Archive for July, 2018

Tariffs as a Negotiation Chip

July 24, 2018

The way President Donald Trump is talking about tariffs recently leads me to believe he may only consider them a temporary bargaining chip. He recently tweeted:

Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!

Is his intention solely to lower trade barriers with other countries? That is, the US will impose tariffs only in retribution to tariffs placed on us? This certainly sounds like it.

Coming from a free-market libertarian perspective, tariffs are a terrible idea. Not only are you only taxing your own people, as they have fewer choices and so pay higher prices, but you are giving an unfair advantage to the country you are imposing tariffs on. See, all things being equal, will people go to a country with high tariffs to buy their goods, or a country with low or no tariffs? The answer is obvious: people prefer to trade where there are no tariffs. This is why countries like Hong Kong even exist: They are trade shelters, where people can come to buy and sell freely before making the “last stop” in a high-tariff country.

Thus, countries which impose tariffs are really only hurting themselves, separating their economies from the world trade system, and raising prices for their people. Yes, it raises revenue for government coffers, which may be necessary for, say, national defense, but that’s another discussion and I think all economists agree it’s better to keep money out of government altogether, allowing individuals to invest it as they see fit. (The “Tragedy of the Commons” AKA “General Welfare” means that people will not invest in public goods and services, making something like government necessary for those sorts of things.)

Regardless, it appears that President Trump’s strategy is not to replace income taxes with tariffs, similar to how President Jefferson did when he was in power, but instead to cause other countries to lower their own tariffs.

What would the effect be? Their economies would become more open, more competitive with the US. Capital would flow into their countries, capital that would’ve otherwise flowed into tax or trade shelters, or even into the US.

This sort of things honestly bothers me. It’s one thing to run your country as one of few tax or trade shelters. It’s quite another to encourage other countries to join you as a competitor.

In business terms, this is like Donald Trump challenging Jeff Bezos to make Amazon even more profitable, even though he knows it means he will have less access to investment funds and more competition in the marketplace.

I don’t know what Trump’s long-term strategy is here, but it could be he wishes to overthrow or reveal the globalists for who they really are. Yes, there is a way to prosperity, and no it does not involve the heavy hand of government. Perhaps Trump sees America’s future in making other countries great too.

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Communist Nations — Not so bad?

July 23, 2018

When I was a kid, I was raised to believe that the evil communist Russians were plotting to destroy the United States with nuclear weapons, so we had to build up our own arsenal in order to protect poor, defenseless America.

I know that this was part of the war propaganda. The truth is that after World War II, the United States of America effectively conquered the world. Soviet Russia may have had dreams of leading a glorious communist Russia, but Stalin pretty much ensured that communism would never be anything more than an idea you give young children to try and get them excited about government.

The reality of Russian life behind the Iron Curtain is still something I can’t really understand. I have two Russian friends, and both of them tell me the same thing. First, life in communist Russia really wasn’t that bad. In some ways, life in the US is worse, and it’s not the rampant capitalism — it’s the corruption. Second, Russians, like all people on planet earth, were focused on how to earn enough money to feed their family.

My religion teaches me that God is a pretty tolerant guy. As long as you don’t cross specific lines, he’s going to let you do pretty much whatever you want. The lines are pretty clear, and you can work out through the Bible and Book of Mormon where it is.

The line seems to be drawn at the family. Once a society makes it all but impossible to raise a family, that’s it for the society. Now, there could be a thousand different reasons why you can’t raise a family. In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, it was their sexual proclivity. The Jews add that they also lacked any sort of charity or compassion, preferring to allow people to starve rather than sell them food or water. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites were destroyed because they had become bloodthirsty, cruel, and savage. They employed women and children in their armies, and when all the women and children were slaughtered, they kept fighting anyway. The Lamanites, meanwhile, never resorted to women and children, and even though they did horrible things to their enemies, they lived on, protected by the Lord.

What great evil did Soviet Russia do? As near as I can tell, it wasn’t that hard to raise a family in Russia. Sure, people were randomly thrown into Gulags, but hey! They kept their children with them! UNLIKE TRUMP — amiright?

North Korea continues to exist, as far as I can see, because they are very pro-family. The idea that someone does not grow up to marry and start a family is unthinkable to them. The same is true, more or less, for Russia, though in recent decades there is less interest in raising families than before. I remain hopeful as Orthodox Christianity is all but a state religion in Russia, and from what I hear, religion is very important over there.

Well, let’s compare those countries with our home — the US of A. Here, things are really bad when it comes to the family. Our popular culture dumps anti-family messages non-stop, 24×7. I watch a lot of Japanese anime, and despite its quirks, its message regarding family is consistent: Grow up, get married, have kids. What about American media? When’s the last time you watched a show that glorified marriage, or put it as the central focus of adulthood? When’s the last time you heard a story about a mother and father who gave up everything to raise their kids?

I have a lot of hope for the US, but we need to be serious when it comes to issues of the family. If there’s anything which God seems to get upset about on a national scale, it’s this. It’s high time we remembered how important family is.

