Tag Archives: welfare

Ohio Minimum Wage Workers Get A Raise

Ohio’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase on January 1, 2013 to $7.85 per hour for non-tipped employees and to $3.93 per hour for tipped employees, plus tips.

The 2012 Ohio minimum wage is $7.70 per hour for non-tipped employees and $3.85 for tipped employees, plus tips.

On January 1, 2013, the increased minimum wage will apply to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $288,000 per year. The 2012 Ohio minimum wage applies to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $283,000 per year.

The Constitutional Amendment passed by Ohio voters in November 2006 states that Ohio’s minimum wage shall increase on January 1 of each year by the rate of inflation. The state minimum wage is tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban wage earners and clerical workers for the 12-month period prior to September. This CPI index rose 1.7 percent from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012. The Amendment also states that the wage rate for non-tipped employees shall be rounded to the nearest five cents.

How will this raise effect the economic well-being of minimum wage workers? A full-time employee working 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year made a whopping $16,016 before taxes. This same Ohioan will make an earth-shaking $312 a year more with the upcoming raise. Let’s assume this same employee is a single parent raising one child.
Before the proposed raise, this single parent’s after-tax income is $11,797 and with the raise, it will be $12,046. Our single parent has reason to celebrate because he/she will have $249 more spending money. Right? Well, not exactly. Before we can determine how much spending money our single parent actual has, we have to deduct the social security and Medicare deductions. Therefore, our single parent’s yearly take-home pay before the proposed raise actually is $10,564, and after the raise, it will be $10,789. Now, our single only has $225 more for consumption. Just for perspective, the poverty line for our single parent is $15,130. Even if our hypothetical single parent get all income tax dollars back at the end of the year, he or she will still be living in poverty throughout most of the year.

Consequently, minimum wage is not a minimal living income. It is a pay scale to enhance welfare benefits to a livable standard.

It only gets worse for employees at smaller companies (with annual gross receipts of $283,000 or less per year in 2012 or $288,000 or less per year after January 1, 2013) and for 14- and 15-year-olds, the state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. For those employees, the state wage is tied to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour which requires an act of Congress and the President’s signature to change.

Auditor of State Dave Yost Takes on Food Stamp Fraud

Auditor of State Dave Yost this week identified substantial risks of fraud in Ohio’s food stamp program.

“This money is supposed to be going to feed hungry kids, and those kids need the govern- ment to try harder to get the job done,” Auditor Yost said Tuesday, speaking at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Columbus.

Responding to reports of misdirected food stamp aid, the Auditor of State’s office conducted a review of the program and, in a January 10 letter to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), issued recommendations for increased oversight.

Auditor Yost said one high-risk indicator of fraud is frequent reissuance of lost, stolen or damaged cards. In some cases, these missing cards have been sold to corrupt vendors for pennies on the dollar, with the vendors cashing in on the cards without ever moving goods off the shelf. Nearly 340,000 food stamp EBT cards were reissued in 2011, and 17,000 recipients during a five year period received 10 or more cards.

Auditor Yost recommended that ODJFS increase supervision of reissuance practices and work with the Ohio General Assembly and federal sponsors to increase penalties for merchants and other vendors who improperly benefit from cards intended for program beneficiaries.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as the food stamp program, served more than 1.7 million people in Ohio in 2011.

Fixing the Flaw in the Political Economy : Casinos and Poverty, Welfare and Capitalism

The following except is from the World Bank blog “Development Impact”. Jed Friedman’s post titled “Build a casino to help understand the consequences of poverty” does not favor Casinos, gambling, or the idea that either one improves the well-being of a community. Friedman believes certain types of research may still be important that can help us understand how economics affects our health and families. Even so, as you will see, the presence of a Casino was beneficial to a certain group of poor Americans in one community.

I was reminded of the legacy of natural experiment as I reread a paper that explores the relationship between poverty and mental health in children by E. Jane Costello and co-authors. It was published 8 years ago in a leading medical journal but flew under the radar in the economics community presumably because it was written by epidemiologists for the medical and public health community.

Also the study focused on the relationship between poverty and mental health – not a common cross-over area of interest in our field. However it is a long standing interest of mine. And it’s a nice example of what can be learned when researchers get lucky with an unanticipated change in the environment under study.

In the middle of an 8-year study of mental illness in children in the Smoky Mountains region of North Carolina, a casino opened on a Native American reservation that fell in the study area. The casino paid a percentage of profits to all tribal households. The casino and surrounding motels and restaurants also became a source of employment. Roughly a quarter of all children in the study was Native American and resided on the federal reservation, so there was sufficient density in the data to contrast changes in the Native American population with the neighboring white population that didn’t receive these direct transfers.

Children living in poverty are more likely than non-poor children to have a psychiatric disorder. In the baseline study data, children below the poverty line were 59% more likely to have a psychiatric symptom than non-poor children. However the problem of disentangling the relational direction of poverty and mental health is clear. It’s possible that the adversity and stress of poverty can lead to worse mental health, but it’s also possible that causation can run in the other direction — poor mental health of adults can lead to adverse economic outcomes and may also be transmittable to children.

Enter the casino and the annual transfers of up to $6000 per year to each reservation household. Poverty rates declined significantly. In these same households certain dimensions of child mental health, notably conduct disorders, improved significantly over a short period. (Although, importantly, other dimensions of mental health such as depression did not improve). The one significant mediator of the observed change in child health status appears to be an increase in parental supervision and parental presence in the child’s life.

Just in case you didn’t connect the dots, Friedman’s post reveals both the flaw in America’s political economy and suggests a way to fix it. The flaw is the stress of poverty and its terrible effects on the health of the poor. Stress and ill health both reciprocate producing dysfunctional lives and families. The American founders didn’t need a degree in psychiatry or economics to understand that ill health adversely affects the pursuit of happiness including wealth, good relationships, and enjoyment of both.

Yet, politicians today do not seem to understand.

Providing health care for all will not fix the problem and neither will welfare handouts. The idea of hard work for sub-standard living (i.e., poverty level living) does not lead to realizing the American dream.

As noted by Friedman, the poor’s health related problems significantly decreased when they rose out of poverty and became steadily employed. Their self-worth rose with routine useful work that was rewarded with wealth. Yes, unearned income received from the Casinos seems to have contributed to health improvement but so did employment. Overtime, however, the unearned casino money will be regarded as an entitlement, which in turn results in a welfare dependency mentality. From that point on, the poor will return to the problem that they began with, except the Casino does not need their votes. Their demands for the entitled money may eventually be answered with denial and silence.

Except for those who are truly disabled, welfare is not the fix to poverty. Rather, a political economy that rewards creativity and productive work with livable income, that protects both rights and property, and that promotes healthy family and other relationships will fix the poverty problem.

The fix to the flaw in the political economy isn’t socialism. Socialism isn’t need if capitalism is balanced with morality and justice for the good of all.

Why Ending Bush Tax Cuts Of Americans Making Over $250,000 Is Not A Good Idea

If the Democrat economic plan were not primarily beneficial to government coffers, I would be for it.
I serious doubt the economy will benefit greatly by merely maintaining the Bush tax cuts for the middle. Those with incomes over $250,000 may benefit more, but they also have more disposable income to spend. Spending helps maintain GDP. More importantly, it maintains tax revenues. Therefore, I have to agree with the Republicans. Raising taxes on anyone during a prolonged economic recession is not a good idea. Because the high-income group has more disposable income to spend, they are key to keeping a modicum of economic stability.

Democrats are doing a very poor job of making themselves look good. They are showing Americans that their agendas are more important than the common good.

Someone is bound to respond: Well, duh!

However, when looking at taxation and economic growth in the long-term, I think Americans with taxable incomes over $250,000 should pay considerable higher taxes.

How could that be good?

First, it’s contiguous with founding idea of economic liberty. Thomas Jefferson is representative of a large numbers early Americans who believed the rich should pay for government services to the poor. They believed it was immoral for rich Americans to have much while poor Americans lacked. Thomas Jefferson was no welfare socialists either. Like many others, he opposed low paying wage labor because it was a form of slavery.

Second, the rich paying for welfare to the poor should inspire them to change the political economy engendering poverty and welfare. Jefferson seemed to think making the rich pay to help the poor would motivate the wealthy to devise programs to ensure the poor actually gained skills by which to earn high incomes in order to live independent of rich charity or tax funded government services. I suspect Jefferson would have favored living wage standards as opposed to minimum wages.

Lastly, it seems unjust for the working poor and the middle class to pay for problems created by the wealthy and societal institutions. The Courts didn’t have to encourage the working poor to adopt socialism in order establish economic rights against big manufacturing firms. The Courts could have forced Congress to deal with the issue of low wage slavery. Against the ready argument that freedom of contract and market value would be violated, the Courts and other authorities could have applied Adam Smith’s capitalistic view that large manufacturing corporations were quasi-government institutions requiring regulation, i.e., regulation to prevent low wage slavery. It was the founding generation, those like Jefferson, who thought it unjust to tax all Americans (including the working poor and middle class) to cover the problems of the poor.

Remember, Jefferson wrote “all men were created equal,” which appears not to mean equal opportunity to pay taxes for welfare.

Besides all of that, the stock markets have not declined to 1990 levels, which indicate a somewhat healthy economy still exists–that is if a political economy can be regarded as such. It is healthy because those making over $250,000, like the Democrat and Republican politicians on Capitol Hill, are working to keep their stock portfolios profitable.

Sermon on the Mount : Any Relevance Today?

There are two versions of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. One is in the gospel of Matthew and the other is I Like’s gospel. Jesus’ sermon encompasses chapters 5-7 in Matthew and Luke 6:20-49. Jesus’ sermon begins with a series of nine wisdom sayings or blessings in Matthew and only four in Luke’s gospel. In this post, I will address the first blessing: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” or “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

It is possible that Jesus’ preached this sermon from the top of Mount Gerizim. What better place to proclaim the blessings of practicing the principles of the Torah than from the place where Moses did the same. In the Deuteronomy 28, Moses pronounced four blessings for practicing daily the law of God. Ironically, Mt. Gerizim is in Samaria, which in Jesus’ day it was regarded by Temple authorities as a land of unclean gentile people. However, that didn’t stop Jews from coming to hear Jesus. They came from Judea, Jerusalem, Galilee, and other surrounding regions, and most likely gentiles came as well even from Syria, Sidon and Tyre. What is relevant about this bit of history is the benefits of practicing God law.

Of particular social significance is the first blessing Jesus proclaimed to the masses of people. The two versions give us a composite picture of the blessing of God that people of all races, cultures, religions, and nations may grasp. Matthew captures the inner working of divine law while Luke shows the heart of God for struggling people.

In Matthew, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” To be poor is to lack wealth. To be poor in spirit means to lack fullness of spirit. Jesus said God is Spirit. However, Jesus did not mean to be poor in spirit is to lack God. Jesus was saying you who are needy of God are blessed. Those who depend on God for their moral and material welfare are those who are blessed. According to Jesus’ apostle Paul, God supplies all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus in the divine welfare program. It is also God who empowers the faithful to keep His law.

Luke’s version was influenced by his own experience of God redemptive grace. Luke was a Roman physician who became a follower of Jesus. He was poor in spirit and in the knowledge of God. In ancient society, poor people were often sick and without adequate care. Although he was not poor himself, he would have provided care for needy people. Therefore, Luke emphasizes God’s blessing for the poor. The poor are those lacking wealth either because of an unjust political economy that was beneficial only to elites and their immediate associates or because of terrible circumstances such as bad health. Throughout both the Torah and the writings of the prophets, God revealed his great concern for their welfare. This concern is demonstrated in Genesis 39-49, in the account of the Jews exodus from Egypt slavery (Ex. 1-17), in the law concerning the poor (Lev. 25; Deut. 15; 24:12-22), in Isaiah’s prophecies (58:6-12). This is also fleshed out in early Church as reported throughout the gospels and letter of the apostle of Christ.

Because of God’s great abiding concern, the needy have access to the greatest of all resources: God. The Creator of nature’s wealth has a welfare program specifically for them. By entering the kingdom of God with Jesus Christ, they can expect their material and spiritual needs will be met. By living under the divine covenant rule, the poor gain the right to God’s provision. The obligation of citizen in God’s kingdom is to live according to God’s law and grace with Lord Jesus.

The King of the Universe invites the poor and needy to enter His kingdom. His welfare program is eternally better than any that wealthy social elites or special interest groups can ever offer. God is genuinely concerned about the welfare of the poor and needy. All the they have to do is say Yes, Lord Jesus, I want in God’s righteous kingdom.

By Daniel Downs

An official led prison break in Ohio

Just as they favor giving convicted criminals stereos, digital cable TV, and free clothes and meals, liberals now support unmerited freedom of the duly incarcerated.

According to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, leading the charge to release Ohio’s prisoners is Gov. Strickland. Throwing prisons out of their cells and into Ohio communities was supposed to take place
May 4. I guess Gov. Strickland chose Sunday to give his conservative and religious critics something to pray about.

That is how I read the Eagle Gazette’s special report.

With a near-record 50,919 inmates behind bars this month, as of May 4 Gov. Ted Strickland said he has no choice but to start releasing people because the state just can’t afford otherwise. His proposal is more than scare-tactic rhetoric. Ohio State lawmakers are considering sweeping prison reform in which prisoners will be sent to live in halfway houses in communities.”

A halfway house has no barred doors and windows. Consequently, the bad guys could leave and do more crime in our communities.

Why, then, our lawmakers bent on endangering Ohio communities. There are two reasons: (1) Prisons are overcrowded, and (2) the state says it can’t afford to our communities or provide for the welfare of so many criminals.

As an example, the Eagle Gazette claims that their own prison, the Lancaster’s Southeastern Correctional Institution, “houses 1,628 inmates when it is meant for 1,385.”

“Strickland predicts his proposed changes could reduce the prison population by 6,736 indefinitely and save state taxpayers nearly $28 million a year.”

The Eagle Gazette, however, refutes his claim. The report states that cost are about the same. But even if it did save the state $28 million, it would only reduce total costs by about 1.5 percent of it total prison budget.

What the Eagle Gazette didn’t mention was the underlying problem of state lawmakers criminalizing non-crimes. Not all crimes were crimes in the past and some laws that regulated moral corruption and crime have been repealed. There are crimes in which community rehabilitation would have been more effective and may have not only reduced future crime but also reduced the total costs.

The attitude of some goes something like this: It’s better to keep deadbeats and criminals off the street. Helping them find their place among the prison population makes the economy look better. High employment and growing GDP statistics attracts investors. Besides, it’s probably cheaper to imprison deadbeats than keep them on the more respectable welfare programs.

Source: Lancaster Eagle Gazette, May 9, 2009.