I saw that Stand to Reason’s Amy Hall blogged about a lecture by Jay Richards, a Christian expert in economics. Amy linked to this post by Justin Taylor which summarizes the talk (above).
Establish and maintain the rule of law.
Focus the jurisdiction of government on maintaining the rule of law, and limit its jurisdiction over the economy and the institutions of civil society.
Implement a formal property system with consistent and accessible means for securing a clear title to property one owns.
Encourage economic freedom: Allow people to trade goods and services unencumbered by tariffs, subsidies, price controls, undue regulation, and restrictive immigration policies.
Encourage stable families and other important private institutions that mediate between the individual and the state.
Encourage belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense.
Encourage the right cultural mores—orientation to the future and the belief that progress but not utopia is possible in this life; willingness to save and delay gratification; willingness to risk, to respect the rights and property of others, to be diligent, to be thrifty.
Instill a proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty—that wealth is created, that free trade is win-win, that risk is essential to enterprise, that trade-offs are unavoidable, that the success of others need not come at your expense, and that you can pursue legitimate self-interest and the common good at the same time.
Focus on your comparative advantage rather than protecting what used to be your competitive advantage.
His book “Money, Greed and God” is a perfect introduction to economics and how it relates to the Christian worldview. I always encourage Christians to move beyond good intentions to good results by studying economics. We are supposed to be helping the poor, but how should we do it? Economics is the science that allows us to understand which policies we should support to do that.
From Adam Lanza, who killed 26 children and adults a year ago at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., to Karl Pierson, who shot a teenage girl and killed himself this past Friday at Arapahoe High in Centennial, Colo., one common and largely unremarked thread tying together most of the school shooters that have struck the nation in the last year is that they came from homes marked by divorce or an absent father. From shootings at MIT (i.e., theTsarnaev brothers) to the University of Central Florida to the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga., nearly every shooting over the last year in Wikipedia’s “list of U.S. school attacks” involved a young man whose parents divorced or never married in the first place.
[…]The social scientific evidence about the connection between violence and broken homes could not be clearer. My own research suggests that boys living in single mother homes are almost twice as likely to end up delinquent compared to boys who enjoy good relationships with their father. Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has written that “Family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, predictor of variations in urban violence across cities in the United States.” His views are echoed by the eminent criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, who have written that “such family measures as the percentage of the population divorced, the percentage of households headed by women, and the percentage of unattached individuals in the community are among the most powerful predictors of crime rates.”
Why is fatherlessness such a big deal for our boys (almost all of these incidents involve boys)? Putting the argument positively, sociologist David Popenoe notes that “fathers are important to their sons as role models. They are important for maintaining authority and discipline. And they are important in helping their sons to develop both self-control and feelings of empathy toward others, character traits that are found to be lacking in violent youth.” Boys, then, who did not grow up with an engaged, attentive, and firm father are more vulnerable to getting swept up in the Sturm und Drang of adolescence and young adulthood, and in the worst possible way.
So where do fatherless children come from? It turns out that government programs incentivize women to make them.
Dr. Michael Tanner of the libertarian Cato Institute explains how welfare causes fatherlessness in his testimony to Congress:
Welfare contributes to crime in several ways. First, children from single-parent families are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. According to one study, children raised in single-parent families are one-third more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior.(3) Moreover, O’Neill found that, holding other variables constant, black children from single- parent households are twice as likely to commit crimes as black children from a family where the father is present. Nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes, as do 43 percent of prison inmates.(4) Research indicates a direct correlation between crime rates and the number of single-parent families in a neighborhood.(5)
As Barbara Dafoe Whitehead noted in her seminal article for The Atlantic Monthly:
The relationship [between single-parent families and crime] is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature. The nation’s mayors, as well as police officers, social workers, probation officers, and court officials, consistently point to family break up as the most important source of rising rates of crime.(6)
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)
The secular left in this country believes that fathers need to be separated away from their children, and that’s why they support welfare programs that redirect money from husbands in intact families to single mothers. They believe that fathers are harmful because they set boundaries on children, and judge them and punish them when they act immorally. To the secular left, boundaries, judgments and punishments on children are bad, and must be stopped. So how can the secular left discourage men from marrying and teaching their own children morality? Well, they can tax married men, and they can give the money to single mothers.
