Discrimination at Yale

It’s been 4 years since I first reported on Dan Price and his minimum wage of $70,000 per year for his company Gravity Payments. Has it stood the test of time?

Yale Law School got a little blowback from student groups when they dared let a conservative lawyer speak there. Just a month later, they caved, stopped offering financial support for students who for public service organizations guilty of thought crimes.

Mentioned links:

The $70,000-a-Year Minimum Wage

Episode 104: Gravity Payments CEO Weighs In On the Minimum Wage

Episode 116: Being Pro-choice, and Dan Price’s Gamble Four Months On

Yale Law School Yanks Stipends From Students Who Work For Christian Firms

Argus Hamilton

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Show transcript

It’s a story I’ve come back to more than once, so let’s reconsider this…again. This is about Dan Price and his business Gravity Payments, where he set the minimum salary to $70,000 per year, and then he set his wage to that. That was 4 years ago this month, and I covered it in episode 104. The link to that episode and a follow-up 4 months later are in the show notes.

At the time, some on the Right called this “socialism”, and I observed that it had some elements of that system, especially regarding the fact that merit pay got flattened out. If you excelled at your job more so than others, the difference in your pay was less than it used to be, and some employees quit over this in the beginning. If you were going to get paid $70,000 regardless of your effort and output, then productivity would go down. Now I imagine that under-performing employees would be fired and replaced, meaning that at least that is an incentive to be productive. Socialism, or something like the Green New Deal, doesn’t have that incentive.

Anyway, thingshave been going well for Gravity Payments. There’s a NY Time opinion column by Nicholas Kristof, linked to in the show notes, that gives us the status of the company at this point. He writes:

Business has surged, and profits are higher than ever. Gravity last year processed $10.2 billion in payments, more than double the $3.8 billion in 2014, before the announcement. It has grown to 200 employees, all nonunion.

Uh oh, all of them nonunion? That might get him in trouble with the Left, but otherwise that’s a great-sounding status report.

So why did Dan Price do this? Well it’s based partly on his Christian upbringing. Kristof tells us that, while Price is not as religious as he was growing up, “he says ethics remain deeply important to him.”

Is this model something that every business could consider? Price thinks that, as a general rule it could, although he has doubts about it working everywhere. A privately owned business could make it work, but Kristof wonders if it could work for a public company answerable to shareholders. A café owner who uses Gravity and who Kristof refers to as “a good liberal” has doubts about it working in her restaurant industry. She’s even worried about Seattle’s impending $15-an-hour minimum wage and how it could cost jobs.

But on balance, this has been a boon to Gravity Payments. The generosity of the CEO has worked, both for him and his growing list of employees. Kristof calls this “capitalism with heart”, but I would disagree. This is an example of a person with heart, one who’s using the tool of capitalism to benefit his workers and his clients. The reason that some think socialism is the “cure” for capitalism is that they associate greed with the economic style, when it’s people that are greedy, and they’re greedy no matter the economy they live under. Price set an example, without any government coercion. Under socialism, you couldn’t try out something like this; the government wouldn’t let you. If it turns out to be a better idea, then capitalism and the free market will adjust accordingly; other businesses will follow suit, and they are, and they will attract the employees.

That’s the market at work. That is capitalism.

In the latest round of the silencing of dissent, Yale Law School has figured out how to drive out those Christians from their ranks. Aaron Haviland writing at the Federalist has the latest details.

Now, Aaron would be the first to tell you that being a Christian and conservative at Yale was already a challenge. He was there and saw it all. Those students can expect to be bullied and harassed, with the full knowledge of the school administration.

What precipitated the latest bit of this was that a lawyer from the Alliance Defending Freedom came to speak about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Jack Phillips was represented by the ADF, so you’d think something like this would be of interest to budding lawyers. You’d be wrong. After this, Outlaws, the school’s LGBTQ group, demanded that Yale Law School “clarify” its admissions policies for students who support ADF’s positions. Additionally, Outlaws insisted that students who work for religious or conservative public interest organizations such as ADF during their summers should not receive financial support from the law school.

A month later on March 25th, Yale announced that it was extending its nondiscrimination policy to summer public interest fellowships, postgraduate public interest fellowships, and loan forgiveness for public interest careers. If you worked for a group that keeps to Christian principles, you were no longer eligible for financial support.

Here’s how it works in practice. Yale is, at least for now, looking at the hiring practices of the group. So since ADF employees must sign a statement of faith in Christian principles, which includes affirming the Christian views on sexuality, you’re out of luck; your internship with a blacklisted group doesn’t get any assistance from the admins. And while it’s a question of hiring practices today, it could easily morph into viewpoint discrimination later. All it took was some outrage from student groups for Yale to cave. That’s easy enough to duplicate.

Discrimination against Christians is one of the few fashionable forms of discrimination that the “tolerant” Left still clings to. And it continues to grow.

And finally, the Hollywood Reporter projected that Disney’s takeover of the Fox TV network would spell the end of Jussie Smollett’s character on Fox’s prime-time series Empire. He could be finished as an actor. Argus Hamilton says that the good news is, he could be hired by CNN for his ability to make up stories out of thin air.

Filed under: Economics & TaxesEducationMinimum WageReligion