How to Really Fix America

There are several simple modifications to American policy and to our US Constitution that would quickly set America on a path to prosperity and happiness.  They include:

  1. End America’s role as the world’s policeman  – follow the current Constitution’s prescriptions on the use of our military
  2. Abolish the IRS and replace it with a fee based system of funding for only Constitutionally defined activities the federal government can participate in
  3. Abolish all non-Constitutionally defined government activities with an all encompassing amendment to the US Constitution i.e. disbands cabinet roles such as HHS and Department of Education and governmental agencies such as as the EPA. This action will force the end of federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc
  4. Rollback all federal laws for victimless crime
  5. Strengthen federal laws on property rights, citizen on citizen violence, and fraud and coercion
  6. Provide each student under the age of 18 in America with uniform financial stipend that can be used for education and training at the institution of their parents’ choice
  7. Add an amendment to the US Constitution forbidding an income tax or ending the fiscal year without a balanced budget
  8. Stop all federal surveillance unless sanctioned by the terms in the 4th amendment to the US Constitution
  9. Reform immigration to include work permits, simple path to permanent residence,  and add an amendment to the US Constitution forbidding of federal aid to new arrivals
  10. Abolish the Federal Reserve and have legislative control over the current which would be backed by gold and other non-perishable assets

 

The results of these policies would be:

  1. Reduction in cost of national defense and a more popular America throughout the world
  2. Reduction in the cost of collecting funds for the federal government and elimination of corruption caused by the current tax code
  3. Reduction in the cost of government and the ability of citizenry to chose to localize services and the state and municipal level. There would now be a separation of government and business and government and healthcare, etc..
  4. Reduction in incarceration rates and the cost of administering justice with America
  5. Would offer American’s a more equitable and constitutionally sanctioned justice system
  6. Education is critical to a free society so a free parental choice based primary and secondary education would be provided to all students at a baseline level. The funding would come at the federal level from fees collected from selling, renting federal assets
  7. Keeps economic prosperity and assures continued economic justice
  8. Eliminates “Big Brother” for our lives
  9. Stops illegal immigration and assures America access to the world’s best and brightest
  10. Allows a sound money policy and uses market forces to guide interest rates and subsequent investments

 

Basic economic laws should not be thwarted

In the United States of America, the state continues to deploy failed policies that violate basic economic principles to the detriment of the entire society it seeks to control.   This failure can be seen in America’s Welfare State and progressive income tax program. The former subsidizes individual actions and life styles that can contribute to poverty and the later discourages income and wealth generation. Simply put, basic praxeology shows us when you subsidize something you will get more of it. Tax and regulate something you get less of it.

Since the amalgamation of the Revenue Act of 1916 and FDR’s New Deal, (in which the state used taxation, targeted subsidization, and regulation in an attempt to alleviate and or mitigate its definition of poverty among its citizens), the state began to extremely violate the aforementioned basic principles of human behavior.

In FDR’s “First New Deal” (1933–34), many programs were instituted using state subsidies to pay people who did not work and create new regulations for the banking and industrial sector which increased their moral hazard in an attempt to combat the impact and causes of the Great Depression.

FDR’s “Second New Deal” (1935–38) went further and fully institutionalized state involvement in the nation’s personal behavior in an attempt to address the effects of the ongoing economic crisis.  Programs such as Social Security and the Fair Labor Standards Act would change America forever.

The state, in its infinite wisdom, seeing less than satisfactory results from FDR’s New Deal, thirty years later further increased its involvement in Americans’ personal lives with new programs, subsidies, and taxes during LBJ’s Great Society.

Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.”
– President Lyndon Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Recently, according to the 2014 House Budget Committee Report, The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later the state’s return on investment has been less than satisfactory.  Below are some conclusions from the report showing failure of the state to eliminate poverty by not understanding basic human behavior:

The War on Poverty at a Glance
Despite trillions of dollars in spending, poverty is widespread:
• In 1965, the poverty rate was 17.3 percent. In 2012, it was 15 percent.
• Over the past three years, “deep poverty” has reached its highest level on record.
• About 21.8 percent of children live below the poverty line.1
In can be no surprise the state has failed to eliminate poverty if one understands the basics tenets of human behavior and the fundamental principles of economics.   The state’s policy violates them. Government programs targeted at poverty reduction/elimination encourage more poverty by encouraging a person to continue their current situation of being in poverty — receive payments and subsidies for having lower income, receive payments and subsidies for not working, receive payments and subsidies for having more dependents, receive payments and subsides for not completing high school, receive payments and subsides for not living a healthy lifestyle, etcetera.
The state also discourages work and thus wealth generation with its onerous job killing regulations which make it more costly for employers and entrepreneurs to create jobs and thus new wealth.
Additionally, the progressive tax system reduces the incentive to generate new wealth as its marginal income tax rates and capital gains taxes punish those who generate more earned income and investment generated wealth.
The state could easily rectify the current situation by eliminating all subsidies to individuals and corporations and stop taxing income and wealth.
1. “War on Poverty.” Http://budget.house.gov/uploadedfiles/war_on_poverty.pdf. United States House of Representatives , 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.

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.

Should the state monopoly in education consider change?

Education — especially in a world where academic knowledge, strong skills, and technical knowhow are required to obtain a ‘good paying’ job — is too important to have a near monopoly by the state given their dismal track record in progressing our students’ knowledge and capabilities.  While education’s value goes well beyond career training, obtaining a job its subsequent paycheck is critical to a person’s survival and their economic and social mobility in twenty-first century America. Obtaining superior education and training are paramount in the aforementioned endeavor.

