Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How to increase the number of adoptions in America

Here’s an article from National Review that argues that there is far more demand for children to adopt than there is supply of children to adopt for certain specific reasons.

The article mentions how legalized abortion and pro-eugenic attitudes contribute to diminishing the supply of children via abortion, but then it discusses another reason for reduced supply which I found horrifying. Apparently leftist social workers think that it is a bad idea for white parents to adopt black children, and would prefer those black children grow up in foster care.

Look:

Most of the parents waiting to adopt are white; most of the children awaiting adoption are not. Parents’ attitudes toward transracial adoption have become much more liberal since the 1970s, but the racial attitudes of social workers, those sometimes pitiless gatekeepers on the adoption pilgrimage, have hardened. A study published by the academic journal Child Welfare found that 43 percent of the caseworkers responsible for the longest-waiting black children in New York State expressed hostility toward transracial adoption. Federal law prohibits the use of racial criteria in adoption placement, but ethnic considerations have seeped into the system: The number of transracial adoptions executed each year remains tiny despite the willingness of the majority of couples to adopt a child of a different race. About 8 percent of all adoptions are transracial or cross-cultural — and that number includes international adoptions, commonly from Asia and South America. Professor Judy Fenster of Adelphi University finds that black social workers are particularly inimical to the prospect of cross-racial adoption. It seems that the matchmakers at the heart of the adoption system are part of the problem.

Transracial adoption is a volcanically touchy issue — the National Association of Black Social Workers has deployed weapons-grade rhetoric characterizing the practice as “cultural genocide.” That ideology has had predictable consequences: Black children spend more time in foster care than others, and in general have less luck in finding permanent adoptive homes. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, a legacy of the late senator Howard Metzenbaum, forbade the use of race as the decisive factor in making adoption-placement decisions, but the language of the statute left those politically opposed to transracial adoptions with room for much mischievous maneuvering. Would-be adoptive parents were disqualified for expressing political opinions at odds with social workers’ preferences.

[...]In one case, a white couple who had hoped to adopt a severely disabled black girl in 1994 were disqualified on political grounds — specifically that they expressed a desire to raise their children to be “colorblind” — and on racial grounds, specifically that they lived in Alaska, which was judged to be superabundantly Caucasian. The couple had raised other severely disabled children of various ethnic backgrounds but they were rejected in favor of a single woman who expressed the “correct” racial attitudes — and who ended up declining to adopt the child, precisely because of her disabilities. The girl in question suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and from Russell-Silver Syndrome, a form of dwarfism associated with, among other things, gastrointestinal difficulties, a triangular face, and asymmetrical body growth. It is difficult to imagine that her most pressing challenge in life was going to be the relative scarcity of black neighbors in Fairbanks.

So, it’s very important to think about the rhetoric of the left on children’s rights and welfare. On the one hand, they talk about wanting to help children. On the other hand, the policies they embrace seem to promote child murder, child abuse, child neglect and child poverty. On the one hand, the secular left is very much in favor of killing children with abortion, or depriving them of fathers with single mother welfare, or depriving them of bio-moms or bio-dads with gay marriage. On the other hand, they are actually working against letting these children be adopted, so much that American parents have to go to other countries to find children to adopt. And even that process is very difficult.

When will we get to the point where we can look at leftists and just flat out say that although they might have good intentions, their policies don’t achieve good results. Maybe a little more compassion for children is needed.

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Does the last-minute Obamacare exemption fix anything?

One of my favorite writers on health care policy is Michael F. Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute. He has an article in Forbes magazine that I think is a good level-set for the Obamacare changes that are happening in 2014 and beyond.

He writes:

[...]President Obama announced, just days before the deadline for purchasing coverage with a January 1 effective date, that he would offer a categorical “hardship exemption” from the individual mandate to anyone who had their insurance cancelled due to ObamaCare.

[...]If these folks choose not to buy health insurance, they will not face a penalty. They will also have the option to buy, “if it is available in your area,” the lower-cost catastrophic coverage that ObamaCare otherwise offers only to people under age 30, or who receive the separate “unaffordability” exemption from the mandate.

The obvious purpose of this policy is to give political cover to Senate Democrats who must face the voters next year, and are no doubt afraid of attack ads like this one.

[...]Yet this exemption may not be of much value to those who qualify, and is likely to create more problems for ObamaCare supporters than it solves.

The people who qualify for this exemption don’t actually want it. They want health insurance. They had affordable coverage, until ObamaCare took it away from them, and that’s what they still want now. Sebelius boasts that ObamaCare’s catastrophic plans cost 20 percent less than other ObamaCare plans, but don’t confuse that with affordable coverage. The Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy — who is now the opinion editor for the sprawling Forbes empire – notes that ObamaCare’s catastrophic plans can still cost twice as much as what was previously available on the individual market.

