The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Rex Tillerson

| January 11, 2017

So, I’ve been thinking about this and, given that the Secretary of State is basically the Secretary of “initiate regime change and unrest in a country or regioin so we can take their oil” these days, maybe Tillerson is a good choice here. I mean, as an industry insider, he knows where all the best oil is, right?

MiniTrue

| January 10, 2017

So, over the holidays, the US, UK and Germany each passed their own MiniTrue acts. Old media will be regulated by the government (who can then decide what the truth is) and a lot of the new media will be treated like old media, or, possibly, just go away.

I have to wonder, though, how much of this is going to matter. I mean, folks could still get their news through the darknet or other sources. Perhaps old-school sneakernet of USB thumb drives? It definitely raises the bar, but most folks don’t really want to be plugged in anyway.

Still, it seems like the vestiges of an old regime trying to cling to power. “The more you tighten your grip.. the more systems [err, people], slip through your fingers”. I wonder if we’re seeing the death spasms of the western powers. I’d like to think they’d be replaced with something better, but I fear that won’t be the case – at least, not in short order. I mean, when Rome fell, the period that followed was called the dark ages for a reason.

Penzey’s spices and the election

| November 23, 2016

So, last week, Bill from Penzey’s sent out an email; at the bottom was the following:


Racism Update: At Penzeys we believe it’s not the use of tools that set us on a different path from the rest of the animal world; what has set humanity in motion is cooking. In our nearly a million years gathered together around the fire, cooking shaped our bodies and transformed our minds. Cooking unlocked our potential and gave birth to reason, to religion, and to politics and government. The kindness of tens of thousands of generations of cooks created our humanity, but racism, sexism, and homophobia can all very quickly unravel all the goodness cooking puts out into the world. As the voice of cooks, we will never sit idly by while that happens.

You may have read Tuesday Night’s email. In it I said: “The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades. The American people are taking notice. Let’s commit to giving the people a better choice. Our kindness really is our strength.”

Since I ask you to read my emails, I feel it’s only right that I read each of your replies. In sifting through those replies it was clear that, though not intended, a good number of people seemed to sincerely believe that in my statement I was calling all Republicans racists. In the emails of those Republicans who voted for someone other than the party’s nominee, I sensed genuine pain at having the strength of character to not go along with what was happening, but nonetheless be grouped in with those who were. I apologize for writing something that caused you pain; that is not the person I want to be. You are your party’s future, and you deserve my admiration and respect, and your country’s as well.

For the rest of you, you just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America. In your defense, most of you did so without thinking of the consequences of your candidate’s racism, because for most of you the heartbreaking destruction racism causes has never been anything you or your loved ones have had to experience. But the thing is elections have their consequences. This is no longer sixty years ago. Whether any of us like it or not, for the next four years the 80% of this country who did not just vote for an openly racist candidate are going to treat you like you are the kind of person who would vote for an openly racist candidate.

You can get angry at everyone else for treating you like you just did the thing you just did, or you can take responsibility for your actions and begin to make amends. If you are lucky and younger family members are still coming over for Thanksgiving, before it’s too late, take a moment and honestly think about how your actions must look through their eyes. Simply saying “I never thought he’d win” might be enough. But if you have the means, leaving a receipt from a sizable donation to the ACLU or the SPLC accidentally laying around where you carve the turkey, might go over even better.

Or, just do what you do best and volunteer. Through our customers’ support, we’ve given away a lot of our Penzeys Pepper, the Pepper with heart. More often than not, those we meet cooking and serving food to feed those in need are Republicans. You really are a good bunch, but you just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago. Make this right. Take ownership for what you have done and begin the pathway forward.

Thanks for reading,

Bill bill@penzeys.com


Here is my reply:


Hello Bill,

Well, there’s just a pile of stuff in your most recent newsletter, isn’t there?

First, if you think Trump is a racist, I encourage you to read the following article, which pretty thoroughly debunks that charge:

http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/16/you-are-still-crying-wolf/

Second, your “guilt by association” logic is flawed. Essentially, it boils down to:

  1. Trump is racist.
  2. By voting for Trump, you are voting for racism.
  3. You therefore deserve to be treated as someone who voted for racism, even if that was not your motivation.

