The Seattle Times reports: Nearly 100 percent of Seattle’s new tax on the distribution of sweetened beverages has been passed on to consumers through higher in-store prices, a new report estimates.
But some taxed beverages have increased in price more than others and some stores have increased their prices more than others, according to the report by University of Washington researchers that City Council members are set to discuss Wednesday.
Sodas have increased in price more than sugar-sweetened juices and bottled coffee drinks, and smaller stores have increased their prices more than supermarkets, the report indicates.
Additionally, some smaller stores have increased their prices even for beverages not subject to the tax, such as diet sodas.
“We don’t know why, but they did see something similar in Berkeley,” the California city that adopted a tax before Seattle, said research-team leader Jesse Jones-Smith, an associate professor of health services and epidemiology.
Seattle’s tax of 1.75 cents per fluid ounce, which took effect in January 2018, is charged to distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages. But the distributors can pass the tax on to stores and the stores can pass the tax on to consumers.
When the City Council approved the tax in 2017, many proponents said the goal was to decrease consumption of unhealthful beverages by driving up prices, while others supported the policy because they said it would raise money for healthful-eating and education programs.
Foes said the tax would disproportionately hurt people with low incomes. Some store owners and consumers opposed the measure, along with unionized beverage-industry workers.
The city collected nearly $17 million in the first nine months of the tax, surpassing its initial expectations, and officials now are counting on the money to keep rolling in, with substantial annual declines no longer anticipated.
From Seattle Times: Give it a rest, boomers and Xers. Millennials have heard plenty by now about how they’re just the worst generation ever.
If their detractors are to be believed, they’re entitled, narcissistic, selfie-taking, self-absorbed, “everyone gets a trophy” brats, and they’re to blame for the demise of everything from cereal, paper napkins and bar soap to chain restaurants, the diamond industry and even democracy.
So stop, please, say some Seattleites who were born between 1977 and 2004 — that’s the Millennial Generation, depending on which definition you’re using. “It’s completely unfair,” said Ashley Krzeszowski, 24, of West Seattle. “We’ve been handed a broken system and we’re just doing the best we can.”
Krzeszowski just graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in cellular, molecular and developmental biology and applied mathematics. She has a job at the same lab she’s been working at for the last few years and yet she is still living with her parents. No need to judge, she said; it makes “prudent financial sense” for her to do so at this time and with the cost of housing in Seattle as high as it is. “As a group, we work hard and try hard,” she said. “But when my parents bought their house, it was two times their annual income and now houses are 10 times most people’s annual salaries.”
“Give us a break,” she said. “All we’re really asking for is enough pay for our phones, treat ourselves to a cup of coffee every once in a while and buy a dress off the sale rack. Is that really too much?”
Cheryl Kaiser, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, admires the Millennial Generation and finds her recent crops of students a “joy to teach.”
They’re creative, unrestrained by convention and willing to take risks, she said. In addition they’ve grown up in tough times and have had to be a little more scrappy than their parents. They ought not take the criticism to heart. “Each generation tends to see the new generation as not as good as their own,” she said. “You see it all the time.” The generation we belong to is part of who we are; we share norms, values and ideologies with our age mates, she explained. “If our generation does something in a specific way or holds specific values, we come to think of those as the right way, the good way and if one generation sees another doing something different, it can feel threatening, as if there’s something wrong with their way.”
“It’s easier to blame the other group and say they’re doing it wrong than it is to question how we’re doing it,” Kaiser said.
Tim Miller, a 52-year-old musician who plays music at Westlake Park with his friend, Paul Vegors, 24, said he knows that tendency well. “It’s silly, but it’s human nature really,” Miller said. “When you are threatened or in pain, you’re going to look around for someone to blame because someone else has to be responsible.”
In a piece written for The Center for Generational Kinetics, Curt Steinhorst writes that people in his generation do not like the phrase “millennial” as it brings with it connotations of laziness and entitlement. In downtown Seattle, a dozen or so young adults who were asked about their generation seemed to confirm that. Many flinched when asked if they were millennials and then explained why they felt they were really a bit on the young side to be held accountable for such a litany of woes: the death of golf, vacations, the 9-5 workweek and the lowly cork.
“We’re just growing up, and it’s not all our fault,” said Sandra Quiroz, 19, who works near Westlake Center. “Don’t they know that a lot of things that are going on are not really under our control?” said Pinkeo Phongsa, a 15-year-old visitor from California who believes she is in the much-maligned generation.
“I really think that everyone is just kind of looking for a scapegoat for a lot of things,” said Angela Olson, 24. “There are things about the way society is going that seem wrong, but it’s not all millennials’ fault. We can’t really take the blame as we were made this way.” “They don’t want to blame themselves, so they blame us,” said 25-year-old William Co, who works at a tech firm near downtown Seattle. “Every generation blames the next one,” said Rian Ellis, 27. “Given enough time we’ll be complaining about the next generation as well.”
But maybe not. Perhaps age really does bring with it a little chance for wisdom, or at least a little charity. “You can’t really blame them,” said 69-year-old Tim Micek. “They’ve got it much tougher than we did. They get nothing but my sympathy.”
