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Friday, February 5, 2016

Children and Parental Employment

Many posts have discussed marriage, family, and economic inequality.

Child Trends reports:
As of 2013, more than one in four children (26 percent) did not have at least one resident parent employed full-time, year-round. Among children younger than six, three in ten (30 percent) were without secure parental employment and, of children in families headed by single mothers, more than half (58 percent).
Secure attachment to the labor force, defined here as full-time, full-year employment, is a major contributor to financial stability and well-being for families. For low-income families, it is not a guarantee of escape from poverty, [1] but it is associated with higher family income and greater access to private health insurance. Higher income, in turn, is associated with many positive child outcomes including better health, behavior, academic achievement, and financial well-being as adults.[2],[3] In particular, deep, persistent, and early poverty are related to poorer child development.[4] A study of low-income families found benefits to children’s social-emotional skills when their mothers were employed early in the child’s life, compared with similar children whose mothers who were not employed.[5] However, in some cases, long hours of employment among mothers with very young children have been associated with modestly negative child outcomes.[6] Studies have found drops in family income, as well as income fluctuation, to be associated with a greater risk of behavioral problems, and lower reading and mathematics achievement, compared with children in families who had not been poor.[7] More recent research links parental (particularly fathers’) permanent job loss to increased likelihood of parental divorce, family relocation, and children’s repeating a grade; and to decreased earnings when children enter the labor force.[8][9] Thus, the “scarring” effects of parental unemployment may be multigenerational.[10]

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Secular New Hampshire

Frank Newport writes at Gallup:
New Hampshire is the least religious state in the U.S., edging out Vermont in Gallup's 2015 state-by-state analysis. Mississippi has extended its eight-year streak as the most religious state, followed closely by neighboring Alabama.
 These state-by-state results are based on over 174,000 interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking in 2015, including more than 480 interviews in every state and more than 1,000 interviews in most states. Complete results and sample sizes are shown at the end of the article.
Over the past eight years, New Hampshire and Vermont have vied for the bottom position on Gallup's ranking of the most religious states. This year, New Hampshire comes in two percentage points lower than Vermont, and those two states are significantly lower in religiosity than the next two states, also in New England: Maine and Massachusetts.

New Hampshire is in the national spotlight this week as the presidential candidates focus on next Tuesday's primary in the Granite State. According to entrance polls of Iowa caucus voters, Ted Cruz's win in the GOP caucus on Feb. 1 in Iowa was driven by his strong appeal to highly religious or evangelical Republicans -- who turned out in large numbers. Although Iowa as a state has only average religiosity, it is still significantly more religious than New Hampshire, suggesting that Cruz will have fewer evangelicals to bring out to vote in that state's primary.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ethanol Loses a Round

Timothy P. Carney reports at The Washington Examiner:
The ethanol lobby is a paper tiger, and Ted Cruz just tore it to shreds.

Cruz, the country's most famous enemy of the federal ethanol mandate, just won Iowa, winning more votes than any person in the history of the caucuses.

Cruz thus busted the myth that you can't mess with the ethanol lobby and still win Iowa. The lesson goes beyond ethanol: The only constituency for corporate welfare is on K Street.

Politicians are fooled into thinking corporate welfare is important to voters because politicians spend an inordinate amount of time with the powerful people to whom corporate welfare is vitally important. That's why every candidate who has tried to win Iowa has prostrated him or herself before ethanol.

They thought they had to. Cruz proved they didn't.
Cruz campaigned on a five-year wind-down of ethanol. Other candidates, like Jeb Bush, said they would consider winding down the mandate in 2022 — during a presumptive second term. Cruz's plan involves a 20 percent reduction of the mandate in his first year in office, and the same cut each year until it zeroes out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Trump and the Isolationist Tradition

