Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Graduate students with non-STEM degrees increasingly dependent on welfare programs

From the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Excerpt:

Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, a medieval-history Ph.D. and adjunct professor who gets food stamps: “I’ve been able to make enough to live on. Until now.”

“I am not a welfare queen,” says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.

That’s how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz., says the stereotype of the people receiving such aid does not reflect reality. Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.

“I find it horrifying that someone who stands in front of college classes and teaches is on welfare,” she says.

Ms. Bruninga-Matteau grew up in an upper-middle class family in Montana that valued hard work and saw educational achievement as the pathway to a successful career and a prosperous life. She entered graduate school at the University of California at Irvine in 2002, idealistic about landing a tenure-track job in her field. She never imagined that she’d end up trying to eke out a living, teaching college for poverty wages, with no benefits or job security.

Ms. Bruninga-Matteau always wanted to teach. She started working as an adjunct in graduate school. This semester she is working 20 hours each week, prepping, teaching, advising, and grading papers for two courses at Yavapai, a community college with campuses in Chino Valley, Clarkdale, Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Sedona. Her take-home pay is $900 a month, of which $750 goes to rent. Each week, she spends $40 on gas to get her to the campus; she lives 43 miles away, where housing is cheaper.

Ms. Bruninga-Matteau does not blame Yavapai College for her situation but rather the “systematic defunding of higher education.” In Arizona last year, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed a budget that cut the state’s allocation to Yavapai’s operating budget from $4.3-million to $900,000, which represented a 7.6 percent reduction in the college’s operating budget. The cut led to an 18,000-hour reduction in the use of part-time faculty like Ms. Bruninga-Matteau.

“The media gives us this image that people who are on public assistance are dropouts, on drugs or alcohol, and are irresponsible,” she says. “I’m not irresponsible. I’m highly educated. I have a whole lot of skills besides knowing about medieval history, and I’ve had other jobs. I’ve never made a lot of money, but I’ve been able to make enough to live on. Until now.”

She’s irresponsible, because she expects the people who choose to study rather difficult and unpleasant subjects like nursing and computer science and economics to pay for her lifestyle through taxation and “higher education funding”. I do think it’s important to point out that the main driver of higher tuition is increasing government funding of education, and that this increasing funding of higher education is nothing but corporate welfare.

Excerpt:

The most obvious way that colleges might capture federal student aid is by raising tuition. Research to date has been inconclusive, but Stephanie Riegg Cellini of George Washington University and Claudia Goldin of Harvard have provided compelling new analysis. Cellini and Goldin looked at for-profit colleges, utilizing the key distinction that only some for-profit schools are eligible for federal aid. Riegg and Goldin find that that aid-eligible institutions “charge much higher tuition … across all states, samples, and specifications,” even when controlling for the content and quality of courses. The 75 percent difference in tuition between aid-eligible and ineligible for-profit colleges — an amount comparable to average per-student federal assistance — suggests that “institutions may indeed raise tuition to capture the maximum grant aid available.”

Here are some of the comments that I posted in a Facebook discussion about the CHE story:

I know that some may disagree with me, but this is why people need to focus on STEM fields and stay away from artsy stuff and Ph.Ds in general. We are in a recession. Trade school and STEM degrees only until things improve.

Also, no single motherhood by choice. Get married before you have children, and make sure you vet the husband carefully for his ability to protect, provide, commit and lead on moral and spiritual issues. This woman is not a victim. She chose her life, and the rest of us are paying for it. Nice tattoos by the way – that will really help when she’s looking for a job.

I am actually better at English than computer science, but I find myself with a BS and MS in computer science. We don’t get to do what we like. We do what we have to in order to be effective as Christians. According to the Bible, men have an obligation to not engage in premarital sex, and to marry before having children, and to provide for their families, or they have denied the faith. I would like to have studied English, but the Bible says no way.

I have no problem with people who can make a career out of the arts, like a Robert George or a William Lane Craig. But you can’t just go crazy. And I think men have a lot less freedom than women to choose their major, we have the obligation to be providers and we have to be selected by women based on whether we can fulfill that role (among other roles).

Women have more freedom because they are not saddled with the provider role like men are. However, I think that the times now are different than before. There is more discrimination against conservatives on campus in non-STEM fields and fewer non-STEM jobs in a competitive global economy. The safest fields are things like petroleum engineering, software engineering, etc.