Shortly after I scheduled this post, I came across this on the Daily Mail: Millennials aren’t ready for the ‘reality of life’ and suffer from panic attacks and anxiety problems, research finds: Millennials aren’t ready for the ‘reality of life’ and suffer from panic attacks and anxiety problems, new research has revealed. A study of 2,000 young people preparing to start university found that many aren’t ready for the challenges of living independently. The research found that more than half of prospective students don’t know how to pay a bill and that many believe that nights out cost more than paying rent. Researchers said that many would-be students have been left worried and confused by the prospect of leaving home to start higher education. The study found 61 per cent of millennials are anxious about the prospect of starting university, while 58 per cent are having trouble sleeping and 27 per cent are having panic attacks.
Millennials…just doing the best they can.
Remember, Kshama Sawant is a socialist. That leads me to question her objectivity.
From Seattle Times: Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is raising concerns about city-commissioned research into Seattle’s landmark minimum-wage law and about public comments by one of the University of Washington professors leading the effort. Professor Jacob Vigdor and other members of the UW team, who in July published a preliminary report on the impact of the law, are defending their work and saying they don’t control how their comments are presented in the media.
Professor Jacob Vigdor
The report said Seattle’s labor market thrived after the city became the first major metropolis in the country to enact a law setting its minimum wage on a multiyear path to $15 per hour. It said much of that success can be attributed to trends separate from the law itself, such as the growth of Seattle’s tech sector.
Why all the fuss about a group of number crunchers and their study, which is scheduled to continue for five years? People across the country — including pundits and activists on both sides of the political spectrum — are closely watching what happens in Seattle as they debate whether to raise minimum wages in their own cities and states, and nationwide.
“I’m not only concerned that we’re in danger of drawing erroneous conclusions about Seattle’s minimum-wage increase — I’m concerned about the consequences that could have on the nationwide fight for $15 (per hour),” said Sawant, who holds a doctorate in economics and was an instructor at Seattle Central College before winning office. In a letter addressed to Vigdor on Tuesday, Sawant questioned the study’s methodology and Vigdor’s objectivity. On the first issue, she attacked the “synthetic Seattle” statistical model that the UW team used to prepare the report.
Socialist Kshama Sawant dares to question someone else’s “objectivity”
To try to isolate the impact of the minimum-wage law from other conditions, the team aggregated ZIP codes from outside the city that had previously shown data and trends similar to ZIP codes inside the city. The team compared what happened in real Seattle from June 2014 through December 2015 to what happened in synthetic Seattle.
“I have strong reservations about the relevance of a model built on geographically and demographically distant ZIP codes,” rather than on ZIP codes just outside the city’s borders, Sawant wrote. She faulted the researchers on other academic grounds, as well, saying they failed to adjust for seasonality and to include chain businesses in the study, for example.
Sawant also went after Vigdor’s comments in the media. “Wages, jobs, hours worked and net business openings all increased in Seattle. Yet you chose to emphasize to the press that employment rates and hours worked went down compared to the fictional synthetic Seattle,” she wrote. “It is professionally irresponsible to draw such a conclusion from the data at this time.” To conclude, Sawant wrote, “Your methodological shortcomings and ideological editorializing undermine the credibility of the report.” In a letter replying to Sawant on Tuesday, Vigdor and 10 other UW researchers, including several professors, said their work is a collective project.
“The research products generated by the minimum-wage study team are the work of all team members and not one member,” they wrote. “The entire team has participated in discussion around research design, analysis, interpretation and presentation of results. We have taken great care to discuss where we find the evidence most compelling and where we are most uncertain. We believe our report reflects this care and caution.”
The synthetic Seattle approach has been used before for minimum-wage research and is a good approach for various reasons, the team wrote. And besides, the July report had an appendix with the approach Sawant prefers. “None of the conclusions reached in our report are contradicted” by the use of that alternate approach, the team’s letter said.
The researchers admitted to some methodological challenges. But, they wrote, “In the end, we believe that every question or criticism raised in your letter reflects information fully disclosed and discussed in the report itself.”
With regard to Vigdor’s objectivity and comments, the team noted, “Our work product is a public document, subject to partisan interpretation,” and said parts of the report have been used to promote both positive and negative views of Seattle’s law.
The researchers said their comments in the media can be taken out of context. But they said the stories about the July report that have been most misleading have been those written by people who didn’t speak to the team.
In an interview, Vigdor insisted that he’s playing it straight. “We have no ideological commitment,” he said. “We may appear as though we have some ideological slant because we’re not reliably agreeing with anybody.”
The former Duke University professor is an adjunct fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and a onetime visiting scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. He said that he recently spoke out against American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry’s criticism of Seattle’s minimum-wage law.
“Our entire team is troubled by the high and persistent degree of income inequality in the United States and believe our nation has a moral responsibility to ensure that the fruits of our prosperity are shared equitably,” the UW letter said.
“We are committed to producing objective and rigorous research, however, regardless of our individual preferences or concerns.”
