Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Extending Unemployment Compensation

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air explains that the tax rate deal between the GOP and President Obama which includes extending unemployment compensation for 13 months does not mean that unemployed persons who now get federal unemployment for 99 weeks will receive it for another 13 months:
There seems to be some continuing confusion over exactly what form the unemployment extension takes in the Obama-GOP tax deal. On every occasion where I have discussed this, people have understood it to mean that unemployment benefits are being extended past the 99-week limit, allowing people to collect another 13 months of unemployment checks. That’s not actually the case.

The extension in this case applies to the entire program, not individual benefits.
See the link for his explanation of what exactly the extension does. It's very helpful.

Middle Class Values

How might we distinguish between those in America who do well and those who don't? Rich Lowery at NRO suggests that two major factors are education and marriage:
The unemployment rate for people with a college degree or higher is 5 percent. If that were the rate for everyone, it’d be the 1990s again. But college graduates are only 30 percent of the country. For the rest of the population, the jobs picture is grimmer. For people without a high-school degree, the unemployment rate is more than 15 percent. If that were the rate for everyone, it’d be the 1930s again.

But unemployment is only part of the difference between the well-educated and the moderately educated.

University of Virginia scholar Brad Wilcox details how the college-educated have embraced traditional mores and habits — especially the formation of stable families — while they erode among everyone else.

Our elites, broadly defined as the top third of our society, aren’t nearly as decadent as advertised. According to Wilcox’s data, the highly educated (with a college diploma or higher) are less likely to divorce, less likely to have children out of wedlock, and less likely to commit adultery than the moderately educated (high-school degree or some college) and the least-educated (no high-school diploma).

The moderately educated might be called the lower-middle class or upper-working class. Wilcox refers to them as the “solid middle”: “They are not upscale, but they are not poor. They don’t occupy any of the margins, yet they are often overlooked, even though they make up the largest share of the American middle class.” He documents an equally disturbing separation between the top and the rest, and a convergence between the middle and the bottom.

In the 1970s, 73 percent of both the highly and moderately educated were in intact first marriages. That figure plummeted across the board, yet the moderately educated (45 percent in intact first marriages) are now closer to the least-educated (39 percent) than to the highly educated (56 percent).

The number for out-of-wedlock births is starker. From 1982 until today, the percentage of non-marital births among the moderately educated exploded from 13 percent to 44 percent. That figure is close to the least-educated (54 percent) and a vast distance from the highly educated (only 6 percent). Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation compares the dynamic to a carpet unraveling from the bottom, as illegitimacy first took hold among the poor and now works up the income scale.
Lowery goes on to explain why this spells disaster for the middle class, but the reasons aren't difficult to see. As the middle class adopts the social values of the underclass it gravitates toward the underclass leaving us with a socioeconomic hourglass society, a bulge at the upper and lower ends with little in between. Moreover, the difference between the two classes becomes enormous with one valuing marriage, education and work and the other indifferent to them.

As long as single parenthood and lack of education were confined to the very poor, it was a tragedy, but it wasn't a calamity for the rest of society. If these dysfunctions continue to spread through the middle class, however, it will mean the end of the American dream. It's not hard to imagine that we'll eventually come to look, in relative socio-economic terms, like the France of 1788.

Xmas and Christmas

Some people get a little miffed during the Advent season over the use of Xmas rather than Christmas. There's no need to, as R.C. Sproul explains:
People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.
This is interesting, but I'm sure nevertheless that a lot of people use Xmas to avoid saying Christmas and who have no idea what the etymology of the word is.