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  • Commentary posted October 28, 2014 by James Sherk Why Has Wage Growth Stagnated?

    By many measures the labor market is improving smartly. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent in September—not far from the level many economists consider typical during normal economic conditions. The number of job vacancies has jumped almost one-fifth since the start of the year, while employers have created 2.6 million net new jobs over the last 12 months.…

  • Backgrounder posted October 22, 2014 by Edmund F. Haislmaier, Drew Gonshorowski Obamacare’s Enrollment Increase: Mainly Due to Medicaid Expansion

    W‌ith enrollment data now available for the second quarter ‌of 2014, it is possible to construct a complete picture of the changes in health insurance coverage that occurred during the initial implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as Obamacare. The data show that in the first half of 2014, private health insurance…

  • Commentary posted October 21, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. Studies Confirm: Death Penalties Deter Many Murders at Far Less Cost

    On September 17, Texas executed Lisa Coleman for murdering a 9-year-old child. Death penalty opponents argue that, even in the most heinous cases, executions are just too costly, and that society would do better to substitute life-without-parole sentences for lethal injections. Before examining the death penalty’s costs and benefits, though, let’s consider why Coleman…

  • Commentary posted October 8, 2014 by Rachel Greszler For the Economy’s Sake, it’s Time to Deep-Six the Death Tax

    Death and taxes are two of life’s certainties, but the tax on death itself should certainly be eliminated. A recent analysis by The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis found that doing away with the federal death tax would provide a much-needed, long-lasting boost to the nation’s economy. Indeed, it would increase economic growth by $46 billion over the next 10…

  • Commentary posted September 30, 2014 by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. How the Death Penalty Saves Lives

    On Sept. 10, Earl Ringo Jr. was executed in Missouri. Before you decide whether or not this is right, consider what Ringo did. In July 1998, Ringo and an accomplice planned to rob a restaurant where Ringo had previously worked. Early one morning, they followed delivery truck driver Dennis Poyser and manager-in-training Joanna Baysinger into the building before…

  • Backgrounder posted September 23, 2014 by John L. Ligon, Rachel Greszler, Patrick Tyrrell The Economic and Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Federal Death Tax

    The federal estate tax (often referred to as the death tax) is a tax on a person’s lifetime accumulated property. In 2014, the death tax applies a 40 percent tax to all accumulated wealth above $5.34 million.[1] While the death tax applies to relatively few Americans and raises only tiny amounts of revenue for the federal government, it imposes substantial costs on the…

  • Commentary posted September 17, 2014 by Salim Furth, Ph.D., Curtis S. Dubay Six Demonstrably False Claims In Thomas Piketty’s Theory Of Wealth

    Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” became the most talked-about and most critiqued economics book of 2014 before academic readers had a chance to finish the book. When they did, many responded with rebuttals that cut directly to the core of Piketty’s argument. In “Capital,” Piketty makes six main claims. Here, we compare the evidence Piketty offers in…

  • Backgrounder posted September 12, 2014 by Curtis S. Dubay, Salim Furth, Ph.D. Understanding Thomas Piketty and His Critics

    Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century[1] is a treatise on how wealth inequality evolves in capitalistic economies. It is the most talked-about and most critiqued economics book of 2014 because Piketty’s timing was perfect: He released the English edition when income inequality was being actively debated in the United States. President Barack Obama brought…

  • Commentary posted September 8, 2014 by Andrew Kloster, James Sherk Why Your City or Town Could Be the Next Step for Right-to-Work

    Should workers have to pay union dues to keep their job? Unions think so — their contracts require companies to fire workers who do not pay up. Fortunately, many states have passed “right-to-work” (RTW) laws that prohibit this coercion. Unions, however, have blocked right-to-work in 26 states, but this doesn’t mean that unionized workers in these states must pay up. In…

  • Issue Brief posted September 4, 2014 by James Sherk Higher Fast-Food Wages: Higher Fast-Food Prices

    Union activists want to raise the minimum wage in the fast-food industry to $15 an hour. However, fast-food restaurants operate on very small profit margins; they could only afford such wages by raising prices—significantly. Higher prices would, in turn, drive customers away, forcing even larger price increases to cover costs. Ultimately, the average fast-food restaurant…

  • Backgrounder posted September 4, 2014 by James Sherk Not Looking for Work: Why Labor Force Participation Has Fallen During the Recovery

    Originally published August 30, 2012—Revised and updated September 4, 2014 The American economy is experiencing the slowest recovery in 70 years. In addition to persistently high unemployment, labor force participation has fallen sharply since the recession began in December 2007. Today, 6.9 million fewer Americans are working or looking for work. This drop accounts for…

  • Backgrounder posted August 26, 2014 by James Sherk, Andrew Kloster Local Governments Can Increase Job Growth and Choices by Passing Right-to-Work Laws

    Union contracts often compel employees to pay union dues or lose their jobs. This forces workers to support the union financially even if the union contract has negative consequences for them or they oppose the union’s agenda. Twenty-four states have passed “right-to-work” (RTW) laws which prevent companies from firing workers who do not pay union dues. RTW laws expand…

  • Commentary posted August 21, 2014 by Rachel Greszler Federal disability fund needs reform, not a bailout

    Money’s tight for the federal disability insurance program. Unless Congress acts, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund will run out of money in 2016. At that point, nearly 11 million Americans would see their disability benefits cut by nearly 20 percent, leaving the average beneficiary below the poverty level. Unfortunately, most of the talk about how to solve this…

  • Commentary posted August 19, 2014 by James Sherk How do you leave a union you don't know you belong to?

    Americans are fascinated with secret societies. From articles about the Illuminati to news reports on the Bilderberg Group, people love to speculate on furtive conspiracies. Now imagine an organization so secretive, even its own members don't know they belong to it. It sounds absurd, but a half million Americans belong to this secret club. It's likely that every week…

  • Backgrounder posted August 14, 2014 by Rachel Greszler Payroll-Tax Reallocation Would Rob Social Security and Prevent Necessary Disability Insurance Reforms

    A‌lthough Social Security’s 75-year shortfall is nearly 10 times as ‌large as that of the Disability Insurance (DI) program, the DI Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted much sooner. According to the Social Security trustees’ 2014 projections, the Social Security (Old-Age and Survivors Insurance—OASI) Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2034, but the DI Trust Fund will run…