Why Individualism Matters

July 23, 2018

Studying up on Naziism, I am struck by how anti-individual it is. Repeatedly, the concerns of the individual are to be replaced by the concerns of the state. The thinking goes, “We either all succeed together (via the state), or we all fail.”

This sort of thinking, I believe, is at the core of Naziism. It is also at the core of a host of other bad philosophies, such as socialism.

Once you’ve determined that there is a collective victory that is superior and preferable to individual victory, the only question is how you define the collective. Modern-day globalists would like to lump all of humanity into that collective. Socialists would like to lump all working-class (IE, non-rich) into that collective. The Alt-Right is concerned only about the color of your skin, forgetting that even though we share the same skin color, we still do not agree and have historical and cultural differences. Thus, communism, globalism, naziism, the Alt-Right, these are not very different from one another. You hear the same message, “Us vs. Them”, with the definition of “Us” being the only deciding factor.

This sort of thinking, to me is dangerous. I’d like to explain why.

First, the collective is nothing more than the sum of the parts. If you have a V8 engine, the total power output is going to be to output of each of the cylinders, added together. Sure, you can arrange the same components in different configurations and avoid inefficiencies (a V6 will run better than a V8 with two cylinders non-working, after all), but ultimately, each component needs to be working at or near peak condition.

Thus, individual needs are the needs of the collective. If you want everyone to be happy, you have to make each person happy, one at a time. You cannot be collectively happy without individual happiness.

Second, the collective has no will, but individuals do. Individuals have desires and motives, and that’s what makes up the collective’s desires and motives. This is something few politicians really understand. It’s not the mob mentality that gives them power, it’s the reason why people come together to form mobs in the first place. Thus, it’s really pointless to talk about the collective as if it were a person. It is not. People are people, and nothing else. So if you want to represent the will of the collective, what you’re really doing is representing the will of each person of the collective.

Third, we get to the crux of the argument. Let’s say the collective you belong to is full of ne’er-do-wells who want nothing more than to do bad things. What can the collective do? The collective, after all, is nothing more than the sum of its parts, so the collective will also do bad things.

Or what if you belong to a collective of absolute saints. Will the collective be worse than that? What can you do to make it better, if there is nothing better the individuals could possibly do?

Knowing that the collective is neither good nor bad, but individuals are, we see the true problem: You need to manipulate individuals, control them, somehow, force them to be better (or worse), or rather, to bend to your will, rather than their own.

Thus we see what the collective really is: A device used to discourage individual thinking, and ultimately, to disempower the individual.

Now, a broken clock is right twice a day, so just because thinking of the collective gives a certain conclusion doesn’t mean the conclusion is necessarily wrong. However, it does mean that it isn’t a very good way of thinking about things, because it isn’t necessarily right either. In short, thinking of the collective without thinking of the individual is powerless, while thinking of the individual without thinking of the collective is powerful. In short, reasoning with the collective will limit your ability to reason.

Thinking about politics, government, social responsibility, morality, religion — these things all need to be done at the level of the individual. How will one person interact? What will they do better or worse? Will a change in policy change one person’s behavior? I think this is one of the reasons of the success of the United States. We have always been “hopelessly” individualistic, to the point where every person approaches government as “What do I get out of it?” rather than “What is good for all?”

I wonder how Naziism would’ve evolved if they had adopted this aspect of American politics and government — recognition of the false reasoning of the collective and the natural rights and moral responsibility of the individual. Would it even resemble what we know today?

We’re Still in Reconstruction

July 16, 2018

The Civil War purportedly ended in 1865. Note that it was a Civil War, not a rebellion, as it was the governments that revolted, not just the discontented masses. We had a full-blown war between two governments with armies and generals and all that.

The era that followed is rightly dubbed “Reconstruction.” During this time, the devastated South was purported “reconstructed”. What really happened, however, was the North imposed their will on the South, in a vindictive and fascist style.

There were four battles being fought, wars if you will, after the Civil War ended.

  • Congress v. the Presidency
  • North v. South
  • Black v. White
  • Republican Party v. Democratic Party

The first battle is still unresolved today. The question is “Who ultimately controls domestic affairs?” Or rather, “Who should take the lead?” Thanks to President Johnson’s ineptitude, the republicans took control of congress, with a significant number of radicals, and for most of the reconstruction, at least the latter part of it, congress did whatever it pleased, damn the constitution or the opinions of the president.

This showed that congress, ultimately, carries the torch when it comes to domestic affairs. They are virtually unstoppable when they are united.

Since then, we’ve had several strong presidents try to reassert control over domestic affairs.

If I had to pick a side, I would choose congress. However, it requires that the voters understand how important it is to elect the right sort of person to office in congress. You need battle-hardened warriors who want to take the fight to the government, not mealy-mouthed sponges who see their job as acting as a buffer between the will of the people and the Deep State.

On the battle front of North v. South, the question was “Which trade policy should we have?” The North, thanks to its heavy manufacturing core, preferred high tariffs and no income taxes. This would all but force Americans to “Buy American” but at the same time, keep the workers out of the purview of the federal government. The South, on the other hand, relied more in farms and farming, so they were looking for more mouths to feed. They wanted low tariffs, expecting other countries to reciprocate. At the very least, they wanted cheap machines to work their soil.

