Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Obama proposes new tax on stay-at-home moms in SOTU speech

Brad Wilcox writes in the Wall Street Journal about the new tax on stay-at-home mothers that Obama proposed in his State of the Union speech.

He writes:

Guess which kind of family was left out in the cold by President Obama as he unveiled his plan to help middle-class families in his State of the Union address? The traditional two-parent family with a single breadwinner.

The president pitched his plan as part of an agenda in which “everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules” in part by “lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.” But by design or omission, his plan does virtually nothing for married families with a parent at home, usually the mother.

The president’s plan would triple the existing child-care tax credit to $3,000 for two-earner families with children under 5 and a combined income of less than $120,000, and it would establish a new $500 credit for families in which both spouses work. The plan would provide tax relief—which would no doubt help with the cost of child care, commuting, etc.—to middle-class families with both parents in the workforce. But families who choose to have a parent at home would see none of this tax relief.

Terry Jeffries explains in CNS News why Obama would want to penalize stay-at-home moms.

He writes:

The perversely logical corollary to Obama’s desire to structure the tax code to the disadvantage of stay-at-home mothers is his desire to use tax dollars to replace working fathers with the government itself.

As this column has noted before, in each of the last six years on record — 2008 through 2013 — at least 40 percent of the babies born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers. By contrast, in 1940, only 3.8 percent of the babies were born to unmarried mothers.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ annual report on “Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors” it is a fact that “historically a high proportion of welfare recipients first became parents outside of marriage.”

In 2013, according to the Census Bureau, there were 105,862,000 full-time year-round workers in the United States — including 16,685,000 full-time government workers. These full-time workers were outnumbered by the 109,631,000 whom the Census Bureau says were getting benefits from means-tested federal programs — n.b. welfare — as of the fourth quarter of 2012.

Every American family that pays its own way — and takes care of its own children whether with one or two incomes — must subsidize the 109,631,000 on welfare.

Perhaps if we started rolling back the welfare state — and reduced the burden of government on all families that rely on themselves and not the government — more mothers would choose to stay home even if that meant Obama and his ideological heirs would discriminate against them in the tax code.

So if you make it impossible for a woman to stay home, then she goes to work. If she goes to work, she pays taxes to the government. The government turns around and distributes that money to people who will vote for them in exchange for the money – like single mothers on welfare. The more money they make, the more money they have to buy votes with. And they get the votes of all the child care workers, too – because if mothers stayed home, they wouldn’t have jobs. Only the parents and the children suffer, as the children get torn away from their parents to be raised by strangers. Often, child care workers are unionized, and work based on government specifications. Parents lose the ability to care for their own children and watch over them, teaching them their beliefs and values. Instead, the values of these strangers are given to them. Instead of a mother’s love, they get fed and handled by strangers.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the party that aborts unborn children treats born children like this. It amazes me that people who claim to be pro-marriage and pro-family keep voting for politicians who want to raise taxes, forces women to leave their children in the hands of strangers in order to make ends meet.

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

As Christianity declines in Europe, churches are put up for sale

This sad story is from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Two dozen scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church building here on a recent night, watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints.

This is the Arnhem Skate Hall, an uneasy reincarnation of the Church of St. Joseph, which once rang with the prayers of nearly 1,000 worshipers.

It is one of hundreds of churches, closed or threatened by plunging membership, that pose a question for communities, and even governments, across Western Europe: What to do with once-holy, now-empty buildings that increasingly mark the countryside from Britain to Denmark?

[…]The closing of Europe’s churches reflects the rapid weakening of the faith in Europe, a phenomenon that is painful to both worshipers and others who see religion as a unifying factor in a disparate society.

[…]The Church of England closes about 20 churches a year. Roughly 200 Danish churches have been deemed nonviable or underused. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has shut about 515 churches in the past decade.

