Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Annual median household income down $4,500 since Democrats won Congress in 2006

Median Household Income Under Obama

Median Household Income Under Obama

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Excerpt:

The recovery that began four years ago has been one of the weakest on record, averaging a little more than 2%. And it has not gained speed. Growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 was 0.4%. It rose to a still anemic 1.8% in the first quarter but most economists are predicting even slower growth in the second quarter.

We hope the predictions of a faster growth in the second half will be right, but the Obama Treasury and Federal Reserve have been predicting for four years that takeoff was just around the corner. Stocks are doing great, and housing prices are rising, but job growth remains lackluster. What has never arrived is the 3%-4% growth spurt during typical expansions.

[...]What about the middle class that is the focus of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric? Each month the consultants at Sentier Research crunch the numbers from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and estimate the trend in median annual household income adjusted for inflation. In its May 2013 report, Sentier put the figure at $51,500, essentially unchanged from $51,671 a year earlier.

And that’s the good news. The bad news is that median real household income is $2,718, or 5%, lower than the $54,218 median in June 2009 when the recession officially ended. Median incomes typically fall during recessions. But the striking fact of the Obama economy is that median real household income has fallen even during the recovery.

While the declines have stabilized over the last two years, incomes are still far below the previous peak located by Sentier of $56,280 in January 2008. No wonder Mr. Obama is now turning once again to his familiar political narrative assailing inequality and blaming everyone else for it. He wants to change the subject from the results on his watch.

The core problem has been Mr. Obama’s focus on spreading the wealth rather than creating it. ObamaCare will soon hook more Americans on government subsidies, but its mandates and taxes have hurt job creation, especially at small businesses. Mr. Obama’s record tax increases have grabbed a bigger chunk of affluent incomes, but they created uncertainty for business throughout 2012 and have dampened growth so far this year.

The food stamp and disability rolls have exploded, which reduces inequality but also reduces the incentive to work and rise on the economic ladder. This has contributed to a plunge in the share of Americans who are working—the labor participation rate—to 63.5% in June from 65.7% in June 2009. And don’t forget the Fed’s extraordinary monetary policy, which has done well by the rich who have assets but left the thrifty middle class and retirees earning pennies on their savings.

Mr. Obama would have done far better by the poor, the middle class and the wealthy if he had focused on growing the economy first. The difference between the Obama 2% recovery and the Reagan-Clinton 3%-4% growth rates is rising incomes for nearly everybody.

And remember, thanks to Obamacare, medical insurance premiums have soared over $3,000. We are getting poorer because of Obama’s big government policies.

Whose fault is it?

In the 2006 mid-term elections, the Democrats took over the House and Senate. That was the beginning of the Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid spending spree. Millions of dollars have been wasted on ineffective government programs, handouts and bailouts. We’ve had trillion dollar deficits for the last four years under Obama, and over 8 trillion added to the national debt since Pelosi/Reid 2007. All that deficit spend does have an effect on economic growth – businesses know that they are going to have to pay it off at some point, either through higher taxes or inflation or both.

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

How would raising taxes on the rich affect middle class working families?

Investors Business Daily explains.

Excerpt:

Raising taxes on all those above $250,000 as Obama proposes would raise just $34 billion. That’s a whopping 3% of our $1.1 trillion deficit. Even if you seized all their income, it would only run the government for three months.

So the idea that taxing the wealthy will reduce the deficit is false. This is just class warfare, pure and simple.

Even so, Obama compounds the fib by going on to say his tax hike will have virtually no impact on small businesses. He notes, for example, that 97% of all small businesses would be untouched by his tax hike.

True, but irrelevant, as Treasury Department data show. For while there are 34.8 million small businesses in America, 30 million of those employ no workers.

Just 4.8 million, or 12%, employ workers. But an even smaller number — just 1.2 million — earn 91% of all the small business income. These are Obama’s “rich.”

But while they make up just 3% of all small businesses, they employ a stunning 54% of the total private U.S. workforce.

They are, in short, the nation’s job creators. And their owners, who report their small-business income on their personal income tax return, will be taxed at a higher rate by Obama.

So don’t be fooled. It’s not really the “wealthy,” as Obama says, who’ll get taxed. It’s small businesses. And it will have a devastating impact on jobs.

How devastating? A recent study by Ernst & Young noted that Obama’s tax hike, far from being “balanced,” would cost 700,000 people their jobs.

And it will no doubt kill hundreds of thousands if not millions more jobs in the future as would-be entrepreneurs decide not to start businesses in such a hostile tax and regulatory environment.

It’s important for us to realize that the people voting for Obama have no idea about these facts. A lot of people are annoyed that we lost the election last week. I think that if we want to win the next one then we have to start to think about becoming more persuasive with the people around us. We have to learn to deflate the slogans of those on the left with facts.

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

Marriage researcher Brad Wilcox’s lecture on marriage and society

There are two parts. The lecture and then the Q&A.

Let’s learn a bit about Brad first:

W. Bradford Wilcox is Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, and a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University.

He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. at Princeton University. Prior to coming to the University of Virginia, he held research fellowships at Princeton University, Yale University and the Brookings Institution.