Not only is crime caused by fatherlessness, but poverty is. as well.
Census data and the Fragile Families survey show that marriage can be extremely effective in reducing child poverty. But the positive effects of married fathers are not limited to income alone. Children raised by married parents have substantially better life outcomes compared to similar children raised in single-parent homes.
When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school. Many of these negative outcomes are associated with the higher poverty rates of single mothers. In many cases, however, the improvements in child well-being that are associated with marriage persist even after adjusting for differences in family income. This indicates that the father brings more to his home than just a paycheck.
The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are:
More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;
Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;
Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school; and
A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.
The effects of being raised in a single-parent home continue into adulthood. Comparing families of the same race and similar incomes, children from broken and single-parent homes are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact married families.  Compared to girls raised in similar married families, girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation.
Finally, the decline of marriage generates poverty in future generations. Children living in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes. This intergenerational poverty effect persists even after adjusting for the original differences in family income and poverty during childhood.
People on the left claim that poverty causes crime, but they don’t look for the root cause of poverty. The root cause of poverty is the decline of marriage, which produces fatherless children.
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.
President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation backed by two Texas Republicans that will allow states to expand the pool of applicants for unemployment benefits who can be drug tested.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, nullifies a Labor Department rule that went into effect in September limiting drug tests to applicants who had a job that does regular drug screenings.
“Under the previous administration, the Department of Labor undermined the ability of states to conduct drug testing in their programs as permitted by Congress,” Cruz said in a written statement. “This rule was yet another example of executive overreach by the Obama administration, and I commend President Trump for signing this resolution into law.”
The measure traveled down a partisan path in Congress, passing through the Senate earlier this month with a party-line vote. Four Democrats in the House voted in favor of the bill in February, but no Texans.
“After 5 years of battling with the Obama Department of Labor, states like Texas will now be allowed to drug test folks on unemployment to ensure they are job ready from day one,” Brady said in a written statement. “This is a win for families, workers, job creators, and local economies.”
[…]“We are not helping anyone by leaving them in a position where they are dependent on and addicted to drugs,” Cruz said.
I find this law so reasonable that I cannot believe that anyone who has a job and pays taxes could oppose it. Now, it’s true that a lot of Democrats either don’t work or get money from government salaries, government spending, or welfare. But even so, I would expect them to see that it is wrong to waste the taxpayer dollars of honest workers and their entrepreneurial employers on people who are addicted to drugs.
I hope that this bill will clear the way for conservative governors to get people off of welfare and into the workplace.
My favorite governor is Scott Walker, and he is discussed in this recent article from the center-left The Hill.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Monday said he would ask the state’s Republican-led legislature to undertake one of the most aggressive welfare reform packages since a wave of new measures passed in the mid-1990s.
Walker’s plan, “Wisconsin Works for Everyone,” would impose new work requirements on both able-bodied adults with school-age children who receive state food assistance and those who receive housing assistance. Both work plans, which would be tested on a pilot basis, would require recipients to be employed for at least 80 hours per month, or to be enrolled in job training programs. Those who do not meet work requirements would see part of their benefits cut.
“We believe our public assistance programs should ask able-bodied adults to take steps toward self-sufficiency through work, while also providing comprehensive tools to help them get and keep a job,” Walker said Monday.
The Wisconsin Republican has made welfare reform a key element of his second term in office.
“In 2017, we are going to push the federal government to allow Wisconsin to go even further, to be a leader once again on welfare reform,” Walker said last week during his State of the State address.
The plan proposed Monday would expand job training programs and employer resource networks for those who receive government aid. It would create an earned income tax credit specifically aimed at getting younger Wisconsinites into the workforce, and it would require existing business license requirements to be reviewed by a state panel in hopes of reducing red tape.
I also expect that Walker’s plans will get no Democrat support.
It really says something about how differently Republicans and Democrats view the money they take from taxpayers. Republicans want to be responsible in how they spend taxpayer money, whereas Democrats want to waste it so they can feel generous and preen in front of crowds about how generous they are. But you can’t be generous with someone else’s money.
The best way to help a person who is dependent on government is not to keep them on drugs, and keep them on welfare. They need to guided out of drug use, and into a job. Forging your own success makes you happier than being dependent anyway.
