Tag Archives: Employment

Economist Walter Williams explains how to not be poor

Economist Walter Williams
Economist Walter Williams

Here is his article on wealth and poverty on Creators.

First, there is no real poverty in the United States:

There is no material poverty in the U.S. Here are a few facts about people whom the Census Bureau labels as poor. Dr. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, in their study “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor”, report that 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; nearly three-quarters have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers. Forty-two percent own their homes. Poor Americans have more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the U.K. What we have in our nation are dependency and poverty of the spirit, with people making unwise choices and leading pathological lives aided and abetted by the welfare state.

Second, the “poverty” is not caused by racism, but by poor choices:

The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 35 percent and among whites at 13 percent. The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent, and among whites it’s 30 percent. A statistic that one doesn’t hear much about is that the poverty rate among black married families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8 percent. For married white families, it’s 5 percent. Now the politically incorrect questions: Whose fault is it to have children without the benefit of marriage and risk a life of dependency? Do people have free will, or are they governed by instincts?

There may be some pinhead sociologists who blame the weak black family structure on racial discrimination. But why was the black illegitimacy rate only 14 percent in 1940, and why, as Dr. Thomas Sowell reports, do we find that census data “going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery … showed that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. This fact remained true in every census from 1890 to 1940”? Is anyone willing to advance the argument that the reason the illegitimacy rate among blacks was lower and marriage rates higher in earlier periods was there was less racial discrimination and greater opportunity?

Third, avoiding poverty is the result of good choices:

No one can blame a person if he starts out in life poor, because how one starts out is not his fault.

If he stays poor, he is to blame because it is his fault. Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior. It turns out that a married couple, each earning the minimum wage, would earn an annual combined income of $30,000. The Census Bureau poverty line for a family of two is $15,500, and for a family of four, it’s $23,000. By the way, no adult who starts out earning the minimum wage does so for very long.

Fourth, what stops people from making good choices is big government:

Since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, the nation has spent about $18 trillion at the federal, state and local levels of government on programs justified by the “need” to deal with some aspect of poverty. In a column of mine in 1995, I pointed out that at that time, the nation had spent $5.4 trillion on the War on Poverty, and with that princely sum, “you could purchase every U.S. factory, all manufacturing equipment, and every office building. With what’s left over, one could buy every airline, trucking company and our commercial maritime fleet. If you’re still in the shopping mood, you could also buy every television, radio and power company, plus every retail and wholesale store in the entire nation”. Today’s total of $18 trillion spent on poverty means you could purchase everything produced in our country each year and then some.

Walter Williams is one of my two favorite economists, the other being Thomas Sowell. By sheer coincidence, they both happen to have grown up poor, and they both happen to be black. They understand what causes poverty very well. I recommend their books to you if you want to understand economics.

Kansas enacts law to attach work requirement to welfare benefits

Kansas governor Sam Brownback
Kansas governor Sam Brownback

This story is from the Daily Signal, and it’s about a new (April 2015) Kansas law that produced great effects in the last year.

It says:

Over the past several years, the number of Americans on food stamps has soared. In particular, since 2009, the number of “able-bodied-adults” without dependents receiving food stamps more than doubled nationally. Part of this increase is due to a federal rule that allowed states to waive food stamps’ modest work requirement. However, states such as Kansas and Maine chose to reinstate work requirements. Comparing and contrasting the two approaches provides powerful new evidence about the effectiveness of work.

According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, before Kansas instituted a work requirement, 93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty. Few of the food stamp recipients claimed any income. Only 21 percent were working at all, and two-fifths of those working were working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty. Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year. They saw an average income increase of 127 percent. Half of those who left the rolls and are working have earnings above the poverty level. Even many of those who stayed on food stamps saw their income increase significantly.

Work programs provide opportunities such as job training and employment search services. For example, in Kansas, workfare helped one man, who was unemployed for four years and on food stamps, find employment in the publishing industry where he now earns $45,000 annually. Another Kansan who was also previously unemployed and dependent on food stamps for over three years, now has an annual income of $34,000.

Furthermore, with the implementation of the work requirement in Kansas, the caseload dropped by 75 percent. Previously, Kansas was spending $5.5 million per month on food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults; it now spends $1.2 million.

So, I am doing a hunt to find the best states to live in, and Kansas is in my top 5. They have Governor Sam Brownback, and he has just done a magnificent job pushing conservative policies – not just social policies, but fiscal too. It’s a great state, but still edged out by Oklahoma and Tennessee, in my opinion. We’ll see what else Governor Brownback has in store, though.

