Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The biggest driver of income inequality is single motherhood

Welfare and out-of-wedlock births

Welfare and out-of-wedlock births

Indian economist Aparna Mathur, whose work I’ve featured here before, writes about it in Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

The fabric of our society is changing. In 1980, approximately 78 percent of families with children were headed by married parents. In 2012, married parents headed only 66 percent of families with children. In a new report, Bradford Wilcox and Robert Lerman explore the role of family structure with new data and analysis, and document how this retreat from marriage is not simply a social and cultural phenomenon. It has important economic implications for, amongst others, men’s labor force participation rates, children’s high school dropout rates and teen pregnancy rates. Since these factors are highly correlated with economic opportunity and the ability to move up the income ladder, this suggests that income inequality and economic mobility across generations are critically influenced by people’s decisions and attitudes towards marriage. Understanding the role of family structure is therefore key to understanding the big economic challenges of our time.

[…]Wilcox and Lerman document how the shift away from marriage and traditional family structures has had important consequences for family incomes, and has been correlated with rising family-income inequality and declines in men’s labor force participation rates. Using data from the Current Population Survey, the authors find that between 1980 and 2012, median family income rose 30 percent for married parent families, For unmarried parents, family incomes rose only 14 percent.

These differential patterns of changes in family income have exacerbated family-income inequality. Since unmarried parent families generally expand the ranks of low-income families, while high-income, high-education adults increasingly marry partners from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, inequality trends are worsened. Comparing the 90th percentile families to the 10th percentile families in 2012, the top 10 percent had incomes that were more than 11 times higher than the bottom 10 percent. However, if we restrict the sample to married families with children, the ratio drops to nearly 7, suggesting that within married families, income inequality is less stark. The authors estimate that approximately 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality between 1979 and 2012 is associated with changes in family structure. Other research, studying the period 1968-2000, finds that the changing family structure, accounted for 11 percent of the rise widening of the income gap between the bottom and top deciles.

Another interesting observation relates to the trends in employment participation by men. The Wilcox-Lerman study finds that for married fathers, employment and participation rates have remained consistently higher than for married men with no children and unmarried men with no children. The authors speculate that between 1980 and 2008, about 51 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates can be associated with the retreat from marriage.

And why is single motherhood so ascendant today? Well, part of it is the loss of morality caused by secularism. If there is no God, then there is no way we ought to be, so let’s just do whatever makes us feel good, and pass the bill to the taxpayers. That only works, though, if we elect politicians who want taxpayers who are responsible to pay for the ones who are irresponsible.

So have we done that? Yes – Robert Rector explains in The Daily Signal.

He writes:

It is no accident that the collapse of marriage in America largely began with the War on Poverty and the proliferation of means-tested welfare programs that it fostered.

When the War on Poverty began, only a single welfare program—Aid to Families with Dependent Children —assisted single parents.

Today, dozens of programs provide benefits to families with children, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Women, Infants and Children food program, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, child nutrition programs, public housing and Section 8 housing, and Medicaid.

Although married couples with children can also receive aid through these programs, the overwhelming majority of assistance to families with children goes to single-parent households.

The burgeoning welfare state has promoted single parenthood in two ways. First, means-tested welfare programs such as those described above financially enable single parenthood. It is difficult for single mothers with a high school degree or less to support children without the aid of another parent.

Means-tested welfare programs substantially reduce this difficulty by providing extensive support to single parents. Welfare thereby reduces the financial need for marriage. Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, less-educated mothers have increasingly become married to the welfare state and to the U.S. taxpayer rather than to the fathers of their children.

As means-tested benefits expanded, welfare began to serve as a substitute for a husband in the home, and low-income marriage began to disappear. As husbands left the home, the need for more welfare to support single mothers increased. The War on Poverty created a destructive feedback loop: Welfare promoted the decline of marriage, which generated a need for more welfare.

A second major problem is that the means-tested welfare system actively penalizes low-income parents who do marry. All means-tested welfare programs are designed so that a family’s benefits are reduced as earnings rise. In practice, this means that, if a low-income single mother marries an employed father, her welfare benefits will generally be substantially reduced. The mother can maximize welfare by remaining unmarried and keeping the father’s income “off the books.”

For example, a single mother with two children who earns $15,000 per year would generally receive around $5,200 per year of food stamp benefits. However, if she marries a father with the same earnings level, her food stamps would be cut to zero.

So you see, the thing the left complains about the most is actually the thing they do the most to cause. They are all about taxpayer-funded welfare programs and growing government to make more and more people dependent. They are causing the income inequality and then complaining about what they cause.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , ,

What is the greatest achievement of the Obama administration?