Thomas Wright writes at Politico:
With his background and personality, Trump is so obviously sui generis that it is tempting to say his views are alien to the American foreign policy tradition. They aren’t; it is just that this strain of thinking has been dormant for some time. There are particular echoes of Sen. Robert Taft, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination in 1940, 1948 and 1952, and was widely seen as the leader of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Taft was a staunch isolationist and mercantilist who opposed U.S. aid for Britain before 1941. After the war, he opposed President Harry Truman’s efforts to expand trade. Despite being an anti-communist, he opposed containment of the Soviet Union, believing that the United States had few interests in Western Europe. He opposed the creation of NATO as overly provocative. Taft’s speeches are the last time a major American politician has offered a substantive and comprehensive critique of America’s alliances.
Trump’s populism, divisiveness and friendliness toward dictators is also reminiscent of Charles Lindbergh, once an American hero, who led the isolationist America First movement. In some areas, Trump’s views go back even further, to 19th-century high-tariff protectionism and every-country-for-itself mercantilism. He even invokes ancient Chinese history, telling Bill O’Reilly last August that his idea for a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border is feasible because “you know, the Great Wall of China, built a long time ago, is 13,000 miles. I mean, you're talking about big stuff.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Federalist 10 and the 2016 Election

D.J. Tice writes at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
The founding fathers said there would be days like this. On the eve of the 2016 Iowa caucuses — which will plunge America into a maelstrom of election contests sweeping us dizzyingly toward actually choosing a new president — the understated warning from the chief author of our Constitution clangs like a fire bell.
Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.
Yet even if these appetites produce a Sanders or a Trump presidency, the [Jesse] Ventura precedent suggests it might deliver another surprise, and a welcome one. In his official acts (as opposed to his celebrity antics), Gov. Ventura largely steered a mainstream course, delegating vigorously to decent public servants he placed in key jobs. A President Trump or Sanders might adjust to reality, too.
That’s likely, because America’s complex and cumbersome system of government constrains every office holder, making it improbable that even a champion demagogue could enact destabilizing innovations, at least not without major compromise.

This is why debates over the proper boundaries on a president’s executive orders matter. It’s why the much-criticized Senate filibuster, which makes passing controversial laws difficult, shouldn’t be carelessly discarded. It’s why limits should be enforced on a president’s war powers and on the government’s right to spy on citizens. It’s even why we must question tough-on-crime measures like the psychiatric commitment of sex offenders after they’ve served their prison terms.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Trump U

For-profit higher education has become controversial.  Case in point: Trump University, which has spawned lawsuits.  Eddie Curran reports at MMI Newswire:
Among the key pieces of evidence in the class actions is an infomercial by Trump in which he presents the university as his own. In the infomercial, the billionaire claims he personally hired “professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific.”
“And honestly, if you don’t learn from them, if you don’t learn from me, if you don’t learn from the people that we’re going to be putting forward, and these are all people handpicked by me,” Trump says, “then you’re just not going to make it in terms of world-class success.”
Under oath, Trump told a different story. He testified in a 2012 deposition that, contrary to the Trump University sales materials and statements he made in the infomercial to the media, he neither selected the instructors nor oversaw the curriculum.
Asked to name a single course taught by Trump University, he could not.

A few months ago, CNN reported:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Restoring Congress

At the R Street Institute, Kevin Kosar and other authors have a policy student titled "Restoring Congress as the First Branch."  In one of the essays, Lee Drutman writes:
Remarkably, Congress has continued to reduce its capacity. House GOP leaders have cut their own funding by 20 percent since taking back the majority in 2011. As then-Ways
and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., put it during a February 2014 House Administration Committee hearing: “The committee needs to add staff, particularly in tax, health care and the economics fields.” For Congress to legislate effectively, it needs staffers who understand policy.

It’s up to Congress to decide how much capacity it wants.While the politics of adding capacity are difficult, given  Congress’ general unpopularity, the reality is that the vast
majority of members of both the House and the Senate hold very safe seats; primary challenges are far rarer than the media makes them out to be. Members also ought to realize the reason Congress is so unpopular is because it’s unable to accomplish much, in part because it lacks the capacity. Much of what it does accomplish is the product of special interest business lobbying. Consider that the one big recent bipartisan  achievement in the House this last autumn was a discharge petition to renew the Export-Import Bank, an entity beloved by huge corporate interests
Congress should vote itself more resources. It should hire more staff, especially at the committee level, and pay them more. It should also boost resources for its support agencies, especially the Congressional Research Service and help the CRS to modernize for the 21st century. 
The bland truism is that knowledge is power. A Congress without much knowledge is a powerless Congress, one dependent on other sources for its power. It’s a Congress
that can’t perform its constitutional duties.