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Surprise: Bloomberg Refuses to Apologize for Counter-terror Program [Video]

My latest in PJ Media:

The main impression that Michael Bloomberg has given the world as a presidential candidate is one of weakness. He has fumbled awkwardly when fielding questions about his crude remarks about women. He allowed himself to be bullied into apologizing for New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk program, despite the fact that crime levels have risen significantly since it was scrapped. No one would have been surprised if he succumbed to pressure and renounced New York’s post-9/11 counterterror program of surveillance in Muslim communities. Instead, against all expectations, on Thursday he defended it.

WATCH:

In an interview on PBS NewsHour, Bloomberg said:

“We sent to some officers into some mosques to listen to the sermon that the imam gave. We were very careful. And the authorities that looked at us said, yes, you complied with the law. But we had every intention of going every place we could legally to get as much information to protect this country. We had just lost 3,000 people at 9/11. Of course we’re supposed to do that.”

That’s true. Of course the mayor of a major city that has just been hit with a catastrophic jihad terror attack should take realistic and effective steps to prevent another such attack. This shouldn’t even be controversial; it’s a sign of the effectiveness of the sinister campaign to paint all resistance to jihad violence as “Islamophobia” that anyone is upset with Bloomberg about this. “There were imams who publicly at that time were urging the terrorism. And so of course that’s where you gonna go. That does not, incidentally, mean that all Muslims are terrorists or all terrorists are Muslims. But the people who flew those airplanes came from the Middle East.”

There is much more. Read the rest here.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

“Restaurant Recession” Hits NYC Following $15 Minimum Wage

This will be a rough year for full-service NYC restaurants as they try to navigate a future with significant economic headwinds and significantly higher labor costs from the city’s $15 an hour minimum wage.

An article in the New York Eater (“Restaurateurs Are Scrambling to Cut Service and Raise Prices After Minimum Wage Hike“) highlights some of the suffering New York City’s full-service restaurants are experiencing following the December 31, 2018 hike in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is 15.4% higher than the $13 minimum wage a year earlier and 36.4% higher than the $11 an hour two years ago. For example, Rosa Mexicana operates four restaurants in Manhattan and estimates the $15 mandated wage will increase their labor costs by $600,000 this year. Here’s a slice:

Now, across the city, restaurant owners and operators are reworking their budgets and operations to come up with those extra funds. Some restaurants, like Rosa Mexicano, are changing scheduling. Other restaurateurs are cutting hours and staffers, raising menu prices, and otherwise nixing costs wherever they can.

And though the new regulations are intended to benefit employees, some restaurateurs and staffers say that take home pay ends up being less due to fewer hours — or that employees face more work because there are fewer staffers per shift. “The bottom line is, we have to reduce the number of hours we spend,” says Chris Westcott, Rosa Mexicano’s president and CEO. “And unfortunately that means that, in many cases, employees are earning less even though they’re making more.”

In a survey conducted by New York City Hospitality Alliance late last year, about 75% of the more than 300 respondents operating full-service restaurants reported they’ll reduce employee hours this year because of the new wage increases, while 47% said they’ll eliminate jobs in 2019.

Note also that the survey also reported that “76.50% of respondents report reducing employee hours and 36.30% eliminated jobs in 2018 in response to mandated wage increases.” Those staff reductions are showing up in the NYC full-service restaurant employee series from the BLS, see chart above. December 2018 restaurant jobs were down by almost 3,000 (and by 1.64%) from the previous December, and the 2.5% annual decline in March 2018 was the worst annual decline since the sharp collapse in restaurant jobs following 9/11 in 2001.

As the chart shows, it usually takes an economic recession to cause year-over-year job losses at NYC’s full-service restaurants, so it’s likely that this is a “restaurant recession” tied to the annual series of minimum wage hikes that brought the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour at the end of last year. And the NYC restaurant recession is happening even as the national economy hums along in the 117th month of the second-longest economic expansion in history and just short of the 120-month record expansion from March 1991 to March 2001.

Here’s more of the article:

“There’s a lot of concern and anxiety happening within the city’s restaurant industry,” says Andrew Rigie, executive director of the restaurant advocacy group. Most restaurant owners want to pay employees more, he says, but are challenged by “the financial realities of running a restaurant in New York City.” Merelyn Bucio, a server at a restaurant in Soho that she declined to name, says her hours were cut and her workload increased when wage rates rose. Server assistants and bussers now work fewer shifts, so she and other servers take on side work like polishing silverware and glasses. “We have large sections, and there are large groups, so it’s more difficult,” she says. “You need your server assistant in order to give guests a better experience.”

At Lalito, a small restaurant in Chinatown, they used to roster two servers on the floor, but post wage increases, there’s only one, who is armed with a handheld POS (point of sale) system, according to co-owner Mateusz Lilpop. Having fewer people working was the only way for him to reduce costs, he says. Since the hike, labor costs at Lalito have risen about 10 percent — from 30 to 35 percent to 40 to 45 percent of sales, he says.

These changes get passed onto the diner, some restaurateurs argue. Service can suffer due to fewer people on the floor, or more and more restaurateurs will explore the fast-casual format over full-service ones. Some restaurants are also raising prices for customers. According to the NYC Hospitality Alliance’s survey, close to 90 percent of respondents expect to raise menu prices this year. Lalito’s menu prices have increased by 10 to 15 percent. Lilpop says, and it’s not just the cost of paying his staff driving prices up — it’s a ripple effect from New York-based food purveyors’ own labor cost increases.

