Houdini Blues

Issue 5, August 2001

Welcome to this, the fifth issue of Houdini Blues, a subzine of TAP edited by Michael Lowrey, 6903 Kentucky Derby Drive, Charlotte, NC 28215. My email address is mlowrey@infi.net or call me at (704) 569-4269. Bonus points if you catch the music reference in the subzine name.

© 2001 by Michael Lowrey. All right reserved.

First of all, some administrative notes. Houdini Blues has a game opening in Diplomacy. This is a continuation of the game opening I had in CCC, for which Matthew Matz, Saul Spiel, Brendan Mooney, Fred Wiedemeyer, Dan Gorham, and Frank Easton had signed up. If you're one of these folks, drop please confirm that you're still interested. The game fee is $5 plus you must, of course, get TAP by one of the usual sources.

I'm back from two weeks in Germany, spent mainly visiting my relatives (parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins) wit a few trips to art museums thrown in. Of course, parts of the weekend of August 24 through the 26th you can find me at Hickcon in Hickory, NC at Dave and Sandi Hood's place for some gaming and hanging out.

long since pushed the pay that even the most stereotypical "burger flippers" of the labor force earn well above the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour.

The situation in Charlotte highlights this. Only 218 of the city's over 5,000 employees actually earned less than $9 per hour at the time of the debate this past May. Of those, 93 were full-time employees with the remaining 125 being temporary workers. A regularly scheduled pay increase has since reduced these numbers further. The cost of bringing all city workers to $9 per hour was estimated at $144,000 per year plus an additional $335,000 to adjust other positions to keep them in proportion.

If the actual impact of local governments paying a "living wage" may be trivial, "living wage" ordinances can be anything but unimportant to city contractors. Of the over 50 "living wage" proposals passed in the United States, more than 90 percent apply to city or county contractors and/or those companies receiving government tax breaks. Indeed, the majority apply only to contracted service providers. Durham's ordinance, for example, requires that city contractors pay at least an hourly wage equivalent to the city.

The focus on city contractors is hardly surprising given strong Union support for the "living wage" movement. While the AFL-CIO and other unions may truly have the plight of the working poor at heart, their support for "living wage" regulations are also very much in their own economic self interest.

The "living wage" movement began in the Northeast and Midwest in the early 1990s in response to local governments contracting out to private companies. City and county governments realized that significant savings could be had by having private business perform, under contract, certain services that local governments had traditionally done for themselves. It also meant that unionized local government employees might face layoffs or pay cuts. Requiring local government contractors to pay the same as governments themselves paid (or pay a "living wage" or "prevailing wage rates"), effectively reduces the possibilities for outsourcing and preserves union jobs. In the alternative, unions typically represent unskilled or semiskilled labor, which can be replaced fairly easily. By putting artificial upward pressure on the cost of labor generally, unions can negotiate for higher wages for their members.

Though the "living wage" proposal was at least for now defeated in Charlotte, it is likely to come up in various forms in other parts of North Carolina (and the nation) in the future. Orange County and the City of Durham have already adopted a "living wage" while the Greensboro City Council rejected the idea in June 2000. Wherever the concept next appears, there may well be more to a "living wage" proposal than initially meets the eye.

Deadline for all games is Sptember 8.

The "Living Wage"

The recent arena referendum in Charlotte brought many issues to the public's attention. While one would expect discussions of the economic impact of the Hornets and of a new downtown arena, and possible tax increases to be hot topics of discussion, a key issue proved to be a separate proposal by a local advocacy group and others for a "living wage" for city employees. Like many other movements, groups campaigning for higher mandatory wages made use of a term that seems simple to understand and difficult to be against. The reality is rather different. Certainly the issue is more complex than the simple catch phrase "living wage" suggests.

The concept of a "living wage" is similar to that of the minimum wage. Its proponents contend that an employer, especially a governmental employer, should be required to pay a wage high enough so that the wage earner can support him or herself and their family. Helping Empower Local People (HELP), the main advocacy group in Charlotte behind the local drive, contends the appropriate "living wage" in Charlotte is $9.00 per hour.

