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Oh, This Is Interesting

Consider this:

Philadelphia is losing one resident a day to violence, recording 196 homicides through the third week of June. That is slightly ahead of the total at this point in 2006, a year that ended with 406 homicides, the most in almost a decade. On the first day of summer alone, six people were killed in Philadelphia in three street shootings.

Nobody really knows for sure what has caused the recent upsurge in murders in east coast cities, but theories abound. Some say it is due to easy availability of firearms; others point to differential police practices. Here in Baltimore people tend to attribute it to the drug trade, but that’s just a knee-jerk response, we always blame it on the drug trade.

One theory seems to fit the facts better than the others. All of the cities afflicted by a dramatic rise in homicide rates are ones with relatively few Hispanic immigrants. Other cities, like New York and Los Angeles, that have absorbed large numbers of immigrants, have not seen their homicide rates rise.

AP reports:

PHILADELPHIA – Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities in a bloodstained corridor along the East Coast are seeing a surge in killings, and one of the most provocative explanations offered by criminal-justice experts is this: not enough new immigrants.

The theory holds that waves of hardworking, ambitious immigrants reinvigorate desperately poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods and help keep crime down.

It is a theory that runs counter to the widely held notion that immigrants are a source of crime and disorder.

“New York, Los Angeles, they’re seeing massive immigration — the transformation, really, of their cities from populations around the world,” said Harvard sociologist Robert J. Sampson. “These are people selecting to go into a country to get ahead, so they’re likely to be working hard and stay out of trouble.”

Read the whole thing here.

Well…, it does seem to fit the facts.

Just saying….

June 30, 2007 at 3:33 pm Comments (0)

Le Bec Fin's Georges Perrier Speaks Out!

One on One with Le Bec Fin’s Georges Perrier:

Foie Gras, Philadelphia, and the Future

If you think this column is going to discuss the ornate tapestries in the Le Bec Fin dining room, or how much heavy cream is used in the lobster bisque, you will be sorely disappointed.

If, however, you want a behind-the-scenes, rarely revealed look into the man who wins all the awards, draws the ire of protesters, and makes the competition green with envy….the man whose passion consistently ranks him the best of the best, and whose compassion knows no bounds….fasten your seatbelt.

Georges Perrier is the world-renowned restauranteur whose Le Bec Fin establishment has earned more coveted Mobil Five Star Awards than nearly any other establishment, and whose restaurant was twice rated the best in the entire country. He has been at work in Philadelphia for nearly four decades, yet continues to perform at the top of his game, setting the bar, consistently impressing a discerning clientèle with unparalleled service and cuisine.

Beyond his culinary innovations, however, is a visionary—courageous, outspoken and, at times, an extremely frustrated man. He talks about being the primary target of protesters, even being threatened at his house, and his increasing exasperation at the inefficiencies and misguided efforts of city government. Perrier also opens up about the business climate in Philadelphia, and makes some extremely powerful statements in that regard.

He is a man greatly ahead of his time. While he opposed the city smoking ban on the grounds that government should not regulate a legal activity in a private restaurant, he banned smoking in his dining room…in 1974! Likewise, while he doesn’t agree with efforts to ban trans-fat, he hasn’t used it in nearly eight years. The meat and fish he buys are wild, free-ranging and antibiotic and hormone free (all practices more beneficial to the animals), yet he is constantly assailed for serving duck liver.

And his unheralded personal compassion is awe-inspiring. Such as signing a convict out of jail, giving him an opportunity, and thirty years later, having that person as his best employee. Or flying another employee and his family to France, all expenses paid, for three weeks, three years in a row, for a special asthma treatment for the employee’s son. An employee, by the way, who lost his other son to the same disease.

Following is a candid Question-Answer session with the originator of the Philadelphia Renaissance, Georges Perrier. We were joined for a time by Joe Wolf, Director of Operations for Signature Restaurants, Perrier’s company.

CF: Do you think that non-carnivores are genetically predisposed to their affliction, or do they just not know how to have fun? Hey, I care about Opie the calf as much as the next guy….but come on now—it’s veal. If not for being the centerpiece of a great meal, what other purpose does it serve?
And have you thought of marketing “counter-protest” recipes for foie gras, celebrating its “rich” history?

