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National Review: We’re in a serious enough demographic bind that we’re all going to have to work together to figure out a way to make this thing work. The thing is, when your fertility rate is sub-replacement, you enter a zero-sum game where either older folks aren’t going to get the benefits they were promised or young workers are going to face much steeper tax rates. How the politics of this issue resolves over the next 20 years will be one of the most interesting stories around. Will older Americans relinquish some of their claims? Will younger workers volunteer to pay more? Will there be some grand bargain? The truth is, no one knows how it will end. We just know that something has to give.
Heritage Foundation: National Marriage Week (February 7–14) is drawing attention to the link between the collapse of marriage and child poverty—and its cost to America.
Cynthia Davis at Townhall: We now live in a time where social welfare incentives have engendered unprecedented numbers of unmarried parents, causing record deficits. The inability to address this issue has politically-hobbled every Republican president since Reagan. Our government needs to take responsibility for creating this monster and start on a new path of adopting policies that are good for families.
David Frum at CNN: The long debate on same-sex marriage is coming to an end. A plurality of Americans now support same-sex marriage; the figure is 63% among voters under 30. The rest is just a matter of time. The end of the same-sex marriage debate does not, however, settle the problem of marriage in America. Not remotely. Among the 95% to 97% of Americans who are not gay, the institution of marriage continues to weaken — with ominous consequences for the next generation.
CNSNews: Forty years of legalized abortion have profoundly demoralized American society, not only weakening respect for human life but undermining marriage, parenthood and individuals’ sense of duty to others, said U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford
Washington Post: The drastic $85 billion in automatic spending cuts Congress approved in hopes of heading off another deficit showdown may or may not occur, but federal agencies say the threat has been disrupting government for months as officials take costly and inefficient steps to prepare.
Telegraph: The cost of raising a child has hit an all-time high, according to a new report. Figures from insurer LV=’s annual Cost of a Child Report show that the cost of a bringing a child up to the age of 21 has reached £222,458 – more than £4,000 higher than last year and up £82,000 on ten years ago.
Gary King at the NY Times: CONGRESS and President Obama have pushed through a relatively modest stopgap measure to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” but over the coming years, the United States will confront another huge cliff: Social Security.
Minding the Campus: Failing Law Schools, a recent book by Brian Z. Tamanaha, a law professor who has also been a law dean, savages American legal education–and rightly so. Tamanaha’s criticisms go something like this: the ABA accreditors and their allies control and dictate to legal educators. The controllers are the deans, professors, librarians, etc. who use accreditation to force on all schools their desired model of legal education, a model which is beneficial to the faculty.
Joe Carter at LifeSiteNews: Economic growth is therefore not, as McCarraher claims, the “beatific vision of the capitalist moral imagination.” It’s neither a goal that should be pursued for its own sake nor a means to achieve a materialist paradise. Economic growth is not the chief end of man, but merely the blessing that results from fulfilling God’s cultural mandate.
Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post: “Marriage is not merely a private arrangement; it is also a complex social institution. Marriage fosters small cooperative unions — also known as stable families — that enable children to thrive, shore up communities, and help family members to succeed during good times and to weather the bad times. Researchers are finding that the disappearance of marriage in Middle America is tracking with the disappearance of the middle class in the same communities, a change that strikes at the very heart of the American Dream.”
The Hill: Deficit-reduction proposals from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama fall short of clearly stabilizing the debt, according to budget experts, putting the U.S. credit rating at risk of a downgrade.
Single Belles, Single All the Way: The marriage gap is a problem we can’t afford to ignore. | Mona Charen at NRO
Mona Charen at National Review: It in’t a matter of urgent national importance when non-parents choose to live together without benefit of clergy (I love the old-fashioned expression). When children come into the picture, it is. There is simply no controversy about the data: Two-parent married families are best for children — and best for society.
CNSNews: According to a recent Gallup poll that asked participants if they have a positive or negative image of socialism, 53 percent of Democrats and “leaning democrats” said they have a positive image while 23 percent of Republicans and “leaning republicans” said their image is positive.
Sohrab Ahmari at Wall Street Journal: So is it still possible to pull back from the brink of America’s Europeanization? Mr. Mansfield is optimistic. “The material for recovery is there,” he says. “Ambition, for one thing. I teach at a university where all the students are ambitious. They all want to do something with their lives.” That is in contrast to students he has met in Europe, where “it was depressing to see young people with small ambitions, very cultivated and intelligent people so stunted.” He adds with a smile: “Our other main resource is the Constitution.”
AP: Maria Menendez, a 25-year-old caught in Spain’s job-destroying economic crisis, would love to work in Germany as a veterinarian. Germany, facing an acute shortage of skilled workers, would love to have her. A perfect match, it seems, but something’s holding her back: She doesn’t speak German.
