An Outstanding Assessment

A very insightful piece from Simon Black.  I cannot add to this but to say, Mr. Black is spot on with his assessment of Americans today.

https://www.sovereignman.com/trends/new-poll-record-number-of-americans-want-more-government-in-their-lives-21388/?inf_contact_key=bca43013ae3658dd22297fe0e5837999bd3b2e4d6f6b2a81a9955af064c21ad9

April 24, 2017
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile

In a poll conducted a few days ago by NBC News / Wall Street Journal, a record 57% of Americans responded that they want MORE government in their lives, and that the government should be doing more to solve people’s problems.

That’s the highest percentage since they started asking this question in 1995.

In fact, 57% is nearly double what people responded in the mid-90s.

Furthermore, the number of Americans who feel the opposite, i.e. responded that the government is doing too many things that should be left to private businesses and individuals, fell to a near record-low 39%.  

Bottom line: people want more government.

It’s hard to even know where to begin with this.

First- more government is nearly an impossibility.

As I’ve written several times in the past, the US federal government already spends almost all of its tax revenue on mandatory entitlements like Social Security, and interest on the debt.

They could literally cut nearly everything we think of as government– national parks, Homeland Security, even the IRS– and still not make a dent in paying down the national debt.

According to the US government’s own financial statements, their net operating loss in 2016 was an unbelievable $1.05 TRILLION.

Think about that– they lost more than a trillion dollars in a completely unremarkable year.

They weren’t waging world war, funding a major infrastructure project, or dealing with an economic crisis.

It was just business as usual. And they STILL lost over a trillion dollars.

More government is going to cost even more money that they don’t have… which means even more debt and even more pain in the future.

The usual refrain is to pay for more government programs by raising taxes on the rich, or big corporations, or whoever the evil villain du jour is.

Anyone who thinks this actually works needs to study history.

Simply put, RAISING TAXES DOES NOT RAISE TAX REVENUE.

I wish every Bernie Sanders voter could understand this very simple fact:

Since the end of World War II, US federal government tax revenue as a percentage of GDP has been nearly constant at 17%.

In other words, while the actual dollar amount of tax revenue goes up every year due to inflation and economic expansion, the government’s slice of the total economic pie is 17%.

Yet during the previous eight decades, actual -tax rates- have been all over the board– sometimes rates were higher, sometimes rates were lower.

Back in 1963, for example, the highest marginal tax rate on individuals exceeded an unbelievable 90%.

I’m sure there are plenty of Americans who would love to see the wealthiest citizens paying 90% again.

Yet in 1963, even with rates that high, the total amount of tax revenue that the US government collected was 16.7% of GDP.

In 1988 when the highest tax rate was slashed to just 28% under Ronald Reagan, total tax revenue 17.3% of GDP.
 
It doesn’t matter if tax rates were high or low– the actual tax revenue that the government collects stays constant at around 17% of GDP.

This raises a point that these socialists never seem to understand:

If the government’s slice of the pie never seems to change no matter how high or how low tax rates are, shouldn’t they focus on making the pie bigger?

Duh.

And it seems intuitive that higher taxes obstruct economic growth (i.e. make the pie smaller) because there’s less money in people’s pockets to spend and invest.

Then, of course, we have to touch on the issue of competence.

It’s absurd to want a government that has a nearly interminable track record of overreach, waste, and failure, to be even MORE involved in people’s lives.

We’re talking about the same institution that wastes taxpayer money to study monkeys on treadmills…

… or spent $1 billion to destroy $16 billion worth of perfectly good ammunition…

… or $2 billion to build a website.
 
It’s extraordinary that these people are already in charge of educating our children, regulating our savings, and now our medical care.

It’s even more appalling that given such dismal performance people want more.

As the old saying goes, the classic definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

A final point I’ll mention is that it’s concerning to see people in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave expect the government to solve their problems.

What ever happened to self-reliance? The pioneering spirit? Good ole’ American can-do ingenuity?

In truth there are countless ways for a motivated person to solve problems. Or at least to make forward progress.

For example, to all these kids that have their hands out demanding free university education, I always ask the same questions:

How many books did you read in the last twelve months?

How many FREE online courses from Harvard and MIT did you take?

Are you actually doing anything to help yourself? Or are you just whining on social media about how no one is giving you anything for free?

America was founded as a place where people take responsibility for themselves.

But this now seems to be an outdated, minority view.

The Land of the Free is truly becoming the Land of Getting Free Stuff.

 

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black

Founder, SovereignMan.com

Stop the statists: reduce student loan debt

Students are increasingly taking on greater levels of debt in order to attend college.  College tuition and fees have inflated significantly in the past several decades due to the states involvement, forcing the majority of students attending post secondary educational institutions to take out ever larger federal student loans. This situation is pronounced at state supported schools but even more so at private institutions who also can feed their bloated institutions on students’ federal loans.

