Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

UK social policies undermine work and family while rewarding hedonism and sloth

Dina tweeted this article by Jill Kirby from the UK Daily Mail, which helps to show how government can punish good behavior, and reward destructive behavior – simply by transferring wealth.

Look:

Over recent decades, the British state has been engaged in a huge social experiment in which traditional family structures and moral values have been deliberately undermined by official policy.

In the name of progress, hard work and self-reliance have been punished through excessive taxation, while irresponsibility and idleness have been rewarded through unconditional welfare payments.

The destructive consequences of this approach are now becoming ever more apparent.

Britain now has a huge underclass of benefit-dependent, dysfunctional families who know far more about crime, drugs and alcohol than the world of work. Figures published yesterday revealed there are half a million problem households who, in total, cost taxpayers more than £30 billion a year through the colossal burden they impose on the welfare state, police forces and social services.

The scale of this social disaster is much worse than previously estimated. A Government study in 2011 reported there were around 120,000 troubled families — four times fewer than was revealed this week.

The cost is not just financial. With their self-centredness and disdain for the bonds that glue together civilised society, many of these families also bring misery to their neighbourhoods.

[...]When social reformer Sir William Beveridge first proposed the creation of the modern social security system in 1942, he explicitly stated that benefits should to be based on contributions through taxes and national insurance, otherwise they would simply discourage people from working and taking responsibility for their families.

But his contributory principle has long since disappeared, and we now have a ‘something for nothing’ system where those who give the least to society receive the most. Indeed, according to one official calculation, every ‘problem household’ costs the taxpayer at least £75,000 — which is more than three times average earnings.

So we have the grotesque situation where people who try to do the right thing — who go to work and bring their children up in a stable family — are punished twice over: first through the punitive income tax rates which contribute to paying for the welfare state, and second, through subsidising again the dysfunctional families that are produced by unconditional social security.

If the Government was serious about dealing with the problem, it would have the courage to introduce proper welfare sanctions to end the incentives to fecklessness. It would also provide real support through the tax system for the institution of marriage.

Sadly, the Coalition has done nothing to reverse the bias of the fiscal system against married couples, whereby married families are ruthlessly penalised by withdrawal of tax allowances and benefits, whereas support is lavished on lone parents.

And the cycle continues, because children of “lone parents” are going to be far less likely, on average, to be able to be net contributors in the society – to pay in more than they take out. It sounds so nice to redistribute wealth from people who have something to people who don’t, until you have too few people doing the right things, and too many people doing the wrong things. What happens then? I think that the responsible, hard working people will either leave the UK or curtail their productive activities. What else do you do when the government punishes you for your success and rewards other people for failure?

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House Republicans pass “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”: Obama vows veto

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this bill

I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this bill

From The Weekly Standard.

Excerpt:

The House voted Tuesday night to pass Congressman Chris Smith’s (R-N.J.) No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which expands bans on federal funding of abortions and requires that the Obamacare insurance exchanges clearly describe which plans cover abortion.

The act forbids Obamacare insurance subsidies from being used toward plans that cover abortion. It would make the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 law that prohibited Medicaid from funding abortions, a permanent fixture of national law. It also disqualifies abortion payments from tax benefits. The bill provides for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and endangerment of the life of the mother.

In the past, multiple polls have shown that Americans disapprove of public funding for abortion.

The bill also mandates “prominent display” of abortion coverage in all plans offered on the new insurance exchanges, and disclosure of any surcharges that apply to abortion procedures.

[...]White House aides have already suggested that they would recommend vetoing the bill, should it pass both chambers of Congress.

CNS News reports that the Obama administration handed $540 million taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood in FY 2013.

Excerpt:

Planned Parenthood’s net revenue increased 5% to total of $1.21 billion in its organizational fiscal year ending on June 30, 2013, according to its newAnnual Report 2012-2013, and about 45% of that revenue–$540.6 million–was provided by taxpayer-funded government health services grants.

In the same report, Planned Parenthood said that in the year that ended on Sept. 30, 2012 it did 327,166 abortions.

Clinics in Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Montana and New Hampshire also received $655,192 in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services to serve as Obamacare “navigators,” as CNSNews.com reported earlier.

The 2012-2013 Planned Parenthood report states on its second page, “We are the most effective advocate in the country for policies that protect access to safe and legal abortion and advance women’s health, actively lobbying in every state legislature ….”

Planned Parenthood’s affiliates spent $26 million on public policy this past year, while the national office spent $31.3 million on building “advocacy capacity.”

Planned Parenthood lobbied heavily for the Affordable Care Act’s mandatory contraception coverage, and the ACA, or Obamacare,  is celebrated throughout the annual report as “a historic advance for women’s health.”

Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the USA.

