Wednesday, September 9, 2015

‘Black Lives Matter’—but Reality, Not So Much

Wall Street Journal ^ | 9/8/2015 | Jason L. Riley 

The great lie of the summer has been the Black Lives Matter movement. It was founded on one falsehood—that a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot a black suspect who was trying to surrender—and it is perpetuated by another: that trigger-happy cops are filling our morgues with young black men.
The reality is that Michael Brown is dead because he robbed a convenience store, assaulted a uniformed officer and then made a move for the officer’s gun. The reality is that a cop is six times more likely to be killed by someone black than the reverse. The reality is that the Michael Browns are a much bigger threat to black lives than are the police. “Every year, the casualty count of black-on-black crime is twice that of the death toll of 9/11,” wrote former New York City police detective Edward Conlon in a Journal essay on Saturday. “I don’t understand how a movement called ‘Black Lives Matter’ can ignore the leading cause of death among young black men in the U.S., which is homicide by their peers.”
Actually, it’s not hard to understand at all, once you realize that this movement is not about the fate of blacks per se but about scapegoating the police in particular, and white America in general, for antisocial ghetto behavior. It’s about holding whites to a higher standard than the young black men in these neighborhoods hold each other to. Ultimately, it’s a political movement, the inevitable extension of a racial and ethnic spoils system that helps Democrats get elected. The Black Lives Matter narrative may be demonstrably false, but it’s also politically expedient.
Worth reading the rest
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The U.S. Is Now the Real Welfare State [How we compare to Europe]

National Review ^ | 09/09/2015 | Michael Tanner 

In 2013, the New York Times reported on the case of Carina, a 36-year-old Danish single mother who had been on welfare since she was 16. Denmark has long had one of the most generous welfare systems in Europe, and Carina was able to collect about $2,700 per month in benefits, an amount that enabled her to live quite comfortably without working. A second welfare recipient discussed in the article, Robert Nielsen, had been supported by the government for more than a dozen years. He had not attempted to find work and did not intend to. As he said, “Luckily, I am born and live in Denmark, where the government is willing to support my life.”
No one would be surprised to hear this. Europe, after all, has long been known for its lavish welfare benefits. Doesn’t Paul Krugman or Bernie Sanders tell us every other week that we should be more like the Europeans when it comes to fighting poverty?
But a new study, recently released by the Cato Institute, suggests that the United States increasingly fits into the mainstream of welfare states, at least when it comes to assistance for the poor.
European countries do spend a far higher proportion of their GDP on social welfare. But much of that money goes to programs for the elderly or the middle class. When it comes to means-tested assistance for the poor, Europe is less generous and the United States is more generous than is commonly believed.
The Cato study looked at what a single parent with two children could receive from four broad categories of welfare benefits: social assistance, housing assistance, family and child benefits, and tax credits. We found that in nine European countries this hypothetical parent could receive total benefits worth more than $18,200 per year. In five countries — Austria, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom — benefits exceeded $24,300. And in Denmark, the most generous country, the potential benefit package exceeded $38,500 per year.
In most of these countries, the benefit package was large enough that it could pose a significant deterrent to transitioning to work. After all, people in these programs respond to incentives just like everyone else, and even in the nine countries with the smallest benefits, welfare potentially pays more than the minimum wage. In the other six countries, the benefits are worth more than 60 percent of the country’s net income at average wage. Economists often discuss the fact that high marginal tax rates can discourage economic activity. But, when you consider the taxes themselves, the phase-out of benefits, and the costs of going to work, someone leaving welfare for a job will pay among the highest effective marginal tax rates in the world.
It’s not that poor people are lazy; it’s that they aren’t stupid.
And how does the U.S. compare? On the basis of data from a 2013 Cato study of U.S. welfare benefits, we would slot in right in the middle of the EU countries analyzed, slightly above France and slightly below Sweden. In the U.S., a single parent with two children receiving benefits from six major welfare programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps, housing assistance, fuel and heating assistance, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and free commodities) could potentially receive more than $20,500 (nationwide non-weighted average). In fact, in the six most generous jurisdictions (Hawaii, D.C., Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, and Connecticut), recipients could potentially receive higher benefits than in every European country analyzed except Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Moreover, we excluded Medicaid from this comparison, since European health-care programs are universal rather than means-tested. Depending on the state, those benefits could be worth an additional $6,300 to $10,400 for our hypothetical U.S. family.
At least in this aspect, the United States is becoming the real welfare state.
Even more troubling, European countries appear to be ahead of us in recognizing the problems that excessive benefits cause, and in reforming their programs to put a greater emphasis on work. For example, several countries have consolidated multiple programs in their patchwork welfare systems. Others have strengthened work requirements or established time limits for benefits. Still others have established or expanded work-based tax credits or transitional assistance to increase the value of work. In many cases, these reforms are tentative, but they’re steps in the right direction.
Work should be at the heart of any effort to reduce poverty. Getting that first job, even an entry-level, minimum-wage job, is perhaps the single most important step that a poor person can take toward getting out of poverty. That’s why it is so disturbing that only around 30 percent of the families subject to TANF’s work requirements were in compliance in 2012 (even under a broad definition of work that includes education, job training, and job search). Europe appears to be waking up to how self-defeating anti-work policies are. When will we?
— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis.

