Hiatus Break: NFL Protests and Tax Reform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading! Have a awesome day!

 

 

 

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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. 

 

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!

Memorial Day–An excuse to BBQ?

I find this holiday of Memorial Day to be quite interesting from historical to modern context. Usually, since I was a kid in cub scouts, I walked in our small town’s memorial day parade. I participated in the wreath ceremony at our big cemetery. Then my family would go home and have a classic American BBQ. I only know of one veteran in my family, my mother’s father. Unfortunately, he never met me because of his refusal to go to the doctor with skin cancer. His name was Paul Chase. He married my grandma who is still alive, in the late 1940s after the war. They ended up having three children, their first and only daughter was my mother. My grandfather was in military during World War 2, I don’t know much about his actual combat experience if he had any. But I know he was a military police or MP. He was also an avid baseball player, a catcher. From what I’ve been told, I have his some of his personality. My grandfather died of skin cancer in 1985 and is buried in a cemetery only a mile from my house.

This accounts for the most of the significance that I put on memorial day. However, being a history buff and knowing how many wars the US has fought. Its strange to think to that we would celebrate such a sad and sometimes tragic event like war deaths. On the other hand, its not strange in history to see civilizations honor their fallen heroes of war. War is a spectacle like none other. It has evolved over hundreds of years. It has killed unknown billions. Yet here in America we celebrate the soldiers that are dead and alive, that have fought our wars. America’s intentions have not always been pure or even moral. We have waged wars to pursue world power. We have waged them to pursue economic dominance. Presidents have tricked the American people into sending their boys into war on multiple occasions. So what is the point of celebrating this off-color history of war? More importantly why do we BBQ and say “Happy” memorial day?

Memorial Day like other holidays are federally mandated by the government. Usually when the government approves a holiday it means all federal offices are closed. It also means that kids have the day from school, businesses sometimes close too. My point that I’m trying to make is are we celebrating the individuals give some or gave everything for their country? Or are we celebrating the fact that war has made our soldiers heroic despite the reason for sending them there? Regardless of the answer to a question that can’t be answered, I believe Memorial Day has turned into kind of sham. I never understood the whole BBQ thing because that’s irrelevant to war and soldiers alike! Along with that, I don’t the find the holiday to be particularly happy? Many people say “Happy Memorial Day” like Merry Christmas. Memorial Day is more of a solemn reflection on the soldiers who maintain our way of life or our freedoms. (If freedoms still exist?) I am for one not very happy that over 5000 soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  What did they die for, besides some stupid extreme religious nuts and some oil? The war has been more dangerous than ever and they had to give up their lives. That’s not fair to them.

Although I find nothing wrong with BBQ or the patriotism that comes out of Memorial Day. I just think that people should take it a little more seriously. In addition to that, we should be thanking our soldiers everyday for their service because they protect us even if its for the wrong reasons. Every day should be Memorial Day. I know that its a cliched argument. However, its clear that war heroes are very important, given that we have yet another under appreciated holiday called Veterans Day. Even worse than memorial day it represents a day off for 80 percent of people. I am under the belief that memorial day also encompasses those soldiers who are still living. The lucky ones who live through war, tend to have a lot of health problems. Its clear that the Veteran Affairs sections of the government is ill-equipped to give veterans what they need. The lack of fast service healthcare is even more a slap face to living veterans. Its just underlines the fact that a government run healthcare system would absolutely suck.

Without mentioning specific politicians, I just want to say that the mishandling of the VA hospitals and operations is appalling. Instead of Memorial Day being happy or about BBQs maybe we should be focusing on the real issues that face our veterans. I know that culture is a hard thing to change. My rantings probably won’t change anything. But I think on an individual level if we start respecting Memorial Day as a day of solemn reflection then it would be an more effective holiday. In addition, we need to recognize and fix problems that Veterans may face in healthcare and other things. I think one solution would be to get government out of the VA. Make it a privately run, charity donation based service. Have actual Veterans run and operate it so no scumbag outsider can steal money or fuck them over. There are enough veteran charities to help fund such an operation. If not, then the government can donate some money too, no strings attached.

Next Memorial Day, before we BBQ and get drunk and talk politics, lets try to remember the sacrifice that our soldiers have given to maintain America’s unique freedoms held in our constitution. Let’s also remember that war is not something happy, its pure hell. War is unnecessary till all other action is useless. If you are a veteran or current soldier reading this then hopefully you will be treated better than soldier’s past. There really is not words to say how much I have personally gained  from and appreciated your efforts. Thank you.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Source of Power!

If you have not heard yet, the 2016 campaign has taken a strange twist since this past Tuesday. Both Ted Cruz and John Kaisch have dropped out of the race! No, Trump didn’t deport them. However, this paves the way for Trump become the presumptive nominee barring any convention chaos. One of my very first posts was on Trump, a polarizing and controversial character. Now Donald Trump is a businessman and a successful politician. He seems to have accomplished something that everyone thought was a joke. He also has marketed his “business mindset” better than his predecessor Mitt Romney in 2012. I predicted that Trump’s media coverage would probably propel him very far in this presidential race. Trump is not your typical republican, because he uses the News Media as his second party helping get the nomination.

However, the real challenge for Trump is yet to come. Hillary is a veteran politician and has been on many campaigns including her own senate races, 2008 presidential bid and her husband’s presidential campaigns. For now, I will wait til to primaries are over to start breaking down the general election. As of right now, its pretty clear who the candidates will be. This post is not going to be all about Trump and Clinton. This post will combine some modern politics with those of Alexander Hamilton’s time. I started this amazing book named after our first Treasurer, Alexander Hamilton. I realized that Hamilton was a great founding father with today’s democratic values in terms of government power. I couldn’t believe it. Let me explain.

Alexander Hamilton was a part of the federalist party before and after the signing of the constitution. As a federalist, Hamilton believed in a strong central government that had control over the states. The federalist beliefs were pitted against the much less organized anti-federalist. The face of this group was by far, Thomas Jefferson. Anti-federalists, as the name indicates are against an strong central government. They believe that the states should hold most of the power and that the central government should be weaker.  If you paid attention in history class you might recall the federalist papers. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison were the authors of this series of newspaper articles meant to help ratify the constitution.

Now let me explain the beliefs of both republicans and democrats in 2016 politics. Then I will make a nifty comparison bound to blow  you away. In 2016, the democrats believe that the central government should be strong. Just look at how Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supports government programs to help people. Obamacare is another example of government power. When they want to raise the minimum wage or make federal education curriculum that makes for a strong central government. On the flip side of that Republicans typically want less government (OK its a little flawed, actually libertarian beliefs are closer to anti-federalist beliefs) with looser regulations on business, no minimum wage, privatized education and healthcare. So like I was saying Hamilton would be kinda of democrat…just look at this:

Federalist and Democrat believe in strong central government

Anti-Federalist and Republican* believe in a weaker central government that gives power to the states. 

That is just crazy to think about that one of our smartest founding fathers had today’s democratic values. Then again maybe its not crazy because thanks to the federalist, we have the great constitution that we have today. I think its important to realize how our government came into being.This is just one small facet. Many of our founding fathers drew on the classics like Machiavelli, Cicero, Aristotle, Adam Smith, and Locke. Our government was not just made up out of thin air. It’s actually strongly based in Roman political theory and enlightenment economics.

You may be asking yourself why does this federalist and anti-federalist even matter. Well, it matters for two reasons. One of George Washington’s warnings in his farewell address was to avoid political parties. The federalist party and anti-federalist were formed right after he left office against his will. As for the issue of the power of government would never go away. In fact, it lead to the bloodiest war on American soil, the civil war. Before I talk about how the Civil War was actually issue of government power, I need to discuss the colonial times.

You may know the before the colonies became states they fought in a revolution against England. In the colonial days, each colony was considered its own separate entity under the British Monarchy. The colonies had their own economies, their own money, their own laws plus the laws that the King passed. This tradition of being independent did not just magically disappear when they won the revolution and signed the constitution. It is evident even before the signing of the current constitution that the states wanted to keep their independence. The Articles of the Confederation were used for a few years until a new constitution could be written. The Articles of Confederation did exactly what the Anti-federalist wanted. It made a weak central government with strong states. The problem was that the states could never agree on anything. It became a similar problem to when you and your group of friends try to pick a place to eat and who’s gonna pay. One person wants Mcdonald’s because their cheap, another person wants Chinese, another person wants steak. You can almost never decide because everyone’s intentions and motivations are different.

Fortunately for us, the federalist did win the day with the constitution. It settle those pesky problems with the states independence. It equaled out the balance of power with size and population using compromises. Now let’s fast forward about 60 to 65 years from the signing of the constitution in 1789. This brings us to the civil war. The main issue of the Civil War was slavery. However, the deeper issue which causes many historians to debate is that of state’s rights. This time it was the southern states trying to claim their right to keep slaves. The question of the time was whether or not the southern states had the right to keep slaves or did the federal government have the right to outlaw it? History decided it with a war, as Abraham Lincoln put it to keep the Union together. Lincoln maintained that he would rather keep the union together by freeing all of the slaves, none of them or some of them. He didn’t care which one.

In end, the 13th amendment to the constitution was passed that outlaw slavery in the United States. The southern succession proved to be an error because the union had the economic and population advantage. States rights play a big role because the war wasn’t just to keep slaves but about the right to keep them. The odd thing is that slaves actually hurt the southern economy. Slaves often put poor whites in poverty. The slaves only helped produce an overstock of cotton to be sold to Europe. Unfortunately for the south just producing cotton wasn’t enough to win against an industrialized North.

Today states rights usually appears in the politics of education because of government legislation like common core or No Child Left Behind. The same fight still exists partly because of the interpretation of the constitution and partly because deep down the states will always feel like they need to have a say.

I hope you enjoy this post. Thanks for reading 🙂

*(More accurately Libertarian because we believe in no federal taxes and minimal regulation)

 

Democratic Debate Battle Royale

I hope you got a chance to watch the democratic debate on CNN tonight. It was quite the debate. It was even better than the republican debate! (I’m a conservative libertarian) The candidates gave it their all and really battle over the issues. Despite the fact that they agreed on the goals of the policy, the fight become over the means. Each candidate got fairly decent air time with exception of Jim Webb who seem to struggle to get any talk time. Of course, the focus was mostly on Sanders and Clinton. The other candidates Webb, O’Malley and Chaffe gave some good cannon fodder but in the end all trail Sanders and Clinton significantly. So I want to breakdown my reaction to each candidates performance. I will quickly go over the three 1 percenters (In the polls). Then I will go into some more detail with Clinton and Sanders who both seem to give strong performances.

The worst performance goes to Jim Webb. Mr. Webb just couldn’t seem to jump into the conservation. He couldn’t seem to defend his moderate positions. Webb just was out-democrat by both Sanders and Clinton. I will give him props for being a Vietnam Veteran. Unfortunately like his campaign, his lackluster debate performance will probably end his run sooner rather than later.

Lincoln Chaffe was another candidate who participated in the debate. Came out strong attacking Clinton and her scandals. Chaffe was a bit a flip flopper have changing parties from Republican to Independent to Democratic. Chaffe is the former governor of Rhode Island and Senator. His voting record is a bit shaky. However, like Webb he just couldn’t get much air time. When he did get time, he certainly made it count. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think it was enough to boost his polls too much.

Martin O’Malley is the former governor of Maryland. He gave the strongest performance of these three candidates. He was able to use both Sanders, Clinton and others arguments to jump into the conversation. There are two issues that O’Malley pushed hard that I took issues with.  First, his strict gun control policy has some questionable results given the unrest in Baltimore.  Clearly, with the death of innocent black African Americans his gun control didn’t stop it. One has to wonder if a national strict gun policy would have the same results. The second issue was on immigration. He seem to take it a step further than any candidate. I’m not sure offering free college to illegal immigrants is a smart idea. Considering that American students have massive student loan debt. However, I wouldn’t be against the eventual naturalization of illegals and their receiving benefits. I think that O’Malley is definitely more similar to Hillary Clinton than Sanders. Not sure how this will affect his polling. But he may be a little too radically progressive for American voters. In addition, his low poll numbers suggest that he isn’t going to be catching up any time soon. I think his lack of national political experience will hurt him because in democratic field it seems that this is a requirement.  (The GOP seems to be more on political outsider candidate road, think Donald Trump and Ben Carson)

Onto the top two candidates leading the democratic polls:

Bernie Sanders is a senator from Vermont. Sanders had a very strong showing despite being attacked early and often. One of the questions that kept him on the defensive was his record on guns. I have mentioned this in previous posts that Sanders hails from Vermont a gun loving state. Sanders was able to say that he is changing his position after all the mass shooting. He also tried to frame it in the sense of “Urban vs. Rural” states. Noting that rural areas tend to have lax gun laws. O’Malley smartly shot him down on this narrative because of his record in Maryland. (Pun not Intended/ Notwithstanding the failures in Baltimore) Sanders was also successful pushing for the usual minimum wage hike and paid family leave. I think that the question in my mind, and many others is how will you pay for all these expensive actions. He did mention that he would put a tax on the rich hedge managers or something like that. The thing about Sanders is that his plans all sound great. The problem is where is all this money coming from? All the rich people are moving out already so I don’t think taxing them more will make them stay. Overall though, I thought that Bernie stuck to his platform pretty closely and was able to separate himself from Clinton. I have to believe that Sanders will keep building up his support.

Hillary Clinton is a former senator of New York and Secretary of State. Mrs. Clinton was able to stick it to everybody in this debate. She flatly denied the email scandal anymore attention than it had. Mr. Chaffe did throw a few jabs with his mention of no scandal. Clinton really stuck to her guns on foreign policy. Surprisingly she did make some sense by saying that a coalition to help in Syria was necessary. She was unapologetic about her decisions in the past. I could see that she was really trying to keep the focus on the issues and not her past. Unfortunately her past is so well known I think it played well for her. Clinton really pushed strong for rights and equality for women. However, Sanders also pushed hard. They both seem to think that smaller countries like Denmark and Norway were good models. The only problem is America is much larger in population. Once again, just like Sanders, Hillary could not answer how she might pay for anything. All I heard was increase taxes on rich.

Speaking of that, Republican bashing was Hillary’s leading role. Every opportunity that she got, she took to bash the republicans. Comparing the democratic debate as one that focused on issues instead of racism and women hating.  She was right about that. However, I feel like Clinton failed to really convince people that she won’t do the shady things of the past again. The mistrust of politicians is at an all time high. She is the poster child for bad politicians. This was brought out by the constant attack on her political flip flopping on issues. Anderson Cooper went directly for her saying any to get votes. I was not convince by her answers. Clinton seem to have strong performance by using other candidates positions to back her own. She was able to articulate many of her own positions because of the huge amount air time given to her. (Much to the dismay of Mr. Webb) I think that Clinton probably improved her polls by a few points. She’s a savvy politician.

Overall, I found the debate to be very interesting and more focused on the issues. This is also due to the smaller number of candidates. The stark contrast between republicans and democrats is that democrats are actually in agreement on what needs to be done. Where republicans can’t agree on where to even start. The democrats bashed each other much less than the republicans bashed each other. I knew from the get-go that republican bashing would happen. Not surprisingly it came from Clinton and Sanders the most.

Just before the debate started, I was watching the analyst on CNN talk about VP Joe Biden. Biden is considering a presidential run. The conversation was very interesting because it seem that some in the media were tired of waiting for him to decide. I found this to be very interesting. I was thinking about how the debate dynamics might have changed if Joe Biden did decide to run. I do believe that Biden would have significant impact in the democratic primary. Biden would almost certainly give Bernie Sanders a run for his money. He may even knock Sanders out of contention. The biggest challenger to Biden would be none other than Hillary Clinton. Biden is on par with Clinton in political experience and political clout. Not only that but he is a sitting Vice President. Clinton identifies closely with Obama. However, I think that Biden would be able to more effectively use Obama in his election run. Obama might even endorse him. (A running mate for 7 years in a row probably means they are great friends) Granted President Obama may not be the most popular president but he does have an influence unlike any other endorser. So will Joe Biden throw a wrench into the race?

Thanks for reading! More coming on this debate and future debates!

Jeb Bush, The GOP neighborhood villain.

Jeb Bush has a name that invokes the remembrance of two former presidents. Jeb’s father is George H.W Bush who was elected in 1989 after Ronald Reagan finished up his second term. Jeb’s brother is George W. Bush who was elected in the controversial 2000 election that featured a miss count in Florida. Jeb was the governor of Florida for 8 years being elected in 1999. The Bush family was wealthy because of oil coming out of the north-west of Texas. Jeb is now running for president in 2016. He might have one of the hardest roads to travel on the way to being elected. The legacy left behind by his father and more importantly his brother George W. Bush is something that may haunt him for all his political life.

George H.W Bush served under many presidents during the 1960s and 1970s and in the 1980s under Reagan. He was elected to president finally in 1989. In 1990, trouble arose in Iraq with Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait. The ensuing invasion was quick and the situation resolved. Bush also tried to help with domestic issues like education and the economy but a slight slump gave him no success.  Bush Sr. then lost in 1993 to President Bill Clinton. After the Clinton’s two terms it was then George W. Bush’s term.  Bush Jr. was elected in 2000. His presidency already marred by a voting miss count was then derailed completely by 9/11. The chain of events that followed have changed America forever. First, an invasion of Afghanistan to root out the Taliban in control of that country. Second, an invasion of Iraq because the weapons of mass destruction that were never found. Both of these wars turned into a hunt for Osama Bin Laden. On the home front, Bush passed many security measures for airports and citizens alike. The patriot act was one of the controversial acts that still brings controversy over personal freedoms and rights.

The Bush Jr. presidency ended with the biggest economic recession since the Great Depression. All of this recent history makes up the legacy of the Bush family. Jeb Bush has this history following him everywhere. I believe that his critics are not completely fair to him. His name might be Bush but that does not always mean he wants to be exactly like his father or brother. Jeb is a known conservative in political leaning. Unlike his front-runner opponent, Mr. Trump, Jeb has been in politics and always a staunch republican. One recent article headlines “Donald Trump Dominates as Jeb Bush implodes.” The headline could not be more accurate. I want to explore how Jeb Bush might overcome his legacy associated with his name. Jeb has the same problem as democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as I point out here, but Jeb has a problem much worse. So in the next few paragraphs I will take one or two events from past and apply them to now.

Jeb Bush is so often criticized because of family name and because of his politics. One of the areas that Jeb has struggled with is foreign policy. All you have to do is google some news articles about this. Most of the recent ones from August talk about his foreign policy speech. The particularly interesting ones are here, here and here. The articles show that Jeb used a revisionist history. They all agree that Jeb has a misguided and wrong of view of what really happened. He blames Clinton and Obama for the mistakes made in reality by his brother. In order for Bush to overcome his family legacy he needs to change his views on past foreign policy. I believe that Jeb needs to just admit that Obama and Clinton made mistakes and did the best they could. He has no need to make them the villains. Jeb Bush has the appeal to most GOP voters which will could be a winning percentage for any GOP endorsed candidate.  After stepping back from his attack on the current administration, then he should start slowly talking about how he plans to help the situation with both ISIS and the wars. I would imagine a typical republican foreign policy would be a strong naval presence in the middle east. This combined with a resolution to UN for a coalition would probably be widely accepted. Jeb would be smart to ask for the help of other countries because acting unilaterally is a mistake Bush Jr. made.

Jeb should learn from the mistakes that his family made in the past. The front runner Donald Trump has bashed Jeb for many reasons, especially his bi-lingual ability. Jeb needs to come back at Trump. Trump has so much bad history that I am surprised Jeb hasn’t come out more viciously. Jeb has an advantage over Trump in respect to hispanic voters because of his connection to them. Trump is the king of insults for calling out Jeb for speaking Spanish is just dumb along with all his other racist comments on Mexico.  The fact is that America is going be more hispanic than white in just 10 to 20 years. The President who is elected in 2016 will surely see that hispanics will the the majority of the vote. No wall is going to stop border hoppers. I believe that Jeb needs to use bi-lingual and pro-hispanic background to rally voters. Many hispanics are hardworking and would more than likely vote for him if he could just stand up to Trump.

With Trump’s massive media storm bashing Jeb and his family legacy, Jeb is down in the polls. I believe that he is focused on the democrats when really his true foe is Trump. I don’t think that Jeb will win the republican primary. Unfortunately, he is in too deep with the speeches and comments made thus far. Jeb Bush has become the GOP villain because of his own doing it seems. However, his critics will always make his family legacy an issue. Jeb should really try to distance himself. I think possible to do without being disrespectful. The facts will always be true. Mistakes happen. The voters will have to decide if Jeb Bush is different his past presidential family line or if Jeb Bush will just follow in the footsteps.

Thanks for reading! September 11th/ 14 year anniversary article coming soon. Continue reading