The Coming Nationalization of Retirement

December 10th, 2014

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — More than 200 years ago, our country was founded under the concept of self-government. No longer would a “holier than thou” benefactor dictate how the masses should live their lives. The king had been replaced by the individual. Every single citizen was guaranteed the natural right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The government ceased controlling the people. Instead, the people controlled the government.

This concept was new. It was vastly different from other nations of the time. But the codification of this new-found freedom was not guaranteed. In fact, the first attempt failed, and a new constitution would be required. Nothing more shows the concern of the everyday inhabitants than the story of the woman who asked Benjamin Franklin, as he exited Independence Hall, “Sir, what type of government do we have?”

“A republic, if you can keep it,” replied the aged statesmen.

If the Founding Fathers returned today, would they agree whether or not we have “kept it”?

It seems as though the voters, over the years, have been slowly giving it away. Now, I’m no expert in medical services, so I can’t comment on the nationalization of health care that many others have vociferously complained about. I am, however, knowledgeable enough about the retirement services industry to know the ultimate nationalization of that industry will have devastating consequences – not only to the industry itself, but to the average American worker.

Marcia Wagner spoke eloquently on the topic at the CFDD conference here (“A multitude of threats to retirement system“) and she painted a picture that might startle our Founding Fathers.

How and why have we gotten this far? And is the nationalization of retirement as crazy as it sounds?

The bashing of the retirement industry, and 401(k) plans in particular, began in earnest shortly after the market drop of 2008-09. This drip-drip-drip campaign soon merged with the (successful) class warfare strategy of the last election. Empowered by this shift in public discussion, opportunistic politicians saw an avenue to reverse perhaps the greatest legacy of the 1980s – the 401(k) plan.

Much has been said about the amount of people who are currently not covered by retirement plans. The blame has been placed on the shoulders of the 401(k). That this overstates the amount of employees (or the lack thereof) covered prior to the advent of the 401(k) is a truth conveniently ignored. Yes, there may be too few people covered by retirement plans, but the fault lies not with the 401(k). Yet we now see government-based solutions, both those coming from the Senate as well as those offered by the states, that appear to address a problem that doesn’t exist while ignoring a problem that does exist.

The real retirement problem isn’t lack of coverage, it’s over-coverage, or, more appropriately, over-promising.

We’re seeing this in the City of Detroit and select cities in California today. The mainstream press reports the future may feature similar problems in New York City, Los Angeles, as well as the entire state of Illinois. I refer, of course, to the problem of public-sector retirement plans. Local politicians, in hopes of gaining re-election, pledged ever-higher benefits to key public employee constituencies. In exchange for those current-day votes, they mortgaged their municipality’s future. As in the case of Detroit and Stockton, California, the impact has been shattering.

Despite this knowledge, the electoral success of vilifying “the rich” has moved from salaries to retirement plans. The term “Romney-Sized IRA” was not created out of endearment.

Ironically, rather than generating jealousy among the typical retirement saver, it has sparked interest in learning the answer to “How can I Romney-Size my IRA?”

This “can-do” zest – a.k.a. “The American Spirit” – goes unnoticed by Washington and the various state capitals.

As a result, we have proposals from Senate Democrats to outright takeover the private retirement plan industry. Rather than offer a knee-jerk response, Senate Republicans have countered with offers that only slightly tone down the extremes of the opposition.

Even (former?) Tea Party darling Marco Rubio (naively?)  proposed a government-based retirement solution. And let’s not forget the states, who seek to override ERISA and create their own hodge-podge set of rules for allowing private parties to join the state retirement system. (Hmm, isn’t that why they created ERISA in the first place and, by the way, how well do you understand all those state-based 529 rules?)

It goes without saying the unintended consequence of these proposals will have a disastrous impact on the ability for Americans to save for retirement. Just look at the results the last time we fiddled with cutting back retirement savings incentives in the 1986 tax reform.

Annual contributions dropped dramatically. This hurt (and will again hurt) everyone, especially the low-wage employees it’s purported to help. Worse, it sacrifices future government revenues in exchange for buying votes – er – reducing the budget deficit today (sound familiar?).

One must seriously question the motives of any politician willing to take such a large risk with the future retirement of millions of workers when there’s a much safer and proven alternative available (401(k) MEPs).

Sure, laugh at me. Say it’ll never happen. But remember this – didn’t you laugh eight years ago at the idea of anyone seriously considering nationalizing the nation’s health care industry? Not only did Washington pass this legislation, but key industry players, having found a way to profit from it, are enabling it. Why can’t the same thing happen to our retirement?

There is, however, reason to hope. Notice the one component of government left out of this discussion – the House. Nothing gets passed without the House. As long as we still have a bastion of die-hard Tea Party representatives influencing the majority’s leadership, it’s doubtful we will be nationalizing anything very soon.