If [people who major in the humanities] can make a living and support a family without relying on government-controlled redistribution of wealth, then I salute and encourage you. If you rely on the government, know that this money is being taken away from those who are doing things they don’t like at all in order to be independent and self-reliant. It is never good to be dependent on government. That money comes from people like me.

In response to an artsy challenger:

I am happy to be scorned by those who make poor choices so long as I can have my money back from them so that I can pursue my dreams. I didn’t see any of these artsy people in the lab at 4 AM completing their operating system class assignments, nor do I see them here working overtime on the weekend in the office. They can say anything and feel anything they want, and write plays and poetry all about their feelings, too. Just give me the money I earned back first. It’s not their money. They have no right to it.

One person asked why I was “always winter, never Christmas”, and I replied:

It is Christmas for the Christians who I send books and DVDs to, as well as for the Christian scholars I support, and the Christian conferences, debates and lectures I underwrite across the world. Unfortunately, every dollar taken from me is a dollar less for that Ph.D tuition of a Christian debater, a dollar less for the flight of that Christian apologetics speaker, a dollar less for that textbook for that Christian biology student, and a dollar less for the flowers being sent to that post-abortive woman who I counseled who is now in law school. I have a need for the money I earn, and when it’s sent to Planned Parenthood to pay for abortions by the government, my plan to serve God suffers. And finally, should I ever get married, I would like my wife to have the option of staying home with the children and even homeschooling them. That costs money. Somehow, I feel that given the choice between my homeschooling wife and the public school unions, the government will choose to give my money to the unions. Just a hunch.

I’m not Santa Claus – I have goals for the money I earn.

I think that people should go into the humanities when they are serious about making a career of it and can get the highest grades. But if they are coasting and only getting Bs and Cs and not paying attention in class, then drop out and go to trade school. Don’t complain later when you can’t find a job. STEM careers pay the most.

Top-earning degrees / college majors

Top-earning degrees / college majors

Here’s my previous post on the woman who accumulated $185,000 of student debt studying the humanities and is likewise demanding handouts and claiming not to be responsible.

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

Minimum wage: doing what feels good doesn’t produce good results

Labor Force Participation down to 62.8%

Labor Force Participation down to 62.8%

Will Obama’s plan to raise minimum wage help people?

From the Daily Caller. (H/T Conway)

Excerpt:

The Obama administration’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could result in as many 1,084,000 jobs eliminated from the work force, according to a new study conducted by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI)

“No amount of denial by the president and his political allies — and no number of ‘studies’ published by biased researchers — can change the fact that minimum wage hikes eliminate jobs for low-skill and entry-level employees. Non-partisan economists have agreed on this consensus for decades, and the laws of economics haven’t changed,” Michael Saltsman, research director at EPI, said in a statement.

He offered an alternative to the president’s plan: “Instead of raising small businesses’ labor costs and creating more barriers to entry-level employment, the president and the Senate should focus on policies that help reduce poverty and create jobs.”

The  study was released in the wake of an expected vote on a Senate bill that aims to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour — a nearly 40 percent increase.

Many Democrats argue that increasing the federal minimum will reduce poverty without having an adverse effect on unemployment.

EPI’s report, which used analysis from economists at Miami and Trinity University, reached a different conclusion.

Researchers used recently updated Census Bureau data from 2012 and 2013 to calculate how each individual state would be impacted by the proposed wage hikes. As a lump sum, Americans would see a loss of at least 360,000 jobs, and perhaps even over one million if hourly wages are increased to $10.10.

The number of job losses would be the most dramatic in large states, such as California and Texas. Economists found that California could lose as many as 100,016 jobs and Texas could see up to 128,617 jobs disappear from its economy.

But’s it’s not just this proposal that is the problem, it’s his past policies.

After FIVE YEARS of Obamanomics, we still have a record 100 MILLION people still out of work from when he became President. There has been NO RECOVERY since the housing bubble, which was caused by the Democrats in Congress. Policies like raising the minimum wage only make that worse, although it sounds great to Obama’s low information supporters.

