Free Markets, Free People


Let’s make the US like Germany … er, Mississippi?

The “social democracy” or “democratic socialism” model that many of the left want so badly is showing it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  For instance:

Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let’s compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167.
Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.
With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.
Oh, my!  Say it ain’t so, Bernie!
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France’s median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but  13 US states.
And Mississippi? Well, when adjusted for purchasing power, we find a funny thing (heh … I couldn’t help myself):
Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.
More importantly, when the European countries are adjusted for purchasing power, they fare even worse:
Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden’s median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819).
We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany’s case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany’s median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi.
So? So, myth busted.  If you want everyone to be the equal of  … well, now, New York … just listen to the siren song of social democracy. High taxes, marginal benefits and low purchasing power.  When you can’t even point to them being better than Mississippi in terms of median income, maybe it would be better not to hold up European social democracies as something to “strive” to be like.

Busting the “myth” of "no voter fraud"

One of the primary requirements for any democracy is to safeguard the integrity of its voting system.  If the people believe that it is subject to compromised in any way, shape or form, they’re likely to lose confidence in the system.  And that will eventually erode the legitimacy of any government that is formed under such a system.

One way to help insure that integrity is to make voters identify themselves before they can cast their ballot with a form of identification that everyone agrees upon and does the job of validating their identity.  Most agree that a picture ID issued by the state or federal government fulfills that role.  That’s because the such IDs usually aren’t issued until the entity issuing it can certify that the individual it is issuing it too is both a citizen and legal resident of the area.

Critics of such attempts at ensuring the integrity of the system have always claimed that A) voter fraud was a myth and B) such voter ID requirement place an undue burden on minorities.  Interestingly, the critics usually come from the party to which minority votes mean the most.

The Heritage Foundation today produced a nice little fact filled primer on why “A” above is not a myth and why “B” is, in fact, the real myth.

First “A”:

The fraud denialists also must have missed the recent news coverage of the double voters in North Carolina and the fraudster in Tunica County, Miss. — a member of the NAACP’s local executive committee — who was sentenced in April to five years in prison for voting in the names of ten voters, including four who were deceased.

And the story of the former deputy chief of staff for Washington mayor Vincent Gray, who was forced to resign after news broke that she had voted illegally in the District of Columbia even though she was a Maryland resident. Perhaps they would like a copy of an order from a federal immigration court in Florida on a Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. in April 2004 and promptly registered and voted in the November election.

There is no question that voter fraud has and does exist.  None.  And the Mississippi example is exactly what can happen when no requirement for identification is demanded at the poll.  You simply go from polling place to polling place with a new name and request a ballot under that name (voter lists are pretty easy to come by, figuring out who is still on the list but dead doesn’t require a rocket scientist, etc.).  Even the Supreme Court members point to it not as a myth but as a fact:

Stevens wrote in a 6-3 majority opinion upholding an Indiana voter ID law: "That flagrant examples of [voter] fraud…have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists…demonstrate[s] that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election."

John Paul Stevens would hardly be described as a conservative justice, yet he knew that voter fraud is and always has been a problem and voter IDs are a reasonable solution.  So that “myth” seems to be adequately put to death.

How about “B”?  Does such a requirement place an “undue burden” on minorities?  Does it place an undue burden on anyone?

Not really:

[T]he number of people who don’t already have a photo ID is incredibly small. An American University survey in Maryland, Indiana, and Mississippi found that less than one-half of 1 percent of registered voters lacked a government-issued ID, and a 2006 survey of more than 36,000 voters found that only "23 people in the entire sample–less than one-tenth of one percent of reported voters" were unable to vote because of an ID requirement. What about those who don’t have photo IDs? Von Spakovsky notes that "every state that has passed a voter ID law has also ensured that the very small percentage of individuals who do not have a photo ID can easily obtain one for free if they cannot afford one."

If 99.5% of the voting population already has, in its possession, the required from of identification, then the “undue burden” has no foundation in fact. None. 

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 70% of likely US voters favored such measures to ensure the integrity of the voting system.  Given the facts and figures above, their desire seems reasonable measure to accomplish that goal.  The the two myths of the critics, on the other hand, have no validity or credence.   One can only surmise, given these facts, that anyone who clings to those myths has an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with the system’s integrity.  See DoJ for an example.


Twitter: @McQandO

Is middle class income stagnation a myth (created by the income inequality crowd)?

The valuable James Pethakoukis weighs in with some new numbers to again shatter one of the myths that surround the “income inequality” nonsense that OWS and its ilk (*cough* Democrats *cough*) are pushing.  One of those myths is that middle class income has “stagnated” in the last 40 years.   And that’s because, per the OWS crowd, the rich have basically stolen taken ended up with the money generated.  Those pushing that premise are citing economists Thomas Piketty and Emanuel Saez study which claims the taxable income of the bottom 99 percent increased by just 12 percent from 1970 to 2008.

That premise and those claims are under serious assault.   In fact, the University of Chicago’s Tino Sanandaji finds that there has been pretty significant growth in middle class income.  His summary of what he found:

My simple method is combining the best income-distribution estimate (from Pickety&Saez) with the best income-growth estimates (from GDP numbers). This method shows that that between 1970-2008 the real per capita income of the “Bottom 99 Percent” grew by 80%, and the income of the “Bottom 90 Percent” grew by 60%.

80%?  Last time I looked that was a bit higher than 12%.   Oh, and plenty of charts, etc., to explain the difference at Pethakoukis’ site.

And there is statistical backup for Sanandaji’s findings:

From 1975-2009, real per capita GDP increased by 90 percent vs. 17 percent growth in real median household income, as measured by the Census Bureau.

On top of that:

These calculations are in line with new research from University of Chicago’s Bruce Meyer and Notre Dame’s James Sullivan, who find that “median income and consumption both rose by more than 50 percent in real terms between 1980 and 2009.”

Conclusion?  If the premise is that one of the reasons that upper income increased in that period is because middle class income stagnated, the premise just isn’t supported by reality.   Income is not a zero-sum game.  And one of the points on the pro side of capitalism is it lifts all boats – as demonstrated here.


Twitter: @McQandO