Libertarians United: Individual Rights

Everyone makes a joke now and again. In fact, I probably make way too many. Many of them cross them line of commonly socially acceptable topics. Joking is fine but I think there is something to be said for serious discussion. Often lost in the laughter is the actual points of my joke. I only use parody or satire because it gets the point across much quicker than frank discussion. You probably read title and thought you got rick-rolled? Don’t worry. I’m getting there. My last blog post was about the names that libertarians call themselves. Click here. I want libertarians, anarchists, ancaps to all unite. I believe that we can. I don’t mean in a collectivist way but in a united front. We are ALL natural allies. I think there is many things that we all agree on to some degree. But one of the things that we all agree on without much debate is individual rights.

Why Individual Rights?

If there is one thing the founders got right, it was individual rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote it in the declaration of independence, however, he meant white land owning men.  The constitution had it amended in the Bill of Rights which outline 10 specific individual rights. We all know that individual rights go much further than just the 10 in our constitution. Individuals are the smallest minority. Individuals make up groups. Individuals determine their own path in life. Of course, you have influences and different societal restrictions. But in the end, its the individual that decides who they want to be associated with and what they want to do. Individual rights isn’t divine. It stems from property.

Property Rights are the basis of individual freedom

The right to own property is the basis of individual rights. Why? The answer is simple its because when you own property it allows you to do whatever you want on that property. Its your own private island. Let’s face reality though, government today controls much of what we do on our private property. Its wrong. This is why when Anarcho-Communists argue for public property what they actually mean is, I want the government to own everything. If everything is owned by everybody, then taking whatever you please is not considered theft. But the reality is if you take somebody else’s things then its theft whether or not they actually own it or not. You didn’t ask permission. An-coms brings to another important point, the NAP.

Non-Aggression Principle

Whenever you try to argue with someone about a society with no government they always try to bring up some magical power void. My response is, well I see a giant power void in your brain. In a voluntary society, there won’t be government however, there will be one rule. NAP. The non-aggression principle basically means do whatever you want without violating the individual rights or freedoms of others. It means that you won’t do anything that could be a crime today. Many crimes like murder, burglary, extortion are crimes against others. Other victim-less crimes like selling drugs wouldn’t be a violation. The reason there won’t be a power void is because NAP doesn’t just say you have rights. You also have the right to enforce those rights with guns. This is why there is no power void because each individual is empowered.

OK Genius but I disagree.

Hold on, I got one point to make! Minarchists seem like a friendly ally but beware. I’ve recently learned that they actually tend to lean into statism more than I like. I can’t blame them it took me awhile to go full no government. But the more I look at the government in the US and UK fuck up everything, the more I think to myself imagine what life could be without it.  Minarchists believe in a limited government. Just the basic level services. But the problem with it is that government can’t help but grow itself. The problem is that human beings are self interested and greedy. Government is the avenue of power on the road to corruption. It masks itself in goodwill, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We can’t possibly trust government, it’s like trusting your spend-happy spouse with an American Express Black Card. You know your wife can’t help herself in a Louis Vutton store. Government is worse, 21 trillion dollars in national debt.

My Point: Lets rally around Individual rights

If there is one thing that we (Libertarians, Anarchists, Ancaps) can argue for as united front, it is individual rights. We don’t always have to agree on everything. In fact, I’m a big proponent of debate. I thrive on argument. Granted, changing my mind is hard but if you present a persuasive fact-based argument, then I’ll agree. Anyway, if libertarians want to be taken seriously unlike the LP then we have to present some form of consistency. Our ideologies are very similar. We have to give up our stubbornness and actually try work toward a common end. The means of getting there is up for debate. But the common goal is to achieve a voluntary society.  If you don’t believe in the ends then you might not belong, which is OK. We’re supposed to tolerate everyone except Communists. Be focused on principles of libertarianism and there is no disagreement that can separate us.

Taxation is Theft. Thanks for reading.

Social Media

Twitter and Discord: @gpslife12

Facebook: Garrett’s Life Experience’s Blog

 

 

Advertisements

A Name to Unite “Libertarians”?

As usual twitter hijinks has lead to an debate about confusion in libertarian circles. Nothing new to see here. The confusion comes in part from the fact that many “libertarians” have different names they like to go by. For example, I prefer to be known as a Libertarian. But I know others who like: Anarcho-Capitalist, Voluntaryist, Anarchist,..etc. The whole concept of naming your political affiliation is nothing new because everyone does it. The central question of this post is to figure if finding a common name for “Libertarians” would actually unite us or do we need to look deeper at our principles to unite us rather just a name.