Now even if you were a pro-choice person, it seems to me that you should be in favor of this bill to ban taxpayer-funding of abortion. After all, if you’re “pro-choice” then you should have to pay for your own choices. If you look at it from a pro-life view, it’s like I am being forced to pay you to murder babies. Or from a slavery analogy, I am being forced to buy you slaves. If I have an objection to something you are choosing to do, then I shouldn’t have to pay for it. That sounds like common sense, but as you can see, the Democrats are opposed to it. They have no problems at all stealing from my earnings in order to subsidize acts that violate my conscience.

However, in states where the Democrats are not in control, these laws to ban taxpayer-funding of abortion do get passed.

Consider this story from Fox News.

Excerpt:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill to cut off Planned Parenthood’s access to taxpayer money funneled through the state for non-abortion services.

Arizona already bars use of public money for abortions except to save the life of the mother, but anti-abortion legislators and other supporters of the bill have said the broader prohibition is needed to make sure that no public money indirectly supports abortion services.

“This is a common sense law that tightens existing state regulations and closes loopholes in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions, whether directly or indirectly,” said Brewer, a Republican. “By signing this measure into law, I stand with the majority of Americans who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.”

Arizona has said a funding ban would interrupt its preventive health care and family planning services for nearly 20,000 women served by the organization’s clinics. The organization has said it will consider a legal challenge.

The measure targeting funding for Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services was one of several approved by Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature related to contentious reproductive health care issues during a 116-day session that ended Thursday. Brewer is a Republican.

Other approved Arizona bills include one generally banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which Brewer has already signed, and one loosening a state law that generally requires health care plans to cover contraception.

So the bottom line is, if you don’t want to pay for someone else’s “choices”, then vote Republican. And remember, whatever you tax, you get less of. Whatever you subsidize, you get more of.

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Big government spending is suffocating the next generation with debt

Youth unemployment by ethnicity (5/13)

Youth unemployment by ethnicity (5/13)

Libertarian economist Veronique de Rugy writes about it in Reason magazine.

Excerpt:

A word of caution for kids heading off to college this year: Your degree may be worth less and cost more than you think. Your job prospects will likely be grim, whether or not you get that sheepskin. Oh, and you’re on the hook for trillions in federal debt racked up by your parents and grandparents.

Washington has willfully ignored the looming crisis of entitlement spending, knowingly consigning young Americans to a future of crushing debt, persistent underemployment, and burdensome regulation. Politicians on both sides of the aisle share the blame.

This summer, Congress made a big bipartisan show of cutting student loan rates to 3.4 percent from an already artificially low 6.8 percent. But even that seemingly helpful gesture will wind up hurting the Americans it claims to help. Federal student aid, whether in the form of grants or loans, is the main factor behind the runaway cost of higher education. Subsidies raise prices, leading to higher subsidies, which raise prices even more. This higher education bubble, like the housing bubble before it, will eventually pop. Meanwhile, large numbers of students will graduate with more debt than they would have in an unsubsidized market.

And when those new, debt-laden graduates head out into the labor market with their overpriced diplomas, they may not be able to find a job. According to data provided to me by my Mercatus Center colleague, former Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) commissioner Keith Hall, fewer than half of Americans today between the ages of 18 and 25 are employed. For those in that cohort actively on the job market, the unemployment rate is 16 percent, versus 6 percent for job-seekers aged 25 and above.

These young folks are also more likely to be long-term unemployed: While accounting for just 14 percent of the labor force, they make up 19 percent of the long-term unemployed, defined by the BLS as 27 weeks or longer.

The lucky few young’uns with jobs of some kind also suffer from rampant underemployment. In a recent blog post, Diana Carew of the Progressive Policy Institute wrote: “In July 2013, just 36 percent of Americans age 16-24 not enrolled in school worked full-time, 10 percent less than in July 2007.” In other words, of these 17 million young Americans, 5.6 million were working part-time, 3.2 million were unemployed, and 8.4 million were out of the labor force altogether.

I really recommend you read the rest of the article, especially if you aren’t following what Obama’s policies are doing to our economy. Special attention is given to the effects of Obamacare on job creation.

Just as a community service, I want to post for you young people (and your parents) a list of the majors that lead to higher paying jobs:

Top 10 highest-paid college majors

  1. Petroleum Engineering: $120,000
  2. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: $105,000
  3. Mathematics and Computer Science: $98,000
  4. Aerospace Engineering: $87,000
  5. Chemical Engineering: $86,000
  6. Electrical Engineering: $85,000
  7. Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: $82,000
  8. Mechanical Engineering: $80,000
  9. Metallurgical Engineering: $80,000
  10.  Mining and Mineral Engineering: $80,000

And here are some majors that you should avoid at all costs:

  1. Counseling Psychology: $29,000
  2. Early Childhood Education: $36,000
  3. Theology and Religious Vocations: $38,000
  4. Human Services and Community Organization: $38,000
  5. Social Work: $39,000
  6. Drama and Theater Arts: $40,000
  7. Studio Arts: $40,000
  8. Communication Disorders Sciences and Service: $40,000
  9. Visual and Performing Arts: $40,000
  10. Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: $40,000

So young people need to be careful what they study in order to get a job that will allow them to pay off all the government debts that their teachers were busy running up. Their teachers taught them that government spending was good, but their teachers aren’t going to be paying for the government spending. They are the beneficiaries of the increased government spending. The pupils are the ones who will have to work to pay for the spending on the social programs enjoyed by their teachers.