Mr. Wilcox’s research focuses on marriage, parenthood, and cohabitation, and on the ways that gender, religion, and children influence the quality and stability of American marriages and family life. He has published articles on marriage, cohabitation, parenting, and fatherhood in The American Sociological Review, Social Forces, The Journal of Marriage and Family and The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. His first book, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Chicago, 2004), examines the ways in which the religious beliefs and practices of American Protestant men influence their approach to parenting, household labor, and marriage. With Nicholas Wolfinger, Wilcox is now writing a book titled, Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Children, & Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, for Oxford University Press. With Eric Kaufmann, Wilcox is finishing a book on the causes and consequences of low fertility in the West.

The MP3 file for the lecture is here.

The MP3 file for the Q&A is here.

This lecture covers marriage, cohabitation, single parenthood and divorce.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How faith, virtues and marriage are declining among blue collar Americans

Brad Wilcox writes about a new book entitled “Coming Apart” in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

So much for the idea that the white working class remains the guardian of core American values like religious faith, hard work and marriage. Today the denizens of upscale communities like McLean, Va., New Canaan, Conn., and Palo Alto, Calif., according to Charles Murray in “Coming Apart,” are now much more likely than their fellow citizens to embrace these core American values. In studying, as his subtitle has it, “the state of white America, 1960-2010,” Mr. Murray turns on its head the conservative belief that bicoastal elites are dissolute and ordinary Americans are virtuous.

Focusing on whites to avoid conflating race with class, Mr. Murray contends instead that a large swath of white America—poor and working-class whites, who make up approximately 30% of the white population—is turning away from the core values that have sustained the American experiment. At the same time, the top 20% of the white population has quietly been recovering its cultural moorings after a flirtation with the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, argues Mr. Murray in his elegiac book, the greatest source of inequality in America now is not economic; it is cultural.

He is particularly concerned with the ways in which working-class whites are losing touch with what he calls the four “founding virtues”—industriousness, honesty (including abiding by the law), marriage and religion, all of which have played a vital role in the life of the republic.

Consider what has happened with marriage. The destructive family revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s has gradually eased—at least in the nation’s most privileged precincts. In the past 20 years, divorce rates have come down, marital quality (self-reported happiness in marriage) has risen and nonmarital childbearing (out-of-wedlock births) is a rare occurrence among the white upper class. Marriage is not losing ground in America’s best neighborhoods.

But it’s a very different story in blue-collar America. Since the 1980s, divorce rates have risen, marital quality has fallen and nonmarital childbearing is skyrocketing among the white lower class. Less than 5% of white college-educated women have children outside of marriage, compared with approximately 40% of white women with just a high-school diploma. The bottom line is that a growing marriage divide now runs through the heart of white America.

This whole article is worth reading, because it talks about some of the other areas that are declining in middle class America. I have added the book to my wishlist.

It seems as though Theodore Dalrymple’s description of the British lower classes in his book “Life at the Bottom” has come to America. He argues in that book that the new moral relativism of the elites works well enough for them because they have money, but it is very harmful to the poor, if the poor adopt moral relativism. I always believed that America would be safe from moral relativism. Recently, I was trying to argue with some British Christians about how the secularization of Britain was leading to the decline of marriage and the nuclear family. I point out their 45% out-of-wedlock birth rate, and they pointed out our 40% out-of-wedlock birth rate. We are right behind them, and it really makes me sad. Children need a mother and a father to take care of them.

When arguing with liberals about the importance of marriage, I like to use two good articles from the Heritage Foundation. I argue that when marriage goes, many bad things happen, like child poverty and child abuse. You would think that the government would do something about the decline of marriage, but people on the secular left often don’t like marriage, because there are traditional roles for husbands and wives that clash with their feminism. They don’t like the working father and the mother staying at home – not even if that creates the most stable environment for the children

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

Who pays the cost of raising taxes on imported goods?

The Heritage Foundation explains the consequences of tariffs for all the groups who are affected.

Excerpt:

“Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires,” asserted President Obama in his State of the Union Address. President Obama referred to steep tariffs that his Administration imposed on tires imported from China.Not everyone sees it that way. According to the Tire Industry Association (TIA):

TIA believes this was a politically motivated decision that will end up costing more jobs than it saves. These tariffs will not bring back the jobs that the union claims have been lost; it will not create any new tire manufacturing jobs, and it will most likely result in the loss of thousands of retail tire industry jobs here in the U.S., affecting everyone from the shop that services your tire to the tire wholesalers—many of whom are small businesspeople struggling to stay afloat in this economy. This, all during a time when we can ill afford to be losing more U.S. jobs.

The Association pointed out that there is more at stake than dollars and cents:

This tariff will price these tires out of reach of many consumers, and will lead to a tightening in the remaining supply of lower-cost tires. Also, given that the lower-cost tires imported from China help those most vulnerable in this current economy—working-class citizens—we are deeply concerned that many consumers may delay or even defer replacing their tires when necessary, thus creating a potential safety hazard on America’s roads.

When you put a tax of lower-priced goods, the people who are hurt the most are working class workers. During a recession, people have even less money to spend and they need to be able to have the option of buying cheaper foreign goods. Tariffs take away that option, and force families to pay higher prices for the things they need.

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

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