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Venezuela’s New Assembly Declares Itself All-Powerful

Constitutional Assembly delegate Carmen Melendez speaks from the podium during a session in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. The government-backed assembly that is recasting Venezuela's political system filed into the stately domed chamber where congress normally meets. In two previous sessions, the 545-member assembly met in an adjacent, smaller building. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS (AP) — The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled Congress.

That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system.

Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in Congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly.

“We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.”

Leaders of Congress, which previously voted not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.

The opposition to President Nicolas Maduro also faced another fight Wednesday before the government-stacked Supreme Court, which scheduled a hearing on charges against a Caracas-area opposition mayor. The judges convicted another mayor Tuesday for failing to move against protesters during four months of political unrest.

In calling the July 30 election for the constitutional assembly, Maduro said a new constitution would help resolve the nation’s political standoff, but opposition leaders view it as a power grab and the president’s allies have said they will go after his opponents. Before its decree declaring itself all-powerful, the assembly ousted Venezuela’s outspoken chief prosecutor, established a “truth commission” expected to target Maduro’s foes and pledged “support and solidarity” with the unpopular president.

The latest surge of protests began in early April in reaction to a quickly rescinded attempt by the government-supporting Supreme Court to strip the National Assembly of its powers. But the unrest ballooned into a widespread movement fed by anger over Venezuela’s triple-digest inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and high crime.

Opposition lawmakers said security forces led by Rodriguez broke into the congress building late Monday and seized control of an unused, ceremonial chamber almost identical to the one where lawmakers meet.

“This government invades the spaces that it is not capable of legitimately winning,” Stalin Gonzalez, an opposition lawmaker, wrote on Twitter, alluding to the opposition’s overwhelming victory in the 2015 congressional elections.

Before the assembly met Tuesday, the pro-government Supreme Court sentenced a Caracas-area mayor to 15 months in prison for not following an order to remove barricades set up during anti-government demonstrations. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Ben Shapiro: Venezeula Collapses, the Left Pretends it’s Never Heard of That Place 


BREAKING: Fidel Castro Health Update


[VIDEO] How Venezuela Perfected Marxist Socialism


[VIDEO] Felipe Moura Brasil: How Socialism Ruined My Country

 


President Maduro Dances Salsa While Venezuela Suffers

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With hunger and violent crime gripping the country and the opposition calling for his head, this is Maduro’s new strategy for winning hearts and minds. That is an uphill battle; most Venezuelans would like him to leave power.

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuelans are running short of food, medicine and patience, but fear not: President Nicolas Maduro is here to cheer them up — by dancing salsa.

“People say I’m crazy for dancing salsa.” 

— President Nicolas Maduro

Grinning under his black mustache, the burly, towering socialist swivels his hips and twirls his wife Cilia Flores in front of the cameras.

“Hands up everybody who dances salsa! Admit it, we’re all crazy!”

“People say I’m crazy for dancing salsa,” he said on one recent broadcast.

“Hands up everybody who dances salsa! Admit it, we’re all crazy!”

With hunger and violent crime gripping the country and the opposition calling for his head, this is Maduro’s new strategy for winning hearts and minds. That is an uphill battle; most Venezuelans would like him to leave power.

“He is ridiculous. It’s offensive. He is laughing at the people. Instead of spending money on television programs, he should be bringing us medicine.”

— Euro Bermudez, 62, coming out of a bank in Caracas after collecting his pension

Wednesday was a case in point as Maduro celebrated his 54th birthday with a live performance by old-school salsa greats El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico.

“What a surprise!” the president exclaimed before taking the first lady for a spin, dancing to the classic “Me libere.”

A former bus driver, Maduro has often sung and danced at campaign rallies.

But his continued capering amid the crisis, and his recent launch of a dedicated salsa radio show, seem like bad taste to some weary citizens.

“He is ridiculous. It’s offensive. He is laughing at the people,” said Euro Bermudez, 62, coming out of a bank in Caracas after collecting his pension.

“Instead of spending money on television programs, he should be bringing us medicine.”

