venezula-crisisEconomists disagree about the effects of raising the minimum wage—but not as much as you might imagine. Almost all of the serious debate is whether an increase of 20 percent or less will have a detrimental or negligible effect on workers and the economy.

Some economists, especially those who think the minimum wage should be $0, content that any increase is harmful. Others think the current federal minimum wage could be bumped up by 20 percent before it would lead to increased unemployment. That’s a change from $7.25 an hour to $8.70 an hour.

In a more economically literate world, that would be where the debate remained. Instead, we have advocates in America (including the entire Democratic Party) who want to raise increase the federal minimum wage by 107 percent. The ‘Fight for $15’ continues even as many prominent left-of-center economists are warning that such an increase would be incredibly risky.

“At the $15 wage level, even liberal economists acknowledge the law of unintended consequences,” said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute. “If Democratic candidates are interested in helping the poor, they could start by listening to their own economists…”

But while some liberals in the U.S. choose to ignore economic reality, socialists in Venezuela refuse to admit that any such reality exist. Yesterday, Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro announced a 50 percent hike in the minimum wage and pensions.
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, January 9, 2017
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The rate at which US companies cite regulations as an obstacle has quadrupled over the last 20 years
Christopher Groskopf, Quartz

Rarely does anyone measure the impact of new regulations on the companies they affect.

House Renews Focus On Curbing Government Regulations
Kevin Freking, Associated Press

The Republican-led House on Thursday approved a bill that would require congressional approval before any major regulation can take effect, a reflection of GOP frustration with what they consider onerous rules from eight years of the Obama administration.

How the Trump Administration Can Support Christians in the Middle East
Ian Speir, Providence

When Donald Trump takes office on January 20, he will inherit a raft of foreign policy problems from his predecessor.

How Jesus Exorcized Ancient Collectivism
David Gornoski, FEE

Beyond just rhetoric, Jesus performed his aesthetic of personhood. He created a subversive viral bug in our old collectivist system that reversed the mainstream script.

Donald-Trump-Americas-Debt-900If President-elect Donald Trump wants to make America great again, he needs to find a way to reduce the federal debt.  Samuel Gregg, in a new article at the Stream,  explains why this is so important. There’s much at stake if no action is taken to reduce the federal debt:

On December 30, 2016, the United States’ official public debt was $19.97 trillion. It’s almost doubled since 2008. It also exceeds the size of America’s economy in nominal GDP in 2016 ($18.56 trillion).

Put another way, America’s public debt is approximately 107% of nominal GDP. To make matters worse, these numbers don’t include state and local government debt or the unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs like Social Security.

The reasons for this rise in public debt aren’t hard to grasp. At its most basic level, it reflects a failure of Congress and the Executive Branch to match spending and revenue since 2000. The gap has narrowed over the past 5 years. Nonetheless, spending continues to exceed revenue. In terms of what’s driving federal expenditures, it is social programs such as healthcare, income security, education, and housing. Spending on activities such as national defense has remained static.

So why should we care? What’s another trillion here or there?

Americans should worry because there’s plenty of evidence that this level of public debt can have grave effects on economic growth.

Once a country’s debt/GDP ratio reaches a particular threshold, one consequence appears to be slower economic growth. Economists argue about the exact threshold at which debt starts to impact growth. Some cite the figure of 85% of GDP. Others say 90%. Economists also debate how fast high debt negatively impacts growth. Yet there’s considerable consensus that, at some point, high debt-to-GDP ratios do have this impact.

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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 6, 2017
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When it comes to government programs for redistributing income, nothing is quite as malevolently effective as state lotteries. Every year state lotteries redistribute the income of mostly poor Americans (who spend between 4-9 percent of their income on lottery tickets) to a handful of other citizens—and to the state’s coffers.

This video by Cracked shows what a lottery ad would be like if the government-run business was forced to be honest: “The only reason it stays legal is because the government is the profiteer of your hopeless dreams.”

unemployment-decemberSeries Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).

Overview: While most of the metrics were positive, few jobs were added and a large number of Americans dropped out of the labor for, making this one of the worst jobs report in years.
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Blog author: jcarter
Friday, January 6, 2017
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An old anti-Catholic law has resurfaced in Georgia
Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency

An amendment from the 1870s is now being invoked in Georgia to challenge a scholarship program allowing children to attend religious schools. “It would be a terrible mistake to use a bigoted law from the nineteenth century to hurt schoolchildren today,” religious freedom advocates say.

What Christians are finding as they return to the Nineveh Plain
Matt Hadro, Crux

As villages on Iraq’s Nineveh Plain are liberated from Islamic State forces, the Christians who lived there have returned, only to find destruction and betrayal.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul Blasts Party Leaders For Ignoring Debt
Andrew Taylor, Associated Press

Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday blasted fellow GOP lawmakers for ignoring the government’s spiraling debt problem in their rush to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The Religious Sources for Modern Human Rights
David E. Anderson, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

It is a version of history that runs against the grain of received wisdom and the conventional story of the birth of human rights.

“A lot of doom and gloom types say we’re living in dark times. But they’re wrong,” says economist Donald J. Boudreaux. “While there are real problems, the world has never been healthier, wealthier, and happier than it is today. Over a billion people have been lifted from dire poverty in just the past few decades.”