Were I to subscribe to that logic, the following also holds true:

  1. Obama and Clinton supported drone strikes which murdered children.
  2. By voting for either Obama or Clinton, you are voting for murdering children.
  3. You therefore deserve to be treated as voting for the murdering of children.

Third, you stated:

“Whether any of us like it or not, for the next four years the 80% of this country who did not just vote for an openly racist candidate are going to treat you like you are the kind of person who would vote for an openly racist candidate.”

This is not a plea for tolerance, or for the healing of wounds; it is a passive-aggressive approval that Trump supporters “get what they deserve”. Let me share with you something that someone else said:

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized. “We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

  • Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A

Now, Mr. Cathy has used his business as a platform to make a statement supporting prejudicial treatment and abuse of about 9% of the US population[1]. As a result, I refuse to do business with Chick-fil-A.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_demographics_of_the_United_States

You, in turn, have made a statement that supports prejudicial treatment and abuse of about 20% of the population. How do you expect me to be intellectually honest and still do business with your company if I’m willing to boycott Chick-fil-A over something that affects half the number of people?

By this point, you’ve likely written me off as a upset Trump supporter. Nothing could be further from the truth. His trade policies are foolish mercantilist fallacy, and his immigration policies are, for the most part, largely unworkable. He is a pro-surveillance, pro-police state, crony capitalist, big government president-elect. I always vote for the candidate who is the best choice for peace and freedom. This election, I voted for Gary Johnson.

In closing, you should have kept politics out of your newsletters. Barring a reversal of your position and subsequent public apology, I will be taking my business elsewhere.


He didn’t reply to me directly (nor would I expect him to), but, some hours later, he sent out a followup letter to his customer list.


Yesterday’s email made history for us as the most shared and most commented on email we ever sent. If you have not already read it, please do. And if you would like to share it, our Facebook page seems the best place to do it from. Liking our page helps, too.

And we understand some of you will need to opt out of receiving emails from us. Please do it here, rather than as a reply to this email or as an email to me, as we might not get through all of your emails quickly enough for you. I will read every email you send to me, but at an hour or two a day these emails might still be my light summer reading. And remember, we will always be happy for your return!

Bill

To unsubscribe, don’t respond to this email. Rather, hit the button below, then “Confirm opt out now” on the follow-up page.


So, it looks like I’ll be ordering from The Spice House. I’ve emailed them, they believe in keeping their political ideas out of their business speical emails.

Planning for the coming trade war

| November 9, 2016

So, now that the die is cast, it’s time to execute on contingency plan T (as opposed to plan C, which was “prepare for war with Russia”).

In the short term, I have some computer hardware that I’m going to buy that, ideally, I was going to wait until after tax time (in case I needed the liquidity), but now I want to make sure to grab it before Trump assumes office and places tariffs on those foreign goods. I think the right play here is to wait until the post-Christmas tech goods price drop, so the time to buy is early January.

I also am replacing my cell phone, but that will be a used one (I am not spending $700 on a phone. $200 is about where I’m comfortable, so a Galaxy S5 from swappa is in my future), so the lifecycle timeframe doesn’t matter, and I will therefore be getting it as soon as I get my VW money.

The only long term CapEx that we wanted to do was a new family hauler in 2018, but the front runner for that is a VW Atlas which is being built in Chattanooga, and is therefore likely to be minimally impacted by tariffs. As such, that remains on plan.

There were some optional things to be done (pave the driveway, add a fireplace to the living room), which may or may not happen depending on wage and market volatility. We’ve put those off for about 5 years due to having kids, and, we can easily put them off for the forseeable future.

I think everything else is just absorbing price increases, minimizing expenditures, and trying to keep ahead of increases in parts I might need (German cars, Japanese tractor, etc.) for service and repairs. But, the savings is likely not worth the cash outlay now.

Finally, as far as investments go, if your employer matches your 401(k), then that’s still the best deal going. Even if it loses 25% of its value, if your employer matches 100%, then you’re still up 50% over your contribution. Plus, as I am only 36, my horizon for collecting off of it is pretty long, and I can handle the world markets hammering it for the next 8 years (just as they have for the past 8 years). I have other investments, mainly in municipal bonds (because they’ve been doing well) and I’ll be meeting with my financial guy in Q2’17 to reevaluate. With any luck, the markets will have sorted themselves out by then, but, I expect they’ll freak out again when Trump starts poking at Obamacare. After all, when Obamacare was being debated, they went nuts, so it’s reasonable to assume they’ll do the same if it starts getting revised.

