On the Basis of Democracy: John Locke, Part 2.

Welcome to Part 2 of on the Basis of Democracy with John Locke. If you missed Part 1, you should read that first. The purpose of this blog post is to simply figured out the origins of Democracy and how it works within our American democracy. In Part 1, I went over some of the ideas of democracy from Aristotle. Political theory is a pretty easy theory to follow because each political philosopher usually builds off philosopher’s of time past. Therefore, the more ancient political scholarship you understand, the more modern/current political thoughts you can understand. In Part 2, we will be discussing John Locke and his ideas on democracy.

Who is John Locke? He is an english born political philosopher. Born in the early 1600s. He was influenced by Aristotle. Locke has a deep range of writings. He is often considered to be one of the fathers of the enlightenment. Similar to part 1, I won’t give a full biography but go to straight to Locke’s ideas about democracy. Starting from his first writing and going forward, Locke’s main premise is the consent of the governed. In his first writing called “Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina”.  In this piece, Locke and his mentor, wrote a constitution meant for the Providence of Carolina in England. It was never adopted. However, the ideas that he mentioned became the basis of political philosophy going forward.

The most influential of Locke’s writings came in his Two Treatises of Government. Instead of trying to paraphrase his great words, I will just show you. Then I will explain how the founding fathers use Locke’s ideas especially in the Declaration of Independence. Here is just a few excerpts of Locke’s Two Treatises of Government:

Sect. 95. MEN being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent. The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any, that are not of it. This any number of men may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are left as they were in the liberty of the state of nature. When any number of men have so consented to make one community or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.

Sect. 96. For when any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority: for that which acts any community, being only the consent of the individuals of it, and it being necessary to that which is one body to move one way; it is necessary the body should move that way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority: or else it is impossible it should act or continue one body, one community, which the consent of every individual that united into it, agreed that it should; and so every one is bound by that consent to be concluded by the majority. And therefore we see, that in assemblies, impowered to act by positive laws, where no number is set by that positive law which impowers them, the act of the majority passes for the act of the whole, and of course determines, as having, by the law of nature and reason, the power of the whole.

If you want to read more of Locke: Click here.

Locke’s main point is that the governed hold the power of the government. Locke believes that a government cannot operate without the consent of the government. This is a basis of democracy. The reason why Locke believes that the consent of the governed is so important is because of the freedom or liberty that it offers. If the government is ruled by the people it can prevent tyrants and better rule the people. Locke is also coming from a monarchy in England and in a time when the dark ages we’re not that far off. In the dark ages, it was a small oligarchy who wealthy that ruled over the poor and working class who had no say. Locke’s ideas are perhaps best expressed in Thomas Jefferson’s document.

Thomas Jefferson was a philosopher in his own right. Jefferson also understood that Locke’s philosophy fit perfectly with the American cause for revolution. If you didn’t pay attention in history class then you want to know to that one of the rallying cries was “no taxation no representation”. The American people were clamoring for representation in the British parliament. The unilateral rule of the British Monarchy over the American colony was directly what John Locke was trying to get at. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson took a page for Locke and wrote this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Thomas Jefferson essentially took Locke’s words and used it as a justification for the revolution of the American people. Locke’s vision for democracy did not just end with Jefferson but kept going. Locke’s idea that the consent of governed is needed in democracy still holds true today. Unfortunately, in today’s America we have gotten lazy. We seem to have ignored the fact that our democracy is supposed represent the people. Many people blame our representatives. We should look at the majority of governed who don’t vote. I think in a very indirect way, Locke is also advocating for participation in government. I feel that political participation has gone down as politics has become more polarizing.

We can blame Trump. We can blame Hillary. We blame our politicans. However, I think that democracy in the words of Locke lies with “the consent of the governed.” I think to wrap up this series, I want to just conclude a few major considerations for the basis of democracy. One basis that Aristotle outlined is the authority over aduits. In other words, Aristotle thought that the people should hold purse strings and keep the government accountable. Aristotle gave us a second basis that is the foundation of our judicial system. The right to a fair trial with a jury of your peers. Locke gives us the basis of the consent of the governed. The theory that democracy should always be run by the people and for the people. The majority of people should have the power to control the government. This means everyone must vote. Everyone must participate. These are the three main bases of democracy as written by Aristotle and John Locke.

This will be end of this series for now. I may continue it with different philosophers at another time. Below you will find my sources especially for the quoted stuff. Thank you for reading!

Citations:

https://www.johnlocke.org/about-john-locke/who-is-john-locke/

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/7370/7370-h/7370-h.htm

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

 

 

 

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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. 

 

Economic Series Part 2: Government Budget: Taxation and Spending

The most dreaded time of year is when everyone must file their taxes. Taxes are certain like death. Taxes are a necessary evil. To many people it seems that our taxes do very little for our own interests. Taxes are supposed to help the people who pay them but rather they seem to help special interests or people who don’t pay them. The responsible party of handing our taxes is the government. The IRS is the collector, Congress is the spender. I believe that this Economic Series Part 2 is probably one of the more important topics. This part will be a sort of contextual background for the last part of this series on GDP. (Gross Domestic Product) I think its very important to understand how the government balances or fails to balance the budget. The topic I choose is quite broad. However, I want to focus on why taxes are collected and how they are spent. I also want to point out how the national debt is growing and what we might do to stop it.

My own view on government taxation and spending is very much libertarian. I believe the government should spend as little as possible. This way our taxes are not the burden they have become. Government spending tends to go to ineffective programs and usually becomes wasteful. I think the best way to understand the federal government budget is by understanding some of the history behind. The creation of our federal budget and tax system was mostly implemented by one man. Alexander Hamilton is the responsible person for most our budget system.  If you remember from history class there was a lot of rebellion and distrust among the citizens of our new country. Many of Hamilton’s critics thought he wanted to become a pawn of the British or king of America through a tight relationship with England. Luckily for us, Hamilton’s set up turned out to be brilliant, and was kept in place until now.

One of the first ways that Hamilton helped set up the federal budget was by creating an import and customs service. It was necessary because when Hamilton became the secretary of treasury, the US had a war debt due to the revolution. In order to pay this war debt off, Hamilton created what is now the Coast Guard. He also set up customs and import agents along the ports. These agents were to collect the duties on the imports to America. The duties or tariffs were basically a tax on imported goods. This was the main source of income for the federal government after the Revolution. Another piece of the system that Hamilton created was the banking system. Hamilton realized that the US need a national bank. In part because of the debt and in part because of the wide range of currencies that existed among the former colonies. The Bank of America (similar to the one we have now) was created. Congress wrote a charter for it and it opened up by selling shares. These shares is how the bank made its money. The controversy came when it lead a lot money speculating among men who wanted to risk an investment in the bank.

The Bank of America also set up a line of credit for the federal government. This is was necessary because in order to pay back the war debt the US would need to take out a loan. Hence this created what we call credit. Hamilton’s system was much criticized by Republicans like Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. One of Hamilton’s primary supporters was actually George Washington. With increasing responsibility due to the growing population and turmoil in France, the US needed to increase its revenue. Hamilton proposed and got a whiskey tax passed. This whiskey tax would put a small tax on whiskey and liquor. This lead to the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. Hamilton himself lead a rather big militia to help quell this protest.

Hamilton’s role in the banking, budget and tax collection in the US is monumental. It is often forgotten that he nearly created the whole system by himself. An impressive feat. It wasn’t until the 16th amendment that make income tax a thing in the US. This was passed in 1913 long after Hamilton’s death. Woodrow Wilson brought us into the modern era of taxes with the 16th amendment and the Federal Reserve Act. The Federal Reverse Act created the Fed as its usually called. The Federal Reserve Act basically moderates the US dollar according to the economic conditions. It also prints and controls the US dollar. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve is mostly privatized. You may have heard the phrase “Audit the Fed” from politicians like Rand and Ron Paul. The problem is essentially, the Fed is undermining the US dollar and devaluing it. The Fed has its own agenda and nobody except the Fed knows what that agenda is. (Another post, another day)

Now in 2016, after over 200 years running our government, we find ourselves in 19 trillion-dollar debt. What could have gone wrong since Hamilton? The answer is hard to pinpoint. However, my working theory is that after War World 2, during the cold war, we started to spend more and more on defense. Defense spending became out of control and the Department of Defense was not held accountable. The DoD was allowed to “cook the books” on their budget numbers. Some estimates that I’ve seen put our spending during the Cold War at 16 trillion dollars. I would encourage you to check the national debt clock that shows our debt in real-time. It breaks down the debt into categories. The national debt being so high is due to overzealous spending and lack of accountability in the government.

As for a breakdown in spending and what we spend our tax money on. I found a nice infographic that shows how we spend our federal budget. It focuses on how the debt is effected by certain factors like raising and lowering taxes. You should definitely check it out right now. It’s from the Congressional Budget Office, a government agency. I think that paying taxes is obviously important however, I believe that some of our tax dollars are wasted. One of things that needs to happen is for the federal government to cut spending. Unfortunately, we don’t hold our government accountable for the money that it spends. A good analogy is like when you take your parents credit card and go on shopping spree. Your parents may give you the credit card with a reasonable expectation of what you will be spending it on.  Instead though, you spend it without any kind regard for how much or on what. Imagine if your parents never held you accountable for spending all their money. They would probably go bankrupt in most cases because without restrictions, then what’s the point of spending less?

This is how the federal government and taxpayer relationship basically works. The federal government is you as teenager with a parent’s credit card. The taxpayers are the parents. As taxpayers we are pretty irresponsible parents. We don’t hold our government accountable for their actions in spending money. The tragedy is that the US is in big trouble because of reckless government spending. The 19 trillion-dollar deficit is almost an insurmountable sum of money. Rather than discussing who is to blame for the problem, I think its more productive to discuss how to remedy it. The blame can be distributed to many people and government agencies. The blame can be put on US foreign policy too. However, there is a relatively easy and pain-free way to help cut the deficit and still keep our standard of living intact without raising taxes sky-high.

There are two primary solutions that I feel would work to greatly reduce our debt. One of those is a simple cut in unecesary government programs and spending. One of our biggest expenses is the military budget as you can see below:2016-budget-chart-total-spending2

So just imagine if we pulled back most of military troops from abroad and cut most of the unecessary research and development budet. I would only cut about half of the military budget. At nearly 634 billion dollars, let’s cut it down to 300 billion. The 300 billion left for the military would go towards the salaries of personnel mostly and all the war material necessary. In the case of an attack on us or our allies, then obviously the money could be restored. So where would that 334 billion that I cut off go to?

Take a look at the pie chart again. 60 precent of our budget is spend on healthcare and social security. Social Security, by the way is going bankrupt. So let’s put 334 billion into both of those. Approximately 150 billion to each service. In addtion, lets cut off the foreign aid to other countries and add another 30 billion to the pot. So imagine over eight years during just one president for two terms, with approximately 165 billion dollars going to sinking welfare programs. So in 8 years, the US would put nearly 2.6 trillion dollars into those welfare programs. You could even take a step further, take about 2 billion or 3 billion out of the 364 billion and put that into higher education. You could pay off the loans of all students each year. Just think about all this, this is just cutting the military budget by half. Which by the way, is nearly 10 times as big as the next country’s military budget.

My other option, which I have written about before and have over time, really have come to like is Basic Income. You should definitely read my post on Basic Income. I will explain in short, that Basic Income is basically a replacement for welfare. You cut all social programs including medicare and medicaid. Cut minimum wage. Cut everything related to social security.  Instead you give everyone over the age of 18 a check from the government for a certain amount each month. Now just imagine if we did as I describe in my basic income post and we cut the military budget. I truly believe that the effect of both of these actions could lower taxes and help eliminate the deficit.

The taxation and government budget problems are ones of responsibility and accountability. This in part comes from the lack of education how the taxes and spending work within the government. I hope that my brief explanation can help clear up some of the confusion and misunderstanding about how taxes and government budgets work. I mentioned that this series post prefaces my next topic of Gross Domestic Product. Its important to note that GDP is calculated without the input and outputs of the government. The government spending money on military war material and other research does not count towards GDP. This is a very significant fact in that it strongly affects the GDP numbers. As you will find out in my next post that GDP only measures the input of labor and the output of production by the private sector.

I would encourage you to research more outside of my post. Its a very interesting topic. Thank you for reading! Have a great day!

 

Colin Kaepernick: Oppressive Irony?

I love football. It is my favorite sport. I have been a diehard Jets fans for nearly 20 years now. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently made headlines for something not football related. I love football, however when a player or players bring politics into it. I have a problem. You might say why not politics in football or what’s the problem he was doing something right! To preface my take on Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand during the national anthem. I want to say something about the NFL and politics.

The NFL and politics have long been intertwined. The NFL is the beneficiary of politics that promote economic growth. The NFL is worth over 9 billion dollars. Local and state governments both help facilitate NFL teams and their ability to operate within their state and city. Even the federal government loves football, in the 1970s, the NFL was able to get non-profit status. Usually reserve for charities and churches, the NFL runs like any for-profit business. Under the non-profit tag, they receive huge tax breaks. The NFL with the help of the government also has a monopoly on its brand. With no anti-trust laws restricting it. So you could say the NFL has benefited politically. The way stadiums are built and teams are supported is through taxpayer money. The politics around the NFL center on economics. So why do I have a problem with Kaepernick?

My problem is that Kaepernick took political stance during an NFL game. There’s a saying that goes “don’t mix sports and politics”. The reason for this saying is that politics is real life issue and it tends to divide people and takes away from the fun of the game. If you go to an NFL game or watch it on tv then you probably aren’t interested in the political views of the players or coaches. In addition, I think it’s a little ironic that Kaepernick who has contract worth approximately 114 million dollars to trying to fight oppression. I applaud him for realizing that oppression is a real thing and that it exists. However, I find his sit down to be less effective. Sure, he has brought nationwide publicity to the issue. That’s still not enough to fix it.

Oppression or the feeling of oppression is a common thing among minorities. The best way to fight it, is by being fair to everyone. Helping people out by doing charity work or donating money. I hope the irony isn’t lost on Kaepernick that he has the ability to make real change. Many people who are oppressed are not rich. The oppressed tend to be poor because they have no influence or because of their sexuality. Typically money gives one influence, but in historical cases your skin color matters more. Rather than just sitting down in civil disobedience, Kaepernick should take it a step further. He should donate to charities that help minorities and poor people. Unfortunately for him, civil disobendience in the world of sports is looked down upon. In any other situation, that would be a noble thing to do.

I want to applaud Colin Kaepernick for his motives in sitting down. However, I think he should put his money where his butt is. (pun intended) I think that if he were to donate to charity he would see a lot more good. Standing up for people is one thing but an act of kindness is a totally different thing. Next time he feels the need to put politics into football maybe he should just do it in the offseason, less backlash for him. Just my thought.

Thanks for reading! Part 2 of my economic series is coming soon!

Meddling in the Middle East: Aid Trouble

Before I go into my headline topic on the middle east, I want to just take moment to say that I called the stock market crash and rebound after the Brexit vote last week. After nearly three days of down stocks, the market has returned almost all the losses. Once again I want to reiterate that the long-term economic and political results won’t be seen for at least 3 to 5 years. Now let me switch gears into a very controversial topic that relates to terrorism and the middle east. Today I want to discuss the absurdly of the US foreign policy toward Israel. I also want touch on tragic airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey that was supposedly planned by ISIS. My main focus of this post is to make the point that Israel should be able to accept being an US ally without needing over 50 billion dollars for military aid.

First up, I want to mourn for the victims of the airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a horrible and savage attack. The death toll has reach nearly 50 people with over 200 people injured. I think that its very necessary to use caution especially when traveling abroad. You never know when ISIS will strike. The US response was about as usual as it could be. There isn’t much choice but to strengthen the airport security. It’s very unfortunate for the Turkish people for whom terrorist attacks have been increasing in the past year. You can find part of the reason in the civil war in Syria which continues to raise havoc in the region. Turkey also has some domestic terrorist which are just as bad. Turkey actually relies on tourism for a good part of their economy. Hopefully the Turkish government can take the necessary steps to deter and stop more attacks. They can also thank Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. Unfortunately President Obama and Hillary Clinton conceived a foreign policy that led to the creation of ISIS because of power void. This absence of power is thanks to George W. Bush, however, without a stable government in the area it was pretty much impossible to stop the formation of a terror group.

On the topic of stable governments in the middle east, there is at least one US ally that is not named Saudi Arabia or Jordan. That US ally is also one of the world’s nuclear powers. The small nation of Israel, location centrally in the middle east. A key ally in helping maintain a balance of power in the thick of US hatred. Recently, there was news about the agreements that happen each year between the US and Israel. This time around it seems that President Obama is standing up against Israel. The article highlights the main facts surrounding the Israeli-American defense agreement that sends 50 billion dollars a year of taxpayer to help fund the Israeli military. It also says that Obama wants to cut out his part of the agreement. The agreement also deals with civilian aid and economic aide. For once, I think President Obama is making the right move with Israel and here’s why.

First, no other country gets such special treatment like the Israeli’s do. Not the UK, not France, not anybody. Israel is the only country in the world that gets to spend its US aid on military weapons. Now granted, this policy was formed after World War 2 because of the holocaust and the need to protect the Jewish population. However, its has been a signficant amount of time since then, about 70 years. President Obama correct asserts that Israel should start paying for their own military. Second, it is not fair to the American taxpayers (that’s me and you) to have pay for defense that typically never benefits them. The reason why it never benefits US citizens is because just look at the middle east! It’s a fucking mess. I don’t think Israel has done much to help the situation.

The third problem is that America can no longer afford to keep shoveling 50 billion a year to Israel. We have enough debt as it is. We have a huge military and trust me its enough to defend Israel if its necessary. You might say “Oh but what about Iran, don’t they want to wipe Israel off the map?” Yes, that’s true. However, I think Israel will be fine since they have nuclear weapons and Iran just signed an agreement to not have them. The deterrence factor should come into play here. My problem with this is just about the money. I think the Israeli’s have always been a great ally and never tried to play us or trick us. However, many nations are America’s ally for benefits and many of them do it without 3 billion a year in military.

I am so proud of President Obama. His foreign policy has been characterized as soft and lacking. I think this is a bold move that Israel definitely won’t like but what are they going to do? Obama is so right to play hardball. Obama should absolutely stick up for American taxpayers. I honestly just don’t give shit about how good of ally and let me explain it in simpler terms. For example, let’s say you have two different friends. Both friends you’ve known for 15 years. Both friends provide you the same support and kinship that you love about them. The difference is that one friend only hits you up when they need money. The other friend is always down to pay for their own shit. Israel is like the friend that only hits you up for money. It’s not a very good way to be a friend. If you are only in it for the money!

I don’t want to sound anti-Semitic or anything, but I really think it’s an unnecessary amount of money. America is going through its own economic crisis. This crisis has been brought on in part by the spending of the military industrial complex. Trust me, 16 trillion dollars of our national debt is not just from bailouts and social programs. 16 trillion dollars is the estimation by a great scholar by the name of Paul A.C Koistnen. He is a tremendous scholar whom I gotten advice from. He is an expert on the military industrial complex with about 10 books in publication. I recommend that you read up on him. His estimate of 16 trillion dollars is the amount that the military industrial complex has cost the US since the end of World War 2. That is nearly 76 percent of the national debt. So I just want to end by congratulating President Obama on his good move and I hope that he continues to push to get rid of the 3 billion subsidization.

Thank you for reading!

 

Remembering D-Day: The Beginning of the End

Today is June 6th, 2016. Approximately 72 years ago on June 6th, 1944, the United States started an invasion that would eventually end the war in Europe during World War 2. I want to quickly discuss the upcoming round of primaries before I talk about D-Day. Tomorrow marks the last big round of voting in the primaries. The outcome of New Jersey will likely be the decisive primary that will give Hillary Clinton the nomination. If you haven’t been keeping up on delegate count, Clinton is now  only 26 delegates away from winning the nomination. She needs 2383 delegates to win. She currently has 2357. unfortunately for Bernie and his fans there is a very slim chance for him to win. Barring any major shifts in superdelegates, it looks like Hillary will be the democratic nominee. Many people are still wondering if Hillary’s email scandal will disqualify her from the race. My personal thought is that because of how long this scandal has dragged on, and the fact that everyone in government sort of knew about it, she probably won’t be indicted anytime soon. unfortunately, her broad support from party officials and big money donors will make it harder for her to be pushed out.

That was my quick update on the current election, which you can expect a lot more posts about that in the future. I am looking forward to the debates between the two nominees. The clash of ideas and policies will create an interesting environment for conversation about the direction of the country. In the background of all that, we have all the skeletons that have been dredged up on each candidate. I can’t wait to see what happens. As I aforementioned in my first two sentences, today marks the 72nd anniversary of D-Day. To many people D-Day means almost nothing. If it does mean anything then its just a vague day that happened in World War 2 with beaches. D-Day is actually rather complex and interesting. D-Day was a code word invented by the Allies, namely the Commander of the European Theater: Dwight D. Eisenhower.  He was the mastermind behind the brilliant plan to free Europe from Hitler’s grip.

Instead of recounting the whole back story and everything about D-Day, I will just opt for the most important part. This post could in some way be related to my memorial day post. I want to take some time to honor those soldiers who fought in D-Day. I have read many accounts about landing on those beaches in Normandy. I have watched Saving Private Ryan countless times. (By the way I would recommend watching it, the accuracy of the opening scene is incredible, link here) The bravery, courage and honor that those men showed has not been matched in my opinion since it happened. Not only did they die for their country but they also saved all of Europe and the world. D-Day was the beginning of the end, a turning point.

D-Day was far from a perfect operation. The weather didn’t cooperate and it was actually delayed by nearly a week. The beauty of D-Day was the cooperation of the allies. The US provide most of the war material like tanks, guns, boats, ammo and men. However, the British were instrumental in the positioning of the troops, planes and supplies. D-Day was simple invasion, in terms of how the troops would land. The basic idea was to focus on a small swath of the French coast line with a mass of troops. This overwhelming force could then breakthrough the German defenses and start liberating Europe. I think one of the most interesting things is how the allies successfully deceived Germany about when and where the invasion would take place.

The Germans are well known for their propaganda  during World War 2. In fact, North Korea uses similar tactics with its people today. The Germans were not the only ones that were good at propaganda. The Allies using radio stations in German controlled areas leaked out inaccurate information about an possible attack. Hitler had realized that once the US was in the war after Pearl Harbor that an invasion was possible. However, Hitler thought that he would try to sway the Brits to become Allies with German then take on the US later. Despite the bombing of Britain for nearly 3 straight years due to the toughness of Winston Churchill. The Germans never did get the British to ally with them. Due to the Allied propaganda the Germans had no clue where the attack may take place. The propaganda mislead them into thinking it may be in the south of France or maybe in the north by Denmark or Finland.

The only problem with D-Day for the Nazi’s was that Hitler had just suffered a huge loss at the hands of the Russians. Operation Barbarossa was the invasion of Russia,  this went against an non-aggression pact signed before the war. The failed operation in Russia and huge loss of troops along with broken supply lines. At this time in 1944, the Germans were running low on troops, supplies like oil, ammunition, food. It just so happened that Eisenhower picked the right time to invade. The men that made D-Day so successful really changed the face of war. By the next year in 1945 around April, the allied troops reached Berlin.

D-Day created true heroes who saved the world from an evil dictator. It’s a remarkable event in American and World history. I would definitely recommend that you read about it for yourself. It’s such an interesting time period in history. It is one of my favorite times. The way that America handled itself during World War 2 was amazing. The after-effects of World War 2 got us where we are today. I know that if it wasn’t for the soldiers who fought in D-Day, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog. So I have to thank them for their service and their heroism. There isn’t too many World War 2 Vets still alive, so its important to remember what they went through.

Thanks for Reading!

Basic Income–A replacement to Socalism?


I was browsing around fivethirtyeight.com, one my favorite websites right now. I came across an article discussing the idea of basic income. The article itself details the journey of a man who devoted his career to studying such a measure. I would definitely recommend that you read the original article, right NOW. Now before I explain what basic income is and why it may be a viable replacement to socialism, I want to say that there is no replacement for free market capitalism. No matter how you look at it, free market capitalism is the most successful type of economy. Also if you read this blog on any sort of regular basis you will often find me ripping and shooting holes through socialists ideas and policies. The only thing I have against socialism is that it just does NOT work. You may think after I explain that I’m proposing an socialist policy, but I’m not. I am merely suggesting a completely re-thought social welfare policy that could actually eliminate some of the problems that socialism presents.

Basic Income as explain by this article on fivethirtyeight is an no-strings attached, government funded check to each citizen of certain amount per month or annually. Now in the article they don’t get into many specifics on who actually receives this basic income check. They only say that whether your rich or poor, you get a check. Sounds really crazy right? Why the hell do people like Donald Trump need a free check from our government? Won’t it deter people from working? At first, I had come up with many questions like these. But then I started to think about it in a more realistic way. Now, if the government was cut a check each month for each citizen then we would obviously have to cut some other sources of spending. Naturally, when you think of a free check from the government you think: Welfare. So what counts as welfare?

So as defined by the article, welfare includes old age, health, family, disability, housing and a few random others like food stamps, government funded services. Let’s say the US government would cut all welfare which according to this chart made with data from OECD (To read more click on it). The chart is shown below:

flowers-ubi-21

So as you can see the US spends about 700 billion dollars on welfare related expenses per month per capita. This is all taxpayer funded money. So now the questions that I need to answer are who receives this check and how much should it be? The article does offer some light on how much. A proposed Swiss Basic Income law had the amount set around 1700 dollars a month. As you can see that the Swiss spend a similar 650 billion or so on welfare also. So let’s say the US will set it at 2000 dollars per month. And based on US census data from 2014, I have estimated that there 244 million people above the age of 18. I feel like once your 18 you should entitled to basic income. If your under then you’re probably not responsible enough, it should reasonably match with the voting age.

So here is my estimation by somewhat rough numbers:

Basic Income: $2000

Population over 18: 244 million

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

Monthly cost of welfare: 700 Billion

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

I believe that my numbers although rough can easily justify a basic income as a cost cutting and effective way to reduce welfare costs. Now I could be wrong about any number of things in my calculations. However, let’s just take with a grain of salt and say that this is how it would be. Let’s be honest that the government has too much power over us through welfare. The government programs are usually poorly managed and very costly. Also who knows the best way to help you if your in poverty? The government? Or YOU! I think that people honestly know what they need to survive. Now many skeptics including myself will still call bullshit on this whole thing. This: Won’t this just deter people from working?

Honestly, I can say that it might deter some. But those same people are the ones who don’t work now and are on welfare. So in reality that problem can’t be fixed by an basic income. However, I think the war on poverty thus far has failed. Lyndon B. Johnson started it in the mid 1960s and we have been trying to fight it ever since. Unfortunately, the government is pretty ineffective at providing the poor help. So what makes me think that this measure could work? I think that this measure could work because it provides people the freedom to do what they will do. Let me give you two different situations that would probably occur across the country.

First situation: John Doe is a mid-level manager of a fortune 500 company. He makes a decent salary of about 90,000 dollars a year. When a basic income proposal is passed, his income increases to 114,000. John decides that instead of buying a fancy new car or going on a shopping spree with his wife, that he will invest the money and save some for retirement.

Second Situation: Paul Smith is a construction worker who has been in and out of work. He makes enough to get by, about 45,000 dollars a year. When a basic income proposal is passed his income increases to 69,000 dollars a year. Paul decides that instead of saving that extra he would rather go to the bar and party. He also decides that a fancy new car is in order.

Obviously, people of all incomes will do different things with their basic income. I don’t think its necessary wrong to go out and spend all your basic income on cars and drinks at the bar. I think its fiscally irresponsible and maybe immature. However, it still stimulating the economy. I believe the greatest asset of a basic income is that it allows people the freedom to do whatever they want. It allows you the freedom to quit a job you don’t like without losing all your income. Let’s face it 24,000 dollars isn’t a lot but its better than nothing. It may increase productivity because people would spend time searching or improving themselves for the jobs they want to do. Just imagine as a parent, if you that extra 24 thousand you can afford to pay for your kids college education. Of course, many will argue “it doesn’t close the wealth gap”. You are right, but the point is not to close that gap. The closure of the wealth gap is not really possible, sorry to break it to you.

My conclusion is that basic income may be a better alternative to socialism. Basic income is almost definitely better than our current welfare system. If you think our current system is unfair, then here you go, there is nothing more fair then everybody getting a piece. Now is basic income a realistic political idea in America? That I can’t tell you. However, I can tell you that basic income is a form of a welfare that could replace the costly and expensive welfare system currently in place without restraining our economy. I am also sure that if income is weighed right by inflation and standard of living, then it could save us billions in welfare each month, trillions a year. Our national debt isn’t getting any smaller.

I know I didn’t talk about how taxes would be effected. I would assume it would come with a small flat tax or more likely be added to your income tax. I think because of freeloaders you would have to tax it, otherwise you have many taxpayers disappearing off the tax roll.

Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think!