In America, the most effective “anti-poverty program” is the institution of work (more specifically, ensuring people have a full-time job). The second most effective program for preventing people from being poor is the institution of marriage.

The poverty rate among married couples in America is around 6 percent, and among married couples who both have full-time jobs the poverty rate is practically zero (0.001 percent). In contrast, the poverty rate among single-dads/moms is much higher: 25 percent for single dads / 31 percent for single moms.

Unfortunately, government-based anti-poverty programs tend to conflict with or discourage the benefits of work and marriage. In his 1984 book Losing Ground, Charles Murray reported that the expansion of federal and state support for poor families during the 1960s-era War on Poverty ended up penalizing marriage. The reason is that government aid is often “means-tested” — recipients can only receive the aid if they do not possess the means to do without that help.

While this may seem like a commonsensical approach, it can have detrimental unintended consequences. For example, a single-mother may be receiving $15,000 in aid from the government and wish to marry a man who is earning $15,000. Before walking down the aisle, though, she learns that her potential husband’s income would put her over the means-tested threshold and she would lose all government aid. She would be better off, financially speaking, by merely “shacking up” with the man and not getting married at all. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, August 1, 2016

Both Parties Used to Back Free Trade. Now They Bash It.
Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

Criticism of trade agreements, notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is a rare point of political agreement, including from the presidential nominees.

Anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment Could Damage Nevada School Choice Reform
Lindsey Burke , The Daily Signal

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union is threatening education choice in Nevada.

The Fight-for-$15 Fantasy
Oren Cass, National Review

Minimum-wage silly season bursts into full bloom tonight, when the DNC features a “Fight for $15” advocate from Michigan. This follows from the party’s platform statement that “the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage” and its call to “raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over time and index it.”

Why Sri Lankans Want to Work in Beyonce’s “Sweatshop”
Ravi Ratnasabapathy, FEE

In June, the Sun newspaper in the UK claimed that a factory in Sri Lanka that produces a line of clothing for a popular singer Beyonce is using sweatshop “slaves.” The report attracted little interest in Sri Lanka, partly because attention was more focused on the devastating floods that hit the island. But perhaps the report also failed to make waves because it simply did not ring true; the mainstream apparel factories in Sri Lanka are seen as responsible and respected employers in the formal sector.

Pope John Paul II on a trip to Germany in 1980. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Pope John Paul II on a trip to Germany in 1980. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

This week, the Catholic Church celebrates World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. Fittingly, Pope St. John Paul II was chosen as one of the patron saints of the week, both as a figure who fits into the theme of the Year of Mercy and as a beloved Polish Saint who once served as the Archbishop of Krakow.

John Paul II has a central place not only in the history and tradition of the Catholic Church, but also in world history as one of the driving forces behind the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent fall of several totalitarian regimes around the globe. He was a voice for truth at a time when many people, including Christians, had resigned themselves to the idea that the Cold War tension and oppressive regimes were too formidable an obstacle for the world to overcome. (more…)

dncplatformNote: This second article in a two-part series on the Democratic Party Platform. Part I can be found here.

In the previous article we looked at summary outline of the Democratic platform as it relates to several non-economic issues covered by the Acton Institute. Today, we’ll look at the party’s economic agenda as laid out in the platform. Because the document is lengthy (55 pages) and covers an extensive variety of economic-related areas (agriculture, energy) this list won’t be exhaustive. But it does cover the primary economic positions that are being supported or opposed by the Democratic Party.

(Last week, after the Republican National Convention, we examined their platform’s stance on the same and related issues.)



Getty Images

In a new article written for the Wall Street Journal, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, Fr. Robert Sirico, makes an important point regarding the integrity of Catholic politicians. While respecting the traditions and doctrines of the Catholic Church, one should not compromise or adjust points of faith depending on the institutional context. “Key doctrinal and moral rules apply to all Catholics in all contexts—in business, at home, or in elective office. One cannot “personally” oppose something while making a living advocating it.” The Catholic Church does not call members to pick and choose doctrines most convenient with one’s worldview—however this is has happened in today’s political landscape. (more…)

Photo courtesy of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Photo courtesy of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

As we approach what would be Milton Friedman’s 104th birthday this Sunday, July 31st, we should note the enduring significance of his evaluation of the connection between economic and political freedom. In his popular work, Capitalism and Freedom, in a chapter titled “The Relation between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom,” Friedman explains how a society cannot have the latter without the former.

Friedman criticizes the notion that politics and economics can be regarded separately and that any combination of political and economic system is possible. He calls the view “a delusion,” holding that there is “an intimate connection between economics and politics.” Though Friedman concedes the possibility of an economically free and politically repressed society, the opposite, he claims, is impossible. Political freedom, both historically and logically, is inseparable from economic freedom.


dncplatformEarlier this week, I talked about the religious and economic implications of the RNC platform. As the DNC wraps up, it is time to examine the relevant points of the Democratic platform.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

We need an economy that prioritizes long-term investment over short-term profit-seeking, rewards the common interest over self-interest, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship.

Minimum Wage

Democrats believe that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union. We applaud the approaches taken by states like New York and California. We should raise and index the minimum wage, give all Americans the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy. We also support creating one fair wage for all workers by ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.

Democrats support a model employer executive order or some other vehicle to leverage federal dollars to support employers who provide their workers with a living wage, good benefits, and the opportunity to form a union. The $1 trillion spent annually by the government on contracts, loans, and grants should be used to support good jobs that rebuild the middle class.


We believe that today’s extreme level of income and wealth inequality—where the majority of the economic gains go to the top one percent and the richest 20 people in our country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million—makes our economy weaker, our communities poorer, and our politics poisonous.

We reaffirm our commitment to eliminate poverty. Democrats will develop a national strategy to combat poverty, coordinated across all levels of government. We will direct more federal resources to lifting up communities that have been left out and left behind, such as the 10-20-30 model, which directs 10 percent of program funds to communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more. We will also focus on communities that suffer from persistent poverty, including empowerment zones and areas that targeted government data indicate are in persistent poverty.

Democrats will protect proven programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—our nation’s most important anti-hunger program—that help struggling families put food on the table. We will also help people grow their skills through jobs and skills training opportunities.

Religious Liberty

Opposes attempts to impose a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the United States.

Supports a “progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.”

Supports protecting both Muslims and religious minorities and the “fundamental right of freedom of religion” in the Middle East. (Read more here)