Spoof photo “memes” of Maduro online have shown him dancing in various inappropriate settings: at the scene of a crime or in a long queue for food. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Thomas Sowell: What People Get Wrong About Poverty

Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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Modern Socialist Success Story: Venezuelans Celebrate Spectacular Economic Abundance, Party Hard in the Streets of Caracas

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A forceful repudiation of the leftist politics that are falling out of favor across Latin America.

…The demonstration, aimed at speeding up a recall campaign against the 53-year-old president, was also a forceful repudiation of the leftist politics that are falling out of favor across Latin America.

At its peak in 2008, the left held the presidencies of eight of the 10 most populous countries in South and Central America. But those regimes have lost popularity as steep drops in commodity prices badly damaged their economies and left less money to spend on the poor.

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Candidates from the right recently won the presidencies of Argentina and Peru, and just this week, Dilma Rousseff was permanently ousted from the presidency in Brazil in an impeachment trial engineered by opponents from the right who now control the government.

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But nowhere in Latin America has the rise and fall of the left been as dramatic as in Venezuela, a country that has been on the brink of collapse for the last several months.

Venezuela had its own brand of socialism, known as Chauvismo for Hugo Chavez, the charismatic leader who was elected president in 1998 in a rejection of free-market policies that were encouraged by the United States but failed to deliver on their promise of wider prosperity. Read the rest of this entry »


Tax Rates Now & Tax Rates Under Bernie

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[CHART] Share of the World Population Living in Absolute Poverty, 1820-2011

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Global Poverty Below 10% for First Time Ever

For the first time, extreme poverty has fallen below 10% of the global population.

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The new global poverty line uses updated price data to paint a more accurate picture of the costs of basic food, clothing and shelter needs around the world. In other words, the real value of $1.90 in today’s prices is the same as $1.25 was in 2005.

[Read the full story here, at Business Insider]

East Asian and Pacific regions have made the most progress. In 1990 just over 60% of the population lived in poverrty. Today that number is estimated at 4.1%. South Asia has also shown progress, moving from 51% to 13.5%, while sub-Saharan Africa remains the most challenged by poverty with 35.2% of the population living on less than $1.90 a day.

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Investments in education, health and social safety, in addition to strong growth in developing countries,have been mainly responsible for the rapid decline in global poverty. “This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »


‘It Really Is Shameful how Little America Does to Help the Poor and Needy. I Bet a New Government Program Could Fix That’

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The Slow Decline of America Since LBJ Launched the Great Society

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May 16, 2014George F. Will writes: Standing on his presidential limousine, Lyndon Johnson, campaigning in Providence, R.I., in September 1964, bellowed through a bullhorn: “We’re in favor of a lot of things and we’re against mighty few.” This was a synopsis of what he had said four months earlier.

“In 1964, 76 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing “just about always or most of the time”; today, 19 percent do. The former number is one reason Johnson did so much; the latter is one consequence of his doing so.”

Fifty years ago this Thursday, at the University of Michigan, Johnson had proposed legislating into existence a Great Society. It would end poverty and racial injustice, “but that is just the beginning.” It would “rebuild the entire urban United States” while fending off “boredom and restlessness,” slaking “the hunger for community” and enhancing “the meaning of our lives” — all by assembling “the best thought and the broadest knowledge.”

In 1964, 76 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing “just about always or most of the time”; today, 19 percent do. The former number is one reason Johnson did so much; the latter is one consequence of his doing so.

[Read the full text here, at the Washington Post]

Barry Goldwater, Johnson’s 1964 opponent who assumed that Americans would vote to have a third president in 14 months, suffered a landslide defeat. After voters rebuked FDR in 1938 for attempting to 41npsm-1StL._SL250_“pack” the Supreme Court, Republicans and Southern Democrats prevented any liberal legislating majority in Congress until 1965. That year, however, when 68 senators and 295 representatives were Democrats, Johnson was unfettered.