Besides that, there’s an election in a couple of weeks. And we all have an opportunity to make our own individual choice. Let’s hope America hasn’t lost the spirit of self-responsibility.

After all, we don’t want to upset our Founding Fathers, do we?

 

The article was written By:  of Benefitspro which was published: October 16, 2014

More D.C. Lies on Debt and Spending

December 9th, 2014

DECEMBER 9, 2014 - Mark Brandly
”Recently, the Treasury Department secretary asserted that “The President’s policies and a strengthening U.S. economy have resulted in a reduction of the U.S. budget deficit of approximately two-thirds — the fastest sustained deficit reduction since World War II.” And, “the deficit in FY 2014 (FY 2014 stands for Fiscal Year 2014. Note that the government’s fiscal year ended on September 30.) fell to $483 billion.”

Many people fell for this claim, including Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman. “So you heard it here first: while you weren’t looking, and the deficit scolds were doing their scolding, the deficit problem (such as it was) was being mostly solved.”

Federal Borrowing Continues

Apparently Krugman failed to read the rest of the Treasury report. Page one of this same report clarifies the issue, saying “the increase in borrowing included $483 billion in borrowing to finance the deficit and $314 billion in borrowing related to other transactions.” “Total federal borrowing from the public increased by $798 billion.” The Treasury Department’s own numbers tell us that widely reported deficit number is a lie.

This $798 billion deficit is a more accurate deficit number for FY 2014. According to the Treasury Department’s report on Public Debt to the Penny, the fiscal year 2014 debt increased $1,085.9 billion. This, however, includes the increase in intragovernmental debt of $277.2 billion. So the annual debt to the public increased by $808.7 billion. While there is a minor difference in these numbers, we can agree that the annual deficit was about $800 billion, not $483 billion.

What Is Intragovernmental Debt?

One accurate fact about the Treasury secretary’s statement is that he ignores intragovernmental debt. The federal government currently has over $5 trillion of intragovernmental debt The feds, over the years, have collected $5 trillion in taxes and then spent this tax revenue. However, before they spent this money, they loaned it to themselves. They count the money they lent to themselves as intragovernmental debt. Only governments believe that loaning yourself money is legitimate debt. The Treasury Department’s recent statement justifiably ignores this bookkeeping deception.

The $808.7 billion debt increase is a 6.7 percent one year increase in the debt. It’s an average of $2.2 billion of additional debt per day or $92 million of borrowing for every hour of the year. This equates to around $2500 of debt per capita, about $10,000 of additional debt for the average family of four.

The Burden of Debt Remains Huge

The past two administrations have a history of record deficits. According to the Treasury Department, during George W. Bush’s term, the debt held by the public, again I’m ignoring the intragovernmental debt, increased from $3,339.3 billion to $7,551.9 billion.The eight years of Bush budgets began on September 30, 2001 and ended on September 30, 2009. Obama’s fifth budget year ended on September 30, 2014 That’s an eight year increase of $4,212.6 billion or a 126 percent increase during the Bush years.Admittedly, a small part of spending in the last Bush budget may be attributed to the 2009 Obama stimulus package. For Obama’s first five years in office the debt to the public increased to $12,785 billion. That’s a five year increase of 69 percent or an average annual increase of $1,046.6 billion. This total public debt of $12,785 billion amounts to about $40,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country.

The table below shows the trends for the amount of debt and the annual increase in the debt since 2001 (in $billions).

While the annual deficit has recently trended downward, a look at the 2014 budget makes it difficult to sustain the claim that the deficit problem has been solved.

The Daily Treasury Statement for September 30, 2014 provides us with details about the FY 2014 budget. The largest line item in Treasury Deposits is the Public Debt Cash Issues of $7,519.5 billion. This is the total amount of gross government borrowing for 2014. The government tends to issue short-term debt that quickly rolls over in order to save on interest payments. The federal government borrowed this $7.5 trillion in 2014 to pay bonds as they came due, to pay for the interest on those bonds, and to pay for the remaining budget deficit. While the debt increased only $800 billion, the federal government needs to find lenders that are willing to loan it at least $7.5 trillion annually. That number will jump as the debt increases in the future.

Low Interest Rates — Or Else

In order to take advantage of low interest rates, the feds are rolling over more than half of their debt annually. The problem with that strategy is that interest rates may not remain this low for long. On the spending side of the Treasury statement we see that 2014 interest payments totaled $223.3 billion. Over the last several years, as the debt has increased, interest payments have remained relatively stable. Since September 2001, the debt held by the public has increased 283 percent, yet interest payments on that debt have only increased 37 percent. That’s because interest rates have collapsed as the debt has increased.