“If you have a farmer that has employees that are picking fruit, he has to increase his labor costs, which means he has to increase his fruit prices,” Lilpop says. “I have to buy that fruit from him at a higher rate, and it goes down the chain.”

A few economic lessons here.

  1. A reduction in restaurant staffing that results in a decline in customer service (e.g., longer wait times, less attentive wait staff, etc.) is equivalent to a price increase for customers.
  2. The increases in the city minimum wage to $15 an hour, in addition to directly increasing labor costs for restaurants, also affects the labor costs of companies that supply food, liquor, restaurant supplies, menus, etc. and causes a ripple effect of indirect higher operational costs throughout the entire restaurant supply chain as described above.
  3. Even for workers who keep their jobs, a higher minimum wage per hour doesn’t necessarily translate into higher weekly earnings, if the reduction in hours is greater than the increase in hourly wages. For example, 40 hours per week at $13 an hour generates higher weekly pre-tax earnings ($520) than 33 hours per week at the higher $15 an hour ($495).

Prediction: This will be a rough year for full-service NYC restaurants as they try to navigate a future with significant economic headwinds and significantly higher labor costs from the city’s $15 an hour minimum wage.

This article was reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute.

COLUMN BY

Mark J. Perry

Mark J. Perry

Mark J. Perry is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

NYC: Giant sculpture proclaiming ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet’ goes up at Ground Zero

Said Jenkell: “Given the unique and justified sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center, it came to my mind to propose to remove the sculpture showcasing the flag of Saudi Arabia, or relocate it to a less sensitive location. But there is no way I can do such a thing as the flag of Saudi Arabia is entirely part of the G20 just like any other candy flag of this Candy Nations show.”

City officials should move it. Would a giant sculpture containing Shinto inscriptions be put up at Pearl Harbor? But nothing will be done about this. To move it would be “Islamophobic,” and the de Blasio administration would rather have its teeth pulled out with rusty pliers than do anything that might even give the appearance of “Islamophobia.”

“A Sculpture Celebrating Saudi Arabia Has Been Erected on Ground Zero,” by Davis Richardson, Observer, January 9, 2019 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

A sculpture celebrating Saudi Arabia’s place in the G20 Summit was erected on the World Trade Center grounds last week, a stone’s throw away from the 9/11 memorial.

Shaped to resemble a piece of candy, the nine-foot-tall statue bears the Kingdom’s emerald flag emblazoned with the Arabic inscription, “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the prophet.” It was created by French sculptor Laurence Jenkell in 2011 as part of the larger installation “Candy Nations” which depicts G20 countries as sugary delights….

“I first created flag candy sculptures to celebrate mankind on an international level and pay tribute to People of the entire world,” Jenkell told Observer in a statement. “Given the unique and justified sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center, it came to my mind to propose to remove the sculpture showcasing the flag of Saudi Arabia, or relocate it to a less sensitive location. But there is no way I can do such a thing as the flag of Saudi Arabia is entirely part of the G20 just like any other candy flag of this Candy Nations show.”

The installation was curated and installed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey….

Although the installation was originally created in 2011 to convey “an optimistic message of unity beneath external differences,” its placement at the World Trade Center raises questions given longstanding accusations directed toward Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In 2003, hundreds of families affected by the 9/11 terror attacks sued the Kingdom over its alleged involvement in harboring terrorism—given that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

Last March, a U.S. federal judge rejected Saudi Arabia’s motion to drop the charges.

RELATED ARTICLE: Antisemitic Congresswoman Given Seat on House Foreign Affairs Committee

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column with images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash.

VIDEO: NYC Police looking for Burka clad Muslim woman taking photos of Jewish school

Relax, you greasy Islamophobe. She was just thinking about enrolling her children there and wanted to make sure they had adequate playground facilities.

“NYPD Seeking to Question Muslim Woman Caught On Video Taking Photos From Jewish School,” by Mark Hirshberg, JP Updates, October 1, 2016:

The NYPD Intelligence Division & Counter-Terrorism Bureau are seeking to speak with a woman that was caught on surveillance video taking pictures of a Jewish school in borough park.

The incident took place last week on Thursday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m. The woman, dressed like a Muslim, showed up at the Yeshiva Imeri Yosef Spinka school located at 15th avenue and 58th street. She proceeded to take photos and look around all sides of the building as if to spy and stake out the place.

The school’s surveillance video was handed over to the NYPD.

Investigators from the Intelligence Division are now reviewing the video, NYPD officials told JP….

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Left Forum 2016 Speaker: ‘There are among refugees also terrorists, rapists, criminals…but so what?’

The Leftist crowd was angry not at his insouciance over civilizational suicide, but over his “xenophobic” characterizations. That there are “terrorists, rapists, criminals” among the refugees and migrants is an obvious and abundantly documented fact, but for all too many people nowadays, it is morally wrong to state inconvenient facts.

“Žižek at Left Forum: ‘Terrorists, rapists, & criminals among refugees, but who cares?,’” RT, May 23, 2016:

Slavoj Žižek, “the most dangerous philosopher in the West,” stirred the melting pot Sunday as the closing speaker at Left Forum 2016 in New York City, making controversial comments about the refugee crisis.

The Slovenian academic was heckled during his epic three-and-a-half hour session at the conference titled ‘Rage, Rebellion, Revolution: Organizing our power’ held at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and streamed live throughout the weekend on RT.com.

Žižek was already labeled a “racist,”“antisemite,” and “misogynist” before he hit the stage, which perhaps is why he started his speech by saying, “If you want to start exchanging insults, I can be extremely brutal, I always win. But, let’s not do it today, maybe.”

