Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Treasury Department threatens private companies for responding to Obamacare incentives

Investors Business Daily reports on how the Treasury Department is threatening private companies who lay off employees because of the costs imposed on them by Obamacare.

Excerpt:

In what may be considered an ObamaCare loyalty oath, the Treasury Department orders employers to attest that any employee layoffs are not due to its imposed costs under penalty of perjury.

The first rule of business is to stay in business, something which is accomplished by doing what government is incapable of doing — controlling costs and making a profit by giving customers a product or service they need or want.

ObamaCare is obviously a product neither business nor the individual wants, so coercion is necessary under penalty of law.

Enforced by the Internal Revenue Service, individuals must enroll in government-approved plans or be fined.

Individuals are not allowed, despite presidential promises, to keep the plans and doctors they like and can afford.

Instead, they must accept plans they don’t like and can’t afford, some getting subsidies extracted from other taxpayers or China. They must grin and bear their reduced health care choices and higher costs.

Even though ObamaCare’s employer mandate has once again been illegally and unconstitutionally extended by the president who would be king, business still faces ObamaCare’s punitive cost increases down the road and its own form of government coercion.

Layoffs are an unfortunate but sometimes necessary means for a business to control costs and stay in business.

On Monday, a Treasury Department unconcerned with the necessities of the free market said that businesses will need to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate and its costs.

Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

What happens when a government passes regulations that make it harder for employers to lay off workers if they are forced to? Well, companies stop hiring workers, and expand their operations elsewhere. That’s exactly what has happened in countries like France, where the government makes it nearly impossible to get rid of workers, even when circumstances warrant it. So the net effect of policies that reduce the freedom to hire/fire as needed is to raise unemployment.

Here’s the economist Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute to explain.

Excerpt:

Labor market regulations often take the form of employment protection rules that govern the hiring and firing of workers. These were originally introduced to enhance workers’ welfare; for instance, by reducing unfair dismissals. The same provisions that protect employees, however, translate into cost for employers, leading an employer to think twice (at least) before hiring a new employee.

Theoretical economic models have shown that, in general, the effect of such laws is to reduce job flows (broadly, the sum of jobs created and jobs destroyed). In my paper, I show that these reduced job flows could have negative effects on investments in education because they reduce the expected returns on a job search; and they lower the value of education as a signaling device.

Under rigid labor market regulations, employers have a stronger disincentive to create new jobs, so there are fewer available jobs on the market. As a result, one’s likelihood of earning a productive wage is reduced. Moreover, firings under a system of strong labor market regulations are less frequent than they would be otherwise, so even workers with jobs expect to face fewer opportunities to search for re-employment. As a result, they will have less use of education as a signaling device to secure their next job.

With flexible labor markets and higher job mobility, these conditions are reversed. Job flows are higher, leading to more vacancies per unemployed worker. This yields a higher expected return on a job search for educated workers since the likelihood of finding a job is higher. Further, workers are either fired or they quit more frequently (i.e., job destruction is higher), leading to a greater use (or need) of education as a signaling device.

Put simply, imagine a developing country with rigid labor markets leading to few vacancies. For a low-income worker, the cost of getting educated may outweigh the prospective benefits since the likelihood of finding a job in this scenario is fairly low. On the other hand, for the same worker, if the likelihood of finding a job goes up when labor market restrictions are removed, the incentive to invest in education may be higher since the returns to investing in this costly activity are higher. Countries such as France, Germany, and Italy, which consistently have strict labor regulations, would do well to heed these results (see figure). It is also true in general that developing countries have stricter labor regulations than the OECD economies.

All these regulations sound so good, but we have to think beyond stage one in order to see the real results of the happy-sounding speeches. These things are understood by economists, but we didn’t elect an economist.

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

What is the purpose of capital punishment? Does it deter crime?

Why do some people support the death penalty? Because research conducted by multiple teams of scholars at multiple universities have shown that the death penalty deters crime.

