The Economic Numbers From October

First of all, the following chart is found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. It shows the Workforce Participation Rate in recent years.

The number 62.9 is not a great number, but it is a step in the right direction.

Below is a chart posted at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website showing the unemployment rate for October.

The fact that the unemployment rate remained steady as the labor participation rate increased is good news for Americans. It means that there is continued growth in the job market.

Today The Wall Street Journal posted more good economic news:

Strong hiring and low unemployment are delivering U.S. workers their best pay raises in nearly a decade.

Employers shook off a September slowdown to add 250,000 jobs to their payrolls in October, above monthly averages in recent years, the Labor Department said Friday. With unemployment holding at 3.7%, a 49-year low, and employers competing for scarce workers, wages increased 3.1% from a year earlier, the biggest year-over-year gain for average hourly earnings since 2009.

…The share of Americans in their prime working years, between 25 and 54, who are working or looking for work rose to the highest rate since 2010 last month, at 82.3%.

President Trump touted the figures in a tweet Friday, just days before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. “Wages UP! These are incredible numbers,” Mr. Trump said.

Employers have added to their payrolls for a record 97 straight months.

This is the Trump economy. The Federal Reserve is beginning to raise interest levels to more normal levels, which may slow down the growth of the economy, but keeping interest rates at artificially low levels is not a good long-term strategy. We still have a need to control our spending and get the national debt under control, but strong economic growth and a lessening of the need for welfare programs should begin that process. There will be some adjustments along the way–low interest rates will no longer be keeping the stock market artificially high and rising interest rates may slow the housing market, but raising interest rates will also help bring us back to a more balanced economy.

If the Republicans hold Congress, the economic growth will continue. If the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, we will be in for a very bumpy economic ride.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

America is one of the most generous countries in the world. When natural disasters occur, we send aid. When Americans are in need, we help them. Sometimes we are taken advantage of because of our generosity, and Americans have accumulated a lot of debt because of our generosity. Some aspects of that generosity may be beginning to change.

The American Thinker posted an article today about impact of some of President Trump’s policies on welfare programs.

The article reports:

Welfare bureaucrats are putting the scream on, with news that President Trump’s efforts to enforce U.S. immigration law are incentivizing illegal aliens to drop out of assorted welfare programs.

Get a load of this alarmism from the welfare administrative mafias quoted by Politico:

Immigrants [sic] are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

The article concludes:

The bureaucrats and do-gooders quoted all admit that they aren’t actually entirely sure why the Women, Infants, and Children program has seen its numbers drop from 7.4 million to 6.8 million since President Trump took office.  There is a dismissive note about the “improving economy” but no recognition that the sudden availability of jobs in the Trump economy tends to have a large effect on whether people (legal and illegal) stay on welfare rolls.  For a lot of the poor, the promise of a job with the prospect of higher wages and an improved standard of living – and no government supervision, no need to keep heads down and incomes low – is preferable to any state welfare, so they’re taking the jobs and running.  Jobs in that much dismissed “improving economy” are likely the biggest reason the numbers of welfare recipients, both legal and illegal, are going down.  This, by the way, is correlated with falling food stamp rolls (illegals supposedly can’t get those) and declines in other welfare populations in the Trump economy.

The quoted bureaucrats do say that, because they have fielded inquiries from illegals, those same people who supposedly aren’t bright enough to manage a voter ID card yet are amazingly cognizant on the minutiae of maintaining the exact qualifications for welfare, and who want to make sure that being a public charge won’t hurt their green card chances.

What this shows is that the open borders lobby and the welfare industrial complex are amazingly integrated, and President Trump’s effort to restore rule of law at the border and protect taxpayer assets is a threat to their money interests and raison d’être.  What it also shows is that President Trump can’t keep pushing hard enough on this.  Striking out at the money trail has always been a surefire effort to end corrupt regimes and, by extension, corrupt bureaucratic empires.

I don’t want to see anyone’s child go hungry or not get the medical services they need, but there is a message in this. People are coming to America to take advantage of our welfare programs–they want to take from America, not contribute to America. Preferential treatment should be given to people who want to contribute to America. We need to remember that although we are a nation of immigrants, early immigrants did not have welfare programs they could join. They were expected to work hard to achieve the American Dream. That was the vision of America–it was a land of opportunity, not a land of the free lunch.

Some Much-Needed Perspective

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to a local paper by a friend of a friend. The letter makes some very important points.

God’s Role, Not Government’s   by Don Keel

I’ve noticed breathtaking naivete displayed through forum letters and articles recently. Some clergy have advocated government as the means to follow Christ‘s teaching to help “the least among us.” The very nature and mission of government and Christ are diametrically opposed.

Christian charity is voluntary, rewarding the giver as well as the receiver. Government programs require forced confiscation of earnings through threat of fines or imprisonment. The receiver of Christian charity is humbled by the kindness of neighbors and he often receives his blessing in a way that glorifies Christ. This, in turn, will increase the likelihood that he will strive for self-reliance and inspire him to one day ‘pay it forward.’ Government programs redistribute mass amounts of earnings with very little scrutiny or accountability.

Because of the “blanket approach,” government programs reward bad behavior and punish good behavior. They punish ambition and encourage sloth and dependency. This in turn creates a cycle of dependency that destroys one’s dignity, self-esteem, self-worth, and ambition and creates a cycle that is almost impossible to break. Some people have found a way to grow their families by taking from another person’s family and have found a way to live ever increasingly in comfort by taking comforts away from another who actually worked for that privilege.

The Gospels contain many accounts of spiritually-impelled charity, but never does Jesus advocate government-forced charity. American government was to confine itself to protecting God-given rights. The word “entitlement” denotes a right or claim. In the modern welfare state, it means a right to someone else’s money. Such a punitive “right” nullifies the legitimate rights of others to their own property. It, in a sense, forces others to work for the benefit of others–a notion rejected in this country years ago and addressed in the 13th Amendment.

I would submit that no Christian would advocate forcibly taking from one and giving to another. Yet that is what our government does. They would rightly regard such taking as theft–prohibited by one of the Ten Commandments, the cornerstone of God’s Law on Earth. Delegating that authority to the government does not somehow change the character of what entitlement programs are. Delegating that authority to government does not sanctify taking private property. The 8th Commandment does not say, “Thou Shalt Not Steal…except by majority vote.” Clearly, some clergy have confused what is to be rendered to Caesar with what should be rendered to God.

Don Keel

Eventually Everyone Figures This Out

This post is based on an article on The Federalist Papers website. It consists of two quotes about welfare and the consequences of our current welfare programs.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback explained the problems with our current welfare system:

“Welfare is failing, just not for the reason you think. For too long, conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., has dictated the best way to move people out of poverty is to expand welfare programs so that individuals could possibly, gradually, work their way out of dependency.

Kansas’ recent reform experience turns that notion upside down.

It is now clear that welfare fails because it ensnares people in poverty by paying them to not work. Welfare fails because it discourages people from improving their lives. So many recipients don’t work and get caught on welfare, suffering in poverty for years…even generations.

Fortunately, there’s a proven way to help.

Kansas shows what’s possible when you free people from the welfare trap. With assistance from the Foundation for Government Accountability, Kansas just completed the most comprehensive welfare tracking project of its kind. We matched more than 41,000 individuals as they moved off welfare with their employment records at the state’s Department of Labor.

…When moved off food stamps, half of these Kansans began working immediately. Nearly three-fifths were employed within 12 months and their incomes rose by an average of 127 percent during that first year. Incomes kept increasing as they progressed to full-time work and increased their wages. Better still, those higher wages more than offset the food stamps lost, making them more financially secure. This is real success!

Kansas’ simple reforms have led to more employment, higher incomes, less poverty, and lower spending.

Even those still on food stamps (but now required to work to keep them) are twice as likely to be working and have also substantially increased their incomes, though their overall incomes are still not as high as those freed completely from welfare. The result is that these individuals now need less help and their average time on food stamps is cut in half.

…For too long, Washington, D.C. has encouraged states to extend food stamps and expand Medicaid to ever more able-bodied adults. They promised welfare as an economic stimulus and states – red and blue alike –bought it. The result is not stimulus, but malaise.

People on welfare are working less, earning less and as a result are trapped in poverty. Millions of them. It’s a national tragedy.

Fortunately, states have many reform tools to roll back what has become the gateway to dependency: food stamps. States can assist their citizens by restoring work requirements, time limits, asset tests, reducing eligibility loopholes, and eliminating fraud.

Once free, those previously dependent on the government are motivated to work and earn more than just money: they gain self-worth, dignity, and a hopeful future. All things a person can’t get from welfare.

Americans know the value of hard work. That’s why common-sense work requirements were core to the bipartisan 1996 welfare reform that turns 20 this year.

Now is the perfect time for Congress to expand work requirements and time limits for non-disabled adults on all welfare programs – including Medicaid, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, food stamps, and housing. It’s time to start holding states to asset tests for all welfare programs. It’s time to return welfare to the truly needy and stop trapping Americans in government dependency.

With these reforms, Congress can help restore the working class and give real hope to millions still trapped in poverty and a failing welfare system.”

The second quote is from Benjamin Franklin:

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor.

Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? — On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.

The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness.

In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty.

Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. SIX days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.

We don’t do anyone any good by giving them things they did not have to work for. There is something in human nature that feels a sense of accomplishment when we earn something and feels less than capable when we have to depend on someone else for everything. We need a change of attitude in the American welfare system. It’s time to help people get back to work instead of encouraging them to take more from those who do work.

Is It Charitable To Finance Someone’s Drug Addiction?

