The Income Inequality Myth

Income Inequality is a myth. As a concept, it assumes that the means by which income, or wealth, is produced is equal from individual to individual, and therefore the outcome of that wealth creation should also be equal. In a Capitalistic society this can never be the case because there will always be a gradient to the level of engagement by the individuals in that society. Some will excell, some will subside, and some will not produce at all. This is why “Income Inequality” as a concept is fundamentally flawed. The very premise assumes something that is simply not possible in society unless outcomes are forced instead of allowed to occur naturally.

The beauty of Capitalism is that every transaction is singular, and wholly the whim of the individuals participating. Should one choose not to participate as actively as another, their simply having existed in a realm where others do participate allows for them to benefit regardless of their involvement.

The Statist, however, believes that the State should decide the outcome for its citizenry. Hence the rhetoric attached to the photo above. “Wealth distribution” implies that there is a method to the seeming chaos that is economics that should be managed to ensure the “best outcome for all”. A translation of this would be to simply say “The wealthy have too much, and the poor have too little. We must do something about this!”, and, realistically, this is the very core principle of the Statist economic policy.

Should humanity be allowed to pursue their desires absent molestation, their desires will create expanding ripples of economic benefit for all those around them. Every individual caught in the bow shock and wake of the next individual in a Capitalistic society benefits from those ripples because they will also participate through their own personal generation of wealth.

Capitalism directly empowers the drive in human nature toward self improvement by enabling avarice. This has a powerful secondary effect in that when one becomes successful they interact with others quite differently than they would should they not have attained success, and this interaction, either passive (consumerism) or active (philanthropy), benefits society in a larger way than the avarice benefits the individual. This positive feedback loop is due primarily to the cascade effects of wealth creation, but is multiplied by the social nature of humanity.

Wealth created multiplies wealth existing, and those benefiting spread that wealth around as a matter of course. Absent corruptive interaction from government, a Capitalist system will benefit everyone who participates, and can benefit even those who choose not to. The only way, though, that these outcomes can be achieved is if Government were to voluntarily remove itself from the equation as much as possible, thereby eliminating the negative effects of cronyism and corporatism, both of which are corruptive forces that drag down the economic strength of a society and its politics.

As always, when those in leadership choose, of their own volition, to do what is right because it is the right thing to do, and continue to do those things when no one is paying attention, especially when no one is paying attention, the underpinnings of American Society can be unleashed, and everyone will be allowed to thrive, should they choose to do so. The only reason those who find themselves at the bottom rung of the income ladder seem to think that the rungs above them are broken or coated in grease is because America’s political leadership find the populist rhetoric of “Income Inequality” to be more profitable, politically, than the hopeful, empowering message of Capitalism and Individual Accountability.

He Doesn’t Hold All The Minimum Wage Cards

Cheating at PokerThe President plans to increase Government Contractor minimum wage requirements from the Federal minimum of $7.25/hr to $10.10/hr; a 39% increase. This will, in effect, materially change the conditions under which every Federal Government Contract has been negotiated, necessarily forcing every contracting office in the Government to negotiate new terms for existing contracts to reflect the new Executive Order.

Largely, this will not have a significant impact on the big ticket items the Government contracts out for; for instance, weapons, IT services, marketing support, etc, because every one of those contractors will be drawing an income well above the $10.10/hr being pushed by the President. However, this will have a significant effect on existing contracts for low skill labor contract services provided to the Government under thousands and thousands of contracts providing services ranging from food preparation and service to janitorial and non-For Official Use Only administrative services (read: paper pushers).

Having first hand experience with every aspect of the Governmentally contracted labor force this sort of Executive Order will affect, I can speak to specific, detrimental effects associated with this sort of misguided ploy to “improve the livelihoods of the working poor”, or whatever hogwash is applied to the plight of the low skilled contract labor force for the Federal Government.
When this Executive Order goes into effect (because it will, and because it will not be challenged by the House, as it should be), the President will have effectively committed the Executive Branch, and thereby, the entire Federal Government, to a mass re-negotiation of all existing Federal Contracts impacted by this Order. That will have wide reaching effects, the least of which will cause every Contracting Agency to either consider in-sourcing the services provided (due to a lack of commensurate increase in budget to cover the added costs from Congress), or a significant reduction in the services purchased through Contract from the providers. Nearly every Contract involved in this mess will have to be re-bid, and the asking price for every new bid will be outside of the already constrained budgets of the Agencies involved, either as a result of the recently rescinded Sequestration, already reduced budgets as a result of Congressional and Executive action, or due to consistently constricted budgetary climate through year upon year of reduced funding through Appropriations Legislation at the Congressional Level.

Speaking from experience, I will be able to point to a very clear and present danger to the entire Coast Guard’s means of feeding and caring for the facilities janitorial services of nearly its entire shore facility asset complement. All large installations have contracted Food Service facilities, and nearly all shore facilities with over 100 attached members have janitorial services provided by contracted labor. These positions do not make the contracting entity any money unless they can develop efficiencies in how the services are provided, and the way they do so is to ensure their labor force is made up of special needs individuals, which, as a matter of Federal Law, have special considerations mandated into their compensation. Where these services are not able to be provided through the labor of special needs individuals the contracting entity pays minimum wage (where their locality allows), and the efficiencies that allow for the contract to result in a profit for the contracting entity are found elsewhere; generally in the quality of work, the frequency that quality of work is provided, etc.

