Tuesday, May 4, 2021

PRO Act does nothing for American workers, everything for Union fat-cats

I currently am working for a small company in North Texas on a short-term contract. If the PRO Act were to pass, I probably would not have been able to get this contract, as this small company would not have been able to hire me as an employee. Or the rate I which I get paid would be much lower.

This is another step toward the government's full control over its populace. Biden was so wrong when he said "We the people..is the government." Sorry, We The People...Are the PEOPLE.   

During his remarks to Congress, Biden asked the lawmakers “to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act—the PRO Act—and send it to my desk so we can support the right to unionize.”

The legislation dubbed the PRO Act essentially would take a California law known as AB 5 national. However, the California measure wasn’t very popular after the Legislature passed it and the governor signed it into law.

Previously, drivers for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft; freelance writers, musicians, and others, and various independent contractors could work for companies without being considered full-time or part-time employees.

The new law required workers in California to be considered employees, narrowing opportunities for workers that wanted to set their own hours.

In November, voters opted to significantly weaken the law, though not discard it entirely, by passing a ballot question called Prop 22 after the law was seen as harming opportunities for freelancers and independent contractors.

The ballot initiative carved out Uber and Lyft drivers, but the law still affects most other part-time or freelance workers in California.

“If a policy is too liberal for California voters, you would think it’s definitely not something for the rest of the country,” Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, a small business advocacy group, told The Daily Signal.

“That law has had a horrible impact on freelancers and independent contractors,” Ortiz said. “Even people in the movie industry that used to get contract jobs are losing opportunities. If you are a sole proprietor, you are a small business.”

The PRO Act touted by Biden would prohibit contract or freelance work. Organized labor strongly backs the legislation as a means of increasing union membership.

The Freelancers Union estimates that 1 in 3 workers in the United States participates in independent work such as contracting, freelancing, and consulting. About 10% of workers perform independent work as their primary job.

Fewer than 1 in 10 independent contractors would prefer a traditional work arrangement, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Specifically, the federal legislation would broaden the definition of “employee” under the National Labor Relations Act. Under the new definition, an individual who performs any service—with some exceptions—would be an employee rather than an independent contractor.

The proposal also raises concerns about invading workers’ privacy, doing away with the right to secret ballots in union elections, and invalidating 27 state right-to-work laws against compulsory union membership.

“California has been a policy disaster, yet President Biden seems to view it as a success,” Ortiz said.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Economy Heats Up; Will Inflation be Transitory?

The first look at Q1 Gross Domestic Product, the broadest measure of economic output, showed a quarter-over-quarter (q/q) annualized rate of expansion of 6.4%, versus the Bloomberg consensus estimate of a 6.7% gain after the unrevised 4.3% increase in Q4. Personal consumption rose by 10.7%, compared to forecasts of a 10.5% gain, and following the unadjusted 2.3% increase recorded in Q4.

On inflation, the GDP Price Index came in at a 4.1% increase, above expectations of 2.6% gain, and versus the unrevised 2.0% rise seen in Q4, while the core PCE Index, which excludes food and energy, moved 2.3% higher, compared to expectations of a 2.4% increase, and following the unadjusted 1.3% gain in Q4.

Weekly initial jobless claims came in at a level of 553,000 for the week ended April 24, compared to the Bloomberg estimate of an acceleration to 540,000 from the prior week's upwardly revised 566,000 level. The four-week moving average declined by 44,000 to 611,750, and continuing claims for the week ended April 17 increased by 9,000 to 3,660,000, north of estimates of 3,590,000. The four-week moving average of continuing claims declined by 23,250 to 3,684,000.

Pending home sales rose 1.9% m/m in March, short of estimates calling for a 4.4% m/m increase after February's unfavorably revised 11.5% decrease. Sales were 25.3% higher y/y, slightly below the 27.5% increase expected, and compared to February's negatively revised 3.8% decline. Pending home sales reflect contract signings and are a gauge of the pipeline of existing home sales.

Yesterday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) opted to leave its stance and interest rates unchanged, as was widely anticipated, while also noting that economic activity and employment have strengthened amid progress on vaccinations and strong policy support. In his scheduled press conference following the statement, Chairman Jerome Powell once again said the Fed is committed to achieving its dual mandate of price stability and full employment, and that it maintains the flexibility to provide further accommodation. Powell further reiterated the Fed’s commitment to using its full range of tools to help ensure a robust recovery.

The Fed strengthened its outlook for the economy, noting in the FOMC’s statement, “Amid progress on vaccinations and strong policy support, indicators of economic activity and employment have strengthened.” In addition, the Fed highlighted that the “sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic remain weak but have shown improvement.” With regard to one of the hottest topics lately—inflation—the Fed used a word we expect to hear/read a lot over the next few months: “Inflation has risen, largely reflecting transitory factors.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Will the Housing Market Frenzy Die Down?

I live on the outskirts of Austin, TX, and just received my notice of property value, and coupled with market statistics I get every month, I see my home has increased in value 25.9% in the last year. Astounding, to say the least! The Austin housing market is hot, as a many markets are around the U.S. My neighborhood was built four years ago, and the same model as mine across the street sold for more than 30% of original prices. 

Mortgage rates are low, and inventory is tight. It's a sellers market. The supply-and-demand curve is working as predicted.