Newsbusters reports on the greatest accomplishment of the Obama administration.

Excerpt: (links removed)

It is clear that a huge amount of growth in SNAP happened under Obama’s watch.

Increases in the size of SNAP were “unprecedented” since 2008, according to a report by the Manhattan Institute, the conservative, New York City-based think tank. The authors of the report, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow, and Claire Rogers, Research Assistant, attributed this expansion to a combination of “the difficult job market” and an “expansion of benefits” starting in October 2008.

Statistics released by USDA also showed the huge expansion of food stamps under Obama. In 2013, 20 percent of American households were enrolled in SNAP. Enrollment had increased from 32.2 million individuals in January 2009, to at least 46 million individuals during the last 35 straight months for available data. This upsurge represented a jump of more than 42 percent.

Meanwhile, spending on SNAP benefits rose by nearly 120 percent, from $34.6 billion to $76.1 billion, between 2008 and 2013. The increase in spending far outpaced enrollment, and could be attributed to greater benefits handed out per person. “SNAP began to pay more generous benefits to people who enrolled” between 2007 and 2011, according to an analysis published on The New York Times’ Economix blog Aug. 29, 2011.

Economist Peter Ferrara agreed with labeling Obama the “food stamp President,” calling out the administration’s “anti-growth, economic policies, which are precisely crippling the poor and the middle class” in a Forbes article Dec. 31, 2013.

While these increases were partly attributed to Obama’s economic policies, they could also be linked to lax enrollment policies implemented by the president. These policies included waivers for healthy individuals with no dependents and who were not actively seeking work.

“The food-stamp work waiver is part of a larger agenda. Poverty advocates have long sought to convert food stamps into a no-strings-attached entitlement,” Heather MacDonald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote in a New York Post op-ed on May 15, 2014.

Two Heritage Foundation fellows said that while part of the growth in SNAP could be attributed to the country’s poor economic conditions, Obama has also increased the size of the program through his budget proposal.

“Part of that growth is due to the recession, but under Obama’s proposed budget, food stamp spending will not return to pre-recession levels when the economy recovers. Instead, it will remain well above historic norms for the foreseeable future,” Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow, and Katherine Bradley, Research Fellow, at Heritage wrote.

Of course, if you’re a Democrat, this is a feature, not a bug. They like Americans to be dependent on government, because then more of them vote for bigger government – and that means Democrats get to raise taxes and spend even more money they didn’t earn. That’s good news, but it gets even better – because then they give speeches about how generous they are! With your money.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

If you care about the poor, must you vote for bigger government?

Here’s an article on the Daily Signal that traces the history of big government “solutions” to poverty, and argues that big government has not been able to solve the poverty problem no matter how much money they’ve taken from taxpayers.

Excerpt:

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual report on poverty. This report is noteworthy because this year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. Liberals claim that the War on Poverty has failed because we didn’t spend enough money. Their answer is just to spend more. But the facts show otherwise.

[…]Over 100 million people, about one third of the U.S. population, received aid from at least one welfare program at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient in 2013. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the U.S.

But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years.

How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?

The answer is it isn’t possible.  Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state.

For most Americans, the word “poverty” means significant material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter and clothing. But only a small portion of the more than 40 million people labelled as poor by Census fit that description.

[…]According to government surveys, the typical family that Census identifies as poor has air conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer in his home. Forty percent have a wide screen HDTV and another 40 percent have internet access. Three quarters of the poor own a car and roughly a third have two or more cars. (These numbers are not the result of the current bad economy pushing middle class families into poverty; instead, they reflect a steady improvement in living conditions among the poor for many decades.)

The intake of protein, vitamins and minerals by poor children is virtually identical with upper middle class kids. According to surveys by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the overwhelming majority of poor people report they were not hungry even for a single day during the prior year.

The article goes on t make the point that if the purpose of government social programs is to make people more independent so they can get off the welfare, then the government has failed to achieve that goal. In fact, they’ve made even more people dependent on government since they started to try to make them independent of government.

According to a Congressional Research Service study, we spend more on welfare per year (1.03 trillion) than we do on Social Security (725 billion) or Medicare (480 billion) or non-war defense (540 billion). And what do we get? More dependency on government, not less.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

Democrats freed nearly 68,000 illegal aliens with criminal convictions in 2013

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

The federal government let nearly 68,000 illegal aliens with criminal records go free in 2013. When it’s law and order vs. future votes for Democrats, we all know which wins under this administration.

A new study from Washington’s Center For Immigration Studies (CIS) found that the Obama administration in 2013 released 67,879 illegal aliens who had been convicted of a criminal offense — 35% of the total number of the aliens with criminal convictions encountered by law enforcement.