That truce with his friend and critics on the left was temporary, after his subsequent words ignited a firestorm that continued to burn on social media Monday.

“The obvious threat, that there are among refugees also terrorists, rapists, criminals, I mean this in a totally neutral way, of course there are but so what?” he said, when discussing reasons behind the “catastrophe” in Europe.

While a more conservative or mainstream audience might have been shocked by his blasé “so what?” attitude towards what they perceive to be a global threat, his comments seemed to ‘trigger’ something else in this left-wing crowd, angry over what they interpreted as “xenophobic” characterizations….

RELATED ARTICLE: Bronx: Muslim with large knife collection and beheading videos charged with aiding the Islamic State

New York City Muslim Threatens to Kill Cop, Vows Support for the Islamic State

After the January shooting of a Philadelphia police officer at point blank range, New York City police took seriously a tip about an ex-con on parole, who allegedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and threatened to kill a cop.

While the entire NYPD force was put on alert, the suspect, Marcus Shelton, 36, surrendered to a parole officer January 20. Shelton was wanted on two counts of parole violations and it remains undecided as to whether or not he will be charged with making a threat.

Marcus Shelton

Marcus Shelton

The drama began the previous day when the NYPD received an anonymous phone call saying that Shelton intended to shoot a police officer. A similar call (placed from New York) was also received by the Philadelphia Police Department. One of the callers said Shelton had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

Shelton has a history of 20 prior arrests and served time for drug possession and assault.  He was in violation of his parole for possession of marijuana as well as for bending a NYC MetroCard to ride free.

In Philadelphia, police officer Jesse Hartnett was shot three times in the arm on Jan. 7 by Edward Archer, gunman who said he had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

When the call came into the NYPD, all police were issued an Officer Safety Alert. “Be mindful that any call, regardless of how insignificant it appears to be, may be a set up,” said the head of NYPD’s largest union, Patrick Lynch at the time.

“We are taking it serious based on what happened in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago,” said Thomas Galati, chief of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau.

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Trump, Cruz and New York Values

New York City values are going through the roof. And it’s not just real estate. A prime story the last many days has been the GOP debate dust-up between Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. After the senator impugned “New York values” in an effort to call into question the businessman’s conservative bona fides, Trump responded with an impassioned defense of New Yorkers’ character. Trump won the exchange on style with rhetorical effectiveness, but, frankly, Cruz was right on substance.

This is not a commentary on whether Trump exemplifies NY values. In fact, I love most of what The Donald is saying; furthermore, while I have great respect for Cruz, the fact that no other candidate Thursday night could join Trump in supporting a halt to Muslim immigration — a common-sense measure — calls their qualifications for the presidency into question. But this isn’t a commentary on that, either, or on NY values, although I will touch on them. This article is about something far deeper.

All of us generalize. And most of us bristle at generalizations we don’t’ like — whether true or not. It’s then that we, waxing emotional, may complain about the “folly of generalization.”

Now, it may come as a shock to the critics of mine who suppose I live in West Virginia and eat chicken-fried steak, but I was born in NY and grew up in NYC — the Bronx, to be precise. And believe me, there are NY values (along with an ever decreasing number of NY virtues). Moreover, as Cruz said, most people know what they are. Trump certainly does; after all, he referenced his NY values in a 1999 interview. And while radio host and Trump supporter Michael Savage, another man I greatly respect, took exception to Cruz’ remarks, I remember when he complained on air that Vermont was ruined and became Sandersized when too many New Yorkers moved there.

What are NY values? Well, state residents elected a governor who said in 2014 that pro-life, pro-Second Amendment conservatives “have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are’”; and the Big Apple elevated to mayor Bolshevik Bill, a Marxist who honeymooned in Cuba and once raised money for the Sandinistas. You figure it out.

My real concern here, however, is not how people value New Yorkers or Cruz or Trump, but how they value generalization itself. For our refusal to properly generalize is one of the characteristic faults of our time — and a dangerous one at that.

Here’s a good example: if it’s wrong to generalize about New Yorkers because, in principle, it’s wrong to generalize, how can we then generalize about terrorists or Muslims? Doesn’t it make it harder to justify a halt to Muslim immigration if generalization is taken off the table? So some may get offended and say “Not all New Yorkers are liberals,” but this is reminiscent of liberals opposing common-sense profiling and saying “Not all Muslims are terrorists” (or “Not all terrorists are Muslim”). In point of fact, the percentage of Muslims who are terrorists is lower than the percentage of New Yorkers who are liberal, but this is irrelevant. The fact that virtually all the terrorists bedeviling us are Muslim is significant and indicates the importance of honest examination of Islamic values — which, like NY values, certainly exist.

The reality is that “not all _____ are _____” is not a valid argument against generalization, only reflective of a misunderstanding of it. If I say “Men are taller than women,” it’s silly to respond “But not all men are taller than all women!” After all, I didn’t say “all” and wasn’t implying the absence of individual variation; rather, I was referring to men and women as groups. And just as we must judge every individual as an individual and not paint everyone with the same brush, we must judge an individual group as an individual group and not paint every one with the same brush.

In fact, the only reason we can even identify groups as “groups” is that there are differences among them. And barring the rare cases in which groups are differentiated solely by location (as when dividing a class of boys into two groups placed at different tables), those differences are often neither arbitrary nor insignificant. Is location the only thing differentiating Afghans from Americans? Is location the only thing differentiating New Yorkers from Alabamans? Just as there’ll be very different government if you replace the 320 million Americans in the US with 320 million Muslims, there’ll be very different state government if you replace the 4.8 million Alabamans in Alabama with average New Yorkers.

In fairness, most NY counties without big population centers are red. “Aha,” you say, “what about those rural values in the Empire State?!” Yes, there can be sub-groups within groups, and there is a general ideological divide between the woods and the hoods. But the point is that speaking of “rural values” is a generalization, too — and a correct one.

Why does this matter? Question: who’s in closer touch with reality, someone who only understands individual variation or someone who also understands group variation? In fact, the latter is necessary for survival. Just as being able to judge individual character (as when choosing a babysitter) is important, so is being able to judge group character (related to this is being able to properly judge what faults are found mostly in a given group, even if they’re exhibited by only a minority in the group). This is especially true given that understanding group character aids in assessing individual character.

This is not synonymous with prejudice. It rather is part of profiling, which, to paraphrase Dr. Walter Williams, is a method by which we can make determinations based on scant information when the cost of obtaining more information is too high. For example, since an Israeli airport-security agent can’t spend a month living with and becoming acquainted with every traveler, he must make judgments based on group associations; thus, knowing not all Muslims are terrorists but virtually all Mideast terrorists are Muslim, he’ll scrutinize a Muslim flier more closely.

We all make such generalization/profiling-based judgments. A stranded woman motorist may refuse to roll down her window and accept aid from a young man with greasy hair who’s peppered with tattoos and body-piercings; of course, he could conceivably be well-meaning, but this is a situation where she really does have to judge the book by its cover. Likewise, she may refuse to lower her window for any man, knowing that while most men aren’t rapists, most all rapists are men. I’m not hiring a member of the Communist Party USA as a babysitter no matter how pleasant the person appears. And not all dogs bite, but it’s still a good policy to not pet strange dogs.

Doctors also must consider group characteristics, to do their patients justice. For example, understanding that Pima Indians have the world’s highest diabetes rate and that black men’s prostate-cancer rate is twice white men’s can serve as indicators for screening. And only women are routinely examined for breast cancer even though men occasionally develop the disease.

Of course, no good person wants generalization to descend into prejudice, a fault man so often exhibits. But to consequently dismiss generalization, and thus throw out of the baby with the bathwater, is much like dispensing with medical diagnostics merely because witch doctors have existed. Moreover, note that since “prejudice” is defined as “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason,” such an uninformed, unfavorable opinion of generalization is a prejudice itself. And it’s a prejudice that can get you killed.

New York: Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s Homosexual Sex Scandal

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the American Cardinal prelate of the Catholic Church, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, who serves as the tenth and current Archbishop of New York is involved in a homosexual sex scandal.

homosexual priest boy friend

A scorned ex-girlfriend of Keith Crist (center) emailed details of his alleged kinky sex romps with the Rev. Peter Miqueli to Cardinal Dolan (left). Photo: David McGlynn; The Main Street Wire.

In a New York Post column titled “Emails to Dolan detail priest’s alleged ‘pee-drinking’ sex romps” Julia Marsh, Joe Tacopino and Laura Italiano report:

The scorned ex-girlfriend of an S&M “master” to a Catholic priest went right to the top and sent Timothy Cardinal Dolan ­e-mails that were hardly suitable for church — laying out details of the romps that were allegedly funded with cash skimmed from the poor box.

Tatyana Gudin shared with The Post her message to the cardinal that recounted how the Rev. Peter Miqueli allegedly wore a locked Lucite chastity belt along with a dog collar during pricey sessions with his bodybuilder lover.

She also claimed to the pope’s right-hand man in America that Miqueli had an interfaith fantasy of being humiliated in Borough Park, Brooklyn, in front of a “nice Jewish girl.”

Miqueli, meanwhile, remained a pastor of St. Frances de Chantal in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of The Bronx on Friday.

Read more.

In March of 2014 Cardinal Dolan was ‘fully supportive’ of teaching that homosexual activity is immoral.

However, Cardinal Dolan has been criticized for embracing the homosexual lifestyle and allowing a homosexual float in the March 2015 Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York.

Kirsten Andersen from LifeSiteNews.com reported:

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan led Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on Tuesday as grand marshal, despite backlash from faithful Catholics unhappy with the organizers’ decision to allow an openly homosexual activist group to march in the event.

“I’m as radiant as the sun, so thanks be to God for the honor and the joy,” said Cardinal Dolan on Tuesday morning, as he led 250,000 marchers down Fifth Avenue – including a delegation from “Out @ NBC Universal,” a group of gay activists who work for NBC, the network that televises the parade.

Catholic commentator Michael Voris and his team from ChurchMilitant.TV were present at the parade and were able to question Dolan on his decision during a press scrum. “Your Eminence, do you have anything to say to the loyal Catholics who find what you’re doing here a great scandal to the faith?” Voris asked.

“No, come on in. We’d love to have you,” Dolan replied.

Read more.

Perhaps Cardinal Dolan should ponder upon Galatians 6:7:  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Cardinal Dolan appears to want a politically correct Catholic Church in New York, he is today reaping what he sowed.

UPDATE: The Vortex in a video titled “Did the New York archdiocese buy Fr. Miqueli’s silence?” reports:

The case involves what we have been reporting on the past few days: that a lawsuit has been filed against Cdl. Timothy Dolan, the archdiocese, and a homosexual priest and his gay-for-pay male prostitute. The priest and prostitute are accused of ripping off over a million dollars from two New Yotk parishes and using it on their homosexual fantasy sex life. The archdiocese and Cdl. Dolan are accused of being negligent and non-responsive in addressing the continued concerns of parishioners. And ChurchMilitant.com has learned of one possible reason for the lack of concern and desire to keep the story under wraps by the archdiocese.