OK, those weren’t really questions.

CF: Let’s talk about foie gras. Even though numerous restaurants serve foie gras, you seem to be the biggest target of the protesters. What is it about Georges Perrier who so inflames the non-carnivores? What is your feeling about the protesters, both those that protest respectfully and legally, and the corporate terrorists who take it way too far?

GP: In this country, if government gets involved in this matter, then it will have to get involved in the chicken industry, the beef industry, veal….we’ll have to do away with everything and no one will be able to eat these foods. So what are we talking about here?

You think the ducks are treated “badly”? Look at the chicken industry—it is much worse. And let me tell you something…we don’t “force-feed” ducks anymore. (What the protesters say])…is not true. The ducks feed themselves the corn through self-feeder tubes. So there is absolutely no cruelty. You want cruelty? Look at chickens being caged all day long. Look at the beef industry….did you know that the beef industry is the largest purchaser of antibiotics in the world?

JW: Do you know that ducks and geese eat fishes whole, 10, 12 inches long. It’s natural.

CF: Because there is no gag reflex…

GP: But what happens? My name is dragged through the mud in front of my restaurants, they say that I have never done anything (good), that I am no good (for the city)? And to hear it from some of these people who have been arrested by the FBI? And the police can’t do anything, because these people are protected by civil rights. Where are my rights?

CF: Let me digress for just a second. What are your restaurant’s standards for beef, chicken ,etc…

GP: We use only free range chicken (not caged), and our beef is antibiotic and hormone free. Sure, I could buy farm-raised salmon cheaply, but I only buy wild salmon—much healthier but also much more expensive.

CF: You just discussed the protesters. They say you have done nothing for the city. Why don’t you receive support from fellow restauranteurs? From the various restaurant associations? Where are they, and why don’t they understand that what is bad for you is bad for them? I see Steven Starr caved in to protesters, removing foie gras from his restaurants? Why?

GP: Steven Starr is a coward. It makes me mad. Starr used to be a big leader in the restaurant industry, but he removed foie gras because he didn’t want to fight (the protesters). For me, that was a big disappointment because I always considered him a leader, and I consider him a friend. And I thought Steve should have called me and said “Georges, can we do a coalition on this (issue)?”

I am French, and everyone has copied everything the French has done, and what I have done. When I came to the city, there were no (high-class) restaurants. You couldn’t even buy a good suit. The city had nothing. W.C. Fields said Philadelphia was the worst city in the country. I started the Renaissance in this city. My restaurant was twice named the Best Restaurant in the United States. I’ve gotten the Mobil Award for 28 years. I bring quality to the city, I teach people, I have hundreds of employees, and have helped countless others along the way start, some of whom have started their own restaurants. So I feel that I’ve done something. I don’t accept the people who have done nothing in their lives, some of whom have been in jail, come in front of my door screaming. I don’t care about the screaming , but what makes me upset is when they scream that I haven’t done anything. Who are we kidding?

Where are my rights as a citizen and business owner?

By the way, we love foie gras. Tell (the protesters) to come every day they want to come… it brings more people to my restaurant. I’ve never sold more foie gras than now.

JW: We have spent thousands upon thousands in legal fees to get an injunction…so that now these people have to stay 15 feet back from the front door of my restaurants. They are not allowed to use bullhorns. Before the injunction, they were able to stand right in front of the door. It’s absurd…we have to spend significant money on legal fees to protect our business from people who have no investment in anything.

CF: As far as other restaurants stepping up and supporting you…

GP: In France, all the restaurants band together (on these types of issues) to help each other out. In this country, no one bands together. I have never received a call from any restaurant association to support me about foie gras. Where is the leadership there? I am very disappointed.

CF: That’s a disgrace, not to mention stupid business…

GP: Yet the owner of the restaurant London Grill called me and said she didn’t have the money for an injunction. First, I told her not to antagonize the protesters, not to argue with them. But she said they intimidated her customers, and the police were no longer coming to help her. I gave her some suggestions to help her.

The restaurant industry should get together in this city and help each other, but they don’t. It’s tough.

