Thursday Drive-By Commentary
Judge Alito, soon to be Justice Alito, gets "well qualified" ranking from the ABA. It is the second highest rating possible, just behind the "two snaps and a circle" that the ABA gave Justice Roberts.
[At right: President Bush admires the way in which Judge Alito uses his mouth.]
I would like to point out something. I am glad I live in America. Why?
There are many reasons, but here are two: I can be born to teenaged parents, start out in the bottom 10% income bracket, and end up in the top 10% income bracket, and I can buy a good sized, affordable house.
Let me explain why I mention this.
Thomas Sowell, one of my favorite columnists, noted a rare agreement between Rush and economist dunce extrodinaire Paul Krugman. The recognition of this fact:
Despite hysteria over high home prices, in most parts of the United States housing is quite affordable. But in some places housing prices are astronomical -- three times the national average in much of California, for example.
Not surprisingly, the Left wants a government solution to this problem. Sowell correctly points out that the problem is one of government to begin with.
A scholarly study published in the October 2005 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics concluded: "In the sprawling cities of the American heartland, land remains cheap, real construction costs are falling, and expanding supply keeps housing costs low."
Why then are there particular places where housing costs have skyrocketed?
In those places, much of the land is prevented by law from being used to build housing. These land use restrictions are seldom called land use restrictions.
They are called by much prettier names, like "open space" laws, laws to "preserve farmland" or prevent "sprawl," "greenbelt" laws -- or whatever else will sell politically.
People who already own their own homes don't worry about whether such laws will drive housing prices sky high. Somebody else will have to pay those prices while existing homeowners see the value of their property rise by leaps and bounds.
Everyone loves green space. But 95% of this country is still undeveloped. Just like every trade restriction is done in the name of the public interest but it more likely designed to limit competition, so too is the motivation for many land use restrictions. Limited land use means artificially high prices for land.
The real agenda [of many land use enviromentalists] is keeping out other people. Home builders who would enable other people to move into their community are called selfish and greedy. Green liars consider themselves morally far superior to "developers."
Which leads us to the social mobility article of this week, from Walter Williams. He points out briefly that lie about the static nature of income and the "rich get richer and poor get poorer" mantra of the left.
The authors analyzed University of Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics data that tracked more than 50,000 individual families since 1968. Cox and Alms found: Only five percent of families in the bottom income quintile (lowest 20 percent) in 1975 were still there in 1991. Three-quarters of these families had moved into the three highest income quintiles. During the same period, 70 percent of those in the second lowest income quintile moved to a higher quintile, with 25 percent of them moving to the top income quintile. When the Bureau of Census reports, for example, that the poverty rate in 1980 was 15 percent and a decade later still 15 percent, for the most part they are referring to different people.
This type of mobility may be unique to the United States a few other western countries, but it shouldn't be surprising. The idealistic speeches many of our parents gave us are true. Smart decisions and hard work pay off. Also, for every person moving up, that means someone else is moving down.
Cox and Alm's findings were supported by a U.S. Treasury Department study that used an entirely different data base, income tax returns. The U.S. Treasury found that 85.8 percent of tax filers in the bottom income quintile in 1979 had moved on to a higher quintile by 1988 -- 66 percent to second and third quintiles and 15 percent to the top quintile. Income mobility goes in the other direction as well. Of the people who were in the top one percent of income earners in 1979, over half, or 52.7 percent, were gone by 1988.
None of this should be difficult to figure out.
It doesn't take rocket science to figure out why people who are poor in one decade are not poor one or two decades later. First, they get older. Would anyone be surprised that 30, 40 or 50-year-olds earn a higher income than 20-year-olds? The 1995 Annual Report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that "Average income tends to rise quickly in life as workers gain work experience and knowledge.
The way to rise in normal prosperity is also easy to figure out. How does one become upwardly mobile? It is easier than you think.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas report listed a few no-brainer behaviors consistent with upward income mobility. Households in the top income bracket have 2.1 workers; those in the bottom have 0.6 workers. In the lowest income bracket, 84 percent worked part time; in the highest income bracket, 80 percent worked full time. That translates into: Get a full-time job. Only seven percent of top income earners live in a "nonfamily" household compared to 37 percent of the bottom income category. Translation: Get married. At the time of the study, the unemployment rate in McAllen, Texas, was 17.5 percent, while in Austin, Texas, it was 3.5 percent. Translation: If you can't find a job in one locality, move to where there are jobs.
I have pointed out before a study that showed the easiest way to avoid poverty was to follow 3 simple rules: (1) graduate from high school, (2) don't have a baby until you are married, (3) don't marry while you are a teenager. People who follow these fuddy duddy social conservative rules suffer from poverty very rarely.
The facts asserted by Sowell and Williams are proven in my own life. This is a great country, and the South is a great place in it.
The South is not perfect, however. A cricitism of the university structure in the South is offered by rabblerouser Mike Adams in two articles this week. In the first, he addresses constitutional violations at Georgia Tech in the application of its mandatory student fees. He publishes Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue's phone and e-mail information. This apparently lead to a lot of phone calls and e-mails, which the Governor re-routed to the University, which already knew about the problem and apparently didn't care. So the second letter, sarcastically, deals with that response, and raises a few other issues.
I don't always agree with Mike's approach or his opinions, but he is entertaining.
Congratulation Texas Longhorns.
Great game, great victory. Can we quit hearing about whether USC is the greatest team ever now? When you barely win 3 games and give up 42 points to Fresno State, you are not the best team ever. Thank you Texas for making that clear.