US Foreign Policy: Syrian Intervention?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article III:  The following acts shall be punishable:

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Sources:

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

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

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Preventing Dictator Trump: Judicial Review and Separation of Powers

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

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

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

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

The judicial branch has jurisdiction over any case involving: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Citations:

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

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

 

Donald Trump Wins. America Reacts.

This post will be relatively short because I just want to share my thoughts that I already expressed via Facebook. In addition, I want to say that I never really guessed right but I think that the News Media Party was a big factor in Trump’s victory. I think that maybe there is a few articles to come from this Facebook post that I wrote today.

I have refrained from stating my political opinions until now. I wanted to see what everyone’s else reaction would be. Now that I have seen it, I have a few thoughts. To start off, I voted for Gary Johnson and it was a vote of conscious not against anybody but FOR Gary Johnson. I will not defend Trump nor Clinton. What I would like to share is something that it seems many people do not understand. The Electoral College seems to blamed for Trump’s nomination and Clinton’s loss. Many people think this because Clinton won the popular vote. However, I have two big problems with this type of sentiment. My first problem is America is not a populist democracy. In most Europe and some Asian countries like the Philippines, they use a plurality voting democracy. This means each candidate has their votes tallied and the one with the biggest majority is the winner. America has a representative democracy meaning that voters vote for representatives. The representatives of the government are citizens which is why its for the people and by the people. My second problem is in two parts. First, the electoral college was created for a reason. The founding fathers weren’t trying to create a Donald Trump scenario. They were trying to protect the citizens (white land owning men) from their own stupidity. I believe this is smart. It is often held that an educated voter will elect a better politician. I think we can all agree that most of America is not educated enough on politics and to some degree at all. Second, the electoral college has some fishy rules. But its concept and principle is sound. Cities often vote Democrat. Rural place often vote Republican. There are exceptions. Cities have more population than rural areas. To go even bigger, states have different populations. California has 40 million people meanwhile Wyoming has 500,000. Its would be fair to the smaller states to always the big state interests put first. The founding fathers spent more time on this issue in the constitution convention then many others…even for the Congress. How the electoral college works is that it awards electoral votes based on population. For example California has 55 electoral votes and Wyoming has 3. It fair because if California votes one way and a few smaller midwest states vote the other way, it makes a fair voice. Also to those people that are scared of Trump, Rhetoric is often used to get votes. Typically a President never lives up to their campaign promises. Also politicians lie and Trump is no different. We all need to relax and let the government do its job. Let our constitution of checks and balances maintain our liberty no matter what Trump tries to do. Last thing, 120 million or so people did not vote! Being silent is making a statement. Its probably a statement you don’t want. So next election urge everyone you can to vote. Not voting, not caring or caring about the wrong things in politics is why Donald Trump has been chosen. Stop blaming third parties. Stop blaming the electoral college. Start doing something about it, write letters, emails, protest in a peaceful way. Dissent is a beautiful thing. Thank you.

I truly believe that people need to better understand how our government was set up and how the electoral college works. I have written another on the electoral college in the past. This Facebook covers a variety of topics that I have written about on this blog. Now the reason why I haven’t made a post in awhile is because this election has gotten away from the true politics. It became a horrid mess of personality smearing and attacks. Now with the election over, I will start to write again about President-Elect Trump and his policies going forward. I will also write more about constitutional and governmental issues. I am hoping to educate so that next election, we will be equip to elect better politicians. We can do better than Trump.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, drop me a line: garrett_smith12@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

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. 

 

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!

Economic Series Part 1: To Raise or not to Raise the Minimum Wage?

Welcome to the first part of my three topic series on Economics. If you haven’t read this blog before then you should check out my last two posts that explain exactly what this series will be about. One post is here, and the introduction to this series is here. I would also suggest reading some of my previous posts, many of which cover this very topic of Minimum Wage. In particular, this post and this post among others. I have already prefaced this topic on multiple occasions so in this post, I will dive straight into the question that I want to present both arguments for and against. I will briefly explain what the minimum wage is, first. Then I will give you brief history of it. The bulk of this post will be my arguments, however, it will be up to you to decide what side you are on.

The title of post implies that my question is about raising the minimum wage. This has been in recent years, a hotly debated and controversial question. My question is: Should the government raise the minimum wage? Now it’s not a simple yes or no question. If you say yes, then you have to explain why you think that raising it is such a good idea. Or If you say no then why not raise it?  The principle of minimum wage is fairly simple to understand. Minimum wage is the base wage of all workers in the United States. Typically, the federal government sets a standard wage. However, the states also have the ability to set their own wage higher than the federal government if they choose. Right now, the federal wage is 7.25 an hour. There are 29 states that have minimum wages above the federal level.

The history of the minimum wage starts in the beginning of 20th century. The progressive movement that help develop labor laws and other regulations on business helped bring about the minimum wage. Before the minimum wage existed, workers were paid based on how much skill their job involved. They were also paid according to market value. Just like today, typically the less skilled your work, the less pay you received. According to the Department of Labor website, the minimum was officially brought into law on June 26, 1940. The name of the act bringing it to life was called Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours Standards Under the Fair Labor Standards Act. It originally started out at 1 dollar then worked its up. In January 1980 it was $3.10 and by 2007 it had increased to $5.85. Now in 2016, we see movements to increase it even further from 7.25. This is where the controversy and debate starts.

There are two distinct sides, I want to present arguments for and against raising the minimum wage. I want to present it fairly. So I feel obligated to tell you that I am against raising the minimum wage. However, I’m not against raising a reasonable amount that is in accordance with the market value of labor. In other words, if the economy can handle a raise in the minimum wage then so be it. Let me first present the supposed arguments for raising it. This is even hotly debated among economists. So you can expect to be baffled by the contradictory arguments for each side.

For Raising the Minimum Wage:

The line of reasoning for raising the minimum wage is that it will help the poor and single parents. The various other reasons for raising it are that big corporations can afford it, CEO’s make too much and workers deserve it. Typically the Democrats champion these raises in Minimum wage. In recent years, there has been push to raise to 15 dollars an hour. You might hear about the rationale to raise it as a living wage. A living wage really means an increase that is adjusted for inflation. These are just some of the arguments made for the minimum wage to be raised. I want to quote some interesting pro-minimum wage Mythbusters facts from the Labor Department website. (I seriously couldn’t believe this government website sounds like a liberal Facebook page. Talk about propaganda) Without further or ado:

Myth: The federal minimum wage is higher today than it was when President Reagan took office.

Not true: While the federal minimum wage was only $3.35 per hour in 1981 and is currently $7.25 per hour in real dollars, when adjusted for inflation, the current federal minimum wage would need to be more than $8 per hour to equal its buying power of the early 1980s and more nearly $11 per hour to equal its buying power of the late 1960s. That’s why President Obama is urging Congress to increase the federal minimum wage and give low-wage workers a much-needed boost.

Myth: Increasing the minimum wage lacks public support.

Not true: Raising the federal minimum wage is an issue with broad popular support. Polls conducted since February 2013 when President Obama first called on Congress to increase the minimum wage have consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans support an increase.

Myth: Increasing the minimum wage will result in job losses for newly hired and unskilled workers in what some call a “last-one-hired-equals-first-one-fired” scenario.

Not true: Minimum wage increases have little to no negative effect on employment as shown in independent studies from economists across the country. Academic research also has shown that higher wages sharply reduce employee turnover which can reduce employment and training costs.

Once again these are straight from the Department of Labor website. They tried to make the argument that the minimum wage being higher is actually good for the economy. I want to show just a few more for the sake argument. You might read all of this and say looks the minimum wage being 15 dollars an hour isn’t so bad?  If you believe the Department of Labor’s website then yes. Here those other myths before I move onto to the against argument:

Myth: Increasing the minimum wage will cause people to lose their jobs.

Not true: In a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders urging a minimum wage increase, more than 600 economists, including 7 Nobel Prize winners wrote, “In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.”

Myth: Small business owners can’t afford to pay their workers more, and therefore don’t support an increase in the minimum wage.

Not true: A July 2015 survey found that 3 out of 5 small business owners with employees support a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $12. The survey reports that small business owners say an increase “would immediately put more money in the pocket of low-wage workers who will then spend the money on things like housing, food, and gas. This boost in demand for goods and services will help stimulate the economy and help create opportunities.”

Let’s move onto why one might be against raising the minimum wage. The against argument will consist of a series of rebuttals. In my personal experience, I can rebuke quite a few of the arguments to raise minimum wage. Let’s start with the things I can agree with. I do agree that the public supports raising the minimum wage. More people are for it than against it. Its obvious why too, being paid more money is not something that most would have objections. However, I believe the Department of Labor website completely contradicts a different government agency report on raising minimum wage and the effects it would have on the economy. In order to keep this post from becoming a book, I will just list my rebuttals to the common Pro-minimum wage arguments:

  1. It’s true that minimum wage has not been adjusted for inflation, however, it’s not advisable to raise too quickly since businesses are used to the current level.
  2. It’s a false notion to say that minimum wage WILL NOT cause job losses because according to a Congressional Budget Office study done in 2014, a raise of the minimum wage to just 9 dollars an hour would lead to a short-term decrease in both employment and hiring of low skilled workers. In the long-term it would see the hiring of  higher-skilled workers. The effect would be a little more pronounced at 10.10 an hour and potentially more so at 15. However, the study only takes increases to 9 or 10.10 into account.
  3. The notion that people will won’t lose jobs once again is rebutted by the CBO study on minimum wage. (I will make sure to link the study to this post)  Also just based on a basic knowledge of economics you can make an argument. The way that businesses work and the economy works with the minimum wage is complicated but its a simple concept. Workers who make minimum wage are usually low skilled. Low skilled workers are needed in any capitalist market economy. They are typically the majority and typically short-term. Raising the minimum actually hurts them. Businesses are in business for profits. If they have to pay workers more than that hurts their bottom line. They either have to raise prices or cut workers. Which is different from a business raising their wages on their own.
  4. Small Business owners are for a minimum wage increase. This has to be bullshit because I work for a small business. I’ve worked in companies with low skilled workers. In fact, I am one of those such workers. Let me tell you that most employers in my experience would rather cut the hours or cut the workers than raise prices. A minimum wage increase would only cut employment for the majority of workers in low skilled positions.
  5. My last rebuttal, is that minimum wage will help the poor or single parents. This is the biggest lie ever told. Since the conception of minimum wage it has not helped anybody. Even if it was adjusted for inflation, money is always fluctuating in value according to the markets. Also if the minimum wage is let’s say 15 dollars an hour. That is the base wage for everybody in the country. If the base wage is higher than companies won’t keep their prices lower, they will increase their prices. Not only because they have to pay workers more, but also because people will have more money. So in the end, the rich get richer, the poor stay poor. Minimum wage can’t help poor people because when the government arbitrarily raises the price of labor it only hurts the workers and consumers.

There are my arugments for and against the minimum wage being raised. I know I said I am against it. However, I would be ok with a small increase because of inflation. According to the CBO study it would help a little bit at 9 dollars an hour. But I think there will adverse effects if we raise it to 15 dollars too soon. I also think that theres other options like Baisc Income. I would suggest you read my post on that. So consider my arguments and my sources. Look into some articles about minimum wage yourself. The problem is truly not that raising minimum wage is a bad thing, its only bad if the government is trying to force it on an economy that isn’t ready for it. Like I said if a business raises its own wages thats ok but because the business made that decision on its own. For example, Starbucks recently give all its workers a 5 to 10 percent raise. They also raised their prices. The cause and effect of minimum wage is more important than the amount of the wage itself.

Thank you for reading! Have a great day! My sources are linked below:

CBO Minimum Wage Study: 2014

Department of Labor Website Mythbusters

History of Minimum Wage; also DOL Website

Breaking the Blogging Silence

You probably didn’t notice but I took a pretty long break from writing on this blog. Most of the reason for my absence was not a lack of material to write. It was more of a lack of time to write about it. I was experimenting with podcast and I may get back to that eventually in the future. As for the political news, there isn’t much new to write about. The general election is strangely one-sided. Donald Trump has quite literally defeated himself by going into off message tangents and make it easy for voters to not pick him. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton of all people, is considered to be the lesser of two evils. The two candidates are both embattled with different shades of controversy. Hillary with her emails, and Trump with his bombastic commentary.

This post will be relatively short depending on how much I want to ramble on. This blog has been extremely focused on politics especially current events and happenings. I may still do some posts about that. I want to expand more into scholarly subjects. I want to discuss and try to solve problems in modern politics. I want to use my deep knowledge of history to help more people understand these problems. I have a lot of subjects that I want to go deeper into. I feel like there are subjects that I want to explore. One of those such areas is economics. Economics is not a subject that I studied heavily in either highschool or college. I sort of, taught myself about it. I took one college class on economics which gave me a basic understanding. Now I have been trying to read and research books that might help get even a better understanding.

The thing about economics is that it intersects with both history and politics. Much of the data collected on economic activity is from the past. The usefulness of economics in political debate and policy is based on this data. How you read the data and interpret it, is a big issue in political realms. I want to give you my readers an accurate interpretation of many subjects including economics, politics, civics, and history. I want to show how educating yourself on these subjects can be beneficial especially when it comes to election day. You will be able to weigh the candidates on something other than how they look, talk and how catchy their campaign slogan is.

In the future you can expect to see more posts, I hope if I can make time. Many of these new types of post will be a lot longer. I will most likely write them in a series covering one topic at a time. This blog is one of my favorite hobbies and unfortunately life has beckoned me to do other activities this past month or so. I can’t say it will be much better but I will attempt to commit even more time. In mean time, I would encourage you to look up Gary Johnson and consider giving him a shot. We have known and even scarier unknown qualities in Clinton and Trump, respectively. Think for yourself and make decisions based on logic and fairness.

I hope have the beginning of a new series starting as soon as this week but if not then definitely next week! Thank you for reading! Have a great day!