From Fox News: A city-run cultural program in Seattle is offering residents classes on “white fragility” to white folks understand why they can’t seem to handle matters involving race, and tickets have sold out.
Lecturer Robin DiAngelo, who coined the term, is teaching the taxpayer-funded class for the city Office of Arts and Culture. She defines white fragility as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”
Critics say it is just the latest attempt at spreading white guilt, following in the footsteps of concepts such as “white privilege.”
Lecturer Robin DiAngelo
“By the way, DiAngelo is white,” noted Todd Herman, of MyNorthwest.com. “But she doesn’t have any bias or fragility. And we’re going to pay her a bunch of money to teach a class on white fragility!”
The Office of Arts and Culture, which has a budget of $8.3 million, is holding two 4-hour classes, Aug. 17 and Sept. 7. Tickets are $60 and both lectures are sold out. Erika Lindsay, a city spokesperson, says staffers have been working on the event, but she could not pinpoint how much taxpayers are shelling out for the program. “A primary role of our office is to provide programs and resources to help the arts and culture sector flourish and many arts and cultural organizations see the ability to become more inclusive as a major step towards their ability to thrive,” she said.
DiAngelo, who is white, has made a career out of studying whiteness. She earned her doctorate in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington in 2004. Ten years later she became a tenured professor in whiteness studies at Westfield State University. Now she is back in Seattle working as a lecturer at the University of Washington. She’s also director of equity for Sound Generations, Seattle/King County and was recently appointed to co-design Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Anti-Racism Training program.
Seattle is not alone in spending tax dollars on educating white people about their purported fragility. Portland Community College held a series of lectures in April under the heading: “Whiteness History Month Project.”
Melinda Bullen, Diversity Resource Center coordinator at Mt. Hood Community College, lectured on “white fragility.” Bullen, who is white, told attendees, “because of their position of privilege and accustomed racial comfort, whites will often display racial arrogance by denying, debating, trivializing racism or critical thought regarding racial conflict.”
Bullen also says white people need to be much harder on themselves. “Seeing yourself as well-meaning,” she said, “removes responsibility for your actions…good intentions are one of the great hindrances to honest conversations about race.”
h/t Hot Air
College Fix: The University of Washington’s “academic student employees” are voting this week on whether hurting someone’s feelings should be “grievable” under their union’s contract with the school.
If approved, it would be the first known university union contract in the country to protect teaching assistants, tutors, readers and similar student employees against “microaggressions” in the workplace.
The 78-page tentative contract between UAW 4121 and the university, which covers everything from wages and health benefits to “lactation” and “bathroom equity,” indicates that agreement on microaggressions came at the tail end of negotiations in late April.
According to a summary of the agreement, the university agreed to stronger contract language regarding gender expression and gender identity discrimination.
The language goes beyond procedures for dealing with gender or sexual orientation discrimination. Union members would be able to file complaints about “everyday exchanges – including words and actions – that denigrate or exclude individuals based on their membership in a group or class.”
One example of a microaggression at UW in recent memory involved a female Ph.D. candidate who “was consistently singled out for purely administrative tasks,” a spokeswoman for UAW 4121 told The College Fix in an email.
The spokeswoman said there were “numerous” examples of microaggressions on campus against academic student employees, enough to make it a “pressing” issue in the union contract.
Recognizing microaggressions as grievable represents “the next level of discourse in this country around racism, sexism, and homophobia,” and will advance the cause of “a more inclusive campus for all academic student employees,” the spokeswoman said. The union chapter did not address questions about what sanctions were possible for university employees who commit microaggressions against union members.
The tentative contract also pledges the university to meet three times a year to “discuss the joint goal of eliminating micro-aggressions and developing trainings for ASEs, faculty, and departments.”
It took just a few short weeks for the administration to cave on the issue of microaggressions, according to emails obtained by The Fix. “The University remains unmoved on micro-aggressions,” the union told members in an April 11 message. “They do not believe definitions and protections belong in a bargaining agreement and they are not open to training despite the preventative and proactive benefits of training.”
Negotiations reached a low point in the next few days: An email dated April 17 shows the union responding point-by-point to a “misinformation campaign to intimidate workers,” in which the school had warned student employees they don’t have the right to strike under state law.
The push for contract recognition of microaggressions goes back to at least this past fall, when the union laid out its “initial bargaining demands,” as The Fix reported.
While this appears to be the first union contract for academic student employees to explicitly make microaggressions “grievable,” it’s not uncommon for faculty unions to address this issue.
The California Faculty Association, which represents California State University professors and lecturers, sponsored a workshop on “unconscious bias” that was pitched as helping members become more “aware of unconscious biases, preferences, and micro-aggressions.”
Re-education for what you do not know is in your brain.
Addressing these problems will “foster a CSU environment wherein we can recruit and retain a more diverse faculty workforce and decrease workplace toxicity,” the workshop description read.
The University of Washington did not return requests for comment on the tentative contract.
Read the rest here.
What a difference “higher education” and political correctness can produce.