Today, the Census Bureau will release its annual poverty report. It will almost certainly report that over 40 million Americans “live in poverty.”
But what does it mean to be poor in America? To the average American, the word “poverty” suggests significant material deprivation. But the actual living conditions of those the government defines as poor differ greatly from this perception.
According to the government’s own reports, the typical American defined as poor by the Census Bureau has a car, air conditioning, and cable or satellite TV. Half of the poor have computers, 43 percent have Internet, and 40 percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
Far from being overcrowded, poor Americans have more living space in their home than the average non-poor person in Western Europe. Some 42 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes; on average, this is a well-maintained three-bedroom house with one and a half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 4 percent of poor children were hungry for even a single day in the prior year because the family could not afford food. By its own report, the average poor person had sufficient funds to meet all essential needs and was able to obtain medical care for his family throughout the year whenever needed.
The left likes to claim that the U.S. has far more poverty than other advanced nations. But those claims are based on comparisons that set a higher standard for escaping poverty in the U.S. than elsewhere.
When a single uniform standard is used, the U.S. is shown to have poverty rates that are very similar to other advanced nations, slightly higher or lower depending on the exact measure used.
I think we definitely want to be careful about the outcry on the secular left about “poverty”. Their solution always seems to be that we need to move in the direction of socialism. And socialism means that the government gets bigger by taking money and liberty away from families, churches and businesses.
As a Christian, my goals are all gospel-centric. My interest in politics is because I want to live in a society that respects my right to work, earn and save, so that I can spend and give in a way that advances the gospel. My job is not to transfer my money to lazy people in their dependence on government. I go to work so that I can have the fuel I need to respect God in my decision-making. The secular government is interested in other goals – like getting elected. I don’t want them using my money for their goals. I have my own goals.
The Fourth of July is a time for celebration, but it’s also a time to recommit ourselves to champion those American principles, and to remember that those principles stand over against some very particular evils:
Arbitrary seizure and use of private property by the state in the name of the “common good.”
A corrupt bargain between the government and religion, with funds and favors flowing to the churches that toe the government line, and taxes and bans restricting the free exercise of religion.
Government micromanagement of the economy, with politically connected companies exploiting their crony connections to legislators and restricting the freedom of commerce.
Paternalistic government, which saw the common man as a hapless sheep, to be herded and sheared by elites.
The concentration of power in a single, national government that bullied colonies, cities and villages, imposing a single uniform policy on a diverse and various country.
Each of these things our forefathers denounced, defied and defeated. Each generation of Americans has had to re-fight the American Revolution in one way or another, hefting the leaden weight of our fallen wills that drags us down toward vice and tyranny. Ben Franklin, when asked what manner of government the infant Constitution offered, said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Like each fresh crop of Americans before us, we find republic-keeping a bold and arduous duty. Sometimes we keep it safe in wars, at other times we keep it back from the brink of a cliff. And now we keep our republic faithful to its principles by resisting it, by refusing to obey unjust laws that betray our nation’s honor.
I think the general consensus among my friends about how to respond to the threats from the secular left is to act according to your conscience and be willing to go to jail. Then talk about what happened to you. And in the meantime, while you are not yet in jail, take the opportunity to get an alias and speak out. Studying is important so that you can learn how to speak intelligently about the issues we face. Right now, the left is winning because they speak in emotional, irrational ways. If we can articulate the reasons for our views, with evidence, that helps people to remember what liberty is and why our Founders fought for it.
I keep seeing statements about the problems we are likely to face from so many writers, and every time I see them, I think of this one Christian woman I knew long ago who told me that my speaking accurately about this threats “scared her”, and that the right response was to not be scared. Every time I asked her which fear scared her, she would not name one. So I started explaining them to her and she said that she didn’t want to hear the details. Well, surprise! Our respected conservative leaders are now joining me in being scared, and because they know the details.
John Zmirak says:
This is not the easiest time to be an American Christian, or a Christian American. The core elements of our creed are under attack from without and within, while our nation’s civic religion has been rewritten by the Supreme Court to exclude every orthodox Christian. A cabal of radicals has gained control of the government. They wish to control all our churches, and find willing collaborators in all too many pulpits. Has the American Revolution been reversed and replaced with the French Revolution?
Unless Christians stand up, unite and fight, this may be one of the last Fourths of July we can celebrate as full citizens, and the last election in which we have any meaningful voice. If the federal government moves on to punitively taxing Christian churches, how fitting would it be for us to raise the red, white and blue and shoot off fireworks to honor that government? We might be forced instead to mourn our vanished republic.
With God safely shunted to the side in favor of Justice Kennedy, the next step in the gay rights movement will be the smashing of idolators — namely, those who cling to their religion and church in spite of Justice Kennedy’s New New Testament. Leftists have already moved to ban nonprofit status for religious institutions that refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages; leftists have already sued into oblivion religious business owners who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. It will not stop there. Religious schools will be targeted. Then, so will homeschooling programs. The secular religion of the left has been set free to pursue its own crusade against the infidel.