Politico: And Club for Growth, a longtime small-government group, said Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) were “free of the last remnants of establishment leverage against them” after they were booted from their committees by the House Republican Steering Committee for crossing leadership too often.
NCPA Policy Digest: The renewable fuel standard (RFS) is increasing the biofuel-blending requirements. This change can give rise to numerous damaging spillovers throughout the economy, says Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow in environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institu
NCPA Policy Digest: Consumer-directed health plans are gaining popularity as many employers are beginning to offer them in an effort to reduce health care costs, says the Los Angeles Times.
Christian Institute: Morrisons and Asda have called for an increase in Sunday trading hours at Christmas – but Tesco is resisting such a move saying the day is still “special” for many.
CNBC: Some 45 percent of those polled said the holiday season brings so much financial pressure, they would prefer to skip it altogether. Almost half said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high. That’s probably because nearly the same amount — some 45 percent — say they do not expect to have enough money set aside to cover holiday expenses.
Lawrence Journal World: He said births to unmarried women nationwide have increased from around 30 percent in 1993 to 40 percent now. The poverty rate for children in female-headed households is 41 percent, while it is about 9 percent for married couples, he said.
The Hill: Retiring Rep. Ron Paul plans to deliver speeches on college campuses next year and beyond, continuing his message of liberty and reducing the size of the federal government. In an interview with The Hill, the Texas Republican clearly indicated that he isn’t ready for the rocking chair.
NY Times: Limbaugh echoed a Republican theme that was voiced before and after the election: Barack Obama has unleashed a coalition of Americans “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them” — as Mitt Romney put it in his notorious commentary on the 47 percent. You can find this message almost everywhere on the right side of the spectrum . . . In fact, the 2011 Pew Research Center poll Bennett cites demonstrates that in many respects conservatives are right to be worried:
Ms. Magazine: A recent study conducted by UC San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) found that women who are denied an abortion in the United States are three times more likely to be under the federal poverty line. Of 956 women who sought abortion care, the study found that 65% of “turnaways” (women who were denied abortion care) were below the poverty line compared to 56% of women who had abortions. Two years after seeking an abortion, turnaways were three times more likely to be below the poverty level compared to women had abortions.
Amy Ziettlow at Family Scholars: More than a century and a half ago Alexis de Tocqueville made the striking observation that an individualistic society depends on a communitarian institution like the family for its continued existence. The family cannot be constituted like the liberal state, nor can it be governed entirely by that state’s principles. Yet the family serves as the seedbed for the virtues required by a liberal state. The family is responsible for teaching lessons of independence, self-restraint, responsibility, and right conduct, which are essential to a free, democratic society. If the family fails in these tasks, then the entire experiment in democratic self-rule is jeopardized.
Wall Street Journal: Shedding light on the issues of divorce and health care, a new University of Michigan study estimates that 65,000 American women become uninsured each year as a result of marital dissolution.
Ryan Anderson at Double Think: Is there really “something highly contradictory,” as Kathryn Shelton argued here on Doublethink, about a position that “advocates the regulation of marriage, but rallies behind a platform for smaller government”? Or, on the contrary, is the promotion of marriage critical to limited government, as traditionalist conservatives—among others—regularly contend?
Washington Times: He added, “You cannot have a budgetary solution if you do not change what the role of government should be. As long as you think we have to please the world and run this welfare state, all we will argue about is who will get the loot.”
Rev. Robert Sirico at the Acton Institute: Another way of looking at this is to understand that freedom itself is not a virtue, but rather the context in which virtue (or vice, for that matter) becomes evident. If a free market is the expression of the liberty of economic actors to satisfy their needs, then the morality of the market will depend on whether or not those desires and their fulfillment was moral in the first instance.
CNSNews: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Wednesday that if the $16.394 current legal limit on the federal government’s debt must be raised in the next few months by another $2.4 trillion, “We’ll raise it.”
Spiegel.de: The Chinese are seen as victors in the global financial crisis, and as both a hope and a threat to German industry. Beijing wants to be more than the world’s factory. But the country’s economic engine is showing signs of stalling and it is uncertain what direction it will take in the future . . . China is on a global buying spree, and it sees the current economic crisis in Europe and the United States as an historic opportunity to energetically press ahead with its offensive. The financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that China’s so-called red capitalists spent $23.9 billion on shares in foreign companies in the first half of 2012, or three times as much as in the same period last year.
LifeSiteNews (include video): Pro-contraception activist Sandra Fluke, on a speaking tour for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, continues to parrot the Obama administration’s party line that children are one of the biggest roadblocks to women’s success.
