The Quality Of Life Index

Who knew that there was a Quality of Life Index? I certainly didn’t, but there is one, and Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about it on February 8th.

The editorial reports:

Unemployment at historic lows? Wages climbing at a fast pace? Who knew? The news media, fixated on Trump scandals, hasn’t exactly been broadcasting that good news. And media fact checkers busied themselves after the speech nitpicking Trump’s economic boasts.

But the upbeat assessment clearly resonated with the public, most of whom gave Trump’s speech top marks. Turns out they have been firsthand witnesses to the strength of the economy over the past two years.

How do we know? Look at the IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index, which asks the public whether they think their quality of life will be better, worse or the same over the next six months.

In the 17 years IBD has been compiling this index, it’s averaged 56.2. Under President Obama, it averaged just 53.7. Even if you only include Obama’s second term, it was well below the 17-year average.

Under Trump? The Quality of Life Index has averaged 59.3. That’s a 10% increase over the average during the Obama years.

To be sure, there’s a partisan element to this. Republicans tend to rate their quality of life higher than Democrats when there’s a Republican in the White House, and vice versa. But look at independents: Their quality of life averaged 52 under Obama. It’s averaging 58.8 under Trump — a 13% bump.

What’ more, the gains are across the board. Households making from $35,000 to $50,000, for example, saw an 8% gain in this index when you compare Trump to Obama. Those making from $50,000 to $75,000, an 11% gain.

This is what winning looks like for the Middle Class.

Let’s Talk About The Rebuttal

It’s not easy to give the rebuttal speech to the State of the Union. Chances are that you don’t have a copy of what you are rebutting. I guess you can make changes at the last minute, but the majority of your speech has to be written before you have a clue what it is supposed to be about. It’s not a great place to be. That said, however, I would like to take issue with some of the comments made by Stacey Abrams last night. Much of what she said was only half of the truth, and some of what she said was simply not true.

Time posted a transcript of her speech. I would like to talk about sections of that speech.

Ms. Abrams stated:

Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers. They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks. Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace. The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people – but our values.

It was nice of her to give out meals, but she failed to mention that all of those furloughed workers received every penny of their back pay. The simply got an extra paid vacation.

She further stated:

In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security. But instead, families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it. Under the current administration, far too many hard-working Americans are falling behind, living paycheck to paycheck, most without labor unions to protect them from even worse harm.

The Republican tax bill rigged the system against working people. Rather than bringing back jobs, plants are closing, layoffs are looming and wages struggle to keep pace with the actual cost of living.

We owe more to the millions of everyday folks who keep our economy running: like truck drivers forced to buy their own rigs, farmers caught in a trade war, small business owners in search of capital, and domestic workers serving without labor protections. Women and men who could thrive if only they had the support and freedom to do so.

Hasn’t she read the economic numbers? On December 20th, The National Review reported:

A recent Wall Street Journal economic analysis of current jobs reports found that worker wages were starting to rise above inflation and that the biggest percentage gains were showing up in the paychecks of the lowest income workers. In other words, income inequality with respect to take home pay was shrinking.

…Remarkable, too, about this chart is that every group that was least likely to vote for Trump has seen an abnormally large gain in jobs and wages. Our supposed racist president has delivered outsized economic gains for blacks and Hispanics — with both groups now experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in at least a half century. So much for Trump’s policies benefiting only white America. The rich are clearly not “the big winners” from Trump’s economic policies.

Contrast that with the economy when Democrats were in charge:

The poor and unskilled that Mr. Obama was supposed to lift out of poverty saw their incomes fall by 7.4 percent for those with less than a high school diploma and 8.2 percent for those with only a high school diploma. In dollar terms, between the time the Obama recovery began in June 2009 and until June 2014, median black household income fell by nearly $3,000, Hispanic households lost nearly $2,500, and female-headed households lost roughly $1,500. In 2015 and 2016, income gains were thankfully reversed for these demographic groups, but many still lost ground over eight years. The income gains under Mr. Obama were mostly concentrated in those Americans in the top 20 percent of income. This is why the income gap between rich and poor rose nearly every year under Obama.

Ms. Abrams, if you truly cared about the success of the middle and lower classes, you would support the policies of President Trump. President Trump’s economic policies have worked. President Obama’s economic policies failed miserably. I would also like to note that illegal immigration depresses the wages of unskilled workers. The Democrat party sold out the working man a long time ago.

 

When Congress Fails To Do Its Job, The Executive Branch Has To Do It

The Washington Times posted an article today about the Farm Bill that was recently passed. The House of Representatives added a more stringent work requirement to the Food Stamps Program, but the Senate eliminated the requirement. Thus the Farm Bill as it currently stands puts a 20-hour-per-week work requirement only on people between the ages of 18 and 49 who receive food stamps.

The article reports:

President Trump moved Thursday to tighten work requirements for people who receive food stamps, after Congress failed to include the proposal in a $400 billion farm bill that’s headed to the president’s desk.

The Agriculture Department said it is proposing a rule on Mr. Trump’s orders that would move “more able-bodied recipients” of food stamps back into working at least 20 hours per week.

“Long-term reliance on government assistance has never been part of the American dream,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As we make benefits available to those who truly need them, we must also encourage participants to take proactive steps toward self-sufficiency. Moving people to work is common-sense policy, particularly at a time when the unemployment rate is at a generational low.”

…Currently, able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without children are required to work 20 hours a week to keep their food-stamp benefits. The House measure would have raised the age of recipients subject to work requirements from 49 to 59 and required parents with children older than 6 to work or participate in job training.

The Labor Force Participation Rate currently stands at 52.9 percent. The Unemployment Rate currently stands at 3.7 percent. Wages at all levels have risen under President Trump. Inflation for 2018 is slightly over 2 percent. There is no reason anyone collecting food stamps cannot find a place to work for 20 hours a week or enter a job-training program that will help them find a job that pays enough for them to get off of food stamps. The Agriculture Department is doing the right thing in looking into strengthening the work requirements to collect food stamps.

I Don’t Like Federal Regulations, But…

America ideally is a land of equal opportunity. To some extent that is true, but there are some people who abuse their position and take advantage of the generosity of the American people. A story posted in The Boston Herald yesterday illustrates how a charity can be used for personal gain–I am not talking about the Clinton Foundation, but the Clinton Foundation might have gotten a few ideas from what I am about to share.

The article reports:

Do you know how much money Joe Kennedy, the former congressman, is now making at his “nonprofit”?

According to the most recent documents, his “public charity” has filed with the state attorney general, in 2016 Kennedy pocketed a total of $824,929 — $109,336 from Citizens Energy and $715,703 from “related organizations.”

His second wife, Beth, grabbed another $316,573 — $55,222 from Citizens Energy and $261,351 from those “related organizations.”

…Kerry Kennedy, got back into the news recently.

… like her older brother, Kerry, too, is fabulously well-to-do thanks to a family “nonprofit.”

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights foundation pays her $352,298 a year, including a $70,000 “bonus.”

…Reading the stories about Kerry’s big payday reminded me of Joe K. And it’s not only him and the second missus who are getting rich off the Citizens Energy gig —  I mean, nonprofit.

According to the public filing, CE’s CEO, one Peter Smith, made $627,983 in 2016. The chief financial officer, Ernest Panos, pocketed $447,260. Joe’s flack in his congressional office —  Brian O’Connor —  now makes $240,962 a year at Citizens Energy.

Charity Navigator, a somewhat reliable source for rating charities, does not rate Citizens Energy Corp because Charity Navigator only rates organizations that are classified as 501(c)(3) and able to accept tax-deductible donations. Citizens Energy Corp is classified as a 501(c)(4). However, just as a point of reference, Charity Navigator does rate the Clinton Foundation as 92.40 out of 100. I find that somewhat questionable.

It seems to me that there are people making large amounts of money due to the generosity of the American people. The government should not be in the business of determining the wages of anyone, but it seems to me that those running non-profit organizations should be paid salaries more in line with the average American. Helping people in need should not be a million-dollar-a-year job. I suspect the only way to deal with this problem is for the American people to pay more attention to the charities they support. More transparency from charities would also be helpful. Americans are a very generous people. It is unfortunate that there are those among us who are taking advantage of that generosity.

The Trump Economy Continues To Make News

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about the growth of the American economy under President Trump.

The article reports:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released some remarkable economic data today. There are more than seven million current job openings [See Here] and the year-over-year average wage gains are 3.3% [See Here]

I suggest you follow the link and read the entire article. It is a fairly detailed analysis of what has happened due to de-regulation and tax cuts.

The article concludes:

The investing class economy, ie. another name for a ‘service-driven economy’, has been the only source of historic reference for approximately three decades. These talking heads convinced themselves that a “service driven economy” was the ONLY economy ever possible for the U.S. in the future.

Back in January 2017 Deutsche Bank began thinking about it, applying new models, trying to conceptualize and quantify MAGAnomics, and trying to walk out the potential ramifications.  They began talking about Trump doubling the U.S. GDP growth rate when all U.S. investment groups couldn’t yet fathom the possibility.

It’s like waking up on Christmas morning every day to see the pontificating Fed struggling to quantify analysis of their surrounding reality based on flawed assumptions. They simply have no understanding of what happens within the new dimension.

Monetary policy, Fed control over the economy, is disconnected and will stay that way for approximately another 12-14 months, until Main Street regains full operational strength –and– economic parity is achieved.

As we have continued to share, CTH believes the paycheck-to-paycheck working middle-class are going to see a considerable rise in wages and standard of living.  How high can wages rise?… that depends on the pressure; and right now the pressure is massive.  I’m not going to dismiss the possibility we could see double digit increases in year-over-year wage growth in multiple economic sectors in several regions of the U.S.

Remember, as wages and benefits increase – millions of people are coming back into the labor market to take advantage of the income opportunities.  The statistics on the invisible workforce varies, but there are millions of people taking on new jobs in this economy and the participation rate is growing.

It is time that the average working American got a few economic breaks. President Trump is providing those breaks.

What Results Look Like

During the final weeks of the mid-term election campaign, you will hear Democrats say, “The tax cuts were only for the rich–they didn’t help anyone else.” A misinformed friend of mine posted that on Facebook recently. So let’s look at the facts.

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article yesterday about the impact of the Trump Tax Cuts on average Americans.

The article quotes a Business Insider article that reports the following:

  • Walgreens Boots Alliance announced that it will make investments around $150 million to boost mainly its in-store wages in fiscal 2019 in the light of favorable tax reforms.
  • Walgreens CFO said Thursday that the increase in store wages was “in light of the favorable tax reforms in the US.”

…The pharmacy-chain owner Walgreens Boots Alliance announced Thursday that it will make investments of about $150 million to boost mainly its in-store wages in fiscal 2019 in wake of  President Donald Trump’s tax reforms.

The announcement marks a 50% increase in company’s investment towards wages which was announced in March. At the time, Walgreens said it would invest around $100 million per annum to increase wages beginning later this calendar year.

“We will be making select incremental investments of around $150 million in fiscal 2019, mainly in store wages, but also to fuel our new community health care initiatives, and you can view these in light of the favorable tax reforms in the US,” Walgreens CFO James Kehoe said Thursday, on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. 

The article at Business Insider explains how the tax cuts have impacted the average worker:

In December 2017,  the Trump administration slashed the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and allowed a one-time repatriation of overseas cash. The bill also allows companies to bring overseas profits back home to invest in domestic projects or repurchase of shares.

Kehoe said the investments will result in a headwind of approximately $0.12 a share, or two percentage points of earnings-per-share growth for the coming fiscal year. 

