Money For Nothin’: Apparently not satisfied with the already disastrous condition of its finances, Chicago this week said it would like to experiment with a universal basic income, a socialist pipe-dream that pops up every few years as a “new” idea. It’s not. And it will never work.
Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar has already proposed legislation that would give 1,000 families $500 a month. The bill looks like a shoo-in, garnering support already from a majority of the Windy City’s lawmakers. Pawar is reportedly already working on the design of the program with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Chicago is the largest city yet to toy with this bad idea. There are many things that would help the working poor climb out of poverty. But a universal basic income (UBI), also called a guaranteed government income, isn’t one of them.
Yet, even some Continue reading
We used to make sure all Americans could lead a pretty good life
by Jon Margolis • Pittsburgh Post Gazette
One day last winter, Tom Ashbrook and his guests on his “On Point” public radio call-in program were talking about jobs and wages when a caller from Omaha named Valerie asked a blunt but valuable question.
Half the people, Valerie said, have an IQ of less than 100. “What do we do with all the ‘dumb’ people?” she wondered.
That sounds heartless, but Valerie didn’t seem to be scorning anyone as much as sympathizing with the increasingly bleak prospects some people are facing.
Valerie’s was not an original insight. Years earlier, the late columnist Murray Kempton noted that ours was a “society which, more lavishly than any in history, has managed the care and feeding of incompetent white people.” Continue reading
By Philip Bump • Washington Post
During Tuesday night’s Republican debate, Gerard Baker, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, posed a question to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.): “Does it matter at all that the gap between the rich and everyone else is widening?”
It does, Paul replied. And then he pointed a finger.
“I think that we ought to look where income inequality seems to be the worst. It seems to be worst in cities run by Democrats, … states run by Democrats and countries currently run by Democrats,” he said.
Data from the Census Bureau suggests that — at least on the states — he’s correct. (Since most large cities are run by Democrats and only one country has a Democratic leader, we’ll set those aside.) At right is a chart showing each state’s Gini coefficient in 2014, from the Census Bureau. Continue reading
Progressive policies do.
by Francis Menton • City Journal
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has left no doubt that he wants to be the nation’s preeminent spokesman for progressivism. Since unveiling his 13-point Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality in May, de Blasio has campaigned on the message that income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.” His key policy prescriptions are well known: more “affordable” housing, generous welfare programs, higher minimum wages, and income-tax hikes on high earners. However, if such policies actually reduced the gap between rich and poor, jurisdictions that have already adopted them would experience less income inequality. They don’t.
Last year, Bloomberg Rankings published a national study on income inequality, using U.S. Census Bureau income data to rank each of the 435 congressional districts by economists’ standard measure of inequality, the Gini coefficient. The study found high levels of income inequality in areas of the country known for their political progressivism. Topping the inequality list was New York’s tenth congressional district, which covers the West Side of Manhattan and Wall Street—including City Hall. Of the top 25 spots, 23 went to Democratic districts—and not just any Democratic districts. The five congressional districts covering some part of Manhattan earned the first, sixth, ninth, 13th, and 20th positions. Congressional districts in solidly liberal Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Berkeley placed in the Top 25. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district ranked 14th on the list, while Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Miami Beach district placed 23rd. All of those congressional districts have long been associated with progressive politics; most have long since adopted at least some of de Blasio’s policy prescriptions, including extensive public and affordable-housing programs, generous welfare programs, relatively high and progressive state and local income taxes, and higher minimum wages. Continue reading
Editorial Board • Wall Street Journal
One reading of the midterm election wave is that voters have concluded that President Obama ’s answer to falling incomes and slow growth—higher taxes on the rich and more redistribution—is tapped out. These policies have been up and running for six long years but the middle class is no better off as a result.
On taxes, Mr. Obama often claims that the rich don’t pay their “fair share,” yet the most affluent one-fifth of taxpayers on average supplied 68.7% of federal revenue for 2011. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which last week updated its statistics on the U.S. distribution of income and taxes for 2011 and preliminary calculations for last year.
As for the top 1%, they funded 24% of everything the government does in 2011. The CBO also estimates that the end-of-2012 fiscal cliff deal that lifted the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, plus ObamaCare’s taxes on high-income individuals, increased their average federal taxes by 4.3 percentage points to 33.3% of income. The Warren Buffett minimum-tax rule asserted that no millionaire should pay an effective tax below 30%. Mission accomplished. Continue reading
When it comes to Thomas Piketty’s Income Inequality Good-Time Jamboree, helping people is not really the point. Feeling better about yourself—and maybe even mentally positioning yourself as a victim now and then—is.
If you’ve ever met a Texan, you know that Texans love bragging about their state. You’ve probably heard the endless list—the bigness, the freedom, the trucks, the barbeque, the pride, the football—and, like many others, you’ve probably rolled your eyes. So please forgive me, for as a new-ish resident of the Lone Star State, I’d like to add one more item to that long, rambling list: No one in Texas seems to be talking all that much about Thomas Piketty.