You might think that all the news is bad, and that no one is putting into place any conservative policies. Well, of course the good red states are putting in these policies, and of course these policies are achieving the desired objectives. If you elect Democrats, you get Detroit. If you elect Republicans, you get welfare reform that lifts people out of dependency and into earned success. I’m sure that they feel better about not being dependent, too.

Republican governor of blue state gets 70% of welfare recipients back to work

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)

This article is from the Daily Signal, and it clearly explains what happens when a blue state hits rock bottom and has to elect a Republican governor to clean up the mess left by a Democrat. In this case, it’s Republican governor Rick Snyder who had to come in and clean up the mess left by Democrat Jennifer Granholm.

Excerpt:

Since Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder assumed office, the number of welfare recipients in the state has declined by a staggering 70 percent, according to a news report.

A total of 64,492 individuals received cash assistance from the state this past August, down from 227,490 in 2011. Snyder, a Republican, took office in January 2011 and was re-elected in November 2014.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, a news site, reported that the decline in welfare recipients could be due to new enforcement of limits on cash benefits. The state has begun enforcing a 48-month lifetime limit for its cash assistance program and a 60-month federal time limit.

The spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, Bob Wheaton, partially credited the drop in welfare recipients to the state’s improving economy.

In an email to Capitol Confidential, Wheaton said: “As the governor said at the time of the decision to enforce time limits, this was returning cash assistance to its original intent—a transitional program to help families as they work toward self-sufficiency while preserving the safety net for families most in need.”

Wheaton also said the program Michigan Works has helped recipients find jobs.

During Snyder’s time in office, the state’s economy has improved, and unemployment has decreased. The unemployment rate in Michigan dropped from 11.2 percent in December 2010 to 5 percent in September 2015.

Honestly, I don’t even think there should be such a thing as welfare. People should be able to put a voluntary contribution into an emergency account, and the government can match that, and if they ever lose their job, they can run their lives off their account. That’s fair. But instead, you have people going on welfare for well over a year, since Obama undid the Welfare Reform bill of 1996.

Maybe that’s why our labor force participation rate is at a 38-year low:

Labor Force Participation 2015
Labor Force Participation 2015

But in Michigan, things are much better. Because they have a Republican running the show. Republicans are not for welfare, they are for helping people back into the workforce. A hand up, not a hand out.

New study: Obamacare will decrease workforce by 2 million full-time worker’s hours

He voted for Obamacare, and he got it

He voted for Obamacare, and he got it… good and hard!

The study was done by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and reported by Fox News.

Excerpt:

ObamaCare will reduce work hours equivalent to 2 million jobs in the next decade amid a host of incentives not to work or to work less, a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report says — the latest blow to President Obama’s signature health insurance plan.

The report estimates the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, will make the labor supply shrink by 0.86 percent in 2025. This amounts to a shrinkage equivalent to approximately 2 million full-time workers.

The nonpartisan CBO estimates that the decline will come primarily due to workers responding to changes made by the law to federal programs and tax policy. The agency points to the introduction of health care subsidies tied to income as a key factor — which in turn raises effective tax rates as someone’s earnings rise, therefore reducing the amount of work Americans choose to do.

“Subsidies decline as income increases, reducing the return on earning additional income,” the report says. “That decline is effectively an increase in recipients’ effective marginal tax rate, so it generally reduces their work incentives through the substitution effect.”

Since the subsidies also reduce the burdens attached to unemployment, the CBO predicts that the law will create additional “work disincentives” for those who are unemployed for part of the year. It concludes that the exchange subsidies will contribute to half of the overall reduction of the labor supply.

The report also points to direct taxes, such as ACA’s hike of the payroll tax on high earners for Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Program, as a reason for discouraging some from working. Another pressure on wages will come from the employer mandate, which imposes a penalty on employers if they have more than 50 employees and do not provide insurance. The CBO predicts that within a few years this charge will be passed on to employees in the form of lower wages.

[…]The report comes at an awkward time for the Obama administration: just days after the Senate passed a bill that would repeal key parts of the law. The White House has said that President Obama will veto the legislation.

Oh well. It’s not like workers need to be paid fairly for their labor, right? I’m really not seeing how Obama expects the next generation to pay for the $10 trillion he’s added onto the national debt. If they are working less, then they are paying less in taxes. It’s fun to give speeches where you promise your gullible supporters a lot of goodies, but then, if the goodies discourage their employers from giving them work hours, then how will the spending be paid for?

More than anyone in modern politics, Barack Obama is a man who has perfected the art of sounding confident about things he literally knows nothing about. When elect a clown, you get failure. It doesn’t matter how confident a candidate sounds. It matters whether he has a record of solving the problems that he is talking about. Results, not rhetoric.

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.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

%d bloggers like this: