Mixed Bag: Wrong on Tariffs, Got Hacked?, Garrett for President 2028?

My last post on tariffs was very good if you haven’t read it yet. I just want to make one clarification about that post. Throughout the post, I mention the possibility of plan to make tariffs a bigger source of national revenue. The problem is that I wrote it just trying to educate people about tariffs and thinking after research I could present a plan to help relieve the tax burden. After some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was totally misguided. I know that free trade is a great economic benefit for every country. I never proposed doing away with it. I’ve come to the realization that I was wrong about tariffs. I don’t think there’s way to make tariffs viable without starting multiple trade wars or killing off American businesses. The explanation is simple. Its basically a tariff on imports would make many products that aren’t produce here in America very expensive to the consumer. A tariff on exports would create tension between the US and other countries whom export to us. The bottom line is that tariffs in this free trade world just won’t work either politically or economically.

This particular post is a mixed bag of goodies such as the tariff plan which is not happening. I’m going to try to keep short, not sure that is possible for me. (See any other post) I think that first I want to address the Russia hacking. I don’t usually like to give these ridiculous stories that people call “news” any sort of attention. However, its been bothering me. The problem I have with the story is not that Russia tried to hack, or that Trump wanted to them to hack, or even the debate over whether or not its true. There are conflicting reports that the hacking was made up. Whatever the case is, I find it completely ridiculous. The best I came up with to describe it was this unusual status I made on my facebook:

The Russians interfered with my whole life, hacked my SATs scores, college transcripts, my facebook, my old myspace account, and all four of my email addresses. (I lost count actually) Apparently its totally a valid excuse for why I’m such a failure. You want to see proof just look at how big of a loser I am. This my friends is what the federal government and Democratic party are doing. How pathetic and sad can you honestly get? Trump won because people are tired of Obama and his socialist policies that really haven’t worked. They don’t like the increased terrorism and racial strife. I don’t believe that Trump is the solution but blaming your problems on Russia is ridiculous. Trying to start World War 3 is dumb. If I could run for President in 2020 I would, because the only people who seem to be politicians are idiots.

I think that I make a valid point of how this Russia hacking is playing out in the media. I’ve never actually believed anything the media tells me. I would recommend you don’t listen either. As they say: Don’t drink the kool-aid.  I thought I would just share that.

In an unrelated matter, I want point out that I made a half hearted declaration for President in 2020 even though I’m only going to be 30. If you didn’t know you need to be 35 to run for President. In the event that I turn 35 and I decide to run, I promise that my readers will be the first to know. If you are curious, I will be 35 in 2025, and eligible to run in the 2028 election. So uh, mark your calendars. If Trump doesn’t ruin us then I hope I can count on my educated readers for your support. I will be on running on the libertarian platform with a little bit of my own ideas mixed in. Just for fun, lets review my positions:

  • Against Minimum Wage
  • Pro-Adoption (Pro-Choice because 14th amendment and Against Abortion because its killing)
  • Audit the Fed (Reserve) (Hold them accountable)
  • Pro-free trade
  • Cut spending and actually lower taxes (Against raising taxes on anyone)
  • Hold the Department of Defense accountable (military industrial complex)
  • Make Healthcare a free market system (fix regulations)
  • Repeal the Patriot Act
  • Make gay marriage legal everywhere (states rights be damned, gov’t shouldn’t control marriage
  • Make marijuana legal everywhere (kills the black market and raises revenue)
  • Basic Income, see my post, Which also leads to cuts in all of the welfare portions of the budget plus a savings of about 200 billion dollars
  • Invest in infrastructure like high speed rails and roads
  • Pay down the national debt (again extra money from cuts over a course of 10 to 20 years)
  • Pull all troops station abroad and put them on the Mexican Border (Simultaneously, I would institute a streamlined immigration for legal and illegal immigrants basically just giving them citizenship after a background check and psychological evaluation plus for illegals a higher tax rate to ensure they really want to come here. No handouts here. All countries citizens welcome.
  • Slowly end all unnecessary government functions or phase them out because a big bureaucracy isn’t necessarily great in terms of cost and effectiveness. Including but not limited to my own power once I get what I see fit to be done.
  • Eliminate all Federal government regulation regarding education such as common core because teachers know their own students better.

Granted my plan is ambitious but I don’t just win the presidency not to make a major impact. I made this list off the top of my head. I made some vague positions and perhaps in the future I will get to expand on them. If I had to describe my presidential ambitions in a sentence or two I would describe it as:

I want America to be a fiscally smart, diplomatic savvy and self aware as a nation and as a people. Americans have always thrived on their freedom and their ability to govern themselves and that is exactly what I aim to do, is put the control in hands of the people.

I think my plans are simply for freedom and not much else. America has become extreme and its painfully obvious with the election of a person like Trump. I think we need to go back to our roots. People need to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These are the documents that built the country. I think the words have significant meaning that puts being American in great honor. I also think that we shouldn’t forget our past mistakes whether its invading Iraq or the whole cold war, we should not let history repeat itself. I really don’t fancy getting elected or being President easy. However, I think i would really enjoy working to make a country that I’ve been living in and studying since I was a child.

That’s will do it for this post. I had to address a few things and next post will be more coherent, I promise. Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Tariffs: America’s Oldest Tax Plan Revisited

In history class, I distinctly remember talking about tariffs. It’s usually something you learn about first especially in American history. The American revolutionaries were unhappy with the tariffs being put on their exports by the British. This is what the revolution started over to a degree. You might not remember what a tariff or tariffs are. The definition of tariff is: tax or duty to be paid on particular class of imports and exports. In other words, a tariff is a tax on imported or exported goods. Every country typically imports and exports goods and services. The goods that are typically exported are those in surplus in that country. The goods that are imported are those which are either cheaper or not in supply in that country. Tariffs have been long a part of the American economy. Tariffs have even long been a part of the government.

In the post, I’m going to first review why tariffs were such an integral part of our nation’s history. Then I want to discuss how we went from a tariff based revenue system to the current system of income tax. After that I want to put forward an idea that seems to have been lost in time. The tariff in the United States was after the revolution used to fund the government. Almost as the sole source of income. Alexander Hamilton had designed the whole system. He set up and got funding for a series of lighthouses and inspection clerks up and down the Atlantic coast. There clerks were to inspect all incoming and outgoing goods. They also had to determine the tariff on each item. They were called Customs Officers. Hamilton became the Secretary of the Treasury and further install his government revenue engine on the back of the Tariff act of 1789. The act is simply explained in its first section:

“Whereas it is necessary for that support of government, for the discharge of the debts of the United States, and the encouragement and protection of manufactures, that duties be laid on goods, wares and merchandise:” — Section 1; Tariff Act of 1789

The tariff is essentially an indirect tax on goods coming and going out of the country. Hamilton saw the huge war debt from the revolution and knew that the US government had no source of income. There was no income tax or anything like that. (Wouldn’t come til 1912, I’ll explain later) So Hamilton being the genius he was, decided to convince President Washington to take out a loan and install the customs system (Tariff Act). He argued in one of many papers that America need to build credit. If you have a credit card or student loans like me then you know that building credit is paying off your debt. Hamilton’s system allowed the US government build credit, in fact one of the best credit ratings in the world for many years. Not everyone was on board with the plan. People like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. However, they couldn’t stop Hamilton’s plan because war debt was owed to France and other creditors. The US didn’t have many options at that time.

So tariffs were the main source of income from 1789 to about 1911. The US government added liquor taxes, postage taxes, corporate taxes, tobacco taxes and the Panama canal as other sources of revenue. In 1912, tariffs made up about 20 percent of the income of the government. In 1913, the government passed a law that changed the source of US government forever. The law called the Revenue Act of 1913 or the Underwood Act was passed to impose an income tax and lower tariff rates from 40 to 25 percent. This marked the end of tariffs making up a significant portion of US government income. This act was possible by the newly passed 16th amendment. (For another post, the 16th allows for income tax under the direct taxation requirements in the constitution, which was previously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court) Since 1913, our tariff income has only been about 1 percent of revenue. This figure is according to this website here, it also breaks down the tariff income based on type of good. All in all, 2013 saw about 30 billion dollars of income. This is compared to 311 million in 1912. In 2016 dollars, that tariff income would be about 7 billion. Obviously, since the early 1900s the conditions of the economy and our government budget has exploded.

You might be asking yourself but isn’t 7 billion dollars in 2016 or 2017 (Happy New Year) like chump change for the US government whose budget is around 2 or 3 trillion dollars. My answer would be yes. However, if you look at these numbers in terms of percentage and scale then you can imagine a viable tariff system for 2017. Remember tariffs made up 20 percent of the 1912 budget. Now tariffs make up 1.7 percent approximately in 2013. So lets say for argument that our budget under President Trump is 3 trillion. Trump decides in order to cut taxes he needs to increase revenues. (In some alternate logical world) So Trump orders an increase on tariffs. His cabinet comes up with about 600 billion in tariffs or about 20 percent of the budget. I think that 600 billion dollars is a pretty nice chunk of change. Imagine what that could pay for? Social Security? War? Food Stamps? But what would those tariffs look like?

Obviously to understand the role of tariffs, you need have an understanding of the global economy. I think its obvious that the world is complex. A significant part of an economy is trade. The trade between two countries or more is essential because it allows scarce resources to be spread. It also widens the markets for such goods. Its been in the news a lot lately about all the trade agreements. These agreements in a basic way remove the barriers and allow trade to flow freely. One of those barriers can be tariffs. There are two types of tariffs. Import tariffs are a tax on goods that imported from other countries. Import tariffs are often seen as protective to a country economy. This was the primary tariff beginning in 1789 because it (artificially) protected the US economy. Export tariffs are a tax on goods being exported to other countries. Export tariffs are typically seen as way to limit the exports of a certain good. For example, if oil became very scarce then the US might want to put a high export tariff to help curb the sale of oil abroad and keep here in the US.  (An export tariff would increase the price of oil outside the US)

I believe that introducing a new tax plan including tariffs might be beneficial to the US. I think you have to carefully consider what to put tariffs on and what kind of tariffs. But its definitely a source revenue that is not used as it once was. Now we rely on income tax so heavily, its crushing many Americans. Its a liberal fallacy to think that you can tax your way out of poverty. Its an irony. Taxes create more poverty than eliminate. I think I need to do another post on the subject of trade because this post is merely just one part of it. I need to do some further research before I offer any specifics on what a tariff revenue might look like. So I will leave this post as to be continued, my next post will try to figure out how to successfully incorporate tariffs into a free trade world.

Thanks for reading!

 

The Deepening Divide: American Political Parties

You might be familiar with the term political parties. I think most people would conjure up images of a donkey and an elephant. Many people associate political parties with democrat and republican. In most countries, there is either no political parties or just one; or there are more than two. America is unique in having only two main parties. There may be some others but America is the best known. The point of this post is just to casually discuss the widening divide of the two main parties. I expect that with my own political compass to probably discuss the lack of a third-party.  Yesterday I was having a conversation with somebody who has some opposing views in terms of politics. The conversation really made me start to think about the political parties. In recent years, it seems that the democrats and republicans have gone to further extremes. Obviously if you were born in 2000 or after you probably wouldn’t notice.

You don’t have to be old to see the extremist stretch of the parties. All you have to know is a little historical context. I’m sure I have explained this before in some other post but its worth explaining again. Political parties started in America in 1776 on about the same day the declaration of independence was signed.  Typically historians will say somewhat ironically that after George Washington’s farewell address is when the parties really got going. I will get to George Washington’s farewell address too. But first lets discuss the political parties at that time. During the time before the constitution was signed, there were two sets of loosely based political beliefs. There was no actual organized parties til much later. The Federalists and the anti-Federalist. (Yes, very creative naming) The Federalists were led (loosely) by Alexander Hamilton. They believed that the constitution maintain a strong executive presence within the federal government. The anti-Federalists who led (loosely, not right away) by Thomas Jefferson. They believed that it should be the states who hold the majority of power not the federal government.

I say loosely lead because there wasn’t any organization not until after Thomas Jefferson’s presidency in 1801 to 1809. Now as for George Washington’s farewell address, this is part where its relevant to political parties: (Irony coming ahead)

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796 Yale Avalon Project

So here is the ironic thing about George Washington and his address, Washington himself was not above joining a party. Throughout his presidency, he tended to call on his secretary of treasury and in the revolutionary war, his first clerk to attend to government business. Alexander Hamilton was one of George Washington’s closest confidants. He also happens to be the de-facto leader of the Federalist party. Washington was actually pretty persuaded by Hamilton’s beliefs. He felt that Hamilton had the country going in the right direction. Washington also did try to stay above the Federalist and Anti-Federalist mudslinging.

If we fast forward to just before the Civil War, we see that political parties have evolved from Federalist and Anti-Federalist to Whigs and Republican-Democrats. The names seem to be different and very much the same even ironic. However, the Whigs represented the Federalist view in many ways. The Republican Democrats represented the Anti-Federalist view. The Whigs dominated the north and the Republican Democrats dominated the south. Abraham Lincoln was the end of the Whig party and the beginning of what many call today’s Republican party. At a contested convention in 1860, Lincoln was able to swing votes to his Republican party from the majority Whigs. From Lincoln time until Teddy Roosevelt, the Republicans and Southern Democrats dominated American politics. Even now, parties tend to be very regional and sectional in popularity. Its one way to define who votes for them. Of course up til 1919, it was only white men who owned land then women’s suffrage was passed.

Teddy Roosevelt was elected by a third-party, one of the few presidents to do so. The 20th century represents a major change in the parties. After Teddy, the political extremes begin to take off. You can contrast the parties in the alternating decades of their rule. The republican decade of roaring twenties saw relaxed government meanwhile the progressive era of 1930s to 1940s  with Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the Democrats dominate because of the Great Depression. The democrats also held power during World War 2 and afterwards with Harry Truman. The 1950s saw the rise of Republicanism in Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was actually pretty moderate by today’s standards. The 1960s saw JFK and LBJ, the latter passing the Great Society, the so-called “second New Deal”. The 1970s saw even more moderates like Nixon and Carter but leaned Democrat. The 1980s is when the extremes pushed higher than ever with Ronald Reagan. Since Reagan, the Republicans have pushed for more tax cuts every year. The 1990s stay relatively moderate with Bill Clinton as a centrist democrat.

My point is that over years it seems like Democrats and Republicans seem to farther apart than ever especially today. I believe this last election really show how deep the divide came. I think when you politicians like Bernie Sanders running, whose view is more socialist than democrat, you have a problem. America always been able to stay the course and not veer to extremes. In part thanks to our constitution and our checks and balances. You know its extreme when Donald Trump is considered an acceptable candidate and is elected. I don’t have a solution to this extreme push to fringes. However, I would propose that we allow more than two dominate parties. I’m a libertarian and I take some opinions from both sides and mold them into one view. I think that being extreme politically is like being ignorant. You can irrationally argue just about anything but you won’t make progress. In order to make progress, you have to accept that there are other ways to achieving the same goals. I think one of the bests to describe the dysfunction of our political parties is that they all have the same goal with a different way to get there.So why can’t we just compromise. The reason is simple. Democrats want big government to control every aspect of our lives except abortions. Republicans want government out of lives except when it comes to abortions. We need to make our goal to make America the best it can be by any means necessary. We need to compromise. Until we can do that then the only thing that will happen is Congressional deadlock and fighting.

Thanks for reading!

US Foreign Policy: Syrian Intervention?

Many people have found the heartbreaking videos of the Syrian refugees in Aleppo to saddening and angering. The Syrian conflict has been going on since March 2011. It seems that the conflict will not come to an end anytime soon. The situation is Syria is hugely complex. The conflict itself has many sides in addition to the international ramifications that could lead to worldwide consequences. Russia has already thrown their weight around with air strikes called in by the Syrian President himself, Bashar Al-Assad. The conflict involves major powers like the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Denmark, Australia and of course the United States. It also involves archenemies like China and Russia. Its a very tense and dangerously unstable situation. In this post, I want to praise the Obama Administration for showing restraint and handling the situation in the proper way. A rare thing for me to do. I also want to discuss the pros and cons of military intervention. Its probably more accurate to say that I want to argue for a massive humanitarian effort.

To my surprise, President Obama has perfectly dealt with the Syrian Civil war. Although he did help create it by withdrawing troops out of Iraq. However, Obama cannot be blamed for the conflict, it was many years in the making. Assad’s father had re-written the constitution of Syria. He tried to move it toward a democratic government not so connected to Muslims. After his father died in 2000, Bashar took over. He opposed the Iraq war and US invasion. He promised democratic reforms but ultimately fail to implement them. This created the events that occurred in March 2011. The peaceful protest all over the middle east suddenly turned violent in Syria. Assad went to suppress the protesters with violence. This act only spurred more violence and the formation of the Free Syrian Army. By 2014, ISIS had joined the fight and then in 2015, Russia and Turkey joined the fray. All told about 470,000 people have lost their lives. As for President Obama, he chose not to intervene with full military force.

Similar to Russian efforts, President Obama opted for airstrikes against ISIS targets. I’m sure glad he didn’t go any further than that. President Obama is very much against the war in Syria but even he knows the military intervention would be dangerous option. Not even mentioning the coalition that it would bring and the international controversy but the causalities would probably quadruple. Syria is a bigger death than Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We cannot afford another extended conflict. I want to praise Obama for his restraint because I think most President’s in his position might be tempted to intervene due to the human rights violations. I think the case against intervention is that of a humanitarian effort. We also can’t forget that there would be some major foreign policy implications.

Let’s say for argument that there was invasion plan on the table with the backing of Department of Defense and a UN coalition not including Russia and China who have problems. Like usual with any UN resolution it demands that the US front the bulk of the troops on the ground. They call it a peacekeeping force to keep Assad from murdering his own people. But everyone else knows its a suicide mission to eliminate ISIS. Russia has a problem because Syria is their ally. Syria is in the Russian sphere of influence. Assad had called Vladimir Putin for air support. China is opposed because it sees the US as trying to grab influence and oil. The invasion plan calls for 100,000 troops over the next year or so. It calls for increases as necessary with full air and navy support. This plan could incur up to a million causalities in total. It could double the causality rate especially for the Syrian civilian population.

There is another plan lingering among some of the other countries who don’t feel that all out military invasion is the route to go. Germany used to be in support but pulled out. (Truth) For argument sake, Germany proposes a plan of humanitarian support for Syria. After the last terrorist attack on the Christmas flea market they can’t stand for this human suffering and refugees any longer. The humanitarian plan includes donations of at least 100 million dollars in food and supplies for each country who joins. It includes a plan for small force to protect the distributors of the food and supplies. Germany thinks that if the United States joins then it could help keep the international tensions of Russia and China at bay.

The problem with the military intervention is that Russia won’t possibly stand for more influence in their sphere. Putin has already show a willingness to intervene if it means that Russia can take that influence. Just look at Crimea, there were many pro-Russia elements even though they were separate from Russia, Putin decided that military push to annex Crimea with pro-Russia elements could extend the Russia influence and strengthen it. The pros to an intervention are far and few in between. One pro might be the decimation of ISIS. However, ISIS has shown a willingness to move somewhere better  and terrorists rarely ever stay put if they are being overwhelmingly attacked. It also a desired outcome of any terrorist to have the one of the most powerful nations come after them. It means they have power.

The cons of military intervention are those of death and destruction of the Syria society. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan dramatically change the lives of citizens. In an unforeseen turn of events, the Iraqis and Afghans have turned against the United States. The Syrians already find the US to be detestable because of their actions in the Iraq war. In a simple phrase, we have been in this situation before. However, I do think that doing nothing is not an option. The human rights violations call for action, but we can’t exacerbate an already violent situation with more violence. If a humanitarian plan is put forward either by Germany or any country it might be suggested that sanctions be issued against Syria. It might also encourage the elimination of allies trying to help fight. The more countries that join the fight, the more complicated it gets.

The humanitarian effort could save more lives. The humanitarian effort help the civilians who are stuck in the middle of this terrible conflict. According to the most recent numbers, the Syrian Civilian death toll is near 90,000. You can break it down, about 16,000 children, about 11,000 females over 18. The death toll is already too high, a military intervention could see these numbers triple.  I haven’t even mention the refugees already created, approximately: 6 million refugees according to the UN. The controversy continues with these refugees about whether to accept them. Germany has already experienced what many are convinced of. The Christmas market tragedy. I believe the UN should set up a background check system to vet these refugees for admission to safety. The dangers of a terrorist slipping through are well known.

Another unanswered question is that of Genocide. (Not to end on a dark note) Under the Geneva Convention rules on Genocide it defines a genocide by:

“Article II:  In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III:  The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide. “

Source: http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/officialtext-printerfriendly.htm

Has Assad and the Syrian Government committed genocide under the convention? Now I personally would have too look at who is being killed. We know the why. They were protesting for a democratic government, better economic conditions and the like. However, Syria has a rather large population of Muslim sects. This might need another post to cover. But it is a serious question to ask.

I want to wrap up this post on Syria with one last summary of perhaps a different of saying what I’ve already argued. The Syrian Civil war is a conflict that is extremely complicated and controversial. The conflict cannot be solved with war as evidenced by the past five years of fighting. The people of Syria are suffering the most from this prolonged conflict. The refusal of the UN countries to sufficiently act in a humanitarian effort is deplorable. However, a military intervention is not necessarily the best option in terms of the safety of the Syria people. As human beings, we have a duty to help those in need, those in suffering. We need to act to either bring help to those suffering in Syria or we need to figure out a way to sufficiently prevent terrorists from coming with those 6 million refugees to the United States and Europe alike. Humanitarian efforts keep the Syrian people safe and the international tensions at bay meanwhile a military intervention guarantees nothing but the antagonizing of the terrorist and America’s enemies.

Thanks for reading!

Sources:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Civil_War#cite_note-SOHR-90

Beating A Dead Horse: Fallacy of Minimum Wage and Rise of Welfare

The topic of minimum wage seems to really boil my blood. I write about it constantly. I don’t know if I can link all the posts its in without making a paragraph of it. In this post, I want to reiterate some of my usual arguments about minimum wage. However, I want to connect two things that are eerily related. Many people who think that McDonald’s and other workers of low skill level jobs need a living wage are the same people who say welfare is necessary because of the low wages. The liberal mission of a living wage is a misguided pipe-dream. The conservative theory that cutting all welfare at once is a solution that also will not work. Ever since the mid 1960s, the United States has been nothing short of obsessed with welfare and minimum wage. We depend it, like a cigarette addict who depends on cigarettes for nicotine. You can try to quit cold turkey or you can say fuck it and smoke more cigarettes because why quit when you’ve already damaged your lungs. I want to present something similar to what the e-cigarette has done for smokers. A new innovative way for the United States to free itself from this trap of living wages and welfare.

Recently, I came across these articles claiming that Minnesota had fix their state economy while Kansas had wrecked it. Minnesota elected a new democratic governor who raised taxes and increased minimum wage and saw a positive effect on the economy. Meanwhile in Kansas, they elected a tea party candidate. The governor of Kansas proceeded to cut four government departments and Medicaid. He cut the department of education and others. He lowered taxes for the rich. Kansas nearly went bankrupt.  It’s interesting that the total population of Kansas and Minnesota is about 7 or 8 million people. Kings County or otherwise known as Brooklyn has 2.6 million people, about same number of people as Kansas. New York City has a total of 8.6 million people as much both of those states combined. Just for some scale. I think when you look at tax plans and government philosophies, you can’t just look at results like “Oh the democratic way is definitely better because of Minnesota and the conservative technique sucks because look at Kansas!”

I believe that you have to take into account how many people are in the state and the unique-ness of that state. Kansas and Minnesota have completely different populations. They have different income per capita. They are in different geographic locations. Now I think that there are flaws with both GOP and Liberal ways of taxation and spending. As a libertarian, I can appreciate what the Kansas governor was trying to do. But he was too hasty, and didn’t have clear alternative that actually worked. I think the flaws with liberal system really tell you all about why minimum wage doesn’t work. The first flaw is that minimum wage can’t possibly help the worker as they claim it will. You have to realize that a minimum or base wage means it’s the least any worker can make. When you raise the base wage that means you raise the production costs of every company in the country, state or county. It affects all businesses. Businesses don’t just pay out wages. They have to pay taxes, regulatory fees, stock, transportation, supplies, retirement. Its bad enough that workers wages already take up to 50 or 60 percent of the profits in most businesses.

The worst effect of rasing minimum wage is felt by small business or franchised businesses. I have worked in franchised businesses for about 6 years now. A franchised is a separately owned business that pays to have the corporations name on it. The corporation sets the rules and standards and the franchisee is responsible for turning a profit. When you raise minimum wage you really hurt any small business or franchisee. I can personally tell you that at some McDonald’s they don’t even make a million dollars in a year. The one I worked at, only made about 500,000 in profit. Minimum wage is a small business killer, it’s not fair. Big corporations don’t care if you raise the minimum wage because they can take it. They are multinational corporations that make millions worldwide. You may say ok but low wages means we need more welfare right?  What we need is to keep the government out of the price setting business. Minimum wage increases the costs of everything. A lower wage would go further because production cost are lower. That is why other countries take our businesses, you can pay their workers less.

I’ll admit that we need some type of welfare. We cannot just cut medicare and Medicaid. We can’t just collapse social security. We need to help anyone who can’t work because of a mental or physical condition. We need to help people save for retirement. We need to support to the unemployed. The question is how to do all that without raising our debt even more. Currently, the welfare system in the United States cost about 700 billion dollars each year. This 700 billion on the taxpayer’s dime, aka you and me. It’s a complex and complicated system with multiple government agencies. The bureaucracy is ridiculous. I have written about basic income before and I strongly recommending read it. In that post about Basic Income, I propose a simple solution to the problem of welfare. Although it may not be as simple as I explain it. My central argument is that if 700 billion is spent on welfare each year then we install a basic income of about 2000 dollars to each resident over 18. The cost is about 500 billion for a basic income. We then replace our current welfare system with this basic income. Obviously there are kinks and certain regulations that would necessary especially when it comes to the unemployed and taxation. In my estimation, I believe that we could save 200 billion a year.

Here is my original post:

Basic Income: $2000

Population over 18: 244 million

Monthly cost of Basic Income: $488,000,000,000 billion

Monthly cost of welfare: 700 Billion

Savings by Government:$212,000,000,000 Billion dollars.

My point is that minimum wage doesn’t pull anybody out of poverty and neither does welfare. However, it is necessary to have both because we are a first world country. I believe that our government just doesn’t run anything that efficiently. I think that a ton of money is wasted on government programs that could be done by the private sector. I also believe that basic income is the solution between tea party economics and a full-fledged socialist economy. In beginning I used the analogy of a smoker trying to quit. I believe if keep minimum wage reasonably low, and we install basic income to replace our current welfare system, the United States could start to fix the other problems that plague our nation. I think that both parties and libertarians can get behind this idea. For liberals, it maintains the idea that people should be helped by the government and it would be taxpayer money paying for basic income.  For conservatives and libertarians, it keeps the government reach out of people’s lives. It eliminates a large of chunk of government-run services. It also could help bring our national debt down or pay for other projects.

I hope that this was an informative and though provoking piece. Feel free to research anything I have said. I won’t say that I was right about everything and I left out exact details. However, I think my argument is a viable one that should be considered by everyone.

Thank you for reading!

Preventing Dictator Trump: Judicial Review and Separation of Powers

An important principle of our constitution that set ups our government is that of separation of powers. It is a part of checks and balances. Separation of powers has always been a hot topic especially in the Supreme Court. It keeps our government running smoothly. It helps determine the jurisdiction of each branch of government. In order to understand the separation of powers, you have to understand Judicial Review. In middle and high school history the concept of separation of powers and judicial review is taught. Mainly because it’s on the regents. Many students sort of zone out on it because it’s not all that interesting. Once again I want to take two Supreme Court cases and review them. After briefly reviewing each, I want to put some modern context on the separation of powers and judicial review. Let’s just say when an election rolls around with a controversial president being elected, my mind goes to thinking about how the constitution allows for checks and balances that keeps our democratic president from becoming a dictator. It’s really petty to blame the election results on Russia or voter fraud. A choice was made and we should deal with it by invoking the constitution. Without further or do, I want to present Marbury vs. Madison.

Marbury vs. Madison was decided by the court in 1803 by the Marshall Court. It was unanimous decision. Now you might remember some of the facts of case from high-school. If you don’t then I suggest you read up on it here. Like usual, I want to skip directly to the questions of the case and the majority opinion. The court had to decide whether or not the officers had the right to go court over the commissions and  whether or not Section 13 of the Judiciary Act was valid? The court held that because Adams had signed the commissions they were legal and should have been given out despite Jefferson’s order to not give them out. They also voided Section 13 of the Judiciary Act because it interfered with Article 3 section 2 of the constitution. The Court had an obligation to uphold the constitution over the congressional law. Here was what the Judiciary Act, section 13 says :

That the Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all controversies of a civil nature, where a state is a party, except between a state and its citizens; and except also between a state and citizens of other states, or aliens, in which latter case it shall have original but not exclusive jurisdiction. And shall have exclusively all such jurisdiction of suits or proceedings against ambassadors, or other public ministers, or their domestics, or domestic servants, as a court of law can have or exercise consistently with the law of nations; and original, but not exclusive jurisdiction of all suits brought by ambassadors, or other public ministers, or in which a consul, or vice consul, shall be a party. And the trial of issues in fact in the Supreme Court, in all actions at law against citizens of the United States, shall be by jury. The Supreme Court shall also have appellate jurisdiction from the circuit courts and courts of the several states, in the cases herein after specially provided for; and shall have power to issue writs of prohibition to the district courts, when proceeding as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and writs of mandamus, in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts appointed, or persons holding office, under the authority of the United States. [NOTE:  Text in bold of particular relevance to Marbury v. Madison. (Source, here)

The Court invalidated the last part of this law in favor of the constitution.  The constitution goes against the Judiciary Act, more specifically Article 3, Section 2:

The judicial branch has jurisdiction over any case involving: 

  • The US constitution, the laws of the United States laws, treaties, or any cases involving ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls.

This particular quote is what the Supreme Court cited as their jurisdiction to hear Marbury’s case. Marbury essentially tried to argue for a broader Supreme Court jurisdiction. The Judiciary Act would have allowed that if not for the constitution’s strict view what the Supreme Court is allowed to do. Marbury vs. Madison was the first case to strike out part of a congressional law. Its become known as judicial review. This is only the first case of it, comes up again years later in the Dred Scott decision. (another blog post)

I want to go over just one more case before I bring it into a modern context. I think that one of the most interesting Supreme Court cases is McCulloch vs. Maryland. If you want to read the facts, then click here. The McCulloch vs. Maryland is not so much about judicial review but it does establish an important pecking order within our government. You may have heard of federalism. This is a case that shows what federalism. In this case, a uanimous decision was made that the state of Maryland could not tax the federal government. The question the court had to answer was simply one of federalism. Congress legally created a bank and Maryland tried to pass a bill to tax it. The court found on the basis of the 9th amendment (see my last post) or the enumerated powers amendment. The court set the precedent that federal government has constitutional power over the states. The federal government is allowed to establish banks because of the 9th amendment and the states can’t tax it because its a constitutional function. This is monumentally important case especially with the civil war later in the century. (case was decided 1819)

Marbury vs. Madison gave the Supreme Court the power to strike out congressional laws that are unconstitutional. McCulloch vs. Maryland gave the federal government the priority over constitutional functions within the states. So why are these cases so important today?  I alluded to the controversial election in the beginning of the post. I believe these two cases give the people some hope that President Trump won’t become Dictator Trump. Obviously, he has a favorable Congress and he might even get a favorable Supreme Court pending a successful nomination. But Trump and Congress still have to follow the constitution. In the end, the Supreme Court has a duty to uphold it. So no matter what happens with Trump, I think the separation of powers and judicial review will keep him in check.

Let’s quickly for example, take President Obama and his presidency. Obama’s biggest accomplishment (depends on how you look at it, failure is more accurate) is Obamacare or the Affordable Health Care Act. It was a very controversial becuase it mandated that everyone get healthcare or pay a fine. Parts of it went to the Supreme Court to be decided if they were constitutional. Some parts of it were unconstitutional and others remained. In my opinion there wasn’t enough struck down. However, I think that knowing that obviously unconstituional laws will be struck down is comforting. Nobody saw Trump getting elected. I think we all gotta have a little faith

This definitely won’t be the end of this topic, it went a little longer than I wanted but I hope to revisit it soon.  Thanks for reading!

 

Citations:

Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech. “McCulloch v. Maryland.” Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1789-1850/17us316 (accessed December 12, 2016).

Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech. “Marbury v. Madison.” Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1789-1850/5us137 (accessed December 12, 2016).

 

Roe vs. Wade versus Adoption

This post may be very controversial. So brace yourself because its likely you won’t agree with me. If you want to know how I feel about Abortion then I recommend you read this post that I wrote. As of late, I have been on a Supreme Court case breakdown bender. I’ve done both the first amendment and fourth amendment, you can read each those posts respectively. This post is going to be about abortion. First, I want to give a quick breakdown of Roe vs. Wade, the ground breaking court case decided in 1973. It outlawed laws against abortion except in the third trimester. However you feel about abortion, I will just be stating the courts’ decision on this. After that, I want to present my opinion on how to handle abortions in way that gives pro-lifers a peace of mind and at the same time gives women the right to choose. For starters, as a baseline I believe the government has no business intervening in abortions. Especially when it comes to paying for them. I also believe that women should have the right to choose whether to keep the baby or not. I will get into what should happen if they choose to not keep it.

If you’re not familiar with the facts of Roe vs. Wade you can read that here. Roe vs. Wade was decided whether or not Texas’ law making all abortions criminal was constitutional via the fourteenth amendment and ninth amendment. If you are not familiar with either of those amendments than here is a short explanation and a quote of another. The fourteenth amendment as it applies to this case has to do with due process and the equal protection of the law. Due process means you get a fair trial and equal protection of law means that everyone is protected under the law with no discrimination. The ninth amendment is a little more broad, it says this:

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

In simple terms, the ninth amendment says that any rights not mention by the constitution can be implied if necessary. Obviously its the job of legislative branch and the Supreme Court to decide what those rights are. In Roe vs. Wade, the decision went 7-2 for Roe. The decision took into account both the 9th and 14th amendments. They found that the 9th amendment didn’t apply. They also found didn’t rule on question of when life begins. But what Justice Blackmun’s majority opinion did was layout a framework to make abortion a legal right of privacy under the fourteenth amendment. The court also decided that due to concerns of health to both mother and baby, they set up an appropriate timeframe to actually get an abortion. They ruled that having the pregnant women’s attending physician could decide to abort up until the first trimester. Most importantly, they upheld Roe’s right to make that decision to have an abortion.

A women’s right to have an abortion is probably more important than the actual abortion itself in the eyes of the constitution. I think that science has pretty much narrowed down the parameters of safety and when life begins. The court expanded the fourteenth amendment to protect the privacy of women. No matter how you feel about abortion, you have to give them credit. Obviously, a lot of opposition to this decision and even the dissenting opinions were that of where life begins and the courts’ actual jurisdiction. Many people weren’t sure the constitution actually covers it or even mentions it. However, I don’t believe it has to. This is the law of the land until another case overturns it. So you might be asking what’s the point? What’s your point? How do you plan to make both pro-life and pro-choice happy? Let’s call it a compromise like our forefathers did.

I’ve already hinted that I like the idea that women have a right to choose. I believe the constitution does protect those rights. Unfortunately, the constitution doesn’t see morals like we do. This means we need to take the moral question out of it. I’ve never been big on abortions. I don’t think they are necessary unless in a medical emergency. I believe there is only one real circumstances where abortion is necessary. The situation is where the mother or child (or both) are in danger because of the pregnancy.  In all other situations, I propose that we use adoption. Why adoption? Well for starters, it will quell the argument of over when life begins which is the main source of disagreement. But I believe that adoption is better than abortion.

For example, abortion is expensive and deadly to the fetus. Adoption is relatively cheaper because its just the care of the newborn. Adoption avoids the need for Supreme court rulings on abortion and keeps the fourteenth amendment intact. I am a man. (I don’t claim to know much) So I would almost have to think that choosing whether to raise the kid or give it up for adoption is an easier choice than raise the kid or kill it. In the beginning of the post, I mention how the government sometimes pays for abortions. I hate this. I think if you want to get an abortion you should have to pay. After all it is a choice. Making women who get abortions (Not women who were raped, they could potentially be paid by the government) pay for them would only strengthen the incentive to put up for adoption. I think that adoption gives a child who might otherwise die, a chance to live and grow up and be productive in society.

The other argument for adoption is that many couples try to have kids and fail because of many reasons, infertility and others. Regardless, these potential wanna be parents would have a larger pool of kids to adopt from. The government could spend the money they use trying to regulate abortion on making adoption easier and more streamlined. I believe that adoption provides an alternative that isn’t nearly as talked as it should be. Adoption could change everything and eliminate abortions altogether. Abortion is so controversial that nobody even likes to talk about it. The problem is that we all disagree on different points and levels. I think at the end day, we can all agree that free choice and the maintainance of life is most important to each side.

Thanks for reading!