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The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession

March 18, 2015 in Economics

During the last part of the previous decade, the average effective minimum wage rose by nearly 30 percent across the United States.  New research from Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither analyzes the effects on the employment and income trajectories of low-skilled workers during the Great Recession and subsequent recovery.  The authors estimate that the minimum wage increases reduced the employment-to-population ratio of working age adults by 0.7 percentage points, accounting for 14 percent of the total decline.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Religious Persecution and Hostility on the Rise: the First Freedom Is Under Global Siege

March 18, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Americans take religious liberty for granted. It is the First Freedom, guaranteed by the First Amendment. But four of five people around the world lack the freedom to worship and live faithfully. And the percentage of the world’s population lacking religious liberty recently edged upward. Attacks on Jews hit a recent peak. Even Americans cannot afford to take their freedoms for granted.

The Pew Research Center, with Peter Henne as lead researcher, recently issued its latest study on religious liberty. The report makes for a sad read. Many organizations address religious persecution, which occurs in virtually every Muslim and authoritarian state, plus a diverse mix of other nations. Pew also assesses equally threatening social antagonism, ranging from discrimination to hostility to violence.

In some nations governments take the lead in suppressing the faithful, imposing a range of restrictions backed by the state. Examples include bans on particular faiths, prohibitions on conversion, and restrictions on religious practice. In other countries the people make their societies unfriendly to minority beliefs, imposing a wide range of less formal sanctions. Such behavior includes harassment, intimidation, and violence, including murder. The overall global environment to religious faith is hostile. Concluded the study: “restrictions on religion were high or very high in 39 percent of countries. Because some of these countries (like China and India) are very populous, about 5.5 billion people (77 percent of the world’s population) were living in countries with a high or very high overall level of restrictions on religion in 2013, up from 76 percent in 2012 and 68 percent as of 2007.”

At the top of the list for failing on both fronts are Burma/Myanmar, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Russia, “where both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices.” Individually the global rise was led by the People’s Republic of China, with government persecution, and India, with high social antagonism.

Christians and Muslims, who make up the largest share of the world’s population, are the most widely harassed faiths (in 102 and 99 countries, respectively)—in both cases, ironically, far more grievously in Muslim than Christian nations. Particularly worrisome has been the increase in anti-Semitism. Noted Pew: “there has been a marked increase in the number of countries where Jews were harassed,” to 77, a recent peak. The problem is more social than government, and is evident in 34 of 45 European nations.

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Source: OP-EDS