean he ceased to be a socialist. It was common practice for socialist parties to expel dissenting fellow social­ists for breaking on some fine point with the party line. This party reject insisted that he had been kicked out for making “a revision of socialism from the revolutionary point of view.” For the rest of his life—right until his lifeless body was displayed in a town square in Milan—he upheld the central tenets of socialism which he saw as best reflected in fascism.

Who, then, was this man? He was the future leader of fascist Italy, the one whom Italians called Il Duce, Benito Mussolini.

Mussolini’s socialist credentials were impeccable. He had been raised in a socialist family and made a public declaration in 1901, at the age of eighteen, of his convictions. By twenty-one, he was an orthodox Marx­ist familiar not only with the writings of Marx and Engels but also of many of the most influential German, Italian, and French Marxists of the fin de siecle period. Like other orthodox Marxists, Mussolini rejected religious faith and authored anti-Catholic pamphlets repudiating his native Catholicism.

Mussolini embarked on an active career as a writer, editor, and political organizer. Exiled to Switzerland between 1902 and 1904, he collaborated with the Italian Socialist Party weekly issued there and also wrote for Il Proletario, a socialist weekly published in New York. In 1909 Mussolini made another foreign sojourn to Trento—then part of Austria-Hungary—where he worked for the socialist party and edited its news­paper. Returning the next year to his hometown of Forli, he edited the weekly socialist publication La Lotta di Classe (The Class War). He wrote so widely on Marxism, socialist theory, and contemporary politics that his output now fills seven volumes.

Mussolini wasn’t just an intellectual; he organized workers’ strikes on behalf of the socialist movement both inside and outside of Italy and was twice jailed for his activism. In 1912, Mussolini was recognized as a socialist leader at the Socialist Congress at Reggio Emilia and was appointed to the Italian Socialist Party’s board of directors. That same year, at the age of twenty-nine, he became editor of Avanti!, the official publication of the party.

From the point of view of the progressive narrative—a narrative I began to challenge in the previous chapter—Mussolini’s shift from Marxian socialism to fascism must come as a huge surprise. In the pro­gressive paradigm, Marxian socialism is the left end of the spectrum and fascism is the right end of the spectrum. Progressive incredulity becomes even greater when we see that Mussolini wasn’t just any socialist; he was the recognized head of the socialist movement in Italy. Moreover, he didn’t just climb aboard the fascist bandwagon; he created it.

Today we think of fascism’s most famous representative as Adolf Hitler. Yet as I mentioned earlier, Hitler didn’t consider himself a fascist. Rather, he saw himself as a National Socialist. The two ideologies are related in that they are both based on collectivism and centralized state power. They emerge, one might say, from a common point of origin. Yet they are also distinct; fascism, for instance, had no intrinsic connection with anti-Semitism in the way that National Socialism did.

In any event, Hitler was an obscure local organizer in Germany when Mussolini came to power and, following his famous March on Rome, established the world’s first fascist regime in Italy in 1922. Hitler greatly admired Mussolini and aspired to become like him. Mussolini, Hitler said, was “the leading statesman in the world, to whom none may even remotely compare himself.” Hitler modeled his failed Munich Putsch in November 1923 on Mussolini’s successful March on Rome.

When Hitler first came to power he kept a bust of Mussolini in his office and one German observer termed him “Germany’s Mussolini.” Yet later, when the two men first met, Mussolini was not very impressed by Hitler. Mussolini became more respectful after 1939 when Hitler conquered Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Norway, and France. Hitler continued to uphold Mussolini as “that unparalleled statesman” and “one of the Caesars” and confessed that without Italian fascism there would not have been a German National Socialism: “The brown shirt would probably not have existed without the black shirt.”

Hitler was, like Mussolini, a man of the Left. Hitler too was a social­ist and a labor leader who founded the German Socialist Workers’ Party with a platform very similar to that of Mussolini’s fascist party. Yet Hitler came to power in the 1930s while Mussolini ruled through most of the 1920s. Mussolini was, during those years, much more famous than Hitler. He was recognized as the founding father of fascism. So any account of the origin of fascism must focus not on Hitler but on Mus­solini. Mussolini is the original and prototypical fascist.