Many years ago, I knew a Pastor who had a wonderful way of dealing with people who approached him on the street and asked him for money. He would take them to breakfast, lunch or dinner (whichever was appropriate for the time of day). He knew that in many cases, if you give someone who begs you for money cash, it will be spent on drugs and alcohol, and you are not helping that person. Some states are beginning to realize that their welfare programs are supporting drug addiction and are attempting to do something about it. North Carolina is one of those states. Before I write this article, I would like to remind the reader that most job applications today include a drug test. If I have to pass a drug test to get a job to earn money, shouldn’t you have to pass a drug test to collect money?

Breitbart.com posted an article yesterday about North Carolina’s drug testing program. The state began doing drug tests late last year. So far, almost 25 percent of those tested, tested positive for drug use.

The article reports:

State officials report that of the 89 applicants given the drug test, 21 of them tested positive. An additional 70 applicants who were told to take the test never showed up for their appointment and consequently never got benefits.

I wonder what the percentage of the 70 that never showed up would have been.

The article further reports:

Also, despite the positive results, in half the cases benefits were still paid to the applicants because children were involved.

Does anyone actually believe that the benefits paid were spent on the children involved and not drugs?

We are not doing anyone any favors by giving people with drug addiction problems money. What kind of an example are we funding for the children growing up in a house with an active drug addict? We need to put the people who test positive into compulsory treatment programs and take their children away until they are clean.

For those who argue that drug testing is too expensive and will not yield positive results, please tell me what positive results come from giving an addicted parent money to buy drugs (even if you say the money is for the children, that is not where it will be spent). The most charitable thing you can do for a drug addict collecting welfare is to hold them accountable and help them kick their drug habit. Paying them to continue in their addiction is cruel to them and very damaging to the next generation.

The Current American Welfare System

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about the current state of American welfare spending. It seems that those leaders who believe that we should become more like Europe and Scandinavia in our welfare spending practices might want to take another look.

The article reports:

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its annual poverty report. Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. has a small social welfare system and far more poverty compared with other affluent nations. But noted liberal scholars Irwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding challenge such simplistic ideas in their book “Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a Laggard or Leader?”

Garfinkel and his colleagues examine social welfare spending and poverty in rich nations. They define social welfare as having five components: health care spending, education spending, cash retirement benefits, other government cash transfers such as unemployment insurance and the earned-income tax credit (EITC), and non-cash aid such as food stamps and public housing.

The authors find that in the U.S., social welfare spending differs from that in other affluent countries because it draws heavily on both public and private resources. By contrast, in Europe, government controls most of the resources and benefits. For example, in the U.S., government health care spending is targeted to elderly and low-income persons; the American middle and working classes rely primarily on employer-provided health insurance. The U.S. government health care system is, therefore, more redistributive than the systems of most other developed nations.

Note to Bernie Sanders–we are already redistributing wealth.

The article goes on to explain that ‘poor’ families in America usually have air-conditioning, a car, and cable or satellite television. Poverty in America looks very different than poverty in many other parts of the world.

The article concludes:

It is, of course, a good thing that left-wing claims of widespread deprivation in the U.S. are inaccurate. But government welfare policy should be about more than shoveling out a trillion dollars per year in “free” benefits. When President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty, he sought to decrease welfare dependence and increase self-sufficiency: the ability of family to support itself above poverty without the need for government handouts. By that score, the War on Poverty has been a $24-trillion flop. While self-sufficiency improved dramatically in the decades before the War on Poverty started, for the last 45 years, it has been at a standstill.

A decent welfare system would return to Johnson’s original goal of reducing poverty by increasing self-sufficiency. It would require able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work if they are to receive benefits. It would reward, not penalize, marriage. In other words, it would be the exact opposite of the welfare behemoth we currently have.

We have lost the War on Poverty. We are spending billions of dollars to create generational dependency rather than to create economic independence. It is time to refocus and encourage working instead of collecting money from the government. This process was begun under President Clinton (with the assistance of Newt Gingrich), but halted under President Obama. It’s time to bring a work requirement back into the welfare program. Please  follow the link and read the TopRightNews article about what is happening in Maine to bring welfare programs back under control.

Why We Need Welfare Reform

Michigan is taking steps to reform its welfare program–on Friday the state announced its plan to drug test welfare recipients. Yesterday Breitbart.com posted a story showing how much the food stamps program is impacting the state.

The article reports:

Michigan, which announced on Friday plans to begin drug testing some welfare recipients, currently has 1,679,421 individuals on food stamps (known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the state’s total pupil count for K-12 is 1,564,114.

Michigan’s food stamp program has struggled to combat fraud and abuse. As recently as last week, for example, three brothers pleaded guilty for their roles in a food stamp fraud scheme at the Middle Eastern Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that cost taxpayers $1,278,700.

This year, Michigan’s food stamp program cost taxpayers $2,576,165,148.

It is becoming very obvious that one way to stop runaway spending on both the federal and state level is to combat welfare fraud.