Minimum wage raises cause higher unemployment

Government Spending Vs Jobs

Government Spending Vs Jobs

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

How amusing to watch Democrats wring their hands over what they can do to get businesses to create jobs, when one of the biggest job killers is the minimum wage they keep hiking.

Recall that it was Democrats who raised the federal wage floor a whopping $2.10 an hour in the middle of the recession. The record 41% increase has led to record unemployment among young people, especially black teens.

Congress started ratcheting up the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour in mid-2007, arguing it would help abate poverty. But retailers looking to slash costs eliminated low-skilled, entry-level jobs rather than pay the mandated increases.

Now 1.5 million fewer teens are working. Last year’s unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 19 shot up to 26% from 2007’s 15%.

As for black teens, their joblessness soared to a record 43% after the final raise to $7.25 took effect in mid-2009. It helped put more than half of young black men out of work — a first.

The president proposes cranking the minimum wage even higher to $9.50. Then he wants to raise it every year thereafter as a “living wage” indexed to inflation.

Yes, this is the problem that happens when you elect someone who knows nothing whatsoever about economics. And when I say nothing, I mean he is in disagreement with virtually all economists across the ideological spectrum.

A large majority of economists agree

Moderate economist Gregory Mankiw of Harvard University lists the policies that are accepted by virtually all economists.

Here’s Greg’s list, together with the percentage of economists who agree:

  1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
  2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
  3. Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
  4. Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
  5. The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
  6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
  7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
  8. If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
  9. The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
  10. Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
  11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
  12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
  13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
  14. Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)

You can find out more about how raising the minimum wage increases unemployment, especially for young people and minorities, from this comprehensive, 50-year, government study.

This is why it is important for voters to understand economics. When you raise the price of labor, fewer employers will purchase labor. Supply and demand. This is so basic, that I am surprised that someone as educated as Obama doesn’t understand it. It’s probably because he has virtually no experience working in the private sector.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Labor Force Participation hits 34-year record low

Labor Force Participation Rate from 2007 (Pelosi/Reid) to 2013

Labor Force Participation Rate from 2007 (Pelosi/Reid) to 2013

Power Line blog reports on a disturbing new white paper about unemployment in America.

Excerpt:

A comprehensive disaster like the Obama administration can’t be summed up in one statistic, but the one that comes closest is labor force participation. The combined effect of many misguided policies–Obamacare, ballooning spending, massive debt, tax increases, subsidizing of inefficient energy, anti-growth regulation, encouragement of food stamp fraud, and many more–has been to drive many millions of Americans out of the labor force. Express Employment Professionals has produced a white paper that illuminates this human tragedy:

The labor force participation rate is currently at a level not seen since the 1970s – 63.4 percent.

While the unemployment rate has steadily decreased from its high of 10.0 percent in October of 2009 to 7.4 percent in July of 2013, the percentage of Americans in the labor force has not risen. It has fallen about 2.7 percentage points since the onset of the latest recession.

This is a tragedy in the making, and its impact on the country has been underestimated. When Americans quit looking for work because they conclude not working beats working, America faces a significant problem.

[...]President Obama’s policies have devastated all age groups, but the most heartbreaking impact is on the young:

Gallup reports that, “The lack of new hiring over the past several years…seems to have disproportionately reduced younger Americans’ ability to obtain full-time jobs.”

According to Gallup’s “Payroll to Population” measure, fewer Millennials were working full time in June of 2013 than in June of 2012, 2011, or 2010.

A recent 2012 Pew Research Center study found that 36 percent of the nation’s Millennials were still living with their parents.

And massive growth in the number of people collecting disability, too:

Fourteen million Americans on disability–that is more than the populations of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho and West Virginia, combined: every man, woman and child in 13 states. The exploding ranks of the “disabled” are due to the absence of jobs in Barack Obama’s economy.

Keep in mind that we are blowing through over a trillion dollars in deficits for EACH of Obama’s 4 years in office. Shouldn’t we be getting a higher level of labor force participation? If you took out a loan to expand your business, you would certainly expect to be able to hire more people and get more sales and make more products, wouldn’t you? But it seems as if we took out a HUGE loan as a nation and we are actually contracting our business.

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9.5 million people have left the workforce under Obama

BLS Labor Force Participation April 2013

BLS Labor Force Participation April 2013

CNS News explains the real state of the work force in America.