Excerpt:

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it,” said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. “The results are robust, they don’t really go away,” he said. “I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

And specifically:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

In case anyone is wondering what sort of crimes are deterred by the death penalty, you can read this graphic description of a recent death-penalty crime.

What sort of crimes are eligible for the death penalty?

Here’s an example of a death-penalty eligible crime from the Hartford Courant. (WARNING: graphic!)

Excerpt:

A Superior Court jury today sentenced Steven Hayes to death for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, during a seven-hour home invasion, robbery and arson at their Cheshire home in July 2007.

Outside the courthouse after the verdicts, Hawke-Petit’s father, the Rev. Richard Hawke, said “There are some people who do not deserve to live in God’s world.”

Asked what he had in his heart, Dr. William Petit Jr. struggled with his answer. “….Probably many of you have kids,” he said, pausing to choke back tears. “Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl…tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by her stuffed animals….”

Petit then talked about his daughter Hayley’s bright future and her strength and the children that his wife, Jennifer, helped.

“So, I was really thinking of the tremendous loss” during the verdict, Petit said, adding that he was pleased with it, but “mostly I was sad for the loss we have all suffered.”

Asked if he thought there’d be closure now, Petit said, “There’s never closure. There’s a hole…. with jagged edges…that may smooth out with time, but the hole in your heart and the hole in your soul” remains.

“This isn’t about revenge,” Petit said. “Vengeance belongs to the Lord. This is about justice.”

[...]The jury sentenced Hayes to death on six counts: killing Hawke-Petit and Michaela and Hayley in the course of a single action; killing a child under the age of 16; killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a kidnapping; killing Hayley in the course of a kidnapping; killing Michaela in the course of a kidnapping; and killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a sexual assault.

[...]Hayes, 47, of Winsted, was convicted Oct. 5 of breaking into the Petit home, beating Petit, tying up and torturing the family as Hayes and another man ransacked the home for cash and valuables and tortured the family for seven hours. Testimony during Hayes’ trial showed that at one point in the break-in, Hayes forced Hawke-Petit to go to the bank to withdraw money. During that time, according to testimony, Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela Petit, 11.

When Hawke-Petit and Hayes returned from the bank, Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit. The house was doused with gasoline and set on fire as the intruders fled, testimony showed. Hayley, 17, and Michaela died of smoke inhalation.

[...]Prosecutors used the words of Hayes’ younger brother Matthew to counter testimony that home-invasion crime was an aberration in Hayes otherwise troubled but basically nonviolent life.

Matthew Hayes portrayed his brother as a conniving, sadistic, violent thief who saw Matthew take countless beatings from his brutal father for Steven Hayes’ misdeeds. At one point, Steven Hayes held a gun to Matthew’s head, according to the statement, which was given to state police after the home invasion.

Examples of Hayes’ sadistic behavior toward his brother included hooking Matthew to the garage door by his belt and raising the door up and down, and holding Matthew’s hand to a red-hot burner. Matthew said his brother’s life of crime was not a result of bad parenting or poor childhood. He said Hayes never learned to take responsibility for his actions.

Sometimes, I think that we have stopped judging others because we do not want to be judged ourselves. We hope that by not judging anyone, that we will somehow escape being judged by anyone – especially by God himself. The opposition to punishing the guilty is, I think, really just a way of expressing our desire to do away with the idea that we will finally face judgment.We seem to be able to ignore the victim’s needs and act as if the criminal is the victim. We act as if deterring a crime with punishment has no impact on the decision making of people who are considering whether to commit the crime. But crime isn’t some random action – criminals do consider what will happen to them if they are caught. We send potential killers a message by being willing to punish the ones we catch. But if we treat them like victims, then others watching are not going to be deterred from committing crimes.

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

Percentage of single mothers who have never married 11 times higher than in 1960

The Heritage Foundation reports.

Excerpt:

Forty-four percent of single mothers have never been married. This is 11 times the percent of never-married single mothers in 1960.