The vast majority, the CIS report said, were due to “the Obama administration’s prosecutorial discretion policies, not because the aliens were not deportable.”

So much for President Obama’s claim last June that “today, deportation of criminals is at its highest level ever” because “we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally and who are endangering our communities.”

[…]How can our government let so many criminals go instead of deporting them, as the law demands?

“Eleven million people living in the shadows, I believe, are already American citizens,” Vice President Joseph Biden told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

And the repeat crimes so many of these illegals with criminal records will commit against Americans is a perfectly acceptable price to pay, apparently, to win millions of new Democratic votes Obama’s aggressive, lawless open-door immigration policies in the years ahead.

Here’s an example of one of the people that Joe Biden believes is already an American citizen from National Review.

Excerpt:

Meet 27-year-old Julio Miguel Blanco-Garcia. An illegal alien from Guatemala, he has lived and worked in Fairfax County, Va., for at least eleven years. The region is a notorious “sanctuary” for immigration lawbreakers where elected officials and big business look the other way in exchange for cheap labor and cheap votes.

When he wasn’t working illegally as a construction worker in the government-fueled Boomtown ’burb or getting himself high on drugs, Blanco-Garcia was building up a lengthy rap sheet. According to Fairfax County court records cited by the Fairfax City Patch.com, Blanco-Garcia has been arrested for:

  • Public swearing/intoxication in March 2010.
  • Petit larceny in September 2011.
  • Concealment/price alteration of merchandise in April 2012.

With the feds granting blanket amnesty waivers by administrative fiat and refusing to fix the deportation abyss, coupled with brazen “don’t ask, don’t tell” sanctuary policies by local officials, Blanco-Garcia managed to escape detention and deportation for more than a decade. In December 2012, the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force (which includes U.S. Marshals staff, Fairfax County police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and D.C. fugitive-operations officers) finally caught up with Blanco-Garcia. They detained him after determining “that he was in violation of U.S. immigration law.”

But it was too late for 19-year-old college freshman Vanessa Pham. In July 2010, the bubbly art student’s decision to be a Good Samaritan to open-borders beneficiary Blanco-Garcia cost Pham her life. After getting her nails done at a Fairfax Plaza salon, she encountered the illegal alien and his infant daughter in the parking lot. Blanco-Garcia was strung out on $400 worth of PCP.

According to prosecutors, he asked Pham to take him to the hospital. She let the man and his baby into her car. When Pham took a wrong turn, Blanco-Garcia turned on her — stabbing her more than a dozen times with a knife he was carrying. She veered into a ditch; he coldly wiped her blood off of his hands with a baby wipe and clambered out of the sunroof with the child.

Cops found the blade of the murder weapon, with the killer’s DNA, under Pham’s seat. But for nearly three years, her friends and family agonized as the DNA remained unidentified and the case unsolved. The investigative break? Illegal-alien Blanco-Garcia continued his criminal havoc — surprise, surprise — and attempted to steal several bottles of champagne from a local grocery store. He was convicted of larceny in April 2012. By December, law enforcement had tied his fingerprints to Pham’s murder. Blanco-Garcia’s trial begins next week.

True to form, the whitewash media have ignored Blanco-Garcia’s immigration status and the public-policy implications of our government’s systemic, bipartisan refusal to enforce the laws already on the books. The Washington Post (which employed illegal-alien reporter turned amnesty activist Jose Antonio Vargas for years and glorified the amnesty mob marches in 2006 and 2007) conveniently failed to mention Blanco-Garcia’s illegal-alien status. Some crimes are more equal than others.

Here’s another case where an illegal alien murdered an 18-year-old after he was offered a ride home by the victim. Again, the mainstream media ignored the story.

Which political party is more interested in protecting taxpaying citizens from criminals? Well, it’s not the Democrats, that’s for sure. On the one hand, they want to disarm law-abiding citizens. On the other hand they want to be lenient with illegal aliens who commit crimes against law-abiding citizens. It seems to me that government should exist to prevent crimes – not to grant favors to groups that they know will vote for their agenda.

Just to be clear, I favor more skilled immigration and faster naturalization of skilled immigrants who come here legally, pay their own way for some long period of time (10 years, cumulative?) and do not break the law in that time. But that’s not what the Democrats are promoting here, they want the criminals to stay. Even if it means that innocent taxpayers have to die for their political plans.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Arthur Brooks: why is the American public shifting from optimism to envy?

Labor Force Participation down to 62.8%

Labor Force Participation down to 62.8%

An editorial by Arthur Brooks appeared today in the leftist New York Times. His topic is the shift from optimism to envy, why it is happening, and whether envy makes us happier than optimism.

