What’s in a Name: 3 Pieces of Legislation with Misleading Titles

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Upon winning independence, our founding fathers were wary of centralized power. They understood the corrupting nature of power, and set about creating a system meant to balance power, and reduce greed and corruption. 

Our system of “checks and balances” is supposed to ensure that the government doesn’t violate the constitution, and they were successful.. for a while.

Arguably the first erosion to this system came in 1913, when the 62nd Congress voted to pass the 17th amendment. Prior to 1913; the general population would directly elect members of their community to represent their interests in the House of Representatives, while state legislatures would pick 2 citizens of the state to serve the interests of the state at the federal level. When state legislatures picked Senators to represent their state, the Senator holds no power, if you’re not living up to your obligations, than the legislature would replace you.  Counteracting the members of the house who would stay in power by using charm to win re-election. The general population lives in an echo-chamber. If you’re a liberal, you watch MSNBC and read Slate on your phone while driving the kids to school.  If you’re a republican you watch “The Five” on Fox News and listen to Rush Limbaugh on your lunch break. When you think about it, it’s incredibly easy to trigger Democrats,Republicans, and Libertarians.

For example most Democrats LOVE giving their takes on these topics:

 

  • Income inequality
  • Healthcare
  • Identity politics 
  • Environmental concerns
  • Abortion
  • Guns
  • Taxes not being high enough

 

While Republicans will lose their mind for:

 

  • Illegal immigration
  • Military spending
  • Police
  • Guns
  • Taxes
  • Christianity
  • Muslims
  • Abortion

Libertarians? We will lose our mind for just about anything, but if you want to get us going discuss:

  • Roads
  • Military
  • Public Education
  • Free Markets/Regulations
  • Entitlement Programs
  • Ron Paul
  • Government spending

 

We’re all hypocrites. Democrats care about identity politics, unless you’re a person of color who may disagree with you politically.  They want government mandated equality for every gender and race, except white guys. Republicans think we spend too much. Specifically on regulations, bureaucracy, and entitlement programs; but balk at cutting military spending, despite finding $125 billion in administrative waste, or any government spending that helps them remain in power; you’re a conservative farmer who wants to cut food stamps? Alright, how about after we cut corn subsidies? Last month I wrote about how Social Security is destroying our country and Republicans went ballistic. Libertarians are the most annoying people on the planet, nobody’s a “real” libertarian, we have a portion of the party that wants free markets, but is anti-immigration and “America first.” We have a county chair in Michigan who supports Antifa, and our Vice Presidential candidate appeared to be actively supporting Hillary. Literally no consistency.

Our general stupidity, and tendency towards hypocrisy has allowed the career politician to thrive. Knowing we react to buzz words and topics that sound sexy, they use psychology to garner support. Just look at the title of the bills they write .

The Patriot Act

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Sixteen years ago next month, on 10/26/01,  George W. Bush signed the “USA Patriot Act” into law. Passed in the aftermath of September 11th by a vote of 98-1 in the Senate, and 357-66 (it is worth mentioning that the only Republicans to vote against this bill were Robert Ney, Butch Otter, and Ron Paul) in the House, in an attempt to curb terrorism.  

To put it simply, the legislation was passed in a panic with very little debate. Former Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 3162 on October 23, 2001, the House passed it the next day, and within 72 hours we had passed legislation that massively expanded the scope of the federal government.

There is nothing “patriotic” about the “Patriot Act.”  The indefinite detention of immigrants? That violates the sixth amendment. “Enhanced surveillance?” That’s led to NSA wiretapping, a clear violation of the fourth amendment. A lot can be said about some of the shady things in our Constitution, but the most important political document in American history isn’t the Constitution, or the Declaration of Independence; it’s the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. Both collections of essays helped develop this country; while the Federalist Papers defended the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists demanded there be a Bill of Rights to protect the people from the government.

The point is, the first ten amendments to the constitution are so important that it almost tore apart this country.  And in a moment of panic, we passed laws that violate the bill of rights.

The reason the Patriot Act keeps getting extended (last extended by Obama in 2011), is that no politician wants to appear weak on national security, and being against the Patriot Act means you support terrorism, so politicians continue to support it. Even though it doesn’t  work and often ruins lives.

Affordable Healthcare for America Act

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The “Affordable Healthcare for America Act,” commonly referred to as “Obamacare” was President Obama’s landmark legislative achievement. FDR had “The New Deal,” Johnson had his “Great Society,” Barack Obama has “Obamacare.”

Signed into law by the 111th Congress in March of 2010, with a single Republican voting for the legislation (Joseph Cao, Louisiana). 39 Democrats voted against the bill, bringing the final tally to 220 for, and 215 against.