Brad Wilcox tweeted this article from the leftist The Daily Progress. Let’s see what it says, then I’ll comment.
The article identifies three reasons why women are poorer than men: single motherhood, divorce and the “pay gap”.
During their working years, women tend to earn less than men, and when they retire, they’re more likely to live in poverty.
These are women who raised children and cared for sick and elderly family members, often taking what savings and income they had and spending it on things besides their own retirement security.
The National Institute on Retirement Security, a nonprofit research center, reports that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. Women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely.
While experts cite a pay gap as a major cause for retirement insecurity, other factors play a role, from single parenthood and divorce to the fact that women typically live longer than men.
Dr. Wilcox makes the point that this poverty is due to a retreat from marriage. That’s true. But look at the three factors the left-wing article itself cites: single motherhood, divorce and pay gap. Are these policies instances of women being victimized, or are their problems self-inflicted?
1) Single motherhood is caused by the welfare policies that young women favor when they vote overwhelmingly for bigger government. If we take money from working taxpayers, or borrow it from the next generation, and we give it to women to pay them to have fatherless children, then more women will do this. And of course this is a path to poverty. There just isn’t enough money to steal from taxpayers or borrow from future taxpayers to pay for women to have children with no man in the home who can provide for those children. People do more of what you pay them to do. The more money we give to single mothers, the more fatherless children we get, and it creates a host of problems that we can’t continue to pay for as a society, e.g. – crime. The mistake was paying women to make poor decisions in the first place, but welfare spending a policy that most young, unmarried women support. They’re not victims, they’re doing this to themselves.
This new Prager University video from Larry Elder explains why women embrace single motherhood:
We’re paying them to make bad decisions, and it creates more poverty.
2) No-fault divorce was caused by the radical feminism that many young, unmarried women support. This policy was brought in to make it easy for women to divorce without having to have a good reason (70% of divorces are initiated by women, mostly over “unhappiness”). Feminists don’t like the idea of being “constrained” to marry a man because he is a good provider, protector and moral/spiritual leader. A strong man is intimidating – he will want to make decisions and lead, and we can’t let him do that. A better idea is to marry a man who doesn’t provide, protect or lead – that way, we don’t have to respect him or let him lead. Naturally, when this entertaining, irresponsible man is unable to provide, then women divorce him and find themselves poor and unable to remarry – having lost their youth and beauty to “fun” men. No-fault divorce is not a policy that men supported. It is a policy that feminists supported, because they want to be able to nuke relationships that don’t make them feel happy. The most volatile, short-lived relationships are lesbian relationships, because women naturally expect relationships to fulfill them instead of expecting relationships to be tough and challenging. There just isn’t a path to prosperity for women into old age if they value feeling happy over self-sacrificial love and moral obligations. We need to teach women to prefer marriage-capable of men instead of fun, entertaining, no-leadership men. We need to teach women to make commitments that override their changing feelings. The problem of divorce is self-inflicted.
3) Lastly, the pay gap. I have written before about how the pay gap is largely related to women’s own choices about what to study, what job to take, and how many hours to work. It is simply not possible for a woman to earn as much as a man when she does a degree in English, women’s studies or other nonsense. Men don’t study what we want to study. We study things we hate – like petroleum engineering and software engineering. We do this so that we can provide for a wife and children, so that we can get what we we want most: respect and the (earned) authority to lead a home. Most men are commitment machines. We hate fun, we want to do hard things, and to be respected for being reliable and steady. The problem of the “pay gap” is self-inflicted.
So, in conclusion, yes – many women are poorer than men, especially as they age. But their poverty is self-inflicted. They are poor because they embraced ideas that would make them poorer. Three ideas destroyed their prosperity: single mother welfare, no-fault divorce, and following your heart in education and career. None of these things will provide women with security or prosperity – especially now that the debt has doubled to $20 trillion, and there is no more to borrow to continue the government-as-sugar-daddy plan of feminists. No amount of reassurance from pious pastors and permissive parents can save women from the consequences of their own irrational embrace of radical feminism. It turns out that there is no escape from economics, and the universe does not magically adjust to make the feelings and intuitions of entitled Disney princesses “work out”.