But even if they like their catastrophic plan, they can’t keep it. Sebelius has complete control over the duration of the exemptions, which she has described as a “temporary” step “to smooth [consumers'] transition” to enrollment in Exchange plans. So in a matter of months, Obama will violate his “if you like your health plan” pledge again by kicking these folks out of their catastrophic plans. They will get another cancellation letter tossing them into the Exchanges. Their premiums will surge again. They may lose their doctor again.

The exemption means insurers will suffer losses this year, and rates will be higher next year, for all ObamaCare plans.

The president argued before the Supreme Court that ObamaCare’s regulatory scheme cannot work with out the individual mandate. Yet he has now exempted millions of the very people he most needs to comply with it. This exemption siphons good risks out of the Exchanges and destabilizes the risk pools for both the standard ObamaCare plans and the catastrophic plans. Participating carriers set the rates for their Exchange plans with the expectation that these folks would be purchasing bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans through the Exchanges. But the healthiest members of this now-exempt group are the most likely to go uninsured or purchase a catastrophic plan. So Obama’s blanket exemption makes those risk pools older and sicker.

This blanket exemption also destabilizes the risk pools for the catastrophic plans. It opens those pools to lots of people over age 30, who have higher health expenses than people under age 30, and whom the insurers were not expecting to buy catastrophic plans when they set those rates.

So the effect of this is going to be to raise rates temporarily, because the insurers companies are not getting the younger, healthy people they need to make the rates as low as they originally calculated. They are going to lose a ton of money because the Democrats are changing the rules at the last minute. They people who have coverage are going to be the ones who make all the claims, and the people who normally don’t make claims are now exempt, temporarily – until the 2014 elections. This is going to be a huge hit to the health insurance companies.

As I noted before, the Democrats are going to have to bail out the insurance companies in order to account for the losses. It’s actually in the Obamacare law already, as David Freddoso explained. But will the Democrats use money from their political party to pay for their mistakes? Hell no – they will borrow it from your children, which is what they are so good at doing. There is a cost for electing incompetent people, and it’s going to continue to rise until the fools are voted out.

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Senate Democrats choose illegal immigrant welfare over veteran pensions

From the Daily Caller.

Excerpt:

Senate Republicans were unable to stop military pension cuts when Senate Democrats blocked a vote on an amendment to prevent the cuts by closing a welfare loophole for illegal immigrants Tuesday evening.

The two-year budget deal brokered by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, would cut military pensions by $6 billion over ten years, leaving some Senate Republicans scrambling to stop the cuts.

“Removing this unbalanced treatment of our military retirees ought to be one of the key actions we should take before this legislation moves forward. In fact, greater savings than this can be achieved by passing a legislative fix recommended by the Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury that would stop the IRS from improperly providing tax credits to illegal aliens,” Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions said Monday, announcing his co-sponsorship of Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker’s amendment to restore the military retirement benefits Monday.

Additionally, the Alabama Republican offered his own amendment to restore the cuts by targeting a child tax credit loophole that illegal immigrants have used to unlawfully obtain welfare benefits.

In 2011, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that “individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States” and therefore did not have a valid Social Security number were still able to obtain billions in Additional Child Tax Credits by filing returns with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

Specifically the Internal Revenue Service watchdog found that unauthorized individuals received $4.2 billion refundable credits in Processing Year 2010.

Tuesday evening, Sessions attempted to force Majority Leader Harry Reid allow amendments the budget agreement.

Sessions hoped to attach his amendment to the deal — which would have closed the loophole by requiring a Social Security number to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit and restore military retirement benefits.

Sessions’ motion failed on a 46 to 54 party-line vote, with North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan crossing the aisle as the lone Democrat to vote with the Republicans.

I am really not sure how it is possible to prefer giving $4.2 billion of refundable tax credits to illegal immigrants to funding the pensions of veterans. How could anyone think that was a good idea?

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New York Democrats object to having their wealth redistributed by Obamacare

From the radically leftist New York Times, of all places. (H/T Just One Minute via Ari)

Here’s the problem:

Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage.

And here’s the yummy, yummy schadenfreude:

“I couldn’t sleep because of it,” said Barbara Meinwald, a solo practitioner lawyer in Manhattan.

Ms. Meinwald, 61, has been paying $10,000 a year for her insurance through the New York City Bar. A broker told her that a new temporary plan with fewer doctors would cost $5,000 more, after factoring in the cost of her medications.