If interest rates return to a more historically normal average, interest payments will explode. The average interest rate on the debt for September 2014 was 2 percent. Even without an increase in the debt, if the average interest rate on the debt returns to its pre-recession September 2007 level, the annual debt payment would be over $500 billion. Given the monetary policies of the past several years, interest rates could easily increase to their September 2000 averages. If that happens, the interest on the current amount of debt would be more than $700 billion.

Given the projected increases in the debt, it wouldn’t be surprising to see annual interest payments more than quadruple in the next several years. David Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office, concludes that by 2022 “interest payments will become the single largest expenditure” in the government’s budget.See Walker’s Comeback America, p.15. Walker’s projection is based on a GAO budget simulation.Comeback America, p.15. Walker’s projection is based on a GAO budget simulation.

Entitlements Aren’t Going Away

Entitlements are the other major budget issue. For 2014, Social Security Benefits outlays were $905.8 billion. Medicare and Medicaid spending added up to $900.4 billion ($295.7 billion for Medicaid and $604.7 billion for Medicare). Payments for these entitlements are projected to dramatically increase in the coming years as the number of recipients for these programs increase due to the aging US population. A large part of the growth in the fiscal gap is due to the large projected deficits from these programs.

As seen in the table above, the budget deficit trended downward since peaking in 2009, although it slightly increased in 2014. While budget projections tell us this downward trend may continue for the next few years, the deficit problem has not been eliminated.

Interest payments and entitlement payments will soon skyrocket. The next recession will bring about more stimulus packages. Politicians will buy votes by adding new spending programs to the budget and will be reluctant to pay for their spending with additional tax revenues. We will again see record budget deficits.

 Mises Institute

The Original Source of this article can be found here

The Colder War

November 21st, 2014

the colder war

 

How the massive power shift in Russia threatens the political dominance of the United States

There is a new cold war underway, driven by a massive geopolitical power shift to Russia that went almost unnoticed across the globe. In The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America’s Grasp, energy expert Marin Katusa takes a look at the ways the western world is losing control of the energy market, and what can be done about it.

Russia is in the midst of a rapid economic and geopolitical renaissance under the rule of Vladimir Putin, a tenacious KGB officer turned modern-day tsar. Understanding his rise to power provides the keys to understanding the shift in the energy trade from Saudi Arabia to Russia. This powerful new position threatens to unravel the political dominance of the United States once and for all.

  • Discover how political coups, hostile takeovers, and assassinations have brought Russia to the center of the world’s energy market
  • Follow Putin’s rise to power and how it has led to an upsetting of the global balance of trade
  • Learn how Russia toppled a generation of robber barons and positioned itself as the most powerful force in the energy market
  • Study Putin’s long-range plans and their potential impact on the United States and the U.S. dollar

If Putin’s plans are successful, not only will Russia be able to starve other countries of power, but the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) will replace the G7 in wealth and clout. The Colder War takes a hard look at what is to come in a new global energy market that is certain to cause unprecedented impact on the U.S. dollar and the American way of life.

Marin-Katusa

Meet the Author:

Marin Katusa is one of the leading experts on–and most successful portfolio managers in–the energy and resource exploration sectors.

Katusa has rubbed elbows with energy ministers, generals, oligarchs, and billionaires all over the world. He’s strapped on a flak jacket to survey lucrative projects in Russia, Iraq, Ukraine, Kuwait, Mongolia, Kosovo, Colombia, and many other dangerous yet resource-rich jurisdictions that require the protection of heavily armed private security forces.

Starting out as a mathematics professor, Katusa left academics to apply his models to portfolio management. His funds are among the top-performing in the resource sector over the last five years in Canada. He’s a regular contributor to the Business News Network (BNN), and has been interviewed by global media outlets such as CNBC, RT, CBC, Bloomberg, and Forbes.

Katusa first became interested in the energy sector through investing. He began in mining, shifted to Uranium, and began to see the unconventional energy sector as a much bigger story.

Since 2007, Katusa has been serving as the chief energy investment strategist for Casey Research. He is one of the most active financiers for early-stage, junior resource companies in Canada, and was the lead financier in the first two financings for Cuadrilla Resources, now one of the largest and most successful unconventional natural-gas plays in the UK. He also structured the financing and the sale of Turkana and the world-class 10BB oil block in Kenya to Africa Oil, a Lundin-held company with a market capitalization of over C$2 billion. Katusa is a founding director of Copper Mountain, Canada’s third-largest copper mine.

Over the years, Katusa has been involved in raising over C$1 billion in capital for early-stage and producing resource companies.

Katusa speaks fluent Serbian and Croatian, and is conversant in Russian. A graduate of the University of British Columbia, he lives in Vancouver.

Marin Katusa will be joining me this Saturday on Your Financial Advisor! You can listen live from anywhere Saturday morning at 8am on AM 930 WFMD by logging on to www.wfmd.com and clicking the “listen live” button! If you can’t tune into the show, there will be a podcast available the week following the show here.

