Stop energy subsidies – corporate welfare

In examining the involvement of the state in national energy markets one can become easily overwhelmed and dismayed by the scope and complexity of the state’s reach into the energy industry.  While the brute force power of the state influences much of the industry’s compliance (US Code) there is also the factor of the money, forcibly taken from tax payers, doled out to the energy sector — this is pure corporate welfare. Big-Government-Jefferson-Quote[1] At a minimum, this corporate welfare encourages corruption and market inefficiencies.

One could write in depth about energy, and state involvement within the energy sector but that would become pedantic. Instead,  a section from a complex government report from the US Energy Information Administration (EAI) summarizes the labyrinth of programs and rules representing the state’s reach into the U.S. energy sector.

EIA identified over 70 federal domestic assistance programs, many of which have multiple subprograms, as part of direct or research and development expenditures displayed in this report. 1

It should be obvious this situation is unhealthy; over 70 government programs each being a fiefdom on to the selves is not a ideal way to deal with the intricacies of energy production and consumption.  The complexity and waste of most government programs of this size is well understood – Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, etc..There are news stories almost daily of the waste and fraud within these programs but few documenting the costs of subsidized energy.

However, there is a fundamental flaw beyond the administrative bloat these programs induce, there contradicting interests being simultaneously subsided – renewable vs. fossil vs. nuclear. While most libertarians are aghast at the state picking winners and losers in the market, it is completely lacking congruence of investing in competing sources of energy and expecting increased development and innovation within the industry.

A table in the aforementioned report, Table ES2 highlights taxpayers are subsidizing fossil, nuclear, and renewable sources of energy on a yearly basis to the tune of roughly $30B.  The older energy industry sees these investments as an incentive for the status quo and the newer burgeoning energy businesses use their subsides as a crutch and do not innovate as they would if they were competing for their company’s lives in the free market.

It is time to remove the state from energy production and let the free markets deliver the most economical and sustainable energy possible.

 

 

  1. “Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2013.” EIA, U.S. Energy Information Administration , Mar. 2015, https://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf.

 

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

 

Beware

Beware of the impact of state provided services.

Americans have been slowly losing control of various segments of their lives since the progressive era of the early twentieth century made it OK to federalize previously private activities. The Great Depression of the Roosevelt era codified this federal control over private business and personal behavior. U.S. Presidential PortraitsThis statist power grab has only accelerated since the nineteen sixties.  For example, Medicare and Medicaid have replaced the doctor patient relationship with regulations and a unaffordable bureaucracy.

The Department of Education has in many instances redefined previously locally determined protocol for educating American youth.  This same group has insidiously become more involved in post-secondary education and has created a $1.4 trillion student loan debt burden.

The state’s reach goes beyond these areas and is now involved in almost all activities American citizens participate.  Evidence of this fact can be found at:

https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/a

As the debate over Obamacare continues, please beware that if America adopts social medicine one day the state may McDonalds-Big-Mac-Mealoutlaw Big Macs in the name of keeping America healthy.

 

 

Statism Does Not Work

This morning’s headlines are further proof that the state is strangling economic growth.  A modern economic system will not grow when there are high rates of taxation (federal, state, and local) coupled with burdensome regulations on business. We have seen this phenomena quite visibly in our nation’s lack of economic growth for the past eight plus years.  Some of the problem with our nation’s blindness or unwillingness to see this is the fourth estate’s coverage of facts but the sin also rests at the foot of those Americans who do not take the time to be educated on what is happening at a macro level with our economy.

U.S. Economy Expands at Slowest Pace in Three Years

This situation bodes the question, when will Americans say enough is enough?

 

 

 

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.

War on Poverty has failed

There is a very good article by Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute titled The dignity deficit: Reclaiming Americans’ sense of purpose.  The piece speaks of the improbable Trump victory and postulates the win came about because of the anger of those citizens left behind economically in America.  This thesis explaining Trump’s win is not unique, many political pundits have offered the same.  However, Brooks extends the story by going back to LBJ’s War on Poverty. Brooks highlights in his article the plight of a poor Kentuckian named Tom Fletcher. Fletcher, despite government assistance (welfare) is never was able to escape poverty.

In 1966, when the War on Poverty programs were finally up and running, the national poverty rate stood at 14.7 percent. By 2014, it stood at 14.8 percent. In other words, the United States had spent trillions of dollars but seen no reduction in the poverty rate.1

There are millions more Tom Fletchers that Twenty trillion dollars of government largess has not helped and they voted in November, 2016.

The solution to poverty is to go back to fundamental economic principles. If you want more of something, then do not tax it. However, this axiom is ignored by statists and we have many Americans being left behind. The solution is simple, stop taxing the fruits of labor (wealth) and you will see more fruit.

The same principle holds true for government regulations that stifle labor and subsequent wealth generation. If you you want less friction on labor which will lead to more wealth creation, stop unnecessary regulation of the actions that generate wealth.

  1. Brooks, Arthur C. “The Dignity Deficit: Reclaiming Americans’ Sense of Purpose.” American Enterprise Institute. Foreign Affairs, 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.

Beware – statists strike again

In their misguided attempt to ‘help’ low wage earners, statists have increased the minimum wage to the point where Wendy’s, the Dublin based fast food company, is reducing their purchases of minimum wage labor and  instead, adopting automated Kiosks where customers can place orders to reduce labor costs. These Kiosks will likely replace many minimum wage workers and will spread beyond Wendy’s.

“Last year was tough — 5 percent wage inflation,” said Bob Wright, Wendy’s chief operating officer, during his presentation to investors and analysts last week. He added that the company expects wages to rise 4 percent in 2017. “But the real question is what are we doing about it?”kiosk

Wright noted that over the past two years, Wendy’s has figured out how to eliminate 31 hours of labor per week from its restaurants and is now working to use technology, such as kiosks, to increase efficiency.1

When will statists ever learn basic economic principles? If labor costs rise and the business owner cannot raise their prices to offset the rise in their costs, they will cut costs.

Source:

  1. Malone, J. D. “Wendy’s to install ordering kiosks in 1,000 stores this year.” Columbus Dispatch. N.p., 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.