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…]

Both parties have abandoned free trade

Whoever gets elected president will oppose free trade.  In fact, both parties are rivaling each other in condemning trade agreements such as NAFTA (which forms a common market with Canada and Mexico) and the not-yet-ratified TPP (which eases trade with Australia and Asian countries other than China).

Such a turnabout is astonishing, since Republicans have long championed free markets and Democrats have come around to agree with them.  Credit, or blame, for this new stance goes to the popularity of Donald Trump, who has roused the masses against American industries moving factories and jobs overseas and American products being driven out by cheaper imports.

I can see the appeal of a self-contained national economy, but getting there would seem to involve some dangerous tradeoffs.  If we erect trade barriers such as high tariffs and our trading partners retaliate, won’t that be economically disastrous?  American companies will suddenly lose a major part of their markets.  Prices for consumers will skyrocket.  After awhile, maybe new companies would take up the slack, but, in the short term at least, wouldn’t this cause recession and even more unemployment?

This is not my field, so I am open to instruction. [Read more…]