It’s very important for young Christians to understand that degrees are getting more expensive, and it’s important to choose a field that is going to produce a return on your investment. Not only do STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees get you a job that pays, but it has other benefits. For example STEM degrees grind out every last bit of impracticality and entitlement-feeling out of you – because in a STEM program, no one cares about your “specialness”. You solve problems or you fail the class. It’s not a situation where you can just repeat what the professor says in order to get good grades, as is often (but not always) the case in the humanities. 

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Obamacare web site hides health insurance costs until users apply for subsidies

Another article from health care policy expert Avik Roy in Forbes magazine.

Excerpt:

A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)

As you know if you’ve been following this space, Obamacare’s bevy of mandates, regulations, taxes, and fees drives up the cost of the insurance plans that are offered under the law’s public exchanges. AManhattan Institute analysis I helped conduct found that, on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.

That raises an obvious question. If 50 million people are uninsured today, mainly because insurance is too expensive, why is it better to make coverage even costlier?

The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.

But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.

So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that cost “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and that you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

The plain truth of the matter is that you can’t lower the costs of health care by covering more people or by covering more treatments or by regulating more doctors. All of those things don’t lower the cost of health insurance – they raise it. The subsidies that the Democrats are offering are costs that are being added to the deficit. They will have to be paid by job creators and their employees through higher taxes later. Obamacare didn’t solve a thing. It just adds costs and complexity. It’s the equivalent of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

Related posts

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New study: premiums for young people to rise in all 50 states under Obamacare

The Washington Free Beacon reports on a new study.

Excerpt:

Health insurance premiums for young people will rise in all 50 states under Obamacare, with an average increase of 260 percent, according to a study released Thursday.

The young and healthy segment of the uninsured is considered crucial for the Affordable Care Act to succeed. Former President Bill Clinton suggested last week that Obamacare only works “if young people show up.”

However, an analysis of premiums both before and after the implementation of Obamacare shows that 18- to 35-year-olds are likely to opt out of high rates in the exchanges in favor of cheaper penalties for not having insurance.

According to a study released by the American Action Forum, post-Obamacare premiums will average $187.08 per month, up from $62 per month in 2013, a 202 percent increase.  Overall, states averaged an increase of 260 percent.

Forty-four out of 50 states saw a three-digit percent increase, and in Vermont the cheapest available premium for a 30 year-old male nonsmoker will increase by $332.69, or 600 percent.

[...]Massachusetts had the lowest increase at 9 percent, though the state is considered an “outlier” since it already had similar health care reforms put in place under former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

“[T]hat state’s insurance market has been subject to ACA-like reforms since 2006, bloating the premium for the lowest-cost pre-ACA policy to nearly $214, making it the highest of the 2013 premiums analyzed in this study,” the report said.

But what about the subsidies, won’t they help cover the cost of all the free condoms and birth control pills and abortion drugs?

No:

Given the high costs of the premiums, the study predicts that even with subsidies, most of the young uninsured will opt to pay the penalty rather than sign up for health care.

Individuals between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for subsidies under the law.

Only those who earn up to 133 percent of the poverty line will have a financial incentive to join the health exchange.  An individual with an income of $15,281.70 would receive a subsidy to cover 100 percent of their health care premiums.

Moving up the income bracket creates disincentives for the young to enroll.  Those making $20,107.50, or 175 percent of the poverty line, will still face a $449 premium, which is three times higher than the penalty they would incur in 2014 ($103.57) if they did not purchase insurance.

An individual earning $37,342.50 will receive no subsidy at all and will face a minimum premium of $2,839, as opposed to a $275.92 penalty in 2014.

I’m pretty sure that most people who get jobs out of college will make more than $37,342.50. Petroleum engineers start at around double that income.

So, I’m thinking that the young people – especially college-educated people with jobs – shouldn’t have voted for Obama. Do you think that their teachers and professors explained to them what would happen to them if they voted for Obama? I think not. I think that their teachers and professors wanted their little wide-eyed charges to vote for more funding of education, with no performance checking, so that they could be paid more money. And the children believed their teachers and voted accordingly. This is a particularly bad deal for bright young men – the kind you might expect to be interested in marriage. Now not only have they inherited massive amounts of debt and a crappy socialist economy with no jobs, but they are being forced to buy expensive health care coverage that they don’t need and won’t use. Why? To subsidize the health care claims made by women and the elderly, who use more health care products and services.

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