Eventually, however, the uncertainty (which is really what markets don’t like) will resolve and stabilize. The real question will be how much wealth will be destroyed in the process.

In summary, I expect I’ll just batten down the hatches, paint a bunch of miniatures, and wait for the storm to pass, just like I always do.

And people wonder why I don’t trust the government…

| October 14, 2016

Worth a watch. Bring tissues. Or alcohol. Or both.

Anonymous – The Story of Aaron Swartz Full Documentary

Matt’s voluntary “tax” plan

| June 10, 2016

In talking with people about taxation being theft, the argument of “but we need taxes to pay for roads” (aka, the OMGMAHROADS! argument) often comes up. I’ve even had folks say, essentially, that “taxes are the price we pay for civilization”. The goal of this post is to articulate a plan where we can have civilization similar to what we do now, without it being supported on a foundation of violence, coercion and theft.

Caveats

Since state laws vary, I will just contain this discussion to federal taxes, since they are common across the US.

General rules:

If taxation is theft, then:

  1. The government may not collect income, property, excise taxes, or any other taxes which result in a seizure of “owned” property if taxes are not paid.
  2. The government may collect “usage fees”. For example, the government owns the roads, and can legitimately charge you for their usage. This is analogous to the electric company charging you for the line maintenance in addition to the electricity they sell you. Previously, these fees were collected with gasoline taxes, because the technology wasn’t there to charge people based on road usage. However, we now can do something akin to “EZ-Pass” but writ large. This is voluntary because, if you do not want to pay the tax, you can elect not use the service/utility/etc. However, while this is definitely a topic worth discussing in general, I will not discuss it further because it starts to get out of scope.
  3. By the above definitions, the government may conceivably collect “sales tax” on non-essential goods, because, if you don’t want to pay the tax, you could not purchase the goods. However, I will not put those in my plan because, to me, that pushes the edge of “voluntary”.
  4. The government may not take out loans as this represents a tax on future generations. Just as I cannot take out a loan and expect my children to pay, the government cannot take out a loan and expect future generations to pay. A possible exception here is “in time of war”, where the threat is so dire that there could conceivably be no future.
  5. The government may not play “the inflation game”. Assuming the current central bank and fiat currency model (again, another topic) the government may not inflate the currency supply except at a specific, predictable rate. For example, “the money supply expands and contracts at a rate equivalent to GDP growth and shrinkage”. This is because inflation is a hidden tax on savings, and therefore immoral, but you also want your money to supply to grow with the size of your economy in order to keep price stability (so that, absent market forces, etc. a chocolate bar is always $1, for example).

Plan A (the simple one)

Given the above constraints, we make the following changes:

  1. We eliminate the mandatory income tax.
    • There are no tax returns, because paying taxes is not required.
    • There are no deductibles, because there are no tax returns.
  2. At the same times where you would currently fill out a W-4 (basically, when you take a job and whenever you like thereafter), you fill out a similar form which states how much money your employer would withhold from your paycheck (percentage or dollar value) and those are remitted to the government.
    • They do this already, so it is not an increased burden to them.
    • They would not send out a W-2 because you don’t need it, because there is no tax filing. So, in all, it makes their lives easier.
    • Self-employed folks can still pay quarterly, as they do now. Or yearly. Or whatever. It’s voluntary, so it’s not required.
  3. As happens now, money goes into the general fund and is apportioned off by the government to appropriate agencies via the conventional budgeting process.