Make no mistake; the President is not attempting to help anyone in his effort to “help the little guy”. His efforts will, predictably, cost the Government, and thereby, the Taxpayer, more money in the long run, and will result in a reduction in service quality and/or an elimination of some contracts that will invariably grow outside of the budgetary ability for their host Agency to afford given their unaltered budgetary constraints. You see, although the President can change how contracts are written, he cannot change how much money Congress has allotted to those Agencies that can write those contracts. They will still be forced to live within the means Congress has provided them.

Should the FCC be Policing Broadcast Content?

FCC LogoAlternative Title:
Should the FCC have any oversight in what content is broadcast?

The Daily Caller, in an October 31st, 2013 article, details the intended efforts of an FCC contractor to deeply survey a single broadcast market regarding the content and news coverage of the private broadcasters in that market. The article references the methodology from the contractor. The methodology shows specific lines of questioning for broadcast companies ownership, news directors and producing teams, among others, asking very pointed questions about the types of news being covered, what governs those coverage decisions, who the coverage decision makers are, and whether or not reporters are being steered by management regarding the actual reporting of news. The questions may seem innocuous in many cases, but there are some very troubling conclusions that anyone being queried will invariably consider when formulating their answers.

When a government contractor from the agency responsible for regulating your industry starts asking about the inner workings of your business, not only from an owner’s perspective but from that of the employee base, the industry starts to pay very close attention to what is going on. With recent news being reported about Senators attempting to give the DOJ the power to determine what and who constitutes a journalist, the increasing sense of oversight from the FCC seems to reinforce a push by the Government to curtail speech those in power do not agree with under the guise of providing effective regulatory oversight through the Executive Branch.

The First Amendment restricts the Government’s ability to regulate speech of any kind. Congress, through its imprimatur of the FCC, has encroached on that protected right by empowering the agency to restrict speech in a number of ways. There have been arguments from many different angles that advocate for the FCC to reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine” which would ensure that all speech broadcast over Federally regulated airwaves is balanced in terms of political partisanship as well as devoid of any religious connotation whatsoever.

The thought from some advocates is that since the FCC is responsible for regulating the broadcast spectrum, and that this constitutes a sort of ownership by the Federal Government, and since the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…”, that regulation of the broadcast spectrum must be approached in the same way as one would assume Congress would handle regulation of speech, religion or the freedom of assembly; specifically that Congress would not regulate these rights at all.

What’s the big deal?

The FCC is an Executive Branch agency, and its Commission is appointed by the President on a rotating schedule for the Commissioners. Simply put, if the FCC were to exert pressure on the broadcast industry, either as a whole or upon a segment of the industry, it would be highly inappropriate. The President is a partisan, political office. If the FCC were to, say, sanction the broadband infrastructure CNS News uses to service its web presence due to an “infringement” against policy created by the Commission the ultimate authority for that action would come directly from the President. Now, of course we know this action would be highly inappropriate, and quite literally illegal when read against the First Amendment, but many Federal Regulations and regulatory powers given to the Executive Branch by Congress as an expedient to statutory law enforcement carry the weight of statutory law in their own right, with penalties for non-compliance that are just as real as if one were to be arrested, tried and convicted for a felony.

Taking that into account, if the FCC sanctioned a broadcaster or other private entity under one of its regulations they could effectively destroy that entity’s ability to operate. Many of the Executive Branch’s law enforcement authorities are administered in such a way as to penalize prior to due process, and often do not have a clear, delineated policy advising regulated entities as to the path to redress of a grievance. The FCC and the EPA are alike in this, in many respects; your assessed fines are payable upon receipt of notice of regulatory action, and they’ll get back to you with how you can address the governing body about whether or not the fine was levied in any real legal manner. More often than not the only reason redress of grievances proceedings ever see the inside of a courtroom is because the regulated entity sued their District Court and was granted individual standing to then sue the regulatory agency for due process rights.

This is why the FCC, empowered to regulate content, and acting at the direction of the Executive, is such a dangerous combination. The desire by the Government to “govern in the public trust” may seem innocuous, but when you dig deeper into what the Government can empower the FCC to do, what they have done in the past, and the methodology associated with this process as indicated by the contractor hired to carry out the research, one can only conclude that there is an effort brewing to identify dissonance in the content being provided and regulate it out of existence.

The Federal Government, as a matter of Constitutional Law, has the regulatory power to preside over the governance of interstate commerce. The FCC was created as a means of providing regulatory oversight over the radio frequency spectrum because it is nearly always the case that a broadcast in that spectrum will cross state lines under a myriad of conditions, and as such the information carried by that broadcast falls under the purview of the Federal Government. However, the partisanship inherent in the Federal Government’s political structure makes this sort of regulatory oversight a very dangerous weapon when wielded as such. The unfortunate fact is that the Government, with this regulatory power, has the ability to silence before adjudication the speech of a regulated entity under the guise of providing for the public trust in law and regulation enforcement.

