Growing Number Of Children Born Out Of Wedlock

A new study conducted by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values finds that a growing number of children are now born to unwed parents.

The study, entitled “State of Our Unions,” focused on the 60 percent of Americans who graduated from high school but did not finish college, a demographic the researchers refer to as “middle-America.”

In that group, 44 percent of children are now born outside of marriage; that’s up from 13 percent in the 1980s.

“Marriage in Middle America is at a tipping point, with unwed childbearing threatening to become a new norm,” said report co-author W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.

The researchers say that children in the growing demographic are at increased risk for lifelong hardship.

“The children of Middle America, already vulnerable to economic challenges in their communities, are exposed to even greater risks when their parents are unable to form and sustain a healthy marriage,” said report lead author Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.

The Institute for American Values recommends increasing government incentives and education about marriage in order to reverse the trend. Some of the suggestions include:

  • Eliminating marriage penalties and disincentives for the poor, for unwed mothers and for older Americans, including lesser-known disincentives present in current Medicaid and Social Security policies.
  • Tripling the child tax credit to shore up the economic foundations of family life in middle-America.
  • Investing in and evaluating marriage and relationship education programs.
  • Engaging Hollywood, much as the anti-smoking movement did, to help shape positive American attitudes toward marriage and parenting.

The representatives of the organization say that the measures would save taxpayer dollars in the long run. They cite one study in particular that calculated reducing family fragmentation by just 1 percent would save $1.1 billion annually as fewer children repeat grades, are suspended from school, require counseling or attempt suicide.

Poll: Americans Want A Fiscal Cliff Deal Without Spending Cuts

A new poll indicates that a majority of Americans want to have their cake and eat it, too.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll released yesterday indicates that a majority of Americans want to avoid the coming fiscal cliff, but are largely opposed to necessary spending cuts that would emerge from an agreement between President Barack Obama and Congress.

Respondents to the poll indicated that they favor a mixture of tax hikes and spending cuts in averting the financial calamity. They, however, remained opposed to any cuts to military or Medicaid spending. Sixty-five percent of those polled said that the Federal government should work out a deal that both raises taxes and cuts spending. But 55 percent of the same respondents said that lawmakers should avoid cuts to military spending and 68 percent opposed Medicaid cuts.

The poll also indicated that broader entitlement reforms are unpopular with the majority of Americans. Sixty percent of those polled said they are against raising the Medicare eligibility age; the same number did not support restructuring Social Security to slow rate increases.

Thirty-one percent of the respondents described themselves as Democrats, 24 percent Republicans and 38 percent claimed to be independents.

Two Possible Mass Shootings Stopped By Armed Americans

As the debate surrounding the proper place of guns in modern America continues, there are stories (understandably overshadowed by the horrific tragedy that occurred last week in Connecticut) that highlight the valuable self-defense aspect of carrying a concealed weapon.

Earlier this month in Casper, Wyo., a man walked into a busy nail salon with the possible intent to rob and harm its patrons. A woman who was getting her nails done at the time saw him pull a weapon and pulled her own.

Here is a report from the Casper Star-Tribune:

Police say about 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, a man walked into Modern Nails at 2645 E. Second St. and asked a female employee if she wanted to buy some diamonds. The man walked toward the front desk area and the woman replied that she had no money to buy diamonds.

A witness said the man then reached into his coat pocket and began to take out a silver-colored pistol.

At that moment, a woman who was getting her nails done reached into her purse and got her own firearm. Police say the man never fully raised the gun and left the building after seeing the customer had her weapon out.

On Monday, a gunman entered the China Garden Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, allegedly looking to do harm to an employee of the establishment. When the employee wasn’t there, police report, the man pulled a gun and attempted to open fire on random patrons of the restaurant. When his gun jammed, patrons fled to a movie theater nearby. The gunman followed and was able to shoot one man in the chest before being neutralized by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy working security at the theater.

Tuesday Morning News Roundup 12-18-2012

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • In the wake of last week’s tragic shooting, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-Nev.) will add a bill that would ban high capacity magazines to the onslaught of gun control bills sure to be introduced by lawmakers on the left.

 

  • Representative Tony Cornish (R), meanwhile, is prepared to introduce legislation that would allow teachers in his home State of Minnesota to carry guns to school.

 

 

 

 

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No Time To Disarm America

In the wake of the terrible tragedy that occurred last week at a Connecticut elementary school, the opinions have begun following in from both sides of the gun control debate. The debate is sure to become increasingly fallacious and nasty in coming months as people on both sides make ridiculous claims to support their case.