 

 

 

Three Things a Tesla Teaches Us about Stewardship

November 19th, 2014

FWE

 

Dr. Anne Bradley | Nov 19, 2014

Tesla1

The Tesla is becoming an increasingly frequent sight in the area in which I live, as are many other kinds of electric vehicles. Commercially, this technology is relatively new, but despite the political undertones inevitable to any discussion involving environmental technology, it can teach us a lot about our call to stewardship.

The Importance of Innovation

Oil is scarce, and electric vehicles offer creative ways to steward this diminishing resource. We should, as with all things, try to use resources as efficiently we can. This doesn’t mean that we will completely eliminate its use.

In fact, according to freelancer Michael Schirber in an article for LiveScience.com, “Even if cars soon start running entirely on electricity or hydrogen, they’ll still need 100 gallons or more of oil to make their plastic parts, such as seats, dashboards, bumpers, and engine components.”

Due to considerations of weight, plastic is greatly preferred over steel or aluminum in auto production. Because of this, oil is an inevitable component of even electric vehicles. Electric cars do not eliminate the demand for oil, but they do make us use it more effectively.

Similarly, as electric vehicle technology develops, it requires us to think innovatively about how we use electricity. We will experience surges in the demand for electricity during the early stages of electric vehicle adaptation, but this forces us to think about how we use this and other resources.

According to the MIT Technology Review, “Plugging in an electric vehicle is, in some cases, the equivalent of adding three houses to the grid. That has utilities in California—where the largest number of electric vehicles [is] sold—scrambling to upgrade the grid to avoid power outages.”

There are certain times during the day during which electricity use eclipses the rest of the day, generally after people get home from work and use energy to cook dinner and source their TV. Newsworthy events also trigger spikes in electricity usage, and the demand for the electricity necessary to charge car batteries would mimic those spikes. As technology continues to develop, these issues will likely be resolved.

The Tesla—and electric vehicle technology in general—will spark other areas of innovation. As researchers and developers explore new kinds of transportation, discussions about how we are to use our resources have already begun.

The Place of Creative Destruction

Creative destruction is the process by which industrial technology and capabilities morph to address growing needs in the economy. The fact that technology is constantly developing and adapting to meet new needs is easy to overlook. Often, the process happens so quickly that we don’t notice.

Sometimes it’s a bit more painful. The debate surrounding the transition from traditional car to electric vehicle shares undeniable similarities with the transition from horse and buggy to the early car. The automobile solved significant environmental and sanitation issues inherent to the use of the horse as a key means of transportation.

Simultaneously, it eliminated the need for certain craftsmen involved in the making of buggies and wagons. The demand for smiths and carpenters decreased as automobiles became more popular. Ultimately, these jobs were recouped in the automobile industry, but training and adaptation had to take place first.

It is still too soon to know how the story of the electric vehicle will unfold, but it’s safe to guess that it will include a similar process of destruction and adaptation.

Practical Stewardship

As has been referenced earlier, we’ve been called to fulfill the cultural mandate by being faithful stewards of our resources. In instances like this, where there are many considerations of financial means, logistical needs, and other variables, there may not be a right or wrong approach.

Depending on her constraints, a mom might opt for a minivan. Another individual might need a pick-up truck, given his or her resources and calling. If we’re going to choose to use our resources in one way or another, we need to be able to justify our decisions and become informed.

The fundamentally important lesson of stewardship brought to us through economics is about finding innovative ways to use our scarce resources.  The market process has and continues to help us do this. We now have many more “substitutes” than we did even thirty years ago, including hybrids, increasing public transportation, telework, and electric cars.

How we decide to steward our resources can aid or detract from fostering an entrepreneurial and innovative environment that promotes healthy relationships with those around us.

We each have been entrusted with a specific realm that we are called to tend. For some, this may fall within a department at work, for others their discipline at school, or for some it may be the home.

Each comes with a set of challenges and rewards, and it’s possible to fulfill our calling in these areas well or poorly. We were made by a creative God, and we are called to probe into an issue or situation to achieve full understanding, think innovatively, and be the best stewards we can of the resources we have been given.

IRA and Legacy Planning

November 14th, 2014

Click the link below for the IRA and Legacy Planning Guide as well as a list of the Top 10 Mistakes made while planning!

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IRAandLegacyTrifold 

John Sculley is joining Your Financial Editor for its 17th Anniversary Celebration

November 14th, 2014

Happy 17th Anniversary to Your Financial Editor! To help me celebrate is Mr. John Sculley- former CEO of both Pepsi and Apple. We will be talking about his latest book, “Moonshot” and his video series designed to help innovative entrepreneurs   - You can listen live from anywhere Saturday morning at 8am on AM 930 WFMD by logging on to www.wfmd.com and clicking the “listen live” button! If you can’t tune into the show, there will be a podcast available the week following the show here.