From Socialism to Fascism

So how—to return to the progressive paradigm—do progressives account for Mussolini’s conversion from socialism to fascism, or more precisely for Mussolini’s simultaneous embrace of both? The problem is further deepened by the fact that Mussolini was not alone. Hundreds of leading socialists, initially in Italy but subsequently in Germany, France, and other countries, also became fascists. In fact, I will go further to say that all the leading figures in the founding of fascism were men of the Left. “The first fascists,” Anthony James Gregor tells us, “were almost all Marxists.”

I will cite a few examples. Jean Allemane, famous for his role in the Dreyfus case, one of the great figures of French socialism, became a fascist later in life. So did the socialist Georges Valois. Marcel Deat, the founder of the Parti Socialiste de France, eventually quit and started a pro-fascist party in 1936. Later, he became a Nazi collaborator during the Vichy regimeVacques Doriot a French communist, moved his Parti Populaire Francais into the fascist camp.

The Belgian socialist theoretician Henri de Man transitioned to becoming a fascist theoretician. In England. Oswald Mosley, a socialist and Labor Party Member of Parliament, eventually broke with the Labor Party because he found it insufficiently radical. He later founded the British Union of Fascists and became the country’s leading Nazi sympa­thizer. In Germany, the socialist playwright Gerhart Hauptmann embraced Hitler and produced plays during the Third Reich. After the war, he became a communist and staged his productions in Soviet-dominated East Berlin

In Italy, philosopher Giovanni Gentile moved from Marxism to fas­cism, as did a host of Italian labor organizers: Ottavio Dinale, Tullio Masotti, Carlo Silvestri, and Umberto Pasella. The socialist writer Agos­tino Lanzillo joined Mussolini’s parliament as a member of the fascist party Nicola Bombacci, one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party, became Mussolini’s top adviser in Salo. Gentile’s disciple Ugo Spirito, who also served Mussolini at Salo, moved from Marxism to fascism and then back to Marxism. Like Hauptmann, Spirito became a communist sympathizer after World War II and called for a new “syn­thesis” between communism and fascism.

Others who made the same journey from socialism to fascism will be named in this chapter, and one thing that will become very clear is that these are not “conversion” stories. These men didn’t “switch” from socialism to fascism. Rather, they became fascists in the same way that Russian socialists became Leninist Bolsheviks. Like their Russian coun­terparts, these socialists believed themselves to be growing into fascism, maturing into fascism, because they saw fascism as the most well thought out, practical form of socialism for the new century.

Progressivism simply cannot account for the easy traffic from social­ism to fascism. Consequently, progressives typically maintain complete silence about this whole historical relationship which is deeply embar­rassing to them. In all the articles comparing Trump to Mussolini I searched in vain for references to Mussolini’s erstwhile Marxism and lifelong attachment to socialism. Either from ignorance or from design, these references are missing.

Progressive biographical accounts that cannot avoid Mussolini’s socialist past nevertheless turn around and accuse Mussolini—as the Socialist Party of Italy did in 1914—of “selling out” to fascism for money and power. Other accounts contend that whatever Mussolini’s original convictions, the very fact that his fascists later battled the Marxists and traditional socialists clearly shows that Mussolini did not remain a social­ist or a man of the Left.

But these explanations make no sense. When Mussolini “sold out” he became an outcast. He had neither money nor power. Nor did any of the first fascists embrace fascism for this reason. Rather, they became fascists because they saw fascism as the only way to rescue socialism and make it viable. In other words, their defection was within socialism—they sought to create a new type of socialism that would actually draw a mass following and produce the workers’ revolution that Marx antic­ipated and hoped for.

Vicious fights among socialist and leftist factions are a recognized feature of the history of socialism. In Russia, for example, there were bloody confrontations between the rival Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Later the Bolsheviks split into Leninists and Trotskyites, and Trotsky ended up dead on Lenin’s orders. These were all men of the Left. What these bloody rivalries prove is that the worst splits and conflicts some­times arise among people who are ideologically very similar and differ on relatively small—though not small to them—points of doctrine.

In this chapter I will trace the development of fascism by showing precisely how it grew out of a doctrinal division within the community of Marxian socialists. In short, I will prove that fascism is exclusively a product of the Left. This is not a case of leftists who moved right. On the contrary, the fascists were on the left end of the socialist movement. They saw themselves not as jettisoning Marxism but as saving it from obsolescence. From their perspective, Marxism and socialism were too inert and needed to be adjusted leftward. In other words, they viewed fascism as more revolutionary than traditional socialism.

[….]