But it is in the Netherlands where the trend appears to be most advanced. The country’s Roman Catholic leaders estimate that two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be out of commission in a decade, and 700 of Holland’s Protestant churches are expected to close within four years.

[…]As communities struggle to reinvent their old churches, some solutions are less dignified than others. In Holland, one ex-church has become a supermarket, another is a florist, a third is a bookstore and a fourth is a gym. In Arnhem, a fashionable store called Humanoid occupies a church building dating to 1889, with racks of stylish women’s clothing arrayed under stained-glass windows.

In Bristol, England, the former St. Paul’s church has become the Circomedia circus training school. Operators say the high ceilings are perfect for aerial equipment like trapezes.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, a Lutheran church has become a Frankenstein-themed bar, featuring bubbling test tubes, lasers and a life-size Frankenstein’s monster descending from the ceiling at midnight.

Jason MacDonald, a supervisor at the pub, says he has never heard complaints about the reuse. “It’s for one simple reason: There are hundreds and hundreds of old churches and no one to go to them,” Mr. MacDonald said. “If they weren’t repurposed, they would just lie empty.”

Many churches, especially smaller ones, are becoming homes, and that has spawned an entire industry to connect would-be buyers with old churches.

The churches of England and Scotland list available properties online, with descriptions worthy of a realty firm. St. John’s church in Bacup, England, for example, is said to feature “a lofty nave as well as basement rooms with stone-vaulted ceilings,” and can be had for about $160,000.

There are many reasons why Christianity has declined in Europe, but surely the widespread embrace of left-wing economic policies – even by evangelical Christians – is one of the largest.

Here’s a fairly recent paper (PDF) that explains it:

What accounts for cross-national variation in religiosity as measured by church attendance and non-religious rates? Examining answers from both secularization theory and the religious economy perspective, we assert that cross-national variation in religious participation is a function of government welfare spending and provide a theory that links macro-sociological outcomes with individual rationality. Churches historically have provided social welfare. As governments gradually assume many of these welfare functions, individuals with elastic preferences for spiritual goods will reduce their level of participation since the desired welfare goods can be obtained from secular sources. Cross-national data on welfare spending and religious participation show a strong negative relationship between these two variables after controlling for other aspects of modernization.

I have many friends in the UK who classify themselves as evangelical Christians. They almost all embrace moderate to leftist economics, and they complain to me about why the church is in decline, why there is no interest in apologetics, why they can’t find Christian girlfriends, why they can’t get speaking engagements. The answer is, of course, that by majoring only in theology and apologetics, they have crafted the rope that their secular allies in government are using to hang them. Leftism is embraced by European Christians in part because they don’t want to be like those dastardly Americans with their free enterprise system and their rule of law and their private property and their law-abiding gun ownership.

It just goes to show you why Christianity suffers when we focus on piety at the expense of practicality. Too much A. W. Tozer, not enough F.A. Hayek. I doubt my well-meaning UK Christian friends – who are so proud of their laughable NHS health care – even know who F.A. Hayek is. To think that Lady Thatcher ones brandished “The Constitution of Liberty” by F.A. Hayek and declared “this is what we believe!”. But ordinary UK Christians do not believe what she believes, and now they must reap what they sowed with their knee-jerk rejection of the free enterprise system. Ignorance of economics killed Christianity in Europe, and pious, risk-averse Christians were willing participants in the murder.

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

With government subsidies, Planned Parenthood did 327,653 abortions in 2013

This is from Life News.

Excerpt:

The abortion giant Planned Parenthood has released its 2013 annual report and the new numbers indicate it did more abortions than the year before — killing 327,653 babies in abortions while taking in millions in taxpayer funds.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America has released its 2013-2014 Annual Report and Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League, broke down the numbers.The report indicates Planned Parenthood did 327,653 abortions in 2013, an increase over the 327,166 abortions it did in 2012.

While it remains America’s biggest abortion corporation, the “nonprofit” continued to make money — bringing in $305.4 million last year and $305.3 million this year. Planned Parenthood continued to receive over a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money, as it took in $540 million in 2012 and $528 million in 2013.