I believe strongly that real persecution awaits us down the road. I think my children will face hostility and opposition and maybe even violence on a level I haven’t yet seen. We are heading into very challenging times, but if we keep our families together and our hearts with God, we’ll be OK. No matter what happens, we’ll be OK. And, by extension, if we pour ourselves into our families and into our faith, we might be able to rescue this culture and this country from the clutches of progressive annihilation. It won’t happen quickly, and I don’t know if it will happen at all, but I know there’s a chance. America is not lost completely. Not yet.
Moreover, the war to replace God, Judeo-Christian values and the Bible as moral guides is far from over. What will this lead to?
Here are three likely scenarios:
1. Becoming more and more like Western Europe, which has more or less created the first godless and religion-less societies in history. Among the consequences are less marriage and the birth of far fewer children.
2. More and more ostracizing — eventually outlawing — of religious Jews and Christians, clergy, and institutions that refuse to perform same-sex weddings.
3. An America increasingly guided by people’s hearts.
If you trust the human heart, you should feel confident about the future. If you don’t, you should be scared.
You should be scared. I am scared. And yet Dennis Prager is not about to stop fighting, and neither am I. In fact, I am better equipped to fight this intellectually and financially than many of my other friends who are not scared. It’s not wrong to be scared when there really is a threat, and usually, the people who study these things more have more a more accurate view than the people who just feel confident. Blind confidence is stupid – it’s a mental disorder to be blindly optimistic in the face of a threat. Invoking spiritual language to dismiss a legitimate threat is ineffective, and therefore unwise. The right thing to do is to see the reality and then engage it and defeat it. I have been blogging about the threat to religious liberty since this blog started in 2009, and it was one of my 3 arguments in my post arguing against same-sex marriage in June 2011.
This is not the time for us to be thinking of fun and thrills. We have work to do.
And now let’s take a look at an article at The Federalist which talks about what the Declaration of Independence tells us about the character of America.
The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, was “intended to be an expression of the American mind.” Although not intended as such, it was also an expression of the American character. Woven throughout the text are insights into the minds and virtues of those Lincoln called the “once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors” who fought for the independence we still enjoy.
This aspect of the Declaration of Independence receives scant attention from scholars and citizens, yet it must be understood. The theory of government elaborated in that text presupposes the existence of citizens who know how to govern themselves and are willing to assert their rights. The American character is the unstated premise of the argument, without which the theory, though still true, doesn’t work in practice.
So, what’s the American character?
What sets us Americans apart is that we do not merely declare for liberty. We staunchly stand for it. To be an American is not only to know that you are born free, it is to have the courage to defend your freedom. This admirable aspect of the American character is evident in the fifth grievance the Declaration levels against the king.
It reads: “He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.” The king acted as monarchs are wont to do. Our forefathers, although they were subjects, did not take his abuses passively. They resisted—with manly firmness.
Today, King George III is long gone. Our representative houses are no longer dissolved at will (although they have unconstitutionally been declared to be in recess). Our rights, however, are still encroached upon, whether by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Environmental Protection Agency. Thankfully, courageous Americans still push back, like the Green family, who challenged Obamacare’s abortifacient mandate, or the Sacketts, who fought the EPA’s effective seizure of their property.
No charter of liberties or Constitution—not even one handed down by God himself—could ever, on its own, protect the rights of the people. James Madison, the father of our own Constitution, was not so foolish as to place his trust in mere “parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power.”
In Federalist No. 57, Madison takes up the question of “what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society?” His answer: “the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America—a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”
The 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence set the example for their fellow countrymen and for future generations. They did not simply proclaim the universal rights of man. They also pledged “to each other, our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” And they meant it. Twelve served as combat commanders during the Revolutionary War. Five were captured and imprisoned by the British. Seventeen lost part of their fortunes.
America is not a country for servile men and women. We not only have a right to be free, but a duty to be free. For “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” Free as we are, we have no liberty to choose despotism—even if it is sugarcoated, as it is today, with material comfort and license.
[…]Two centuries later, the American character endures, battered and bruised though it may be. It has been corroded by the Progressive faith in government, the sixties ethos of “if it feels good, do it,” and the mindlessness and vulgarity of pop culture. But we can still readily discern among many Americans the habits of mind and the virtues of a free people. For this, we should be grateful on this Fourth of July.
To love liberty means to be willing to stand up for liberty, and that can mean something as simple as 1) not voting for bigger government just because they are handing out money to you and 2) not voting for bigger government because they are letting you do immoral things.
Standing up for liberty means standing up for your own personal responsibility. It means looking primarily to yourself for earning a living. It means choosing to behave morally so that you don’t create a situation where you need the government to bail you out of your own immoral decisions with someone else’s money.
Gov. Peter Shumlin announced this week he has called off his plans for single-payer health care in Vermont for 2015, saying “now is not the right time.”
At an unannounced news conference, Shumlin said he received the final modeling for financing single-payer health care on Tuesday and concluded the taxes required to fund a publicly financed system were simply unaffordable.
