“A tourist visiting the Bay Area for Fleet Week last year was doing nothing more than reading and napping under a tree in a federal waterfront park in San Francisco when a 16-pound pine cone fell on him and crushed his skull, his lawyer said Monday.” According to the suit, coniferous Araucaria bidwillii trees, “more commonly known as bunya pines or false monkey puzzle trees…are not indigenous to the area” and their “seedpods, or pine cones, can grow to enormous sizes, reaching nearly 16 inches in diameter and weighing up to 40 pounds.” [SFGate] “Living under Bunya Pines is not for the faint hearted,” advises one 2014 account from Australia, where the trees are native. “You get a little bit of warning when they fall, says a farmer who has five old ones near his house. “They clatter through the branches, and you just start running.”
In 1907, unions helped convince Seattle to enact a 15-cent minimum price for restaurant meals, part of a backlash against inexpensive Japanese-run eateries that were providing unwelcome competition for existing restaurants and unions representing their employees. In San Francisco the same year, a mob attacked and destroyed the 10-cent Horseshoe Restaurant on Folsom Street, causing a diplomatic incident between the United States and Japan [H.D. Miller, Eccentric Culinary History; part 1 of his story]
- Skull and crossbones to follow: San Francisco pols decree health warnings on soft drink, Frappuccino billboards [Steve Chapman]
- Judge criticizes feds’ punitive handling of AIG rescue as unlawful, but says no damages are owed to Hank Greenberg [Bloomberg, Thaya Knight/Cato, Gideon Kanner who predicted outcome, W$J]
- Congress resisting Obama/HUD scheme to force communities to build low-income housing [Jonathan Nelson/Economics21, Marc Thiessen, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing or AFFH]
- California, following New York, proposes 50 hours of mandatory pro bono work for prospective lawyers [John McGinnis]
- Five part Renee Lettow Lerner series on historical role and present-day decay of juries [Volokh Conspiracy, introduction, parts one, two, three, four, five] Related: Mike Rappaport and follow-up on Seventh Amendment, Liberty and Law.
- Latest Scotland drunk-driving blood threshold: Drivers “warned that having ‘no alcohol at all’ is the only way to ensure they stay within the limit” [Independent via Christopher Snowdon]
- How not to argue for bail reform: Scott Greenfield vs. NYT op-ed writer [Simple Justice]
- “Oakland minimum-wage hike puts child caregivers in a jam” [Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle]
- “Why Minimum Wage Increases are a Terrible Anti-Poverty Program” [Coyote, parts one and two] More: David Neumark;
- “[Robert] Reich Is Wrong on the Minimum Wage” [Don Boudreaux, Cato; more]
- “Marvel At The Effects Of The Minimum Wage In San Francisco” [Tim Worstall on Comix Experience comics shop]
- “Can Republicans Stick to Their Principles on the Minimum Wage?” [Michael Tanner]
- “To see the effects of the minimum wage hike, follow the pho” [Thanh Tan, Seattle Times] “Owner of pizza shop says new Seattle minimum wage law is forcing her to close” [KCPQ, David Henderson] “Minimum Wage Hikes and Restaurants: Who Gains? Who Loses?” Brian Doherty; Michael Saltsman, W$J]
- “The evidence that the most disadvantaged of society are those most [harmed] by minimum-wage legislation is abundant” [Philip Coelho and James McClure via David Henderson]
- Environmental law’s oft-praised public trust doctrine may have made California drought worse [Gary Libecap, Regulation magazine, via Peter Van Doren, Cato] Blame Nestlé for California water crisis? Well, people can try [Coyote]
- True to “so-called Seattle Process of inclusive and abundant dialogue,” tunnel to replace Alaskan Way viaduct has developed into expensive fiasco [Karen Weise, Bloomberg]
- Jefferson’s method of surveying “abstract and commodifiable” land, well suited to flat Midwest, curbed litigation and greatly advanced American prosperity [Steve Sailer, Chronicles]
- RFK Jr.’s Waterkeeper “tightly intertwined with more than one of the players in [Skelos] investigation” [Scott Waldman, Capital New York]
- High overhead: “what they are doing is pricing people out of the ceiling fan market” [Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, re: Rep. Marsha Blackburn criticism of energy regulations]
- Didn’t know San Francisco had such a high rate of vacant rentals: “America’s Rent-Controlled Cities Are Its Least Affordable” [Scott Beyer] Craziness of city’s housing policy long predates today’s war against techie newcomers [Coyote]
- “Chimpanzee almost gets habeas corpus — and in any event the Nonhuman Rights Project gets a court hearing” [Volokh, earlier on chimpanzees and rights]
Don’t believe minimum wage hikes hurt real people? After March 31, a famed sci-fi bookstore on Valencia St. in San Francisco’s Mission District will no longer be able to cater to your taste in fantasy:
The change in minimum wage will mean our payroll will increase roughly 39%. That increase will in turn bring up our total operating expenses by 18%. To make up for that expense, we would need to increase our sales by a minimum of 20%. We do not believe that is a realistic possibility for a bookstore in San Francisco at this time.