[Order the book “The Great Society at Fifty: The Triumph and the Tragedy” from Amazon.com]

He remains, regarding government’s role, much the most consequential 20th-century president. Indeed, the American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt, in his measured new booklet The Great Society at Fifty: The Triumph and the Tragedy,” says LBJ, more than FDR, “profoundly recast the common understanding of the ends of governance.”

When Johnson became president in 1963, Social Security was America’s only nationwide social program. His programs and those they subsequently legitimated put the nation on the path to the present, in which changed social norms — dependency on government has been destigmatized — have changed America’s national character.

Between 1959 and 1966 — before the War on Poverty was implemented — the percentage of Americans living in poverty plunged by about one-third, from 22.4 to 14.7, slightly lower than in 2012. But, Eberstadt cautions, the poverty rate is “incorrigibly misleading” because government transfer payments have made income levels and consumption levels significantly different. Read the rest of this entry »


Jesus’plaining

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Peter Moruzzi: Havana Before Castro, When Cuba was a Tropical Playground

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[VIDEO] Trade-Offs of a High Minimum Wage

Watch WPC’s new short video on the undeniable trade-offs of a high minimum wage through the eyes of employees and small business owners in Washington state.

 


How Martin O’Malley Created Today’s #Baltimore

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[NRO]


‘I Am Pol Pot, and I Approved This Message’

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New York Residents Talk Secession in Regards to Big Fracking Upset

A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty December 10, 2014 near the United Nations in New York. New Yorkers gathered to demand that world governments address the serious threat global warming poses to human rights. This event coincides with a UN meeting in Lima, Peru, a part of the 2014-15 negotiations for a global climate treaty. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT/Getty

A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty December 10, 2014 near the United Nations in New York. New Yorkers gathered to demand that world governments address the serious threat global warming poses to human rights. This event coincides with a UN meeting in Lima, Peru, a part of the 2014-15 negotiations for a global climate treaty. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT/Getty

TIME

One could argue America was conceived from intense frustration that ultimately led to separation. Fed up with what they perceived as excessive control by the Crown, colonists to the “New England,” in essence, seceded in 1776, and thus the United States was born.

Now, there is a renewed and growing secession conversation brewing in the New England region, this time fueled by a commodity: Natural gas. Infuriated by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s December decision to permanently instill a ban against hydraulic fracture stimulation, or fracking, residents in 15 communities in the Southern Tier of New York are discussing the possibility of redrawing the border between New York and Pennsylvania.

Most affected are communities that lie along the east-west line between the Empire and Keystone states. Dairy farms dot the landscape, and in Pennsylvania, where fracking is encouraged, farmers are building new barns, buying new equipment and communities are adding schools and…

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Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan: For Gender Equality, You Can’t Beat Capitalism

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The March 8 commemoration has Communist roots, but capitalism by far has done more for gender equality

Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan write: International Women’s Day, commemorated annually on March 8, has become a celebration of women’s achievements in politics, business and the arts. This year, events are scheduled in at least 86 countries, with nearly 180 in the United States alone. These ceremonies, speeches and workshops will examine nearly every aspect of women’s lives, but few, if any, will note International Women’s Day’s origins in American socialism and Eastern European communism.

“As compared with men, women in economically freer countries hold more elected seats in government, have longer life expectancies, achieve higher education levels, and earn higher incomes than do women in less economically free countries. In short, in freer economies, women’s lives are longer, more prosperous and more self-directed.”

The day was first declared by the American Socialist Party in 1909 and, in 1917, it set into motion a sequence of events that would become Russia’s February Revolution. Female workers went on strike that day to achieve “bread and peace” in the face of World War I. Leon Trotsky later concluded that this event inaugurated the revolution.

Repeat GOP candidate Mia Love, who would be the first African-American Republican woman in Congress if she won, is now the biggest early favorite to become a House freshman in 2015, though Matheson's decision could spur some more GOP interest in the seat.

“There is no better time to note these facts than on International Women’s Day. A celebration that was once simple Communist propaganda can, and should, be repurposed to celebrate the forces that actually lift people out of poverty and inequality.”