Ms. Meinwald also looked on the state’s health insurance exchange. But she said she found that those plans did not have a good choice of doctors, and that it was hard to even find out who the doctors were, and which hospitals were covered. “It’s like you’re blindfolded and you’re told that you have to buy something,” she said.

[...]“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.

“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”

Man, I love the taste of the liberal tears on a cold Monday morning. It tastes like… victory (in 2014). What is the reality of it? Maybe if you stopped reading the New York Times, you would know the reality of it.

Well why are healthy people with $10,000 New York policies losing their coverage? Did those policies not provide free contraceptives? Not at all:

The predicament is similar to that of millions of Americans who discovered this fall that their existing policies were being canceled because of the Affordable Care Act.

[...]But while those policies, by and large, had been canceled because they did not meet the law’s requirements for minimum coverage, many of the New York policies being canceled meet and often exceed the standards, brokers say. The rationale for disqualifying those policies, said Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, was to prevent associations from selling insurance to healthy members who are needed to keep the new health exchanges financially viable.

Siphoning those people, Mr. Levitt said, would leave the pool of health exchange customers “smaller and disproportionately sicker,” and would drive up rates.

I must have written over a 100 posts warning people about the effects of Obamacare from 2009 to November of 2012, and no Democrats would listen to me. Well, now they know what conservatives knew before the 2012 election. And just wait until the employer mandate hits and drives 129 million people of their existing health care plans by the end of 2014. 

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Why is the unemployment rate for young people so high?

A few of the policies that are causing the problem are explained in this article from the American Enterprise Institute. I have highlighted the policies that discourage employers in the snippet I excerpted below.

Excerpt:

If Washington is serious about helping this vulnerable population, it should focus on increasing workers’ take home pay and lowering the business employment costs. Conventional wisdom preaches increasing minimum wages. But a far more effective policy would be to simply exempt younger workers and their employers from paying taxes related to their employment.

People in the workforce typically get their start when they are young – beginning with some entry level job where they learn basic job skills, develop effective work habits, and earn a modest wage. This important first step gives them a chance at earning wages and achieving a level of success that facilitates advance up the economic ladder. Work habits and skills are generally learned early in life or unfortunately for too many, not learned at all.

The long term damage caused by this lack of employment is very large. Income mobility has declined. The sad fact is the probability of people at the bottom moving up the income ladder is lower than it was 20 and 30 years ago. Many studies have demonstrated that three factors determine most of the difference between those who start in poverty and stay there and those who don’t – finishing high school; avoiding becoming a teenage parent, and getting a full-time job. Those who do all three have only a 2 percent chance of living in poverty and a 75 percent chance of joining the middle class.

Many economists and social scientists have suggested both demand and supply reasons why youth unemployment is so high. On the demand side, the national safety net – Food Stamps, Earned Income Tax, welfare and subsidy programs of all kinds – substantially reduce the relative benefit of working. In other words, the wage premium for working versus taking advantage of benefit programs on an after-tax basis is simply too small to encourage many people to work.

If a young person enters the work force at the minimum wage, he grosses $7.25 per hour. From this, in a place like Los Angeles, he pays federal and state income taxes and Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes which total $1.11. So, out of the $7.25 earned, he keeps just over $6. If he is single and without children, he won’t qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or food stamps.

On the supply side, the cost of employing young people is high relative to their economic contribution to potential employers. An entry-level employee costs his employer much more than $7.25. In addition to his wages, the employer also pays Social Security and Medicare taxes, plus unemployment insurance, that add on an average of 92 cents. So today, the new employee costs the business $8.13 per hour, of which the young employee keeps only three-quarters.

This cost will increase further when the Affordable Care Act kicks in. Beginning in 2015, if the employer has more than 50 employees, he will have to provide health insurance for full-time workers or pay a $2,000 fine – which comes to $.96 per hour. That will make an abysmal employment situation even worse.

Overall, public policy ought to be aimed at encouraging businesses to create entry level jobs. Perversely, attempts to increase the minimum wage and institute so-called living wages would do the exact opposite. If government wanted to help create a permanent economic underclass, it would implement exactly the policies that are in place. All of us who want people to enjoy earned success ought to be outraged at these government policies.

This is important, because very often the policies proposed by people on the left are not designed to solve the problem. Thomas Sowell argues that the real purpose of leftist policies is for leftist leaders to feel self-important by getting applause from those who are economically ignorant. They push policies that sound good but that don’t actually work.

The good news is that young people are waking up. According to a Harvard University survey, 57% of young adults now disapprove of Obamacare. Even they are starting to think about what is happening to them. Maybe they can avoid the slavery that awaits them under the Democrat’s massive program of intergenerational theft, but I’m not optimistic. They have really short attention spans, and you don’t learn the fundamentals of economics on Instagram and Pinterest.

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