Q&A

  1. How will the government be able to operate if they don’t know what their budget will be ahead of time?
    • They’ll have a good idea of what it will be, because they’ll have the receipts from Q1-Q3 to, in Q4, do the budget for the next year.
    • Businesses deal with this variability all the time.
  2. What about Social Security?
    • This deserves its own discussion, because Social Security reform can happen with or without the above. But, the super short version is “we make it voluntary except for a transitional period where some people will be forced to pay into it in order to pay off all of the people who have paid into this Faustian Ponzi scheme their whole lives”.
  3. What about Medicare/Medicaid?
    • Now comes out of the general fund. I’ve never understood why it was under a separate line item on my paystub anyway.
  4. What about disability?
    • Buy your own disability insurance if you want to, otherwise don’t. The government shouldn’t force you to do what is in your best interest, nor should it compete with private disability companies and unions.
  5. But we won’t collect the same amount of money we collect now.
    • Then we’ll get exactly as much government as we are willing to pay for, and no more. The economics of “how much something costs” are totally divorced from the conversations these days, so people vote for the sun, moon and stars, and then complain at being taxed somewhere in the 60% range.
  6. I’ll pay, but other people won’t (the free rider problem).
    • Do you really have such a low opinion of your fellow citizens?
    • In reality, I think that most people who pay taxes now still would (though maybe not as much), and some rich people would pay more (and have said that they think their tax rate should be higher. This gives them the opportunity to pay more).
  7. What about corporations?
    • I see no reason why the corporate tax couldn’t be replaced with a voluntary contribution either.
  8. But they spend the money on the wrong things!
    • See “Plan B”, below, for an option which addresses this.

Plan B (the more complicated one).

So, this one takes Plan A and:

  1. Works the same way if you don’t care (puts all your money in the general fund)
  2. If you do care, you can file a separate form which works like a 401(k) election, and allows you to distribute your tax dollars according to your personal preferences as to where the money should be spent. You check the boxes for the things to which you want to give money, and fill out a percentage of how much you want to go into there. Must add up to 100%.

Q&A

  1. How will program X get funded?
    • Either out of the general fund or as a result of specific allocations.
  2. But most people don’t like program X, so it won’t get funded!
    • If people don’t like it, why is it being funded now? (Hint: I bet someone donated to someone else’s political campaign!)
  3. Won’t this remove politician’s “power of the purse”?
    • You say that like it’s a bad thing.
    • Seriously, yes, a bit. On the one hand, they won’t be able to give out benefits to their friends, but, on the other hand, they won’t be able to clamp down on government agencies by limiting their budgets if the public specifically allocated them monies. However, the public would have to do that, and the main reason congresspeople investigate government agencies is because of their constituents pressing them to do so. Look at the Snowden revelations. If something like that happens and people like what those agencies do, they would get more money. If not, then they would get less. No congressional input required – it’s the most direct form of governance and oversight.
  4. All that choosing sounds complicated.
    • No more than doing your taxes is now.
    • You can also just use the default and kick it to the general fund.
  5. This is doing to lead to government agencies spending tons of money on advertising to get people to spend more on advertising in order to get the people to give them more money.
    • Maybe, but they’d spend less on lobbyists (which is who they pay now so they can get more money) while at least being more straightforward and transparent.
  6. But then all these hippies wouldn’t fund the military and the terrorists would win!
    • Maybe some hippies wouldn’t fund it, but I’m sure there are enough folks who believe in a strong military that they’d be willing to specifically check a box and earmark a ton of their contribution to the military.
  7. But then no one would fund the roads!
    • I bet more folks would fund the roads than the military.

On violence and the left

| June 7, 2016

So, there has been a lot of surprise at the violence which erupted at a Trump rally in San Jose. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why people are surprised. This is what the left does. Allow me to explain.

Apropos of this discussion, there is this Cato presentation about the constitution which brings into stark contrast something which, on some level, I have always known – we do not have one constitution, we have two, because two camps read it two different ways.

  • The republican constitution, is generally (though not always consistently) read by the right to preserve individual liberty at the expense of society. So, for example, such a reading prohibits things like forcing a bakery to make gay wedding cakes. (Aside: This is also where many Libertarians fail their ideological purity test. Gary Johnson, for example was a Republican governor and is now the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and his statement that Jewish bakers should be forced to bake Nazi wedding cakes). But, exceptions and hypocrisy notwithstanding, this is generally the view of the right.
  • The democratic constitution generally (and this is pretty consistent) is read by the left (and sometimes the right, when it suits them) to apply to the collective. Essentially, the duty of government is to do what is best for us as a society, and the individual comes second.

