Tragedy of the Commons: Problem with Collective Policies

Have you ever heard of Tragedy of the Commons? Sound familiar? Tragedy of commons is typically associated with fishing. If fisherman go out to a popular fishing spot and catch fish at a rate that is more than fish reproduce, then that would be a tragedy of commons. Garrett Hardin came up with theory originally and applied it to biology or nature. There are many examples, but the basic principle is that demand overwhelms supply.  Just in case you fell asleep in Economics 101 or you happen to be Bernie Sanders then here is a little reminder of how supply and demand work:


I want to talk about tragedy of the commons in the terms of political policies and platforms. It’s a topic that is hotly contested among Libertarians and conservatives. On the other hand, Liberals tend to completely ignore it. Its this ignorance of the tragedy of commons that might explain why collectivist policies that liberals tend to advocate are just really bad. Liberals and even Conservatives both tend to argue for MORE government regulation in the face of a tragedy of the commons issue. (I’ll try to keep it relatively brief, one or two examples, I have a lot to say)

Let’s take on healthcare for example, is a tragedy of the commons. Liberals advocate for a universal healthcare system. This system would in theory depend on the taxpayer (theft) money to help cover the costs of healthcare. However, this policy would extremely expensive due to the increased costs to private health providers. Also the service given by providers would be slower due to a heavy volume and probably less staff. Healthcare is a complex issue but a tragedy of commons exists in both the taxation for it and the availability of quick medical care by providers. For example, in Canada, they have universal healthcare and experience longer wait times, sometimes for very important life saving procedures. In some cases they come to the US for faster care.

In short, universal healthcare is a collectivist policy pushed by liberals that creates many tragedy of the commons. Unfortunately the conservatives are not much better backing single payer with a government agency running the show. Less tragedy of the commons here, but still not the best option. The solution for a tragedy of the commons is deregulation in most cases, concerning government policies. In nature, like the fishing spot, the solution would be to have fisherman stop fishing in that particular spot until there were sufficient fish. I want to clarify what I mean by collectivist. Collectivist is a term usually meaning something is done in or by a group.

My second example is one of the hottest issues because of a vote coming up, Net Neutrality. Naturally my position is repeal because Net Neutrality isn’t consumer protections, its just dealing with bandwidth and if companies can block or censor stuff. From what I’ve read the new rules after repeal will be that the companies will have to report whatever they throttle, block, censor to the FCC who will make it public. I also see no problem with Netflix and Amazon and Hulu having to pay more for bandwidth. They use a lot of it, its only fair. Naturally that will be passed to the customer. However, the good news of repeal is that companies will offer different packages specifically geared toward streaming services. Unlike now, where you get all one price and it might be good or bad.

The tragedy of the commons in Net Neutrality stems from the issue of bandwidth. There is only so much bandwidth that these companies can generate without losing money. Its interesting because if you look at bandwidth in a vacuum, it really highlights the problem. Watch: Let’s say Comcast and Verizon both offer 300 mbps of bandwidth under current Net Neutrality for an average price of 150 dollars. (Making up random numbers here). Let’s repeal those rules and see how prices and amount of bandwidth change. Under Net Neutrality, both companies would have similar prices and the max amount of bandwidth would be at 300, but of course you can pay less to get less. The problem with this is that the companies aren’t really competing. There’s very little variation because the going rate for bandwidth is 150 dollars for 300 mpbs. Everyone can gets to use that bandwidth to watch Netflix and play fortnite as much as they want. The companies might be struggling to keep all this bandwidth up with only 150 dollars per customer because their own business costs are going up.

If we repeal Net Neutrality, now Comcast charges $100 for 200 mpbs,  $200 for 300 mpbs and lets say $300 for 400 mpbs. Unheard of right? Well, Verizon charges $75 for 150 mpbs, $150 for 250 mpbs, $275 for 300 mpbs, $350 for 420 mpbs. Now you can see the competition as each company tries attract more customers. They may even offer a lower bandwidth but you get extreme streaming capabilities for an extra 100 bucks. Either way, the competition will naturally drive down prices. When supply goes up, demand goes down. In order to create demand you need to supply, but you also need to create an interest in your product and attractiveness or marketing.

The solution to the tragedy of the commons for nearly every aspect of Net Neutrality is deregulation. Let the consumers decide which companies will succeed and fail. Another positive aspect of net neutrality being repealed is that it will allow startups and other smaller companies to get into the market of internet.