The legislation is exceptionally long, and provided healthcare to 24 million uninsured Americans (at the threat of a tax for non-compliance). After surviving the Supreme Court, Obamacare premiums have continued to soar. As the “New York Times” points out;

“While fewer than 20 million Americans buy their own insurance, the tribulations of the individual market have captured most of the public’s attention. The average cost of a benchmark plan in the individual market rose 20 percent this year, according to Kaiser, as insurers tried to stem their losses. “

Although they later go on to defend the Affordable Care Act, the fact is that using the the term “affordable” is a misnomer. Being forced to pay for insurance you don’t want, that rises at a rate of 20% annually, under threat of punishment is the exact opposite of “affordable.”

The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984

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Unlike some other pieces of legislation, “The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984,” enacted by President Reagan in October of 1984, doesn’t have a flashy nickname. The name itself is straightforward and to the point. An idiot could conceive what this legislation was meant to do. When enacted it became the first comprehensive revision of the United States criminal code since 1900. Like the Patriot Act for Bush, and “Obamacare” for Obama, “Comprehensive Crime Control” was meant to be, and is, a cornerstone of Reagan’s legacy.

The name itself is brilliant. Nobody likes crime, crime is bad. We need to get rid of crime.

But what is crime?

We all have our own moral code, our own sense of right and wrong. We all define crime differently. A soccer mom from Kansas is going to have a different vision of right and wrong than a poor kid from LA.

The benign nature of the name meant most people wouldn’t pay any attention to it. The goal was if you were against crime, than the average American wouldn’t give it a second glance.

Problem is the legislation was not benign. This country was founded on a set of principles that valued the individual over the community, the community over the state, and the state over the federal government. When it came to legal affairs the founding fathers preferred to leave the punishment of citizens to locals. A soccer mom in Kansas and a poor kid in LA have different experiences, values, and ways of life, it only makes sense that there would be minimal federal oversight on criminal affairs. That was true until small government conservatives created the United States Sentencing Commission, and put them in charge of normalizing prison sentencing.  Their recommendations became the “Armed Career Criminal Act,” creating mandatory minimums. Mandatory minimums have had a jarring effect on society. Disproportionately affecting people of color, and lower economic status, hurting multiple generations. Mandatory minimums created career criminals, comprehensive crime reform just created more crime.

The legislation also reinstated the federal death penalty, increased penalties for marijuana possession and cultivation, and created the despicable act of civil asset forfeiture .

All of this was able to get through because the name was self-explanatory and boring.
How a lawmaker labels their legislation matters. These pieces of legislation affect hundreds of millions of lives. What they pass matters. Using clever, or boring names and nicknames to either attract or repel attention is manipulation that pays off in votes. We need to demand better.

 

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Wildfire Coverage Explains Trump’s Victory

 

Wildfires

While the nation recovers from the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, and braces for the devastation of Hurricane Irma, the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise, estimates that there are currently 80 wildfires burning across nine states, affecting 2,200 square miles.

Wildfires, like hurricane’s, aren’t uncommon, but they do lasting damage to many states across the west,  with much less fanfare. Also like hurricane’s, society names these wildfires; The Detwiler Fire, near Yosemite National Park, for example, kicked off wildfire season. Igniting on July 16th before being contained on August 24th, it burned 81,826 acres and 63 homes across California.

The Lodgepole Complex Fire, in Montana, destroyed 270,000 acres and 31 buildings in July. The Caribou fire, also in Montana, has burned ten homes, 30 other buildings, and over 19,000  acres.  Destroying several towns, and causing several hundred evacuations. Of the 9 states being directly affected by the fires, Montana has seen the most devastation.

That’s not to say other states aren’t being directly affected. This week, ash from an Oregon wildfire shut down stretches of highway near Portland, and has caused thousands of evacuations. The ash has caused health warnings throughout the West, and has led to the cancellation of events as far away as Denver.

These fires don’t get national media attention. Nobody is scheduling a telethon for West Kootenai Montana. And honestly, it’s understandable. While the long term economic damage done to small towns across Montana may not have a large national impact, it does have a significant effect on the region.  

It’s easy to see why hurricane Harvey gets so much media attention, it is expected that the hurricane could cost up to $90 billion in losses, and up to $1.5 trillion in property damage, according to RMS , a global risk modeling firm. The hurricane devastated the nation’s fourth largest city, and the surrounding region. That sort of damage affects the national economy, the destruction of a corner store in Eureka Montana affects the family that owns the business, and maybe the community.  So it makes sense that the national media would cover one more than the other; why would CNN cover a couple thousand evacuations in Washington when millions of people have been displaced in Houston and the southeast? It’s just good business.

The problem with that line of thinking is it ignores a large segment of the population that feels as though the government doesn’t give a damn about them. They feel as though nobody recognizes their hardships. Nobody in Wyoming has to worry about a hurricane, but their home could be destroyed by a wildfire, and nobody cares. But if some flooding hits a city, it’s 24/7 news.

Nobody likes to feel as though they’ve been forgotten. Everyone is petty, everyone wants to feel important and cared about, and for the last several years the left has focused 90% of their efforts on the urban setting.  Trump realized that, and used that to win the electoral vote, and now he’s President. 

Something Needs to Be Done About Social Security

 

Last week, while the media covered North Korea and political extremist groups, President Trump sent out a series of tweets about government spending, and our national debt. It was kind of an exciting moment – politicians don’t like to talk about the debt, or out of control spending – it’s not a popular subject. Lawmakers have till September 29th to raise the debt ceiling, or else we will default. As a businessman, you would expect President Trump would understand the need to cut spending; his tweets suggest otherwise.

When it comes federal spending, social security programs made up almost half of all federal spending in 2014, and it’s set to increase dramatically over the next decade. In 2003 entitlement spending accounted for 44% of federal spending, in 2014 entitlement programs accounted for 49% of all spending.  Government spending is set to increase by 66% (from 2014-2024). 85% of the projected growth in spending can be attributed to entitlement spending, and interest on the national debt.  To give you an idea of how bloated the social security budget is; in 2014 social security programs cost $845 billion dollars, in 2024 it’s projected that those programs will cost north of $1 trillion dollars a year.Where every dollar goes

As of 2015, 163 million American’s paid into Social Security, while 59 million collect monthly benefits. With costs on the rise, the “Social Security Trust Fund” is set to run out in about 17 years. Unfortunately, politicians are unlikely to make any meaningful change to the programs.

History of Social Security

While public entitlement programs didn’t become prominent in America till the great depression, they all have their basis in the English “Poor Laws” which were first enacted in 1601. These laws were the first acts passed in Europe to outline the state’s duty to provide relief to the poor.

The idea of entitlement programs – specifically programs to the elderly, poor, and disabled – in this country has its roots in a pamphlet published by Founding Father Thomas Paine. In his last pamphlet, Agrarian Justice,” published in 17 in 1795, called for a 10% inheritance tax. This tax would be used to pay a pension to the elderly, and a Agrarian Lawuniversal basic income for everyone over 21 years old.

In modern times, President FDR signed the “Social Security Act” in August 1935 as part of his “New Deal.”  The act was passed at a time when a lot of people had lost their life’s savings during the great depression, and was meant to provide relief to retirees. This pension was created by  the “Federal Insurance Contribution Act” (FICA), which created the “payroll tax” that funds social security. The fund is made available to retirees, but when you were born determines when you’re eligible to receive benefits. For example, if you’re 62 in 2017, you’re eligible for benefits at 66 and 2 months.

 

Why is Social Security Such a Mess?

This week, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson appeared on CNBC to discuss one of the ways to reduce spending on social security ; increasing the retirement age from 66, to 68.

Raising the retirement age was a key component of the “Bowles-Simpson Plan,”  a plan that was designed by Simpson and Erskine Bowles in 2010, to tackle the national debt by cutting expenditures and raising taxes.  One of the options presented in Bowles-Simpson, was referred to as “The Zero Plan.” This plan called for devoting $80 billion annually to eliminating the debt.  The “Tax Policy Center” laid out the 3 main components of “The Zero Plan”:

 

 

  • Eliminate all tax expenditures—for both income and payroll taxes—except the EITC, the child credit, foreign tax credits, and a few less common preferences.
  • Eliminate tax expenditures only for income taxes, not for payroll taxes.
  • Eliminate tax expenditures only for income taxes—not for payroll taxes—but cap and restructure the tax benefits for mortgage interest, employer-sponsored health insurance, and retirement saving instead of eliminating them.

 

As with all plans determined to “fix” social security, Bowles-Simpson revolves around raising taxes and cutting benefits. Both options are universally unpopular.

Most plans would gradually increase the “payroll tax” to reduce the spending gap. The payroll tax, created by the “Federal Insurance Contribution Act” (FICA) is a flat tax withheld from your paycheck by your employer to fund social security programs. The tax is assessed at a rate of 12.4%. The median household income in the United States is $56,000. That means the average household is paying $6,944 in payroll taxes, on top of income tax, property tax, sales tax, etc.