President Barack Obama spoke over the weekend at a memorial service for the 26 victims of Adam Lanza’s horrifying shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His speech, some people (gun-control advocates, no doubt) gushed, was akin to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Here is part of the President’s speech:

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law—no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that—then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens—from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators—in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

The President is prepared to “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens” to prevent further tragedies like what occurred in Connecticut. Because, he asserted, Americans must protect the children.

The President’s words are strong, and combined with his past positions there is little doubt that his plan involves launching anything less than a full on assault on Americans’ right to own semi-automatic weapons.

In a USA Today column last week, Glenn Reynolds channeled famed author and renowned gun activist William S. Burroughs in describing what the government’s most likely course of action will be:

“After a shooting spree,” author William Burroughs once said, “they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.” Burroughs continued: “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”

Many Americans disagree with Burroughs’ opinion and are pushing for police and military personnel to be society’s sole armed protectors. And in gun-free zones, such as schools and many State and Federal properties, they are.

Those places have also become magnets for crazed gunmen. The cowardly mind-set of a man willing to kill at random — despite the anti-hero persona mainstream media seek to affix to these individuals — doesn’t lend itself well to ballsy attacks on rooms filled with armed men. Instead, they seek out the weakest or most unassuming targets imaginable: moviegoers in a darkened theater, attendees at a political rally, mall shoppers or schoolchildren.

And no matter what utopia the American left believes we inhabit, laws banning (and the all-out confiscation of) even every firearm manufactured will not stop the killing. Those capable of murder believe themselves to be far superior to any laws of man.

Perhaps a better option would involve a lessening of gun laws and an American realization that it is not up to the police, but to the citizen to ensure his own safety.

Speculation is reckless, but it is very tempting to fantasize about how Friday morning may have turned out differently if the school had been full of armed and trained teachers with easy access to firearms.

“Guns in schools, the horror,” liberal Americans might say. They may even venture to believe that frustrated armed teachers could be dangerous to students, though that seems very unlikely given the stories of teacher heroism coming from Connecticut where those educators likely wished they had tools at their disposal to better protect themselves and their students.

In 2008, the isolated Harrold Independent School District in Texas made an addition to its $100,000 state-of-the-art security system because administrators feared an armed intruder could do much damage in the 20 minutes it could take police to arrive. Feeling students and staff would be safer if on-site, trained staff members were equipped to handle a crisis at a moment’s notice, they decided to allow teachers to train and carry firearms to school.

In the years since, no gun has been brandished and no student hurt by an armed teacher. In fact, reports indicate that the students really didn’t have much at all to say about the policy. But the school district’s superintendent David Thweatt made a good point in 2009, a year after the policy went into place.

“We’re the first responders. We have to be,” Thweatt said. “We don’t have 5 minutes. We don’t have 10 minutes. We would have had 20 minutes of hell” if attackers had targeted the school.

Despite the President’s opinions, it is no time for gun rights activists to back off on the fight to keep and bear all legal firearms. We are all our own first responders and the protectors of those in our care who cannot defend themselves.

Let Me See Your Papers

Residents of the Arkansas town of Paragould — population barely 25,000 — will soon begin noticing a constant presence of militarized police patrolling the streets and asking to see pedestrians’ papers.

At a town meeting last week, Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan that would involve police in full SWAT gear brandishing AR-15s roaming streets downtown on a daily basis. The officials cite rising crime rates in the city as the primary reason for visually militarizing police on regular patrols.

According to city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are well above the national average in the city.

“This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this,” Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. “It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.”

The officials said that the police would not only be on the lookout for criminal activity, but will also collect ID from anyone and everyone they encounter in the city.

“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reported him saying during last week’s meeting.

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” added Gaskill, “but they’re going to have to prove it.”

The officials contend that the policies, set to be rolled out in 2013, will not violate residents’ 4th Amendment rights because it is their “duty and obligation” to find out why crime rates are high and how they can lower them.

Monday Morning News Roundup 12-17-2012

Monday Morning News Roundup 12-17-2012

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Investors beware: The end of the year fiscal cliff drama is expected to cause volatile swings on Wall Street.

 

  • President Barack Obama’s Sandy aid bill is full of pork. It includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in Washington.