John-Sculley-Forbes

John Sculley’s Background:

As a boy, John Sculley loved to tinker with electronics; when he was five, he asked Santa for a dry-cell battery, a buzzer, and hookup wire. At ten, he was dismantling radios and converting them into intercoms. As a teen, he invented a color cathode-ray tube that, if someone hadn’t beaten him to the patent, would have been the prototype for the Triniton color TV tube.

It should be no surprise, then, that Sculley is a recognized expert and popular speaker about high-tech tools for tackling such challenges as corporate revitalization and the high cost of health care. What may be surprising is the path that led him here.

The son of a Wall Street lawyer father and an artistic mother, John Sculley was born in New York City and grew up in Bermuda and on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He earned an undergraduate degree from Brown University and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Architecture. But a summer internship at a New York industrial design firm convinced Sculley that marketers, not designers, were calling the shots. So he switched to Wharton, Penn’s prestigious graduate school of business.

After earning his MBA in 1963, and taking advantage of his interest in math and statistical modeling, Sculley worked in market research for a New York advertising agency. Four years later, as big corporations began moving their marketing operations in-house, he joined the Pepsi-Cola Company as a trainee.

Sculley describes his first few months at Pepsi as a whirlwind of different jobs in different cities as he learned the rules of corporate culture and the ropes of the soft drink industry. By 1970, at age 30, he was Pepsi’s youngest vice president of marketing, managing a staff of 75. In 1977, after heading the company’s International Foods division and then serving as senior vice president for US sales and marketing, he was named the youngest ever President of Pepsi-Cola.

Sculley credits his years at Pepsi for the evolution of his marketing approach. He says, “My ideas about marketing revolved around building the best possible consumer experiences and then helping find the most creative ways to tease a consumer’s curiosity to become our loyal user.”

In his 1987 book, Odyssey, Sculley says that it was a speech by anthropologist Margaret Mead that inspired the revitalized Pepsi Generation campaign. Mead noted that the single most important factor for marketers since the end of World War II was the emergence of an affluent middle class. Sculley focused on how Pepsi could tap into the children of this generation by associating Pepsi via television with the Baby Boomers’ lifestyle activities.

The Pepsi Challenge was another consumer-experience-centered campaign, designed to capture the surprise of Coca-Cola drinkers when they discovered that they had chosen Pepsi over Coke in a blind product taste test. By the time Sculley left Pepsi in 1983, the Pepsi brand had become the largest-selling consumer packaged goods brand in America, surpassing Coca-Cola in market share.

The partnership of Steve Jobs and John Sculley has been well-documented in Sculley’s own book, in countless interviews, and, most recently, in the biography of Jobs written by Walter Isaacson, published shortly after Jobs’ death in late 2011.

Why did Jobs hire Sculley? Says Sculley, “Steve wanted to be CEO, but the Apple board felt he wasn’t ready. Steve was still over a year away from launching the Mac and the company needed the aging Apple II to continue to provide cash flow for the next three years.”

Today, John Sculley is focused on sharing his considerable experience with corporate executives, “serial entrepreneurs,” and third-wave companies that are not afraid to take risks, to adapt to change, or to use technological advances to achieve their goals.

moonshot

About his book “MoonShot”

“The future belongs to those who see the possibilities before they become obvious… This is the most exciting time ever to be part of the business world.”

Throughout history, there are some events that stand out as so groundbreaking that they completely change life as we know it. The Apollo moon landing of 1969 was one of those events—the invention of the Apple personal computer was another. In this book, John Sculley—former CEO of both Pepsi and Apple—claims we are in an era that is giving birth to numerous groundbreaking events and inventions—moonshots—that will change the way we live and work for generations to come.

The time is ripe, according to Sculley, for a new breed of innovative entrepreneurs to build businesses across industries that will bring in billions of dollars—while changing people’s lives for the better. And in this book, he’ll show you how to do it. Moonshot! lays out a roadmap for building a truly transformative business, beginning with a can’t-fail concept and drawing on clear examples from companies who’ve done innovation right.

Turnout was UP in key Senate races

November 10th, 2014

Difference-in-voter-turnout-2014-vs.-2010

Kyle Hauptman

 | AEIdeas

Just a short post to note that low voter turnout is NOT, despite what some observers are implying, responsible for the GOP takeover of the Senate.

President Obama himself yesterday emphasized the “two-thirds who didn’t vote,” when discussing the new GOP-controlled Senate. Low turnout may have impacted some GOP wins for governor, but it seems a stretch to claim that lower-than-normal turnout for a midterm election cost Harry Reid his Senate majority leader job. Compared to presidential years, turnout is always lower for midterm elections, including in years like 1986 & 2006 when Democrats gained Senate seats. But were this year’s key Senate races decided by low turnout? Not so much.

