Tag Archives: Wealth

Under Obama’s socialist policies, youth “Misery Index” reaches record high

Young people usually only get one side of every issue - because we don't tell them the other side
Young people usually only get one side of every issue – because we don’t tell them the other side

Obama added $10 trillion to the national debt in his 8 years, doubling it from $10 trillion to $20 trillion. That will be placed on the backs of the next generation of younger Americans. But it turns out that they have many other problems as well.

This is from the College Fix.

Excerpt:

In the last two presidential elections, young voters served as a key demographic that helped catapult Barack Obama to the White House. What has he done for millennials in return? According to a new analysis, made them more miserable than ever.

Young America’s Foundation on Wednesday released its annual Youth Misery Index, calculated by adding youth unemployment, student loan debt, and national debt (per capita) numbers.

Today the youth unemployment rate exceeds 16 percent, and the average student in the class of 2015 graduated with a record $35,000 in student loan debt; national debt per capita, “a remarkable burden that will fall squarely on the shoulders of millennials,” is just under $59,000, the foundation reports.

With that, the index has spiked to a record high of 109.9 this year, up from 106.5 last January, and 83.5 in 2009 when President Obama took office, the foundation reports.

What about entitlement programs?

Business Daily reports on a Social Security problem:

The Social Security Trust Fund just suffered its first annual decline since Congress shored up the retirement program in 1983.

The unexpected $3 billion decline is an indication of the precarious state of Social Security’s finances. Since 2010, the program has been paying out more in benefits than it gets in tax revenue, but the trust fund, which earns about $95 billion a year in interest, had kept growing, though a little less each year.

[…]Under current policies, the CBO says the trust fund will be gone by 2029.

If nothing were done before that point, it would take an across-the-board 29% benefit cut — including on the oldest retirees and the disabled — to bring program costs in line with revenues.

Since we aborted the next generation of workers, we can’t afford to keep paying out benefits at the current rate. There are more people retiring than entering the work force. I hope they start to invest early, but what I am seeing is that they want to take out loans and travel the world for fun and thrills.

Obama doubled the national debt in 8 years
Obama doubled the national debt in 8 years

Anyway, on to the next problem, trillion dollar deficits. They’re back!

Investors Business Daily explains:

The federal budget deficit is back on the rise — by an expected $105 billion this year — the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday, the first increase since fiscal 2009. Deficits topping $1 trillion will be back before you know it — three years sooner than expected.

[…]The CBO said the rise was primarily due to the year-end budget deal that extended, and in some cases expanded, corporate and individual tax cuts, as well as busting spending caps. The deficit-to-GDP ratio is expected to grow to 2.9% in fiscal 2016 from 2.5% last year. That would also be the first increase since 2009, with the trend getting worse in the years ahead.

From 2016 to 2025, the CBO expects cumulative deficits of $8.5 trillion — $1.5 trillion more than it predicted in August.

This is the budget deal that establishment Republicans like Paul Ryan supported. Rubio didn’t show up to vote against the Ryan deal. I assume that Rubio was OK with the spending bill passing, and these trillion dollar deficits returning. Cruz showed up to vote against the deal, of course.

And finally, the last problem – Obamacare is making health care more expensive than ever for the middle class.

Investors Business Daily again:

People making just $36,000 a year can easily end up spending 22% of it on health costs, even if they are enrolled in a subsidized ObamaCare insurance plan, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.

[…]Individuals earning between 300% and 400% of the poverty level — which works out to roughly between $35,000 and $47,000 — will pay close to a median of 10% of their income on insurance premiums. (This group is eligible for ObamaCare insurance subsidies but at far lower levels than poorer people.)

And because ObamaCare plans typically come with high deductibles and copays, they’ll spend another 5% on out-of-pocket costs. For a worker making $36,000, the combined costs add up to $5,220.

The report found, however, that these costs could easily double. One in 10 people in this income group will end up devoting 22% of their incomes to insurance and out-of-pocket costs.

Even those in the lowest income group could get hit with big bills. One in 10 of those who make less than 200% of the poverty level will face health costs that eat up 18.5% of their income.

Obama likes to paint a rosy picture of the economy in his state of the union, but the real truth is not so rosy. Young people shouldn’t have voted for him, they are not going to live as prosperously as their elders did under Reagan and George W. Bush.

Can blacks and Hispanics blame their troubles on racism by whites?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
The success of children is due to their parents’ choices, not from outside racism

If the underperformance of blacks and Hispanics in America were caused by racism by whites, then it follows that Asian-Americans would be underperforming as well. But Asian-Americans are outperforming whites. Let’s look at three reasons why, and see if blacks and Hispanics can learn how to succeed by looking at the Asian example.

Here is the summary of this post:

  1. Asian Americans marry before they have children
  2. Asian Americans save more of what they earn
  3. Asian Americans monitor their children’s educational progress

Now let’s take a look at each of these in order.

Asians marry before they have children, so the kids have two parents
Asians marry before they have children, so the kids have two parents

1. Asian Americans marry before they have children

This article is from Family Studies.

It says:

Eight in ten Asian-American kids live with married birth parents, compared with about seven in ten European-American kids, five in ten Hispanic-American kids, and only about three in ten African-American kids. Half of black children live with their mothers only, compared to three in ten Hispanic children, less than two in ten white children and less than one in ten Asian children.

Naturally, children who have two parents to look after them do better, because one parent alone cannot work and do household chores and monitor the children as easily as two parents can. The decision about whether to have sex before marriage is entirely under the control of the grown-ups. It cannot be blamed on racism, poverty and other non-moral pre-occupations of the secular left. Marriage is a moral issue, and Asian-Americans do the moral thing, and marry before they have children.

Asian household wealth set to surpass whites
Asian household wealth set to surpass whites

2. Asian Americans save more of what they earn

This article from CNN Money explains:

Asians have had higher median incomes than their white counterparts, according to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The typical Asian family has brought home more money for most of the past two decades.

[…][Asians] will surpass whites in net worth in the next decade or two, Fed researchers said.

[…]In 1989, the median Asian family had about half the net worth of its white peer. By 2013, they had more than two-thirds.

The gap between whites and blacks and Hispanics, meanwhile, remained little changed over that time period.

Asians have similar financial habits to whites, in terms of investing and borrowing. Both groups are more likely than blacks and Hispanics to invest in stocks and privately-owned businesses and to have more liquid assets, which serves as a buffer against financial shocks. And, on average, the former have about half as much debt as the later.

As a result, Asians and whites have more financial stability than blacks and Hispanics, which also allows the former to build more wealth.

Everyone has to earn and save money, but in some cultures, it becomes normal to not save part of what you earn. That needs to stop. But it has nothing to do with discrimination due to skin color. In Asian culture, there is no glorification of consumer spending on sparkles, bling and other ostentatious wealth. Asians don’t want to appear to be wealthy, they want to actually be wealthy – by saving money.

Composite SAT scores by race and income levels
Composite SAT scores by race and income levels: Asians outperform at every income level

3. Asian Americans monitor their children’s educational progress

This article from Investors Business Daily explains how Asian parents don’t just make demands on their kids to learn, they actively monitor their progress and talk to their kids’ teachers:

Asian-American parents tend to oversee their children’s homework, hold them accountable for grades and demand hard work as the ticket to a better life. And it pays off: Their children are soaring academically.

[…]As a group, Americans need to take a page from the Asian parents’ playbook. American teens rank a dismal 28th in math and science knowledge, compared with teens in other countries, even poor countries.

Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are at the top. We’ve slumped. For the first time in 25 years, U.S. scores on the main test for elementary and middle school education (NAEP) fell. And SAT scores for college-bound students dropped significantly.

[…]Many [Asian students]from poor or immigrant families, but they outscore all other students by large margins on both tests, and their lead keeps widening.

In New York City, where Asian-Americans make up 13% of overall students, they win more than 50% of the coveted places each year at the city’s eight selective public high schools, such as Bronx Science and Stuyvesant.

What’s at work here? It’s not a difference in IQ. It’s parenting. That’s confirmed by sociologists from City University of New York and the University of Michigan. Their study showed that parental oversight enabled Asian-American students to far outperform the others.

No wonder many successful charter schools require parents to sign a contract that they will supervise their children’s homework and inculcate a work ethic.

You can see an updated image with the latest scores here.

It’s not enough to just outsource the education of your children to a bunch of non-STEM education-degree-holding teachers. Teachers can be good, and some work very hard. But the Democrat teacher unions prevent the firing of teachers who underperform. This is especially true in non-right-to-work states (Democrat states). So, you cannot depend on teachers to educate your children, and Asian parents don’t. That’s why their kids learn. Performance of children in school is not affected by discrimination against skin color, it’s affected by the level of involvement of parents.

Conclusion

We have learned that the success of Asian-Americans in America is all earned. And this proves that there is no such thing as “racism” that holds back non-whites. If blacks and Hispanics imitated the behaviors of Asians (not whites, but Asians), then they would achieve just as well as Asians do. It’s not a race problem, it’s a behavior problem. It’s not a “racism” problem, it’s a behavior problem. It’s an us problem, it’s not a them problem.

Does the free market work to reduce poverty?

Economist Walter Williams
Economist Walter Williams

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

There has never been a purely free market economic system, just as there has never been a purely communist system. However, we can rank economies and see whether ones that are closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum are better than ones that are closer to the communist end.

Let’s try it.

First, list countries according to whether they are closer to the free market or the communist end of the economic spectrum. Then rank countries according to per capita gross domestic product. Finally, rank countries according to Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World” report.

People who live in countries closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum have far greater income than people who live in countries toward the communist end — and enjoy far greater human rights protection.

According to the 2012 “Economic Freedom of the World” report by James Gwartney, Robert Lawson and Joshua Hall, nations ranking in the top quartile with regard to economic freedom had average per capita GDP of $37,691 in 2010 compared with $5,188 for those in the bottom quartile.

In the freest nations, the average income of the poorest 10% of their populations was $11,382. In the least free nations, it was $1,209.

Remarkably, the average income of the poorest 10% in the economically freer nations is more than twice the average of those in the least free nations.

Free market benefits aren’t only measured in dollars and cents.

Life expectancy is 79.5 years in the freest nations and 61.6 years in the least free.

Political and civil liberties are considerably greater in the economically free nations than in unfree nations.

Leftists might argue that the free market doesn’t help the poor. That argument can’t even pass the smell test.

Imagine that you are an unborn spirit and God condemned you to a life of poverty but gave you a choice of the country in which to be poor. Which country would you choose?

To help with your choice, here are facts provided by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield in their report “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor.”

  • Eighty percent of American poor households have air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31% have two or more.
  • Almost two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
  • Half have one or more computers.
  • Forty-two percent own their homes.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France and the U.K. Ninety-six percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry; in other words, they could afford food.

The bottom line is that there is little or no material poverty in the U.S.

At the time of our nation’s birth, we were poor, but we established an institutional structure of free markets and limited government and became rich.

This might be a good article send along to people who want to bash our free-market system. It’s easy for them to make assertions that we have to do this or that policy to redistribute wealth. But the real solution to helping the poor is not to take from one and give to another, it’s to put into place a system that causes wealth to be created for all. That’s what happened in the United States, and you can see how it happened in other capitalist economies like Chile, Hong Kong and Singapore. Capitalism turns poor nations into rich nations.

Wayne Grudem debates Richard Glover on the Bible, poverty and foreign aid

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!
Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!

A great episode of the Unbelievable podcast. This is a great debate. I really enjoyed it. All three speakers were excellent putting forward their points. It’s nice to hear an American voice, a British voice and an Australian voice debating an important issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Details:

Wayne Grudem is a theologian known for his conservative approach to both doctrine and economics. His new book “The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution” (co-authored with economist Barry Asmus) makes the case that pouring aid into developing countries is a failed strategy. Grudem debates whether the Bible supports free market, capitalist economics with Australian economist and theologian Richard Glover who wrote a critique of the book for the Australian Bible Society.

 The MP3 file is here.

Summary:

Grudem:

  • The Bible speaks to all of life, including economics, stewardship, government
  • The study of economics helps us to understand how to take care of the poor
  • My job is to apply the teachings of the Bible to all of life

Brierley:

  • What’s your thesis in the book?

Grudem:

  • A good system is one where the poor have the opportunity to earn and save from their labor
  • Book is a response to a Kenyan couple Grudem met at a London conference on business and Christianity
  • Book is not concerned with how individuals and groups can do charity to help the poor
  • Our church already does that and we support individuals and groups doing charity
  • The book is concerned with how should nations be transformed in order to grow economically
  • What should the laws, policies and cultural beliefs of a nation be in order for it to not be poor?
  • The book lists factors that have moved nations from poverty to prosperity in different times and places
  • The thesis of the book is this: government should set their people free to be able to produce more
  • We advocate freedom in economics: freedom to work, freedom to save, freedom to start businesses
  • We believe that this free enterprise view is consistent with the Bible in a number of places
  • E.g. – private property is good for prosperity (thou shall not steal) but forbidden by communism

Brierley:

  • What about the church sharing in communities in Acts 2 and Acts 4?

Grudem:

  • That is not redistribution of wealth among individuals and businesses by a secular government
  • Those passages showed that there was voluntary sharing among Christians, which is not communism

Brierley:

  • What’s wrong with Grudem’s book?

Glover:

  • The book emphasizes the Bible and the goal is to help the poor in poor countries
  • Criticism 1: the book doesn’t engage with non-free-market perspectives on economics
  • Criticism 2: the book doesn’t survey all that the Bible says about economics

Brierly:

  • For 1) what is one of the views that is not considered?

Glover:

  • Jeffrey Sachs says that nations need a leg up before they can grow economically
  • Ha-Joon Chang says that free enterprise was not how the wealthy nations became wealthy

Grudem:

  • We do engage with other points of view, especially Jeffrey Sachs in the book
  • The trouble with leftist views on economic development is that it does not work in practice
  • NO COUNTRY has even been lifted out of poverty by foreign aid
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the wisdom literature: we have 64 citations in the index
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the gospels: we have 42 citations in the index
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the epistles: we cite 22 of 27 epistles in the index
  • Some economists won’t criticize cultural and moral values that hurt prosperity
  • As Christians, we think that moral and cultural values are part of the problem that needs solving

Brierley:

  • What about foreign aid?

Grudem:

  • Foreign aid doesn’t help: a lot of the money goes into government and rulers can be corrupt
  • Instead of encouraging people to start businesses, it tells people to go into government to get aid money
  • Economists (lists 3) are saying that foreign aid entrenches corrupt government in power, does no good

Brierley:

  • If it’s not working, should we keep doing it?

Glover:

  • When there is an immediate need, we should do it, even if it is not a long-term solution: we need both

Brierley:

  • Should we stop foreign aid completely?

Grudem:

  • Voluntary charitable giving from individuals and churches to help poor countries is good
  • Me and my co-author are both active on our church board that helps poor countries with urgent needs
  • Food and doctors are urgent needs, and we should help, but it doesn’t lift countries out of poverty
  • We need a long-term solution that helps poor countries produce their own food and doctors
  • We are criticizing 1) government to government aid and 2) IMF/World bank to government aid
  • We have had pushback because 500,000 people make a living from this foreign aid industry
  • No country has ever been lifted out of poverty into sustainable prosperity
  • That’s the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing that has never worked

Brierley:

  • Does the Bible support free enterprise as a way of creating sustainable prosperity?

Glover:

  • When I said the Bible was absent from his book, absent was a bad choice of words
  • But the hundreds of references he listed were not dealth with *in depth*
  • In the Scriptures, God is the one who provides (e.g. – in Ephesians, Sermon on the Mount)
  • The Bible is less focused on his people making money, and more focus on sharing basics, like food
  • Secular governments should just take it from people who have food and give it to hungry people
  • In 2 Cor 8-9, Paul talks about voluntary sharing so everyone will be equal

Brierley:

  • Does 2 Cor 8-9 undermine the free enterprise system you champion in the book?

Grudem:

  • The sharing in the Bible solves cases of urgent need, it does not lift countries from poverty to sustainable prosperity
  • Some older translations say “equality” in 2 Cor 8:13-14, but newer translations (e.g. – ESV) say “fairness”
  • The Greek word is translated as “fairly” the only other place it appears in the NT (Col 4:1), in every translation
  • God uses the means of human work and productivity to provide (daily bread is baked, doesn’t just fall from Heaven)
  • In general, there’s no provision in Scripture for a person to be dependent on donations for their entire lives
  • God promises Israel fields and mountains to tend and mine, but prosperity is from work, not depending on others

Brierley:

  • Does the Bible support this focus on work?

Grudem:

  • Working is highly praised in Scripture, (lists Bible passages that favor work over dependency)
  • Countries that were exposed to this notion of work and productivity have been more prosperous

Glover:

  • Jeffrey Sachs and other development economists don’t say you can be prosperous through dependence
  • They say that it is a necessary part of leading to nations out of poverty into poverty

Grudem:

  • It’s never worked. What nation has become prosperous through foreign aid?

Glover:

  • There are lots of nations, especially in Africa, where foreign aid has helped lift them out of poverty

Grudem:

  • Name one country in Africa where foreign aud has lifted them out of poverty into sustainable prosperity

Glover:

  • I can’t think of one right now.

Grudem:

  • Our book contains a map of Africa and we looked at every nation’s per capita income
  • No nation has been able to rise out of poverty through dependence on foreign aid
  • The only close one is Botswana, but they have abundant freedoms, Christian morals, less corrupt government
  • So Botswana is the best case and they became prosperous through becoming productive, not foreign aid

Brierley:

  • Is he right to say that charity is a short-term solution, but that it’s not good long-term for prosperity?

Glover:

  • Yes, and work is a very important focus in the Scriptures as he says.
  • But since the Fall work has been much harder, and may not have the outcomes that we would like

Grudem:

  • I also believe in emergency aid for when catastrophies happen, like floods and famines
  • But dependence on foreign aid enriches corrupt rulers and does not create the productivity that leads to sustained prosperity

Brierley:

  • Can foreign aid be used to give poor nations a leg up on becoming prosperous?

Grudem:

  • Dambisa Moyo, Oxford-educated economist from Zambia, says stop the aid, it’s doing more harm than good
  • Jeffrey Sachs’ view is that foreign aid hasn’t worked yet, but just keep trying a bit more
  • What works: limited government, rule of law, fair courts, documented property rights, low taxes, stable currency
  • People are creative and want to work, we just have to get government out of the way and let people work, earn and save

Brierley:

  • Is this free enterprise system supported by the Bible?

Glover:

  • The wealthy nations of the world did not become wealthy through productive work and free enterprise policies
  • Ha-Joon Chang: free enterprise policies have never brought a country from poverty to wealth
  • E.g. – wealth is created through tariffs (not by innovating and by economic freedom?)

Grudem:

  • I’ve read Ha-Joon Chang’s book, and his examples are very selective and limited
  • Index of Economic Freedom: the freest countries are the most prosperous, the least free countries are the most poor
  • When you look at macro data, instead of very selective examples, the free enterprise system is best for prosperity

Glover:

  • The book doesn’t do enough to engage with leftist economists (he doesn’t say which ones)
  • Just because nations who are free are rich, doesn’t mean freedom causes productivity
  • There are parts of the Bible that doesn’t support the free enterprise system (he names none)

Grudem:

  • The Bible is focused on work not dependency, and charity not government redistribution
  • The best way to help the poor in other countries is by encouraging work and productivity

Democrat policies hurt the poor, and actually increase income inequality

Two articles from Investors Business Daily. The first discusses how big government tax policies actually encourage poor people not to work. The second one looks at major cities, and finds that 9 out of the top 10 cities with the most “inequality” are run by Democrats.

Let’s start with the first article.

It says:

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation has put out a new report titled “Income Tax Illustrated .” OK, cue the jokes. But it isn’t boring. Really.

[…]”As low-income households earn more money, not only do their tax burdens grow rapidly, but they also receive fewer benefits from federal social assistance programs,” the report said. “In fact, individuals who move to higher-paying jobs sometimes end up with less overall disposable income, after taxes and transfers.”

The report uses two examples, as noted by the Washington Beacon. In one, a single parent earns $4,800 in salary before taxes. That’s not much, but because of entitlements such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, and Housing Choice Vouchers, that person’s take-home pay for the year jumps to $22,090 — not a lot, granted, but it’s more than 4-1/2 times greater than what that person actually earned working.

That compares to someone who earns $21,000 before taxes but, because of taxes and entitlements, takes home $24,057 for the year.

Yes, that person earns $16,200 more from work, but takes home just $1,967 more, thanks to the tax code and generous benefits to those with less income.

“As low-income households earn more money, not only do their tax burdens grow rapidly, but they also receive fewer benefits from federal social assistance programs,” the report said.

“In fact, individuals who move to higher-paying jobs sometimes end up with less overall disposable income, after taxes and transfers.”

[…]Believe it or not, this bizarre distortion gets worse when you consider a married couple with two kids.

Because the Earned Income Tax Credit is phased out at higher incomes, a family of four making $48,000 faces a marginal tax burden of 43.7% — an absurd disincentive to work harder and earn more for families.

When Republican presidential candidates like Jindal, Cruz and Rubio talk about simplifying the tax code, their intent is to solve these perverse incentives that keep poor people dependent on government. We have make changes to the tax code so that people who are able to work can do better by working, rather than by not working. Republicans are in favor of encourage people to work, marry and have kids. Democrats… just want them to keep voting for dependence on big government.

On to the second article.

Which states have the most income inequality?

The Washington Post looked into the numbers and found that 5 of the top 7 states are decidedly blue — New York, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

And Washington, D.C., which is ground zero of big government liberalism, has the highest level of income inequality of all.

At the other end of the spectrum, the three states with the lowest levels of income inequality are solid red: Utah, Wyoming and Alaska. Nebraska comes in fifth and Nevada ninth.

And what about down at the city level?

The liberal-leaning Brookings Institution looked at inequality by city, and the results show that 9 of the top 10 are run by Democratic mayors — including San Francisco, Boston, D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Baltimore.

In contrast, 7 of the 10 least unequal cities are run by Republican mayors, and 9 of 10 are in red states.

And what about Obama, has he helped to reduce income inequality, or has it increased under his watch?

Now take a look at the national level. As the chart above shows, income inequality as measured by the Census Bureau was flat over the course of the George W. Bush years. But under President Obama, it’s been on the rise.

Under Obama, the poor have gotten poorer and the rich richer. Incomes for the bottom 20% have fallen in each of the past four years and are now 8% below where they stood when Obama took office. Meanwhile, incomes of the wealthiest 5% have climbed under Obama, after adjusting for inflation.

IBD had a nice graph for that last point:

The Gini index measures income inequality
The Gini index measures income inequality

So, why is this happening? Why does taking money from “the rich” and giving it to “the poor” makes income inequality worse?

IBD explains:

As we’ve seen over the past seven years, higher taxes, vast new regulations and sharp increases in spending primarily benefit a relatively small number of well-connected people and those companies that can afford an army of lobbyists. In other words, the rich.

At the same time, higher taxes, more mandates and onerous new regulations stifle innovation and make it harder to start up new companies — the sort of companies that create new jobs and new opportunities. The Kauffman Index of business startups, for example, has been below average since 2011.

Incomes are down, because there aren’t enough job creators. We have a 38-year LOW in labor force participation. People rise when there are lots of job offers from job creators. The more people looking to hire, the more people can shop around and get the most salary and benefits for their labor. But wages have not gone up under Obama. He punished job creators with taxes and regulations, so they are creating fewer jobs. Fewer jobs means less competition. Less competition means lower wages and fewer worker benefits.