I believe that through my two examples I have shown why some collectivists policies are broken due to the tragedy of the commons. I believe that the solution to tragedy of the commons is deregulation which means getting government out of our lives. This solution is the basis for the whole libertarian philosophy. If society is a tragedy of the commons then as libertarians we are for the deregulation and privatization of pretty much everything. Everything is harder in a large group. Its similar to when you ask your friends where they want to eat. Everyone has different opinion. Or when you ask your friends when they want to go out. Everyone is busy and has no time. Collectivism requires group-think and group decision making. Its not the most effective. Tragedy of the commons also tends to tread on the rights of the individual.

The rights of individual are the most important aspect in a free society. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

Thanks for reading!

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What do you mean no Helicopters and McNukes?

In usual fashion I have come across some inspiring material to write my own article on. I’ve been thinking recently about what the ends of a libertarian party or movement would or should be. In this blog I consider the means of getting there. I’m always pushing steps toward a libertarian society. These steps seem to never make any progress. I have always viewed the libertarian society as an idealist notion. I think to some degree its true. On the other hand, I feel like its entirely possible that a libertarian society is achievable. The problems are numerous and the solutions are few. One main problem and probably the biggest one is the lack of education of outsiders on the libertarian values and beliefs. People tend to misinterpret or misunderstand what libertarians stand for and what we want to achieve.

I’ve recently said on social media that I believe I’m in the minority of libertarians that believe that achieving the ultimate goal of a libertarian society will come instantly once it happens. I feel that many libertarians, anarchists, anarcho-capitalists think that once we overthrow the current government then we can just easily transition to that libertarian society that we all agree is the goal. I don’t believe its so easy or fast. I think there is a number of factors to consider about means and ends of libertarianism.

The first and foremost is that the way to change the government is to vote for politicians who hold the same beliefs, values and morals as libertarians.  We can all agree politicians of this caliber don’t exist right now with the exception of Rand Paul, maybe. After voting for Gary Johnson in two consecutive elections I have realized that we are going too big. (Nothing wrong with him, just a walking meme.) We need to find libertarian congresspeople. I know of 3 libertarian leaning congresspeople, Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash. Once we can turn the Congress into a majority of libertarians then we can work on the white house.

The second factor is education like I mentioned before. A lot of people have misconceptions of libertarians. Even I used to subscribe to these common myths. For example: Libertarians are both Republican and Democrat because they support a little of each. It might be true that we hold similar positions but we are actually against both parties. The two main parties are a snake with two heads. They don’t care about you. They care about their interests and their money! We need to educate the masses on libertarianism. The essential thing is liberty and freedom. The government shouldn’t play much if any role in our everyday lives. The government doesn’t need to over regulate and get involved in everything we do. The government doesn’t need to tax our hard earned income. For over 100 years, the US government collected no income tax. Who will build the roads? Private corporations that need to ship things by truck. Businesses that need to drive around. My point is that if we can educate people then eventually will lead to more people accepting and more importantly voting for libertarians.

The third factor of the means is simply cohesive-ness among libertarians. We have to unify our ideas. I know we all agree on certain things. But we have to compromise on other things. Example: Abortion. One of the hottest button issues because there is no stasis for argument. Pro Life or Pro Choice? For me, I’m torn between both because choice is guaranteed by the 14th amendment. Yet I’m also catholic so I can’t possibly support the killing of something that is alive. My position is Pro-Adoption. It gives a choice and saves the life of the baby. Also there are many parents out there who can’t have kids. My point here is that a compromise takes a little bit from each side and makes palatable to everyone. Compromise is something that our country was founded on. I strongly believe we should get back to that.

The forth factor is concerning the ends. I find it hilarious but helicopters and McNukes are a standard must have in any libertarian society. But lets all be honest its a little far fetched. I do believe that no taxes, open carry (guns), NAP and very small government are possible to have. I think we all have to be realistic about the ends. The ultimate goal is for everybody to live their life without the interference from government. But I think we miss the point that libertarian is also one of the most charitable types of societies. Its not fake charity like socialism and communism. In a libertarian society, you would give to the poor, give to the sick and give to government if you felt like it was worth it. Thats the wonderful thing about it, its your choice to give your money or not. Government is ineffective at helping people. But there is a million examples of where everyday people throw their support at something and get it done without government.

My conclusion is that we need to educate, vote, come together and be realistic about our ultimate goal of a libertarian society.  We can do it all once too. My inspiration was an article that basically said no more Libertarian party but we need a movement. In order to achieve a movement, we have to educate people on the benefits of joining this movement. We have to vote in politicians who reflect our positions. Its not going to be easy. The steps towards a libertarian society will be methodical. All I hope is that I see this libertarian society come to fruition before my time is up. I’m still young so I got hope.

Just remember kids, Taxation is Theft.

Thanks For Reading!


Hiatus Break: NFL Protests and Tax Reform

I have previous written about the original NFL protest by Colin Kaepernick. This post basically tells Kaepernick to put his money where his mouth is. He did exactly that. Now the protest has spread around the league. President Trump has tweeted, spoke and commented on the protest on multiple occasions. In apparent backlash, NFL ratings are down pretty significantly. The owners and players are seemingly at odds. (I’ll get into this more) I won’t just be talking about the NFL protest in this post. I also want to touch on tax reform which is currently the hot issue in Congress. I hold an extreme belief about taxes. I mean extreme by that its a position that isn’t possible in today’s circumstances. However, it doesn’t mean its not achievable eventually through some means. I will lay out my own set of tax reforms in the second part of this post.

I have been an NFL fan my whole life. Quite literally since I was in second grade I remember watching the Jets. I remember wearing Jets jerseys (I still have them). I absolutely love football. Although I never played in an organized manner. If I was athletically gifted I would be a Quarterback in the NFL. Generally I’m one of those people who doesn’t care to mix politics with anything but politics. So when Kaepernick started his protest I wasn’t that happy. Its not that I don’t care about the issues he is protesting or that I dislike him. Its just I watch football to watch football. I don’t care about the political leanings of the players or owners or coaches. Aside from that, they all get paid handsomely (Players) or are extremely wealthy to begin with (owners).

The problem with the protest now is that its gotten way out of control. At first it wasn’t too crazy. The craziest comes from a unlikely source in President Trump. Now Trump himself isn’t shy about creating controversy or saying incredibly inflammatory things. However, the President of the United States typically doesn’t pour gas on a fire like he did with the NFL protests. I basically have two issues here and the main issue is Trump’s position on this. Trump wants the owners and NFL to force the players to stand for the anthem. I think that many conservative thinking people probably agree. They think its disrespectful to the flag and the military. Which I don’t fully disagree.

However, the constitution has a bill of rights. In that bill of rights there is a first amendment. The first amendment is the freedom of speech. Over the years the Supreme Court has ruled that speech isn’t just talking, it can also cover symbolic speech and others. In this regard I have disagree with Trump, he or the government can’t make a law forcing them to stand. Its the players right to protest and there is nothing that Trump or the government can do. However, the NFL could do something like fire the players. But they won’t do that. Let me tell you why they won’t: Backlash would very bad for the NFL probably twice or three times as bad it is now. However, the NFL could force players to stand, its not a violation of first amendment rights. The reason is because the players represent the NFL as brand and the NFL has right to protect its brand from being unnecessarily tarnished especially by its own employees. The NFL also has a collective bargaining agreement which apparently does state that players must stand. If its true, then its over because the players agreed to that agreement and therefore would have to follow it or be fired.

In my opinion, I think that players should stand because of the ratings and money. I mean they are only affecting their own livelihood. If the owners still feeling the pinch then so will they. In the end, its better if they stand and try to protest in a different way or become an activist and use all those millions to do something about the problem. I don’t think anyone can deny that police oppression is real. However, I think the solution lies within criminal justice reform. I won’t get into this because I’m not an expert and I didn’t do any research yet. However, look out for future posts.


Tax reform is one of my favorite topics to discuss. Its because they are a lot of solutions to a problem that seems to never go away. I think one thing that is always missing from the tax reform debate is spending reform. You might say that’s a totally different reform! But actually taxes are based projected government spending.  For example: the government spends approximately 600 to 700 billion dollars on the military each year. In order to cover that they need to raise that in taxes.

Generally the federal government’s budget is anywhere from 2 to 4 trillion dollars. It is supposed to be a certain percent of GDP or gross domestic product. (I have a post dedicated to this subject of GDP) So my ideal tax reform in a perfect world would zero taxes. You may have heard taxation is theft. If you haven’t then its pretty plain what that means. Yes the government is stealing from us. This is a very extreme way to view taxation but its not as crazy as you think.

Originally the US government didn’t really collect taxes. In fact, the US government taxed products and used tariffs up until about 1913. So our government was able to run entirely without any income tax. Income tax is now the largest category of revenue of the US government. Its also the worst way to fund the government. Income tax really sucks. There will never a true, fair way to split up the weight of paying it. Its awful. However, there is no way the government could survive with 20 trillion dollars of debt and absolutely no tax income. That insane.

My proposal is essentially this get rid of the current tax format. Install a universal basic income (See this post). Then install a flat tax starting around 15 percent. No more brackets. No more loopholes. My plan does a lot of things but the two main things is that it cuts spending and will eventually lower taxes! So with basic income it would cut out most of social welfare programs and replace it with a government check to everyone over 18 and not a criminal. This saves approximately 200 million dollars a year. Each year for about 10 years you fix or pay off the debt. Plus the 15 percent over ten years would generate enough income to really pay off the debt and run the country. After ten years you lower the tax rate to 10 percent for another 10 to 15 years. Essentially the goal is to make the government so lean that it won’t need tax money. Its definitely possible over time.

This a simplified version which I think is good start. The details and actual numbers would have to be worked out by someone in a math oriented field. I can only hope that this tax plan eventually happens. Its not a popular one because usually conservative politicians advocate flat taxes. Basic income isn’t too popular either because it sounds a little crazy. But I feel like the two very different approaches really balance each other out. Also you can’t possibly say a flat tax isn’t fair. Its fair by nature. Also it still ensures that the poor pay less and the rich pay more. Which is why I don’t understand why people don’t like it. I guess they would rather get fleeced by the current system.

Thank you for reading! Have a awesome day!




Hiatus Break: Big Picture Policies

Once again, I have been inspired to write. This time its because I witnessed a discussion in a class that I’m taking in college (Occupational Therapy Assistant is my major).  The class is a community health lecture. I expected to learn about health and how to be a healthcare professional.  Instead I got a lot of political statements that were pretty controversial. Given the fact that it was a health class and not politics 101 I kept my mouth shut. Trust me I was probably one of the few to feel that way.  I won’t even mention what was said but it got me thinking.

When people espouse political views and opinions do they actually think about the big picture? My personal belief is that most of time, people just have beliefs and views in a vacuum with no reference to the realities. I have studied history and politics for years and have learned to think about the reality before choosing to accept a certain view. A lot of times for me, I don’t know about anyone else, but I find myself objecting to the means of political policy not the ends. Typically political views and beliefs express the need for a positive outcome that everyone should want. However, I feel that most of time the means is either impossible, more destructive than helpful or just plain nonsense. I want to give a few examples of policies that express positive outcomes but the means of getting there is just not worth it.

Before I give my examples I want preface it with just a little explanation on my title. Big Picture Policies. I think the title is simple enough to understand because the words aren’t complex. But grasping the big picture of complex and difficult issues is very hard to do. It takes something they rarely teach kids anymore, critical thinking and logic. I know they say that they teach it but the reality is that kids are guided too much and aren’t allowed to have an original thought because education is all repetition and brainwashing. Fortunately, you can break it by studying things on your OWN. Self learning is very important. So when dealing in Big Picture Policies or BPP as I want to abbreviate it, you need to look the realities of your surroundings.

The realities of your surroundings is basically the effect that a policy has on other policies and people. For example, my first example is healthcare. Recently Bernie Sanders is back at again with a universal single payer healthcare system. (changes every week?) So Sanders supports this single payer medicare for all system. Now lets say he get his way and Congress (by some unholy miracle passes a friggin law!!! Unreal!) passes this single payer medicare for all. Obviously the outcome is positive for everyone because they get government subsidized healthcare. But what about the policies affected this legislation? Once again this sounds great in a vacuum but when you start looking around at your surroundings you can see the problems. One of the biggest policies affected is the US Federal budget. This new single payer healthcare cost billions even trillions of dollars. Recently, the national debt went above 20 trillion dollars! Massive debt is never a good thing. Another surrounding affect is the doctors, nurses and hospitals that have to deal with the changes in payments, patient frequency, and increased operational expenses.

Expanding medicare for all would also affect tax policy because the federal government doesn’t just have money they would need to raise taxes. Which directly affects everyone with a tax increase, rich or poor. So you could say it would even affect yourself. Unbelievably many people are just fine with these realities. I imagine they aren’t thinking too clearly about the consequences of massive national debt that is being bought up and held by our enemies and rivals as leverage over US interests.

Okay Garrett, so you made your point the realities are shitty but isn’t healthcare is a right? Glad you brought that up. Healthcare is in fact a privilege that you pay for. Let me explain like this: If you are doctor with a private practice, just imagine you drive a Mercedes Benz and live in a nice house in a gated community. One day the police and someone in need of medical care barge into your practice. The police tell you that this patient requires medical care. You oblige and say is it life threatening? They say no. So you ask for the potential patients health insurance or however they might pay. The patient refuses to give you any health insurance info or money. The police threat to take you to jail. Do you still help this patient? If you still help them would you continue to do for every patient? If you don’t help then its obvious that healthcare is privilege because taking care of patients might be your passion but its also your only source of income.

The point is that healthcare for everybody is achievable but you can’t force it. The government is not good at running things. (Country is a mess have you looked around? Veteran Affairs is government healthcare program and its horrible) I believe that good ideas don’t necessary need to be laws. One easy way of making healthcare for everybody is by decreasing the price. One of the best way to decrease prices is to let the consumers decide which service is the best for the money. This is called a free market system. Also natural competition creates lower prices because companies are competing for business. All it would take on the government’s side is the repeal everything and replacing it with just a few regulations to keep everything fair in terms of monopolies and consumer safety.

This is essentially how I look at every policy and judge it based on how it affects other policies. One of my favorite policies is Universal Basic Income. I did a whole post explaining how it might be implemented. Go read that first. Obviously UBI (Universal Basic Income) is a positive outcome for everyone because every citizen over 18 (non-felon) would receive a monthly stipend from the government. This policy over top of all other welfare programs would quite literally end America because of the massive amount money it would take. Things like inflation and lack of motivation would be huge problems. In my post, I revised it so that it could eliminate some of those problems.

One thing that I didn’t cover or even really think of in that post was inflation. I read something recently that made me go: oh shit! I think the easiest solution is to end the Federal Reserve. This would allow the government to stop printing money and readjust the interest rates and all that. To stop inflation created by UBI, basically no money could be printed and they would have take money out of circulation. By my calculations, the government would put about 500 billion dollars into the economy artificially so they would need remove 500 billion dollars from the currency circulating.

If you don’t know how inflation works then here is simple example: If you and five of your friends each have 5 dollars. You can all go to subway and buy a six inch sub of the day with your 5 dollars. Now lets say everybody gets an extra 2 dollars bringing each person total to 7 dollars. You all go to subway to buy that same exact sub which now instead of costing 5 dollars they raised it 8 dollars. So you can’t afford that sub. Inflation is devaluation of money. Essentially can it occur when minimum wage is raised, more money is printed than is backed up by gold or government bonds or when the government artificially stimulates the economy.  Now you may ask why did subway raise their price by 3 dollars? Well remember if everyone gets a two dollar raise then so do those subway workers. The cost of pretty much everything that is required to run that subway goes up, the workers are paid more so the ownership has to cover those costs. Usually its pass to the consumer because profits might be slim especially if his location has high renting cost.

Once again, this is a very simplistic example. Its much more complex than I explained. My point of this post is that when you espouse political views or beliefs try to think about the surrounding realities. Try to understand that policies don’t just have one positive outcome. You also understand that the negatives of policies might weigh more than the positives for some people. Its hard for people to understand but I’m for affordable healthcare, free college, and personal freedom on every level. However, I’m not a democrat or republican. I want all those things but I want them in a way that doesn’t hurt our future or present. Once you understand the realities and complexities you can come up with solutions to make dreams a reality. Unfortunately, the hardest part will be getting Congress to pass anything, so Good LUCK!

Thank you for reading! Have an awesome day!

Hiatus: A New Path Forward

I want to write a short post because of some recent events in my life and changes to my schedule. I am going to take a Hiatus from writing this blog. No one else will be writing either. However, if I feel strongly about something and need to write it then I won’t hesitate. The reason for my hiatus is because a of my decision to return to college.

Yes, that is right. I will be returning to school. Unfortunately my previous education experience in History and Political Science has been useful for this blog but not an actual job. I have decided to take up Occupational Therapy (Pays quite well). Usually its abbreviated to OT or more specifically for me, when I graduate I will be a OTA or Occupational Therapy Assistant. I have applied to Laguardia Community College in Queens.

I started this blog to initially fill a void in my life because at time I was unemployed and now  I’m vastly underemployed. Now you might wonder why I’m stopping now when I haven’t been accepted yet? Well, the simple explanation is that I will be doing some pre-learning or self-taught learning. I have not taken a science class in about 6 years. One of the classes that is required for my coursework is Human Anatomy and Physiology. So in order to make time for my self taught learning, I need the time I typically spend writing blog post to do that.

When I get accepted and I do start to attend classes in September, then I will really be too busy to write. I really love this blog and will probably return to it once I receive my associates degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. I also plan to make this blog even better when I return. I’m hoping to make an investment and upgrade to my own domain. Unitl that time comes, I will have sign off. If you have any ideas for blog posts (if I have time to write) or you want to write a post then feel free to contact me. (contact info on sidebar) I am still looking for contributors.

Thanks for reading! Wish me luck in my pursue of a new career!


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!


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. “


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!