What Trump gets right

The empty factories have their windows broken and weeds are taking over the parking lots, but they remain as monuments of the prosperity that rust-belt cities used to enjoy.  Small towns in the heartland have downtowns with shop windows boarded up.  Their young people either move away the first chance they get, looking for work, or they stay with many of them getting hooked on crystal meth or heroin.  A large number of the displaced workers in both the cities and the towns have given up on marriage and have stopped going to church, such is their despair.

What has happened to many of our cities and our small town culture–which used to be the Norman Rockwell vision of America–is tragic.  Here we see where economics and culture come together, destroying each other.

Who’s to blame?  Wal-Mart or Amazon for destroying America’s small retailers?  Corporations closing factories here and opening them overseas in lands of cheap labor?  Can or should anything be done about it?  Maybe these are just casualties of the market’s “creative destruction.”  But we are writing off a good part of America.

Donald Trump is pretty much the only one in either party who shows any concern whatsoever about the plight of America’s working class. [Read more…]

How much money do people in different churches make?

This is an unspiritual topic that is none of our business and appeals only to our morbid curiosity.  The Pew Research Center has released findings about the income levels in different religious groups.  (Not just churches but religions and no-religions.)

It’s notable, for one thing, in including the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod separately, unlike most polls that group us into categories that we have little affinity with.

Go here to see the chart:  How income varies among U.S. religious groups | Pew Research Center.

I have a few comments after the jump and then I’ll invite yours. [Read more…]

In defense of free trade

As we’ve blogged about, both candidates are campaigning against free trade.  Texas Tech economist Benjamin Powell defends free trade, examining the complaints both candidates are making.  He concludes that importing goods from abroad and even trade “cheating,” such as China subsidizing its steel industry, makes Americans wealthier.

Is Prof. Powell right?  Does he leave out some considerations? [Read more…]

Men who won’t work

Nearly a third of American men aren’t working.  These include the unemployed, men who can’t find jobs.  But there are two-and-half times more men who aren’t even trying to find a job.  Because their lack of work is voluntary, they aren’t counted in the unemployment rate.  But the number of men between 25 to 54 who are “economically inactive” is soaring.

This has nothing to do with educational attainment, the business cycle, or the availability of jobs.  Many men just don’t feel that traditional masculine impulse to work for a living.  Instead they are living off of government benefits, family members, and girl friends.  (Women, by contrast, are working in vast numbers.  But the men who don’t work tend not to be the marrying kind.)

After the jump, an excerpt and link to George Will’s review of Nicholas Eberstadt’s book on the subject, Men Without Work:  America’s Invisible Crisis.

[Read more…]

U.S. no longer makes the “free country” top 10 list

The United States is no longer in the top 10 of the world’s most free countries.  We are number 15.  However, despite our obesity rates and bad eating habits, we are number 1 when it comes to health.  We are #33 in safety and security.  The United States is #11 in economic strength and overall prosperity.

Scandinavian countries take most of the top spots, with Norway winning the top marks when all of the categories are considered, making it the most prosperous of nations.  All of this is according to the Legatum Prosperity Index.  See details after the jump. [Read more…]