The Pew Research Center reports:

In 1960, of all single mothers, more than eight-in-ten (82%) were divorced, separated or widowed. An additional 14% were married, but their spouses were not living in the household. Only 4% of all single mothers had never been married.

The percent of unwed births also grew dramatically over the same period. Today, over 40 percent of all children are born to single women, compared with less than 10 percent in 1960.

Children raised in single-parent homes are much more likely to live in poverty or struggle with other problems that take a toll on their ability to thrive.

Of course, other trends such as a high divorce rate—although the divorce rate has declined since its peak in the 1980s—have implications for children’s and society’s well-being.

Today, less than half (46 percent) of American children who reach age 17 have been raised by their continuously married, biological parents. This is taking a toll. Children do best when raised by their married mother and father. They are at lower risk of engaging in substance abuse, delinquent behavior, and early sexual activity, and they are less likely to drop out of high school or suffer abuse.

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute explains how welfare provides an incentive to women to have babies without getting married.

Cato Institute economist Dr. Michael Tanner explains:

At the same time, the evidence of a link between the availability of welfare and out-of-wedlock births is overwhelming. There have been 13 major studies of the relationship between the availability of welfare benefits and out-of-wedlock birth. Of these, 11 found a statistically significant correlation. Among the best of these studies is the work done by June O’Neill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Holding constant a wide range of variables, including income, education, and urban vs. suburban setting, the study found that a 50 percent increase in the value of AFDC and foodstamp payments led to a 43 percent increase in the number of out-of-wedlock births.(7) Likewise, research by Shelley Lundberg and Robert Plotnick of the University of Washington showed that an increase in welfare benefits of $200 per month per family increased the rate of out-of-wedlock births among teenagers by 150 percent.(8)

The same results can be seen from welfare systems in other countries. For example, a recent study of the impact of Canada’s social-welfare system on family structure concluded that “providing additional benefits to single parents encourages births of children to unwed women.”(9)

Of course women do not get pregnant just to get welfare benefits. It is also true that a wide array of other social factors has contributed to the growth in out-of-wedlock births. But, by removing the economic consequences of a out-of-wedlock birth, welfare has removed a major incentive to avoid such pregnancies. A teenager looking around at her friends and neighbors is liable to see several who have given birth out of wedlock. When she sees that they have suffered few visible immediate consequences (the very real consequences of such behavior are often not immediately apparent), she is less inclined to modify her own behavior to prevent pregnancy.

Proof of this can be found in a study by Professor Ellen Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania, who surveyed black, never-pregnant females age 17 or younger. Only 40% of those surveyed said that they thought becoming pregnant in the next year “would make their situation worse.”(10) Likewise, a study by Professor Laurie Schwab Zabin for the Journal of Research on Adolescence found that: “in a sample of inner-city black teens presenting for pregnancy tests, we reported that more than 31 percent of those who elected to carry their pregnancy to term told us, before their pregnancy was diagnosed, that they believed a baby would present a problem…”(11) In other words, 69 percent either did not believe having a baby out-of-wedlock would present a problem or were unsure.

Until teenage girls, particularly those living in relative poverty, can be made to see real consequences from pregnancy, it will be impossible to gain control over the problem of out-of- wedlock births. By disguising those consequences, welfare makes it easier for these girls to make the decisions that will lead to unwed motherhood.

Current welfare policies seem to be designed with an appallingly lack of concern for their impact on out-of-wedlock births. Indeed, Medicaid programs in 11 states actually provide infertility treatments to single women on welfare.(12)

I should also point out that, once the child is born, welfare also appears to discourage the mother from marrying in the future. Research by Robert Hutchins of Cornell University shows that a 10 percent increase in AFDC benefits leads to an eight percent decrease in the marriage rate of single mothers.(13)

What is this story about welfare and single mothers doing in the 6 PM “Christian apologetics” time slot?

Well, it turns out that without a father in the home, children are far more likely to lose their faith.

Here is some statistical evidence that should have Christians everywhere concerned.

Excerpt:

In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.