Mussolini didn’t believe in race and he wasn’t initially a nationalist; rather, he was a revolutionary syndicalist. The term syndicalism refers to the associations or syndicates to which workers belonged. These were autonomous workers organizations that resembled unions, but they were not unions because the syndicates were organized regionally rather than by corporation or occupation. As dedicated Marxists, the revolutionary syndicalists agreed with Marx that class associations were primary, and that they must be the organizing principle of socialist revolution.

Very much in keeping with this class emphasis that was so central to Marx, the syndicalists, strongly influenced by Sorel, sought to rally the labor syndicates through a general strike that would overthrow the ruling class and establish socialism in Italy. This is what made them “revolutionary.” They intended to foment revolution, not wait for it to happen. They were considered the smartest, most dedicated people in the Italian Socialist Party and they occupied the left wing of the party.

The big names in revolutionary syndicalism were Giuseppe Prezzolini, Angelo 0. Olivetti, Arturo Labriola, Filippo Corridoni, Paolo Orano, Michele Bianchi, and Sergio Panunzio. Most of them were writ­ers or labor organizers. All of them were socialists, and shortly all of them would be camelascists, even though Labriola opposed Mussolini’s regime when it came to power and Corridoni, who was killed in World War I, didn’t live to see it.

Mussolini was their acknowledged leader. He knew them well and conspired with them at meetings and rallies. He read their books and articles and published in their magazines like the Avanguardia Socialista, founded by Laboriola, which was the leading journal of syndicalist thought. Mussolini also reviewed and published the leading syndicalists in his own socialist publications.

Like all revolutionary socialists, the syndicalists had little faith in democratic parliamentary procedures and, consistent with Sorel and Lenin, they sought a charismatic leader who would inspire the workers to action. Mussolini, more than anyone else, fit their prescription. Mus­solini was the one who led the syndicalists into a union with the nation­alists in order to form the new socialist hybrid called fascism in Italy and (with some modifications) National Socialism in Germany.

The syndicalists organized three general strikes in Italy in 1904, 1911, and 1913. Mussolini supported the strikes. The 1904 strike began in Milan and spread across the country. Five million workers walked off their jobs. The nation was paralyzed: there was no public transportation, and no one could buy anything. Even so, the strike ended without caus­ing either the fall of the government or the installation of socialism.

  • Dinesh D’Souza, The Big Lie: Exposing the NAZI Roots of the American Left (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2017), 65-70, 82-83.

John & Ken Discuss CalPERS Ponzi Scheme (UPDATED)

California Boondoggles

The pension crisis in California is the worst in the country, and it will continue to get worse as Jerry Brown and the environmentalists strap this state with regulations that choke businesses to death — see:

California Regression – Eco Craziness
Cow-Farts in London – Jerry Brown

IBD has this article on the issue:

Pensions: California, which is known for its earthquakes, just had a major one. Didn’t feel it? You will. This quake isn’t the earthshaking kind, but rather the state’s decision to recognize reality when it comes to its insolvent public-employee pension fund.

Last week, the 85-year-old California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, slashed its official investment forecast going forward, meaning that state and local governments, police and sheriffs departments, and even school districts will have to spend billions of dollars more to CalPERS to support their future retirees. And, no doubt, it will mean higher taxes for all.

Sadly, this move won’t be enough. For years, the state has projected steady investment returns of 7.5% for CalPERS, the largest pension fund in the nation. But returns have been below that. So now CalPERS is trimming its return to 7% per year. But, given the pension fund’s mismanagement and poor performance, even that may be too high. Today the fund is a little over 60% fully funded, meaning it will have to raise billions of dollars more to be solvent. That means higher contributions for government workers, and higher taxes for average citizens.

It’s no accident. “CalPERS has … steered billions of dollars into politically connected firms,” wrote Steve Malanga in City Journal, back in 2013. “And it has ventured into ‘socially responsible’ investment strategies, making bad bets that have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Such dubious practices have piled up a crushing amount of pension debt, which California residents — and their children — will somehow have to repay.”

That’s happening now. California’s famous Highway Patrol, for instance, has grossly underfunded its pensions. So it got the state to agree to a $10 hike in car registration fees to help make up the shortfall. No doubt, it will be asking for more soon.

It’s not just California. Across the country, pension funds have been underfunded, mismanaged and in some cases looted by managers. Today, according to the Fed, pension funds across the country are $2 trillion in the red — after being overfunded as recently as the year 2000. That means tax hikes are coming, like it or not…..