Michael Tanner, of the Cato Institute, outlined the follies involved with trying to “fix” social security, and how these “fixes” hurt minorities and women.

The current Social Security system contains a host of inequities, many of which disadvantage minorities and women. For example, because lifetime Social Security benefits are closely linked to longevity, people with shorter life expectancies can expect to receive less in retirement benefits. At every age and every income level, African Americans have shorter life expectancies than do whites. As a result, an African American who has the same lifetime earnings and pays the same payroll taxes as a white person can expect to receive a lower rate of return. This problem is exacerbated by the facts that African Americans are more likely to begin working earlier than whites and that African-American marriages are more likely to end in divorce in less than 10 years. Indeed, no group may be as poorly treated by Social Security as African Americans. None of the proposals advanced by opponents of privatization would change this unfair situation—and many would make it worse. For example, African Americans, who on average earn lower wages, would be disproportionately affected by proposed increases in the payroll tax. Even worse would be increases in the retirement age supported by Aaron and other foes of privatization. The current system also penalizes many women, especially women who work outside Even under assumptions vastly more optimistic than can be expected, Social Security remains insolvent. If add-on accounts are funded by mandatory contributions, they become simply another tax increase.   For instance, under Social Security’s “dual entitlement rule” for spousal benefits, the spouse with lower lifetime earnings, nearly always the wife, is eligible to receive either a benefit based on her own earnings or one-half of her spouse’s benefits, but not both. Effectively, this means that many women pay Social Security taxes but receive no additional benefits for those taxes. Moreover, the current spousal system may set up situations in which a two-earner couple may actually receive less in benefits than a single-earner couple with the same lifetime earnings.”

Should We Privatize Social Security?

One option in the ongoing entitlement debate is privatizing social security. There are generally 3 main arguments for privatizing social security:

 

  • it can lift the rate of return workers obtain on their retirement contributions;
  • it can boost national saving and future economic growth;
  • it has practical political advantages in comparison with a Social Security rescue plan based on higher payroll taxes and a bigger accumulation of Social Security reserves.

In practice, privatization has shown some promising results. Chile privatized social security in the 1970’s, Jose Pinera, Chile’s former Secretary of Labor and Social Security wrote:

jose pinera

Jose Pinera



Some 93% of Chilean workers chose the new system. They trust the private sector and prefer market risk to political risk. If you invest money in the market, it could go up or down. Over a 40-year period, though, a diversified portfolio will have very low risk and provide a positive rate of real return. But when the government runs the pension system, it can slash benefits at any time.”

“Today, all workers in Chile are capitalists, because their money is invested in the stock market. And they also understand that if government tomorrow were to create the conditions for inflation, they would be damaged because some of the money is also invested in bonds — around 60%. So the whole working population of Chile has a vested interest in sound economic policies and a pro-market, pro-private-enterprise environment.

There have been enormous external benefits: the savings rate of Chile was 10% of gross national product traditionally. It has gone up to 27% of GNP. The payroll tax in Chile is zero. Of course we have an estate tax and an income tax, but not a payroll tax. With full employment and a 27% savings rate, the rate of growth of the Chilean economy has doubled.”

Despite the benefits, privatization faces stiff opposition, primarily from Democrats, most Republicans, and the AARP.  

It’s easy to understand why Democrats distrust the private sector, most of them get elected on platforms that mistrust the free market. Some have gone so far as to propose allowing the government to invest in the stock market. This idea would politicize the economy and undermine free market ideals.

It’s also easy to understand the AARP’s position; raising the retirement age, cutting benefits, or any change at all would hurt their business model. The AARP really cares about keeping the status quo, they have spent $4.6 million on lobbying efforts in 2017, and in 2005 the group spent upwards of $36 million on lobbying efforts.

The Republicans, in theory at least, should be pushing social security reform as often as possible, the party is supposed to stand for less government. In practice politicians just want to get re-elected, and the elderly make up a large portion of the voting block, disenfranchising them could cost you an election.

The economy is important. By kicking the can down the road, and increasing entitlement spending, all we’re doing is putting our financial future at risk. Until we start talking about serious entitlement reform, starting with social security, we cannot hope to stabilize our economy.
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The Politics of Envy

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It has been awhile since I’ve written for AL but I was struck with inspiration recently while listening to an audiobook, and decided to opine. Since about the age of 25, I’ve been on a journey of self improvement. I read books, listen to podcasts, attend seminars, and visit speakers to improve every aspect of my life from relationships to sales to health and everything in between. I recently purchased The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone to listen to in the car or in the gym. Basically the book is for people wanting to achieve more success in their lives and outlines the necessary work and actions one needs to commit to in order to attain it. It’s definitely a bit rah-rah, but it speaks universal truths about the relationship between success and hard work that any entrepreneur/employee/athlete/coach/etc has come to discover.

What struck me most about the book was that Cardone describes success as not only desirable, but as an ethical RESPONSIBILITY. It is people’s responsibility to achieve success for themselves, their families, and their communities. Without continuing to succeed, people, families, communities, and nations regress and fail. Success is CRITICAL for SURVIVAL. Without entrepreneurs chasing dreams of financial and business success, the economy would rapidly decline, jobs would be lost, and America as a nation would weaken and potentially die. As such, people should cheer on those in the world that accumulate massive amounts of wealth. As Cardone puts it, “If a Wall Street banker earns $400 million, that should be an inspiration to anyone that wants $400 million!” They are a shining beacon of what one can achieve in this country with enough determination. The same can be said for those that go one to create massive businesses, even those dastardly Koch brothers. Their massive accumulation of wealth has employed thousands of people, improved the lives of the consumer with their product, and donated countless millions of dollars to charities all over the country. None of this has impacted anyone’s ability to achieve their own success. In some cases, those rich families success has led to amounts of personal success, even if just a little by societal standards, that otherwise wouldn’t have been achievable to certain individuals.

As Libertarians and Capitalists, this is hardly news to us. We all know that financial success and wealth creation is not a zero sum game. A rising tide lifts all ships, as they say. However, in this political climate, people are not only NOT happy for the immense success of others, but they actively DEMONIZE it. They treat others financial success and wealth accumulation almost as an act of theft. It’s as if their gaining of wealth somehow limits their potential to accumulate wealth for themselves. But why is this? class warfare

The answer lies in the narrative people are fed from those that benefit from them believing this myth. Progressive politicians and pundits have told people for over a century now that the reason so many are in poverty is because a few people are rich. You are poor because Mitt Romney or any of the countless boogeymen that progressives create are rich beyond their “needs” (a limit conveniently determined by them while somehow being undefined. Where is the cutoff? Is $1million dollars more than one needs but $999,999 is ok? I digress).  The point is, the progressives have a vested interest in people believing that they are poor not only because of the 1% of wealthy people, but also because of racial, gender, sexual, or other prejudices that keep the common man down. eat_the_rich

Progressive politicians, both on the right and left, NEED victims. Period. It is a fact. They need you to be a victim for their very survival. Progressive not only DON’T have an interest in helping you get ahead, they actively pursue laws and rhetoric that keep you poor and pissed off. They need a perpetual dependent voting block. If every person in America was gainfully employed and happy, government would barely be needed (ah, what a dream). Therefore, liberal progressives gin up economic discontent, I.E. envy, to get people to vote for them. People need a reason for their own shortcomings. It’s human nature to point the finger at everyone else when you haven’t achieved your desired outcomes or goals, be it for a deadline at work you missed or not having the type of financial success you thought you’d have at this stage in your life. It’s always everyone elses fault or it’s because of external forces beyond your control. Progressives FEED off of this. It quite literally gives them life. Progressives don’t exist if you believe you have the power to control your own destiny and take ownership of your success. They know this, and in an act of self-preservation, they engage in creating envy and resentment between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

The progressive manipulation doesn’t stop with wealth gap nonsense. They of course also use race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and any other possible identity group they can to create their useful victims. “It’s not your fault that you’re not wealthy”, they’ll say, “It’s rich, white, cis, hetero, males hogging up all the wealth for themselves and leaving nothing for the rest of us!” This is, of course, hogwash of the highest degree, but it WORKS because people would rather be victims than do the necessary work to gain success for themselves. It is infinitely easier to be a victim than to get up early every morning with a good attitude and go out into the world and do the things you know you need to do to be successful. Here is a harsh truth: everyone, from the lowest beggar to the wealthiest hedge fund manager, is responsible for their own lot in life. For all of its flaws, The USA is still a bastion of freedom wherein anyone with a dream and willpower can grow wealthy and successful beyond their wildest dreams. It’s cliché, but it’s true. But it comes at a cost, and that cost is hard work. Likely, 10 times more hard work than you ever thought it would take. 10 times more work than most people would put up with. And as such, you have a block that would rather Demand universal debt forgiveness ‘just because’ and demand a ‘living wage regardless of employment’, than go out into the world and find meaningful work that also brings them financial success. And these useful victims will keep in power progressive politicians that will wave at their occupy rally out the window of their bulletproof limo, on the way to the bank.

Consider the progressive dumpster fire that is California. Have the states absurd tax policies done anything to actually reduce poverty? 20% of residents live in poverty. This is by DESIGN. The progressives running the show in CA need a large portion of the population to be poor (outside of their Hollywood donors, of course) and they need them to believe they have no hope. Then they tax the most successful among the states residents at some of the highest rates in the country, to provide goodies to those they’ve told they can’t survive without the assistance from their friends at the government. It becomes self fulfilling. Progressive programs designed to ‘help the needy get out of poverty’ are a sham. They are designed to do nothing but foster dependence or at least, create a temporary vote. And how is California faring with this strategy? Not. Great.

The point of this is that victim mentality will get you nowhere, and it is absolutely a choice. You can choose to believe you can’t succeed because you were born poor, or black, or female, or gay, or any number of reasons. And if you believe that, then you wont. But blaming others and demanding wealth redistribution wont bring you wealth or happiness. However, it WILL keep those with the most to gain from you being poor and helpless in power.

You Probably Haven’t Heard of The Greatest Threat to Global Security

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In the 2006 film “Lucky Number Slevin” Mr. Goodkat explains the concept of a “Kansas City Shuffle” to Nick Fisher, a degenerate gambler who owes two different mob bosses a large amount of money. As Bruce Willis’s character explains; a “Kansas City Shuffle” is when everybody else goes left, you go right.

This basic “bait and switch” con is used all the time in politics, anytime there is a “scandal” of any sorts, it is prudent to dig a little deeper to find out what’s really going on.  Let’s take the current geopolitical atmosphere, for example.  For weeks the media, egged on by the Trump administration and China, have been focused on North Korea.  Most rationale people see through this ploy, but nothing unites the country like a common enemy, even if that common enemy doesn’t pose much of a threat at all, so the media ran with it.  So while the media has blown this story way out of proportion, I did what I always do; looked to see what else was going on in the region.  While the Trump Administration has been threatening China over North Korea, the real threat to global security was happening a few thousand kilometers away, in a small piece of disputed territory in the Himalayan mountains between the world’s two most populous countries.

On June 16th, flanked by Chinese troops, construction began on a road in the disputed territory of Doklam.  The territory is located in the Himalayan mountains between Tibet’s “Chumbi Valley,” and Bhutan’s “Ha Valley.” The area has been claimed by Bhutan since 1961, China also claims the territory, saying it is part of Tibet and therefore Chinese land. Despite 24 rounds of border negotiations over the last 56 years, no progress has been made on the dispute. Doklam.jpg

While the mountain kingdom of Bhutan has less than a million citizens, they have been protected by a “Treaty of Friendship” with India since 1949.  This treaty states that India will protect Bhutan from foreign aggression. India takes this treaty very seriously, so seriously that India’s main garrison is located just 13 miles from the disputed territory. So it comes as no surprise that on June 18th India mobilized 270 troops to Doklam to “protect” Bhutan. Many in Bhutan view the standoff as less about protecting their country, and more of a pissing match between India and China. Whether or not India actually cares about the safety of Bhutan is largely irrelevant. The danger is that the “People’s Liberation Army of China” boasts 2.285 million soldiers, while the “Indian Armed Forces” has a standing army of over 1.4 million troops. While both governments have called for a peaceful resolution, neither nuclear power is willing to back down; culminating in a “minor scuffle” this week as  Chinese forces tried to enter Indian territory near Pangong lake near Ladakh on Tuesday.

While it is easy to ignore a story about two countries halfway around the world, both China and India play a major role in global manufacturing. China, for example,produced 90% of the world’s computers in 2011. While India continues to grow their economy through manufacturing:

“Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows in India’s manufacturing sector grew by 82 per cent year-on-year to US$ 16.13 billion during April-November 2016.”

A military conflict between the two countries would inevitably draw attention from US-based companies like Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and others who rely on Indian and Chinese labor to build their products. A conflict would more than likely reduce supply, meaning higher prices for the consumer.

Any major conflict between the two countries could also present an opportunity for Paki

Kashmir

stan, another nuclear power, to possibly try and take control of Kashmir and Jammu, the disputed states that mark the border between India and Pakistan. This border dispute has led to three separate conflicts since 1947. A three-way conflict between nuclear powers could easily escalate into something much larger, putting us all at risk.

Much like The Boss and The Rabbi in “Lucky Number Slevin,” the United States has fallen for a “Kansas City Shuffle,” ignoring this border dispute while focusing on a hermit kingdom and a dictator, suffering from Napoleon complex.

Nobody Is Entitled To a Job

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My junior year in high school I accepted my first job in the service industry.  I was a busboy at a restaurant owned by the local country club.  I was pretty excited for the opportunity; the restaurant was ten minutes from my parents house, the wait staff was made up of beautiful girls I’d grown up with, and the guys in the kitchen were willing to buy me and my friends alcohol.  As a 17 year old, I couldn’t ask for more.  The only problem was, I was scheduled to work till close every Friday and Saturday night.  I remember complaining about my schedule to my dad, telling him that working till 11 at every Friday and Saturday night left me with no time to hang out with my friends.  

In retrospect, his response was predictable; my dad comes from a blue-collar family, and the work ethic instilled upon him by my grandfather has allowed him to become successful in his career.  He looked at me and told me “it’s a job, people around here would kill for the opportunity you have, don’t blow it because you don’t like the hours.” This was in suburban Detroit at the onset of the financial crisis, the parents of my friends primarily worked in the auto-industry and were losing their careers left and right. My dad’s message was clear, nobody is entitled to a job. People on both sides of the aisle seem to have forgotten this.

This week Google fired James Damore, the author of a 10 page internal letter sent to his colleagues at Google about diversity in the workplace. While the left has called his letter sexist, the right has hailed his letter as brutally honest. In it he acknowledges that racism and sexism exists, but points out that society may be ignoring human nature. Men and women, black and white, etc. all have different psychological and biological make ups that make absolute equality nearly impossible, some groups are going to be better at some things than other groups. He states that our experiences help build who we become, and he rightly states that companies need a diverse set of opinions and experiences to thrive. In his opinion, Google has failed in that sense.  Google disagreed, and this week they fired him. Damore is now exploring legal action against the search  Damore.jpegengine.

Similarly Colin Kaepernick has been unable to find a job in the NFL following his actions last season with the San Francisco 49er’s. Throughout last season Kaepernick, who had previously led his team to a berth in the Super Bowl, took a knee during the national anthem; when the media started picking up on this story his actions became controversial, the right got upset at his “disrespect” while the left hailed his bravery. Kaepernick followed this up by expressing his political beliefs publicly. While talking on these issues, the quarterback pledged to donate $1 million dollars of his salary to various charities that he believes make a difference. As of June Kaepernick had donated $700,000 to 24 organizations. Kaepernick’s actions took bravery, and he had every right to speak out, but he had to know there would be backlash. But I doubt anyone realized that as of August 8th he would be unemployed. ESPN, which has moved further and further to the left over the last couple of years, has been outraged. He deserves a job, they clamor. The outrage has gone so far that multiple ESPN personalities have demanded that the NFL step in and force a team to sign him, much like how they kaepernick.jpgpressured the Rams to draft Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted.

Both the Damore and Kaepernick stories are incredibly similar. Both Damore and Kaepernick took a public stance on something they believe in, both are now unemployed, and both have drawn criticism from those who disagree with their actions. But both must now reap what they sow.

Damore isn’t entitled to his job at Google just because the right believes he in his actions. Simultaneously, no NFL team must sign Colin Kaepernick just because the left found him courageous. Both Google and NFL franchises are businesses, neither is required to employ someone whom they believe may damage their brand. In Google’s case; many employees feel uncomfortable with Damore’s letter, and they have determined that their brand suffers from his presence. In the NFL’s case; owners, coaches, and GM’s have determined that their brand would suffer from signing Colin Kaepernick. It doesn’t matter how good these men may be at their professions, employers are always going to way risk versus reward.

None of us are entitled to a job. If you take a stand, or express an opinion that your employer disagrees with, or believes damages the brand, then they don’t need to keep paying you. Your bravery, right or wrong, does not entitle you to a paycheck. We all must accept responsibility for our actions.

5 Republicans To Watch in 2020

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Over the weekend, while out with my friends, I asked “what Republicans will run for President in 2020?” They all sort of looked at me with strange looks, one of them said “this is why we don’t invite you to things” while another asked “who wants to play Buckhunter?” Being a politico is difficult sometimes. After most of the table cleared out to go play Buckhunter, I was left with two others. Besides myself (a Libertarian) I was left with a Republican and a Democrat. While the three of us don’t generally agree on many political issues, we all agreed that Robert Mueller convening a federal grand jury to look into Russian meddling likely meant that Trump would either be impeached, resign, or not run for re-election.

Over the next half hour we came up with a list of five Republicans who we all thought could win the nomination in 2020.

 

Mike Pence

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The most obvious choice for the Republican nomination is current Vice President, and former Governor of Indiana Mike Pence.

Nobody wants to be Vice President, the position has no purpose outside of breaking a tie in the Senate, and most find it to be an exceptionally boring, and possibly worthless job.  John Adams, our nation’s first Vice President stated:


“My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”

Adams may have been the first to complain about the office, but he wasn’t the last. The office is generally sought by those who have higher aspirations, and appearances suggest that Pence wants to be President. While he has denounced rumors that he would challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, he certainly has the pedigree for the position. Prior to being Governor of Indiana he served in the House of Representatives from 2001 till 2013, serving as the chairman of the House Republican Conference from 2009-2011.  

On the issues Pence is pro-life, pushed for a balanced budget amendment to Indiana’s state constitution, opposed government bailouts, is against increasing regulations, is for “stop and frisk” policies, supports the war on drugs, and is a hawk on foreign policy issues.

Pence would have a leg up for the nomination, especially if Trump doesn’t finish his first term. If he were to audition for the office, it’s hard to imagine that Pence, an establishment favorite, wouldn’t seek the nomination in 2020.

 

John Kasich

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The current Governor of Ohio sought the Republican nomination in 2016, and has been a staunch opponent of President Trump since the beginning. Over the last few years he has done as much as he possibly can to distance himself from Donald Trump, including skipping last summer’s convention, even though it was being held in Cleveland. Kasich, also an establishment favorite, served in the House of Representatives from 1983 till 2001, and supposedly turned down Trump’s offer to become Vice President.

When it comes to the issues, Kasich has been a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform; signing bills in 2012 and 2011 that make it easier for felons to find jobs, and advocating for shorter rehabilitation over prison for nonviolent offenders. Kasich favors “common core,” wants to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, and while he wants to cut corporate taxes, he also wants to raise taxes on oil companies, and move away from the income tax.

Governor Kasich has failed to rule out a 2020 Presidential run, and is planning several “policy forums” across Ohio and New Hampshire.

 

Nikki Haley

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The former Governor of South Carolina, and current UN Ambassador has never been a Trump supporter (despite serving in his cabinet). Her reputation is helped by the rumor that one of the key reasons she was chosen as UN Ambassador is because her former Lt. Governor in South Carolina, Henry McMaster, was a vocal Trump supporter. When Haley was named UN Ambassador McMaster became South Carolina’s Governor, the rumor is this was McMasters reward for supporting Trump.

Nikki Haley presents a unique opportunity for Republicans. Her Indian-American ancestry would essentially negate any perceived advantage Democrat Kamala Harris, another Indian-American, would have based on gender and ancestry alone. The fact that female minorities would have two qualified candidates to choose from would mean that they would be more likely to vote on policy issues, rather than following their heart strings.

While serving as Governor of South Carolina, Haley reduced unemployment from 11% to 4% and created 85,000 new jobs. She’s anti-Obamacare, pro gun rights, anti-immigration, and pro-life.

 

Rand Paul

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Another former presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul is among the most ideologically consistent members of the Senate who easily won re-election last year. Senator Paul is a favorite among libertarian leaning republicans. During his time in office he has been critical of the NSA and the surveillance state that is supported by many establishment leaders, he’s been critical of our foreign policy, he’s one of only a few Republicans who has recently advocated for a full repeal of Obamacare, he’s  co-sponsored legislation with liberal Senators like Kamala Harris and Corey Booker on issues like criminal justice and bail reform. He’s been critical of Washington’s spending problem, while consistently vocalizing his opposition to new taxes and regulations.

While Paul may have some issues with establishment republicans; his crossover appeal with both libertarians and (some) democrats, as well as his popularity with millennials could mean a well-run campaign leading up to 2020 could secure his nomination.

 

Ben Sasse

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The freshman Senator from Nebraska has always been a vocal opponent of Donald Trump. In the lead up to the 2014 election, Sasse ran as the “anti Obamacare” candidate and ran as a strong social conservative.  

When it comes to Obamacare, he has consistently voted to repeal as much of the act as possible. In his short time in office, he has also taken a surprisingly libertarian view on foreign policy issues; joining Senator Paul in opposing additional sanctions against Russia, and opposing selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to the economy, Sasse has consistently been against government regulations, while calling for more privatization and a revamp of the tax code.

Like Kasich, Sasse also hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run. In the last few months, Sasse has popped up across the state of Iowa; whether he’s talking policy, or just driving for Uber, the Nebraska Senator has made sure that Iowans know who he is.

 

As Republicans continue to distance themselves from President Trump, it doesn’t look like the party would have much difficulty in finding a better candidate in 2020.