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This Week

Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 12:01 am

Who will work with no incentive?

If it pays better to be on welfare than to work, how many people will want to work? That’s a question our policymakers had better start thinking hard about. In 38 states and the District of Columbia, says a new report by the libertarian Cato Institute, welfare pays more than an $8-an-hour job.

And it gets worse. In 12 states , welfare is more generous than a $15-an-hour job. In Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., welfare pays more than a $20-an-hour job, more than 2.75 times the minimum wage.

In all 38 of the high-welfare states, welfare pays more than the starting wage for a secretary. In 10, welfare pays more than the average pretax first-year wage for a teacher. In three, it pays more than the salary of an entry-level computer programmer.


Hard to pick a side in Syria

Whether the U.S. should have gotten involved in Syria when the popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began is something the hawks and doves can debate. But events have unfolded to give the U.S. no good options, so now would definitely be a time for President Obama to lie low and engage in a little “lead from behind” passivity. But, perversely, the administration seems poised to make a potentially dangerous intervention.

America loses if either side wins. If Assad wins, Iran extends its influence there and with its Lebanon-based proxy Hezbollah. Both Israel and Sunni Arab states would face a direct threat. If the rebels win, the extremists groups that are their most effective component will surely form a government hostile to the West and a threat to the peace of the whole region.


A most worthy new project

The faith-based nonprofit Habitat for Humanity has been uplifting lives in Fort Wayne for 26 years, one home at a time – 167 of them so far, scattered here and there in various neighborhoods, mostly in the southeast quadrant. Now it is embarking on a much more ambitious and very worthy experimental endeavor that will change the focus of its mission from building houses to building communities.

The nonprofit broke ground this week on Fuller’s Landing, a 120-home subdivision on the northwest side, just west of Raven’s Cove subdivision on Cook Road. Construction on a model home will begin in September, and the homes, which will be built for $60,000 to $65,000, will go up over the next five to seven years. Six families have already been selected for the application and training process.


Sorry about that, Illinois

We’ve said here many times that the best economic development strategy for a state is not to offer incentive packages that include tax forgiveness but to have a sane, business-friendly tax structure in the first place. If taxes are defensible, neither companies nor individuals feel so bad about paying them.

This state, we are happy to note, seems to be taking that approach seriously. Indiana, for example, has a 7.5 percent corporate income tax that it plans to lower to 6.5 percent by 2015, while neighboring Illinois has a 9.5 corporate income tax. That makes Illinois a natural target for Indiana developers, and the more tax-happy that state becomes, the more aggressive our campaign to lure away its businesses should be. And nobody will ever lose money betting that Illinois taxes will just get higher and higher.


A small miracle in Michigan City

Michigan City firefighter Raymond Celebucki’s recollections of a July 12 incident at the Mount Baldy sand dune are chilling and uplifting at the same time.

He sat looking at the apparently lifeless body of 6-year-old Nathan Woessner as they raced toward a waiting ambulance, thinking about all the things the boy would never get to do. “He’d never have his first car. He’d never have his first girlfriend. He’d never have his first day of high school. The things we all take for granted. Just to see a young life taken like that, I just can’t put it into words.”

Then paramedic Buddy Kasinger asked Celebucki if he was bleeding. He said no. Kasinger looked at his own hands and said he wasn’t, either. “He said to me, ‘Dead people don’t bleed.’ The feeling that overcame us at that moment was shock. ‘My God, he’s alive.’”