Keep in mind that the archdiocese has known about this for a very long while, but it was only after massive press coverage, including a series of reports from ChurchMilitant.com, that the archdiocese finally sprung into public action. Father Miqueli is no longer the pastor. A resignation statement purported to have been written by him was read before every Mass over the weekend, with archdiocesan spokesman Joe Zwilling lurking around at the back of the church.

So the question: What would be the case now had the lawsuit by parishioners and subsequent media reports these past few days not happened? Answer: likely nothing. How can we say that?

To watch the video and read the full text click here.

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Progressivism Is Illiberal: Modern Liberalism Is at Odds with Peaceful Interaction by Sandy Ikeda

A New York magazine article headline declares, “De Blasio’s Proposal to Destroy Pedestrian Times Square Is the Opposite of Progressive.”

That’s Bill de Blasio, the current mayor of New York City, who was elected in 2013 after running unabashedly as the progressive, socially democratic candidate. I find it interesting that people are surprised by the mayor’s illiberal stands on many (though not all) of the major issues he has faced in his short time in office.

One of the latest is his proposal to return cars to Times Square Plaza, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, by razing the outdoor space created by the administration of his Republican predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. You see, Mayor Bill says he doesn’t like the goings-on there, which lately include women soliciting topless on the street and people dressed as Elmo hustling tourists. His solution? We can’t control all the hucksterism, so let’s shut the whole thing down!

Justin Davidson, the author of that New York magazine article, says it well:

If de Blasio really believes that the best way to deal with street performers in Times Square is to tear up the pedestrian plaza, may I suggest he try reducing homelessness by eradicating doorways and subway grates?

My point goes beyond Times Square Plaza, of course, although that controversy is instructive, as are others (such as his recent attempt to rein in Uber).

The approach the mayor takes in this and similar matters is characteristic of any political ideology that views unrestrained political power as a legitimate tool of social change. That includes neoconservatism and other modern political ideologies, including progressivism.

While it’s a caricature to say that what progressives would not forbid, they would make mandatory, they show a pattern of using force to ban what they don’t like and of mandating what they do. If you think that sounds illiberal, you’re right. Progressivism isn’t liberalism, especially of the classical variety. But even the watered-down liberalism of campus radicals of the 1960s paid more heed to the principle of tolerance than progressives today do.

Progressivism versus Liberalism

Progressivism today goes beyond the liberal position that, for example, same-sex marriage should have the same legal status as heterosexual marriage, to the belief that the state should threaten physical violence against anyone who refuses to associate or do business with same-sex couples.

Progressives have a low tolerance for opposing points of view. Unfortunately, so do some libertarians, but for the most part libertarians do not endorse using political power to eradicate what they believe are disagreeable public activities. Libertarians are much closer to genuine liberals than progressives are.

To a genuine liberal, tolerance means more than endorsing a wide range of beliefs and practices. It means allowing nonviolent people to say and do things that we strongly disagree with, disapprove of, or find highly offensive. It means not assuming our own moral superiority over the wickedness or stupidity of our ideological opponents. English writer Beatrice Evelyn Hall captured that liberal spirit when she (and not Voltaire) wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The plaza and the streets it encompasses were, of course, the creation of government, so we’re not talking about the municipality bulldozing private property. But it’s not the government-created structure the mayor is objecting to; it’s the purely voluntary — “unregulated” — activities going on in it that he doesn’t like and wants to wipe out with heavy hands and hammy fists.

Closing the Gap Economy

The activity in Times Square Plaza is related to what I called in a recent column the “gap economy,” which refers to the unregulated, money-making activities that arise in the free spaces left open by government regulation and that complete with businesses that have adapted themselves to the mixed economy. Progressives like Mayor de Blasio seem to fear what they cannot regulate and control. They don’t understand that in the free market, there is regulation and that the regulatory principle is not coercion but persuasion, competition, and reputation.

Progressives profoundly mistrust the spontaneous, especially when it’s the result of people acting out of self-interest. But that’s the hallmark and the essence of urban life. New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman sees it this way:

Time and again, Mr. de Blasio leaves an impression that he understands very little about the dynamics of urbanism and the physical fabric of the city — its parks and plazas, its open spaces, libraries, transit network and streetscape, which all contribute to issues he cares most about, like equity and social mobility.

He doesn’t understand because he probably thinks in terms of specific, static objectives (such as his so-called “Vision Zero,” which I write about in “Um, Scarcity?”) rather than what Kimmelman rightly refers to as “the dynamics of urbanism.” As the urbanist (and libertarian friendly) Jane Jacobs explained, those dynamics are messy and inherently unpredictable.

It doesn’t seem to matter to the mayor that ordinary people have demonstrated their preference for Times Square Plaza by showing up in record numbers, just as it doesn’t matter that ordinary New Yorkers have gained from gap-economy activities such as Uber or Airbnb. What concerns progressives like the mayor is that it’s not happening the way they want it to happen. (In the case of Uber, thank goodness, the truly liberal elements of New York soundly defeated the progressive forces.)

Davidson writes,

I understand that the mayor doesn’t care for the carnival atmosphere at Times Square — neither do I. But eradicating a pedestrian plaza because you don’t like who’s walking there is like blasting away a beach because you object to bikinis or paving a park because you hate squirrels. It represents such a profound misunderstanding of public space that it makes me question the mayor’s perception of what counts as progressive.