“As we completed the financing modeling in the last several days, it became clear that the risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan I can responsibly support for passage in the legislature,” Shumlin said.
“It was clear to me that the taxes required to replace health-care premiums with a publicly financed plan that would best serve Vermont are, in a word, enormous.”
The surprise announcement, which came nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, included details that Green Mountain Care’s new-revenues requirement had ballooned to $2.6 billion — up from prior high estimates of $2.2 billion. The overall cost for Green Mountain Care’s operations and coverage is estimated at $4.3 billion.
According to Shumlin’s financing plan, paying for Green Mountain Care would require a new 11.5 percent payroll tax on all Vermont businesses plus a new sliding-scale income tax of up to 9.5 percent, based on income level and family size.
Under Shumlin’s plan, a family of four with $100,000 of income or more would pay the full 9.5 percent tax. The maximum income tax for any single household would be capped at $27,500.
At the news conference, Shumlin called single-payer “the greatest disappointment of my political life so far,” and he explained why he abandoned his signature policy initiative of the past four years.
Recall that single-payer health care is the holy grail of the left. It is a massive opportunity for vote-buying because it involves mandatory taxation for “health care” which is then doled out to patients as the government sees fit. Money from people who don’t use or need health care (e.g. – young, single men) is taken by mandatory taxation and then used to buy votes of people by making things like contraceptives, breast enlargements, sex changes, IVF, etc. into “health care”.
Canada has a single-payer system. How much does this system cost the average Canadian taxpayer?
CTV News reports on a study published by the Fraser Institute.
A typical Canadian family with two parents and two kids will pay up to $11,786 for public health care insurance this year, according to a new study from the conservative think tank Fraser Institute.
Using data from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Fraser Institute study estimated the amount of taxes Canadian families will pay for public health insurance this year. The study also looked at how much the cost of public health insurance has increased over the last decade.
According to the study, Canadian families will pay on average between $3,592 to $11,786 for public health insurance in 2014, depending on the size of their family. For the purposes of their research, the study authors looked at six different family types.
The study found that over the last 10 years, the cost of public health care insurance for the average Canadian family has increased:
We should avoid this system at all costs. Free-market health care is better than government-run health care at keeping costs down. The more we reduce government control of health care, increase competition among health care providers and improve consumer choice, the lower the costs will be.
Canada has become the latest frontier for U.S. companies fleeing the high cost of business, spurred by low corporate taxes and a policy that keeps international earnings out of the clutches of the Internal Revenue Service.
Burger King, the second-largest U.S. burger chain, agreed to acquire Oakville, Ontario-based Tim Hortons on Tuesday for about C$12.5 billion ($11.4 billion) in a deal that creates the world’s third-largest fast-food chain and moves its headquarters in Canada. It’s “not fair” that companies can renounce their U.S. citizenship by filling out paperwork, a White House spokesman said Monday.
The deal for Oakville, Ontario-based Tim Hortons follows Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ merger with Canada’s Biovail in 2010, which sparked the latest so- called tax-inversion wave.
Burger King is unlikely to be the last U.S. company to consider moving north even as President Barack Obama and his aides try to curb the practice, tax experts say. In addition to avoiding U.S. taxes on global earnings, companies like Burger King can take advantage of Canadian tax rates that have been cut by about a quarter in the past eight years.
“We have now made it a lot more attractive for companies to say Canada is a good place to set up shop,” said Jack Mintz, director of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.
[…]Lower corporate taxes may also be an attraction for foreign companies. Canada began cutting its federal corporate tax rate in 2001 under the previous Liberal government. Prime Minister Stephen Harper then took up the baton, dropping the rate in several steps to 15 percent in 2012. Combined with provincial rates averaging 11.5 percent, Canada’s rate of 27 percent is now the second-lowest in the Group of Seven countries behind the U.K.’s 21 percent, according to auditing and tax firm KPMG.
Canada’s combined rate is still above the 24 percent average for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to the report.
Low corporate tax rates helped the country rise to second place in a Bloomberg ranking of best countries for doing business in January, behind only Hong Kong.
“We are proud that our low tax environment in Canada attracts businesses,” Carl Vallee, a spokesman for Harper, said by email on Monday.
The U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. It warms my heart to think that corporations are moving out to Canada. And I hope they take the jobs with them, because that’s the only way people will learn to elect presidents who understand economics. Our leader is out of his depth trying to run this country, and is only able to his economic failures by borrowing trillions and trillions of dollars from our children. Anybody can appear competent if they borrow and spend that much money, but it’s a bubble, just like the housing bubble his party caused. Canada’s prime minister has a BA and MA in economics – he actually knows how economies work. We could have picked someone qualified, but we didn’t.
I fully expect Obama to whine like a little girl about this, and call Burger King “unpatriotic”. This is loser talk, because he is a loser. The limit of his knowledge of economics is that he makes snarky speeches insulting people who disagree with him. Why did we elect this stand-up comedian? Is that what a President is supposed to do?