Excerpt:

9.5 million Americans have left the workforce during the presidency of Barack Obama, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In April, the total number of Americans counted as “not in the labor force” declined for the first time since December, but that number was still near a record high at 89,936,000.  

Those not in the labor force declined by 31,000, from a record high of 89,967,000 in March.  That broke the recent record of 89,304,000 not in the labor force in February of this year.

Since February 2009, the first full month of Obama’s presidency, 9,549,000 people have left the labor force.  There were 80,387,000 Americans not working that month, compared with 89,936,000 not working or looking today, according to the latest economic release from BLS.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) labels people who are unemployed and no longer looking for work as “not in the labor force,”and that includes people who have retired on schedule, taken early retirement, or simply given up looking for work.

In the 50 months since Obama has been in office, the number of people counted as not in the labor force has declined 16 times.

Remember that during that period, we have been adding more people through birth and immigration, and running up our national debt by over SIX TRILLION dollars since Obama took office (total debt is now $17 trillion). When you spend that much money, you should be seeing MORE people employed. And you would be seeing that, if it’s being spent on private sector job creation. But it’s not. It’s being wasted. And the very people who voted for Obama – the young people – are the ones who will have to pay it all back. Without jobs! Is collecting money from government welfare a long-term solution to repaying the debt? That’s what we are doing now – putting millions of people on disability and welfare. Is that going to help them to pay back all of Obama’s borrowing later?

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200,000 fewer people are employed, labor force participation reaches 1979 level

Labor Force Participation 2013 March

Labor Force Participation 2013 March

CNS News writes about some of the numbers from the latest jobs report.

Excerpt:

 A record 89,967,000 Americans were not in the labor force in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is an increase of 663,000 from the 89,304,000 Americans who were not in the labor force in February.

Since President Barack Obama was first inaugurated in January 2009, 9,460,000 people have dropped out of the labor force.

The BLS counts a person as not in the civilian labor force if they are at least 16 years old, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and have not actively looked for a job in the last four weeks. The department counts a person as in the civilian labor force if they are at least 16, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and either do have a job or have actively looked for one in the last four weeks.

The number of people that BLS considers “in the labor force” affects the unemployment rate–which is the percentage of people “in the labor force” who are unable to find a job during the month. If someone previously considered “not in the labor force” were to go out and search for a job and not find one, they would have to be counted as in the labor force for that period–and thus would increase the unemployment rate.

To the degree that Americans choose to simply drop out of the labor force rather than search unsuccessful for a job they decrease the unemployment rate.

In keeping with the increase in the number of people not in the labor force, the labor force participation rate decreased from 63.5 percent in February to 63.3 percent in March. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of Americans in the civilian population over age 16 who did not have a job or seek a job during the month.

One of Obama’s favorite constituencies also has a lot to think about with this report. The labor union voters, who thought that socialism would provide them with “good paying jobs”. Well, socialism did provide someone with good-paying jobs. When union workers voted for anti-business radical, there were lots of good paying jobs created by American companies – just not in America. That’s what attacking business achieved, it made them expand elsewhere or close up entirely. Obama’s union supporters need to think about whether they can make a living on gay marriage alone.

And that’s not all:

The number of American workers collecting federal disability payments climbed to yet another record of 8,853,614 in March, up from 8,840,427 in February, according to newly released data from the Social Security Administration.

[...]March was the 194th straight month that the number of American workers collecting federal disability payments increased. The last time the number of Americans collecting disability decreased was in January 1997. That month the number of workers taking disability dropped by 249 people—from 4,385,623 in December 1996 to 4,385,374 in January 1997.

As the overall number of Americans collecting disability has increased, the ratio of full-time workers to disability beneficiaries has decreased.

But there is some good news in the new report:

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday show that 315,000 women dropped out of the labor force in March.

According to BLS, the number of women not in the labor force grew to 49 million in March, up from 48.7 million in February, continuing a trend of women leaving the labor force in every month of 2013.

This is good news because one of Obama’s biggest constituents is unmarried women, with or without children. These are the people who are most likely to vote for a President like they might vote for a contestant on Dancing with the Stars or American Idol. The people who switched their votes because Al Gore kissed his wife as a staged event. The Sandra Fluke wing of the Democrat party. The good news is that now they have something to think about before the next election besides free contraception.

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