Some of this narrative got started when Nate Silver’s Fivethirtyeight.com posted the map above under the headline “Preliminary Turnout Numbers Are Way Down From 2010 And 2012.”The map itself compares turnout in the midterm elections of 2010 & 2014. Notice anything about the states with key Senate races?

Let’s look at the eight states labeled Toss Ups by Real Clear Politics:

State (incumbent)           Turnout change vs. 2010

  • AK: Begich (D)                                   +3.4%
  • CO: Udall (D)                                      +1.8%
  • GA: Open (R)                                     -5.7%
  • IA: Open (D)                                       +0.7%
  • KS: Roberts (R)                                  +1.1%
  • LA: Landrieu (D)                                +5.0%
  • NH: Shaheen (D)                              +3.1%
  • NC: Hagan (D)                                    +1.5%

That’s right, the map shows turnout increased in seven of eight Toss Up states. These seven states alone are essentially responsible for Democrats’ losing their majority, since this list includes five GOP pickups (assuming Sullivan is certified in AK) plus a good shot at a sixth after Louisiana’s runoff. It’s not even clear that Georgia had lower turnout, since the map above uses preliminary data and yet the actual results show turnout almost identical to 2010 at 2.56 million.

For good measure, the only other GOP pickup in a state not rated “Safe” by RCP occurred in Arkansas (rated “Lean GOP”). Yup, the map shows turnout up there was well, +3.7%.

As for why overall turnout was down across the country? Plenty of reasons are speculated upon, but it should be noted that California alone (11% of the country’s registered voters) is responsible for 27% of the total turnout drop, according to the data used for 538’s map. And obviously this year not only did CA have no Senate race but Gov. Jerry Brown won by 17% against a low-on-cashopponent. Compare that to 2010, when record amounts of cash were spent (especially by Meg Whitman) on barn-burner elections for both Senate and Governor.

Throw in lower-interest races in New York (no tight races either year but had both Senate & Gov races in 2010 vs. just gubernatorial race in 2014) & Texas (2010 had a hotly-contestedgubernatorial race vs. two boring Sen & Gov elections this year) and you’ve got 40% of the entire US drop-off.

Original Source of Article: http://www.aei.org/publication/turnout-key-senate-races/

Why Does Income Inequality Exist? An Economic and Biblical Explanation

October 31st, 2014

income-inequality-banner

The Bible speaks at length about our uniqueness. We are created in God’s image and are matchless, just like a snowflake. We are also commanded to use our unique combination of skills and abilities to glorify God and serve others. Our unique skills allow us to make a special contribution to the world we live in, not just in the church or on the mission field, but through our work.
Because we are uniquely created, we are endowed by Christ with a specific set of gifts. We can further the Kingdom of Christ by knowing our gifts and pursuing them with excellence. Economists refer to this as comparative advantage. People are served best when they focus on the production of things that they can produce most efficiently (at the lowest opportunity cost) and avoid engaging in the production of goods or services for which they are costly producers.

Comparative advantage is the reason that I am an economist and not a professional singer. I love to sing but am not naturally gifted, so the time and energy I would have to put into becoming good enough to serve others through that is wasted. This diversity of gifts allows us to serve others through market exchange. I can open a dry-cleaning business or run a restaurant if those are my gifts. By pursuing that with excellence I am not only awarded an income, but it allows me to serve others. Because gifts are different and value in the market place is subjective, incomes will be different. They are different because we are created differently. Income inequality is then inseparable from a fallen world in which scarcity abounds.
The market is only capable of rewarding through profit and it punishes with losses. These are in terms of dollars. Because the goods and services we bring to the market are valued subjectively by the purchaser, income inequality is a fact of economic life and economics pervades all of our life choices.

That said, we as Christians are called to seek justice and to care for the poor. We must be at the forefront of this discussion on income inequality – understanding where it is natural, and challenging the status quo where it is unjust. Corruption and injustice that cause poverty must be eradicated. Christians must also be leaders in cultivating and protecting an economic environment that creates opportunity for those in poverty to enjoy upward mobility through the dignity of work.

This paper looks at some of the economic and Biblical reasons why income inequality exists. The following are the primary findings of this research:

  • Diversity is a Biblical premise of Creation. We are born with different gifts.
  • By focusing on our gifts we can unleash our comparative advantage and bring value to the marketplace by serving others.
  • In a free society, absent cronyism, disparity of wages is not a sign of injustice.
  • If we care about a society that reduces poverty and assists the poor, we should be concerned not about income inequality but the relative prosperity of those at the bottom and their income mobility.
  • An opportunity society is the best way to unleash the creativity and dignity with which we are created and serve others with our gifts.