Excerpt: (links removed)

The Irish singer Bono once described a difference between America and his native land. “In the United States,” he explained, “you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I’m going to get that bastard.”

[…]Unsurprisingly, psychologists have found that envy pushes down life satisfaction and depresses well-being. Envy is positively correlated with depression and neuroticism, and the hostility it breeds may actually make us sick. Recent work suggests that envy can help explain our complicated relationship with social media: it often leads to destructive “social comparison,” which decreases happiness. To understand this, just picture yourself scrolling through your ex’s wedding photos.

My own data analysis confirms a strong link between economic envy and unhappiness. In 2008, Gallup asked a large sample of Americans whether they were “angry that others have more than they deserve.” People who strongly disagreed with that statement — who were not envious, in other words — were almost five times more likely to say they were “very happy” about their lives than people who strongly agreed. Even after I controlled for income, education, age, family status, religion and politics, this pattern persisted.

It’s safe to conclude that a national shift toward envy would be toxic for American culture.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the Great Recession, such a shift may well be underway, given the increasing anxiety about income inequality and rising sympathy for income redistribution. According to data from the General Social Survey, the percentage of Americans who feel strongly that “government ought to reduce the income differences between the rich and the poor” is at its highest since the 1970s. In January, 43 percent of Americans told the Pew Research Center that government should do “a lot” to “reduce the gap between the rich and everyone else.”

Why the shift? The root cause of increasing envy is a belief that opportunity is in decline. According to a 2007 poll on inequality and civic engagement by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, just 30 percent of people who believe that everyone has the opportunity to succeed describe income inequality as “a serious problem.” But among people who feel that “only some” Americans have a shot at success, fully 70 percent say inequality is a major concern.

People who believe that hard work brings success do not begrudge others their prosperity. But if the game looks rigged, envy and a desire for redistribution will follow.

This is the direction we’re heading. According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who feel that “most people who want to get ahead” can do so through hard work has dropped by 14 points since about 2000. As recently as 2007, Gallup found that 70 percent were satisfied with their opportunities to get ahead by working hard; only 29 percent were dissatisfied. Today, that gap has shrunk to 54 percent satisfied, and 45 percent dissatisfied. In just a few years, we have gone from seeing our economy as a real meritocracy to viewing it as something closer to a coin flip.

There is a good lesson in this for people who want what is best for the poor. Simply receiving money from others is not going to make poor people happy. What we need to focus on is providing the poorest people with opportunities. For example, we need to reduce barriers that employers face to hire them, and we need to make the school system focus more on skill-building and less on indoctrination in leftist ideology.

Democrats like to give lots of speeches on income inequality, stoking the fires of envy, while doing nothing to help people learn useful skills in school and to help employers hire people more easily, setting them on the path of lifelong independence. For example, Democrats oppose school choice, as when they killed the D.C. voucher program that helped poor black students. Less school choice helps public schools to be insulated from competition, so that they can focus on what they want (bigger government, so they get paid more) rather than what parents want (bad teachers fired, students to learn useful skills, more male teachers in the classroom, a focus on vocational skills rather than ideology). Just this past week, the ultra-leftist mayor of New York city kicked charter schools out of the city. Why? Because if children learn useful skills in better schools, then they will be less dependent on government, and less responsive to “envy rhetoric”.

Democrats also passed Obamacare, which punishes businesses with taxes if they allow part-time workers to work for more than 30 hours a week. Many jobs were lost because of this, and many people are now struggling to pay higher premiums for plans with higher deductibles and co-pays. Now the Democrats are talking about raising the minimum wage, which is going to put even more pressure on employers to lay off workers, because they can’t afford to pay them more for the same work. For Democrats, this is all to the good, though. Because if the poor don’t have jobs, or can’t work enough hours, they start to see the economic game as “rigged” and they are more responsive to “envy rhetoric”.

What we need to see is that it’s not the Democrats’ objective to help people find jobs. They gain when people become more envious, like in European countries, and start to vote to grow the size and power of government to redistribute wealth. Speeches about income inequality never have the goal of giving people jobs. None of Obama’s policies aim to do that. That’s why he won’t build the Keystone XL pipeline, or boost domestic energy development here at home. Instead, they want to extend unemployment benefits and pass the costs on to the next generation. Their goal is to get you unemployed or on disability or on welfare, so that you will vote for the government to continue to take your neighbor’s money. That manufactured envy is what keeps the Democrats in power.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wintery Tweets

RSS Intelligent Design podcast

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Evolution News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 4,685,833 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,275 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,275 other followers

%d bloggers like this: