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!

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Economic Series Part 3: What is Gross Domestic Product?

Welcome to the third part of my economic series. This final part will explain what GDP is and why it is so often used as politicians go to economic figure of success or failure. Gross Domestic Product or GDP as I will call it by the acronym, is an economic indicator. It measures a very specific part of the economy in any given country. If you have not read parts ONE and TWO of this economic series I strongly suggest that you do. My first two parts of the series describe the arguments for and against minimum wage in part one. In part two, I  go over the basics of government budget and taxation. It’s important to recognize that economics is a very complex subject and many topics involved having an understanding of other topics. In this case, I think that GDP is definitely the most advanced of all the topics that I have covered thus far. In order to properly discuss GDP and the politics that usually surround it, I feel its necessary to explain how it come to be and what it involves.

The book that has inspired me to write on this topic and my primary source of information is called GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History by Diane Coyle. Coyle’s book gives a full rundown of everything GDP. I would strongly recommend it because this post won’t even cover 1/4 of what she does in this book. Coyle gives a simple word breakdown of GDP. Gross meaning not deducted as opposed to net (Her example was like net weight of a cereal box, it’s only the weight of the cereal without the packaging) Product meaning stuff made, and Domestic is simply at home.(Page 7) GDP is much more complex than the three simple words that make up its name. The history and founding of GDP begins at the start of World War II. However, the idea goes back throughout the ages.

One of the many controversies over GDP that still exist today was first explored by one of the greatest economic scholars to ever write. Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations. In his book, he went over some relevent facts of GDP. His point to paraphrase is this: The manufacturer that produces something with their labor creates value and adds it to the economy. The person who employs many menial servants grows poor while the person who employs many manufacturers grows rich. The point here being that Smith sees the production of goods as adding value to an economy. He sees the services of a servant or a service in general adds nothing. GDP has often not included services because it’s too hard to measure the true output of a teacher. Also the word “Product” in GDP lends itself to the production of goods not services. (Page 10)

GDP’s history comes out of collection of statistical data and economists. Colin Clark calculated the expenditures and national income of the United Kingdom. Clark based his work on a publication by Alfred Marshall who wrote Principals of Economics before the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt encourage more research and work on the national income and expenditures during the Great Depression. This led to Simon Kuznets to work with the National Bureau of Economic Research, which earned him a nobel prize. One of things that Kuznets brought up is an important facet of GDP. Kuznets thought that he was working to measure welfare rather than just output. GDP is often used to measure the welfare of any given country. However, because like I said previously, GDP is typically measured by the output of an economic. The problem of welfare and GDP is one of modern criticisms of GDP. Coyle dedicates two chapters to the subject of GDP and welfare. (Page 12-14)

I want to focus more on the particulars of GDP and how it’s calculated. Coyle covers this topic quite well. I want to save welfare and GDP for another post because it’s too much for this post. Coyle goes over the three different ways to measure and calculate GDP. She gives a two charts. One chart shows how these calculations are done. Since I don’t have the chart, I will just describe each way. The first way is a Value Added production. Value Added production adds up the Gross Output. The gross output is the all the sales made in an economy. The gross output excludes the inventory because it’s counted by the next category of intermediate inputs. Which stuff like staffing, inventory, and other things that businesses pay money for to make their business work. Finally you get to a number that tells you how much value added each industry in an economy.

The second way to calculate GDP is through Income (by type) approach. This approach uses a set of different incomes and expenditures to make final figure of Total Domestic Incomes earned. There are rental income, profits and proprietors’ income, Taxes on production and imports, Less: Subsidies, Interest and miscellaneous payments, and depreciation. These are the categories of the Income (by type) approach. The third way to calculate GDP is through Final Demand (or Expenditures) approach. This approach uses the sum of these categories to make up the final sales of domestic product to purchasers. The categories are the consumption of final goods and services by households; Investment in plant, equipment, and software; Government expenditures on good and services; and net exports of goods and services (export-import). No matter how you calculate GDP, the measurement always is trying measure how much an economy produces and what kind of income the country who benefits from it makes. (Page 25-26)

The most popular and most used method in modern times is the Expenditures approach. Coyle also goes over the equation along with an awesome chart. The equation simply is GDP= C+I+G+(X-M). The letters stand for Consumer Spending plus Investment plus government spending plus exports less imports. (Trade deficit/surplus). Coyle also tries to show some problems with the GDP equation which is mostly that GDP is not so simple. The categories have multiple sub-categories. There is a lot of gray area. The numbers can be shaky. However, in the end GDP is the most reliable measurement of economy. Coyle mentions other indicators which can help round out the welfare aspect and government impact. The awesome chart I was referring is a two circles. On the left side there is the word “Individuals” and on the right side there is “Business”. The top of the circles, have two words. On the bottom circle it says Expenditures, and on the top circle it says Goods and Services. In the lower two circles, the top one says Income and the bottom says Labor. (page 26-27)

The story is that Individuals and Businesses interact in two different ways. The circles represent the different ways. The bigger circle with Labor and Goods and Services basically shows that Individuals supply the labor for business. The Business supplies the good and services. This is basic economics, it shows a supply/demand for labor and good and services.  The smaller circle with Expenditures and Income show that Businesses supply the Individual with income and the Individual supplies the business with Expenditures. The vice-versa is also true. Businesses make income on the Individual’s expenditures. This is a simple economics lesson that can help you understand GDP. (Page 27)

GDP is an important facet of economic measurement of any given country. As Coyle notes in later chapters which this post won’t cover, that GDP is not accurate in second and third world countries because of faulty accounting and statistics. She also covers a great deal of debate over whether welfare should be measured by GDP or not. These are more complex questions than I really want to go. I think the point of this post is to say that GDP is important to understand. GDP is not a true measure of welfare. It’s the statistical measure of economic input and output. As an example, GDP measures the number of phones that Apple sells after the release of the Iphone 7. It doesn’t take into account the welfare of the people who buy those phones. GDP is also a political tool especially when it comes to arguing over the economy.

Moving away from Coyle’s book in some ways, I want to briefly discuss why politicians like to use GDP. I think that much of the political controversy surrounding the use of GDP comes from the myths of GDP. Many people don’t realize the history of GDP. The misunderstanding of what GDP represents. Many politicans including present candidates for President seem to think that GDP shows how well the economy doing or more often how bad it’s doing. However, the reality is that GDP can fluctuate just based on how you calculate it. One increase or decrease in any given category there could be a 1-2 percent fluctuation. Another important myth to dispel is that government spending actually helps GDP. The debate that surrounds government spending and its effect on the economy is prevalent.

This is where I want to end this post and this series for now. My last words is that government spending doesn’t necessary make for the best economic move. The problem with government spending is that the government is NOT a business. Government makes their money from taxpayers. Its mandatory, you can’t just not pay taxes. It also makes a problem with counting the statistics for GDP. The government doesn’t have a real income with the exception taxes. This means that when the government tries to invest in anything it only represents an expenditure. If you recall the chart, the point of an economy is a cycle of labor into good and services that make income provided by expenditures. One example, that I know the best is that of the spending on the military. Military spending has often been one of the biggest items on US government budget. The national debt is nearly 20 trillion dollars. Some scholars have estimated that 16 trillion of that was spent during the cold war on military research and wars. The way that the DOD (Department of Defense) and the government have gone about spending this money is the problem. The military contracts assigned to military contractors during these years were given without little scrutiny. Many of the biggest contractors were able to contracts with no competition. The contracts included very little accountability or responsiblity especially in regards to money spent.

The point being is that GDP has actually suffered since the Cold War. This mainly due to stagnant economy. I mentioned that GDP doesn’t measure services which now is the most prominent feature of our economy. The reckless spending and bad fiscal policy by the government has given us some unfortunate consequences. GDP will always be controversial because of its complexity. I believe that its important to understand how GDP works. If you understand economics and GDP then you can understand that fallacy that politicians try to push on us. For me, this topic is fairly new but I wanted to try to introduce a little bit of the controversy and facts of economics and GDP.

Thanks you for reading! Have a great day!

 

Citation:

Coyle, Diane. GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History. Prinction University Press, 2014. 

 

Protests: Are they effective?

In today’s news you see a lot of protests and riots over a variety of issues. Some of the protests have a point. While other protest seem to be just a waste of time. In light of the recent police oppression protests and Trump protests at the GOP Convention. I want to discuss briefly how these protests have points but in the end, they just aren’t that effective. One group behind these protests is the BlackLivesMatter group who say they are for protection of black lives. (Ironically, they only care about black lives if killed by white cops)  This group certainly has a right to protest but I think they are going about it the wrong way. They are inspiring domestic terrorism against police instead of peaceful change. An example of a successful protester for civil rights is Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. used certain methods and peaceful negotiations to get what he thought was equality for colored people. King  was arrested many times for peaceful resistance to unjust laws. He inspired people like Rose Parks to sit in the front of bus and break the social norm of racism. More importantly, King didn’t try to incite riots or violence. He went through more diplomatic means to achieve his ultimate goal. He made political connections with powerful people in the government. One of those people was Lyndon B. Johnson. From the time that Johnson was the senate majority leader under Kennedy to the Johnson’s time as President, King had Johnson as his ally.

John F Kennedy was also persuaded by Martin Luther King Jr. to consider passing civil rights legislation. It was never passed under Kennedy because of his unfortunate assassination in 1964. King worked closely with the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson had a knack for passing legislation through congress. He spent most of his political career in congress. He knew the Congress people well, and he knew process even better. So when King met with Johnson on multiple occasions before 1965, it turned out one of the most advance civil right laws to ever be passed in the US. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote and help shape most of what is known as the Voting rights Act. It was the first step towards equality for colored people. It took away the southern states ability to pass Jim Crow laws about voting.

Let’s fast forward to now, where black people still perceive racism. However, its a bit different than how King perceived it. Now many people see it as police oppression and systematic priviledge or underpriviledge. This is not to say that voter suppression still doesn’t take place. Unfortunately, the supreme court has overturned parts of the voting rights act. So my question is, does protesting the police really help the victims of this oppression? The answer for me is not really. Donald Trump is another controversial topic because of his candidancy for President. Trump has not been very low key about his intentions as President especially regarding things like illegal immigrants from Mexico, women, and others. So naturally people have been protesting Trump. Once again, do I think these protests are effective? No, I really don’t. Let me explain why.

The problems that people perceive with the police and Trump are real. It may not be real to everybody but real enough for people to protest them. In my opinion, the protests are great for raising awareness. However, they do no good to actually change the problems. The reason why they don’t change problems is because the protests are directed at the wrong people. For starters, Trump isn’t even president yet, he has no real legal power. So clearly protesting him won’t change anything because he knows that people will hate him. As for the police protests, lets remember who’s in charge of our police. The government, State and Local. In reality, the police only take orders from your top government officials. People like Mayors, Governors, Police Commissioners. The police are merely following their orders and training.

My point is that protesting these pawns in a grander scheme of government is not going to be the most effective way. So you might ask who should I direct my anger torwards?  If anything, you should direct torward elected and appointed government officials. They produced and enforced all these policies that may add to the perceived racism or systematic injustice. If you don’t realize already, the world is not run by normal everyday people like you and me. Its run by elites. Elites are not just rich or wealthy. Elites hold 90 percent of the wealth and 99 percent of the world power. Many elites are government officials or serve in the US Congress. There is a handful of rich families about 300 of them. These families control all politicians all over the world. Just look up illumati or 300 wealthiest families. Trust me, Elites run this planet.

Once you realize that elites are the true power holders, then you can see why protesting these lower level pawns is useless. If you want real change befriend someone with power in government who has influence. Martin Luther King Jr was able to do this and achieved some amazing things. There is nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in. I think its better to not waste your time and talent on protesting two things that don’t really hold any power to change.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to subscribe and watch my podcast on my youtube channel: Garrett’s Life Experience’s Blog.

General Election: Political Superbowl

As we approach June, the end of the primary season is near. There are two leading candidates whose nominations are in line without any major incidents. The primaries are always different than the general election. The primaries tend to sieve out issues in both parties. These headline issues then morph into the broader fights in the general election. On the Republican side, there is a lot of turbulence because of Donald Trump’s surprising run at the nomination. In some ways, the Republicans have splinter into different groups varying in support of Trump. It has revealed the establishment republicans haven’t been able to come to a consensus about any candidate. In the process, they have made room for a candidate like Trump. In an exact opposite reality, the Democrat’s have found their candidate in Hillary Clinton. Clinton has successfully talk down her baggage as Secretary of State. The Democratic establishment is firmly behind her despite the resurgent and popular Bernie Sanders.

(Pictured Above:By Abraham Lincoln, digital reproduction by George Chriss (GChriss). With prior publication, the Emancipation Proclamation, the most famous Executive Order became effective 1-January-1863. – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1627541)

This is post is more of an introduction to general elections. I have in previous posts written about different aspects of general elections, like the Electoral College.  I enjoy minute details of elections because its an interesting statistical study of the American voter population. The way that different people vote of different socioeconomic background, origins and biological sex. There is even regional bias that show up in the voter data. The voter base has changed dramatically since beginning of America. George Washington was elected strictly by white, landowning, men. A war hero like Washington is actually an common feature among Presidents especially before the 20th century. (1900) Over the years, the voting process has changed dramatically. After the civil war, free blacks were allowed to vote, however, Jim Crow laws in the South prevent many from actually doing so. Then in 1919, women’s suffrage was achieved throughout the US. This dramatically changed the way that Americans voted. The 1920s and beyond saw women gain a voice in politics and in the workforce.

Forty some years later, Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Voting rights act which made Jim Crow laws illegal. Unfortunately, some of the Southern state courts have rejected parts of this act. Voter suppression is a real problem among black and minority voters in the south. The most common form is now through voter id. Recently, I believe in Alabama, they closed all but 4 DMV offices so that voters could not easily get IDs. This type of voter suppression and the change in population by ethnic origin creates an ever changing statistical analysis of the American people. For example, the increase of Hispanics via immigration has created a large Latino bloc of voters. This changes the dynamic of who becomes president.

In my title, I refer to the general election as the political Superbowl. The general election certainly holds the most gravity in the American political sphere. Not only does the leader of the Free World get elected, so does most of congress. I have often stressed that voting is so important as a civic duty. Part of the reason is that congress seats are just as important as the presidency if not more so! The general election may be the Superbowl because of the presidential candidates, but the playoffs would be the congressional elections. These state wide elections hold greater consequences for the American people than the president.

Let me explain why the Presidential election is overrated and why you should be concerned who your state’s senator or house of representatives are. Its actually an simple explanation because if you know how our government operates then you can see it. As you probably know, the legislative branch writes and passes the laws. The executive branch executes them and makes sure they are being imposed in every state. The Supreme Court makes sure the laws are followed correctly and thanks to Alex Hamilton and John Marshall are constitution visa via Judicial Review. The legislative branch or Congress makes everything that government does, happen. They approve the budgets, increase and decrease taxes, declare wars, confirm appointments and etc etc. The President’s job has expanded but it remains simply to sign laws, veto laws, push for new laws, and be the Commander and Chief.

So if you are worried that Hillary or Trump might be the worst President ever just remember that their presidential fortunes are tied to the ambitions of Congress. Now if you follow politics closely there has been some outrage about executive orders. I can’t say that I blame Obama because house republicans tend to block everything. However, executive orders are not like martial law or above the constitution. Executive orders can be challenged by the Supreme Court. You can rest easy knowing that no President has unlimited power. Checks and balances are a wonderful thing. Each branch of government can be checked by another. Now I realize that Trump and Clinton don’t strike many people as favorable candidates.

You can also bet that Congress will be the opposite party of the elected Presidential candidate. Its almost inevitable that if Hillary Clinton is elected that she will deal with an Republican controlled senate and house of representatives. The same is true for Trump, he will deal with a Democratic senate and house of representatives. In rare cases of overwhelming sentiment there has been a same party President and Congress. More importantly, my point is that Congress controls what laws are made and passed. So unless your like me and your voting for Gary Johnson, then remember to focus on those congresspeople.

Despite who you vote for, just remember that Congress has the power. They are the engine that makes our government go. The President is just an enforcer and voice for foreign relations. So my point is that the general election has the hype of a Superbowl because of the Presidential election but the Congressional elections are the playoffs that really count in the clutch. I want to quickly go back to foreign relations, I have not written a whole ton of foreign relations posts because usually its a general election issue. I have a quite in depth knowledge of international relations. In the future, I will definitely be looking at foreign relations and how the candidates should act as President. The wildcard will be Trump because we have not seen him in such a role. At least with Hillary her stint as Secretary of State can clue us into what her foreign relations might look like.

Stay tuned for more foreign relations and election analysis. Thanks for reading!

 

Government Intervention: The problematic solve all solution.

I had a thought the other day about how both political parties tend to call in more government to help solve complex societal problems. It occurred to me that government intervention has become a popular solution to many problems. Bernie Sanders campaign is probably  most guilty of trying solve problems with government intervention. However, every other candidate proposes at least some government intervention. What do I mean by government intervention? Well, its a fairly broad meaning phrase because government could mean any branch or department. Intervention is the operative word because essentially the government gets involved in or takes over an program or problem and tries to fix it. There is a relatively short history to government intervention as we know it today.

You can go back to ancient times to find a government intervening when its not really supposed to. However, for the sake time and word count, I want to start with the New Deal put forward by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The New Deal was constructed via Congress to help the country through the Great Depression in 1929 through the mid 1930s. I believe that it was necessary at the time. However, hindsight being 20/20, it was actually World War 2 that got us out of that depression. (Just remember that once World War 2 officially started, the US switched its economy to war production. For example, Car companies made Jeeps and Tanks) The New Deal is still important even today because it gave us things like Social Security and National Parks.

The Great Society was pushed through Congress by Lyndon B. Johnson in the mid 1960s. This landmark bundle of legislation was the start of things like public housing, voting rights act, federal education funding and the war on poverty. The Great Society was hailed by some as the second New Deal. Most of the Great Society still is in existence today. However, now its has taken quite a bit further. For example, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first passed it just helped grade schools and gave funding for schools. Now this act has turned into a loan program for college.  Funding for grade schools now is most by taxpayers and education subsidizes based on things like common core.  Some of Great Society has also been repeal or stripped down. Unfortunately, one of the best pieces of legislation was the Voting Rights Act. It give colored minorities the right to vote. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court reversed some of the provisions in the act. This has allowed states to discriminate voters.

The New Deal and Great Society are both examples of government intervention. Another modern example is the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare). Once again, this law mandates everyone get insurance otherwise they will be penalized. My point in explaining all this legislation is that government intervention can take many different forms. It can touch a variety of topics and issues. If history teaches us anything about broad sweeping government intervention its that its not very successful. You can find examples like Social Security going broke and the repeal of provisions in the Voting Act. Even in the war on poverty has struggled to truly help those impoverished. So what is the problem you ask?

I’m glad you asked. The problem is not that the government tries to help. The problem is that government is bad at helping. Especially now with our web of bureaucrats who pass most of the laws and create most of the policy. The decision makers in government are not usually experts on the problem or issue they are trying to fix. This is a problem because for example take education. (I was nearly a teacher at one time) When the Department of Education decide to push Common Core on schools there was some major problems. The first problem is that it tied teachers performance to test scores. The tests were way too hard for the students. The system was implemented too fast and both teachers and students suffered. Of course, the creators of common core were not teachers but textbook executives and other government officials. As a result, now the Common Core has faced vast criticism and will soon be repealed.

As you can see in education, the government just is not good at fixing things. A better solution to higher performing schools would been through the local districts. Each local school district knows its students and their needs. The teachers of that local school district should have decided the curriculum best fit for their school. In addition to that, the legality of Common core is questionable because the constitution leaves education to states under the 10th amendment. Government intervention can also be questionable from a legal standpoint. The same type of legal questions come up with Obamacare. The Supreme Court did rule in favor of the healthcare law. However, my point is that government intervention isn’t necessary the best answer for every problem.

Now I want to explain quickly why I think today’s politicians especially ones running for president are using too much government intervention. The simple answer is that we already have too much government in our business. The long answer is that government intervention has already tried to solve many of the problems and failed. You have to admit its insane to keep trying the same thing and expecting a different result. Let’s use our vast intellectual resources to solve problems. For example, many democratic candidates want to raise minimum wage to help the poor. But what these candidates ignore is the fact that minimum wage actually hurts the poor more than it helps. Why not ask an economist if its actually a good idea?

Another example: Republicans want to stop illegals from coming here. I don’t really think a wall is going to work, Donald. I think a better solution that is also bipartisan would be to grant amnesty to upstanding immigrants. Then once those immigrants are citizens give them some higher taxes. Our tax code already discriminates so there is really no difference. Extra taxes means more money for our government to waste plus it might deter some people from even wanting to come here. Many European countries have much tougher immigration policies based on ethnicity. So why not make ours economically tough?

Like I titled this post, I feel that government intervention is a problematic solution. Government may have the resources and power to solve problems but it has none of the knowledge and experience. I guess its a bit of an irony. Just remember before you consider voting for a candidate who wants a lot of government based programs that government isn’t very good at running things. Usually a government program is more expensive and time consuming. Government’s job is just enforce laws and regulate. I think our government has overstretch its bounds.

Thanks for reading!

Points of View, Hate vs. Criticism

Recently I have been actively posting political articles and pictures on Facebook. The fact I would even bother to do such a thing, would just mean I’m asking for it. The reason I do it is similar to reasons why I write this blog. I want to educate people about these politicians who become demigods. It happens with both sides. Trump has his flaws plaster all over every news outlet known to mankind. Meanwhile Hillary is constantly avoiding her baggage and corruption. I tend to get the most flack for posting articles or commenting about Bernie Sanders and his baggage. All politicians are liars, its what they do. I feel like many people feel that Bernie is somehow different from every other politician. I got news for you. He not special by any stretch of the imagination. Politics are a dirty game. Despite my personal feelings on Sanders, I can say with confidence that if he was as truthful as people think he is, then he would not be in this presidential race. He would have dropped out in December.

My point as my title indicates is that points of view is an important facet of politics. Politics is similar to sports because sometimes the passion of the supporters overshadows the bigger picture. Personally, I don’t hate any candidate. I don’t hate Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz. They are all humans and have made mistakes. I get that their not perfect nor ever will be. However, I do like to criticize their platforms and policy positions. I think the beauty of American politics is that you openly criticize and question any candidate. Just because a person criticizes and constantly asks questions about a candidate or many candidates it doesn’t mean they hate them or are against them. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t vote for any of them, yet they all have SOME positives if they were to win the presidency.

Let’s get right to the article that actually spurred this post and my last post. The article was very well written. I encourage you to read it right now. The name of the article is “Bernie Sanders is Lying about Race and Here’s Proof.” The author does an amazing job and putting together all the necessary numbers to prove his statement and position wrong. Initially when I read it, I was just so amazed on how much I didn’t realize. It was a very educational article.

Here is an excerpt about the statistics straight from the Department of Justice:

Bernie has made it clear time and time again that police brutality is a race issue, but is that true?

Police killed more white people than any other race in 2015. A total 385 white people have been killed by police this year, and 66 of them were unarmed at the time of their death.

To be fair, a look at per capita shows that blacks may be more likely to be killed by police. Police killed almost five black people per every million black residents of the U.S., compared with about 2 per million for both white and Hispanic victims.

Is that all because of racism? Not necessarily.

Despite making up just 13% of the population, blacks commit over half of homicides in the United States. DOJ statistics show that between 1980 and 2008, blacks committed 52% of homicides, compared to 45% of homicides committed by whites.

Though the amount of blacks being persecuted by cops appears over-represented due to blacks representing 13% of the population, it’s the opposite when you factor in violent crime offenders. Given that whites and blacks commit a similar amount of violent crime by percentage – though blacks commit much more per capita – you would expect that the amount of police brutality to be the same. This is not the case; in fact whites are nearly twice as likely to be victims of police brutality based on the numbers.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, between 1999 and 2011, 2,151 whites died as a result of being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks.

Its actually pretty crazy to realize that even though blacks commit more crime its actually white people who have been affected by police brutality more often. Even with percentages its about same in committed crimes. I think the author also gives some good criticism of Sanders too. However, does not offer a solution and that is something I might be able to do.

Another excerpt:

Bernie’s continual pandering to Black Lives Matter racist campaign does absolutely nothing to help blacks or whites. It’s simply removing the locus of control from black individuals, so that they can blame everything on whites.

….

The government has been the greatest force to prevent blacks from getting out of poverty and doing well: 

“The economic milieu in which the War on Poverty arose is noteworthy. As of 1965, the number of Americans living below the official poverty line had been declining continuously since the beginning of the decade and was only about half of what it had been fifteen years earlier. Between 1950 and 1965, the proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level, had decreased by more than 30%. The black poverty rate had been cut nearly in half between 1940 and 1960. In various skilled trades during the period of 1936-59, the incomes of blacks relative to whites had more than doubled. Further, the representation of blacks in professional and other high-level occupations grew more quickly during the five years preceding the launch of the War on Poverty than during the five years thereafter.

The author is exactly right. I suggest you read the whole article. Now I want to offer a short solution. Also I want to point out how criticizing Sanders doesn’t equal hating on him. This article is a respectable and scholarly piece on his policy. The author suggests that there is a few policy areas where the solution can be found. Obviously, the problem has been government and that is the first step. However, just saying “oh let’s get rid of government just so we can replace it with more government” is not a very good solution.

The solution I believe from Economic point of view is one where you slowly eliminate the minimum wage giving companies the freedom and the workers the ability to negotiate the combination of wages and benefits that would be required for both parties. Second, you would want to lower business taxes especially for small business owners. With more money to hire workers and less taxes aka overhead, the prices of goods would stabilize. Let the free market decide what the price is using simple supply and demand. It could benefit both the consumer and the worker. Let’s remember that a reduction in taxes like I am suggesting here would require some major cuts to the federal budget, most of which could come from wasteful spending and extra military spending.

The solution I believe from an social/ criminal justice point of view is a little more complicated. I think the first step is De-militarize and get the politics out of police departments. One way to do this would be to privatize certain aspects of the police force. The bureaucracy (government officials) should control the statistics and filing. However, the actual policing could be hired out. The regulations would have to disallow in my opinion, things like quotas, discrimination, bribes, bets…etc.etc. The police would have to be held accountable for their actions. Which I believe if the actual patrols are privately paid officers this would open them up to government investigation and scrutiny if there is wrongdoing. Less back door deals and more transparency. Point is more transparency and communication between government and police. A set of checks and balances regulation would be best.

I think that socially, we need to even the playing field by getting rid of policies that favor either race or origin. Maybe even strength anti-discrimination laws with the exception of affirmative action. I believe that merit and actions should decide who gets jobs and who gets put in jail. A merit based system would benefit those who are careful to avoid wrongdoing.

This solution is not something that could implemented right away. It could take years for it to come to fruition. If society can just accept that all people are equals then we can eliminate all the need for things like Black Lives Matter. I think one of the consequences of 9/11 is a more intense police force especially in cities. The tensions between races and religious have polarized the world. I sort of elude to this in another recent post.

One of the unfortunate things about Bernie and Hillary is that their policies tend to hurt minorities. They even undermine the efforts of those minorities to gain an equal footing. The fact is that minorities will vote for these policies thinking they are helpful. Its pretty sad to think about. The worst kind of discrimination is the kind you can’t see. Many call it White Privilege. I think that one way to prevent unseen discrimination is just to be fair to everyone. Treat everyone the same way you would want to be treated. If you are hiring people for a job, just remember how you got hired. There is no reason to judge someone on sexual orientation, origin, religion or race. Judge them on their work effort, their resume, their experience.  Its all  about the criticism of merit NOT the hate of race or origin!

Thanks for reading, I know its longer than usual!

King of the Hill- The scandalous Hillary Clinton

The email scandal, Benghazi, cheating husband, and questionable morals. All these are synonymous with Hillary Clinton. Clinton is best known because of her husband Bill Clinton who was president from 1993 to 1999. Bill also served as Arkansas’ governor before becoming president. Hillary Clinton adopted to public life during her roles as first lady then later as a senator of New York and most recently secretary of state. Now she wants to be president.  According her website, here, in her bio it says she was born in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois into a middle class family. She become a lawyer going to Wellesley college and eventually graduating from Yale Law. She has this great name recognition and popularity (Not the good kind) that makes her a legitimate candidate for president.

In this post I want to discuss her platform similar to my Rand Paul post and Bernie Sanders post. I want to avoid bashing her for her many scandals that seem to have the media’s attention.  I believe that ultimately her campaign isn’t helped by so many devious actions. I think her worst problem is that she avoids talking about it or admitting wrong doing. Its been proven by so many famous people who admitted it and served time in punishment can help retain respectability. Just look at Tiger Woods, Michael Vick and even Bill Clinton. Granted, that stigma will always be there, for example, Mike Vick recently was cause of a pet shelter pulling out of an event at Heinz field because of his dogfighting charges. (Here’s the story) But my point is here all of Hillary’s so-called baggage is just one aspect of her whole candidacy. I do believe that we need a president who can be honest and candid about what is happening. Transparency is so important in government.

Hillary Clinton is currently leading  Bernie Sanders according to many polls. However, Bernie is surging. Her platform is also on her website. She lays out four main headings under the title of “Four Fights”. The heading I want to look at first is “Building an economy for tomorrow” and it encompasses a lot of different issues in the economy.  When you first scroll down you see quote that she recently said. Then you see a chart, which shows the years on the horizontal from 1950 to 2010. On the vertical, it shows the cumulative percent change since 1948. See the featured image with the red arrows. The chart is supposedly if you can’t read the small writing, it’s from April 26th, 2012 from the Economic Policy Institute. (Link) It interesting to look at chart despite the fact it’s nearly 4 years out of date. If anything I am sure that the gap has not decreased but got a little bit wider. Quite simply, the chart shows that as wages increase so does productivity. Besides the fact it is out of date, the only problem I have is that increasing wages does not always mean more productivity. Also you have to consider what the business is doing and how an increased wage affects their revenue.

I added the red arrows. They point to the date the chart was supposedly made . Also the source its from.

I added the red arrows. They point to the date the chart was supposedly made . Also the source its from.

The chart brings me to the always controversial minimum wage fight. Her website does not go into specifics like Bernie Sanders and his 15 dollars an hour.  However, she argues in four point that wages should be higher with tax relief and protection for unions. The typical democratic platform with nothing out of ordinary. I could make the same argument I did with Bernie Sanders. However, I want to focus another part that comes as you scroll down the page. The college debt which she accurate claims is around 1.1 trillion dollars is something very closely related to me. As a recent college graduate I feel that college costs are out of control. In this part of the page she combines college costs, healthcare, child care and retirement. The basis being that she wants to cut costs in both healthcare and college costs. While also improving child care and making sure retirement is possible. No specifics on how she plans to do any of this.

However, coming back to college costs, Hillary did announce a plan earlier this year.  Her plan which is called the New College Compact which involves 350 billion dollars over 10 years by supposedly cutting tax deductions. This plan sounds great at first. it seems a little scary because the tax deductions that might get cut could be critical. I just hope if she’s elected that she does not screw over the middle class with tax increases. The only problem with cutting college costs is that usually that responsibility falls on the taxpayers instead of the student. Any candidate who proposes a plan should definitely consider that putting too much tax weight on taxpayers could have huge consequences. So a plan affording college should ideally come from somewhere else in the massive federal budget. The rest of the page on the economy is small businesses and corporations. I would definitely recommend reading for yourself.

Another one of four fights is called revitalizing our democracy. In this fight, Clinton takes a really great stance on issues of bipartisanship, voting rights and money in politics. All of these issues are big time problems within American politics. The fact that she is able recognize this is a good sign. She endorses working with conservatives to make sure things get done. One thing that I really like is that she wants to repair the voting rights act. The supreme court recently took a nice chunk of the legislation out. This was a huge to minority voters especially in the southern states. I strong believe that all races, origins, creeds and sexual orientations should be able to vote freely without ID or any sort of harassment. It’s absurd to call America a democracy when some people have restricted voting rights. For those who fell asleep in history class here is a brief breakdown how the voting rights act got passed.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the greatest civil rights leaders known in the US. He was able to fight for the rights of minorities everywhere. He changed the social and politic landscape alike. Due to peaceful activism and lobbying, he was able to gain the ear of then President Lyndon B. Johnson during the mid 1960s.  One of LBJ’s missions as president was to pass a sweeping domestic legislation package known as the Great Society. LBJ was a new dealer of his time with intentions similar to that Franklin D. Roosevelt during the depression and oncoming world war. LBJ’s Great Society include many pieces of legislation including the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act, Public Housing Act, and the voting rights act. This landmark legislation was LBJ life’s work. He came up through the senate and house of representatives as minority and majority leader. He learned the secrets of passing laws in congress and was able to use that knowledge as President. When Martin Luther King Jr. and his posse met with LBJ they were able to work out details of the voting rights act. The act gave all black men and women the right to vote. The southern states since after civil war had made a set of laws called Jim Crow laws. These discriminated against minorities especially blacks. The voting rights act superseded the state law of Jim Crow. This act was lobbied for by Martin Luther King Jr and considered of LBJ’s accomplishments as President.

My point is that I love that Hillary wants to repair the voting rights act. She may not act honest and open about her own devious actions but at least she has decency to make America a real democracy. Everyone who is 18 and registered to vote should be able to do so. I can’t stress the importance of voting. Its your civic duty and the least you can do. The advent of social media and internet has elections easier than ever to learn about the candidates. Please vote. Another thing relating to voting and elections is the spending involved. It’s literally crazy expensive to run for president as legitimate candidate. A candidate needs at least minimum a billion dollars whether that’s through fundraising or their own money. That is ridiculous if you ask me.

Hillary advocates for campaign finance reform and a cut in corruption. I strongly agree. I would take this a step further and make all political positions volunteer. Let’s be honest, how can the average joe compete with billionaires that have resources beyond the wildest imagination. If each position of President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Treasurer, House of Representative, and senate are all volunteer along with fundraising only not personal money. I would love to see how many billionaires win. Not many. Plus without the salary, benefits and perks the government would run much more cost effectively. The truly best candidates would win. The taxpayers already pay for everything so whatever expenses that are incurred can be picked up. it will be much less than it is now.

Hillary Clinton’s website is certainly interesting. I would definitely recommend reading all of the four fights. Whether you are republican, democrat or independent.  Surprisingly, Hillary offers some good insight about what America needs. Her vagueness is what really makes me worry. The real question is what she will do once she has the country’s purse strings in her hand. Our national debt is ever-increasing. Any candidate has to be careful about spending. Overall I would say that her website is pretty much standard for most politicians. If Hillary is elected, she will be the first ever woman president.

Thank you for reading! Next article coming in a few days as my birthday is on Labor Day.