JW: I suggested that she piggyback on our injunction, which she is allowed to do, and that will help her tremendously. They are a small operation—they don’t have fifteen or twenty thousand dollars to spend on legal fees. We spent twice that.

And one more thing: when fellow restauranteur Susanna Foo was arrested after a disagreement with a Parking Authority official, the first phone call she received was from Chef Perrier to see what he could do to support her. That’s his compassion for both a person and another restaurant owner.

CF: Where are the statewide associations on this—why are they silent?

JW: Everybody is too afraid, everybody is too independent in this business. This is an industry of everybody by themselves—nobody wants to get together in this industry. There are a number of restaurant associations. We belong to every one of them, pay dues to every one of them, contribute to them—but they don’t do anything collectively when an issue like this comes up.

GP: Here’s the problem: Today it is foie gras, but tomorrow it can be something else.

CF: It opens the door to ban more things…like Whole Foods banning lobsters and crabs because it’s “inhumane”—whatever that means.

GP: Where does it end? Everything can be called “cruelty”. Where does it end?

CF: Philadelphia imposes some of the highest taxes on business in the country, resulting in the city’s lagging business climate and being labeled as one of the least desirous places for the “best and the brightest” in the workforce. Now there is a proposal in City Hall to ban foie gras. What is your take on that?

GP: I would be extremely upset—what are they thinking? Do they have nothing else to do?

The school system is in shambles. The violence on the streets—the crime (murders) in Philadelphia is the highest of any city in the United States. The city is filthy and dirty, like I have never seen. It is a disgrace! There are homeless and beggars everywhere. Parking is a huge problem. What are the City Council members thinking who want to pass a ban on foie gras?

I would say to them: “Go to work! Do the work that you are supposed to do! Go and make the Convention Center a place that can bring us some business, because so far, you have done almost nothing (in that regard), but we pay taxes like you wouldn’t believe.”

Of the twenty five conventions we had the first year, only two said they would return. How can you run a business like that? Conventions bring people, business, tax revenue. For everything we (the business community) pay in taxes, what do we get for it? Absolutely nothing. And now they want to pass a law banning foie gras? Don’t they have anything better to do? Do your job!

I just don’t get it.

JW: As an example, there was a gigantic pothole in front of Le Bec Fin, so large that cars hitting it would rattle our windows…it took forever to get that fixed. You would think that on one of the most prestigious streets in the city, they would jump on the problem immediately.

CF: In that vein, if you were seeking to open your first restaurant today, would you locate in Philadelphia? In Pennsylvania?

GP: This is a tricky question, because I own four restaurants in Philadelphia, and I am opening another one. I have been here 42 years, I know the city and the people, and I have the name, the brand, and a loyal customer base. I love the city. We have accomplished in forty years what would have taken France 2000 years. But we still have a very long way to go.

But if I was new to the area, and learned about the city (and City Hall), learned about the business (climate) and the economy, I would never open a restaurant here. My friend, Jeffery Chodorow, owner of China Grill and two dozen restaurants worldwide, told me he would never open a restaurant in Philadelphia. And he’s from Philadelphia.

CF: That’s pretty indicting to the city government.

GP: The biggest problem is that we’re not bringing business to Center City.

CF: It takes guts to run a business—and a city—successfully.

GP: You do have to have guts, and you have to be a leader. I have nothing to prove—I’ve done it all. I’ve done so much since I came here at age 23.

But I’m not finished. That’s why I am opening another restaurant.

And that’s good for Philadelphia.

June 30, 2007 at 9:18 am Comment (1)

Re: Bush Deficit Reduction

Mark,

I agree, Reagan’s tax policies and more importantly his deregulation paved the way for decades of subsequent economic growth, although I would also give a lot of credit to globalization policies pursued by the Bushes and Clinton. I would hold, though, that Dubya’s administration exploited those opportunities brilliantly and managed the recession and the economic impact of 9/11 and its aftermath better than anyone at the time could have expected.

As for the Reaganite economists — few of them bought into the Laffer Curve at the time, but were steamrollered by Reagan [I think the term was "taking them to the woodshed"]. As soon as Reagan was gone they pressured Daddy Bush for tax hikes to reduce the deficit and got them. Clinton, too, raised taxes. Dubya lowered them and resisted all pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to raise them again. In that sense Dubya is more of a Reaganite than many of Reagan’s economic advisors. Regarding the criticism of Dubya’s tax cuts from former members of the Reagan administration, I know, I had fights over dinner with a couple of them. I will be having dinner with one of them next month and plan to make him eat crow [unless my wife makes me behave, that is].