It’s not the mayor Davidson should be questioning so much as the principles that motivate him. De Blasio just happens to illustrate progressivism in a particularly glaring way.

Sandy IkedaSandy Ikeda

Sandy Ikeda is a professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.

RELATED ARTICLE: Lessons Learned From Kim Davis About Religious Liberty and Government Accommodation

New York’s Taxi Cartel Is Collapsing — Now They Want a Bailout! by Jeffrey A. Tucker

An age-old rap against free markets is that they give rise to monopolies that use their power to exploit consumers, crush upstarts, and stifle innovation. It was this perception that led to “trust busting” a century ago, and continues to drive the monopoly-hunting policy at the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department.

But if you look around at the real world, you find something different. The actually existing monopolies that do these bad things are created not by markets but by government policy. Think of sectors like education, mail, courts, money, or municipal taxis, and you find a reality that is the opposite of the caricature: public policy creates monopolies while markets bust them.

For generations, economists and some political figures have been trying to bring competition to these sectors, but with limited success. The case of taxis makes the point. There is no way to justify the policies that keep these cartels protected. And yet they persist — or, at least, they have persisted until very recently.

In New York, we are seeing a collapse as inexorable as the fall of the Soviet Union itself. The app economy introduced competition in a surreptitious way. It invited people to sign up to drive people here and there and get paid for it. No more standing in lines on corners or being forced to split fares. You can stay in the coffee shop until you are notified that your car is there.

In less than one year, we’ve seen the astonishing effects. Not only has the price of taxi medallions fallen dramatically from a peak of $1 million, it’s not even clear that there is a market remaining at all for these permits. There hasn’t been a single medallion sale in four months. They are on the verge of becoming scrap metal or collector’s items destined for eBay.

What economists, politicians, lobbyists, writers, and agitators failed to accomplished for many decades, a clever innovation has achieved in just a few years of pushing. No one on the planet could have predicted this collapse just five years ago. Now it is a living fact.

Reason TV does a fantastic job and covering what’s going on with taxis in New York. Now if this model can be applied to all other government-created monopolies, we might see genuine progress toward a truly competitive economy. After all, it turns out that the free market is the best anti-monopoly weapon ever developed.

Jeffrey A. Tucker
Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

New York Orders Fast-Food Workers Replaced With Robots, Kiosks, Mobile Apps by Daniel Bier

Well, they didn’t quite put it that way — the New York Times‘ headline read “New York panel recommends $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers” — but it amounts to the same thing.

A panel appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recommended on Wednesday that the minimum wage be raised for employees of fast ­food chain restaurants throughout the state to $15 an hour over the next few years. Wages would be raised faster in New York City than in the rest of the state to account for the higher cost of living there.

The panel’s recommendations, which are expected to be put into effect by an order of the state’s acting commissioner of labor, represent a major triumph for the advocates who have rallied burger­ flippers and fry cooks to demand pay that covers their basic needs.

They argued that taxpayers were subsidizing the workforces of some multinational corporations, like McDonald’s, that were not paying enough to keep their workers from relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits.

The $15 wage would represent a raise of more than 70 percent for workers earning the state’s current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. Advocates for low­ wage workers said they believed the mandate would quickly spur raises for employees in other industries across the state, and a jubilant Mr. Cuomo predicted that other states would follow his lead.

In other news, I ordered my lunch yesterday on my computer and picked it up from Panera Bread without ever talking to a person. Last night, I picked up a couple groceries and paid through the self-checkout lane. This morning, I ordered a latte on my Starbucks app, and it was waiting for me when I walked into the store. I’m thinking of going to a burger joint later, where I’ll tap out my order on a kiosk.

Of course, it’s not fair to blame the minimum wage exclusively for the increasingly widespread automation of service jobs. Ordering kiosks and mobile apps are becoming more popular as the technology becomes better, cheaper, and more popular. That will probably happen no matter what the price of labor is.

But the fact that the cost of not using technology — that is, an employee — is about to cost 70% more will give the entire New York fast-food industry a great big shove away from labor and towards machines. And since chain restaurants don’t just operate in New York, the investment in automation will spill into stores everywhere.

Who wins from this?

Unions and more experienced workers, at least in the short-run. Labor unions’ entire purpose is to push up wages for their members, which makes them more expensive and less attractive compared to non-union workers.

But if unions — like, say, the Service Employees International Union — can make all workers more expensive, it makes union labor look relatively better by comparison. They won’t have to compete against cheaper labor anymore (which is to say, less-skilled workers won’t be allowed to compete by underbidding them).

Why arbitrarily single out “fast food” for the hike?

First, it makes the fight politically easier because the unions only have to defeat one industry lobby, instead of every business that uses unskilled labor. Second, the SEIU, in particular, represents a lot of food workers and has for years been pushing to unionize the big fast-food chains.

Who loses?

First, businesses, especially those operating on thin margins. They’ll be staring at a 70% increase in labor costs, already typically one of the biggest expenses for restaurants.

Less experienced workers — especially unskilled immigrants and young people starting out in the job market — will also lose. Businesses will try to offset some of higher cost of labor by cutting hours or jobs, delaying or cancelling expansions, replacing labor with capital where they can, and replacing less skilled with more skilled workers where they can’t.

They’ll also try to raise prices to cover costs, so consumers lose, too — especially those who eat fast-food more often, have tighter budgets, and have food as a bigger share of their budgets: i.e., low and lower-middle income families.

The net effect this will be less employment, less production, and less consumption. The economy and especially less-advantaged people will be worse off for it.

Miscellaneous arguments:

  • CEO pay: The Times awkwardly shoehorns in the fact that McDonald’s chief executive made $7.5 million last year, presumably trying to suggest that he’s the reason its other 420,000 employees are paid so little. In case you’re wondering, redistributing his salary comes out to 5 cents per employee per day. And then McDonald’s has no CEO. Hurray?
  • Corporate Subsidy: The Times also uncritically repeats the incoherent claim that taxpayers are somehow “subsidizing” these “multinational corporations” because they don’t pay “enough to keep their workers from relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits.” This makes no sense at all.
  • No Big Deal: The economists who claim that raising the minimum wage won’t hurt employment that much always couch it with the caveat that the increase be “small” or “moderate.” By no stretch of the imagination is hiking the wage floor to $15 “moderate.” In New York, it’s a 70% increase; in states with the federal minimum of $7.25, it’s 107% increase.

Antony Davies has charted the relationship between the minimum wage as a share of the average wage and the unemployment rates for different workers over time.

There’s no connection between the minimum wage and unemployment for the college-educated, but for those with high school or less, there’s a strong positive correlation:

Notice that the chart axis stops at 45% of the average hourly wage: in more than three decades, the minimum wage has never gone higher. Today, according to BLS data, a $15 minimum wage would be 60% of the average hourly wage — the highest relative minimum wage ever. We are literally going into uncharted territory.

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the editor of Anything Peaceful. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.

New York City ‘Pissed Away’ by Mayor Ed ‘the Red’ De Blasio

Pissed-AwayJoin us for a Tom-less episode of Enemies of The State. We cover the recently escaped Mexican drug lord El Chapo Guzman, and why his best bet might be to go to San Francisco.

New York City Mayor Ed “The Red” De Blasio’s policies of allowing crimes to go unpunished, and the devastating affects they have on life in the Big Apple.

More examples of the Islamic State acting like real Muslims should, like killing dozens for not fasting during Ramadan.

And finally we take a look back at Friday’s show and the infamous “Doctor” Kevin Barrett and his Jew-hating potty mouth! Join us, you won’t regret it!

Florida: Two Muslims to plead guilty to NYC mass casualty jihad plot

“Raees Qazi made a living by selling bicycles on Craigslist, buying and selling goods at the Swap Shop flea market and doing maintenance work at a local mosque.” Watch for mosque leaders to say they hardly knew him, that he never attended prayers, that sometimes he would shout “extremist” statements and the brothers would gently remonstrate with him that he was behaving in an un-Islamic fashion, etc.

“Brothers from Oakland Park expected to plead guilty to NYC terror plot,” by Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel, March 12, 2015:

Two brothers from Oakland Park are expected to plead guilty to federal terrorism charges today in a case that accuses them of plotting a terrorist attack on landmarks in New York City and assaulting two deputy U.S. Marshals while in custody.

Raees Alam Qazi, 22, and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 32, are due to appear in federal court in Miami for the change-of-plea hearing.

The two were arrested in November 2012 after Raees Qazi returned after spending a few days bicycling around Manhattan scoping out potential targets that would result in mass casualties, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sheheryar Qazi knew what his brother planned to do and provided financial and practical support, authorities said.

The plot only made it to the planning stages, though investigators said they found bomb-making materials and components at the Qazi family’s apartment in Oakland Park. Investigators said the younger brother also consulted an al-Qaida article called “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”

The men, who have been locked up without bond since their arrests, were also charged with assaulting two federal marshals while they were being moved in April at the federal courthouse complex in downtown Miami.

Authorities said the brothers distracted the guards by simultaneously looking up and then punched and fought with the marshals while yelling out “God is Great” in Arabic….

Raees Qazi made a living by selling bicycles on Craigslist, buying and selling goods at the Swap Shop flea market and doing maintenance work at a local mosque….

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Salon: Qur’an “backs up jihad, suicide attacks…beheadings,” sex slavery

Sunspots? Salon has suddenly discovered that the Qur’an sanctions jihad, suicide attacks, beheadings, and sex slavery, and that Islamic law also allows for female genital mutilation, wife-beating, stoning, etc. — after having excoriated me for years as an “Islamophobe” and a “bigot” for saying just such things. To compound the heresy, they’re publishing this in the context of a takedown of media darling Reza Aslan, whose every pronouncement, no matter how ridiculous, is ordinarily greeted with breathless adulation from media types.

To be sure, the author of this piece, Jeffrey Tayler, makes it more palatable to his Leftist audience by claiming that Jewish and Christian Scriptures contain material that is just as hateful and violent as that which is in the Qur’an — and he doesn’t explain, of course, why we don’t see Jewish or Christian terrorists committing acts of violence and justifying them by reference to their Scriptures. But despite this thoughtless and baseless moral equivalence, casually stated as if it were axiomatic (and it is, in Salon’s circles), this article is still remarkable for what it admits: aspects of Islam that Salon has never, as far as I can recall, acknowledged before.

Has Bill Maher made it safe for Leftists to admit that there is a problem with how jihadis and supremacists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and oppression?

qurangun-300x239“Reza Aslan’s atheism problem: ‘Fundamentalist’ atheists aren’t the issue, apologists for religions are,” by Jeffrey Tayler, Salon, October 25, 2014:

Bill Maher’s recent monologue on “Real Time” about the failure of liberals to speak out about the routine atrocities and violations of human rights carried out in the name of religion in the Muslim world has unleashed a torrent of commentary, much of it from progressives advocating more, not less, tolerance of Islam.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who sided with Ben Affleck against Maher in a follow-up segment a few days later, calls ISIS rebels, in an op-ed, “barbarians” who “give all Islam a bad name,” and asks us to take into account the religion’s diversity, lest we slip into “Islamophobic bigotry.” Fareed Zakaria, in his Washington Post column, cautions us to recall that Islam, Christianity and Judaism once peacefully coexisted, but acknowledges that Islam suffers from a “cancer” – extremism that incites acts of terrorism. This he views, though, as a problem of “Islam today.” (He neglects to point out that in the Muslim-dominated countries where this peaceful coexistence occurred, Christians and Jews suffered humiliating second-rate dhimmi status, unequal legally or socially to Muslims.) Writing on Al Jazeera English, Lana Asfour lauds Affleck for calling out Maher’s “racism” and espies, in the comedian’s treatment of Islam, an “overriding agenda” aimed at justifying the “past, present, and future mistakes” of U.S. foreign policy.

One pundit in particular, though, has busied himself opining on Maher and nonbelievers in general — Reza Aslan, Islam’s most prominent apologist of late. Delivered via multiple media outlets, his remarks, brimming with condescension, tinged with arrogance and laden with implicit insults to thinking people, deserve special scrutiny for one main reason: among well-intentioned liberals who don’t know much about religion, his words carry weight.
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In a New York Times editorial, Aslan accused Maher and other nonbelievers of “exhibiti[ing] an inability to understand religion outside of its absolutist connotations.” Such folk, in his telling, unjustly “scour holy texts for bits of savagery and point to extreme examples of religious bigotry, of which there are too many, to generalize about the causes of oppression throughout the world.” They fail to grasp, in his view, that “religion is often far more a matter of identity than it is a matter of beliefs and practices.”

Yet Aslan accuses the benighted critics of religion of a far more grievous misapprehension: the assumption that words mean what they actually mean. Here I’ll quote him at length.

“It is a fallacy to believe that people of faith derive their values primarily from their Scriptures. The opposite is true. People of faith insert their values into their scriptures, reading them through the lens of their own cultural, ethnic, nationalistic and even political perspectives. . . . After all, scripture is meaningless without interpretation. The abiding nature of scripture rests not so much in its truth claims as it does in its malleability, its ability to be molded and shaped into whatever form a worshiper requires. . . If you are a violent misogynist, you will find plenty in your scriptures to justify your beliefs. If you are a peaceful, democratic feminist, you will also find justification in the scriptures for your point of view.”

Now we have to stop and ponder what we are being sold here. Aslan is essentially taking a postmodernist, Derrida-esque scalpel to “scripture” and eviscerating it of objective content. This might pass muster in the college classroom these days, but what of all those ISIS warriors unschooled in French semiotic analysis who take their holy book’s admonition to do violence literally? As they rampage and behead their way through Syria and Iraq, ISIS fighters know they have the Koran on their side – a book they believe to be inerrant and immutable, the final Word of God, and not at all “malleable.” Their holy book backs up jihad, suicide attacks (“martyrdom”), beheadings, even taking captive women as sex slaves. This is not surprising; after all, the prophet Muhammad was a warrior who spread Islam by the sword in a dark, turbulent time in history. (Christianity’s propagation had, in contrast, much to do with the Roman emperor Constantine’s fourth-century conversion and subsequent decriminalization of the faith.)

Moreover, the razor-happy butchers of little girls’ clitorises and labia majora, the righteous wife-beaters, the stoners of adulterers, the shariah clerics denying women’s petitions for divorce from abusive husbands and awarding sons twice the inheritance allowed for daughters, all act with sanction from Islamic holy writ. It matters not a whit to the bloodied and battered victims of such savagery which lines from the Hadith or what verses from the Koran ordain the violence and injustice perpetrated against them, but one thing they do know: texts and belief in them have real-life consequences. And we should never forget that ISIS henchmen and executioners explicitly cite their faith in Islam as their motive. Tell that to Derrida – or Aslan….

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VIDEO: Jihad comes to New York City wielding a hatchet!

nyc-hatchet-attack-videoSixteenByNine540CNN’s Ben Brumfield reports,

A bloodied steel hatchet lay on a rainy Queens sidewalk on Thursday like an portentous question mark. Was the bearded man who used it to wound two New York City police officers motivated by radical Islam?

Zale H. Thompson can no longer answer that question. He is dead, stopped by bullets from the guns of two other officers.

His unprovoked attack on four policemen, which injured one critically in the head and sliced the other in the shoulder, was certain suicide.

A chain of attacks and plots in rapid succession in the Western world by assailants with a radical interpretation of Islam have raised suspicion that Thompson’s attack could be the latest link.

[ … ]

On a Facebook page bearing Thompson’s name, a warrior masked in a head and face scarf and armed with spear, sword and rifle gazes out at the beholder. The vintage black and white photo is the profile picture of the user, who lives in Queens.

NYPD-hatchet-ATTACK-isis

For a larger view click on the image.

A Quran quote in classic Arabic calligraphy mentioning judgment against those who have wandered astray serves as the page’s banner.

[ … ]

Thompson’s attack is the third on people in uniform in North America in a week.

ISIS, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, has recently called to sympathizers in the West to carry out attacks against men and women in uniform.

New York Axe Jihadi Oct 23 2014 by vlad43

jihad attack with hatchet nyc

Photo of crime scene. Courtesy TerrorTrendsBulliten.com.

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EDITORS NOTE: Video thanks to Marc. Photos courtesy of the New York Times and Reuters.