In describing the 114th Congress’ first 100 days, MarketWatch columnist Rex Nutting uses a four-letter word, dumb, no less than nine times. But maybe Congress’ “five dumbest things” make sense after all. Passing a budget, rolling back taxes, approving Keystone XL and reining in an overreaching agency might increase Congress’ popularity with voters back home.
Though April 15 has passed, Americans are still a week away from the finish line when it comes to paying their taxes. This year, it will take the average American until April 24 to work enough to pay off their share of federal, state, and local taxes. We spend 30 percent of the year working to pay the government before we can start to keep the money that we earn.
Mention the word "taxes," and most people immediately think of how much money, or what percentage of their income, they pay to the government. If you mention the word on April 15, they are apt to offer many unprintable thoughts as well. But in general, people view the cost of taxes in terms of what they are required to fork over to the Internal Revenue Service every year at this time in addition to any quarterly estimated payments and payroll deductions.
On April 15, the Service Employees International Union is organizing nationwide fast food worker strikes to draw attention to its push for a $15 hourly wage. While such protests may seem to be grassroots efforts led by struggling workers, major unions fund and promote them. Unions desperately need to extend their reach to the high-turnover fast food industry if they are to stem sharply declining membership rolls.
Unions are in trouble. Membership is declining, public pension plans are dangerously underfunded, and young workers are not interested in diverting a portion of their paychecks to dues that offer them few benefits in return. Half the states have passed “right to work” legislation that says that workers cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. In the face of these challenges, the union membership rate has fallen to a 100-year low.
April 14 is feminists’ misconceived Equal Pay Day.
That’s the day of the year, they say, when all women’s wages, allegedly only 78% of all men’s, “catch up” to what men have earned the year before. The fairy tale is that women have to work those extra months to get their fair share.
Americans are not saving enough. This is problematic because there are limited options for people who run into short-term financial problems, and government-funded retirement programs are on an unsustainable path. While there may seem to be no hope to better prepare Americans for their future financial needs, the findings of behavioral economists hint at one way out of America's savings crisis.
The March employment report brought to a close a disappointing quarter for the U.S. economy. With only 126,000 new jobs created last month, gains since January totaled 591,000. That’s a decent number, but down noticeably from the increase of 973,000 during the final three months of 2014.
The March jobs numbers, released on Friday, were disappointing not only for the lower level of job creation, but for the continued decline in the labor force participation rate, the share of Americans who are working or looking for work. The participation rate is now at 62.7 percent, equivalent to February 1978 levels.