It would be prudent for Congress to seriously consider decoupling the FCC chairmanship and commissioner appointment from the Executive Branch, thus removing the possibility of partisan politics being the root cause of regulatory interference in speech and expression in the broadcast spectrum. If Congress were to provide for a commission selection policy that would allow for regional commissioners to be selected outside of the political arena entirely it would go a long way toward removing the possibility of the agency being used as a weapon against the political enemies of the Executive in the media. The agency would still answer to the President regarding policy guidance, but the commissioners would not be beholden to the President for their employment. We’ve already seen where the loyalty of a political appointee to their benefactor can cloud their judgement regarding the ultimate source of the authority of their office.

The Conservative Union Hangout with The Chief

The Conservative Union Hangout with The Chief from 30OCT13 is LIVE!
Unfortunately, Google or YouTube had an error toward  the end of the broadcast, but the majority of the Hangout was captured.
Thank you very much, again, to +Antonio Cunningham  and +Jody Branson , as well as to +Stacey Spence , who I know was watching on YouTube. We’ll be doing this again, as always, next week, and we hope to see you then!

The Government Shutdown Didn’t Have To Happen

Partisan GridlockIt is pretty easy to find news about the negative effects for the economy caused by the Federal Government Shutdown. One common thread I’ve noticed is the lack of clarity on the actual cause of these losses, and the overarching mentality expressed by those reporting on the events. The Government Shutdown caused the private sector to lose $24B in revenue. How could that possibly be? Why is it that the Private Sector is so dependent on the Government that the Government’s inability to function as a result of partisan gridlock should damage the economy on the order of one tenth of one percent of US GDP?

Over the course of the last several decades the Federal Government has created a quid-pro-quo climate with its private sector contractors, those contractors’ other stakeholders, the tourism industry, and those who depend upon Government subsistence support. Specifically, when the Government stops spending money there are very focused impacts related to the stemming of that flow of funds from the taxpayer to the private sector or Government dependents. When the Government is unable to settle its fiscal affairs those who have, as a function of their business model, hitched their revenue streams to the chuck wagon that is Federal spending suffer. The same goes for those who are Federal dependents.

How does this happen? Why should it be that there is such a vast transfer of taxpayer wealth to those private interests that either provide a service to the Government in some form, or those who depend on the Government for subsistence? More to the point, why should it be that the Government has allowed for such an entwining of  interests solely dependent on Federal spending? It is almost as if entire industries in the Private Sector have become so dependent on Federal Spending that the nearly five years of Continuing Resolution debates in Congress (as opposed to an actual Federal Budget) cause such a disruption in Federal activity that it becomes a National Crisis. This is a structural problem that must be resolved if the private sector is going to be able to extend a business plan for growth beyond the end of the current CR.

So What is the Problem?

Current GDP

Our GDP is reported at $15.68T as of 2012. As I stated earlier, the reported $24B in economic loss attributed to the Shutdown accounts for 0.0015% of the annual Gross Domestic Product for the entire country. Again, my question is why is there such an impact on the economy when the Federal Government stops spending money. The mechanics of Federal spending necessitate that the funds expended are at the expense of the economy, either through individual or corporate tax liabilities decreasing discretionary spending, through borrowing, which has a prolonged effect on the Nation’s spending obligations as a result of the requirement to service that debt, or through printing of new money, which devalues the money currently in circulation. Every activity the Federal Government expends funds on decreases GDP by a proportionate amount because, at some point, those funds must either currently exist in the economy, or be created out of thin air. Either instance is a drag on economic activity at the macro scale, which effectively dampens GDP growth.

The Nation has been structured in such a way, both politically and economically, to rely on predictable Federal spending patterns, so much so that business models begin to show signs of operational failure when Federal spending is decreased. Politicians are not recognized for their beneficial contributions to Federal fiscal responsibility as much as they are recognized for the amount of Federal spending they are able to bring back to their Districts. Put simply, politicians are empowered to spend taxpayer funds in order to secure their positions of power. This creates a system where Government promised favors are developed in order to entice businesses and special interests to support this politician or that. Those favors are often in the form of contracts, directed business opportunities, tax considerations, and other vehicles of crony capitalism, all of which fail any ethical test imaginable. This, coupled with the lost revenue from above the board contractors simply providing services to the Government in its legally mandated activities and lost revenue from the industries that support these activities (support services, ancillary services, tourism, hospitality, etc.) add up to a significant loss over the course of a 17 day shutdown.

The way the Government spends only makes things worse!

Baseline Budget ModelThe Federal spending model is broken. The fact that there hasn’t been a Federal Budget since April 29th, 2009 only highlights this. That budget was for on-budget operational efforts, and did not include appropriations for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which were handled with separate bills. Traditionally, the Federal Budget assumes that “effective” programs require funding increases in order to continue being “effective”, and as such, those programs often receive those funding increases automatically as a matter of the baseline budgeting model.

Baseline Budgeting creates a basement below which the Government will not lower spending levels. Over time this created an expectation by program managers that every concurrent year of operations will come with an almost guaranteed increase in funding. For the longest time this had been the case, with some very specific exceptions. The problem with Baseline Budgeting is that it doesn’t allow for conversations about spending reductions to begin from a position of strength on the part of those proposing fiscal responsibility. The premise begins with the idea that, in order to continue being “effective”, annual increases in the baseline are required.

Baseline Budgeting coupled with partisan gridlock causes a Federal budgeting nightmare when budget deadlines aren’t met. The ultimate culmination of this gridlock is a shuttering of services when the deadlines are missed.

How can we fix this?

US ConstitutionCurrently, the Constitution coupled with various other pieces of legislation requires Congress to pass a budget every year. They’ve bypassed this by passing Continuing Resolutions instead of actually passing a Budget, thereby continuing the baseline budget totals established by spending levels following the 29APR09 budget. Not only that, but because the CRs that have been passed often are not for an entire year’s worth of operations, the threat of shutdown is almost always looming off on the horizon or actively being debated in Congress.

There is a way to fix this, though. Congress is not the answer. There will always be a very small minority who will be willing to do what is right regarding Federal fiscal responsibility, but the core of this problem is politicians find very early in their careers that if they simply promote the status quo they will almost certainly grow their power.

No, Congress is not the answer. There is, however, a way for the States, often the hardest hurt in terms of the deleterious effects of Federal dysfunction, to Amend the Constitution without the consent of Congress. This process, as well as a set of proposed Constitutional Amendments, are detailed in Mark Levin‘s most recent book, “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic”. The States, through effective and concerted use of Article V of the Constitution, have the means of proposing and ratifying Amendments that can then be used to force Congress to not only abide by the Constitution, but also eliminate the overarching powers they’ve delegated to the Executive Branch, thereby creating an Administrative Branch of Government by fiat. In terms of this article, the Amendment proposed by Mark that would directly address Spending and Taxing powers, and are covered in Chapter 5.

Specifically, the Spending Amendment would enforce a budget timeline, and, in the absence of a budget being passed by Congress and signed by the President, would automatically fund the Government at the prior year’s budgeted levels minus an across the board 5% reduction in spending. This would eliminate the threat of shutdown because the Government would continually fund itself as a function of the Constitution. This Amendment also requires that spending levels not exceed revenues, except in extreme circumstances, thereby eliminating a need to continually increase the debt ceiling because the debt should never actually increase. This would dramatically reduce Federal borrowing and allow for the Government to actually make payments on its debt principle, instead of only servicing its debt interest.

We Can Only Fail if We Surrender

National EnsignThe Government continually acts outside of its Constitutional Boundaries. No greater negative impact on every individual in the United States can be effected than that which couples future tax revenues to debt servicing without end. There are ways of resolving this issue, and decisively so, but they do not manifest themselves without hard work and the willingness to accept risk. Currently, we’ve all come to understand that our Congressional Leaders are unwilling to apply themselves to either the hard work or to the consideration of that risk. I believe it is time the States and the People take it upon themselves to solve the problems Congress has created, and the time to act is well passed.

The Conservative Union Hangout with The Chief

Every Wednesday, at 7pm Pacific, I sit down and have an online discussion with members from The Conservative Union about current events and news of the day. This week we will be discussing the recent Continuing Resolution passed into law, the specifics about its changes to how the United States manages its debt, and what can happen to the value of the dollar, and thus every other commodity, should the United States borrow so much between now and February 15th that servicing the National Debt becomes too burdensome for the Nation to handle.

Check out the Google+ Event post for more information. Once the Hangout On Air starts the event post will be updated with YouTube and Hangout links.

I hope to see you there!

American Exceptionalism

What American Exceptionalism Meant, What Destroyed It, and How we can Re-establish our Heritage

While listening to the September 10th episode of the Adam Carolla Show (Warning and apologies!!! Not Safe for Family Setting or Work! I love ACS, but he’s rough. Not for those averse to cursing and VERY blue humor!) I was pleased to hear Adam’s continued collaboration with Dennis Prager. The discussion they had inspired me to write about the decline of the very spirit that drove the first Americans to fight tooth and nail, risking annihilation, to defend the liberty they believed was their right as a matter of natural law.

Our Nation’s Founding was an Anomaly

The Constitutional ConventionOur Nation’s Founders belief that their rights were not given to them as a result of their government’s benevolence, but were instead theirs simply as a result of the citizen’s existence, was a foreign concept in all of the world. Furthermore, that the government didn’t derive its status as the overseer of these natural rights from some other source, but that the right to govern was bestowed upon the government by the citizenry, was the most revolutionary idea ever implemented up to that point, or since. This seemingly complex, but in reality, very simple concept is the primary reason why America is Exceptional. This is why people who believe in the Constitutional Republic our Founders created as the “most perfect” form of governance also firmly believe in American Exceptionalism.

Dennis Prager spent a large portion of his life studying Russian history, philosophy and political culture. You could say he’s something of an expert in the subject, both in terms of what the Soviet Union was like before the Iron Curtain fell, and afterward in a post-Soviet Russia. His understanding of the gestalt of Russian society is profound, and can be summed up thusly:
Russians want very little out of life. They want their vodka, they want their housing and their heating in the winter. They want their health care, and they want to be left alone.

Simply put, Russians are content to be taken care of as long as that which they have been promised continues to come to them unbidden. Entitlement is a way of life in Russia, and has been for generations. The people know very little of the more noble aspects of human nature, that which drives us to achieve more than previous generations in an effort to better the self, and through self-improvement, better society. That isn’t to say that Russian society is absent these aspects; there is simply no reason to better the self when one’s needs are seen to absent effort beyond what is asked for by the government. The effect is a muting of aspiration and the desire to excel.

Human Nature is What Drives Us to Excel

Typical American Residential Housing
Typical American Residential Housing

Human nature is, at its very core, selfish. The betterment of society is never really the goal while the individual is pursuing betterment of the self; more importantly, self-improvement has the very catalytic side effect of the bettering of the society in which one lives. When you mow your lawn and care for the upkeep of your home your neighborhood is improved by the aesthetics of your home’s facade. Your neighbors see your property, and, through the mechanics of human nature’s more basic trait of jealousy, more often than not will endeavor to emulate or improve upon the conditions your home’s facade presents, thus spreading the improvement you have made of yourself throughout your neighborhood. This cascading of competitive behavior and outcomes is what shapes positive societal evolution. This all, of course, depends heavily on the preservation of personal property rights. Absent ownership, the desire to improve one’s material conditions loses meaning. If your home is yours, but your neighbor’s home isn’t theirs, well, they may very well not care a whit about the attention you pay to the aesthetics of your home’s facade. Therein lies a fundamental problem. Without empowerment through the ability to possess property obtained through one’s efforts above and beyond that which sustains the self and the family, one finds no need to excel. Excellence garners rewards. In Russia, there have been no rewards for excellence for quite some time.

Typical Russian Apartment Housing
Typical Russian Apartment Housing

Russia is far from a utopian society. However, Russians having their simple needs fulfilled by an all-powerful centralized government, and in such a manner and for so long so as to render desire for more pointless, had a grand purpose. A pliable and uncomplaining workforce focused toward the sustainment of the status quo created a means for continued control of the populace to support the avarice of the ruling elite. There is no equivalency between those who “serve” in Russian Government and the citizen. There never has been. To allow for the citizen to hold the same status under the law as the ruling class allows for the ruling class to be pulled from their towers to be judged by the same laws and regulations that were created to control the citizenry by that same ruling class.

What Exceptionalism Created, Progressivism Attempted to Destroy

President Woodrow WilsonAmerica, in similar fashion, has lost her way. We’ve begun wholesale emulation of what the Russian Government has been doing to its citizenry, albeit in a much more benevolent manner. Starting in 1913, the Progressive Movement, with several wellaimed strokes, weakened the constraints which, until that time, had prevented direct Federal interaction with the citizen in fundamental ways. The passage of the 16th Amendment created a means with which the Federal Government could interact directly with the individual as a “taxable person”. Never before in American History was the Federal Government able to impact the individual so fundamentally. The scope of this Amendment has been considered the catalyst that created a cascade of Statism through American society; a society which, until that time, had never seen direct interaction between the Federal Government and the individual in any regard. Following the passage of both the 16th Amendment and the Revenue Act of 1913, the relationship between the individual and the Government whose power was derived from said individual had become radically altered. From 1913 on, individuals were expected to provide proof of their income from all sources, under penalty of law, so as to provide revenue to the Federal Government. This revenue was to be used to fund such activities as were to be apportioned by the Congress. For the first time in American history, save for the years preceding the Revolutionary War, Americans were forced by a Government to pay a tax to said Government; a tax that didn’t have a direct defined purpose. 126 years earlier the Founders of the United States had just finished ratifying a Constitution that was birthed from the ashes of a war fought for, among other things, the very purpose of casting off the shackles of taxation without purpose or representation. In two very clear examples of Progressive Statism, Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats who controlled the House and Senate at the time did to America what Americans had bled to defend against at our Nation’s Founding. While it can be argued that the Revenue Act of 1913 lowered tariffs in such a way so as to encourage commerce, the development of the individual income tax created a means through which the Federal Government was able to, in six short years, eclipse the entirety of all tariff revenue which, up to that point, had been the bulk of the Federal Government’s revenue stream. The direct confiscation of income from the American Citizen was to become the proverbial golden goose, and, it was thought, she would never stop laying eggs.

As if to add insult to injury, and, quite possibly in defense of the Progressive Movement’s steam-rolling of individual sovereignty with the 16th Amendment and the Revenue Act of 1913, Congress passed, and the States ratified, the 17th Amendment, decoupling the State’s only influence over the legislative activities of Congress. Prior to 1913, Congressional Senatorial Seats were filled by an electoral process governed by the individual State Legislatures. The States had a means of controlling the Senator they sent to serve in Congress, and therein the States retained a measure of sovereignty, and through that measure a means of influencing Federal legislative outcomes. Because the House of Representatives was elected directly via popular vote, the Founders saw the Senate as being a means for the States to have the ability to counter pure majoritarianism in Congress by allowing for the States to place Senators chosen by their legislatures as opposed to chosen by the same electoral process as elected the House Congressional Representatives. This was seen as a means of divesting power from those states that enjoyed a large population, such as New York and New Jersey, when compared to the Southern States such as Georgia and the Carolinas. With each state only having two Senators, the legislatures in the various states selecting those Senators allowed for the states to check the House of Representatives’ population based representation; Two Senators for every state as opposed to a Representative for every 647,000, giving each state an equal ability to counter legislation by more populous states, should a counter be desired or warranted.