Acton Institute (includes video and transcript): Justice is rooted in the intellectual tradition as treatment in accord with dessert. In other words, we are bound to treat people as they deserve to be treated. But that raises another question. What do people deserve? And that raised yet another question. Who is the human person who has the right to be treated in a particular way? Now this is where we come upon the most obvious thing about human beings.
AP: Out are the super-sized McMansions in far-flung suburbs and in the sprawling Southwest . . . In are new, 300 square-foot “micro” apartments under consideration for wider development in dense cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston and …
NY Times: His name is Bernard von NotHaus, and he is a professed “monetary architect” and a maker of custom coins found guilty last spring of counterfeiting charges for minting and distributing a form of private money called the Liberty Dollar.
The Third Year of Law School and a Comment on Credentialing, Education, and Grades in Higher Education
Kenneth Anderson at the Volokh Conspiracy: One of the more practical debates over the law school business model asks about the third year of law school. Is it actually necessary – and even if, in principle, it might be a good idea, is it at the prices law schools now charge? If it is kept – which seems pretty likely for most schools, given the existing business model – how can it be changed to make it more useful to students?
Bloomberg Business Week: NFIB spokeswoman Jean Card said the group based its endorsement on Akin’s voting record on small business issues, which gets a 100 percent approval score from the NFIB. (McCaskill gets a 45 percent.) “We really do our best to just look at the issues that are relevant to our membership,” Card says.
CNBC: “I’ve been in this business a long time and believe me there is essentially no difference from one administration to another no matter what the platforms,” said Paul, a former hopeful for the GOP nomination. “The foreign policy stays the same, the monetary policy stays the same, there’s no proposal for any real cuts and both parties support it.”
Reuters: The largest 100 public pension funds have around $1.2 trillion of unfunded liabilities, about $300 billion above the nearly $900 billion they reported themselves, according to a new actuarial study to be released on Monday.
AP: The government borrowed about 31 cents of every dollar it spent in 2012. The string of $1 trillion-plus deficits has driven the national debt above $16 trillion. The magnitude of that figure has intensified debate in Congress over spending and taxes but little movement toward compromise.
American Lawyer: According to a new survey conducted by legal search consultant Major, Lindsey & Africa and Am Law Daily affiliate ALM Legal Intelligence, partners at Am Law 200, NLJ 350, and American Lawyer Global 100 firms saw their annual compensation rise, on average, 6.4 percent to $681,000 over the past two years. The jump was apparently driven, at least in part, by an uptick in the average rate those partners are billing, from $555 per hour in 2010 to $585 today.
Turtle Bay and Beyond: Even skeptics of the demographic dividend have pointed to the success of the Asian Tigers as the exception to the global rule (there has been no such economic boom in the rest of the developing world despite falling fertility). Yet as a new Bank of Korea report confirms, the Aging Tigers, already eking out the last of the dividend, must now brace for the petering out of their workforce . . .
Piero Tozzi at The Bell Towers: Conventional thinking gives Ryan and his party the advantage when it comes to “subsidiarity” – the principle that political and economic decisions are best made at the level closest to those affected by them rather than by a top-down centralized bureaucracy – while crediting the Democrats for their commitment to “solidarity” – acting on behalf of the most poor and marginalized out of an assumed authentic altruism.
Ed News: Growing up with married parents vastly increases a child’s prospects of escaping poverty, a study has revealed. A stable home was found to raise a child’s chances of escaping the poverty trap by 82 per cent.
NCPA Policy Digest: Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $15,745 this year, up 4 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $4,316 toward the cost of their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey.
NCPA Policy Digest: From 1990 to 2010 the share of expenditures on housing — including principal, mortgage interest, taxes, maintenance and insurance — for these age groups increased about 25 percent.
Bloomberg: Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident whose flight to the U.S. in April roiled U.S.-China relations, said iPhone-maker Apple Inc. (AAPL) should take a more outspoken role criticizing China for its one-child policy.
Ken McIntyre at Heritage Foundation Culture Watch: The collapse of marriage, along with a dramatic rise in births to single women, is the most important cause of childhood poverty—but government policy doesn’t reflect that reality, according to a special report released yesterday by The Heritage Foundation.
Heritage Foundation: Nearly three out of four poor families with children in America are headed by single parents. When a child’s father is married to his mother, however, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.
FoxNews (includes video): Fully two-thirds of the national debt is owed to the U.S. government, American investors and future retirees, through the Social Security Trust Fund and pension plans for civil service workers and military personnel. China, it turns out, holds less than 8 percent of the money our government has borrowed over the years.
The National Law Journal: Average tuition and fees at private law schools will increase approximately 4 percent over last year to $40,585, according to an examination of published rates by The National Law Journal . . . The single biggest factor in the ability of law schools to raise their prices is the availability of government loans, Organ said. As long as students can easily borrow the full cost of their tuition, schools will face less pressure to contain their costs. This year’s tuition increases “tell you the extent to which federal loan money makes students less price sensitive and gives pricing power to law schools,” he said. “I think the current system is pretty fragile. It’s completely dependent on the federal government making loans available.”