Obama's Persistent Economic Malaise: An economy worse than any of his predecessors since FDR!

American Thinker ^ | 09/09/2015 | Jeffrey Folks 

The August jobs report was hardly reassuring.  On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported net job creation of 173,000, far below estimates.  There's no way to sugar-coat it, though White House officials attempted to do just that.  They pointed out that the unemployment rate had fallen to 5.1%.  But that was because another 200,000 workers had simply given up trying to find a good job.

Good jobs are not being created because economic expansion has stalled.  And expansion has stalled because Obama has presided over the greatest assault on free enterprise in our nation's history.  

It didn't have to be this way.  Obama's punitive tax and regulatory policies have caused businesses to rein in capital investment and have all but killed small business creation.  As two major economists recently pointed out, capital investment is "historically weak."  In fact, capital investment net of depreciation for 2013 was just 60% of what it was in 2006.  A recent survey found that only 35% of small business owners were optimistic about the U.S. economy.  American businesses are choosing not to invest because they have no confidence in Obama's policies, and barring new investment, the economy does not grow.

By contrast, Ronald Reagan cut taxes and reduced regulations, and the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 3.37% over eight years.  At the end of Reagan's second term, the U.S. economy had expanded by a cumulative 33%.  During the first six years of his presidency, Obama has generated a growth rate of 1.8%.  That amounts to cumulative growth of 15% over 8 years.  The Reagan economy was growing more than twice as fast.

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The White Vote and the GOP: Some activists believe minority votes don't matter, they may be right!

US News & World Reports' At The Edge Blog ^ | September 8, 2015 | Jeff Nesbit 

Is the white vote returning to American politics?
Four recent national polls all confirm what is likely to be the galvanizing force of the GOP presidential primary season at least through next spring and what is almost certainly behind Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" surge: an effort to bring disaffected white voters back to voting booths.
Nearly every political and social scientist in America has predicted for years that demographics are shifting inexorably against the Republican Party nationally -- that growing numbers of Hispanic and Millennial voters will join black voters in keeping the GOP from capturing the White House in 2016 without a shift in both rhetoric and policies at the federal level.
But they very well may be wrong, at least in the short term. Which may explain why Trump not only seems not to care that he's deeply angering (and offending) Hispanic voters with rhetoric about southern border walls and rapists, he's gambling that this sort of rhetoric will bring millions of white voters back into politics and the voting booth in 2016 for the GOP, checkmating the turnout of black, Hispanic and Millennial voters....
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