According to a study co-authored by National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) and the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce  healthcare, community service, and STEM are projected to be the fastest growing career clusters in the next several years.1  For the most part, securing one of these careers will require having experienced very strong classroom instruction leading to real measurable learning of the fundamentals of reading, writing, and mathematics. Considering the sophisticated American economy that is being projected, can we expect students to become employed in these highly skilled jobs with the same quality of education and knowledge students of the nineteen-seventies possessed?

In terms of the states’ contribution to our students’ knowledge and skills, one can look at The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) which is a seemingly well accepted nationally representative assessment of how our state dominated educational system is performing. The results show their performance is not improving. Historical data highlights the fact American high school student achievement has stagnated for forty years the essential subjects of reading and math.2

The charts below show flat reading and math scores for America’s high school students going back to the nineteen-seventies.

Overall, the states’ educational system is not providing what students require to succeed in the twenty-first century when measured by the abysmal rates of obtaining career qualifying credentials such as an ‘earned’ high school diploma, apprenticeship completion, or a ‘legitimate’ college degree within a field meeting the needs of future employers.

Faced with stagnant performance for nearly forty years, most other fields outside of the state dominated educational system would look at themselves and likely embrace changes to their systems. For the future of our youth and nation, should not the state dominated educational system do the same?

 

neap-reading
Flat HS Reading Scores
neap-math
Flat HS Math Scores

Sources

 

  1. Carnevalle, Anthony, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl. “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020.” CEW Georgetown. Georgetown University, June 2013. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.       
  2. “Summary of Major Findings.” NAEP – 2012 Long-Term Trend: Summary of Major Findings. US Department of Education, 2012. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.

        

Do we have socialist influences in our economy and should we follow them?

With the death of Fidel Castro and the end of an era, thoughts turned to the failure of his brand of socialism within Cuba.  In announcing his death, the left in America’s media downplay his brutality against political foes and his economic failures thrust upon the Cuban people in their reporting. This oversight is intentional and is taken as to not diminish Castro’s legacy and their desire for America to become more socialistic in a similar manner of Castro.

Few in the media offer opinion as to what will happen in Cuba going forward and Cuba’s future direction is anyone’s guess, but the Cuban people will likely continue to demand more economic and political freedom.  If this happens, information will be kept beneath the surfaces as it does not fit the lefts’ message for America.

In America, those in the media and on the far left side of the political spectrum seem to have a romantic view of Castro and continue to target the benefits of state controlled economies despite documented failures.  This is their continuous attempt to move America and its economy away from free markets and into the arms of the state.

This dash towards the state is ever evolving but for the foreseeable future, it appears America will not quickly adopt a ‘pure socialist’ ‘Castro like’ society however, our nation has been drifting towards an intermediate step called Democratic Socialism which is a more palatable variant of socialism to the many American people who adhere to the left’s view and even to many who do not but are becoming alienated by America’s current crony capitalism.

Democratic Socialism is well understood and has been documented by academics and in the common mass media as a panacea for all those who experience it.  In the later, the mainstream media thrusts Scandinavia forward as model America should and must follow if we as a nation are to achieve something akin to Maslow’s  Self-Actualization for our nation.

Democratic Socialism can be defined as:

the term indicates, combines democracy and socialism. Politically, it involves a commitment to popular, constitutional rule and the protection of basic rights. Economically, it involves an equitable distribution of the community’s wealth. Democratic socialists maintain that key aspects of economic life must be publicly owned or socially controlled to ensure this equitable distribution. Socially, democratic socialism involves the belief that all human beings, in a cooperative community, should have the opportunity to fulfill their good and creative potential. There are many sources of democratic socialism, including the Judaic-Christian tradition’s concern for the poor, the nineteenth-century utopians, Marxist thought, revisionists of Marxist thought, the Fabian socialists in England, and the trade union movement.1

Reading this definition one can easily see Democratic Socialism at work today entrenching itself deeper within America’s economic and political systems. For example, government forced redistribution of income and wealth is common and growing. Millions of lower income Americans are treated to a plethora of publicly funded government programs and have become dependent on these programs for their very existence. A headline form the US Census Bureau states how large this Democratic Socialistic practice already is:

21.3 Percent of U.S. Population Participates in Government Assistance Programs Each Month

Democratic Socialism is also well entrenched and controlling large sectors of our economic system.  Our medical, education, transportation, and energy industries come to mind as they are already highly controlled by the state.    The the factors of production in these economic sectors are regulated and controlled. Obamacare is a prime example of the states’ hands in healthcare.

Land, Labor, Capital, and Enterprise and managed by the state in other areas and its grip within these areas are growing rapidly.  During the last eight years, government regulation of our economy has grown significantly:

see https://libertarian57.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/is-this-democracy/  for details.

The question America must ask given the reality of Democratic Socialism’s penetration  within the nation is do we want to continue down this path or is there a better alternative.
1. Riemer, Neal. “The Challenge of Politics: An Introduction to Political Science, 3rd Edition.” Barnes & Noble. Cqpress, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

Make America great – step 3

Thomas Jefferson had a great idea that could be applied today to help restore America to the vision of its founders; that of a nation based upon liberty.

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical”.1

How can we follow Jefferson’s supplication?  One can rebel without resorting to violence  by actively voicing dissent against all things establishment. Document the corruption and ineffectiveness of establishment institutions in a blog, educate family and friends as to possibilities for liberty in America if the vast majority of it citizens become informed of what freedom and free markets could provide. Read, research and speak up for liberty.

  1. “A Little Rebellion Now and Then is a Good Thing: A Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison.”  Early America Review 1, no. 1 (1996).  This article offers brief descriptive comments on the letter.

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.