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

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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.

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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.

CalExit Will Never Happen

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After the election of Donald Trump, many people got irrational, particularly Governor Jerry Brown, and the people of California (who ironically opened an embassy in Moscow in protest). Since then, many people, both in California and across the country, have pushed for the Golden State’s secession. Last Tuesday, California’s Attorney General decided to humor the #CalExit organizers.

Last Tuesday, California Attorney General  Xavier Becerra apparently finished his scotch, said “what the hell,” and gave his stamp of approval for a group of people to begin gathering the more than 585,000 signatures needed to allow a ballot initiative that would allow a ballot initiative calling for secession to be put on the 2018 ballot. If the ballot measure were to somehow pass, a commission would form to explore how the state could secede from the United States, unfortunately, this will never happen. calexit dos.jpg

Secession isn’t a new idea, outside the Civil War, the idea pops up every couple of years, normally in Texas, and at that time realists endlessly mock these attempts, and for good reason, the fact remains that there is no way to secede from the Union written in the Constitution.  Article IV Section 3 of the Constitution deals with how to admit a new state into the country, but the reverse is never discussed, and has been dismissed outright by plenty of respectable legal scholars.

In 2006, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was asked by screenwriter Dan Turkewitz if a group of people suing the government for the right to secede would be a good plot point. Scalia responded saying that state’s do not have the right to secede. In his letter back to Turkewitz, Scalia said that such an issue would never even reach the Supreme Court:

“To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. … Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit.”

Scalia.jpgWhat Justice Scalia pointed out in that first line is something most people don’t realize.  In the eyes of the United States government, there no such thing as the “Confederate States of America.” The southern states, in their mind, were just occupied by hostile citizens. This line of thinking was pointed out in the 1869 Supreme Court case Texas v. White.  This case argued that Texas’s Confederate state legislature had illegally sold bonds that were owned by Texas, and issued by the United States government as part of the compromise of 1850. While ruling on this case, the justices wrote;

“The Constitution, in all its provisions… looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.”

So while Jefferson Davis and his friends may have seen themselves as an independent country, the United States hadn’t given them the go-ahead to secede, so they had no sovereignty. The Civil War was a war for independence, much like the American Revolution was a war for independence. We had to defeat the British before getting the go-ahead to secede; if we had lost, we’d have socialized medicine and a government that doesn’t respect individual rights, and do we really want that?

While it amuses us to think that a state that disagrees with our own core ideologies could soon be gone, it is unlikely to happen. So unfortunately it looks as though referring to San Francisco as a “foreign country” will remain hyperbole.

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5 Baffling Examples of Government Waste

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Last week an astonishing story came out of Canada.  Apparently, the City of Toronto had stated that it would cost the taxpayers of Ontario $65,000 to build some stairs in a city park. In an act of sensibility and reason, a retired mechanic decided he could probably build that same set of stairs at a cheaper rate, so he got to work, completing the project for a mere $550 dollars.  For some reason this pissed off the city of Toronto, who decided to waste taxpayer dollars and tear down the handyman’s stairs.

It’s astonishing how many examples there are of the government wasting taxpayer dollars. If one city is willing to spend $65,000 to build something one guy did over a weekend, presumably with a six pack of Molson, for under $600, what else are they wasting our money on?

$100 Million Dollars In Unused Airline Tickets

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Between 1997 and 2003 a federal audit revealed that the Department of Defense spent in excess of $100 million dollars on airline tickets that were never used. That’s 270,000 unused airline tickets.  Between 2001 and 2002 the audit revealed that the Pentagon purchased the same ticket twice in an astonishing 27,000 instances. But perhaps the worst part about this waste is that these tickets were fully refundable.  

The Department of Defense and the Pentagon fall under “military spending.” Still think we can’t afford to reduce military spending?

$29 Million Dollars Worth of Construction Equipment Lost in Afghanistan

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I’ll never forget when my friend Abe returned from serving his second tour in Iraq in 2009. Sitting outside on a patio outside of a bar in Iowa he lit up a cigarette, and before taking his first puff he was already laughing. Confused, we asked him what was so funny, and with a smile on his face he started telling us how odd it was to be able to smoke outside of a bar. He went on to tell us that how in the military he was only allowed to smoke in certain areas; often times shacks that he and his unit would have to build. He told us one story of how when he was in Afghanistan the closest smoke shack was about a mile away. Disappointed, he and some men from his unit decided to obtain material to build one closer to where they spent most of their day. He went on to describe how he had no idea how much, or even what material was needed, so while he and his unit were filling out the paperwork they would guess at what was needed.  The requisition was approved, and when the material arrived they realized they had way too much material, and after the shack was built they sort of abandoned the surplus and forgot about it.  

Since 2001, the government has spent nearly $4 TRILLION dollars on wars in the Middle East.  We often hear from Republicans in Congress that the taxpayer dollars being spent in Afghanistan, and throughout the region are in an effort to make the region safe, and therefore to keep America safe.  But as my friend Abe pointed out, a lot of it is bullshit.

In his annual “Festivus” report, Senator Rand Paul highlighted how in 2016 taxpayers spent $29 million dollars on lost cranes and bulldozers in Afghanistan.

 

Pentagon Spends $43 Million on One Gas Station in Afghanistan

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In October of 2015, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction published an alarming report.  Apparently taxpayers had spent $43 million dollars to build a single compressed natural gas station in Sheberghan Afghanistan. The purpose of the gas station, according to the report, was to highlight the commercial viability of using compressed natural gas to fuel vehicles in the region. John Sopko, who commissioned the report, had previously built a similar gas station in Pakistan for $500,000, meaning this particular station cost 140 times more.

The report highlights more than $30 million in overhead, and, according to Sopko;

“One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide and explanation for the high cost of the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation or outcome.”

The average American is responsible for making sure that they can provide for themselves and their families, we are expected to act responsibly. But like that trust fund kid paying for his whole crew to go on spring break with him, the government doesn’t care about cost because they’re paying with someone else’s money.

 

$48,500 to Study the Smoking Habits of Russians

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Russians like to do many things; drink vodka, watch hockey, hack our elections, and smoke tobacco.  In fact Russians really like their tobacco; 60% of Russian men, and 25% of Russian woman regularly indulge in tobacco products.  

In April of 2015 the U.S. National Institutes of Health gave a grad student nearly $50,000 to study the habits of tobacco use in Russia over the last 130 years.

I think I join the vast majority of Americans when I say, “who cares?”

$9.6 Billion a Year on the 

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Formed as part of the “New Deal” by FDR in 1935, the “Rural Utilities Service Program” was designed to bring electricity to farms across the country, which may have been a good idea at the time.  That year only 11% of this America’s farms had electricity.  Today, however, the program is a giant, inefficient boondoggle, and eliminating the program would save taxpayers close to $10 billion dollars in the first year. What they’ve been doing lately is spending an estimated $5,500 per resident to give a rural town in Arkansas with a population of 122 people internet access.

While the program obviously has noble intentions, the private sector could, and would step up to fill this void. Google, and other tech giants love to invest in bringing infrastructure to more potential clients. But why would they invest in infrastructure when the government already does.  When the government cuts spending in one area there is usually a large public outcry, then the void gets filled by private enterprise.
There are literally hundreds of examples of how the government wastes our money on a daily basis, yet progressives constantly want to add more government programs. Lets return that money to the people, let us decide what is and is not worthwhile.

Oregon Wants To Take Your Guns

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“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – 2nd Amendment to the Constitution

A recently passed Oregon Bill would allow a police officer, or a family member to seek a court order that would require subjects to turn over their guns, for up to a year, if the petitioners and the court think they could be a harm to themselves or others.  Apparently they don’t understand the term “shall not be infringed.”

According to the bill, the legislation, which now sits on Governor Kate Brown’s desk, the bill; 

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Oregon Governor Kate Brown

“Creates process for obtaining extreme risk protection order prohibiting person from possessing deadly weapon when court finds that person presents risk in near future, including imminent risk, of suicide or causing injury to another person. Establishes procedures for law enforcement officer or family or household member of person to apply for order. Establishes procedures for respondent to request hearing, and for continuance of order after hearing or if hearing is not requested. Establishes procedures for termination and renewal of order”

So how does the state decide who is deserving of an “extreme risk protection order?” Glad you asked!

“(6)(a) The court shall issue an extreme risk protection order if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence, based on the petition and supporting documentation and after considering a statement by the respondent, if provided, that the respondent presents a risk in the near future, including an imminent risk, of suicide or of causing physical injury to another person. “

The bill is being propped up by gun control advocates like former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as a way to prevent the mentally ill from causing harm to themselves or others. The hilariously ironic thing about that line of thinking is that mental illness is perhaps the one thing courts are not allowed to consider when issuing this “protection” order.

“The court may not include in the findings any mental health diagnosis or any connection between the risk presented by the respondent and mental illness”

While petitioner’s must prove that the person in question is at “extreme risk.” The bill defines this as anyone who has a history of threatening violence, either against themselves or others. But a previous violent misdemeanor would also make someone eligible, so would a previous DUI.

The subject of one of these petitions has no right to contest the order before it is issued, although they can appeal it afterwards. Once a petition is issued, the subject would have 24 hours to surrender all their weapons, if they were to refuse to surrender their weapons, they could find themselves in jail for up to a year, a $6,250 fine, or both.

The bill wasn’t passed in good faith, according to Reason.  Upon the bill passing through the Senate;

“SB 719 was sent not to the House Judiciary Committee—which usually handles criminal legislation, but is chaired by pro–Second Amendment Democrat Jeff Barker—but rather to the House Rules Committee. That committee’s chair decided to forgo a public hearing on the bill, and instead passed it out of committee the day before July 4, when half the Republicans committee members had already gone home.”

Ignoring the fact that this bill blatantly violates the second amendment, this legislation won’t accomplish anything, and can actually hurt those whom the bill is aiming to protect.

A suicidal person doesn’t need to use a gun to kill themselves, so it’s hard to see how it would protect someone from self-harm.  While the bill could put victims of domestic violence at risk.

One of the criteria of petitioners includes not only law enforcement, but family members, and anyone you live with.  Let’s say that a woman is in an abusive relationship and one day during the abuse she threatens to kill herself. The abusive partner could then turn to the court system and have them take away the weapon that could save the victim’s life.

Oregonians rights could also be trampled by judges with an agenda like Kenneth Walker , who has publicly stated that he wishes he could “dump all guns in the ocean.”

 

Hopefully Oregon’s senate will attempt to tear this bill up sooner, rather than later.

Republicans Announce 2018 Budget; Economy is Still Screwed

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For years Libertarians, and a select few Republicans have been talking about this countries out of control spending problem, and our massive debt. On Tuesday morning House Republicans introduced their 2018 budget, which if passed as is tomorrow morning, would give Republicans like Paul Ryan a “win,” but would do little to help this country in the long-term. 

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Paul Ryan and the GOP are trying to trick us.

The House plan would slash federal spending by $5.4 trillion dollars over the next decade. While cutting spending on mandatory programs, like medicare and medicaid by $4 trillion over that same period of time. If passed as is, the budget would pave way for Republicans to attempt to overhaul our tax code for the first time since 1986.

Overhauling the tax code has been talked about for years, but has gained little traction, and it is unlikely that Republicans will be successful in their endeavors this time for a few reasons. First, the budget would have to pass both the House and the Senate, with no changes; which seems unlikely. Second, this congress has given us no reason to believe they are serious about fiscal change; especially after they failed to repeal the taxes created by Obamacare, which Republicans in the House and Senate both said would be vital to overhauling the tax code.

Despite that, Paul Ryan has pushed forward; calling for less tax brackets, switching to a territorial tax system, and repealing the “Alternative Minimum Tax” which, when passed, meant well, but has damaged the middle class,

[the AMT] was designed to keep wealthy taxpayers from using loopholes to avoid paying taxes. But because it was not automatically updated for inflation, more middle-class taxpayers were getting hit with the AMT each year. Congress traditionally passed an annual “patch” to address this until, in January 2013, as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal, they passed a permanent patch to the AMT.

What the budget doesn’t contain, however, is any cuts to defense spending. In fact, the budget calls for  $621.5 billion in national defense spending, up from $598 billion in 2016.  Just for comparison, the next biggest defense budget in the world last year was China, at $146 billion. 

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via WaPo

 

Hawks on both sides of the aisle see the increased defense spending as a good thing. They don’t care that we spend more than any nation on earth on defense, as long as they save face with the military. This is despite the fact that the Defense Business Board found $125 billion dollars in administrative waste related to defense spending over the next five years. Legislatures could have easily cut this spending without closing a single base, or putting this nation at risk, but playing politics is more important than economic collapse.

The proposed spending cuts are a drop in the bucket, when considering we have nearly $20 trillion in national debt. The Congressional Budget Office seems to agree, and has released a particularly grim outlook for our economy over the next 10 years.  The American Enterprise Institute describes why the CBO’s report is so troubling;

“ [the] baseline — a forecast of federal revenue, spending, deficits, and debt — assumes current laws and policies will remain as they are today for the next 10 years. President Trump has modified a small number of relevant budgetary factors since taking office, particularly the level of defense spending in 2017. But, for the most part, CBO’s projections reflect the policies put in place during the tenure of the Obama administration.”

The cuts proposed by Republicans are like a Kardashian: aesthetically pleasing, but ultimately worthless. In 2018, the CBO expects the deficit to be $563 billion, down from an expected $693 billion in 2017. However, by 2027, the CBO expects the deficit to rise to $1.5 TRILLION which would be an expected 5.2% of our GDP.  The projected deficits will push federal debt to 90% of our GDP by 2027, up from 39% in 2008. Considering that from 1983 until 2008 GDP grew at an average  of 3.3%, and in 2019 and 2020 the CBO expects GDP to grow at just 1.5%, our economic future looks grim.

While the outlook is just a prediction, it’s hard not to be a little pessimistic about the whole situation.  If we want to affect real change, and truly make America great again, then we need to make an effort to elect politicians who are unafraid to make painful, unpopular decisions. In his classic book on economics; “Economics in One Lesson,” Henry Hazlitt demonstrates the need to look at the long-term outlook of every policy decision we make, even if it makes us worse-off in the short term.  Unfortunately, we live in an age where politicians are constantly campaigning, kicking the can down the road for someone else to deal with later. For a society so hell-bent on leaving the earth in better shape for our children, we sure seemed to have forgotten that we will also leave them our economy.