Posts tagged with: united states

righttoworkShifts in the partisan composition of state legislatures during the recent election has made it likely that several states will be passing right-to-work bills in 2017.

As Melissa Quinn of The Daily Signal notes, in Kentucky, Missouri, and New Hampshire, last month’s election resulted in a flip in party leadership in either governors’ mansions or state legislatures, which put previously defeated right-to-work legislation back on the table.

Here is what you should know this issue which, as Quinn says, “pits the business community against labor unions, and has proved to be a contentious one for both parties.”

What is a right-to-work law?

Right-to-work laws are state laws that guarantee a person cannot be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union as a condition of employment.

Why are right-to-work laws considered a matter of economic freedom?

Economic freedom exists when people have the liberty to produce, trade, and consume legitimate goods and services that are acquired without the use of force, fraud, or theft. Mandatory unionism violates a person’s economic freedom since it forces them to pay a portion of their income, as a condition of employment, to a third-party representative—even if they disagree with the aims, goals, or principles of the representative group.

What’s wrong with being forced to pay for union representation?
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As the most widely observed cultural holiday in the world, Christmas produces many things—joy, happiness, gratitude, reverence. And numbers. Lots of peculiar, often large, numbers. Here are a few to contemplate this season:

Christmas Numbers$50.82 – Average amount U.S. consumers spent on real Christmas trees in 2015.

$69.38 – Average amount U.S. consumers spent on fake Christmas trees in 2015.

33,000,000 – Number of real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. each year.

9,500,000 – Number of fake Christmas trees sold each year.

7 – Average growing time in years for a Christmas tree.

350 million – Number of Christmas trees currently growing on Christmas tree farms.

325.1 million – Current population of the United State.

$27.21 — The energy costs of lighting a six-foot Christmas tree, lit 12 hours a day for 40 days, decorated with various light types.

$1,100,000,000 – Estimated value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2016.

$23,800,000,000 – Estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2014. This represents an A decrease of $0.4 billion in retail sales from December of the previous year.

750,000 – Number of new employees hired to compensate for the holiday rush in 2015.

37.5 percent — Estimated percentage of charitable giving that occurs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

$752 – Average amount people in the U.S. estimated they’ll spent in on Christmas presents in 2016.

108,000,000 — Average number of homes Santa Claus has to visit on December 25 (assuming there is at least one “nice” child in each).

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held their last joint press conference as heads of state on Thursday, pressing national leaders – in President Obama’s words – “not to take for granted the importance of the transatlantic alliance.” And they grounded that longstanding partnership on their conception of the bedrock principles that they believe unite North America and the EU.

“The commitment of the United States to Europe is enduring and it’s rooted in the values we share,” Obama said, “our commitment to democracy, our commitment to the rule or law, our commitment to the dignity of all people, in our own countries and around the world.” Merkel agreed that the transatlantic alliance is “based on our shared values.” The tone and content of their press conference echoed Merkel’s statement following Donald Trump’s election as president, as well as their joint New York Times op-ed, also published Thursday, in which Obama and Merkel call on transatlantic nations to “seize the opportunity to shape globalization based on our values and our ideas.”

The notion of shared U.S.-European values has undergone a resurgence since America’s presidential election. French socialist president François Hollande urged President-elect Trump to “respect” such “principles” as “democracy, freedoms, and the respect of every individual.” Other EU leaders have made similar statements. (more…)

The following graph, in various forms, is making the rounds:

2016 Voter Turnout

The suggestion of the graph (and usually of commentary by those who share it) is that Sec. Hillary Clinton lost to President-elect Donald Trump because Democrats didn’t turn out to vote for her like they did for President Obama.

The idea is that Hillary Clinton was a historically unpopular candidate. This is true. Second only to Donald Trump, she was the least liked candidate of all time, at least since anyone has been keeping track. Her career, though long and accomplished, has been plagued by scandal, much of which surfaced in the final weeks of her campaign. It makes sense that maybe Clinton just didn’t get enough Obama voters to show up at the polls.

I’m unsure the source of the data. It may be completely accurate, but even if so it is misleading. As Carl Bialik wrote last week for FiveThirtyEight, “On average, turnout was unchanged in states that voted for Trump, while it fell by an average of 2.3 percentage points in states that voted for Clinton. Relatedly, turnout was higher in competitive states — most of which Trump won.” (more…)

Blog author: dpahman
Thursday, November 10, 2016
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In his best-selling book The Black Swan, probabilist Nassim Nicholas Taleb warns against the need for easy narratives to explain the unexpected. Given how unexpected the result of this Tuesday’s election was, it is worth taking some time to review what Taleb calls “the narrative fallacy.”

According to Taleb,

The narrative fallacy addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship, upon them. Explanations bind facts together. They make them all the more easily remembered; they help them make more sense. Where this propensity can go wrong is when it increases our impression of understanding.

Yesterday, I reviewed New York Times exit polling data to try to look at what we actually know about who voted for president-elect Donald Trump or Sec. Hillary Clinton. The results, as I noted, were often surprising.

The reason they are surprising is precisely because of what Taleb gets at here: we have a tendency to want everything to fit into neat-and-tidy narratives. But reality rarely works that way, especially in the case of unexpected events. Donald Trump’s win was a Black Swan event to many.

By nearly every poll, Hillary Clinton was the favorite to win (and, of course, it appears she did win the popular vote). The most cautious index I saw was FiveThirtyEight, where to their credit they stressed the probabilistic nature of their forecast. They basically put the odds at 2-to-1 in favor of Clinton, and they even said that her chances were not as good as President Obama’s reelection in 2012. Even so, they too have been reeling at the inaccuracy of, again, basically every poll.

So Trump won. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility (obviously now), but it was certainly unexpected to most, even some of those who gave him a better chance than others. How did it happen? (more…)

As, no doubt, many readers are getting flooded on social media with think pieces and hot takes (not to mention apocalyptic worry or celebration), the point of this post is simply to look at what the data seems to indicate about those who voted for President-elect Donald Trump and his opponent, Sec. Hillary Clinton. I’ll add a few thoughts at the end, but I am mostly just fascinated with the result, which shows more diverse support for each candidate than I had expect. However, I am also, like many, disappointed at the passions, particularly anger, that motivated some voters and which will remain with us, no matter what our party preferences, if we do not make a point to address them.

That said, there is a temptation, especially as of late, to paint supporters of either candidate with broad brushes (often unfavorably but sometimes overly flattering too). Neither serves the virtues of wisdom, prudence, or love, which ought to be at the forefront of any Christian social engagement. So, with the encouragement of those virtues as my goal, lets look at that some of the most interesting demographic groups this year.

I’ll be using New York Times exit polling data throughout. You can view it all and compare with past elections here. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
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 Today, Americans will be electing the 44th President of the United States. To give you something to read while you stand in line at the polling places, here are five interesting facts about elections and voting:

1. In colonial times, a common “get out the vote” strategy was for candidates to offer alcohol at the polling places. When George Washington ran for the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758 he brought out 28 gallons of rum, 50 gallons of rum punch, 34 gallons of wine, 46 gallons of beer, and two gallons of cider royal. Although it was almost enough for every voter to half a half-gallon of booze, Washington worried his campaign manager had “spent with too sparing a hand” and wouldn’t have enough. (It worked: Washington got 331 votes, more than his three rivals.)

2. The Ohio Constitution includes a clause (Article V, Section 6) that prohibits “idiots” from voting (No idiot, or insane persons, shall be entitled to the privileges of an elector). The provision was added in 1851 to prevent people of diminished mental capacity from voting. In 1970, the Ohio Constitutional Revision Commission noted that, “The lack of procedure for determining who is ‘insane’ or an ‘idiot’ could allow persons whose opinions are unpopular or whose lifestyles are disapproved to be challenged at the polls, and they may lose their right to vote without the presentation of any medical evidence whatsoever.” Despite this concern, the language remains unchanged.
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