Social mobility requires social capital

You know the American Dream, that in this country if people work hard and grab their opportunities they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and find material success?  Or, put another way, that America is a land of social mobility, where poor people can newly-landed immigrants with a just dollar in their pockets can rise to the highest levels of wealth and status?

Well, America has been doing worse than other countries when it comes to social mobility.  What happened?  Among other reasons, according to columnist Fareed Zakaria, is our loss of “social capital.”  That is, the breakdown of American families. [Read more…]

When the president does it, it’s not illegal

Those who oppose Obamacare may well be glad that the President keeps delaying the implementation of parts of the law (namely, the employer mandate and the limits on out-of-pocket expenses).  But there is a deeper issue:  The law says that these measures are to go into effect in 2014.  But now the President says, “no they won’t.”  By what authority can the President just change a Constitutionally-enacted law?

George Will says that the President’s increasing habit of by-passing Congress, ignoring laws, and legislating by Executive fiat is an example of the flagrantly unconstitutional principle affirmed by Richard Nixon :  “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” [Read more…]

Letting churches endorse candidates?

A commission is recommending to Congress that churches and other  501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations be allowed to endorse political candidates without losing their tax-extemptions.  Here is the report.  Details after the jump.

I decry the politicization of churches.  And yet I also decry the federal government using the tax code to squelch political speech, which seems to me to deserve particular protection under the 1st Amendment.  Which also protects religious liberty, and some religions do emphasize political action, whether from the right or from the left.

What do you think about this? [Read more…]

City vs. Suburbs

Retiring baby-boomers are increasingly moving away from their houses in the suburbs to condos in the city.  This makes sense.  Single and just-married adults living in small apartments when just starting out, then moving to larger homes, more space, and better schools in the suburbs when their family grows.  Then, when the nest is empty, moving back to smaller, lower-maintenance apartments when they reach retirement age.  With both the young and the old liking a stimulating environment close at hand with less driving.

But this hasn’t happened all that much until lately, and it goes along with some interesting demographic changes.  Poverty is up 64% in suburbs, twice the rate as in cities.  And the crime rate is falling in cities and rising in the suburbs.

Why do you think that is?  What can be done to improve suburbs?  Or make cities habitable for families?  And where do small towns fit into all of this? [Read more…]

Taxation without representation

Just what school children need:  more internet!  President Obama has a new signature program in the works.  “ConnectEd” will provide high-speed internet access to schools, with its multi-billion dollar cost funded by new fees on cell phones.  And the beauty of it, according to the administration, is that it can all be done–including the funding–apart from Congress.  All it will take is approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Wouldn’t this constitute taxation without representation? [Read more…]

The Six Types of Atheists

Christians have their different theologies.  Conservatism comprises a number of different ideologies.  Now studies are showing that there are different kinds of atheists.  Sociologist George Yancey discusses recent research that classifies atheists into six different types. [Read more…]