For the most part, I endorse Thomas Carlyle’s description of economics as the dismal science. I have to add the “most part” qualifier after meeting and working with an economist who with her husband – also an economist – has developed the Family Prosperity Index. Measures like gross domestic product have value, but fail in themselves to measure prosperity in all its dimensions. FPI brings together data on fiscal and social well-being.

What is authentic prosperity, in terms of families? Where’s the objective data to evaluate prosperity? How do public policies help or hurt families? Explore the Index for yourself, and see how Dr. Wendy Warcholik and J. Scott Moody demonstrate how economic and social policy affect each other and in turn affect families.

As Mr. Moody told me in a recent interview, “We need to take a longer perspective, not election to election, about problems [affecting families]. That’s something the Family Prosperity Index is trying to do: break that vicious cycle of jumping from election to election with policy, and instead put into place programs that are going to be there long term, that will actually make a difference.”

It was my good fortune to work for Dr. Warcholik a few years ago when she served as executive director of a New Hampshire nonprofit organization. Today, she and Mr. Moody are senior fellows at the American Conservative Union (ACU) Foundation, where they are working on their Family Prosperity Initiative. I met with them at CPAC 2017 to learn more about what they’re doing and to follow up on some recent research they’ve published about the opioid crisis in my home state of New Hampshire.

Q. How did FPI come to be connected with the American Conservative Union?

WW: We met the executive director, Dan Schneider, and that’s how the partnership came about. We’d been working on the idea for the Index for the last five years. We had known Dan for awhile before that. We knew he was very interested and passionate about building out the foundation side of American Conservative Union. He was the first person who really saw the big vision for the Index and its data-driven capability to capture and measure what is truly prosperity.

Q. You look at more data than the typical economic analysis.

WW: We do. We’ve spent most of our career looking at the fiscal side of things, the economic side of the equation for prosperity. Through our many years in the free-market arena, doing the research and looking at different measures of prosperity indices, we really felt it needed to be a broader measure that takes into consideration the entire person. We wanted to go with an economic index with variables that truly measured human choices, not statutory measures. We wanted actual socioeconomic data that show the choices people are making.

Q. Regarding my own state, you titled a 2016 report “New Hampshire’s Suicide and Drug Use/Overdose Crisis.” Why are those two things – suicide and drug use – in the same title?

SM: The strength of the Family Prosperity Index is that it’s grounded in the academic literature. We were going through the literature on drug overdoses, and there’s a growing body of evidence that our medical examiner system is deficient in its ability to discern a drug overdose from a suicide. It’s very important that we understand this linkage. You might be able to effectively tackle drug overdoses through law enforcement and drug treatment facilities. But if we’re talking about a public health situation like suicide, then that is a truly different problem altogether.

Obviously, there’s mental illness [as a factor in some suicides]. We know that treatment, whether it’s for substance abuse or mental health, pays huge dividends down the road, even though they can be very pricey upfront. We need to take a longer perspective, not election to election, about these problems.

Q. Your studies have found a strong linkage between drug use and religion. You point out in your New Hampshire report that we are the third-least religious state, as measured by weekly religious attendance. At the same time, we have a relatively high rate of illicit drug usage.

SM: We want to bring to light [via FPI] all of these linkages that exist within the data or the academic literature, so that policymakers can discuss them in a neutral setting. Data doesn’t take sides. The literature doesn’t take sides. We need to have this discussion to fundamentally solve the opioid drug overdose problem in New Hampshire.

When we held a heroin crisis leadership summit in New Hampshire [in 2016], we purposely included members not just of law enforcement, but of the religious community and other important segments of our state that are all going to play a role in fighting the opioid problem.

From an economic perspective, religion brings to a society or state a much longer-term level of thinking.  [Religious faith] extends your time horizon, and makes you other-people-centered.

WW: From the public policy perspective, there are no silver bullets for solving this issue. That’s part of the point we’re trying to make with the index: you have these complex relationships between these social variables that impact economic outcomes. We’re so focused on the economic side of the equation. Until our public policy leaders turn their heads to the other side of the equation, the policies that we put together aren’t as durable as they could be. 

Q: Are you working in particular states now?

WW: We’re working with Governor LePage in Maine. He’s six years into fighting the heroin and opioid crisis. He’s putting some practices into place with the drug court there. He’s been very active in some of the laws passed to be very hard on drug dealers, as well as laws to open up more beds [for inpatient treatment of substance abuse]. It’s a very slow process. He’s put more money into law enforcement, but he knows that’s not the full answer. We’re working with him to develop an educational campaign about those other factors that are causing people to abuse. We’ll be up there in Maine to do a forum in late April or May. We’re also doing a legislative forum where we’re going to be bringing the FPI to all the legislators and the governor.

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Note: the complete 2017 Family Prosperity Index, with information from every state, is available for download

Ellen Kolb blogs about New Hampshire life-issue policy at Leaven for the Loaf and looks farther afield in ellenkolb.com

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Hillary Clinton represents an existential threat to the nation. She would perpetuate the liberal dumbing down of America, attempt to load the courts with more leftists, and redefine our unalienable rights to match the progressive agenda. Under no circumstances would I endorse or even remotely consider voting for her.

That’s the preface necessary to set the stage for dissent. As I wrote previously, questioning Trump’s policies will not make you a #NeverTrump Clinton supporter. We can see Trump as a leftward lurch by the GOP or we can view him as an opportunity to take a malleable candidate and show him why fiscal conservatism is the right direction for America if we want to thrive today and be sustained into the future. I’ve held to the hope that the latter can come to pass but recent trends point to the former being the more likely scenario.

A recent poll should shock every fiscal conservative in the Republican Party. 85% of Republicans surveyed said that free trade has cost the U.S. more jobs than it has created, compared to 54% of Democrats. Let that sink in. The party of Reagan that has witnessed the tremendous benefits of a free market economy and the absolute need for free trade as a hallmark of our fiscal plan has reversed its perspective in a single election cycle. I don’t care how charismatic of a salesman someone is – this should not have been even remotely possible.

There’s a difference between believing that our current free trade agreements can be improved and believing that free trade is bad. Free trade is not bad. It has always been the driving force for our economic prosperity. Today’s communication and infrastructural advancements make this the perfect opportunity to take advantage of trade in ways that we have never been available to us.

More importantly, we are no longer the only consumers nor are we the primary producers. The global economy is expanding and the United States needs to lead it, not break away from it. The fear of globalism is a righteous fear. It’s the primary reason that we need to maintain as much control of global trade or risk losing our place as the main benefactors.

Here’s a short video from 2010 that explains it quite nicely:

The biggest argument against free trade is that it means more jobs are sent overseas. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. In a thriving free market economy driven by free trade, the “loss” of jobs is an opportunity to replace low-yield employment with higher-yield employment. As companies rightfully send certain jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs, to places where they can be done more cost effectively, the nation’s economy becomes more stable. With stability comes the creation of more industries and increased domestic employment requirements within those industries. Jobs aren’t lost. They are traded. They are replaced. As a consumer-driven nation, the need for better employees rises with free trade. As a technology-driven nation, the need for higher-skilled employees rises with free trade as well.

“Fair” trade is part of an anti-growth economic system. It’s a short-term bandaid that forces companies to keep jobs and production facilities in the United States. This concept is being sold as a good thing. Unfortunately, it’s only a good thing in the beginning. As revenues dry up due to increased production expenditures, costs of goods rise for consumers. Whether through tariffs or forced domestication of production, the benefits for a few are taken from the wallets of the masses. For example, let’s say Apple was forced through tariffs or mandates to produce the iPhone in the United States. That would bring a huge number of jobs back; over a million people contribute in some way to iPhone production worldwide. It’s a win, right? The problem is that production costs would skyrocket. The already-overpriced iPhone would need to retail over $2000 to make up some of the difference. As sales volume drops, so too would jobs.

If you’re thinking that Apple makes enough money already and should bring those jobs to the United States without raising prices, you’ve already taken your first steps towards a socialist mentality.

The GOP has been more responsible over the years when it comes to fiscal planning… at least that’s what we’ve been led to believe. I contend that the GOP isn’t pushing to the left because of Trump. Instead, it has always wanted to be the moderate populist party for the sake of winning elections rather than a party that believes in the tenets of fiscal conservatism.

The shift away from free trade is reminiscent of a lesson in George Orwell’s 1984 that doesn’t get as much attention as others. In the dystopian novel, we learn of the dangers of an overreaching government and how “Big Brother” can make our lives miserable for the sake of a perceived good to the oligarchy. We all know about doublespeak. What gets less attention is the lesson of controlled perceptions. In the book, Oceania is in a constant state of war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. The question of who the enemy is at any given moment is dictated by the leaders and maintained in false perpetuity, including in the past. If Oceania is at war with Eurasia at any given moment, it has always been at war with Eurasia. If the government shifts and declares that they are at war with Eastasia, then they have always been at war with Eastasia and have never been at war with Eurasia. Attempts to say otherwise are punished.

Somehow, the electorate is believing the manufactured reality that the Republican Party is now against free trade. If you were to question some of the 85% of Republicans who believe this, I would wager that a majority would say that the party has always been against it. Sadly, they may be inadvertently correct.

Jon Sable: My finders fee is 30%

Client: That’s pretty steep!

Jon Sable: Depends on how you look at it. I’ve always figured that 70% of something is worth more that 100% of nothing.

John Sable, Freelance #11 Maggie the Cat 1984

Cleveland Browns running back Isiah Crowell has a history of bad decision making dating back to his Georgia Bulldog days:

Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell, who was in and out of Bulldogs coach Mark Richt’s doghouse as a freshman, was dismissed from the team Friday after being arrested on weapons charges by Athens-Clarke County Police overnight.

Crowell, from Columbus, Ga., was arrested and charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor, according to the Athens-Clarke County Jail booking report.

Crowell, 19, was charged with a felony count of possessing a weapon in a school zone, a felony count of altered identification mark and a misdemeanor count of possession/carrying a concealed weapon.

So there was not a lot of surprise when he made another bad decision to send out a cartoon showing a police officer getting his throat slit by a masked man on social media

Crowell pulled the cartoon but his initial apology went over flat, but old friend Ed Morrissey is giving him credit for attempting to do better the second time around

Give Crowell some credit, too. He’s parting with nearly a month’s salary (when spread out over the year), and the money goes to help those who truly need some community support. On top of that, he’s offering a personal and full apology, not some I’m sorry everyone misunderstood my genius non-apology. “I don’t want to be part of the problem,” Crowell said in the video above, “I want to be part of the solution.” Making amends is the first step. Maintaining that example for his fans is the next step. He really is putting his money where his mouth is, and maybe that will be a valuable life lesson to Crowell and others to think before engaging in public debates.

Now as a good Catholic I’m certainly a big fan of constriction and I very much hope that Mr. Crowell is sincere in his regret but I think the real lesson from this story is that if there was one subject that Mr. Crowell aced during his time at first Georgia then Alabama State it’s economics.

You see Mr. Crowell is slated to earn $592,000 this season with the Cleveland Browns and if the Browns decided that he is too radioactive to keep then that 592K will be in jeopardy.  And if the NFL decides the same then Mr. Crowell might find himself unemployable as a football player and lucky to find a $15 hr job even if the minimum wage is raised that high.

So while some might say that $37,000 is a high price to pay for a single cartoon, I submit and suggest that fully tax deductible $37K is a wise investment in remaining in the top 10% of American incomes for at least the next several years.

That’s the thing about math, it doesn’t care what you believe or what you think, it’s just relentlessly true.


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Today I saw the Market Basket Movie food fight, several thought:

  1. The Movie focused a lot on the distribution crew, which makes sense, they took the biggest risks and without their willingness to take the big hit, none of this stuff works.
  2. The film talked a bit about the June vs December business, thoughts to the contrary I do believe that Arthur S would have won if he made his move in the Winter not only because it would have squeezed the workers harder but it would have meant there would have been no pressure on Pols to move.

  3. Some of the strategies of the work slowdown were simply brilliant and simply involved applying the skills the management team already had. It also pointed to the power of social media

  4. Seeing Maggie Hassan on the screen talking about the layoffs that prompts the pols to get involved was greatly frustrating to me as it reminded me of the missed opportunity of the GOP to get behind these people in a work action that was basically Pro-capitalism

  5. The movie didn’t touch at all on the attempts of the unions to get involved and unionize the workers and the employees decision to tell them to get stuffed. That is a significant part of the story and its exclusion needs an explanation.

  6. The willingness of customers to boycott really did a lot to win the day, it’s shows what a difference customer choice makes.

  7. Finally the single most important point of the movie is the Market Basket culture, it’s of hard word and dedication rather than entitlement. That culture is why they won, why they recovered and is the thing to celebrate.

On the way out of the picture I interviewed one of the people who saw it with me

The one odd thing to me was opening at 1:20 PM. It means that any Market Basket worker on 1st shift or 2nd shift couldn’t go to see it.

Just after the election I made the point that the reason the Earned Sick Time ballot question (Question 4) passed while the Gas Tax (Question 1) & the bottle bill (Question 2) did not was because consumers didn’t see the costs of the former directly while they saw the costs of the latter.

Most voters didn’t understand what it means to supermarkets like Market Basket Restaurants like Singapore and even pizzeria’s like Espresso’s in fact all you might see if you are a bagger, a busboy or a pizza driver all you know is you’ve just got an hour of paid sicktime for every 30 hours you work up to a maximum of one paid 40 hour “sick” week a year. That’s likely why it passed by almost 400,000 votes.

Even when the supermarket inch up their prices the Restaurant cuts your hours and the pizza place decides not to hire the votes won’t make the connection that the cost of that effective 2-3% pay raise that you forced them to give is going to have to come from somewhere.

That disconnect from reality is why the same “highly educated” voters who repealed the onerous Gas tax can re-elect almost every single state senator and representative who voted to impose it upon them without batting an eyelash.

Thursday yet another Jonathan Gruber story appeared in a location other than the MSM which I suspect will give it a passing mention on Saturday for the sake of saying they mentioned it.

This post at Breitbart focused , as most such pieces have,  on the deception involved in the passage of Obamacare, but the video they embedded accidentally makes my question 4 point that is worth highlighting.

Gruber names John Kerry as one of the Heroes of Obamacare by shifting the argument from a tax on individuals insurance plans something impossible to a tax on “The Insurance Companies” (emphasis mine)

John Kerry said, No No. we’re not going to tax your health insurance we’re going to tax those evil insurance companies. Where going to impose a tax because if sell health insurance that’s too expensive we’re going to tax them and conveniently the tax rate will happen to be the marginal tax rate (inaudible). So basically it’s the same thing. We just tax the Insurance companies they pass on higher prices that offsets the tax break we get, so it ends up being the same thing. It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American Voter.

Do you see the lesson here? Gruber is kindly explaining the point I was making least week, a point that conservatives have been trying to get through to the american people for decades.

Higher taxes on business is simply a tax on consumers

In fact it’s even worse.  It’s almost certain that any price increase will be higher than the tax.

A while back a man in the delivery business explained it.  He needed to increase his margins but didn’t want to increase his base price, the gas price spike solved that problem for him.  As gas prices soared he had to make up the price so he added a “gas surcharge” and incorporated the margin increase into the surcharge.  Since the customers knew gas prices were going up they didn’t blink an eye at the high price and viola a hidden price increase.

Do you think for one moment that insurance companies forced to increase prices because of Obamacare didn’t do the same?

If I’m a conservative leader I use this clip from every single time the left tries to increase taxes on the “Evil [insert business here]” and use it to teach the uninformed voters two things.

1.  A Tax on business is a tax on you

2.  The left has been using you as a bunch of suckers for decades.

If Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare speeches allow us to teach that lesson to the country maybe someday a GOP leader will give a speech calling him the hero of the tax reform movement.

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I noted today, as has Stacy McCain that true believers in Barack Obama are alive and well.

In so noting however he repeats a question raised by Ace of Spades on the subject

And the Liberal Chattering Classes are facing a question now: “Will my reputation and sense of pride survive Obama’s incompetence?”

And: “How absurd am I willing to make myself in order to cover up for this arrogant buffoon’s incompetence?”

The question  has been answered by Newsbusters: or should I say they quoted Real Clear Politics answer

MSNBC blazed its own path, encouraging Chris Matthews to channel his inner advocate and hiring people such as Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Martin Bashir, even Al Sharpton. Not unintelligent people, certainly, but not reporters, either — and in some cases, not journalists at all. Meanwhile, except for the successful “Morning Joe” program, MSNBC dropped its token conservative voices and for the most part eschewed original reporting in lieu of talking heads.

The upshot has been uneven. More money for MSNBC, as it slipped by CNN in the ratings, but more controversy, too.

The key line is that screed is “more money for MSNBC” and this shouldn’t surprise anyone particularly not Stacy McCain:

But this false accusation — the Duke players did not have sex with the strippers, much less hold them down and f–k them against their will — is not enough to discredit Amanda Marcotte in the eyes of those who share her worldview. This is how the Ideology of Error operates: As long as one speaks, writes and behaves in accordance with the ideology, any resulting errors are written off as if they never happened.

Amanda Marcotte can be absurdly wrong and crudely offensive and yet still be endlessly applauded by her fellow leftists. This hate-filled lying fanatic is a valued contributor at Slate and a welcome guest at MSNBC not despite her fanaticism, but because of her fanaticism.

Given that  that MSNBC is more profitable now than it was before it decided to go full bore as an  affirmation machine for the people propping Obama up, I’m afraid the answer to Ace’s question: “How absurd am I willing to make myself in order to cover up for this arrogant buffoon’s incompetence?” is apparently “pretty damn absurd.

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Last week I was on a conference call with Americans for Prosperity. they put out their scorecard rating each member of congress. It’s an elegant card of excellent use if you want to see exactly how your congressman or Senator did last session.
You can pull your information based on the categories that mean the most to you:

search issue

You can also search by state, name or even by your individual zip code to see how your members of congress have done.

As nice as the page looks, what matters is the score. As you might guess AFP being a fiscally conservative group a person like Rand Paul does pretty well in their rankings:

Rand Paul

91% Pretty good numbers. It will come in handy when Rand Paul runs in 2016 but what about his most visible potential rival in the Senate Marco Rubio?

rubio

100%. A perfect score. That’s pretty impressive but scoring 10% higher than Rand Paul on Economic Freedom?. One would not think that’s possible.

If you are going to run for president as a fiscal conservative and you are scoring nearly 10 points higher than Rand Paul on the AFP scorecard that’s a walking talking Billboard for campaign contributions.

It will be interesting to see if Rubio can keep that score above the Senator from Kentucky. It’s the type of talking point that will play very well in Iowa and New Hampshire.

and That’s how Politics works.

In the National Review, Heather MacDonald laughs at the New York Times for it’s hand-wringing and pearl-clutching over the idea of rural teenagers using their high school degrees to make good money without first going to college.   Teenagers are making an economically rational decision to work for several years, learn a skill, and earn very good money (for an unmarried teen/twenty-something with no financial obligations).  They do not see the need to head straight to college as an “undecided” major, rack up debt, and spend four to six years out of the workforce.  Good for them.

Now comes the news that graduates with occupational/technical associate’s degrees (e.g. nursing) earn more than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees, and significantly more than their counterparts with B.A. degrees.  There is the usual caution that this is salary straight out of school, not lifetime earnings, but underscores a harsh reality: people are paid to do things that someone else wants to get done, not to be their own amazing phenomenal selves, nor to develop emotionally, think deep thoughts, or engage in preening.  People want and need nurses, plumbers, electricians, and paralegals; they do not need someone to regurgiatate third-wave feminist philosophy.

More importantly, the “lifetime earnings” canard is just that.  There is no law saying that you cannot obtain a bachelor’s dgree at night or after several years in the workforce.  Those kids in Montana may work in the oil fields for several years, then get a degree in petroleum engineering.  The plumber could go to school at night.  A nurse could continue obtaining degrees if it benefits her career or stimulates her intellectually. This is university with a purpose – not as the mindless pursuit of an aimless teenager, aged out of state-mandated daily schooling and desiring to ape the customs of the nineteenth-century’s upper class.

Moreover, the value in a non-technical college degree had mostly been to show discipline and the ability to learn.  Before the days of grade inflation, getting into college, and staying in, were no small feats.  The work was harder, the courses more rigourous, and thus, the value of the degree, greater.  Consider, however, the modern college student, and compare to the young men highlighted in the New York Times:

“I just figured, the oil field is here and I’d make the money while I could,” said Tegan Sivertson, 19, who monitors pipelines for a gas company, sometimes working 15-hour days. “I didn’t want to waste the money and go to school when I could make just as much.”

Less than a year after proms and homecoming games, teenagers like Mr. Sivertson now wake at 4 a.m. to make the three-hour trek to remote oil rigs. They fish busted machinery out of two-mile-deep hydraulic fracturing wells and repair safety devices that keep the wells from rupturing, often working alongside men old enough to be their fathers. Some live at home; others drive back on weekends to eat their mothers’ food, do loads of laundry and go to high school basketball games, still straddling the blurred border between childhood and adulthood.

While the NYT may think that a young man is “straddling” the border between childhood and adulthood while working 15-hour days laying pipeline, most employers will understand that this is an adult in every sense of the word – in a way that college students, and college graduates, are not.

Who would you rather hire – the young man who has gotten up at 4 am every day for four years, or the B.A., communications graduate, who hasn’t gone to bed before 4 am in four years?  Let’s also not forget: should the oil boom dry up, these kids can go to college, but the college graduate, B.A, gender studies, may never get hired for one of these jobs.

That’s what I take away from this line via Glenn from the Wall street Journal:

“What I find reprehensible beyond belief is that the people pushing [high-density housing] themselves live in single-family homes and often drive very fancy cars, but want everyone else to live like my grandmother did in Brownsville in Brooklyn in the 1920s,”

That’s Joel Kotkin a demographer interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, he sees the following endgame:

Mr. Kotkin also notes that demographic changes are playing a role. As progressive policies drive out moderate and conservative members of the middle class, California’s politics become even more left-wing. It’s a classic case of natural selection, and increasingly the only ones fit to survive in California are the very rich and those who rely on government spending. In a nutshell, “the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.”

So it will be the Lords, the Serfs and the servants in the castle. Feudalism is alive and well!

Our progressive friends leading the people back to the 11th century!

They said that he will print anything Media Matters will give him, and look who is still leading the drumbeat vs Rush on Memeorandum ten days later:

Think Progress and…..Greg Sargent.

Meanwhile as large chunks of the left talk to themselves some members of the left (via legal insurrection and my under the fedora column) demonstrate they can still count:

The dustup over Sleep Train, along with the blowback suffered by Carbonite over that company’s public denunciation of Limbaugh, demonstrates that the iconic radio talk show host is dealing from a position of strength in the campaign to deprive him of advertisers. One tends to prosper when one advertises on Limbaugh’s show. But cross him, and one will suffer.

The one overwhelming fact is that Limbaugh commands many millions of listeners. There is no evidence that any of them have stopped listening because of the kerfuffle with Sandra Fluke. Indeed, one suspects that Limbaugh has gained listeners, curious about what the fuss is all about. As long as the show maintains its listener base, it does not matter if any advertisers bail on Limbaugh for political reasons. There will always be others who will want to take their place, because it is good business to advertise on the most listened-to radio talk show on the planet.

Remember Dan Riehl mentioned on Friday a story the left was crowing about that seemed too good to be true for them

I don’t know, I’m no industry expert, but I’d be skeptical of a big story like this breaking on a Saturday. I could be wrong, but I think I’ll wait until I hear what, if anything, is said about all this on Monday when most radio talkers are back on the air.

Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect that if there was a true mass exodus of advertisers from Rush the MSM would have spent yesterday crowing and would still be doing it today.

Yet there are only the three Memeorandum leads, two by the same person Judd Legum from Think Progress and Greg “Anything you want it that’s is what I’ll print it” Sargent and the lefty blogs that mimic them. If it wasn’t for Sargent’s position at the Washington Post it would be a total case of crickets.

And the post actually pays him for this!