Socialist leaders used International Women’s Day ostensibly to highlight their commitment to gender equity. Yet contrary to its socialist origins, more than 100 years of evidence since the first International Women’s Day suggests that free markets are the single best solution to inequity, gender or otherwise.

On this the data are unmistakable. And the Fraser Institute and the United Nations Development Program have more than enough from which to draw clear conclusions.

“The evidence suggests that equality doesn’t come at the end of the government’s gun, but at the end of the free market’s handshake.”

In its annual Economic Freedom of the World Report, the Fraser Institute, a Canadian free-market think tank, assesses degrees of economic freedom within countries. The United Nations Development Program, in its Human Development Reports, evaluates countries’ degrees of gender equality. Fraser does not consider equality when ranking economies according to economic freedom, and the U.N. does not consider economic freedom when ranking economies according to equality. But when the two reports are combined, a fascinating pattern emerges. Read the rest of this entry »


Photographing Black Lives in America’s South

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TIME

I suspect that few are aware of the accomplishments of Baldwin Lee, who, photographing in the South 30 years ago, produced a body of work that is among the most remarkable in American photography of the past half century.

In the early 1970s, Lee studied photography with Minor White at MIT and then with Walker Evans at Yale. He became Evans’ printer, and afterwards began to teach photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and then at Yale. Lee took a cross-country photo trip with former classmate Philip Lorca-DiCorcia in 1981 and a year later joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee. He retired last year.

When Baldwin Lee first arrived in the south, he did not know what he would photograph. He took a 2,000-mile exploratory trip on the back roads photographing anything that interested him with his 4 x 5-inch view camera. “My subjects included landscapes, cityscapes…

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Number of People Dying Fom Malnutrition – 3.1 million; Number of People Who died from GMO? Zero


Rumors About Fidel Castro’s Death Again Circulate on the Internet

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MEXICO CITY — Rumors about the death of Fidel Castro — an age-old ritual for Cuba-watchers — once again began circulating on and off the island this week.

It’s true that Castro hasn’t been seen in public in about a year, and it’s been a few months since one of his last columns were published. Castro, 88, has not said one public word about the historic announcement by President Obama last month about his goal of moving toward normal relations with Cuba after a half-century Cold War stand-off.

Twitter went wild Thursday night with speculation about his demise. Why? There are rumors about that, too. One of them is that another Fidel Castro, this one the son of a prominent Kenyan politician, died a few days ago (Fidel Castro Odinga of Nairobi), and maybe this was all a social media mash-up of mistaken identity. Read the rest of this entry »


Socialist Panic: Falling Oil Prices Risks Driving Venezuela’s Economy Off the Edge


War on Poverty After 50 Years: Conditions of the Poor in America

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In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled to release its annual poverty report. The report will be notable because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. In his January 1964 State of the Union address, Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”[1]

Since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs (in constant 2012 dollars). Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all military wars in U.S. history since the American Revolution. Despite this mountain of spending, progress against poverty, at least as measured by the government, has been minimal.

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The Welfare–Poverty Paradox

This week, the Census Bureau will most likely report that the poverty rate last year was about 14 percent, essentially the same rate as in 1967, three years after the War on Poverty was announced. As Chart 1 shows, according to the Census, there has been no net progress in reducing poverty since the mid to late 1960s. Since that time, the poverty rate has undulated slowly, falling by two to three percentage points during good economic times and rising by a similar amount when the economy slows. Overall, the trajectory of official poverty for the past 45 years has been flat or slightly upward.

The static nature of poverty is especially surprising because (as Chart 1 also shows) poverty fell dramatically during the period before the War on Poverty began. In 1950, the poverty rate was 32.2 percent. By 1965 (the first year during which any War on Poverty programs began to operate), the rate had been cut nearly in half to 17.3 percent.[2]

The unchanging poverty rate for the past 45 years is perplexing because anti-poverty or welfare spending during that period has simply exploded. As Chart 2 shows, means-tested welfare spending has soared since the start of the War on Poverty. In fiscal year 2013, the federal government ran over 80 means-tested welfare programs that provided cash, food, housing, medical care, and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans.