We assert that income inequality is a natural part of the human condition. We are created uniquely and that means that there is no universal Biblical standard for income equality. The question that must be addressed Biblically and through public policy is the relative prosperity of the poorest among us and their ability to gain income through the pursuit of their gifts. To that end, we need an opportunity society which embraces our uniqueness, unleashes our creativity and potential and serves the common good. Markets have empirically demonstrated that they are better than any other system at lifting the poor out of destitution.

 

AnneBradley

About the Anne:

Dr. Anne Rathbone Bradley is the Vice President of Economic Initiatives at the Institute, where she develops and commissions research toward a systematic biblical theology of economic freedom. She is a visiting professor at Georgetown University and has previously taught at George Mason University and at Charles University, Prague. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy. She served as the Associate Director for the Program in Economics, Politics, and the Law at the James M. Buchanan Center at George Mason University.

Dr. Rathbone Bradley’s academic work focuses on: the political economy of terrorism with specific emphasis on the industrial organization of al-Qaeda. Her academic research has been published in scholarly journals and edited volumes. She is currently working on a book that analyzes the political economy of al-Qaeda post 9/11. Based on her academic research she also worked as an Economic Analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Terrorism Analysis.

Dr. Rathbone Bradley received her Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University in 2006 during which time she was a James M. Buchanan Scholar.

Joining me this week on Your Financial Editor is Ms. Anne Rathbone Bradley  - You can listen live from anywhere Saturday morning at 8am on AM 930 WFMD by logging on to www.wfmd.com and clicking the “listen live” button! If you can’t tune into the show, there will be a podcast available the week following the show here.

 

University of Pittsburgh Ebola expert: Infections among medical staff expected

October 24th, 2014
By David Templeton / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Amy-L-Hartman

Amy L. Hart­man did breakthrough Ebola research a decade ago and joined a CDC team that helped bring the 2005 Mar­burg virus outbreak under control in An­gola.

The Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh doc­tor of vi­rol­ogy and re­search man­ager at the uni­ver­sity’s Re­gional Bio­con­tain­ment Lab­o­ra­tory in Oak­land said what is hap­pen­ing in Dal­las in the wake of Tho­mas Eric Dun­can’s death from Ebola comes as no sur­prise.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the trans­mis­sion from Dun­can to health care work­ers is not at all un­ex­pected,” she said. “And I would ex­pect other po­ten­tially in­fected trav­el­ers from West Africa, like Mr. Dun­can, to come to the United States and show up at Amer­i­can hos­pi­tals.”

Given the ex­tent of the out­break in West Africa, a few more are likely, she said.

Mr. Dun­can died Oct. 8 in a Dal­las hos­pi­tal, and two nurses who treated him have con­tracted Ebola.

The big ques­tion is why one of those nurses, Amber Joy Vin­son, took a round­trip flight early this week be­tween Dal­las and Cleve­land.

“I’m sur­prised they ha­ven’t kept those in­di­vid­u­als un­der close ob­ser­va­tion for 21 days,” she said. “Why she got on a plane, I do not know. The like­li­hood that she would have in­fected any­one dur­ing a flight is low, but it is not a risk they should have taken. They shouldn’t be trav­el­ing dur­ing that time.”

Breaches in pro­to­col es­tab­lished by U.S. Centers for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion are ex­pected to be ad­dressed dur­ing a hear­ing at noon to­day held by U.S. Rep. Tim Mur­phy, R-Up­per St. Clair, as chair­man of the House Over­sight and In­ves­ti­ga­tions sub­com­mit­tee. It will fo­cus on “pro­tect­ing pub­lic health and en­sur­ing that not a sin­gle ad­di­tional case of Ebola oc­curs in the United States.” Tom Frie­den, CDC di­rec­tor, will tes­tify about how the in­fec­tions oc­curred in Dal­las.

Gov. Tom Cor­bett said his ad­min­is­tra­tion has been talk­ing with the CDC, mu­nic­i­pal and county health of­fi­cials, and hos­pi­tals state­wide to learn from what has hap­pened in Texas.

As a post-doc­toral fel­low with the CDC, Ms. Hart­man dis­cov­ered an amino acid that makes the Ebola vi­rus patho­genic. When the out­break of Mar­burg, which is in the same fi­lo­vi­rus fam­ily as Ebola, oc­curred, she and other CDC sci­en­tists went to An­gola to con­firm in­fec­tions of Mar­burg. That out­break, the larg­est ever of Mar­burg, re­sulted in a 90 per­cent death toll, with 229 deaths among 254 infections.