The coronavirus pandemic raised the temperature considerably on the nation’s housing market. The past year has been marked by soaring prices, logic-defying offers over asking price, and steep competition as sellers have been hesitant to put their homes up for sale.

But the heart-pumping, bank account–depleting housing market frenzy could die down—at least a little—in the coming months as more sellers list their properties and inventory slowly increases. About 10% of current homeowners plan to put their homes on the market this year—and more than half are more affordably priced, according to an exclusive survey conducted by realtor.com®. An additional 16% expect to list their properties within the next two to three years.

About 4,000 people were surveyed online, including 1,000 new homeowners and more than 650 potential sellers.

“There is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel for many weary buyers,” says Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu.

“A large influx of homes for sale would be welcome news for housing, especially as shrinking affordability has placed a wedge between many young buyers and their desired neighborhoods,” he adds. “More new homes would mean less competition, which would translate into a slowdown in the steep price growth we’ve experienced.

Typically, only about 8% of homeowners put their homes up for sale a year. This is about a 25% anticipated increase, which translates into about 1.5 million more homes. The increase may be due to folks holding off on selling their homes during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

It still won’t be enough to fully relieve the current historic housing shortage—compounded by the fact that builders haven’t been able to put up enough homes to keep up with the increasing population, particularly millennials who are now in prime home-buying years. But it’s a start.

“In a market that right now only has close to half a million listings, a big boost in inventory can mean more choices for buyers and potentially a slowdown in price growth,” says Ratiu. He was quick to add that prices won’t drop, but the double-digit growth may taper off. “It’s signaling a return to normal for the economy and the housing market.”

Nationally, the median list price was $370,000 in March—up 16% annually, according to Realtor.com. As buyers duke it out, sale prices have gone much higher in many parts of the country. Historically low mortgage rates have helped to offset those high prices, as average rates fell to 2.97% for 30-year fixed-rate loans last week. But prices are still climbing much faster than incomes.

That’s why having more affordably priced homes hit the market is key. Roughly 58% of sellers who plan to list this year have homes valued below $350,000, according to the survey. This is expected to help first-time buyers get a toehold in the market.

About 63% of those who plan to sell this year have already listed their homes or plan to do so within six months. More than three-quarters have taken steps to begin the process, such as getting their homes into shape and reaching out to real estate professionals.

There would be even more homes coming online this year if sellers were confident they could find another home within their price range. In this turbocharged market, that can be difficult. Sellers are also worried about the economy and had concerns about showing their property during the pandemic, among other reasons.

“For many sellers, especially those who are looking to trade up, the shortage of homes has been just as challenging as for first-time buyers,” says Ratiu. “That’s a Catch-22 exacerbating the inventory situation, because the sellers don’t want to list and then not have a place to live after they sell their home.”

And that’s why even when these additional properties hit the market, they won’t be enough to end the housing shortage. Not yet, anyway.

“As we look to the year ahead, the demand wave will continue outpacing the supply inflow, even with more sellers coming to market,” says Ratiu. “We will not solve a decade’s worth of underbuilding and lack of listings in one year.”

Clare Trapasso at Realtor.com contributed most of this story.  See also These are the Top 10 Housing Markets of 2021.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Two Views on Race Theory

Critical Race Theory: The Enemy of Reason, Evidence, and Open Debate

By Peter J. Wilson

On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13950, “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” The order contained the kind of emotionally charged language about critical race theory that is seldom seen in these legalistic documents: “This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”

The order quoted from training materials being used by government agencies and from statements of the agencies themselves, such as this from the Treasury Department: “Virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism.” The department, according to the order, “instructed small group leaders to encourage employees to avoid ‘narratives’ that Americans should ‘be more color-blind’ or ‘let people’s skills and personalities be what differentiates them.’” Trump’s order was revoked by President Biden on his first day in office.

By this time, however, the ideas that had prompted Trump’s concerns had already begun to disturb the lives of the American people who encountered them. In a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on December 20, 2020, Gabrielle Clark, the mother of William Clark, a twelfth-grader in a Nevada charter school, complained about the school’s refusal to accept her son’s objection to what was being taught in a recently revised civics course. Ms. Clark, a widow, is black. Her son’s father, however, was white, and her son was light-skinned enough to be considered white.

Read full article here.

The Left's Systemic Exploitation of Race

By David LimBaugh

When I occasionally complain about the left politicizing race, fellow conservatives often say to me, "Don't worry about this. They've lost all credibility on the issue, trivializing it by overuse. They're getting no traction with it."


You'd have to be blind and deaf to deny that this tactic is working for the left politically and that it has caused great harm. Democrats and the left bring up race every five minutes to demonize Republicans and profit politically. It is nothing more than a raw power grab.

Indeed, if you want to talk about shameful behavior on race, look no further than the liberal politicians and the media who smear half the country as racists daily because of their views on economic, political, and cultural issues. If you champion American sovereignty, advocate border control, support the indispensability of law enforcement, promote our free market economy, and cherish America's founding principles — and if your skin happens to be white (unless you're a progressive) — you are presumptively racist.

PRO Act does nothing for American workers, everything for Union fat-cats

I currently am working for a small company in North Texas on a short-term contract. If the PRO Act were to pass, I probably would not have b...