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Overall, 100 million individuals—nearly one in three Americans—received benefits from at least one of these programs. Federal and state governments spent $943 billion in 2013 on these programs at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. (Again, Social Security and Medicare are not included in the totals.)

Today, government spends 16 times more, adjusting for inflation, on means-tested welfare or anti-poverty programs than it did when the War on Poverty started. But as welfare spending soared, the decline in poverty came to a grinding halt. As Chart 2 shows, the more the government spent, the less progress against poverty was made. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Exceeds Peter Wehner’s Expectations

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Source: Commentary Magazine


Obamacare: Can’t Get Rid of It

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Blue State Girl for Paul Ryan


The Left at War: With Economic Reality

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Kevin D. Williamson  writes:  The Left is at war with economic reality. The intellectual poverty of the Left — which is also a moral poverty — is evident in the fact that its leaders are much more intensely interested in incomes at the top than those at the bottom. Examples are not difficult to come by: Senator Elizabeth Warren is visibly agitated by JamieDimon’s recent raise, the AFL-CIO maintains a website dedicated to executive compensation, Barack Obama avows that “at a certain point, you’ve made enough money,” et cetera ad nauseam. The entire rhetoric of inequality is simply an excuse to rage about incomes at the top, a generation’s worth of progressive shenanigans having failed to do much about those at the bottom.

 [Kevin D. Williamson’s book The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome, find it at Amazon]

It is the case that incomes at the top have gone up while those in the middle and at the bottom have stagnated or declined in real terms. It is not the case that incomes at the top have gone up because those in the middle and at the bottom have stagnated or declined, nor is it the case that incomes in the middle and at the bottom have stagnated or declined because incomes at the top have gone up. There is a relationship between the two phenomena, but it is not the relationship that progressives imagine it to be.

Read the rest of this entry »


American Idle

Work was supposed to be liberating…

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Now nonwork is

James Taranto writes:  Annie Lowrey, an economics reporter for the New York Times, has an essay in this coming weekend’s Times magazine rebutting what she calls “the policy solution du jour” to the problem of “how to alleviate poverty”–namely, “marriage promotion.” She makes a good case that the argument she’s rebutting is fallacious, then concludes by committing the same fallacy in reverse.

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“Economists have done studies showing that if you snapped your fingers and suddenly all the country’s poor, unmarried partners were hitched . . . the poverty rate would drop,” a catchy if imprecise way of saying that there is a strong correlation between marriage and prosperity. “It’s a rare policy solution that data-crunching geeks and Bible-thumping crusaders can agree on,” she writes. “Unfortunately, there might not be much that Washington can actually do about it.” Read the rest of this entry »


Left-Wing Support for Food Stamp Fraud Reaches Absurd New Heights

Here’s the alarmist headline:

Requiring an ID to Eat?! The Right-Wing’s Next Crazy Plot Against Low-Income Americans

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Those crazy evil selfish racist Right-wingers are at it again. Here we go. Their hatred of poor people knows no limits! How can they live with themselves? Taking bread right out of the mouths of disadvantaged people with no identity!  It’s a crazy, wicked, evil RIGHT WING PLOT!

“Under a bill Vitter introduced Wednesday , beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be denied their food if they are unable to show a photographic identification card at the register. For millions of low-income Americans who don’t have an official photo ID and can’t necessarily afford to buy one, Vitter’s bill would mean being cut off from their primary food source.”

The Institutional Left is Completely Freaked Out at Suggestion of Showing I.D. to Access Benefits

If that’s really a concern, what about the hundreds of millions of people with jobs and incomes who would be denied food, housing, and basic services, unless they used cash-only for every transaction? Good grief, they would starve! This must be a sinister left-wing plot! Mass starvation, no heat, no safe place to sleep, nothing. Unless all working and non-working people use cash-only for every food purchase, and every transaction necessary to sustain life, there’s no way to avoid it. Mass starvation and homelessness is clearly their secret agenda. (just trying out the inflammatory liberal logic. Looks pretty silly, doesn’t it?)