This war is still being waged today. We cannot seem to make up our mind on what our trade policy should be. I believe the “no tariff” crowd is going to lose, as the only excuse that made any sense was we needed to strengthen the countries on the frontline of the Soviet threat. Now that threat is gone, and so it makes no sense to give preference to our “trade allies”, if there ever could be such a thing.

Yes, according to free market economics, tariffs are a bad idea. But so are any taxes. Tariffs are the least bad tax because they’re optional, and there is a strong incentive to keep them as low as possible. On the one hand, you raise less funds with high tariffs, and on the other hand, there are always going to be people looking to buy cheap foreign goods.

The Black v. White battle is raging even today. Really, this is a battle not of skin colors, but of ideas. On one side is the idea that whether or not black people are functionally different, politically speaking, from whites, that it is not just to give them different treatment. On the other side is the idea that unless two people are exactly the same, they should not have the same political power.

I draw your attention to the actual message of the Alt-Right. Note that they are not saying, “Fewer rights for blacks!” Instead, they are saying, “Preserve our rights; preserve their rights.” They want to maximize political power of whites and blacks alike by allowing people to form political bands based on the attributes they feel are important. One does not need American citizenship to enjoy their rights, after all. (They can form their own governments made of people who think like they do.) Thus, we do not need to grant citizenship to every inhabitant of planet earth.

I would hope that this debate would draw to a close soon, but democrats insist that because blacks have some differences with white, they should not have the same political power, so it keeps coming up time and again.

Finally, the war between Republican and Democrat. This is an ancient war, started long before the first shots of the Civil War were fired. It rages on today.

My take on this war is it is stupid and counter-productive.

The Democratic Party was wrong time and again, and why anyone would want to call themselves a democrat is beyond me. To me, calling yourself a democrat is like calling yourself a Stalinist or a Nazi. Sure, you might not agree with everything those political philosophies endorsed, but that doesn’t excuse preserving their name. At least modern Nazi sympathizers are smart enough not to call themselves Nazis!

The Republican Party, however, was also wrong. The two parties are reverse sides of the same coin: Government control. The Whigs were right, and it’s high time we went back to Whiggism.

What does Whiggism look like?

  • Minimal government.
  • Goverment by the wise, experienced and able, not the well-connected or wealthy.
  • Maximize the rights of the individual.
  • Maximize the powers of the smaller governments.

Whiggism would almost look foreign today. Imagine walking into a town where certain federal laws were of no force. Or moving to a state only to realize that they acknowledge a different set of rights than the state you came from. No one would think of appealing a matter to the federal government, since the federal government would only care about issues that crossed state boundaries or affected the federal government.

It would be a return to state politics, where each state carefully examined itself every 2 and 4 years to see how they were doing protecting the rights of their own citizens. If they had a bad report card, there would be no appeal to the Supreme Court, there would be no federal army to save them. Thus, the states would be the last line of defense against tyranny.

This is not a bad thing: Tyrannical states would be quickly depopulated. States that can’t manage their own economy would become poor. States that did protect rights would attract new immigrants from other states, and would have strong economies. By their fruits ye shall know them, as the Bible says.

Now that Janus has been decided, next on my political wishlist is the abolishment of the 14th, 17th, and 19th amendments. Yes, these are not federal matters, but state matters. Consigning them to the federal government turns our federal system into an imperial one. The abolition of these amendments would see the virtual elimination of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, as each state’s politics would be completely independent of the others.

The other three wars being waged today, I believe, would resolve themselves if we could fix this critical issue.

 

 

Janus is Huge: It Disrupts the Democrat Machine

July 16, 2018

A long time ago, if I made a list of things that I would wish could happen, but probably never will, “Eliminate all public sector unions” would be near the top.

The public sector unions are one of the most important cogs in the Democratic Party machine. It means that democrats don’t have to worry what the voters think, because they can virtually raise infinite funds to run a media campaign to change the way they think.

The way the public sector unions work is as follows:

  • The government pays its employees salaries and benefits.
  • The employees pay their union dues.
  • The unions use some of that money to elect favorable politicians (always democrats).
  • The elected politicians negotiate salary and benefits with the unions.
  • Repeat ad nauseum.

If you could disrupt this process, you could eliminate billions from politics. Without a steady flow of union dues, and without the money being injected into politics from the public sector unions, democrats would have a hard time running their billion-dollar ad campaigns before elections.

Note on some terminology here, because the last thing the government unions want is for the public to understand what is really going on here.

  • “Public sector” means “government”. That is, police, firefighters, government-owned utilities, as well as the army of bureaucrats that make and enforce government policy.
  • “Union” is any sort of organization that purports to represent workers, and negotiates with their employers in their behalf.
  • “Political spending” includes overt donations to political campaigns or political organizations, but also includes any sort of spending meant to influence others, such as ads or signs. It also includes the money that unions spend to hire protestors.

You can read the decision at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1466_2b3j.pdf