Economic theory, meanwhile, tells us that the price of an item, be it eggs or cars, is determined by supply and demand. The wage (price) that unskilled or semiskilled labor commands is fundamentally no different. A "living wage", much like the federal minimum wage, is an example of a price floor, a government-set minimum price for an item. Such legislated minimums matter only if they are above the actual market price (wage). In North Carolina's urban areas, market forces have

Harald Haarfager

Viking Dip, Fall 958

Pete Conrad (99I)

Diplomacy, Spring 1908

Denmark (4) dan, fla, fri, par, sax , thu

England (9) ice, ire, lon, nid, nmd, sco, str, wes, yor

Sweden (12) ark, bir, fnl, got, hed, nid , nov, nrl, pol, sax, ski, str , thu, zea

Notes: Deadline for Winter 958/Spring 959 is September 8.

England builds two and Sweden builds one.

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Denmark Steve Mauris (sjmauris@hotmail.com)

A Thu r Par. A Par-Fri, F Hel-Fri, A Jut S A Sax-Hed, A Sax-Hed (d, ann), F Dan S A Jut

England Kevin Wilson (CKevinW@aol.com)

A Fio-Nid, F NAt S A Fio-Nid , F Nth-Ski, A Str S F Nth-Ski, F Eng S F Sco-Nth, F Sco-Nth, F Nmd H

Sweden Pat Conlon (aparrotlaughsat40@msn.com)

F Str r Nid. A Lap-Fnm, A Bir-Nrl, F Nid-Str (d, ann), A Ski S F Nid-Str, F Ska S A Ski, A Hed-Sax, A Thu S A Hed-Sax, F SBS S A Hed-Sax, A Pol-Mec, F Kat-Zea, F NBS-Kat, F Zea U (H)

Press: England-Sweden: Now that I've gotten your attention, what's this talk about ceding the throne to you. I have to admit the appeal to danishes interests my sweet tooth, but I like Swedish massages too. Want to toss some of those in as well?

England-Denmark: Hang in there baby. Help is on the way.

Austria (6) bud, gre, ser, tri, ven, vie

England (6) edi, lon, lpl, nwy, stp, swe

France (13) bel, ber, bre, den, hol, kie, mar, mun, nap, par, por, spa, tun

Germany (1) war

Italy (1) rom

Turkey (7) ank, bul, con, mos, rum, sev, smy

Deadline for Fall 1908 is September 8.

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Austria Mark Kinney (alberich@iglou.com)

A Ven-Apu, A Tri-Ven, F Alb-Tri, A Gal S Turkish A Pru-War,

A Bud S A Vie, A Vie S A Gal

England Paul Milewski (yellowpajamas@hotmail.com)

A Nwy-Yor, F Nth C A Nwy-Yor, F Bar S A Stp, F Fin-Bot, A Stp H, A Lpl H

France Steve Mauris (sjmauris@hotmail.com)

A Ber S F Lvn-Pru, A Mun S A Boh-Sil, A Par-Bur, F Bre-Mid, F Mar-Lyo, F Lvn-Pru, F Hol H, A Pic-Bel, A Tyl S A Apu-Ven (nsu), A Kie S A Ber, A Boh-Sil, F Tun S F Nap-Ion, F Nap-Ion

Germany Fred Wiedemeyer (wiedem@planet.eon.net)

A War-Ukr (d, lvn,otb)

Italy Steve Cooley (scooley1@mediaone.net)

A Rom-Ven

Turkey Pat Conlon (aparrotlaughsat40@msn.com)

A Sev S A Mos, A Rum-Ukr, A Pru-War, A Mos S A Pru-War, F Adr-Ion, F Ion-Tyn, F Aeg S F Adr-Ion

Press: France-Italy: I am sailing to the Med. I supported you into Venice; one hopes it achieved.

France-Turkey: Why are you trying to forment dissent between me and my ally? Oh, I know why you're being attacked.

Austria-Europe: Assuming everyone hasn't mirved into Austrian territory on general principles, I'll try to be in better touch from here.


Outpost, Turn 14

HBDC IV (Wilson) buys a New Chemicals Factory (Re15, Re14, NC22, Wa9) and a Research Factory (Re13, Wa9, Wa8) and transfers population to them.

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Deadline: Turn fifteen orders are due September 8.

Purchase Order: HICK, SARA, Little Green Men, Exploitation Unlimited, Bartertown Mark II, HBDC IV, Major Miner.

Upgrades available: (minimum bid in parentheses) Moon Base (200), Laboratory (80), 2 Ecoplant (30), Orbital Lab (40), 2 Heavy Equipment (30)

Yet to be delivered: 6 Moon Bases, 6 Planetary Cruisers, 6 Space Stations, 2/3 Outposts, 0/1 Ecoplants, 0/1 Laboratories, 4/5 Robots, 0/1 Orbital Labs, 2/3 Scientists

Notes: The new deliveries were a Moon Base, Laboratory, and an Orbital Lab. Exploitation Unlimited, HICK, Little Green Men, and SARA each take a MegaWater card. The only Outposts that can buy population are HICK (four more population allowed), SARA and Little Green Men (one each).

HICK (Hood) opens the bidding on the Outpost and wins it for 117 (Mi17, Re14, Ti12, Ti12, Ti10, Wa9, Wa8, discount). HICK also buys a Research Factory (MWa) and the population to man it (Wa7).

SARA (Andruschak) buys a New Chemicals factory (NC20, Re13, Wa8, Wa7, Wa6, Or4, Or2) and population to man it (Wa5, Wa5). SARA then opens the bidding on and wins for 72 Scientists (NC24, Ti11, MWa, Wa7).

Little Green Men (Partridge) buys two Titanium Factories (Mi17, Ti13, WMa) and four population (Ti11, Wa9).

Exploration Unlimited (Hassler) opens the bidding on and wins for 81 Robots (NC26, Mi19, Mi18, Mi18). Exploration Unlimited also buys a New Chemicals Factory (NC20, Re17, Re11, Mi15) and the population to man it (Or5, Or4, Or2).

Bartertown Mark II (York) passes.

Major Miner (Conlon) buys a New Chemical Factory (Re13, NC14, Ti11, Wa10, Wa8, Wa4) and transfers population to it.

Outpost Factories Upgrades VP

HICK OrF, OrF, Wa, 6 x WaF, 3 x TiF, ReF HE, No, No, OL, La, EP, OP 37

S.A.R.A. OrF, OrF, 9 x WaF, 3 x NCF Wa, No, No, Sc, Sc, OP 34

Little Green Men OrF, OrF, 6 x WaF, 4 x TiF DL, HE, No, OL, EP, OP 32

Exploitation U OrF, OrF, 4 x WaF, 3 x NCF DL, Wa, No, Sc, OL, OL, Ro 29

Bartertown II OrF, OrF, 3x WaF, TiF, 4 x TiF Wa, HE, La, EP 20

HBDC IV OrF, OrF, 2 x WaF, 2 x ReF, 2x NCF DL, DL, DL, Wa, La 19

Major Miner OrF, OrF, WaF, WaF, TiF, TiF, 2 x NCF DL, Wa, HE, La 18

Houdini Blues Diplomacy Player Addresses

Pat Conlon P.O. Box 1413, Mammouth Lakes CA 93546

Steve Cooley 23927 Ranney House Ct,Valencia CA 91355

Steve Mauris HQ TFF, G2, Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, APO AE 09340

Paul Milewski 7 Mallard Dr, Amelia OH 45102

Mark Kinney 4820 Westmar Terrace #6, Louisville KY 40222

F. Wiedemeyer 975 Jordan Crescent, Edmonton AB

T6L - 7A6, Canada

Kevin Wilson 373 Gateford Dr, Ballwin MO 63021