US retailers are scrambling to keep workers as they look for opportunities with higher pay and attractive benefits. The US unemployment rate fell to a 48-year low of 3.7% in September. According to the Bureau of Labour statistics, there were 757,000 retail-job openings across the United States in July, which is about 100,000 more than a year ago.

The surge in the number of retail jobs has allowed workers the opportunity to move around within the industry. As a result, companies are raising wages to try and retain workers. Earlier this month, Amazon hiked its minimum wage to $15 per hour, effective November 1. That followed wage hikes from places like Target and Costco

That is significant.

The Conservative Treehouse concludes:

Back in January 2017 Deutsche Bank began thinking about it, applying new models, trying to conceptualize and quantify MAGAnomics, and trying to walk out the potential ramifications.  They began talking about Trump doubling the U.S. GDP growth rate when all U.S. investment groups couldn’t yet fathom the possibility.

It’s like waking up on Christmas morning every day to see the pontificating Fed struggling to quantify analysis of their surrounding reality based on flawed assumptions. They simply have no understanding of what happens within the new dimension.

Monetary policy, Fed control over the economy, is disconnected and will stay that way for approximately another 12-14 months, until Main Street regains full operational strength –and– economic parity is achieved.

As we have continued to share, CTH believes the paycheck-to-paycheck working middle-class are going to see a considerable rise in wages and standard of living.  How high can wages rise?… that depends on the pressure; and right now the pressure is massive.  I’m not going to dismiss the possibility we could see double digit increases in year-over-year wage growth in multiple economic sectors in several regions of the U.S.

Remember, as wages and benefits increase – millions of people are coming back into the labor market to take advantage of the income opportunities.  The statistics on the invisible workforce varies, but there are millions of people taking on new jobs in this economy and the participation rate is growing.

Winnamins.  We’ll need lots of them…

Wow.

 

Charts Tell The Story

John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line today about the impact the economic policies of President Trump have had on the State of Minnesota. The focus of the article is the economic impact of the tax cuts.

The article includes the two following graphs:

The article also includes the following news from the Labor Department:

American wages unexpectedly…

Unexpectedly!

…climbed in August by the most since the recession ended in 2009 and hiring rose by more than forecast, keeping the Federal Reserve on track to lift interest rates this month and making another hike in December more likely.
Average hourly earnings for private workers increased 2.9 percent from a year earlier, a Labor Department report showed Friday, exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg survey and the median projection for 2.7 percent. Nonfarm payrolls rose 201,000 from the prior month, topping the median forecast for 190,000 jobs.

As I have previously stated, why is good economic news unexpected during a Republican administration and expected by the media during a Democrat administration?

The conclusion of the article reminds us what will happen in the Democrats take control of Congress:

A Democratic Congress never would have passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In fact, not a single Democrat voted for it. And Hillary Clinton never would have signed it. The progress the U.S. economy has made since Donald Trump took the helm from the hapless Barack Obama is an ongoing rebuke to the Democrats’ anti-growth policies. This is one reason the Democrats are so anxious to regain control over the House in November. With the House in Democrat hands, they won’t be able to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but they will be able to guarantee that no more pro-growth, pro-worker legislation will be enacted. They will focus on impeaching President Trump instead.

If you don’t like the current economic growth, vote Democrat and it will stop.

Economic Growth For The Second Quarter

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article today about the revised economic figures for the second quarter. It is always amazing to me that under a Republican President when the revisions come, they are higher than the original estimates and under a Democrat President when the revisions come, they are lower than the original estimates, but I guess that’s the way it is.

At any rate, this is the chart of growth from the article:

The article had some further observations about the current economy:

1) The upward revision to nonresidential fixed investment was mostly accounted for by investment in software. (2) Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were revised down. Within goods, the downward revision was widespread, the largest contributor was petroleum.