And this, which speaks for itself:
In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018. Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in [principle] and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage. Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st. The cafe will continue to operate until at least the end of this year.
Early reactions from customers online run heavily to two themes: 1) anguish that a beloved cultural institution is passing from the scene and 2) reflections that they, the fans and customers, had supported the minimum wage hike too when it was on the ballot. (It might restrict businesses’ rights, but who cares about that?) But in this world — as in so many of the well-crafted alternative worlds of science fiction — the link between actions and their logical consequences, foreseen and intended or otherwise, is not to be broken. [Reprinted from my post at Cato at Liberty]
Coyote read the letter in recognition:
I found the language here familiar because I spent most of last year writing such letters to angry customer bases. In our case, fortunately, we had the ability to raise prices so the letters were to defuse customer irritation rather than to announce a closure.
And Mark Perry at AEI identifies why a bookstore in particular cannot adjust the way a restaurant or a dry cleaner might:
There’s a limit to how much a bookstore can increase book prices to offset higher labor costs because the publisher sets the list price of the book and it’s printed on the book cover.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a new minimum wage law hits nonprofits, which ask for more taxpayer money so they can comply [Inquirer]
- “When I asked them why they decided to sell their [toy import] business, they said that they got out because of Proposition 65 and the CPSIA.” [Nancy Nord]
- State tax regimes are getting more aggressive about grabbing money earned in other states [Steve Malanga, City Journal]
- “Still can’t get over the fact that all [development] permits are discretionary in San Francisco” [@TonyBiasotti linking Mark Hogan, Boom]
- How would American politics change if political parties could expel members, as in many countries they can? [Bryan Caplan]
- Defenders of Wisconsin John Doe prosecutor push back against Stuart Taylor investigation [Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via Althouse, more, related on “blue fist” posters and John Doe investigator, earlier]
- “In Britain, Child’s Weight Leads to Parents’ Arrest” [New York Times in June, King’s Lynn 11-year-old; also, Cadbury agrees to “stop making chocolate bars in Britain with more than 250 calories”] More: Pencil-twirling in class leads to CPS referral in New Jersey [Katherine Mangu-War, Reason]
- Should there be judicial remedies — what kind, and for which plaintiffs — when federal spending is politicized? [Daniel Epstein, Federalist Society “Engage”]
- ObamaCare, Common Core, EPA policy all raise specter of federal commandeering of state governments [Richard Epstein and Mario Loyola, The Atlantic] Vocally supporting Common Core, William Bennett provides new reasons to be queasy about it [Neal McCluskey, Cato]
- Mom lets six-year-old play within sight of his own front door. Then Child Protective Services arrives [Haiku of the Day]
- Study finds no evidence California cellphone ban reduced accidents [The Newspaper]
- Or maybe if you’ve been in good health for 13 years it’s okay to let the grievance slide: pols, union leaders urge unimpaired WTC rescuers to enroll for possible future compensation [AP/WCBS]
- “Thomson Reuters Thinks Not Responding To Their Email Means You’ve Freely Licensed All Your Content” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
- New frontiers in urban expropriation: San Francisco imposes crushing new “relocation assistance” burden on rental owners [Pacific Legal Foundation]
- A lesson in standing up for individual liberty, and not being discouraged by setbacks [my Cato Institute piece on Lillian Gobitis Klose’s flag-pledge case, Donald Boudreaux/Cafe Hayek]
Lawyers are warning that a bill to restrict consideration of criminal records in business hiring now pending in New York City would be even more burdensome to business than similar bills enacted in other cities and states, applying, for example, to businesses with as few as four employees, a lower threshold than usual. [Crain’s] The bill prohibits inquiry about criminal record until after a provisional job offer is made, at which point a reluctant employer must withdraw the offer, painting a large “Sue Me” target on its chest.
To be able to reject an applicant because of a past conviction, employers would have to go through a rigorous process that, if not followed, would result in the presumption that a business owner engaged in unlawful discrimination, [Reed Smith’s Mark] Goldstein said….
Additionally, the City Council bill would allow an applicant rejected because of a past crime seven days to respond. The job would have to be held open during that time….
In the bill’s current form, the business would bear the burden of proof in any resulting lawsuit by the job applicant, Mr. Goldstein said.
More: Nick Fishman, Employee Screen on unusually burdensome provisions of San Francisco “ban the box” law (“Employers can’t just sit back anymore and think that these laws are benign. At the least, they are creating an administrative nightmare. At worst, the plaintiff’s attorneys are standing by waiting for your first misstep.”)