Following the ratification of the 17th Amendment, the Progressive Movement had established a means of controlling outcomes in the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government by effectively institutionalizing majoritarian rule. This single act flew in the face of 126 years of Federalism, having the crippling effect of creating a democracy where a republican form of government had been established. From this point forward the will of the people in population centers would wash over the land, flooding over the banks of Federalism and effectively eliminating the boundaries created by the 10th Amendment by establishing an all-powerful centralized government absent the ability for individual states to redress their grievances through legislative action in the Senate. The 17th Amendment, though seemingly simple in language, decoupled the states from the legislative process, and thereby destroyed over a century’s worth of Federalism. Following its ratification, the 17th Amendment created a Congress whose power derived directly from the popular vote in totality, and, as such, the political power of population centers such as New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco became the means through which Congress’s power was expanded. As Statists were elected to more and more seats for more and more terms, the representation of the states waned, and eventually became irrelevant.

What had made America exceptional on the world stage in terms of governance was supplanted with Federal entitlement and the empowerment of sloth. Exceptionalism in America stemmed from the most admirable aspects of human nature that drove human beings to better themselves and the lives of their loved ones through self-improvement, innovation and delayed gratification in hopes of improved outcomes. The Progressive Movement saw in these seemingly self-serving character traits the supposed roots of evil, and sought to disarm those who had built, as a matter of pursuing their dreams, independence; Independence, even, from the need to be governed. The Progressives thought they had a better way.

Progressives saw government, and the pursuit of the power that it grants, as a means to an Utopian end. Their goal was a society where no one need want for anything. The core failing in this pursuit, however, is that key aspects of human nature that our Founders sought to empower so as to encourage America to thrive were entirely ignored. Aspiration is not an evil. Aspiration is what drives the Progressive Movement, at least in terms of its leadership’s aspirations of power of their fellow man. However, as is common in many progressive legislative measures, even to this day, the ends always justify any means, even the subversion of individual liberty, so as to create an equality of outcomes instead of an equality of opportunities. This phenomenon has, over the course of the ensuing century, created an entitlement mentality that has stymied the American Spirit, and thus undermines the Exceptionalism America used to be recognized for – both within and outside her borders.

American Exceptionalism, or that which drove Americans at our Founding to fight, knowing failure guaranteed annihilation, to establish “…a more perfect union…” that would endure all tests, so as to protect, defend and empower the futures of their progeny into perpetuity, had, in one short year, and the century that followed, been effectively dismantled and replaced with a form of governance very much like that which the Founders had cast off only 126 years prior. America, during World War 1 and World War 2 showed, for two brief moments in history, that she could be Exceptional again, but, as with many moments, these were fleeting, and the damage that had been done by the Progressive Movement dragged society back to the baser aspects of socialistic rule.

Welfare, a “social safety net”, Medicare; wealth redistribution methods made possible expressly by the 16th Amendment and Supreme Court decisions upholding their Constitutionality, allowed for ever more direct control over the citizenry by the Federal Government. Where the government used to derive its authority to govern from the people it was sworn to defend, now the people derive their subsistence in order to survive from the ability for the Government to tax their neighbors and the rest of society, or the benevolence of that Government to not tax all of their income to provide for the State’s, and thus the citizen’s neighbor’s, needs. These entitlements have been more destructive to society than we can ever truly know. As people find they are not truly responsible for their livelihoods they also find that they do not have a desire to see that their lives are improved through their ability to excel. The individual’s needs met, society declined due to the weakening of the will of the individual having been very softly, but thoroughly, broken. Through effective propaganda campaigns developed around the premise that those who have obviously gathered their wealth at the expense of those who have not, the poor, near poor and the “middle class” were lulled into an acceptance that Government would see justice served, and, as long as the entitlements continued to flow, the population was accepting of this fallacy.

There is Hope

National EnsignOur fates are not sealed. American Exceptionalism does not have to die in the annals of history, a forgotten relic of an age that may never be realized again. There are those Conservatives who understand the words I have written here, and who feel within themselves the desire and drive to excel. Perhaps that drive is due to the indomitable human spirit and the more noble aspects of human nature. If this is the case, perhaps, then, there is hope.

Liberty’s Torch still burns. Her torch burns in the hearts of men and women across this great nation, once great for casting off her shackles of tyranny, and perhaps great again for the same act. I implore you to take the opportunity to read a book that has educated and inspired me to express my desire to see America restored to her now nearly forgotten greatness. “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic”, by Mark Levin, is a clearly written plan to use the mechanisms established in the Constitution to begin a process of proposing Constitutional Amendments that, if ratified, have the potential of undoing the damage that has been wrought upon the American Republic by the Progressive Movement over the course of the last century. The course is suggested, and it is long, and not without hazard. The course cannot be set without action, and that action starts with the States. The 17th Amendment didn’t completely destroy Federalism, but its impacts have made it seem as though our Federal form of governance had been mortally wounded and left for dead. Article V of the Constitution, crafted specifically by our Founders as a bulwark against an out of control tyrannical Federal Leviathan, created a means through which an organized effort of and by the States can bypass Congress in the creation and ratification of Amendments to the Constitution.

Do not lose hope. America shall not die in the ashes of the fires of socialism and tyranny so long as Patriots are willing to fight to defend her honor. We are stronger than what Statism has seen us show ourselves to be. We have been before, and we shall be again.

Conservatism Explained, Again

While digging through our archives I found something I decided needed a little dusting off; a little revision and re-iteration, if you will.

One of my first posts at Liberty’s Torch, back then called “The Spitcracker Picayune”, was a defining of Conservatism as a mindset, a way of life, and a lifestyle. There are very clearly established principles we live by that shape our perception of the world around us. What I wrote on the 22nd of November, 2012 may not be everyone’s definition of Conservatism, but it is mine, and it is shared by those of us at Liberty’s Torch, and many in The Conservative Union.

Take a few minutes to digest my thoughts, edited and shared again.

 

From my original post, dated 22NOV12, Conservatism Explained:

There isn’t a lot of push within what most Americans would think of as the bastions of Conservatism to actually express what being a Conservative means. I believe the GOP’s biggest problem over the course of the last 30 years and more has been a blurring of morality; a penchant for personal gain, regardless of means, if you will. Politicians find very shortly after election that they’re able to amass a vast amount of power and wealth in a relatively short amount of time if they only go along to get along inside the Beltway.

Conservatism isn’t about one aspect of one’s life; Conservatism it is a lifestyle. People who are Conservative believe what they believe to be true because over the course of history and the expanse of observation of human nature the core aspects of Conservatism have been proven over and over again. To espouse Conservatism isn’t the be all and end all of what it means to be a Conservative. It is simply a beginning. One must live their lives within the confines of moral and ethical purity; to do the right thing every time, especially when no one is looking. What one does when no one is there to witness their actions is the simplest measure of the quality of one’s character, and the willingness to hold oneself to being ethically and morally pure even when temptation would cause human nature to prompt us to take care of Number One at the unknowing expense of humanity, in whole or in part, is anathema to Conservatism.
Once the ethical and moral litmus test comes back positive for Conservatism there are a few Core Values that Conservatives apply to their lives. These Core Values, much like the Core Values of our military services, shape the lens through which a Conservative views the world around them, and guides them through the tumult that invariably stands between humanity and prosperity.Conservatism’s Core Values are:

  • Constitutional Republicanism, or the preservation of the true representative republic under which all Americans are supposed to be governed by, as outlined in the Constitution
  • Limited Federalism, or the intentional hobbling of the Federal Government so as to purposefully prevent a totalitarian tyranny from springing up within the centralized aspects of government that are necessary
  • Sovereignty of the States over the wishes of the Administrative State, except where the Constitution outlines enumerated powers held exclusively by the Federal Government
  • The Right to Ownership of Personal Arms, or the right to own a means of protecting oneself from assault, regardless of source
  • Fiscal Conservatism, or the application of proper and just stewardship of the public trust that is accumulated by the Government through taxation and tariffs as a means to fund the necessary functions of Federalism
  • Peace Through Strength, or the forming, training, supplying and sustaining of a strong military force as a means of deterrence to aggression to enemies foreign and domestic as well as a means to stand by and defend our allies from the same
  • A Strong Currency, made and kept strong through the application of all of the other Core Values.

Our Nation lives and breathes these Values in some shape or form. Although not every American is able to identify with more than a few of Conservatism’s Core Values, most will find that they believe in at least one of these keystones that make up what it means to be a Constitutional Conservative. Sadly, temptation, always the enemy of every man, woman and child in this great nation, pulls the attention of even the most devoted Conservative away from the application of these values to their lives. Diversion of attention isn’t a failing. Allowing for temptation to spur action in the hearts of man, at the expense of others, is a severe failing, and can be traced as a direct causative factor in nearly every detrimental aspect of American life.

The path toward solving the problems that face America today is very much the same as it was during the founding of the United States following the Revolutionary War. Many of our problems stem from what temptation causes man to do unto his fellow man. Application of Conservatism, Constitutional and otherwise, is a spectacular first step down the path toward restoring America’s greatness, and protecting it for generations to come. Many have already begun taking this step.

Will you join them, and us, in starting down the path toward restoring America?