In addition to presenting revised estimates for the second quarter, today’s release presents revised estimates of first-quarter wages and salaries, personal taxes, and contributions for government social insurance. Wages and salaries are now estimated to have increased $122.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018, an upward revision of $0.4 billion.  (source data)

The article also notes that President Trump’s economic policies have benefited Main Street as well as Wall Street.

The article concludes:

The economic models of the entire last generation+ are based on the assumptions of continuing globalist economics which advances, and has advanced, the interest of Wall Street over Main Street. They were driving a “service-driven economy” message.

Simultaneous to domestic capital investment inside the U.S., the ability of our nation to provide goods and services to meet the economic expansion, means less reliance on imported materials, goods and/or services. We are making more of our own stuff; exporting at a larger rate; and importing less – specifically due to the energy independence strategy within the larger Trump policy.

Every granular policy is like a small part in a larger machine. Each individual part of the MAGAnomic policy is working to compliment the larger objective.

We needed a businessman in the White House. Our current politicians don’t seem to understand economics.

The Jobs Report Came Out Today

The jobs report came out today. The number I watch, and I am waiting to see change is the Workforce Participation Rate. That number is holding steady at 62.9. That is not a great number, but it is an okay number. That number reached 66 during some of early 2008, but has generally been in the 63 or 64 range most of the time since then. The other numbers on the report are really good.

CNS News is reporting the numbers today:

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics says a record 155,965,000 people were employed in July, the 11th record-breaker since President Trump took office 19 months ago.

“Our economy is soaring. Our jobs are booming. Factories are pouring back into our country, they coming from all over the world. We are defending our workers,” President Trump told a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday.

BLS said the economy added 157,000 jobs in July (compared with a revised 248,000 in June).

The unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent, as the number of employed people reached new heights, and the number of unemployed persons declined by 284,000 to 6,280,000 in July. 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent) and Whites (3.4 percent) declined in July. The jobless rates for adult women (3.7 percent), teenagers (13.1 percent), Blacks (6.6 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent), showed little or no change over the month. The unemployment rate for Hispanics hit a record low of 4.5 percent, down from last month’s record 4.6 percent.

There was also good news for wage-earners–in addition to the tax cut, hourly wages went up:

In July, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $27.05. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent.

This growth is the direct result of the policies of President Trump–the combination of deregulation, tax cuts, and domestic energy development has resulted in economic growth.

 

Progressive vs. Practical

Hot Air posted a story today about a pizza place in Boston that has gone bankrupt. That in itself is probably not all that unique, but there are some special circumstances here.

The article reports:

In the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston back in 2015, the people at the nonprofit organization Haley House came up with a novel idea. They would open a pizza shop based on the principles of economic justice and fair wages to support the community. Named Dudley Dough, the shop would pay wages far above the minimum which many people in that industry earn, with added incentives for training and community development. It was an inspiring idea.

Unfortunately for them, only two years later the place is closing down. It turns out that operating a for-profit business on the principles of a nonprofit social justice operation results in an undesirable side-effect. They were literally not producing a profit.

One of the most difficult parts of starting and running a business is balancing the cost of doing business with the cost of the product. There has to be enough of a gap between those two things to earn the money to keep you in business. The people who started this pizzeria started it with a noble goal in mind. Unfortunately, they did not start it with sound business practices.

The article concludes:

Labor costs are a major driver in the business model of any such operation. Once you’ve accounted for the standard expenses of kitchen equipment, ingredients, utilities and the cost of your site (which are fairly standardized), labor costs may turn out to be the margin of error which makes or breaks you in terms of profitability and controlling your prices. Everyone in the neighborhood may love your social justice oriented, woke attitude, but if your pizza costs three bucks a slice when everyone else is selling them for two, you’re not going to last long.

Dudley Dough may prove to be a cautionary tale for everyone engaged in the debate over minimum wage rates and so-called “economic justice.” What they experienced was the sort of justice which the real world administers to the overly idealistic in a capitalist system.

It’s called reality.