Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thomas MaCurdy: The Minimum-Wage Stealth Tax on the Poor - WSJ

Thomas MaCurdy: The Minimum-Wage Stealth Tax on the Poor - WSJ

My analysis, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, showed that the 1996 minimum-wage hike raised prices on a broad variety of goods and services. Food purchased outside of the home bore the largest share of the increased consumption costs, accounting for 21% with an average price increase of slightly less than of 2%; the next highest shares were around 10% for such commodities as retail services, groceries and household personal services.

Overall, the extra costs attributable to higher prices equaled 0.63% of the nondurable goods purchased by the poorest fifth of families and 0.52% of the goods purchased by the top fifth—with the percentage falling as the income level rose.

The higher prices, in other words, resembled a regressive value-added, or sales, tax, with rates rising the lower a family’s income. This is sharply contrary to normal tax policy. A typical state sales tax has a uniform rate—but with necessities such as food excluded, and this exclusion (which exists as well in countries with a value-added tax) is adopted expressly to lower the effective tax rate on consumption by people with lower incomes.

My analysis concludes that more poor families were losers than winners from the 1996 hike in the minimum wage. Nearly one in five low-income families benefited, but all low-income families paid for the increase through higher prices.

Consider a McDonald’s restaurant, often cited as ground zero in minimum wage debates. To cover costs of a mandated increase in the earnings of McDonald’s lowest-paid workers, customers pay more for the company’s food. The distributional question becomes: Which group comes from the least well-off families: McDonald’s customers or its lowest-paid workers? Economy-wide evidence shows that the customers disproportionately come from low-income families.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain? | National Review Online

Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain? | National Review Online

“Put it all together and you might say that Columbus was the inventor of the American dream,” Reagan said. “Yes, Columbus Day is an American holiday, a day to celebrate not only an intrepid searcher but the dreams and opportunities that brought so many here after him and all that they and all immigrants have given to this land.” 
That’s a hell of an endorsement. But what of the accusations of disaster and genocide brought against Columbus? Should we indict the man, his voyages, and, in turn, ourselves and our country for the all that followed from contact between the Old World and the New? 
Arthur Schlesinger thought we should have a bit of perspective: “Revisionism redresses the balance up to a point; but, driven by Western guilt, it may verge on masochism.” 
Columbus, Schlesinger believes, might have benefited from a bit of perspective as well: “Had Columbus foreseen even a portion of all the sins he would be held accountable for five centuries later, he might never have bothered to discover America.” 
Let us dispense with any pretense that the indigenous peoples of the Americas lived in a peaceful idyll in harmony with their neighbors and with nature, and that the advent of Columbus destroyed a noble paradise. The great civilizations of the Western Hemisphere were indeed advanced, and yet, like Europeans, Asians, and Africans, the American peoples used their technology to subjugate. Anyone familiar with the expansionist and warlike cultures of the Aztec and Inca Empires should know that the tables would have been turned had it been the New World that “discovered” the Old and possessed the power to conquer it. Human nature, tainted with original sin, is what it is and has been — of that we can be certain. 
Europeans, beginning with Columbus, treated the Indians pitilessly — that should not be whitewashed or forgotten — but, in the same way, we should not ignore the genuine good that has come down to us as a result of the course of human events — namely, the space for a unique idea to grow and flourish: the self-government of a free people, with an ever-expanding idea of who can partake of that promise.


How much is Columbus personally responsible for all of this — for the good and the ill? Only as much as any one man can be. As the historian William J. Connell has written, “What Columbus gets criticized for nowadays are attitudes that were typical of the European sailing captains and merchants who plied the Mediterranean and the Atlantic in the 15th century. Within that group he was unquestionably a man of daring and unusual ambition.” 
Connell concluded that “what really mattered was his landing on San Salvador, which was a momentous, world-changing occasion such as has rarely happened in human history.” 
Unlike Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Columbus Day marks an event — landfall in the New World — not one man’s birthday. As such, it is akin to the greatest American holiday, Independence Day. The two serve as important markers in our journey as a people: the opening act and, then, the promissory note of our long and complicated struggle.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Australia Model -- Obama's Proposal | National Review Online

Did the Australian model at least reduce gun-related homicides? That is hotly disputed. University of Melbourne researchers Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi concluded their 2008 report on the matter with the statement, “There is little evidence to suggest that [the Australian mandatory gun-buyback program] had any significant effects on firearm homicides.”  

“Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public’s fears,” the reported continued, “the evidence so far suggests that in the Australian context, the high expenditure incurred to fund the 1996 gun buyback has not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths.”  

A 2007 report, “Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?” by Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran similarly concluded that the buyback program did not have a significant long-term effect on the Australian homicide rate.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Minimum wage vs poverty?

Does poverty need an increase in the minimum wage to address it?
How does the income on the minimum wage compare with the poverty line?