Really. Who doesn’t have some way to identify themselves when they interact in the marketplace? This is true whether your income is from having a job, and working, or if your income is exclusively from government benefits.

This is the left’s favorite alarmist false crisis. The delusion that there’s a sinister right-wing plot to harm the poor. Their view? It’s a crime to criticize or question the welfare state.

Read the rest of this entry »


How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married

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In families headed by married couples, the poverty level in 2012 was just 7.5%. Those with a single mother: 33.9%

brideAri Fleischer  writes:  If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he groomshould focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family. A man mostly raised by a single mother and his grandparents who defied the odds to become president of the United States is just the person to take up the cause.

“Marriage inequality” should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t. According to Census Bureau information analyzed by the Beverly LaHaye Institute, among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty. By contrast, when families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.

And the number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America. A 2012 study by the Heritage Foundation found that 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%. In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it

The greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it

  writes:  Everybody’s featuring their “graphs and charts of the year,” like The Atlantic and the Washington Post (be sure to see Vice-President Joe Biden’s “Graph of the Year” on Amtrak ridership). Well, the chart above could perhaps qualify as the “chart of the century” because it illustrates one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: the 80% reduction in world poverty in only 36 years, from 26.8% of the world’s population living on $1 or less (in 1987 dollars) in 1970 to only 5.4% in 2006. (Source: The 2009 NBER working paper “Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income,” by economists Maxim Pinkovskiy (MIT) and Xavier Sala-i-Martin (Columbia University).

What accounts for this great achievement that you never hear about? AEI president Arthur Brooks explains in the video above, summarized here:

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Are the Poor Getting Poorer?

People often say that “the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.” Economics professor Steve Horwitz explains why in the United States, this characterization is largely a myth.

Read the rest of this entry »


Scenes of Privation out of Charles Dickens Haunt Us Today

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WASHINGTON — Donald Lambro writes:   In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” there is a heart-wrenching scene of the struggling Cratchit family’s meager meal that included a small goose and a tiny plum pudding.

The family is barely scraping by on the minuscule wages paid by the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Dickens describes “one small atom of a bone upon the dish” that remained on the table, followed by a “speckled cannon-ball” of blazing pudding with a sprig of holly stuck on top that ended the skimpy Christmas Eve dinner.

“But nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so,” Dickens observes.

Such was the daily life of want and hunger among the poor population in 18th-century London. With so many mouths to feed, Mrs. Cratchit managed to stretch what little they had to eat with a few potatoes and some applesauce.

Here in the world’s wealthiest country, some may think that such bleak circumstances are long since past or very rare. But they’re not. Millions of our fellow citizens are still struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Read the rest of this entry »


The New Segregation

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Kevin D. Williamson writes:  If you divided American families into six graduated income groups — poor, low-income, lower-middle, upper-middle, high-income, and affluent — and took a trip in time back to the Age of Disco, you’d find that nearly two-thirds of all American families lived in neighborhoods with median incomes in the middle two groups: lower-middle and upper-middle. Return to the present day, and you’ll find that fewer than half of American families live in middle-income neighborhoods. Progressives wringing their hands over consistently misinterpreted income figures need not go so far as Wall Street boardrooms for evidence of the economic inequality that troubles them so — they need only look next door.

Those are the findings of Kendra Bischoff of Cornell University and Sean F. Reardon of Stanford University in their recent study “Residential Segregation by Income, 1970–2009,” published by the Russell Sage Foundation. The results, if not exactly surprising, are nonetheless troubling. Neighborhoods marked by a mix of residents in the fat middle of the economic bell curve are growing proportionally smaller, while both high-income and low-income neighborhoods grow proportionally more populous. The Bischoff-Reardon study, unlike many others of its kind, does not examine households but families, meaning households in which children and their guardians are present. (A household, for U.S. Census purposes, can be anything from an extended family to a single person to six young hipsters sharing a Brooklyn loft.) That is important in that the consequences of income segregation are likely to be felt most strongly by children. Our antique Prussian factory model of education still ensures that most children’s educational options are limited by geography (the best efforts of reformers notwithstanding), and the likelihood that children will encounter peers in an organized sports league, church group, or school who are from better-off families are much more circumscribed than are the opportunities of adults to move beyond their immediate geographic horizons. The most important social habits are learned, but they are not taught; children pick them up from those around them, the same way they pick up language.