Different Names for the Same thing

So I don’t  know the saying exactly, sue me. My example on twitter was this: If you call a flower, a “shit plant” it doesn’t change the fact that its a flower. On the other hand, if you call a piece of shit, a “flower” it doesn’t change the fact that its a piece of shit. With that being said, Do I think a common name could help unite us?  Maybe. Here is why I think it could: One of my twitter friends, suggested the name #Anarchasm. Which I thought was a pretty good one. I think a common name would better in terms of marketing. It would help cohesiveness among all libertarians. I think the arguments against are much stronger. Re-branding is something that collectivists do. Just because you rename your movement doesn’t necessarily translate into success. Also if you look at libertarian party which I do support in elections, they are a mess. The party markets itself wrong because it tries to equate itself as the middle of Democrats and Republicans. The reality is that libertarians are outsiders. We don’t believe in any government or any political parties. I would argue that each individual is a political party of one because individual rights are the only ones that matter.

Principles are too Important to be ignored

The most important aspect of this debate is whether the name we choose to go by, actually represents our common beliefs. If libertarians are to be successful in changing society to be more like our voluntary system then we need present the same goals and arguments. On twitter, its likely you will see debates about politics. Typically when multiple Libertarians get into a debate with a statist, they will disagree with the statist. However, some of them will disagree with each other, which doesn’t help the argument they are making. We have to follow our principles of voluntary exchange and voluntary action in marketing our beliefs. If we don’t follow our principles then we are no different than the statists. Don’t get me wrong: open debate about ideas is a good thing. However, debate in private, don’t present debate to the people whom you are trying to convert voluntarily. They will be LESS likely to join if they see we can’t even agree with each other.

What principles should we all have? 

I think its obvious that all we believe in capitalism as main economic engine. I think we all believe that the government is always evil. We all known that taxation is theft. We all believe that communism and socialism don’t work. Its important to note also, that principles are not just right and wrong. Principles of libertarians are merely guidelines for living your life. Your own morality is responsible for actual judgement what is right and wrong. If we all follow the same guidelines, then individual rights will flourish, and nobody will do wrong because as the Non-Aggression Principle states that you can’t deny or break anyone else’s rights. The individual rights are clearly defined by the Bill of Rights. However, its not a comprehensive list. Individuals have unlimited rights there is nothing that government or other individuals can take away legally.

The Debate will Continue: 

This blog post serves as an opinion of a debate that needs to take place within the libertarian circle. It is my firm belief that as libertarians we need to unite based on principles in order to successful launch our society of individualism. If we don’t, and if we try to re-brand under name with still fractured goals and arguments, we will fall into the collectivist mindset.

Keep pushing for liberty, keep debating, keep your mind focused on the goal of libertarianism which is total freedom. Drive the narrative, don’t let it drive you.

#Speakout

Thanks for reading. Comments and Criticism is appreciated and welcomed.

Social Media

Twitter: @gpslife12

Facebook: Garrett’s Life Experience’s Blog

 

Colton Everett: Endeavor for Enlightenment.

*Loud Music Blares*

A typical college party raves on through the night on the campus of a prestigious university. The house party is a common symbol of college life, with red solo cups, ping-pong balls, and beer cans strewn about. It is 2:34 am on a Saturday night, Colton Everett is a senior. He is about to graduate with a degree in History. Colton and his friends are celebrating their last days in college. Many of his friends have jobs lined up, but some do not. As for Colton, he has applied to a Master’s and Doctoral Program. Fortunately for him, he was accepted.

Colton Everett was born to an upper middle class family. His father Harrison Everett and his mother Emily Quinn, the father is a political lobbyist, the mother is a college professor. Colton is an only child, this meant his parents were able to lavish on him the best tutors, schooling and opportunities. Colton upbringing really propelled him through school into college. Moving forward through his Masters and Doctorate, Colton studied political science. He had aspirations to be a politician. This aspiration was not helped by his father or his mother. His father, Harrison Everett a political lobbyist found politicians to be disgustingly greedy after 20 years of dealing with them. His mother Emily Quinn, taught English, but her view of politicians was just as negative. Emily Quinn was born to  a poor family. She lived in a run-down apartment, overcrowded. Emily saw her parents struggle despite the efforts of the government to help. Colton wasn’t raised to smart, he actually possessed real intelligence. He rarely studied and was mostly a straight A student.

Colton knew that after he finished his doctorate, he wasn’t going to be ready for public office quite yet. He was still young at 29 years old. He had lined up and applied for just three jobs. Colton had his father reluctantly use his contacts to get interviews with three well-known think-tanks. Colton excitedly prepared for his interviews. Colton knew he would be starting off at the lowest level but surely work his way up the ladder.

Day of Interview 1

Colton takes the morning train to near the interview location. He stops by a nearby coffee shop. It’s a typical busy Monday morning. Hordes of people walk by, cars honk, and planes drone overhead. Colton drinks his morning coffee whilst reading the morning newspaper. He looks down at his watch; 7:49 am. It was time to go. Colton folds his newspaper, throws away his empty coffee cup. It was a short walk to the interview which was to be held on the 48th floor of a skyscraper. After pushing the up button, the elevator dings, and Colton enter. The 48th floor button is already pressed. Colton is wearing a black suit, white cotton dress shirt, and a silk red tie. The elevator lights are reflecting off his shiny black shoes. The elevator opens.

Colton walks out meanwhile looking at his watch, 8:05 am, and decides to ask the secretary where the bathroom is. “Its down the hall to the left” says the secretary. “Thank you, I’m here for an interview at 8:30am with Mr. Alexander.” Colton responds with a slight smile. “Hi, Mr. Everett, when you come back just wait here and Mr. Alexander will be with you shortly!” the secretary says with a smile. Colton smiles back and walks toward the bathroom. He enters the bathroom and looks in the mirror. Colton has strong jawline, evenly spaced eyes, a wide smile. He fixes his jet black hair which was rustled from the wind. He fixes his tie by wiggling it back and forth.

Back in the waiting area, he gazed out on the other skyscrapers. The cloudless sky and bright sun shining in the big window. After what seemed like an hour, Colton looked down at his watch, simultaneously reading the time: 8:29 am, and heard Mr. Alexander say “Send in Mr. Everett.”  “Will do sir, Mr. Everett, go ahead in.” replied the secretary looking up from her computer. Colton nodded and got up to walk into the office.

Mr. Alexander was tall man, he was bald with a full beard. Colton shook hands with Mr. Alexander. “Nice to meet you Mr. Alexander, I’m Colton Everett.” said Colton as he smiled genuinely. “Good to meet you, Mr. Everett, I’ve heard good things!” replied Mr. Alexander. “Be seated, please.” say Mr. Alexander as he took his own seat. Mr. Alexander lifted up a folder and shuffled some papers among them was Colton’s resume. Then Mr. Alexander began the interview:

“Mr. Everett, Why do you think your good fit to work at Solve-America Think-tank?” he said in a serious tone. Colton took a deep breath and replied: “I believe that I am a good fit for Solve-America Think-tank because I have a lot great ideas. My problem solving skills are only matched by my critical thinking skills. If I’m hired, I promise I won’t disappoint.”

“Sounds good but what if you make a mistake?” replied Mr. Alexander.

Colton smiled and said “If I make a mistake, it will be fixed before anyone can point it out.”

Mr. Alexander laughed and quipped back “Alright, I’m holding you to that.” He paused and continued a few seconds later, “An important aspect of this job will be to analyze problems and find real life, workable solutions. I’m going to present you with a simple one.” He paused slightly, “Then I’ll repeat the problem and you will have give me an solution as your answer. Sound good?” He asked.

Colton replied,”Bring it on, I’m ready to roll.”

Mr. Alexander took out another piece of paper and held it up covering half of his face. Then he cleared his throat and read the problem: “Imagine your given a budget of a city. They ask you to find a way to cut costs without raising taxes. It’s a city of 100,000 people, it has a city council, a mayor. If you need more information, ask me.”

Colton nodded his head and started to think quickly. This was a classic predicament of cost vs. spending. He knew exactly how to answer and took a breath then said it confidently: “I would suggest that cut non-essential city workers,  eliminate non-essential city programs that aren’t necessary to the operation of the city. I would suggest a slight salary decrease for city workers until the city budget balances. I might also suggest investing in infrastructure and other projects that could attract more businesses to raise money. Cutting spending is better than raising taxes anyway.”

Mr. Alexander cracks a smile. “Good answer, now suppose they refuse your plan on the basis of the government salaries getting slashed.”

Colton was expecting a few curveballs, so he took a second to collect his thoughts. “What else are they willing to cut?” he questioned. Mr. Alexander replied: “Nothing, they don’t want to give up anything. Convince them.” Colton shook his head in dismay. He then give his answer: “Your city will go bankrupt, you will all be force to take paycuts or lose your jobs. The people of the city will suffer under tremendous debt. There is no other options, take it or leave it.” he said as he maintain a serious look.

Mr. Alexander sat back in his chair for a good minute. His facial expression was blank. He then replied to Colton’s  bold answer: “Son, congratulations! We would like to formally offer you a job.” was followed with a big smile. Mr. Alexander stood up to put his hand out to shake. Colton instantly lit up and met Mr. Alexander’s hand over the desk with his own hand. Colton repeated “thank you Mr. Alexander” about 10 times. He wasn’t expecting to be immediately hired.

“Excuse me, I need to make a few calls, if you don’t mind.” Colton said to Mr. Alexander, he needed to call off the other interviews and tell his parents that he got the job. Mr. Alexander obliged and congratulated him again.

To Be Continued….

Thanks for reading!

Social Media:

Facebook: Garrett’s Life Experience’s blog

Twitter @gpslife12

PS: This is a new thing I’m trying, Its a fictional story that will be written in a series of blog posts. The themes will be history, politics with a focus on libertarian ideals, and of course human experience. Hopefully it will be a new and different way to deliver the libertarian message to everyone. 

Photo by The Roaming Platypus on Unsplash

Benefits of Intervention: Syria?

maxresdefault

Trump has recently organized an response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria. The United States along with England and France have come together to missile some targets of known chemical weapon storage and research. This post will be about this newest Syrian Intervention but it will also generally cover the track record of failure with interventions. I have actually written about this in December 2016, when under President Obama decided not to get involved in Syria despite the humanitarian crisis. (Post is linked here)

Allies: Syria and Russia

The bombing of targets in Syria in response to a alleged chemical attack comes with more controversy than usual.  The Russia President, Vladimir Putin warned against the US trying to take action against Syrian President Assad. The reason is that Syria and Russia are allies. Russia has been helping the embattled Syrian President fight against the rebels in their seven year civil war. This means that Russia is very territorial about who intervenes with the civil war. I think Russian goals in Syria are pretty clear, they want to expand their hegemony in the middle east. Putin probably has no real humanitarian interest in the Syrian people. Similar to Russia invasion and annexation of the Crimea, the nature of their allied relationship with Syria is to project power on the world stage.

False Flag Attack: Did it actually happen? 

Another interesting aspect of this particular situation is that reports came out that the chemical attack was a false flag. This means that no chemicals or possibly no attack ever occurred. Interestingly enough there is still a question about the legitimacy of the attack. Of course, Syrian President Assad has a history using chemical weapons against his own people. This alone is a serious offense especially if you consider the Geneva Convention protocol. Geneva Convention refers to the rules of engagement and genocide. The murky nature of the civil war with many different factions makes it a complex situation. Its not clear to me or to experts that there is a genocide occurring in Syria.

Another point about false flags is that many wars have started because of false pretenses. I think that this is a theme which can found throughout history especially in United States since 1917.

Precedent False Flags in US History

I believe that the intervention in the Syrian conflict is not unprecedented. The US has a history of going in on wars with the basis of a lie. For the sake of length, I want to start with the Vietnam war. The Tonkin Gulf incident occurred in 1964, it was a false attack on US ships. It led to the escalation of the Vietnam war. Moving on to the Gulf War, which had rumors about Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait. More recently, we invade Afghanistan under the pretense of fighting terror. Ironically, the terrorists main goal was have to us overreact and spend trillions upon trillions of dollars and nearly 3000 lives to kill an enemy so small.  Then we got the Iraq war, which was started over the rumor that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We still never found any weapons. Then you have Libya, where an NATO coalition decided the Muammar Gaddafi had to go, not for any particular reason but oil. Obviously, there are numerous examples, but the point is that lies are a great pretense for war.

Benefits of Intervention

I believe that history would tell us that intervention doesn’t work out as intended. Just look at Vietnam for example. The US mission in Vietnam was to keep the communist North Vietnam from invading the south and turning it communist. The US lost the war by a lot. The US had superior military power, bombs, 500,000 troops and state of the ark equipment. The US lost to a bunch of farmers in the jungle. Sad life. (Note that Gun Control advocates ignore this fact, farmers with guns can defeat the US military)  I think that Vietnam and others beg the question: Is there any benefit to intervention?