For the moment, let’s set aside the economic debate over whether the minimum wage costs jobs. (The CBOmajority of economists, and majority of empirical studies pretty much say it all.)
Instead, let’s address Sanders and Warren's moral argument for hiking the minimum wage to such levels: that “no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.” 

Also, links to evidence that mitigates against the "cherry picked data" argument.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Falling Murder Rates: An Artifact of Better Trauma Care or Falling Crime? by Clayton E. Cramer :: SSRN

Falling Murder Rates: An Artifact of Better Trauma Care or Falling Crime? by Clayton E. Cramer :: SSRN

Abstract: In some circles, the dramatic fall in U.S.. murder rates since 1980 is not evidence of falling crime rates but improved trauma care for gunshot victims. This paper demonstrates that the decline in murder rates is caused by reductions in violent crime rates.

The Facts About Pope’s Meeting With Kim Davis - Matt Barber - Page full

The Facts About Pope’s Meeting With Kim Davis - Matt Barber - Page full

On Wednesday the Vatican confirmed what a handful of us knew days before. Pope Francis secretly (and privately) met with Kim Davis at Washington’s Vatican Embassy to personally offer his broad support for her bold stand against that insidious and “intrinsically disordered” counterfeit called “gay marriage.”

Does Pope Francis really support Kim Davis?

While specifics of Davis’ legal case were not discussed during the private meeting, days later Pope Francis publicly affirmed Kim’s “human right” as a “conscientious objector” to refuse to sign her name to “gay marriage” licenses – even in her official capacity as an elected official. This human right, incidentally, is an unalienable right protected by the First Amendment. “Stay strong,” the pope told Kim after the two embraced during the tearful meeting. He thanked her for her courage and asked her to pray for him. She likewise asked him to pray for her. These facts are not in dispute.

On Friday the Vatican issued another statement to clarify what was, or, better still, was not, discussed during the meeting: “The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.

As Austin Ruse of notes, “The Vatican spokesman chose his words carefully. By stating that the meeting should not be considered support for her position ‘in all of its particular and complex aspects,’ Lombardi is allowing the notion that the meeting can be understood as general support for Davis’ cause, but not necessarily papal support for every detailed aspect of the legal case.”

Indeed, neither Kim Davis nor anyone on her legal team ever suggested that the pope supports, or is even aware of, “her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” Still, based upon his own words and the official position of the Catholic Church, we can know, for sure, of at least three “positions” on which the pope does support Kim Davis. They are: 1) Homosexual behavior is sin; 2) Marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman; and 3) No “human person,” whether a government official or not, should be forced to violate his or her conscience by affirming sin-based “gay marriage.”

Who asked for the meeting?

There has likewise been much speculation and liberal wishful thinking as to how this meeting came about, with some pundits desperately clinging to hopes that the pontiff was “actually swindled into meeting Kim Davis.”

Let’s end the speculation.

Vatican officials reached out, unsolicited, to Davis through her attorney, Mat Staver, and arranged the meeting out of the blue before Pope Francis even arrived in the U.S. for his whirlwind tour. The Davis team was led to believe that the request came from the pope himself. Not only did Pope Francis know who Kim Davis was when he told reporters on the plane ride home that conscientious objectors have a “human right” to decline participation in sodomy-based “marriage,” he had personally met Kim privately, and embraced her both physically and ideologically, before he did so.

The meeting was temporarily kept “secret” during the pope’s visit so as to avoid the predictable media circus that would, and later did, ensue. Both Davis’ representatives and the Vatican agreed that news of the meeting would be released upon the pope’s departure. He wasn’t “embarrassed” by the meeting, as some have suggested, but, rather, held it discreetly for logistical reasons alone.

What does the pope believe about homosexuality and “gay marriage”?

While protestant Christians obviously don’t agree with Pope Francis and the Catholic Church on everything, all faithful Christians, both protestant and Catholic alike, are nonetheless indebted to him for validating Kim’s courageous obedience to God. By extension, the pope has likewise validated every other Christian who refuses to be forced to participate in, or otherwise affirm, this sinful pagan rite. “Gay marriage” is an affront to Christ, the Church and God’s natural order. No faithful believer who wishes to remain in obedience to God can have anything to do with it.

But why? Why is “gay marriage” an affront to God? Why must Christians oppose it?

While the reasons are manifold, it seems most wish to avoid the primary issue surrounding any discussion on “same-sex marriage.” That is, the fundamental wrongness of homosexual behavior itself. If homosexual behavior is not wrong, as it goes, then what justification is there for refusing to redefine marriage around it?

But it is wrong. It’s always, and in every way, wrong.

So says the pope.

So says the Bible.

And, most importantly, so says the very Creator of marriage itself.

On the question of homosexual sin, the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a clear and biblically sound summation: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

And so Kim Davis refuses to approve them.