Read the rest of this entry »


‘Death Spiral’ Preview

Twitter / NorahODonnell: .@janCBS: @CBSNews 


Reality Check: Standard of Living Steadily Improving

When we measure by consumption, it’s clear people are better off today than they were 30 years ago.

iPhones for sale at the Apple Store in Manhattan.

iPhones for sale at the Apple Store in Manhattan.

Aparna Mathur reports: Commenting on the state of the economy at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Oakland, Calif., former president Jimmy Carter recently said that “the disparity between rich people and poor people in America has increased dramatically” and that “the middle class has become more like poor people than they were 30 years ago.” These sentiments are commonly echoed across the country as the effects of the most damaging economic slump since the Depression continue into their sixth year.

The Census Bureau’s “Income and Poverty” report, released in September, underscored that the economic recovery has largely failed to reach the poor and middle class. However, there is a subtle but substantive difference between stating that inequality is worse today than it was 30 years ago, and that people are worse off today than they were 30 years ago. Rising inequality does not preclude an improvement in standards of living at the bottom of the income distribution.

Stepping back from the traditional debate about income inequality, Kevin Hassett and I recently co-authored a study that focuses on changes in material standards of living over the last 30 years. Consumption of goods and services is often a far better measure of household welfare than is income. What we buy and consume with our income directly adds to our utility and happiness, and it also has a direct impact on our standard of living. Read the rest of this entry »


Tumblr Image of the Day

Tumblr Image of the Day


Study: NY Welfare Recipients Eligible For More In Benefits Than Teachers Earn

new study finds that a New York mother of two is eligible for $38,004 in welfare benefits–a sum more than the annual salary of a New York entry-level school teacher.

The study, conducted by the CATO Institute, says in many states welfare pays better than work. Topping the list of wage-equivalent benefits for a mother and two children was Hawaii at $60,590. Idaho came in last with $11,150.

The study found that 33 states and the District of Columbia offer welfare benefits that pay recipients more than an $8-an-hour job would. Twelve states and the District of Columbia offer welfare packages that pay better than a $15-an-hour job does…

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“Economic freedom and the prosperity it generates reduces poverty like nothing else”

Ted Cruz at Hillsdale

 BY ERIKA JOHNSEN

President Obama’s lecture commencement speech to the Naval Academy graduates on Friday left behind such a poor and lingering aftertaste, I thought this commencement speech from Sen. Ted Cruz to the graduates of Hillsdale might make a nice sort of belated palate cleanser. Sen. Cruz’s message was all about the inherent virtues of freedom, the American meritocracy, and the accompanying economic mobility, in which people’s rises and falls are directly related to their “talent, passion, perseverance, and willingness to fight for the American dream.” The best part about it all, of course, is that by pursuing and developing your own unique talents and interests, you are helping to contribute to the type of robust economic growth that is truest and most efficient method for lifting people out of poverty, no matter how much big-government progressive types will extoll the virtues of collectivism and “shared sacrifice” and equality of outcomes. Those fake virtues are inhibitors to economic growth, and “more and more government is not the answer. To say otherwise is to ignore the fact that all major European nations have higher levels of public spending than the United States does, and that all of them are poorer. Human beings are not happiest when they’re taken care of by the state. Areas under the yoke of dependency on government are among the least joyish parts of our society. The story of Julia is not an attractive utopia. We all flourish instead when afforded opportunity, the ability to work and create and accomplish. Economic growth and opportunity is the answer that works.” Enjoy:

Via Hot Air