If that name rings a bell, it’s because you’ve been reading the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, or basically anything on the Internet for the past few weeks. Piketty, described by the Times as “the latest overnight intellectual sensation,” is a French economist whose new book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”—you know, as opposed to the Kapital that Marx wrote about—bemoans income inequality, exposes various flaws in our global economy, and calls for confiscatory global wealth taxes in order to stop Richard Branson from having all that fun. Continue reading
While the White House has argued that the wage gap between men and women in the White House is better than the national average, it is far worst than the average in the District of Columbia.
The pay gap among women in the White House is more than twice as large as the average in the nation’s capital. Continue reading
Amid much fanfare, President Obama on Tuesday signs two executive orders designed to begin to narrow the wage gap between men and women. Never mind that the criteria generally used to measure such things are faulty and that the Obama administration doesn’t practice what it deceptively preaches. Continue reading
Once education, marital status and occupations are considered, the ‘gender wage gap’ all but disappears.
April 8 is “Equal Pay Day,” an annual event to raise awareness regarding the so-called gender wage gap. As President Obama said in the State of the Union address, women “still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns,” a claim echoed by the National Committee on Pay Equity, the American Association of University Women and other progressive groups. Continue reading
President Barack Obama is planning to sign two new executive actions aimed at narrowing the wage gap between men and women Tuesday, even as the Obama White House pays its female staffers less than men.
The first executive action will be an order banning federal contractors from retaliation against employees who disclose or ask about their wages, according to reports. His other executive action will require federal contractors to submit data to the government about their employees compensation by sex and race. Continue reading
by George F. Will
Someone who is determined to disbelieve something can manage to disregard an Everest of evidence for it. So Barack Obama will not temper his enthusiasm for increased equality with lucidity about the government’s role in exacerbating inequality.
In the movie “Animal House,” Otter, incensed by the expulsion of his fraternity, says: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture.” Such thinking gives us minimum-wage increases that do very little for very few. Meanwhile, there are farm bills, like the one Obama signed last month at Michigan State University.
MSU was one of the models for the land-grant colleges created under the 1862 Morrill Act, whose primary purpose was to apply learning to agriculture. Today, we apply crony capitalism to agriculture. The legislation Obama lavishly praised redistributes wealth upward by raising prices consumers pay. Vincent Smith of Montana State University says small non-farm businesses are almost 30 times more likely to fail than farms, partly because the $956 billion farm legislation continues agriculture’s thick safety net. The geyser of subsidies assures that farm households will continue to be 53 percent more affluent than average households. Continue reading
Income Inequality talk is not about helping the poor, its about trying to cling to power. Sadly, the American dream is in trouble precisely because of policies designed to win make career politicians, but not help grow the economy or increase opportunity.
by David A. Keene
President Obama has all but announced that this fall’s House and Senate campaigns should focus not on the collapse of American influence abroad, or on the continuing disaster that we know as Obamacare, or even on the apparent inability of his policies to create jobs, but on “income inequality.”
The mantra from the administration, like the rantings of the “Occupy” crowd and the new finger-pointing quasi-Marxist mayor of New York City, is that in today’s United States, it is impossible to get ahead unless one is born rich, works on Wall Street or finds some other way to profit from the misery of others.
Their rhetoric and proposed policies play on envy and remind one of the class warfare that has dominate European politics for so long. Continue reading
During a recent lunch in a restaurant, someone complimented my wife on the perfume she was wearing. But I was wholly unaware that she was wearing perfume, even though we had been in a car together for about half an hour, driving to the restaurant.
My sense of smell is very poor. But there is one thing I can smell far better than most people — gas escaping. During my years of living on the Stanford University campus, and walking back and forth to work at my office, I more than once passed a faculty house and smelled gas escaping. When there was nobody home, I would leave a note, warning them. Continue reading
President Obama’s State of the Union address will focus on “income inequality.” One can understand why he wants to change the subject from the very real problems America faces. His policies have made those problems worse. Obamacare has caused tens of thousands of Americans to lose their health plans and forced them into insurance exchanges that cost more and provide fewer doctor choices. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are still out of work and even more have stopped looking.
On the foreign policy front, the president and Secretary of State John Kerry remain determined to throw a lifeline to Iran’s sinking economy in exchange for vague promises of future cooperation on nuclear proliferation.
The president wants you to forget all that and now consider the plight of the poor. Sadly, he hasn’t done a very good job there either. That’s because his own actions as president have made the poor worse off. Reducing poverty has never been a major priority of this administration. Continue reading
Since this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty,” we can expect many comments and commemorations of this landmark legislation in the development of the American welfare state.
The actual signing of the “war on poverty” legislation took place in August 1964, so the 50th anniversary is some months away. But there have already been statements in the media and in politics proclaiming that this vast and costly array of anti-poverty programs “worked.”
Of course everything “works” by sufficiently low standards, and everything “fails” by sufficiently high standards. The real question is: What did the “war on poverty” set out to do — and how well did it do it, if at all? Continue reading