Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Feds Tax Collections Highest Ever

"The federal government collected a record amount of taxes in fiscal year 2014, topping $3 trillion in revenue for the first time in its history, according to Treasury Department numbers released Wednesday ..."

The federal government took in $3.020 trillion in FY 2014 (ending September 30) from individual taxes (which rose 6 percent) and corporate-income taxes (which jumped 17 percent).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Building a Better Social Security System

The New York Times started the discussion by "accidentally admitting" that the Netherland's privatized pension system is a more secure, reliable system than the American government-run system, and Dan Mitchell @ thefederalist.com carries it forward.

Under the Dutch system:
  • each generation pays its own retirement costs through private savings and private investments in diversified, professionally-run pension funds (unlike the US, which is based on inter-generational redistribution);
  • annual worker savings are government-mandated, typically about 18% of workers' pay (the American Social Security system is roughly 16.4%);
  • government doesn't control—and can't access—any of those pension funds (unlike the American system which is wholly controlled and owned by the federal government);
  • workers' incomes used to build retirement accounts are taxed only once (similar to American Individual Retirement Accounts):  no tax is levied on pension contributions, and pension funds' investment performance isn't taxed; pension benefits are taxed only when their owners receive them; and
  • Dutch retirement plans are intended to amount to about 70 percent of workers' lifetime pay (compared to just 40 percent of American worker's income in retirement).
Mitchell argues, that while there are some things about the Dutch market-based system that could be improved,
I would gladly trade the U.S. Social Security system for the Dutch mandatory pension System. An imperfect system based on private savings is always a better bet than a perfectly terrible tax-and-transfer scheme. For more information, here's the video I narrated explaining why personal retirement accounts are far superior to government-run schemes such as Social Security.

Mitchell adds that, in his estimation, the best role model is Australia's pension system.

Are Women Hurting Women in the Workplace?

Women, not men, may be holding women back from achieving upper levels of management. A Gallup survey released this week finds that 39% of women — and only 26% of men — preferred to be led by a man.  This preference for males has held for the past 60 years of polling, says Gallup.

In reporting the survey, BusinessWeek adds that "a growing pile of evidence suggests that women mistrust, and can undermine, one another at work."
  • "95% of working women felt they were undercut by another woman at least once during their professional life," according to a 2011 survey.
  • A 2010 survey of legal secretaries found that not one preferred to work for a woman partner, although 47% had no preference.
  • A 2008 study found that women working for female supervisors experienced more stress than those who had male supervisors.
The data suggest that even the millennial generation "would rather not have a woman in charge:"

Friday, October 17, 2014

Growing Number of Single Moms Really Victims of Patriarchy?

Despite readily available birth control, more single women are getting pregnant—but choosing not to marry to the biological father—than ever before, in part because the social stigma associated with unwed motherhood no longer exists and in part due to the lack of availability of economically-stable male spouses.

Two researchers claim that, while this coupled with the ranks of divorced mothers, is a mark of women's new-found independence, these single mothers are now even worse victims of the old male patriarchy. Why? According to the authors,
  • College-educated men still have the greatest access to "the most influential and highest paying jobs" in large part because "women are still much more likely than men to drop out of the labor market when children come."
  • The patriarchal system continues to extend to males "political power—the ability to secure laws reflecting male preferences and perspectives over female ones."
  • The patriarchal system has made alimony and child support for women less common (especially to mothers who earn more than fathers), while at the same time awarding more shared custody to fathers.
The authors' conclusion is that there is no "new matriarchy" to celebrate:
The word “matriarchy” suggests power, and it is hard to see what power today’s struggling single mothers exercise. Their hard-won independence, in a world where they do not have the power to create better relationships or stronger communities, is under assault. They might be better off unmarried than married to unemployed boyfriends who still live at home with their mothers. But with children to raise, bills to pay and multiple jobs to go to, do they really have any other choice?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Americans Still Believe in Individualism, Capitalism

Breaking down the results from the latest Pew Research survey of global opinion, James Pethokoukis writes:
Let’s start with the US: 70% of Americans still think most people are better off under a free-market system, even if some people are rich and some are poor. That compares to 63% for the average advanced economy. What’s more, 73%  and 62% think working hard and getting a good education, respectively, are very important to getting ahead in life vs. 40% and 39% for the average advanced economy. (For France, by the way, it’s 25% and 24%.) Finally, just 40% think success is determined by forces outside out control vs. 51% for the average advanced economy.

No Gender Gap This Election?

Today's ABC News/Washington Post poll brings more bad news for the party of liberalism. "Even with the [economic] recovery to date, 77% are worried about the economy's future, and 57% say the country has been experiencing a long-term decline in living standards ..."
Barack Obama and his political party are heading into the midterm elections in trouble. The president's 40 percent job approval rating in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll is the lowest of his career — and the Democratic Party's popularity is its weakest in polling back 30 years, with more than half of Americans seeing the party unfavorably for the first time.

The Republican Party is even more unpopular. But benefiting from their supporters' greater likelihood of voting, GOP candidates nonetheless hold a 50-43 percent lead among likely voters for U.S. House seats in the Nov. 4 election. 
Women, who have long been counted on to lift liberals' fortunes, have lost confidence as well.  Among likely voters, "women divide evenly between Democratic and Republican House candidates," reports the poll. The gender gap this cycle is all male:

Ebola Travel Restrictions

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday, 67% of Americans support restricting the entry into the US of those arriving from Ebola-outbreak nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, reports Newsmax.com. Only 29% oppose travel restrictions.
Ninety-one percent of adults in the survey said they want "stricter screening of people entering the United States who have been in African countries affected by the outbreak."
The results mirror an NBC News poll (October 7) that found "58% of Americans favored banning flights from countries hardest hit by the virus."

Some of the nation's leaders are listening; others are not, reports Newsmax in a related article.
Despite calls from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and other Republicans, the Obama administration has repeatedly said there will be no travel ban from West African countries stricken by the Ebola virus outbreak.