If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church.

Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goesupfrom 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility.

[...]In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.

A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!

The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father’s influence, from the determination of a child’s sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society.

Here’s an interesting post about a new book by Mary Eberstadt which makes the same point with even more data.

Excerpt:

The French Revolution gave the West the first self-consciously secular government at the end of the 1700s, and one of its first revolutionary acts was to liberalize its marriage laws. But what people may not realize, was that France was the first country in Europe to experience a decline in fertility rates within marriage, and an increase in cohabitation and illegitimacy, decades before the French Revolution. In the early 1700s, over a half century before the Revolution, illegitimacy was only at 1%, but by the storming of the Bastille, which ushered in the Revolution, France’s illegitimacy rate had climbed to 20% overall, with a 30% rate in the boiling pot of Paris. The French Revolution’s successful attack on Christianity, and the consequent secularization of France, was, in part, the result of the prior erosion of the family.

We see the same pattern in the UK, argues Eberstadt. “In Britain…the decline in births started a century later [than in France] at the very height of Victorian England,…Bit by bit…the same family trends already established in France—fewer births, more divorces, more out-of-wedlock births—also began reshaping the world of Britain. By our own time, over half of all children in Britain are born to unmarried people, and the fertility rate stands at 1.91 children per woman.” Not surprisingly, Britain’s churches are, like those of France, largely empty.

In the Scandinavian countries, like Sweden, where marriage rates are lowest, and divorce, cohabitation, and single-family households, and out-of-wedlock births are the highest, we find the greatest degree of secularization.

The obvious lesson we must draw, says Eberstadt, is “Vibrant families and vibrant religion go hand in hand.”

I get annoyed when I hear people talk about how they are socially conservative, but not fiscally conservative. If you are socially conservative, and you believe in faith, marriage and family, then you need to think about what policies do to encourage people to either get married or not get married. Single mother welfare is nothing more than paying people to have children before they are married. Not only is it bad for them to be dependent on government, but that money has to come from somewhere else – probably from some hard-working man who is now taxed so much that his wife has to go to work to make ends meet, weakening the family and potentially exposing the child to more unfiltered influence from secular schools and secular culture. Think about fiscal policy, because it matters.

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

Does the death penalty deter crime?

This post has a twin post which talks about the evidence against capital punishment from the Bible.

Why do people support the death penalty? Because research conducted by multiple teams of scholars at multiple universities have shown that capital punishment deters crime.

Excerpt:

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it,” said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. “The results are robust, they don’t really go away,” he said. “I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

And specifically:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

In case anyone is wondering what sort of crimes are deterred by the death penalty, you can read this graphic description of a recent death-penalty crime.

What sort of crimes are eligible for the death penalty?

Here’s an example of a dealth-penalty eligible crime from the Hartford Courant. (WARNING: graphic!)

Excerpt:

A Superior Court jury today sentenced Steven Hayes to death for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, during a seven-hour home invasion, robbery and arson at their Cheshire home in July 2007.

Outside the courthouse after the verdicts, Hawke-Petit’s father, the Rev. Richard Hawke, said “There are some people who do not deserve to live in God’s world.”

Asked what he had in his heart, Dr. William Petit Jr. struggled with his answer. “….Probably many of you have kids,” he said, pausing to choke back tears. “Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl…tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by her stuffed animals….”

Petit then talked about his daughter Hayley’s bright future and her strength and the children that his wife, Jennifer, helped.

“So, I was really thinking of the tremendous loss” during the verdict, Petit said, adding that he was pleased with it, but “mostly I was sad for the loss we have all suffered.”

Asked if he thought there’d be closure now, Petit said, “There’s never closure. There’s a hole…. with jagged edges…that may smooth out with time, but the hole in your heart and the hole in your soul” remains.

“This isn’t about revenge,” Petit said. “Vengeance belongs to the Lord. This is about justice.”

