How ObamaCare Wrecks the Work Ethic

Photo Credit: Casey Mulligan

Photo Credit: Casey Mulligan

A new wave of redistribution will arrive in America on Jan. 1, primarily thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The president’s health-insurance plan forces those who hire, work and produce to pay full price for health care, while creating generous discounts for practically everyone else.

This second redistributionist wave of the Obama era will follow a first wave of tax hikes, additional unemployment benefits, food-stamp expansions, waived work requirements for welfare benefits, etc. These measures were supposed to be temporary, intended to help people cope with the recession. The recession officially ended in mid-2009, but many of the administration’s measures continue.

Regardless of whether redistribution is achieved by collecting more taxes from families with high incomes, levying employment taxes on businesses, providing more subsidies to families with low incomes, or all of the above, an essential consequence is the same: a reduction in the reward for working. In a National Bureau of Economic Research paper issued in August, I quantify the combined effect of the two redistribution waves and higher payroll taxes on the financial reward for working…

The 2009-10 peak for marginal tax rates comes from various provisions of the “stimulus” programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks in some states. At the end of 2012, the marginal tax rate index reached its lowest value since 2008: 43.9%. A little over a year later (January 2014), the index will be close to 50%, driven up by the expiration of the payroll tax cut and multiple provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA employer penalty, delayed until 2015, adds more than a percentage point in that year alone, while other ACA provisions strengthen their disincentives for the various reasons cited above.

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Root Cause of America’s Economic Decline: The Loss of the Protestant Work Ethic

The causes of America’s current economic malaise are many, and some are harder to address than others. The misguided fiscal, monetary, and regulatory policies of our profligate and dysfunctional government head the list. Those can be turned around.

But a problem much more difficult to turn back is the rotting of our moral fabric—the decay of the Protestant work ethic—engendered by decades of New Deals, Great Societies and one attempt after another to Spread the Wealth Around. In its stead, we now have a culture of entitlement and dependency that threatens to accelerate our slide into permanent decline.

The alarming statistics can be seen in the accompanying graph. The first is the breadwinner index—the percent of the U.S. male population that is gainfully employed. Only a few points of this decline can be ascribed to the aging of the population. The graph for males 18 to 52 has much the same slope.

The second shows the number of out-of-wedlock births, the rate of which surpassed 40 percent of all births as of 2008. Add to this the new-normal 50 percent divorce rate and we have a country in which the majority of our children are being raised outside of the economic unit once known as the nuclear family.

The third shows per capita inflation-adjusted total government spending, including federal, state, and municipal government expenditures as best as they can be estimated. The extent to which the huge spike in government spending per person over the past 60 years is the cause or the effect of the first two trends is open to debate. But the relationship is clear. When traditional family breadwinners stop carrying their load, the burden falls upon the remaining workers, an increasing number of whom are single mothers struggling to make ends meet.

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The Cost of Losing: A Thousand Years of Darkness

Photo Credit: Moyan_Brenn

Imagine trying to fight a war against an enemy led by ruthless tyrants, while granting that enemy authority to train your own military. After all, you reason, sending your soldiers to the enemy’s training centers frees up your time and resources for other priorities. Moreover, the tyrants have graciously promised to train your men in good faith, so denying them this privilege might seem ungrateful.

What are your chances of winning that war? You might win a skirmish here and there, if a few of your soldiers remain independent enough to question the lessons in surrender they were taught by the enemy. But your long-term prospects are, of course, dismal, since after their rare provisional successes, your soldiers will only use their newly-gained territory to set up a tent for conciliatory peace talks with the other side, in accordance with the rules of engagement they have learned in training.

Civilization — all of it — is currently under the domination of progressive collectivism in ethics, authoritarianism in politics, irrationalism in epistemology, and nihilism in metaphysics. The architects of this calamity have paved the road to the devil’s dominion over several generations. Their recent boldness, moving in for the kill on the last, crumbling bastion of principled resistance, America, shows that they believe ultimate victory is at hand, which, in human terms, means we face a thousand years of darkness.

We who reject the progressives’ knee-jerk historicism, however, need not accept the inevitability of this result. Doom does not follow necessarily from any mechanism beyond human control. It does, however, follow necessarily from inaction and resignation. That is to say, civilization is doomed unless she begins to mount a deliberate and determined defense.

The first step to mounting an effective defense is to understand how progressivism has won so much territory, geographical and spiritual, over this multi-generational war. I mean, specifically, how they have done it in practice, for concrete results derive from concrete actions. The nations of the semi-free world have, over the course of generations, voted themselves into servitude, voted away their property rights, acquiesced in the breakdown of the family, and willingly given over their souls en masse to the rule of all the wanton and stupid desires and fears that men for millennia knew they had to control in order to remain men; they have forsaken the human heritage for the false promises of tyrants.

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Alaska’s Young May Have Met His Match In Backlash Over Slur, Ethics Probe

Photo Credit: Marc Lester

Rep. Don Young is a survivor. But he may have met his match. He’s beaten back six years worth of federal investigations, 40 years of unsuccessful Republican challengers, and one of the most expensive and highly criticized earmarks.

But now the 21-term Alaska Republican is facing a freshly launched Ethics investigation and perhaps his biggest hurdle of all: his own mouth.

On Friday, Young came under heavy fire from Republicans and Democrats for using a racial slur to refer to hired laborers who were once employed at his father’s ranch. Young used the term “wetbacks” to describe the laborers.

GOP leaders immediately distanced themselves from the veteran lawmaker, who has not always had a pleasant relationship with his own party, saying that he should apologize without delay.

Young did apologize, twice. But the political heat came less than 10 days after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating Young on charges that he may have violated the chamber’s rules.

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Former Ethics Officer Says NLRB Inspector General ‘Improperly’ Cleared Obama Appointee of Wrongdoing

A former senior National Labor Relations Board ethics officer testified in a sworn affidavit that the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) incorrectly failed to recommend civil or criminal action against NLRB general counsel Lafe Solomon in a conflict of interest investigation.

The OIG acts as an independent body to investigate claims of ethical misconduct against NLRB members. It launched an investigation in 2012 into Solomon’s conduct in a potential NLRB lawsuit against Wal-Mart, according to legal documents obtained by the Daily Caller.

Solomon’s alleged misconduct in the Wal-Mart case stemmed from his ownership of stock in the company, which he inherited from his mother when she died in July 2011.

The OIG concluded that Solomon, whom President Barack Obama appointed NLRB’s Acting General Counsel in June 2010, violated conflict of interest law, but that “extenuating and mitigating circumstances” — including an adversarial relationship with a co-worker — should shield him from criminal prosecution.

That co-worker, former NLRB Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) Gloria Joseph, strongly disagreed with the OIG’s recommendation to allow Solomon to avoid responsibility, according to her sworn affidavit dated November 29, 2012.

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House: No Ethics Charges for Rep. Maxine Waters

California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters won’t be charged with ethics violations following allegations she steered a $12 million federal bailout to a bank where her husband owns stock.

House Ethics Committee members said Friday at a hearing their investigation found no violation by Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.

However, the committee said Waters’ chief of staff, Mikael Moore, did take actions in Congress in an attempt to help the bank and violated House standards of conduct. Moore likely will receive a letter admonishing him for his conduct but will not face more severe punishment, such as a reprimand, by the full House.

Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, acting chairman of the panel, announced the tentative findings at the hearing but noted the committee had not issued a final report.

Goodlatte said the committee was convinced that when Waters asked for a meeting at the Treasury Department to discuss financial help for minority banks, she believed she did so on behalf of all minority banks — not just OneUnited, where her husband owns stock. Goodlatte said the committee agreed with Waters’ assertion.

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