Ebola in­fec­tions oc­cur only from di­rect con­tact with in­fected bod­ily flu­ids, rather than aero­sol trans­mis­sion. His­tor­i­cally, health care work­ers in­volved in treat­ing in­fected pa­tients “have al­ways been a crit­i­cal el­e­ment in the am­pli­fi­ca­tion and spread of these out­breaks,” she said, mak­ing them the “weak link” in out­breaks, even if they wear proper pro­tec­tive gear.

“This vi­rus is so deadly, and the amount that is needed to in­fect a per­son is so small, that one tiny, in­ad­ver­tent mis­take — ‘a breach in pro­to­col’ — is all that is needed to be­come in­fected.” Even ex­pe­ri­enced med­i­cal staff with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and Doc­tors With­out Borders in Africa be­come in­fected, she said.

“Here,” Ms. Hart­man said, “this mini-out­break in Dal­las shouldn’t go be­yond the ini­tial trans­mis­sion. That is a dis­tinc­tion that is eas­ily lost on the pub­lic and me­dia, which can be prone to over-ex­ag­ger­a­tion.”

A ma­jor Amer­i­can out­break re­mains un­likely.

“We know how to con­trol Ebola out­breaks,” she said. “We’ve been suc­cess­ful in do­ing it many times in Africa, and it shouldn’t be any dif­fer­ent here, where we have proper med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties. It’s a mat­ter of con­tact-trac­ing and quar­an­tine.”

You can find the original publication here.

Phyllis Schlafly-Who Killed the American Family?

October 24th, 2014

Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the publication of her best-selling 1964 book, A Choice Not An Echo. She has been a leader of the pro-family movement since 1972, when she started her national volunteer organization called Eagle Forum. In a ten-year battle, Mrs. Schlafly led the pro-family movement to victory over the principal legislative goal of the radical feminists, called the Equal Rights Amendment. An articulate and successful opponent of the radical feminist movement, she appears in debate on college campuses more frequently than any other conservative. She was named one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century by theLadies’ Home Journal.

Mrs. Schlafly’s monthly newsletter called The Phyllis Schlafly Report is now in its 47th year. Her syndicated column appears in 100 newspapers, and on many conservative websites, her radio commentaries are heard daily on over 600 stations, and her radio talk show on education called “Eagle Forum Live” is heard weekly on 90 stations. Both can be heard on the internet.

Mrs. Schlafly is the author or editor of 20 books on subjects as varied as family and feminism (The Power of the Positive Woman and Feminist Fantasies); the judiciary (The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It); religion (No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom); nuclear strategy (Strike From Space and Kissinger on the Couch); education (Child Abuse in the Classroom); child care (Who Will Rock the Cradle?); and phonics (First Reader and Turbo Reader).

Mrs. Schlafly is a lawyer and served as a member of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, 1985-1991, appointed by President Reagan. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues.

Mrs. Schlafly is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington University, received her J.D. from Washington University Law School, and received her Master’s in Political Science from Harvard University. In 2008 Washington University/St. Louis awarded Phyllis an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Phyllis Schlafly is America’s best-known advocate of the dignity and honor that we as a society owe to the role of fulltime homemaker. The mother of six children, she was the 1992 Illinois Mother of the Year.

Joining me this week on Your Financial Editor is Ms. Phyllis Schlafly the author of “Who Killed the American Family?”- You can listen live from anywhere Saturday morning at 8am on AM 930 WFMD by logging on to www.wfmd.com and clicking the “listen live” button! If you can’t tune into the show, there will be a podcast available the week following the show here.

About Who Killed the American Family?

Who-Killed-the-American-Family2

American families are the backbone of this nation. The American family is the fundamental institution that provided the Founding Fathers with the emotional support and driving courage to face the tyrannical government that threatened their very existence. It is the essential building block of a free society with limited government.The American family used to be the fundamental institution of our stable, liberty-loving and very successful society, but in the last hundred years it has been attacked, debased, maligned, slandered and vilified by every facet of society. At issue is a rebellion against any sort of moral code, and no family is safe from the official busybodies.

“Who Killed the American Family?” reveals the concerted assault on the American nuclear family by many forces: feminists, judges, lawmakers, psychologists, school districts, college professors, politicians offering incentives and seeking votes, and more, each opposed to the traditional American nuclear family and each with its own raison d’être for wanting to abolish it. The wreckage of the American family leaves us with the inability to have limited government, because government steps in to perform tasks formerly done by the nuclear family.

A veteran conservative activist and thought leader who led the charge to successfully defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly explains how changes in the law, in court decisions, in the culture, in education and in entertainment have eroded the once-precious institution. Any of these factors on its own would not have been enough to impact our families, but together they add up to a mighty force. Schlafly not only exposes the tactical charge the left has implemented, but she offers hope and a plan for stopping anti-marriage incentives and restoring in our culture the sacred nature of the family unit.