The answer is both yes and no. Let’s start with no. There is no benefit to the American public. War is very costly, if you add up the cost of the wars since the Korean War, the total cost is nearly equal to our national debt of 21 trillion dollars! The other costs include military causalities, lots of injured veterans, and instability in the region of conflict. There is no benefit to the American People. So you may ask who DOES benefit? I am glad you didn’t forget because ironically, the government and military contractors benefit the most. The government benefits because its a justification to raise taxes and spend more of your money! Military contractors are corporations who are given (usually awarded them) contracts to produce military equipment and research. The Department of Defense is responsible for this process of handing military contracts. Unfortunately, the DoD does a horrible job of holding these companies accountable. Many times the military contracts are exploited, because companies spend more money and take longer than they are supposed to. This lack of accountability wastes TRILLIONS of dollars. Its a big problem and a big topic for another post!

Conclusion: Intervention Sucks

Ultimately this intervention into the Syrian conflict will come back to haunt us. President Trump has shown himself to be no different than his peers (past presidents). Its a shame that the America people don’t hold the government accountable. One of the reasons for the sudden explosion of intervention is the President’s ability to declare war without Congressional approval. This needs to change. The founding fathers gave Congress the power to declare war for a reason. A President with the power to declare will eventually become a tyrant. Its a dangerous precedent. The benefits of giving congress war powers back is that Congress can’t agree on anything and therefore it will prevent 99 percent of new interventions. A great victory for the American people!

Check out my Social Media

Zuckerberg’s personal data mine: (Facebook)  Garrett’s Life Experience’s Blog

Twitter: @gpslife12

Have an awesome day!

Part 1: Economics 101: Supply and Demand are Essential

I talk about politics and history on my blog quite a bit. These are my absolute favorite topics. I have in past posts talked about economics but it tends to be boring. One of my goals when starting this blog was to educate. So in this post, I intend to educate about some economic policies that relatively misunderstood by the general population. I won’t jump into the hardest concept first because in economics similar to math and science you have to understand the basics. First I want to talk about supply and demand. I know that I have talked about it before. Then I want to move into monetary policy. I might even touch on tariffs which I explained here. It occurred to me that President Trump’s recent tariffs have confused many people. You may or may not realize that tariffs can have very serious effects on our economy. They can also affect how other countries treat us. More on these topics later.

Supply and Demand: How it works?

main-qimg-7143dd32730266a174d9a0ffe02b2f3a-c

You might be familiar with a chart that looks like this. (Above) The way to read the chart is simple. First, you have to recognize a basic principle in economics that I call “push and pull”. Its very similar to Issac Newton’s “For every action there is a reaction” because for each transaction or movement of money or just action there is a reaction that also involves a transaction or movement of money.  Therefore if we look at the orange line labeled as supply and the purple line labeled as demand, you can see horizontal axis is labeled Quantity (increasing from left to right). The vertical axis is labeled Price which is increasing from up to down.

To put it simply:

As the supply goes up, the demand goes down. (Price and Quantity go up as well)

As the demand goes up, the supply goes down. (Price and Quantity go down as well)

This chart is the basis for literally everything in economics. Nearly everything can be put into terms of supply and demand. I will give a simple example of how supply and demand works:

Let’s say you own a winery in Napa Valley, California. Let’s say you have two main competitors that are approximately the same size winery as you. All three wineries make similar profits, have similar expenses and locations.

The going-market value for a 750ml bottle of wine is 25 dollars.

Your company price: 27 dollars, Competitor A: 27 dollars, Competitor B: 27 dollars

So right now every company is above value meaning that supply is meeting demand. Every company is able to charge more because of a high demand. Now Let’s say there is a massive drought. Shortage of grapes. Now you and your competitors can’t make as much wine. What do you think happens to the price?

Your company price: 30 dollars, Competitor A: 31 dollars, Competitor B: 32.

If you said that the price will increase because the supply has been depressed while the demand remained the same then you would be correct. Now let’s say the drought is over but a study comes out that says wine is bad for mental health. Suddenly everyone stops buying wine. What happens to your prices?

Your company price: 23 dollars, Competitor A: 20, Competitor B: 23 dollars.

If you said prices will decrease because of the drop in demand and the excess supply of wine then you would be correct. This is a very simplistic example and obviously running a winery is more complicated than I presented. I think that the concept is clear. For every action there is a reaction. For every push there is a pull.

I hope you got supply and demand down pat, because we are going to use it to help explain why President Trump’s tariffs are not as great as they sound. If you want to check out my post on tariffs then click here. In this next section, I will be focusing specifically on the economics.

The “Dead-weight” Tariffs– Tariffs in the context of supply and demand.

If you went to read my tariff post then you’ll have some idea what I’m about to explain here. For the purpose of this section, I’m going to assume you just learned about supply and demand. Let me explain that tariffs are a tax on an import or export (In this case President Trump is putting tariffs on imports) Tariffs actually used to be the US government’s biggest source of income up until the turn of the 20th century. The US approved an (16th) amendment to constitution that made income tax the primary source of government income. Now a days, tariffs only make up about 1-2 percent of income for the government.

An import is a good or product that is shipped or brought into the country. An export is a good or product that is shipped out or sold outside of the country. It’s good to know these terms. Let’s take a look at another chart, this represents tariffs on the supply and demand curve:

taxes

It may look confusing but it’s actually really simple. Keep in mind that as the supply goes up, the demand goes down. (Price and Quantity go up as well) Also as the demand goes up, the supply goes down. (Price and Quantity go down as well) Now if we at look chart let’s take the green line into account first. The green line is labeled “Supplier’s share of tax”. In order to explain the green line, I will give a brief example:

So let’s say there is a Steel Maker company and a Railroad Tie company. The Steel Company makes the steel that is needed for the Railroad Tie company. There is also a third foreign steel company located in China. So pre-tariff on the import of steel, the cost of steel for the Railroad company is .50 cents per pound from the foreign steel company. The Steel Maker company located in America has a price of .60 cents per pound. The green line represents that .50 cents that the Railroad company currently buys it steel at.

Now lets look at the red line labeled Customer’s share of tax. Back to our example: President Trump has imposed a 15 cent per pound tariff on imported Steel from China. (Not real, just made it up)  How does this affect our three companies? First let me give one key detail: Railroad company sells rail ties for 25 dollars per tie. So here is the breakdown of before and after the tariff

Company:                    Pre-Tariff Price              Post Tariff Price              Net Change

Railroad company Ties      25 dollars                       30 dollars                   5 dollars

USA Steel Company:           .60 cents                         .60 cents                      No change

China Foreign Steel Co.     .50 cents                          .65 cents                     15 cents

What happened? Well the Railroad company rose it price by 5 dollars. They also switch suppliers since they don’t want to pay more than they have to for steel.  Now refer back to the chart. The distance from the green to red line is known as “dead-weight”. In the chart, the blue triangle in the middle represents the dead-weight. Remember that “customer value” represents the demand side. Also that the green and red lines both represent supply both before and after the tariff is applied. The term dead weight refers the money lost due to the tariff. The Railroad company had to pass its extra cost of 10 cents to its customers. The reason?  The tariff made the foreign steel more expensive, however the American made steel did not get any cheaper so therefore the Railroad company had to pass that 10 cent per pound difference to the customer.  Of course, depending on the well-being of the company it could have also led to job-cuts or reduction assets.

Conclusion:

To recap: Tariffs create dead-weight whereby the tax increases the cheaper foreign competitor above the already more expensive domestic price. The unnatural increase creates a dead-weight because instead of natural competition, the tariff forces  a company to spend more without getting any benefits.

I’m end it here because they will be a part 2. In Part 2 we will finish up with a discussion of President Trump’s policies and the impact it will have with China. Then I will continue to explain some monetary economics that are important to understand.

Thanks for reading!

Check out my social media!

Facebook: Garrett’s Life Experience’s Blog

Twitter: @gpslife12

Have an amazing day!

Featured Image Credit: https://www.tutor2u.net/economics/blog/great-supply-and-demand-starter-cartoons

Gulag Archipelago: Perception is Everything

Read the title again. If you aren’t thinking what the hell?!? Then you should probably check your pulse next. I have a little background story to explain where I’m taking Gulag Archipelago: Perception is Everything.

The other day I was waiting at Barnes and Noble. I typically go Barnes and Noble to either waste time or go to the bathroom. (Don’t tell anyone!) Anyway, in this particular situation I was waiting in there because I was going to see Waitress, the Broadway show. By the way, its amazing and you should go see it. I was browsing my favorite sections: History, Politics and Current Events. No surprise there! I came across few books I liked. But then, near the end of my wait I see this book called Gulag Archipelago by  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I immediately pick it up because I’m intrigued by the title.

I read the first few pages. I decided that I didn’t want to buy it yet. (I almost never buy anything myself, usually I ask for books for my birthday) Later that night, I’m laying in bed with my wife. We were about to go to sleep. I mention that I found an interesting book at Barnes and Noble. I tell her the name. Then the conversation gets really interesting:

Me: Gulag Archipelago is a really interesting concept because you don’t usually think of Siberia as an archipelago.

Wife: Thats true. 

Me: The Philippines (My wife is originally from there) is an archipelago.

Wife: No its not.

Me: Yes it is, its a group of islands. (I looked up on my phone after I said it.) 

I can’t remember what she said after this but I remember following it up with:

Me: Its interesting that you perceived the Philippines not to be an archipelago.  The concept of gulags in Siberia is also an interesting concept. I wonder if he meant something by it.

Later the next day, we exchange texts about the same topic which is basically the premise of this post. In those texts which aren’t anything special but I put into words what I find so interesting: Gulag Archipelago tests your perception of geography and history. I like the term Geo-Historical because it describes topic without having to say geography and history.

To be fair, I didn’t read Solzhenitsyn’s book but I read summaries. Apparently he takes firsthand testimony from actual prisoners plus his own personal experience as a prisoner and puts it together into a fiction character. He also explains how the gulag system works and how it functioned. Obviously eventually I will read this book. Solzhenitsyn may or may not explain his title in the book. I don’t want to comment on the content of book nor do I want give a history of gulags. I want talk about the perception.

Perception is one of the most important elements when considering what kinds of sources you use in an academic paper. In history, you have to consider that the author has a bias or a point of view that comes from a unique experience. Just like any source for any kind of research you have to be acutely aware of perception. Let’s start by breaking down each word in the title to see what they mean. We have to wonder if the meanings could have something to do with how its perceived.

Gulag: a prison labor camp in Russia dating from early 1930s to the 1950s, usually located in Siberia (Russia).

Archipelago: A group of Islands.

galapagos-islands-ecuador-lg

(Pictured above: Galapagos Archipelago, Credit: Galapagos Guide)

Simple enough right? What pops out to me right away is the contrast that each definition has. The contrast is particular to geography. Do you know where Siberia is? Do you know what the climate is? Let me give you a hint: its freezing cold and its located in western (from Moscow) part of Russia, to west of Alaska. Can you name an famous archipelago? Charles Darwin based his theory of Darwinism off this archipelago. Survival of fittest, evolution ring any bells? Galapagos Archipelago off the coast of Ecuador. To me these locations could not be more different!

map-articleLarge

(Pictured Above: Map of Russia, Siberia, Credit: New York Times)

For starters, Siberia contains no islands! Its a solid chunk of land with nothing on it. The Galapagos is full of life and hot on the equator. Siberia has limited wildlife and its freezing cold most of the time. So geographically speaking, gulags weren’t located on islands. I think what  Solzhenitsyn is trying to symbolize is that gulags were prison labor camps spread out in vast, freezing Siberia. Gulags themselves are the islands on a freezing cold wasteland.

It makes a lot of sense. I think part of the problem with his title, at least for people today is that archipelago is not a commonly used term. I remember hearing it in highschool during Earth Science. My wife is pretty smart and she either didn’t know or forgot what it meant. She knows that the Philippines is a group of islands, more than 7000 of them in fact. Her perception of an archipelago wasn’t the same as mine. I knew it was a group of islands.

I think that part of the reason this interest me so much is because the uncommon term makes it seem exotic and kind of unreal. It throws people off. It makes you think about it. Once you get the past the archipelago definition, then you start to see his symbolism. I can tell you from reading on my own and researching that gulags were worse than concentration camps set up by the Nazis. Russia killed more than 50 million of its own citizens from the early 1930s to the time of Stalin’s death in 1953.

I think the important lesson in perceptions is that words can paint a very different picture than reality. However, sometimes that picture can be useful for describing how something occurred and why it occurred. In this case, Solzhenitsyn is chronicling how the gulags were run and the life inside them. More importantly, he was dissenting against the tyrannical, communist government of Russia. He saw firsthand how brutal the gulags were.  Solzhenitsyn wrote many books but this is the one that survived. Originally it was written in Russian but eventually translated and widely read.

I want to come back to this book and this topic. I’ll read the book and write another post about its content. In the next post I will try to tie his content into the title to truly get his perception of the “Gulag Archipelago”.

Thanks for reading!

Check out my social media:

Facebook: Garrett’s Life Experience’s Blog

Twitter: @gpslife12

Have an awesome day!

Lesson on Economics: Protectionist vs. Free Trade

I know. I know. I know what your probably saying to yourself. “Not another economics lesson, you nerd!” “Haven’t you already covered everything economics?” Thank you, I am a nerd and also yes I’m thorough in my coverage of topics. I promise I’ll try to not to drone on for 2000 words this time. I need to explain something that President Trump has recently brought up as a potential policy. I don’t think people really understand how import and export tariffs work.

On the surface, in simplest terms a tariff doesn’t sound like a bad thing. A tariff is a tax on a imported or exported good. A tariff can increase of the price of a foreign good to make the domestic goods more “competitive”. Now I put that quotes because the reality is quite different. I think most people would say that there seems to be nothing wrong that. History would even agree that tariffs are a commonly used tool by governments to help guide trading between nations. Here is the problem.

Tariffs are antiquated. The US government used tariffs from its inception thanks to Alexander Hamilton’s brilliant mind to about 1913. After 1913 and in the 105 years since tariffs have fallen out of favor as economic tool. This isn’t to say that no country uses them but the US government only takes about 1-2 percent of its income from tariffs today. Before 1913, the tariff brought in nearly 90 percent of the governments income at its peak.

Economists agree that tariffs hurt an economy. I’ll get to why after I explain that globalization and free trade have changed the world economy. Globalization is the free movement of people, cultural and products. The world is more accessible than ever, with cheap flights to almost anywhere in the world. The internet has an untold wealth of information that was never available til about 25 years ago. We live in a world where everyone is connected. There are multiple free trade agreements between countries that allow a flow of goods and services between them. Free Trade encourages competition in the market. It allows every participant country’s economy to benefit.

Meanwhile, Protectionist economies or countries that use tariffs extensively are actually hinder. The simple explanation through some graphs and pictures. E-tariffntrade2

This graph is basically a supply and demand curve with some with other lines. (Charts reads likes this: As supply goes up, Demand goes down OR As demand goes up, supply goes down). The bold line is the price of goods before the tariff on imports, its label WS. The line above that labeled WS+ Tariff is price of imports after the tariff.  The implication is obvious: A tariff will increase price of an imported good. Here is another chart to show the impact of this:

taxes

This particular chart shows the “Dead weight” or loss of value. This chart reads like this: As quantity goes up, the price goes down.  You can see the supplier has to pay the tariff and therefore it increase the cost to the customer. The loss of value is where the maker increases the price of their product to cover the cost of the tariff. The money is lost because the supplier has to either stick with that supplier or go to another one which obvious wasn’t cheaper before the tariff.

Here’s an example:

Before Tariff:

Company A: Product cost: 25 dollars

Foreign Supplier 1: Material cost: 5 dollars

Domestic Supplier 2 Material cost: 13 dollars

After Tariff:

Company A: Product cost: $25+ $10 tariff = $35

Foreign Supplier 1: Material Cost: $5 + $10 tariff = 15 dollars

Domestic Supplier 2: Material Cost: 13 dollars (No added Tariff)

You can see the dead weight  or loss value. The tariff raises the price of the foreign competitor’s material cost artificially. The extra 10 dollars that it cost to buy from that foreign supplier is lost. This is because the domestic supplier’s cost is 13 dollars compared to the foreign supplier’s 5 dollars before tax. The loss of value is 8 dollars. Therefore the Company A has to raise it prices because its cost have increased.

I’ll put a picture in the preview that help explain even more. (Credit to marketbusinessnews.com)

My conclusion is basically that protectionist policies don’t benefit an economy in the long run. The government is once again interfering in the market where it doesn’t need to be. As usual, the best solution to fix the problem with tariffs is to not have any. We have to take the government out of the market that includes all varies regulations that just raise prices and don’t involve health and safety.

President Trump should tread carefully because the long term implications will be worse than the short term benefits. I think that because of globalization, free trade is the new way to do business. Although the US has historically been a protectionist country, the future is going the exact opposite way. The world economy has undergone globalization and free trade is the new normal.

Thanks for reading, if you are still awake feel free to check out:

Facebook: Garrett’s Life Experience’s

Twitter @gpslife12

Have an awesome day!

Relevant articles on Tariffs,  Historical Tariffs, Economics Part 1, Part 2, Part 3