June 29, 2007 at 3:38 pm Comments (0)

Re: Death Wish

Alex,

The point to which you objected in my original post was that opponents of the immigration reform bill were “restrictionists”. Enforcing existing law, requiring that “illegals” return to their home countries, and that they seek readmission through legal channels would have the twin effect of 1) sharply reducing the number of Latinos in this country and 2) drastically restricting the number of immigrant into the country. That is why I called the opposition “restrictionists.” It still seems to me to be an accurate term.

Objections to immigration through legal channels.

1) The INS is broken and has been for a long, long time. It simply cannot process large numbers of cases in a timely manner.

2) Current immigration laws make no provision for seasonal migratory labor, which accounts for much of the border crossing.

3) Current laws set the quotas far too low. To adhere to those quotas would cause severe economic dislocation, especially in the agricultural sector.

4) Either workers will come to the jobs, or the jobs will go to the workers. Already America’s agricultural industry is beginning to relocate its facilities to Mexico. Immigration restriction will only accelerate that trend.

5) What to do about the millions of “illegals” already in the US? Sending them home would cause major disruption to communities, families, and industries on both sides of the border. It would be a humanitarian nightmare.
In addition restrictionism is bad policy.

The integration of the US and Mexican economies has had tremendous benefits for people on both sides of the border. Much of the economic growth of the southwest has resulted from it and so has a comparable economic growth in northern Mexico. Mexico is now our second biggest trading partner, after Canada, and we export a lot more to them than we import. Since NAFTA went into effect American businesses have invested heavily in the Mexican economy and as a result much of the capital resulting from Mexican economic growth has flowed back into this country.

Much of America’s recent economic prosperity has been built on our ability to tap into a highly mobile international pool of low-cost labor. Adopting a technological alternative to cheap labor — the Japan model — is likely to produce economic stagnation, as it has in Japan. Such a transition is certainly possible, but must be implemented slowly and gradually so as to avoid the kind of economic disruptions Japan has suffered in recent decades.

It is in our interest as a nation to promote the economic development of Mexico. Not only does this enrich our economy through trade, it provides political stability along our southern border. Remittances from Mexicans working in the US are an important and extremely productive part of that development, consisting of direct transfer of money [more than 20 billion dollars each year] to families and local communities rather than government to government aid. Studies have shown that this American money has had a major beneficial impact on the economies of local communities throughout much of Mexico, allowing the development of entreprenurial activities and raising the local standard of living.

The effect of a rising standard of living has been outlined in a nice piece by Robert Dunn, writing in Tech Central Daily.

As the debate over illegal immigration from Mexico rages in Washington and across the country, and as the administration’s reform bill hangs by a thread, few Americans are aware that this problem will automatically decline and eventually become a vague memory.

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There has been a stunning decline in the fertility rate in Mexico, which means that, in a few years there will not be many teenagers in Mexico looking for work in the United States or anywhere else. If this trend in the fertility rate continues, Mexico will resemble Japan and Italy – rapidly aging populations with too few young workers to support the economy.

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According to the World Bank’s 2007 Annual Development Indicators, in 1990 Mexico had a fertility rate of 3.3 children per female, but by 2005, that number had fallen by 36 percent to 2.1, which is the Zero Population Growth rate. That is an enormous decline in the number of Mexican infants per female. The large number of women currently in their reproductive years means that there are still quite a few babies, but as this group ages, the number of infants will decline sharply. If this trend toward fewer children per female continues, there being no apparent reason for it to cease, the number of young people in the Mexican population will decline significantly just when the number of elderly is rising. As labor markets in Mexico tighten and wage rates rise, far fewer Mexican youngsters will be interested in coming to the United States. Since our baby boomers will be retiring at the same time, we could face a severe labor shortage.

Read the whole thing here.

So, it is in both our long and short term interests to promote the free exchange of labor, capital and goods between our country and Mexico. Restrictionism and other forms of protectionism are short-sighted, even if politically popular in some areas.