“Despite this lack of increase in its primary business, Planned Parenthood continued to receive over a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money,” Sedlak said. “It has such a tremendous publicity machine that it convinced corporate and private donors to increase donations by more than $75 million (from $315.4 million to $391.8 million).”

“The increased donations, plus an increase of $28 million in “other operating revenue” and the reduction in costs from closing clinics, led to a near-record $127.1 million in profits for the largest abortion chain in the nation. This was the second highest reported annual profit in Planned Parenthood’s history,” he explained to LifeNews.

[…]After reviewing the report, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser told LifeNews:

“The abortion rate may be declining across America, but not in Planned Parenthood clinics. Their latest annual report is fresh evidence that Planned Parenthood remains an abortion-centered, profit-driven business. In 2013, Planned Parenthood upped the number of abortions they performed to 327,653. Meanwhile, their already limited cancer screenings, prenatal services, adoption referrals – and even contraception services – continue to drop. Planned Parenthood claims to be an altruistic health care provider for women and girls but their bottom line is all about abortion.”

Republicans have attempted to cut off some funding for Planned Parenthood in red states, but as long as we have a Democrat President, the federal subsidies will remain in place. Something to think about in 2016.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

New study: stronger net neutrality laws are a tax on Internet use

The leftist Washington Post reports on a new study which counts the cost of the Obama administration’s proposed “net neutrality” policies.

Excerpt:

[A] new study suggests that strong controls on Internet providers might force Americans to pay more for their Internet, anyway.

Internet service providers would be subject to more than $15 billion a year in new fees if the Federal Communications Commission decides to start regulating them with Title II of the Communications Act — the same tool the agency uses to police telephone service, according to Hal Singer and Robert Litan, two economists who support less-aggressive net neutrality rules. And those charges, they say, would inevitably be passed along to you.

Regulating broadband under Title II would allow federal, state and local governments to collect the same fees from ISPs that they already levy on phone companies. Among these are a “universal service” fee that was established decades ago to help ensure everyone in the country had access to telephone service.

In a paper published by the Progressive Policy Institute, Singer and Litan argue that these and other charges stemming from various state and local rules could add $84 or more to a U.S. household’s yearly Internet bill.

“Although the state and federal governments collect these fees from broadband providers,” Singer and Litan write, “history shows — and economic models of competitive markets predict — that the fees are passed along to customers, just as they are now on telecommunication services. So consumers’ Internet bills will soon have all those random charges tacked on at the end, much like they see on their phone bills.”

The study is the latest effort by opponents of strong net neutrality rules to describe the potential economic fallout of regulating ISPs under Title II. Last month, telecom lobbyists argued to the FCC that aggressive regulation would slow down the pace of industry investment in network upgrades, to the tune of $45 billion over the next five years.

And there is this from the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank:

On June 17, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski pushed through a 3-2 vote along party lines to begin his agency’s process of reclassifying broadband Internet access under a more restrictive regulatory regime known as Title II. Once the Internet is reclassified as a telecommunications service rather than an information service under Title I, the FCC will have seized the power necessary to micromanage the vibrant medium we take for granted.

Numerous studies have found FCC enforcement of net neutrality rules would harm the digital economy and consumers. The research on net neutrality points out regulation would stifle innovation and impose costs that would be passed on to consumers. Study after study finds net neutrality is an attempt to fix a “market failure” that doesn’t exist.

A recent study from New York University concluded net neutrality would cost Americans 500,000 jobs and $62 billion over the next five years. The international market research firm Frost & Sullivan found net neutrality regulations would likely pass on to the consumer up to $55 per month in additional costs. These and other studies show a hands-off approach to Internet regulation maximizes social and economic welfare.

The rest of the Heartland post links to studies that discuss the impact to the economy and to consumers of these net neutrality laws.

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

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, , , , , , ,

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