The American Dream—the idea that any American has the ability to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, work hard, make good decisions, and lift themselves from even abject poverty to extreme wealth—is what has always made America different from any other nation on earth. Only in the United States’ free market capitalist economic system has this level of economic mobility been possible, which is why people from around the world have flocked to the United States throughout its history. But is the American Dream still possible?
According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 59 percent of Americans believe that it is impossible for any individual American to work hard and get rich, the highest level ever. Not only that, only 48% believe that it is possible for anyone to work their way out of poverty, while 39% disagree. Rasmussen also shows that pessimism is at an all-time high, with only 25% of Americans believing that the economy will be better a year from now than it is today. Given the sorry state of the American economy, that’s a very sad statement.
There’s a pervasive myth floating around the progressive left that pro-market advocacy necessarily means pro-business advocacy (and, by extension, anti-poor people advocacy). That is, as I said, categorically a myth, but that doesn’t mean people don’t believe it — they do. Kudos are due many times over to the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney for doing yeoman’s work to try to dispel these myths, like this thorough and merciless rebuttal to Anna Palmer’s joke of a POLITICO piece on a supposed resurgence of corporate lobbyist influence in the White House if Mitt Romney wins the election, as if there’s nothing to see in the Barack Obama White House:
You mean after he kicks out the lobbyists in Obama’s White House like Patton Boggs lobbyist Emmett Beliveau (7), O’Melveny & Myers lobbyist Derek Douglas (8), and Pfizer’s, AT&T’s lobbyist at Akin Gump Dana Singiser (9)?
By that point in the column, Carney had already identified six registered lobbyists working in the administration; by the end of the thrashing, he identifies a total fifty-five registered lobbyists working in the White House.
I would like to know where the bleeding-heart outcry is over the Cash for Clunkers program. Aside from the centuries of economic theory that show why it may be, as economist Chris Edwards suggests, the dumbest program ever, where’s the outrage over destroying materials that could be of so much value to our nation’s poor?
There are thousands of poor people in this country, and even more in Mexico, who are struggling to get by. Many of them drive old, beat-up jalopies that break down regularly, and many can’t afford cars at all.
And then the government introduces a program that results in the destruction of millions of dollars worth of perfectly good vehicles. Now, I understand that the whole point of the program was to get those cars off the road to lower carbon emissions and nudge a culture into purchasing smaller cars. But do the planners in Washington really think that a program that lasts a couple of weeks will result in an overall worldwide decline in carbon emmissions? Is there that much hubris floating around in the Potomac?
So was it worth the publicity stunt to revoke vehicles from the hands of the poor?
Go ahead and watch this perfectly good trunk get demolished, and you decide if it could have served a better purpose in the hands of a struggling American.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 24% of Americans believe that the welfare is the main reason for persistent poverty:
Two decades after President Bill Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it,” Americans blame government handouts for persistent poverty in the United States more than any other single factor, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday.
Given a list of eight factors and asked to choose the one most responsible for the continuing problem of poverty, 24 percent of respondents in the poll chose “too much government welfare that prevents initiative.”
Whether Americans are too dependent on government was a flashpoint of the presidential campaign last year, and shrinking government has been a focus of the Tea Party movement, which has risen since the election of President Barack Obama.
“Lack of job opportunities” was the second most popular answer, at 18 percent, followed by “lack of good educational opportunities” and “breakdown of families,” with 13 percent apiece.
The other four options in the poll, in descending order, were “lack of work ethic,” “lack of government funding,” “drugs” and “racial discrimination.” Eight percent of respondents said that all eight factors were equally responsible.
It’s not surprising that a tough economy reduces job prospects for those who are willing and able to work. Many Americans want to work, but job opportunities are hard to come by. But too frequently there are many who rather live off the forced generousity of taxpayers than go out and work for a job.
Capitalism is truly a wonderful thing. This economic system is empowers the individual and limits government control over economies, which draws criticism and derision from the Left. They like to claim that capitalism is greed and they use that populist sentiment to push more state control and regulations.
But what the Left won’t admit is that capitalism is saving lives and reducing poverty in countries where free trade and market liberalization are being enacted. An editorial in the most recent issue of The Economist outlines the successes of capitalism:
The world’s achievement in the field of poverty reduction is, by almost any measure, impressive. Although many of the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) —such as cutting maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds—will not be met, the aim of halving global poverty between 1990 and 2015 was achieved five years early.
The MDGs may have helped marginally, by creating a yardstick for measuring progress, and by focusing minds on the evil of poverty. Most of the credit, however, must go to capitalism and free trade, for they enable economies to grow—and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution.
During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. Not to be out done, however, leftists in Washington have introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10:
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argues President Obama “missed the mark” in calling to raise the minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union address, and his staff met with White House staff last week to argue for a higher number.
The veteran senator, who will retire at the end of this Congress, is working with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) on legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years and then index future increases to inflation.
“Well, we’re going to introduce our own bill on it,” Harkin told The Hill on Tuesday. “I’m going to be in discussions with them because I think they missed the mark, but people make mistakes.”
While this proposal may make some people feel warm and fuzzy, it comes with real world consequences for those who it’s intended to help, including teens, entry-level, and unskilled workers. Veronique de Rugy recently pointed to a couple of different studies showing that the minimum wage the various effects the policy has on these workers. According to a study by three economists — David Neumark, William Wascher, and Mark Schweitzer — the minimum wage actually has the adverse effect of increasing poverty.
During his inaugural address, President Barack Obama launched a defense of entitlement programs and spoke about income equality. But despite the rhetoric and increased spending on welfare programs during his first four years, the poverty rate in the United States hasn’t declined.
Writing at US News and World Report, Keith Hall, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, explains that government spending won’t lift people out of poverty, noting instead that Congress should pursue policies that create private-sector jobs to lift Americans out of poverty:
Since the start of the recession, the number of Americans in poverty has grown by 9 million. This increase has come at a time when government spending on the poor has also reached record levels. In 2011, more than 100 million people lived in households that received some kind of low-income government assistance; spending on these programs at the federal, state, and local level combined now exceeds $1 trillion annually. Government assistance for low-income families now equals a shocking 10 percent of all household spending.
It has been long recognized that recessions can increase the number of families in poverty, and over the past 20 years it has become clear that the rising and falling poverty rate correlates directly with the jobless rate. The graph below shows this relationship.
Over the last year or so, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have made a push for a new tax, dubbed the “Buffett Rule,” on the rich. The tax, which would ensure than anyone making over $1 million pays at least a 30% tax rate, wouldn’t raise a significant amount of money, but its supporters say that it’s needed as a matter of “fairness.”
While the Buffett Rule won’t pass Congress anytime soon, it looks like the United Nations has a plan of its own to tax the wealthy for programs to help the poor around the world:
The United Nations on Thursday called for a tax on billionaires to help raise more than $400 billion a year for poor countries.
An annual lump sum payment by the super-rich is one of a host of measures including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, currency exchanges or financial transactions proposed in a UN report that accuses wealthy nations of breaking promises to step up aid for the less fortunate.
The annual World Economic and Social Survey says it is critical to find new ways to help the world’s poor as pledged cash fails to flow.
The report estimates that the number of people around the globe worth at least $1 billion rose to 1,226 in 2012.
There are an estimated 425 billionaires in the United States, 315 in the Asia-Pacific region, 310 in Europe, 90 in other North and South American countries and 86 in Africa and the Middle East.
Together they own an estimated $4.6 trillion so a one percent tax on their wealth would raise more than $46 billion, according to the report.
You may have heard in recent days that the poverty rate in the United States jumped as a result of the recent recession. No doubt this will be used to justify more increases in spending, though Washington hasn’t needed a recession to increase spending on anti-poverty programs.
This chart from the Heritage Foundation shows spending for the individual programs and how much they have increased over the last 10 years. Note that while spending for welfare programs is at a record high, it has been a record levels since the “compassionate conservative” presidency of George W. Bush.
Despite all of this spending, the poverty rate has not only not changed, it has gone up, and since the passage of Great Society programs, which include Medicare and Medicaid, the trillions of dollars spent in the War on Poverty have been as effective as government crusades against some social ill, such as the War on Drugs, has been…a failure.
This article, in which female supremacist (and that’s really what this sort of crap is) Pamela Paul argues that men aren’t unnecessary in a functioning family, is a sick example of what happens when someone writes about something they don’t know anything about with absolutely no real life evidence. I am a man who was raised with a single mom and I know damn well the difficulties that come from a man having no male role models. Pamela Paul literally has no idea what she is talking about.
Liberal feminist moms—eager for the participation of our emotionally evolved, enthusiastically diaper-bag-toting mates in the grueling round of dual-career child rearing—are keen to back the data. Dads, we tell our husbands, are essential influences on children, the source of unique benefits.