Anyway, that’s my humble opinion.

June 29, 2007 at 3:17 pm Comments (0)

Re: John Street iPhone

Speaking of thieves and iPhones.

Watch this video…


fox news
Uploaded by hotternews

 

Crazy guy steals the microphone… what’s with liberals people and FoxNews?

June 29, 2007 at 2:48 pm Comments (0)

re: Bush deficit

This economy was made possible by the moves of Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s, returning money to the people who earned and spend it. A Reaganite would never blame President Bush’s tax cuts for the budget deficit. It was Reagan advisor Arthur Laffer who drew the famous Laffer Curve, showing basically that when the rates of taxation were cut, rates of government revenue increased. Income tax reductions are vintage Reagan.

Furthermore, Reaganites are not to be confused or grouped with Clintonistas.

We are still living, in this sense, in Ronald Reagan’s economy. Both Clinton and Bush played along nicely, especially President Bush with the tax cuts.

June 29, 2007 at 2:31 pm Comments (0)

Google Searches

This morning someone hit PaWatercooler with a comcast search using the following search terms.

why are women screwed up

Hit number three.

Surprise! Amish Women Aren’t Screwed Up

Perhaps through a little blogging, we can mend a broken heart.

Ahhhhh….

June 29, 2007 at 2:28 pm Comments (0)

Re: The Bush Deficit Disappearing

It’s the best economy we’ve never heard of!

June 29, 2007 at 2:22 pm Comments (0)

The Bush Deficit is Disappearing

Remember all those scare stories by Clintonian and Reaganite clones to the effect that Bush was bankrupting the country, that the deficit was out of control, that radical inflation or tax hikes would be necessary to restore responsible finance? Of course you do. Those charges were a major campaign theme in 2004 and have helped to fuel the Republican revolt.

Well…, the charges were baseless and the doomsayers were wrong.

Bloomberg reports:

[T]he unexpected surge in tax receipts may pare the budget deficit by 39 percent to $150 billion this fiscal year, causing a relative scarcity of four-week, three-month and six-month bills. The result is the biggest bull market for Treasury bills since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 drove investors to the safety of the securities.

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Individual and corporate income tax revenues are growing for a fourth straight year in spite of five rounds of Bush tax cuts totaling about $2 trillion from 2001 to 2006. With less need to borrow, the government has cut sales of bills. The supply, which peaked in March 2005 at $1.06 trillion, fell to $919.1 billion at the end of May and will drop by about $160 billion this quarter, a record.

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Treasuries “are among the best liquid assets in the world, and low deficits keep them scarce, and yields low,” Robert Mundell, a professor at Columbia University in New York and winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for economics, said in an e-mailed response to a question.

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Yields on three-month bills tumbled last week to a 16-month low of 4.53 percent, about three-quarters of a percentage point lower than the Federal Reserve’s 5.25 percent target for the overnight lending rate between banks. The last time bill yields were that far below the federal funds rate was after the terrorist attacks in New York and Arlington, Virginia, in 2001.

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`A Heck of a Job’

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Along with record highs in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of large-company shares and the smallest yield premiums on the riskiest corporate bonds in the past month, low bill yields are a sign of confidence.

Read the whole thing here.

I have said it over and over — in terms of their management of the economy the Bush administration has performed far better than any other administration in living memory.

Once again Bush turns out to be far more competent than his critics.

UPDATE:

Don Surber, of course, has his unique take on this story.

Darn you, George Bush. Bloomberg reported that the federal budget deficit is shrinking so fast that there is a shortage of government debt:

He goes on to point out that the same people who insist that there is a financial crisis because it is impossible to grow your way out of a deficit were just a few years ago insisting that there was no crisis in Social Security because the economy would grow its way out of the projected deficit. Funny thing that.

Read Surber’s piece here.

June 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm Comments (0)

Re: Street iPhone

Most people would be down on Street, but I am going to look at his situation in a positive light.  First, I would rather have him waiting in line than working in City Hall.  Second we should be proud of him for waiting in line like everyone lese; I am sure if he wanted Milton would have stole one for him a few weeks ago.

June 29, 2007 at 2:11 pm Comments (0)

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