According to the College Board, inflation in college costs are significant and continuing to rise at rates well about the Consumer Price Index (CPI):

Between 2006-07 and 2016-17, published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions increased at an average rate of 3.5% per year beyond inflation, compared to average annual increases of 3.9% and 4.2% over the two prior decades.

According to the Federal Student Aid Portfolio Summary from 2016, the US Department of Education states there is $1.1298 T of outstanding student loan debt.

If the current situation continues, the state will continue to grow their already very large class of indentured individuals who are at their beckoned call. However, the situation goes beyond individuals.

The problem of having over a trillion dollars in student loan debt is significant beyond the burden it places on individuals.  Many economists see this large overhang of debt negatively impacting GDP growth. Headlines like Student-Loan Debt Slows Recovery are common within the MSM and even on alternative news sites. The theory about the impact of student debt is based upon a rational assumption; payments to service student loan debt cannot not be used to: start a business, form a household, purchase a home or car, or even go out to eat; basically less money from younger Americans is flowing to our nation’s GDP and instead going to the student loan cartel.

Here are some market based proposals to slow the growth of student loan debt please let me know what you think of them.

  1. Stop sending the message that everyone should go to a four-year college. Obama advocated many times about college but he was wrong, there many professions and job opportunities for those without a four-year degree. Less demand for four-year college degrees means prices will fall for those who do obtain one.
  2. Local officials should revamp their high school curriculum and programs to meet the reality mentioned above. They can by offering a very rigorous and real college preparatory track as well as offer a serious vocational track which includes on the job training and apprenticeships. Beyond the educational value this offers to more students, this model will reduce demand at four-year colleges thus lowering costs.
  3. Stop federally guaranteed student loans – do not make the taxpayer the backstop for student loans as they eventually will be called on to do in the current system. Going back to free market principles which will force lenders to properly assess a student’s real ability to payback loans. For example, a student who did not fare well in high school will likely not do well at a four-year college and thus is a poor loan risk. For redemption, this student can go to a two-year program and prove they can handle a more rigorous course load before taking on significant levels of debt they will be unlikely to payback. This reduces the cost of bad loans to lenders those making loans more affordable.
  4. Raise admission standards at four-year institutions, this will force students to compete (scholarships) and it will also drive many marginal colleges and universities out of business. This action will likely assure those who take out students loans will pay them back.  Here lenders see the best return on their investments feeding their desire to continue to offer high performing students (those who really graduate) loans.

Educational reform is misdirected

When I hear about educational reform I normally see some mention of funding.  I agree that adequate funding must be provided in any effort at reforming our nation’s schools however, ‘fixing’ that issue alone will not solve the so called problems in our educational system.  Although this opinion is based anecdotal evidence, American ‘culture’ must be examined in any discussion of education and its outcomes. Walk into almost any classroom in America and you can see firsthand that a small number of unruly students can significantly disrupt learning. Today, many teachers are advised to ‘look the other way’ except for the most egregious violations in their classroom to avoid a dispute with their administration and or the disrupted student’s parent(s).  How could even the best educator expect large number of students to achieve when some malcontents are forced into their classroom and disrupt the learning process.

Even, in well manged classrooms, America’s cell phone-driven, must always have fun culture inhibits learning. Even in a post secondary environment teaching ‘well-prepared’ students, today’s professors are faced with electronic distractions which made it difficult for them to teach and for their students to learn.  Learning is hard work, and in many cases it is not as ‘fun’ as checking a Facebook page for likes. Learning is hard is not the message most educators tell their students so how can we expect students to react differently when required to do the hard work of learning.  When on the occasion students are assigned long difficult reading assignments reports from even prestigious colleges and universities state that outside reading is not being done today by a vast number of students.  Reading and comprehending 50 pages of Adam Smith is just too boring the students say.

 

In many inner city classrooms, students ‘get away’ with verbal and physical assaults on other students and even teachers on a regular basis.  No matter the funding, racial makeup of the school, its status as a regular or charter school can learning happen in the aforementioned environment.  I suspect this experience is not unusual in many big city school districts thus we see an achievement gap. Students must be held to account for their behavior.

Next, the romantic belief that all students can and will achieve equally is ‘bullshit’.  Education and psychology classes spend quite some time on intelligence and achievement  and they examine scientific literature which shows strong connections between IQ and academic achievement but their teachers and administrators avoid this reality. News flash, we are not all equal when it comes to intelligence. Yet, even in our best schools, they push all students through the same college prep curriculum and ‘achieve’ the same outcome – high school diploma. Then, a corrupt higher educational system takes these ‘graduates’ and lures them into another environment with low standards and high costs in the storybook world where everyone must go to and complete a  4-year college program.
We need to address these and other core issues when speaking about any educational reform. Speaking about other issues before these major American cultural flaws is a distraction from real reform.