Financial Times: Drafts of the party platform, which it will adopt at a convention in Tampa Bay, Florida, next week, call for an audit of Federal Reserve monetary policy and a commission to look at restoring the link between the dollar and gold.
The Hill: The Pew Research Center found that median income for the middle class dropped by 5 percent, in the first decade since World War II where family incomes declined across the board. In a decade that saw both recession and a financial crisis, median wealth for the middle class dropped even more sharply, by some 28 percent.
Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy quoting from a Wall Street Journal article: For most of the 20th century, the United States was a single market for gasoline. Today we have a series of fragmentary, regional markets thanks to dozens of regulatory requirements imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulators.
Paul Ryan’s Catholicism and the Poor: Acts coerced by government, no matter how beneficial or well-intentioned, cannot be moral.
Antony Davies and Kristina Antolin at the Wall Street Journal: But that word—voluntarily—is key, and it’s where Mr. Ryan’s religious detractors go awry: Charity can only be charity when it is voluntary. Coerced acts, no matter how beneficial or well-intentioned, cannot be moral.
Cong. Ron Paul: As Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained, sound money is an instrument that protects our civil liberties against despotic government. Our current monetary system is indeed despotic, and the surest way to correct things simply is to legalize competing currencies.
NCPA Policy Digest: New reports suggest America is not only hurting economically under President Obama, but also on a dangerous road to fiscal decline and growing dependence on government, says Investor’s Business Daily. Here are just a few recent reports about the alarming growth in dependency . . .
Washington Times: . . . You have warned that civilizations fail and the reason they fail is plain. “When civilizational virtues are eroded from within, people lose the capacity to defend the good things those habits enabled previous generations to achieve,” you explain, and cite ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and 1930s Germany as examples. Millions are afraid the United States is heading down the same doomed path. Is that indeed a danger, and what do Americans need to do to pull a U-turn back in the right direction? Sirico: While I do not wish to overstate the crisis we as a nation and a culture are facing, it is, I believe, quite apparent things are seriously off-kilter. Nor is this an observation from one side of the political spectrum — it is a general sense people have.
Weekly Standard: A new chart set to be released later today by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee details a startling statistic: “Over 100 Million People in U.S. Now Receiving Some Form Of Federal Welfare.”
ABA Journal: A new study on why federal judges retire, resign or take senior status has its authors worried about an increasing judicial exodus in the coming decades . . . The other study authors are University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Burbank and Judge S. Jay Plager of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The study is available at SSRN .
AP: People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It’s a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
NCPA Policy Digest: Eight state governors have said that they will take advantage of the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing them to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) dramatic expansion of Medicaid. Their actions have been dismissed by liberal columnists as mere partisan posturing, but further analysis reveals that opting out may be the fiscally responsible choice for a number of states, says Avik Roy, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.
Penna Dexter at Baptist Press: All the studies show that, without the stable presence of a father in the home, kids are poorer, have more problems in school and in their academic performance and face a worse economic future. They’re also more likely to become teenage parents and extend the cycle.
Benjamin Bull at Townhall: To recap: The top 10 states for business in the U.S. all define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while two states that have redefined marriage, New York and Massachusetts, rank 28 and 34 in the country as far as business goes (Washington already surpasses them both by coming in at number 21). Why should the citizens of Washington aspire to be less business friendly while also sacrificing the sanctity of marriage? It certainly doesn’t make economic sense.
Wall Street Journal: In some cases, the cost of obtaining the tax benefit is greater than the benefit itself—a wrinkle that has helped spawn a cottage industry of tax-credit consultants. Also problematic is the threat of pushback from the Internal Revenue Service. The result: many companies are saying “no, thanks” and are likely paying more taxes than legally required. And corporate breaks that Washington hopes will boost the economy often prove ineffective.
John Ransom at Townhall: There is a dirty secret about state entitlements that liberals don’t want you to know. The collection of a state pension increases the chances that a pensioner will live in poverty. That’s because money put aside for state-guaranteed benefits can not be safely invested at rates that provide for more than a modest retirement unless the state subsidizes retirement benefits through taxes or if retirement savings are invested in riskier, higher yielding investments. Since governments are loath to raise taxes to subsidize a riskless retirement, benefits are eventually reduced. It works that way in London and Moscow as well as Madison and Sacramento.
ScienceBlog: Poor people hold more traditional values toward marriage and divorce than people with moderate and higher incomes, UCLA psychologists report in the current issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. | What’s (Not) Wrong With Low-Income Marriages (pages 413–427)
NY Times: Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.