Now, if you take it at that level, then the view of the left is that the point of government is to force people to do “what they should do”, i.e. what is best for us all (this is not a new idea – it dates back to at least James Madison saying that government is an “institution to make people do their duty”). So, when you have someone who is saying things that the left doesn’t like, then that is bad for society, and therefore that person shouldn’t say those things. This logic is very consistent and can be seen in the increased restrictions on speech on college campuses (safe spaces, trigger warnings, etc.) and the backlash in the form of the rise of cultural libertarianism.

Given the above, it’s not a very big stretch to say:

  1. Saying X is bad (hate speech, for example).
  2. The government should do something.
  3. The government isn’t doing something.
  4. We should do something.
  5. And thus, people do something.

Hence, this is a logical outcome and should not really surprise people, as it’s eminently predictable.

$17/day challenge

| April 7, 2016

So, I may be a little late to the party on this, but a few weeks ago I learned about this $17/day challenge legislators had been doing in order to drum up support for raising the minimum wage. Here is a link to the longest article on it I could find. It states:

The $17 figure was calculated based on what a full-time minimum wage worker could expect to have left on a daily basis after basic living expenses

What do they mean by basic living expenses? This other article says:

That figure represents what a minimum wage worker has after the costs of taxes, childcare and housing are deducted from an $8.05-an-hour paycheck.

Okay, so, I make a lot more than $8.05 an hour. However, here is what I actually ate today, with costs. This is retail, no coupons. I don’t have a grocery receipt handy, so I’m using the prices from Price Chopper’s shopper service. Also, I work in an office, but the only thing I’m using there is their hot water, microwave and toaster oven. No free coffee (I fudged that a little, because I do drink it, but I don’t know how much it costs, so I replaced coffee with bags of tea).

  • 2 packets of oatmeal (Quaker) @ $0.30 = $0.60
  • Thai Kitchen Pad Thai Noodle bowl = $3.69
  • Snickers bar (luxury!) – $1.25 from the vending machine.
  • Tea (PG Tips. Price chopper doesn’t sell this, so this is an amazon price) = $10 for 80, so $.125 each.. Say, 8 cups of tea in a day? What can I say, I like tea… $1.
  • Assuming your car gets 25MPG (mine gets 40, but I paid extra for the diesel) and you have a 50 mile round trip (mine is 54) and gas is $2.50/gal (diesel is $2.25), that’s $5 in fuel.
  • Subtotal = $11.54
  • So, I have $5.46 left for dinner and other necessities, and that’s without even trying!

Now, what if I was actually poor.

  1. No vending machine food, saves $1.25
  2. Generic oatmeal, that’s $0.19 each, so saves me $0.20
  3. Ramen noodles for lunch, and those are $0.22 each if you buy a 12 pack @ $2.69.
  4. Don’t want Ramen? Store brand ready to serve soup is $1.59 each. We’ll assume that.

Okay, so:

  • Oatmeal – 2 @ $0.19 = $0.38
  • Store brand soup – $1.59
  • Fuel – $5
  • Subtotal = $6.97

So, you’ve got $10 left for dinner and other necessities. How about this for dinner:

  • Bag of stir-fry vegetables = $1.69
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1lb = $3.69
  • Long grain rice (white or brown), 2lb = $1.99
  • Subtotal = $7.37
  • And it easily makes enough for 2, so you can have it for lunch the next day for no cost.
  • And that’s way more chicken than you need for that amount of vegetables.
  • And that amount of rice will last for several meals.
  • So, realistically, we’ll say the amount of money is actually half of the above – $3.69
  • Which means our total is $10.66, including dinner, which is less than my 2 meal total of how I actually live.

Anyway, I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic to the plight of the poor, and will concede that if you had kids it would be way more difficult (but, if you did, you could get food stamps, etc. Heck, you can get food stamps as a single person on minimum wage, can’t you?). And, realistically, the way to make more money is:

  • Live as described above.
  • Learn more skills / gain more experience.
  • Get a better job.
  • Make more money.

I’m going to let people in on a little secret – the reason you make minimum wage is because you are doing a minimum-wage job. There are two conceivable reasons you are doing a minimum-wage job:

  1. You want to even though you’re over qualified.
    • I know people who are well over qualified for being a clerk at a shop making minimum wage, but they’re typically working as supplemental income when their primary, seasonal employer isn’t open (think school aides, etc.)
  2. You don’t have the job skills to get a better job.
    • In this case, you need to get those skills, as described above.

On the 2016 election

| February 11, 2016

So, the run up to the election has me thinking a bit.

On the Democratic side, I think most of the general public are going to be upset if Clinton gets the nod over Sanders, and a bunch of Sanders supporters will never vote for Clinton.

On the Republican side, I think its both more fractured and less divided (if that makes any sense). What I mean to say is – if Cruz gets the nod and Trump is out, I could see a lot of Trump supporters voting for Cruz. I also think the opposite is true. (This is likely because there is not as much difference between Republican candidates’ positions as there is between Sanders and Clinton.)

However, for all of you who are falling into the camp of “I will never vote for someone with a D/R next to their name and I won’t vote my party line if they put up [Clinton/Sanders/Cruz/Trump/anyone else], might I suggest that, rather than not voting, you consider voting for a third party. Any third party. Pick one that truly represents your views and vote for their candidate.

If I might push my luck even further, I would ask everyone angry with the current state of affairs to consider voting on the basis of the candidate whose positions you like the best, rather than focusing on issues like “electability”. After all, what makes someone electable is peoples’ willingness to vote for him/her, and if your only reason for not voting for someone is because you don’t think other people will, well, that kind of is a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it?

Also, for what it’s worth, I want to see a Trump vs. Sanders debate. Both are populist candidates but appeal to radically different segments of the population, and is wonderfully representative of the divide in the US today. I think it would make for a good show.

The $15 minimum wage is government pushing people off a cliff.

| December 17, 2015

So, there has been a lot of talk about a $15 minimum wage. Any idea where what number comes from? I have a theory. But first, a graph:

Graph of welfare cliffs. Click graph to open larger in a new tab.

Now, this is for Pennsylvania, and is a few years old, so the numbers have varied slightly. For example, that first big cliff is now about $32,000 as opposed to $29,000.

Now, some math – $15/hr 40 hrs/week 52 weeks a year (aka US full time work) = $31,200. This means that, at best, you are going to be pushed right up to the edge of the cliff and, at worst, over it, which would mean that you won’t be doing nearly as well as you would have if the government hadn’t raised the minimum wage.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the government pays you $30,000 if you make up to $32,000 and then pays you $25,000 if you make $32,001 (this is loosely extrapolated from the graph, and assumes that the minimum wage WON’T push you over the cliff). So, in the former case, you get $62,000, and in the latter, you only get $57,001.

This gives a few different sequences of events:

  1. If Alice is working for the current minimum wage of, say $8/hr, her current pay is $16,640 and, with benefit, that will go to $46,640. If the minimum wage is raised, she suddenly goes to $61,200. The government can legitimately claim this is helping her (and it is) while costing the government nothing (assuming that her employer can absorb the cost, which we will assume it can). So, she remains getting the same subsidy and the government just forces employers to pay more.
  2. If Alice then gets a raise to $15.50/hr, she will now be making $32,240 and therefore will get $57,240 after her subsidy. In this way, she is made worse off, but the government saves $5,000 annually whilst simultaneously being able to claim that it helped the poor by raising the minimum wage (because, remember, it helped Alice in the above scenario). As long as people never make the connection of the former causing a problem here, they can get away with it. Further, even though Alice has fallen off a cliff, she is still better off than before the minimum wage raise because before she was making $46,640 and now she’s making $57,240.
  3. If, however, Alice is a sharp person, she will realize that she is better off not working full time, and instead dropping back to 51 weeks a year rather than 52 (essentially, taking just the right amount of unpaid leave), which would get her $31,620 in pay ($61,620 after benefit), or cutting back to just 39 hours a week, which would give her $31,434 ($61,434 after benefit). Once you apply this logic to a large enough population, what happens? For every few dozen people who do this, businesses will likely have to hire an extra person to make up the hours. As such, the government won’t have to pay those people unemployment benefit and it will make the unemployment numbers look better. The more raises Alice gets, the less she has to work, and the more people would need to be employed to make up for her reduced hours. Now, this is all assuming it doesn’t push her over the cliff and looks pretty shady. If you tweak the numbers so that the cliff is at $31,000, then she is immediately pushed out of full time work because she’d be making $31,200.

So, is this really about trying to give people a living wage, or about externalizing costs while having the government have to pay less out of its various social welfare programs?