 

 

 

  • An independent report will be issued to the Department of State today to help officials better understand what happened in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

 

 

  • With the fabled Mayan Apocalypse doomsday date just ahead, some people are preparing for the end of the world this week.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Financial Industry: Russian Thugs Targeting Online Banking

Lawmakers have been itching to implement far-reaching government Internet controls in the United States for a long time. Now, the Nation’s financial services industry is giving them the boogeyman they need: warnings of a potential threat that Russian “cyber-gangsters” are preparing to rob American banks and their costumers of millions of dollars in the coming year.

Last week the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), an organization that keeps the financial sector abreast of terror and online threats, issued a warning to financial institutions throughout the nation about the most recent threat to Americans’ money online. The organization indicated that a cyber-criminal with the moniker “Thief-in-Law”—loosely translated from the Russian “vorVzakone”— has set into place a system that will allow him to steal the bank account data of hundreds of unwitting Americans.

“FS-ISAC has sent out several notices warning about this gentleman,” Douglas Johnson, vice president for risk management at the American Bankers Association, told The Washington Times.

Experts at the computer security firm MacAfee assert that “Thief-in-Law” and others like him are likely in the process of infecting American computers with malicious software capable of clandestine collection of passwords and other login information that would grant them access to bank accounts.

The plan, dubbed “Project Blitzkrieg,” is described as an active operation; security experts say they detected up to 500 computers with the malicious software in October and as many as 120 more in November.

According to FS-ISAC, the thieves are mostly targeting customers of investment banks, where large balances are more likely.

As Drug Policies Change, Is There A Conservative Dilemma?

Governments around the world have slowly been recognizing the folly of using prohibition and war on drugs tactics to quell drug related violence, addiction and terroristic drug cartels.

Leaders in the United Kingdom are calling for a reformative look at British drug policy as, despite evidence to the contrary, Prime Minister David Cameron says he believes that his nation’s version of the American war on drugs is “actually working.”

The U.K. Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg disagrees, saying in a recent interview with The Sun, “We are losing the war on drugs on an industrial scale. If you were waging any other war where you have 2,000 fatalities a year, your enemies are making billions in profits, constantly throwing new weapons at you and targeting more young people – you’d have to say you are losing and it’s time to do something different.”

A report released last week by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee suggests that U.K. lawmakers should look to South American countries for pointers on drug reform policy.

For decades Latin American countries have suffered because of the U.S.-created War on Drugs. Decades of bloodshed and billions of dollars spent has led a majority of Latin Americans to an emerging consensus that going along with their northern neighbor’s tough drug policies are only helping to embolden cartel criminals.

More practical solutions to the drug problem are being sought by many governments in the region focusing on legalization and regulation rather than outright prohibition, especially with regard to marijuana. In the small republic of Uruguay, government pushed through legislation that makes the state the sole dispenser of marijuana.

Other Latin American countries are following Uruguay’s lead and also calling for drug legalization. Guatemalan leader Otto Perez Molina did so in the U.N. General Assembly, with the support of regional backers such as the cartel-ravaged nations of Mexico and Colombia.

The United States remains the biggest drug market in the Western hemisphere, despite being the birthplace of the war on drugs philosophy. And the Nation’s Federal lawmakers remain opposed to Latin America-style reforms, despite States like California and Washington easing the crackdown on marijuana.

With growing pressure from Latin American governments and State efforts to curb draconian drug policies, the Federal government will have much to prove about the efficacy of its drug war over the next few years. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s remarks last Friday indicating that the Federal government “has bigger fish to fry” than going after marijuana users in Colorado and Washington where the drug is now legal serves as a victory to both States’ rights and personal liberty advocates.

Many conservative Americans would likely disagree that marijuana legalization in a handful of States is really a good thing for their movement. But as the GOP increasingly represents a moral-nanny clone of the Democratic Party, the same conservatives that found ridiculous New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s liberty-assaulting ban on big soft drinks will have to decide if the message really is about getting government out of Americans’ lives.  Or does small government only matter when the moral agenda is not in jeopardy?

TGIF! Morning News Roundup 12-14-2012

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

 

 

  • Good news for States’ rights as well as pot smoking residents of Washington and Colorado: The Obama says his Administration has “bigger fish to fry” than sending the Feds after users in the States that have declared marijuana legal.

 

 

  • What happens when a nation ruins its economy with too much entitlement spending? Massive tax hikes on all citizens. Greeks earning more than €42,000 ($55,000) per year will now be taxed at a new top rate of 42 percent, under a major new tax reform bill submitted to the country’s parliament late Thursday.

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