DOJ’s Zero Tolerance Of Zero Tolerance

A Justice Department report critical of the Baltimore police missed the point. So did those who praised and faulted it. [Credit: NY Post]

A Justice Department report critical of the Baltimore police missed the point. So did those who praised and faulted it. [Credit: NY Post]

The Department of Justice report on Baltimore police practices has prompted predictable reactions from Left and Right.

The report confirmed suspicions on the Left that police unconstitutionally harassed African-American males. From the Right came reflexive defenses of the police.

Both have a point.  And both miss the point.  As does the report itself. Continue reading

Obamacare And The Daughters of (40% Less) Charity

The President last week professed his love -- appropriately chaste, of course -- for Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association and tireless Obamacare advocate.  [Credit: Wikipedia]

The President last week professed his love — appropriate and chaste, of course — for Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association and tireless Obamacare advocate. [Credit: Wikipedia]

I just love nuns generally.  I’m just saying.  – President Obama, June 9

And nuns just love him too.  At least nuns who run hospitals seem to.  And with good reason: the President advocates policies that enable hospitals like those operated by the Daughters of Charity to provide less charity.  Continue reading

The GOP’s Gift To Henry Waxman — Part II

Cold War era Congressman Chet Holifield wanted the federal government to finance a network of underground bomb shelters.  His successor, Henry Waxman, wanted the federal government to take over health care. Holifield failed; Waxman is still doing just fine.  [Credit: NY Times]

Cold War era Congressman Chet Holifield wanted the federal government to finance a network of underground bomb shelters. His successor, Henry Waxman, wanted the federal government to take over health care. Holifield failed; Waxman did just fine. [Credit: NY Times]

Chet Holifield was obsessed with The Bomb.

During a 32-year tenure that flowered during the Cold War, the Los Angeles Congressman sought federal money to help Americans survive a nuclear war.  He called for “a nationwide system of underground shelters” in which to huddle, safe from irradiated debris.

Though Holifield achieved success in other areas – he was known as “Mr. Atomic Energy” for his promotion of nuclear power — he left Congress in 1974 without fulfilling his subterranean vision. Continue reading

The GOP’s Gift To Henry Waxman — Part I

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and John Boehner (R-OH) took a bow when the House passed a $141 billion health care bill. But Henry Waxman deserves the credit. [Credit: Politico]

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) took a bow when the House passed a $141 billion health care bill. But Henry Waxman deserves the credit. [Credit: Politico]

“What a way to celebrate a birthday!”  — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after the House passed bipartisan health care legislation

Sorry, Nancy.  It’s not about you.

The $141 billion health care bill that cleared the House last month and that is expected to win Senate approval next week is a tribute from the GOP-controlled Congress to former Congressman Henry Waxman, a man who worked tirelessly – and with great success – to expand health care-related welfare spending. Continue reading

If Obama Were President

The mammone -- a jobless man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who lives with mamma -- is an Italian tradition. But under President Obama, labor force participation rates of young men have plunged to Italian levels. [Credit: studenti.it]

The mammone — a jobless man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who lives with mamma — is an Italian tradition. Under President Obama, labor force participation rates of young American men have plunged to Italian levels. [Credit: studenti.it]

In Italy, they call him a mammone: an unemployed man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who still lives with mamma.

The prevalence of the mammone has long been thought to be a predominantly Italian phenomenon, with deep cultural roots.  It has grown more pronounced with the country’s recent economic distress.  Since 2008, a growing percentage of Italian men aged 25-54 have abandoned the labor force, no longer bothering even to look for work.

Italy’s workforce participation rate among men of prime working age is by far Europe’s lowest.  But it is not the lowest in the developed world.  Italy now shares that dubious distinction with the U.S.

That wouldn’t happen if Obama were President. Continue reading

Tolerance, The Amish And Hobby Lobby

Pamela Harris, shown here with her disabled son, prevailed at the Supreme Court this week in her challenge to an Illinois law requiring her to pay union dues.  [Credit: Heartland Institute]

Pamela Harris, shown here with her disabled son, prevailed at the Supreme Court this week in her challenge to an Illinois law requiring her to pay union dues. [Credit: Heartland Institute]

For a brief time during the 1980s, I was Director of Policy Development for the Social Security Administration.  The title is more glorified than the reality.  Social Security is a big and ossified program that resists “policy development.”  Congress, ever cognizant of the political risks of tampering with the program, had been forced by its looming insolvency to pass a massive law hiking payroll taxes and raising the retirement age just a few years before.  They were in no mood to entertain additional legislation.

But my job was to prepare options for the Commissioner’s consideration, so I met with career staff who had an idea: why not advocate for a bill requiring self-employed Amish farmers to pay social security taxes? Continue reading

Inequality: What We Earn vs. What We Consume

Is inequality better measured by what we earn or what we spend? The difference is surprising. [Credit: Politic.org]

Is inequality better measured by what we earn or what we spend? The difference is surprising. [Credit: Politic.org]

Is your standard of living better measured by what you earn or by what you buy?

The question may seem an odd one, but it is critical to understanding the problem of rising inequality. Continue reading

Paul Krugman and the Inequality Deniers

Recent criticism of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Centruy has drawn the ire of the splenetic Paul Krugman. [Credit: National Review]

Recent criticism of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century has drawn the ire of the splenetic Paul Krugman. [Credit: National Review]

There is growing concern among people on the Right and Left about income inequality. But you wouldn’t know that from reading Paul Krugman’s latest screed.

What stirred Krugman’s bile this week was criticism of economist Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st Century, a work that has attained canonical status among the Left on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading

Frenemies of the Poor

The 50th anniversary of the President Johnson's declaration of a War on Poverty has provoked strong views on whether it has succeeded or failed. The truth lies somewhere between. [Credit: Huffington Post]

The 50th anniversary of the President Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty has provoked strong views on whether it has succeeded or failed. The truth lies somewhere between. [Credit: Huffington Post]

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that right now Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vastly more harm if they had won the 2012 election. Moreover, GOP harshness toward the less fortunate isn’t just a matter of spite (although that’s part of it); it’s deeply rooted in the party’s ideology.  Paul Krugman, “Enemies of the Poor,” January 12, 2014

The 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty has occasioned a good deal of moral exhibitionism. Liberals heap praise on the programs and flatter themselves for supporting the transfer of an estimated $20.7 trillion (in 2011 dollars) in cash and non-cash benefits from those who earned it to those who did not. And they are relishing the opportunity to denounce conservatives as enemies of the poor, motivated by ideology and spite.

Some conservatives, like the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, are using the anniversary to declare the War on Poverty lost. Rector recently was quoted as saying that “the War on Poverty has been a complete catastrophe.” Continue reading

Welfare or Work: A Difficult Choice

The choice between welfare and work is not always an easy one, according to a new study by the Cato Institute.  (Credit: LA Times)

The choice between welfare and work is not always an easy one, according to a new study by the Cato Institute. (Credit: LA Times)

(NOTE: This post was updated on September 23 to incorporate the government’s newly-released poverty rate data.)

If forced to choose between a full-time job that paid $24.40 per hour and enrolling in a package of government benefits that paid a comparable amount, which would you choose? Continue reading