[...]The jury sentenced Hayes to death on six counts: killing Hawke-Petit and Michaela and Hayley in the course of a single action; killing a child under the age of 16; killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a kidnapping; killing Hayley in the course of a kidnapping; killing Michaela in the course of a kidnapping; and killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a sexual assault.

[...]Hayes, 47, of Winsted, was convicted Oct. 5 of breaking into the Petit home, beating Petit, tying up and torturing the family as Hayes and another man ransacked the home for cash and valuables and tortured the family for seven hours. Testimony during Hayes’ trial showed that at one point in the break-in, Hayes forced Hawke-Petit to go to the bank to withdraw money. During that time, according to testimony, Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela Petit, 11.

When Hawke-Petit and Hayes returned from the bank, Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit. The house was doused with gasoline and set on fire as the intruders fled, testimony showed. Hayley, 17, and Michaela died of smoke inhalation.

[...]Prosecutors used the words of Hayes’ younger brother Matthew to counter testimony that home-invasion crime was an aberration in Hayes otherwise troubled but basically nonviolent life.

Matthew Hayes portrayed his brother as a conniving, sadistic, violent thief who saw Matthew take countless beatings from his brutal father for Steven Hayes’ misdeeds. At one point, Steven Hayes held a gun to Matthew’s head, according to the statement, which was given to state police after the home invasion.

Examples of Hayes’ sadistic behavior toward his brother included hooking Matthew to the garage door by his belt and raising the door up and down, and holding Matthew’s hand to a red-hot burner. Matthew said his brother’s life of crime was not a result of bad parenting or poor childhood. He said Hayes never learned to take responsibility for his actions.

Sometimes, I think that we have stopped judging others because we do not want to be judged ourselves. We hope that by not judging anyone, that we will somehow escape being judged by anyone – especially by God himself. The opposition to punishing the guilty is, I think, really just a way of expressing our desire to do away with punishment entirely. We would rather have the freedom to sin with impunity than to protect the victims of sinfulness from harm. We want to escape responsibility for anything we do that harms others.

Dennis Prager has a neat expression from Rabbinical literature that describes the problem with people who are anti-death-penalty: “those who are kind to the cruel, will be cruel to the kind”.

I actually consider the death penalty to be an important test of whether a person is a Christian or not, because it shows what they think about the serious of moral crimes, and whether they accept what research says, and what the Bible says, instead of valuing peer approval more than justice. It tells you how seriously a person feels about their own sinfulness. Death penalty supporters don’t view sinners as victims – they view victims as victims, and they believe that evil people need to be punished. It’s hard for me to see how someone can claim to be a Christian and oppose justice.

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

Melanie Phillips: the UK should reform the Child Benefit to favor marriage

Dina send me this UK Daily Mail article by Melanie Phillips.

Excerpt:

I would say that Child Benefit itself was always a really bad idea, and real reform should get rid of it altogether.

This is because it rewards the wrong thing. It incentivises having children, whereas the state should only incentivise having children in circumstances which are advantageous for society. Since Child Benefit is awarded with the birth of every child regardless of circumstances, it has put rocket fuel behind Britain’s astronomical rate – and rising – of fatherless children born to elective lone mothers.

The rationale for this is, first, that welfare benefits should be focused on solving child poverty. This totally ignores the fact that lone parenthood is itself a major cause of child poverty; and no less important, that even more than material goods children desperately need their fathers.

The second great cry that went up when Child Benefit was first introduced was that benefits for children should be given to the mother alone, because men are feckless no-goods and would only blow such money on drink and fags. And then people were surprised that young men felt marginalised and felt no need to anchor themselves to a wife!

The unmentionable fact is that Child Benefit has been a disaster and should be replaced by incentives for marriage in the tax and benefits system — incentives which in turn do not penalise single-earner households. But that, of course, would require courage to face down the shibboleths of the left.  And that is one thing that the Cameron government shows a near-pathological aversion to displaying.

UK conservatives aren’t very conservative.

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

Wintery Tweets

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 3,942,085 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,725 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,725 other followers

%d bloggers like this: