“Coming Apart” — Virginia Edition


Odds are, one out of three of these babies is born out of wedlock.

by James A. Bacon

Three years ago sociologist Charles Murray wrote a book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” in which he described the social disintegration of lower-income and working-class whites in the United States. He documented the decline of marriage, the rise of out-of-wedlock births, the spread of substance abuse, and deterioration of work ethic, respect for the law and religious observance. The range of social pathologies once stereotyped as African-American is increasingly prevalent among whites. Anyone interested in the problem of social and income inequality in America needs to read the book.

Against that backdrop, I now present some numbers from a fascinating data set published by the Virginia Department of Health and passed along by reader Jim Weigand. This table breaks down the rate of “non-marital” births by whites, blacks and “others” by locality and planning district across Virginia.

The overall numbers should be terrifying to anyone worried that the rise of fatherless families contributes to dysfunctional social behaviors such as poor school performance, substance abuse, sub-par employment prospects, descent into criminality, child neglect and abuse, and, of course, more out-of-wedlock births in a downward social spiral. Across the state, one out of three (34%) children is born out of wedlock. That works out to 25.2% for whites, 64.7% for blacks, and 29.2% for others. (“Others” is a meaningless category which conflates Asians with their lower rate of out-of-wedlock-birth and Hispanics with their higher rate.)

In a majority of rural counties, the incidence of white non-marital births runs well over 30%. In Alleghany County the rate is 50%. One might expect as much in communities where a large percentage of the population lives in trailer parks. But in reasonably affluent communities like Henrico and Chesterfield counties, out-of-wedlock birth rates for whites run an astonishingly high 22.9% and 25.0% respectively. Even in super-affluent counties such as Fairfax and Loudoun, the white, non-marital birth rates are 12.2% and 11.3% respectively.

(Not every out-of-wedlock child is “fatherless,” of course. Many are born to unmarried but cohabitating couples in which the father continues to play a role, at least for as long as the couples stay together. Apparently, cohabiting in Europe can lead to stable social arrangements, but in the United States cohabitation tends to be a less stable relationship than marriage, and fathers tend to be less involved in the raising of the child.)

The situation for African-Americans is a social calamity but I can’t talk about that without someone insinuating that I’m a racist. So, for now, let’s focus on what’s happening in white America. That’s bad enough.

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29 responses to ““Coming Apart” — Virginia Edition

  1. I’m glad VDH collects the vital statistics data, but I would be very cautious analyzing it on the county level. If you look at the chart linked to in the post, it says Manassas Park had 21 births in 2014 while Fairfax City, which is only several thousand residents larger, had 724 births in 2014.

    On the PDC level though many of the regional differences are noticeable. It’s probably also worth pointing out that “white” in this case can be non-Hispanic or Hispanic.

  2. I’m not sure there is a simple answer to why the locality data is often inaccurate, I suspect the fact that zip codes cross county boundaries often in Virginia is the source of the problem. In the case of my home county: Bath, its southern half is part of the Alleghany County zip code so a number of births from Alleghany may be counted in Bath instead, which is inflating the number of births and altering Bath’s birth characteristics.

    If you look at VDH’s statewide non-maritial data from 2007 you can see that the percent of births outside of marriage has declined for whites and blacks since then.

  3. Is marriage a product of the agricultural age somewhat clumsily adapted to the industrial age and now completely inappropriate for our current age? Could it be that institutions don’t last forever?

    I’m not sure. But I think at least some of the marriage questions are almost never viewed from a change in economic patterns. They are always viewed through a sociological or religious lens.

    • It would be a mistake to assume that the nuclear family of Western Civilization is the only viable family form for nurturing and enculturating children. Family forms have been incredibly versatile across cultures and through history. So, the evolution of new family structures is not a problem in and of itself.

      The question is whether the new family structures — in particular, single-parent households lacking the backup of an extended family environment — can care for and raise children to be productive members of a knowledge-based economy. While one can always point to individual instances of extraordinary mothers or extraordinary kids who buck the odds, the fact is, they are bucking the odds. Most people don’t. The U.S. experiment in atomized, single-parent families is not working well.

      • Freight laden and locomotive driven, the above two paragraphs carry enormous punch.

        Where are they headed?

        At warp speed into a Black hole? To vanish? How can we bail out then?

        Or are they God’s angel’s calling us upward into paradise?

        Is it either / or? Or even close? Or irrevocable chaos?

        Tell me, Jim, how, without Western Civilization?

  4. re: ” The overall numbers should be terrifying to anyone worried that the rise of fatherless families contributes to dysfunctional social behaviors such as poor school performance, substance abuse, sub-par employment prospects, descent into criminality, child neglect and abuse, and, of course, more out-of-wedlock births in a downward social spiral.”

    since a significant number of married – also get divorced – do you also consider those to be also be “fatherless”?

    I’m not at all convinced of the linkage between “fatherless” and school performance, substance abuse, sub-par employment prospects, descent into criminality, child neglect and abuse” either

    I think it’s only “racist” when you continue to cycle back to present these things in racial terms…and contexts like Mr. Murray talking about low IQs of welfare moms.. you take it there.. then play victim.

    • Doing any one of these things out of this order:
      1. graduate from high school
      2. get married
      3. wait until 20 to have baby
      makes a leading indicator for poverty.

      I don’t know data for children of divorce, but I suspect that there are differences among children who never know a father, children who live with both parents, and children who at some point live with only one parent due to divorce or death.

      Also glad that Bacon brought up Europe, where marriage went out of style nearly a generation ago. There are many unmarried, stable households in Germany, France and England…where there are also substantially more socialist machineries at work supporting this. Not judging, just describing.

  5. IF mom has a daytime living wage job – and the kids are in daycare or a GOOD neighborhood school until mom is home with them –

    versus – Mom has a crappy education and does not have a good day job and cannot afford daycare and/or the kids are in a wretched low-income neighborhood school, mom is not home when the kids are out of school –

    the closer Mom (or any single parent) is to poverty – the higher the likelihood of bad outcomes..

    the whole concept of trying to see this through some morality lens is perverted IMHO.

  6. “the closer Mom (or any single parent) is to poverty – the higher the likelihood of bad outcomes”

    At last…you finally got it!

    So stop breeding more bad outcomes!

  7. Just the American versions of what happens to societies that work hard become rich and powerful and then fall apart. Democracies tend to build economically as the benefits are shared by all income levels. Then as wealth accumulates in a limited class due to imports of cheapo materials and slaves (Rome) which make things better for the participating classes but soon a gap occurs and the middle class is reduced to living well for a while on cheap handouts. But sooner or later the middle class grows larger and discontent.
    Rome gave free bread and games to satisfy the growing but poorer middle class. Initially gladiators were slaves and people cheered them on as they killed each other. But in due time Gladiators became prominent and there were statues all around the country honoring former slaves as heroes.
    Eventually, the middle class grows in numbers and dissatisfaction and the republic is over thrown and a dictator takes charge making things better for a time for the “middle class” but then it all crumbles.
    In an economically socialized middle class character declines and the government declines into something resembling fascism. The important thing in a fascist society is not character, morals, family, religion etc. but rather the delivering of free entertainment and free food by the government. Fascism is the rule of a powerful business man leader supported by leaders of the rich and the “middle class” taken care of by the leader.
    Today in America Mike Tyson and Bobby Knight are heroes and are looked to leading the masses to the Promised Land.
    Of course, America is not at this point at this time…? Are we?

    • “Of course, America is not at this point at this time…? Are we?”

      I fear the evidence grows every day that we are. And that we are moving far faster than ancient Rome that took some 500 years.

      And that your description of Rome and its demise is otherwise apt. Modern societies of course move far faster for many reasons, although ever more efficient speeds of communication, and lack of mediation are perhaps the prime reasons.

      See for example the book To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw.

      Remember how then America intervened to save the world.

  8. Well, Jim, those who commented are confident that their opinions trump the data. I would like to see the data that supports their hypotheses.

  9. would like to see the data that confirms this: “….fatherless families contributes to dysfunctional social behaviors such as poor school performance, substance abuse, sub-par employment prospects, descent into criminality,”

    substance abuse ought to be a good one since ” Legal Drug Addiction a far Greater Problem than Illegal Drug Addiction ”


    how about it ? let’s go find out how many prescription drug abusers had no fathers.. eh?

    these days – ignorant stereotyping has become it’s own self-fulfilling ideology…

  10. If we want to encourage marriage for the benefit of raising children, why not eliminate the marriage tax penalty in the Internal Revenue Code and pay for it by taking away tax exempt status for any 501(c)(3) entity that has paid advocates – either on the payroll or as third-party service providers – or that gives money to any other entity that has paid advocates?

    • Well – if you believe what Mr Murray is saying – then in order to get child tax credits – you’d have to pass an IQ test, eh?

      We should discourage folks with low IQs from having kids so maybe if they have low IQs and have kids anyhow – we actually tax them more – we could call it a stupid penalty?

      Oh – and the 501(c)(3) – “idea” .. if you want to apply it to ALL lobby groups including the PACs and Dark Money folks – I’m totally on board and maybe they get special dispensation if they hire low IQ lobby folks but then that would turn into a real mess…eh?

      • Larry – I wrote exactly what I meant. Eliminate the marriage penalty in the IRC for anyone affected. Eliminating the tax deductibility of lobbying expenses was one of the Bill Clinton changes in the IRC I think makes good sense. And I think things should be equalized on the nonprofit side. Any entity that has 501(3) status should not be permitted to have paid lobbyists and retain its tax status. If an entity (such as a community association or a local chamber of commerce) with tax exempt status uses its members to lobby on a volunteer basis, IMO, their tax status should not be affected.

        • TMT – if each person gets a standard deduction of $6300 whether single or married – is that a “penalty” for married?

          also – the IRS 501 c3 status is this what you mean:

          ” To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

          we agree? – ANY organization regardless of it’s name or stated purpose – it’s ACTIONS instead?

          how about paid lobbyist in the legislatures whether they are non-profit, tax-exempt or “for profit”?

          so you think they can lobby as long as their organization pays taxes?

          • TooManyTaxes

            Larry, the biggest marriage penalty is that the income tax thresholds for married people, while higher than those for a single person, are not double the single thresholds. Thus, a married couple pays higher income taxes than two unmarried individuals living together with an identical income. Hardly seems like a public policy designed to foster marriage.

            Larry, Section 501(c) is, obviously, broader than Section 501(c)(3). The IRS lists the following:
            501(c)(1) — Corporations Organized Under Act of Congress (including Federal Credit Unions)
            501(c)(2) — Title Holding Corporation for Exempt Organization[2]
            501(c)(3) — Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations
            501(c)(4) — Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees
            501(c)(5) — Labor, Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations
            501(c)(6) — Business Leagues, Chambers of Commerce, Real Estate Boards, etc.
            501(c)(7) — Social and Recreational Clubs
            501(c)(8) — Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Associations
            501(c)(9) — Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations
            501(c)(10) — Domestic Fraternal Societies and Associations
            501(c)(11) — Teachers’ Retirement Fund Associations
            501(c)(12) — Benevolent Life Insurance Associations, Mutual Ditch or Irrigation Companies, Mutual or Cooperative Telephone Companies, etc.
            501(c)(13) — Cemetery Companies
            501(c)(14) — State-Chartered Credit Unions, Mutual Reserve Funds
            501(c)(15) — Mutual Insurance Companies or Associations
            501(c)(16) — Cooperative Organizations to Finance Crop Operations
            501(c)(17) — Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Trusts
            501(c)(18) — Employee Funded Pension Trust (created before June 25, 1959)
            501(c)(19) — Post or Organization of Past or Present Members of the Armed Forces
            501(c)(20) — Group Legal Services Plan Organizations[a]
            501(c)(21) — Black Lung Benefit Trusts
            501(c)(22) — Withdrawal Liability Payment Fund
            501(c)(23) — Veterans Organization[b]
            501(c)(24) — Section 4049 ERISA Trusts[c]
            501(c)(25) — Title Holding Corporations or Trusts with Multiple Parents
            501(c)(26) — State-Sponsored Organization Providing Health Coverage for High-Risk Individuals
            501(c)(27) — State-Sponsored Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Organization
            501(c)(28) — National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust
            501(c)(29) — Qualified Nonprofit Health Insurance Issuers[d]

            My proposal is that none of these organizations should be permitted to retain their tax exempt status if they use paid lobbyists. Lobbying is protected under the First Amendment, but their is no requirement to provide tax exempt status for lobbying.

  11. First Steve Sailer then Charles Murray, you’re really batting a thousand with posting the thoughts of discredited white supremacists this week. I look forward to your missives on what David Duke thinks about the Congressional Black Caucus.

    As always, the greatest cause of a person’s future poverty is…drum roll, please…being born into poverty! http://economy.money.cnn.com/2013/11/13/making-it-into-the-middle-class/

  12. A little factual perspective…

    In the book: Old Dominion New Commonwealth, on page 49, “Because of the disproportionate ratio of men to women and laws forbidding bound laborers to marry, out-of-wedlock births were commonplace.”

    That’s in the 1660s in Virginia.

    So…obviously anyone throwing around racial statistics as a way to view this trend in this day and age is a flaming racist. “Out-of-wedlock” births were commonplace among white Virginians in the 1660s. If it was happening then, there is no “racial explanation” in the 2010s unless you are, in fact, a racist. Rather, just as in 1660s white Virginia, out-of-wedlock births are a product of economics and societal structure. If “race” is a factor today, why were out-of-wedlock births so prominent in white 1660s Virginia?

  13. Cville, is this comment — “anyone throwing around racial statistics as a way to view this trend in this day and age is a flaming racist — ” directed at a particular viewpoint expressed on this blog, or is it just a general statement?

  14. It’s aimed at the “conservative” viewpoint that seems to always want to isolate a racial variable without ever acknowledging the history of the racial variable and how that might affect the outcome.

    One can go throughout the world and find that groups that have long been oppressed, enslaved, isolated, discriminated against, etc. tend not to have the same outcomes as the dominant group in society. Whether it’s Muslims in Russia or the Hakka people in contemporary Taiwan or aborigines in Australia or blacks in America, somehow being the historically oppressed group tends to be a pretty good indicator rather than “race”. The large planters and gentry of 1600s Virginia oppressed the indentured servant class and—shocker—-the indentured class had high rates of “criminality” and “out-of-wedlock” birth.

    It’s no secret that there are almost no racial minorities in Allegheny County. But it’s also no secret that in a lot of those mountain/SWVA counties that certain families are known as “bad families” and have been oppressed for generations. “Oh Bobby’s a ______, you know that whole family is bad news.” From the time these kids enter school, the deck’s stacked against them. Whereas religion used to be a cultural factor that might prevent some of the out-of-wedlock births in those counties, as it has faded…it’s no surprise to see that statistic rise.

    I’d postulate that being part of an isolated group that is continually discriminated against whether it’s being black in America or being from one of “those families” in a mountain county may lead to extreme feelings of isolation from society as well as a carpe diem attitude towards life because you may as well live it up before you get screwed. In America, no one will deny that blacks have been that isolated group subject to horrendous discrimination. To simply state blacks have higher rates of X leads some to the conclusion that being “black” means you are an irresponsible parent. Or to be a “(fill in the black of one of “those families”) in X County means you are an irresponsible parent. Never mind all the historical and actual day-to-day slights/discrimination that a black person or member of one of “those families” may experience.

  15. MR. WATTENBERG: Okay. Let’s move on now to chapter 13, in whichyou say in your opening line, I think, ‘How come so many of you arestarting this book in chapter 13.’ So we are not — this is thechapter about IQ and race.

    MR. MURRAY: Yeah.

    MR. WATTENBERG: Why don’t you tell me first just where you comeout on it?

    MR. MURRAY: In the last paragraph to that 50-odd-page chapter, Ithink we say the central finding is that you can face all of thefacts about ethnicity and IQ and not run screaming from the room. Anda lot of the reason why we spend so much time in that chapter is tobring to the surface a topic that all sorts of people talk aboutprivately among themselves or they think about is very politicallyincorrect, and we say, ‘Okay, folks, you want to know what’s goingon; we will tell you to the best of our ability what the state ofknowledge is about this subject.’

    MR. WATTENBERG: And it is what?

    MR. MURRAY: If you take the mean on most tests of cognitiveability that have been given, including up to recent times, there’sabout a 15-point difference between blacks and whites. I would hastento add there is also a —

    MR. WATTENBERG: In IQ score, there is a — if whites —

    MR. MURRAY: Yeah.

    MR. WATTENBERG: Yeah, if whites average 100, blacks average 85.

    MR. MURRAY: That’s roughly — that’s the ball park.

    MR. WATTENBERG: And that means, as I recall your numbers, that 80– that 16 percent of blacks —

    MR. MURRAY: Are at or above the white mean.

    MR. WATTENBERG: Right.

    MR. MURRAY: Now —

    MR. WATTENBERG: And, therefore, 84 percent are below the whiteaverage.

    MR. MURRAY: Yeah. Having said that, there are a whole bunch ofother things that ought to be said along with it. And this is not inorder to run for cover; it’s in order to be realistic of one of thethings that ought to be said. What that means is that there areblacks along the entire range of intelligence from bottom to top, andthere are whites along the entire range of intelligence from bottomto top. It means that IQ is one important aspect of a person’sabilities — it sure isn’t the only one — and if you add in all theother things like determination and imagination and humor andsensitivity — you can go through the whole list of human qualities.The reason I’m saying all this is, Ben, that we’re dealing with veryexplosive stuff here —

    MR. WATTENBERG: You sure are. MR. MURRAY: — and when we said youcan face all these facts without running screaming from the room, oneof the things that bothers us is that people are all too eager to runscreaming from the room. Are there things that — does this haveimplications for some aspects of society? Yeah, it does. There are awhole bunch of things that it has absolutely no implications forwhatsoever. For example, it has absolutely no implications, as far asI can tell, for the way that any individual white and any individualblack should interact with each other. Because when you approach anindividual, you aren’t approaching a mean and a standard deviation,you’re approaching somebody with his own bundle of qualities.

    MR. WATTENBERG: Yeah, but you’re also — if you believe yourconcept —

    MR. MURRAY: Mmm-hmm.

    MR. WATTENBERG: — you are also approaching someone who, in theback of your mind you are saying, is, ‘I’ve never met this personbefore, but on average, he is 15 points less smart than the white guywalking alongside him.’

    MR. MURRAY: And that’s one of the things that bothers —

    MR. WATTENBERG: And that is called — I mean, heretofore, whenpeople said that, they were labelled racists.

    MR. MURRAY: Yep.

  16. MR. WATTENBERG: All right, what are your and Dick Herrnstein’spolicy implications for all of this?

    MR. MURRAY: Point number one is that the book’s purpose is not asa setup for a five-point plan. ‘The Bell Curve’ is written to bringto a general audience some really important issues, and the policyrecommendations are secondary to that.

    Having said that, there are a bunch of very specific kinds ofthings that the book points to. I’ll give you an example. You want tohave a job training program for welfare mothers? You think that’sgoing to cure the welfare problem? Well, when you construct that jobtraining program and try to decide what jobs they might qualify for,you had better keep in mind that the mean IQ of welfare mothers issomewhere in the ’80s, which means that you have certain limitationsin what you’re going to accomplish.

    MR. WATTENBERG: Now hold. You have written about welfare, and oneof the things that you and many other conservatives have said, as Ihave understood it, is that the way we have foolishly set up ourwelfare system makes it a smart economic decision for people to go onwelfare and stay on welfare. And now you’re telling me, hey, thosearen’t smart people. First you say they’re smart people, now you saythey’re stupid people. Now who are they – you’ve got to get your acttogether.

    MR. MURRAY: Ben, you haven’t been listening to me. We’ve saidshort-term decision. In the short term it looks like the smart thingto do. And since I’ve given this answer lots of times, I know exactlywhat I say subsequently, which is in the long term it’s a disaster.And guess who is most likely to make short-term decisions that ignorelong-term consequences. It’s people who aren’t very smart.

    MR. WATTENBERG: Okay. Back to the policy implications. You sayit’s not a five-point program, but I know there must be a program —

    MR. MURRAY: No, but we’re also talking about policy implicationswith regard to that. If people think they are going to get out of thewelfare mess, for example, by having these subtle long-termincentives, forget it. The way you are going to have an effect onbehavior is with very large, simple, easy to understand, short-term,immediate consequences. That’s the kind of policy implication that alot of our stuff has.

    Turning to other kinds of large policy implications, certainly wehave policy implications regarding affirmative action. We assert and,I think, document very thoroughly that the way affirmative actionactually operates in this country cannot stand the light of day; thatthe nature of the edge that has been given to protected minorities,as the phrase goes, in the universities is not a little advantage inthe admissions process, it’s a very large advantage, which means thatyou have in most universities almost two separate populations of kidsin terms of their academic ability, blacks and whites, and, ofcourse, Asians being usually at the top; and that this creates allsorts of terrible consequences.

    So we would argue very strongly for a much more 1960-ish, early1960s definition of affirmative action, which says cast a wide net,lean over backwards to make sure you’re giving people a fair shot.There’s that kind of policy implication.

    There are also implications in terms, I think, of economics. DickHerrnstein and I think that in an era when low-paying jobs areincreasingly not rewarded in the marketplace, and in an era whencoming up in the short end of the stick in the IQ lottery means thatthat may be the only thing that’s open to you, we’re sympathetic tothe idea of certain kinds of income supplements. We don’t say a lotabout them, we don’t have any prescription, but we’re sympathetic tothat.

    But we don’t really think the solutions lie in economics. We thinkthat what we have to get serious about in this country is asking thequestion: How is it that people of a very broad range of abilitiescan find what we call valued places in society, places where, if theywere gone, they would be missed? And we argue — and then I’m givingyou a 10-second answer to a 30-page question — that one of the waysthat we have to do this is by radically decentralizing the functionsof life. That we’ve got to take a lot of the things that we pouredinto large bureaucracies in the center of town and return thosefunctions to the neighborhood, not because it’s more efficient to dothat but because that’s the way that you engage people in a communityin the important stuff of life.

    MR. WATTENBERG: Let me go on to one other thing. You link manysocial pathologies –crime, welfare, dependency, out-of-welfare –out-of-wedlock births — to low IQs. Now, in theory, that would meanthat the general — that as these things have gone up, that IQ scoreswould be going down, but IQ scores are —

    MR. MURRAY: Not necessarily.

    MR. WATTENBERG: — IQ scores are not going down.

    MR. MURRAY: No, no, Ben, what is more — much more plausible thanthat is to say something has changed in policy which makes peoplewith low IQs a lot more vulnerable to these things than they used tobe. And I would say that out-of-wedlock births is a classic example,that what you’re really saying in this case is that in the 1960s andearly ’70s, with lots of changes in the policy, what happened is wechanged things such that, for someone with a low IQ, it suddenly madea lot more sense to have a baby out of wedlock or became much morepossible to them in terms of their view of the world than it didbefore.

    So I don’t think you let social policy off the hook when you talkabout the current relationships of IQ to these problems.

    MR. WATTENBERG: You say in the book you are not indifferent to theways in which this book, wrongly construed, might do harm. What areyou afraid of as this thing goes through the journalistic mill?

    MR. MURRAY: I am afraid, first, of racists taking what we say as abasis for conclusions that Dick Herrnstein and I think are utterlyunfounded. I am worried — we were both worried about all the ways inwhich people are too inclined to take something like IQ and make itinto fate. You know, ‘Well, if they have a low IQ, then they can’t dosuch and such.’ And so on. Throughout this whole process of writingthis, therefore, we constantly had to say to ourself, ‘Are we sayingexactly what we mean?’ And I think that is the reason why, inpublishing this book, we are confident that it’s going to be a forcefor good. It may very well be in the short term there will be peoplewho try to do bad things with it. I like to think that we did a goodenough job that there will be enough other people of goodwill whowill point to what the book says and say, ‘Those guys didn’t say whatyou’re trying to make them say.’

    MR. WATTENBERG: Okay. Charles Murray, thank you very much. END


  17. On another matter, why doesn’t Mr. Bacon weigh in on a favorite topic of his — the federal debt? The Donald has been making all sorts of bizarre noise about it, such as defaulting and trying to get lower interest rates. I guess that approach worked for his buildings.

    But since Jim is so into exploring, if not hyping, the debt problem, maybe he has some insight to share.

    Amazing how the Donald just isn’t mentioned on this blog.

    • “Amazing how the Donald just isn’t mentioned on this blog.”

      How many times do I have to mention him? How about this quote from April 20:

      Meanwhile, the four leading contenders for U.S. president are advancing platforms totally disconnected from reality. The cost of Bernie Sanders’ programs, if implemented, would cost $18 trillion over ten years, estimates the Wall Street Journal. Donald Trump’s tax-cut plan would cost $9.5 trillion over 10 years, says the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, while the Ted Cruz tax plan would cost $8.5 trillion, according to the same group. The least fiscally irresponsible candidate, Hillary Clinton, would expand government spending by a mere $1 trillion over ten years, according to the McClatchy news organization.

  18. That’s it? What about trump and default?

    • Isn’t default what the bipartisan establishment is proposing for Puerto Rico? Just like GM and its bondholders. Trump is an idiot, but negotiating down debt isn’t the dumbest idea in the world.

      We need a constitutional amendment that prohibits former members of Congress or any political appointees of any president to be banned from lobbying for 10 years. Any non-ministerial congressional staff member needs to banned from lobbying for five years. We’d have a lot less crony capitalism.

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