Minimum Wage Hurts More Than It Helps

$11-hr Minimum Wage Meme
In the US, minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and a Big Mac costs $4.56. In Australia, minimum wage is $15.96 per hour and a Big Mac costs $4.62. Tell me again how raising the minimum wage will raise prices? “In support of the $11 minimum wage”

As with nearly every aspect of applied Liberalism, human nature is never taken into account when considering legislation. The meme pictured at left isn’t legislative in nature, but the support expressed by the picture would assumedly support a legislative measure that would guarantee a higher minimum wage. Of course, the scenario painted in the “Condescending Wonka” meme fails to address the broad spectrum of variables associated with pricing at point of sale. This is especially so when considering global pricing parity where one price is near to the pricing in a comparable nation where the minimum wage is significantly higher than the nation of origin for the company described. In this case, McDonald’s.

The first aspect of economics this meme fails to address is economies of scale. McDonald’s is a global food service provider. More to the point, the franchise network actually provides for the service of food, and McDonald’s proper is a food supply chain logistics management company. Because of their purchasing power at the corporate level, their significant leverage in the markets that produce their raw materials, their robust logistics network and their massive global franchisee network allow for those economies of scale to enable the franchise general manager to set prices at a competitive rate for the local economy while also maintaining relative price parity throughout the world. This is no small feat, but the meme seems to ignore the magnitude of corporate presence that McDonald’s has had to build to be able to accomplish this outcome.

First I want to discuss what a minimum wage does at the nationally macro level. Proponents of an increased national minimum wage argue that increasing the wages of those workers who are paid the very minimum allowed by law will improve their purchasing power, and that this increased purchasing power will translate into an improvement in economic conditions. This premise remains true given that those employers the increased wages are imposed on are not prevented from reducing their labor force in order to maintain profit margins. You see, when these “humanitarian measures” are implemented they are never voluntary, but they also never remove the ability of the employer to shape their workforce in response to non-market business cost influences (read: Government regulatory costs).

When a business is imposed on by the Government their first response is to look at the regulatory costs in terms of bottom line impacts to profitability. If the company can remain profitable, business continues. If the business can decrease their regulatory costs through labor force shaping, thereby maintaining their previous profit margins, and still be able to maintain operations at the demand rate, they will do so. Simply put, a governmentally mandated increase in the minimum wage will often have a inversely proportional decrease in labor participation through corporate level labor force shaping so as to maintain profit margins. Obviously, this result is decidedly opposite from what the legislative proponents would have intended.

Staying at the national macro level for another minute, lets talk about economy participants who are not as well connected, as well set up and as influential as McDonald’s. Lets say, for instance, San Andreas, California’s single grocer, Treat’s, sees a significant increase in their labor costs as a result of a newly increased national minimum wage. Because minimum wage increases are not applied to individual participants in the national economy, Treat’s is not singularly impacted by this increase. Their supply chain for every product they sell will also be impacted by this labor cost increase. Those increased costs will be passed along to the next level consumer at every step of production, ultimately resulting in an increase in prices at the end consumer level, the public in San Andreas. They would have several options, of course, in terms of grocery purchasing opportunities, but since every other economy participant will have experienced the same increases in cost only the most competitive participants will be able to remain economically viable as an option. This means Treat’s, a family owned business in the heart of Calaveras county, may end up not being able to compete with Walmart, only 16 miles away in Jackson, CA, at the heart of Amador County. Walmart has the logistical advantage over Treat’s, and therefore the ability to keep their prices lower in order to draw consumers away from companies that are not as competitive in the entire economic spectrum. This is specifically how an increase in minimum wage hurts small businesses. Walmart can afford to maintain lower prices because their economies of scale in their logistics chain allows for higher profit margins, which then allows for product pricing stability when regulatory costs increase. Aggregating these burdens across their entire exposure to the economy allows for them to remain competitive while their competition ends up closing their doors.

Zooming out to the international macro level, one can take what you’ve just read and apply it to the the economic conditions in places like Europe and Australia. Liberal economic policies have created an expectation that unskilled labor will provide for what many consider a “middle class lifestyle” when an employee is fully employed. The unfortunate reality, though, is that full employment comes with other regulatory burdens I won’t discuss here, as well as increase operating costs that may or may not be reasonably passed on to the consumer. Taking McDonald’s as a for instance, because of the economies of scale they enjoy at the international macro economic level, the pricing for fast food in Australia is only marginally more expensive than in the United States. The meme uses this as justification for increasing the minimum wage in America because hey, if it works for them, it can work for us!

The simple fact, though, is that when the United States increases its minimum wage it impacts McDonald’s, and other multinational corporations, in a way that isn’t directly translatable from the small scale (Australia) to the large scale (America). In fact, the margins that McDonald’s enjoys in America are significantly higher because the market in America is much more densely populated than the market in Australia. Conversely, McDonald’s can consider, and often does, operating locations in smaller markets at a much smaller profit margin so as to maintain a market presence, and thereby maintaining brand exposure in a given region. Their global market leverage allows for their continued global pricing parity while also allowing for lower margin markets to continue to produce a profit, or at least a value-add to the corporation as a whole.

So lets say the United States mandates an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $11/hr, an increase of 51%. Since McDonald’s global infrastructure is based in the United States, and much of their raw materials for their US operations originates in the United States, this wage increase, as it applies to the entire US economy, will ripple through McDonald’s entire corporate structure. Production costs will increase, and thus prices will also increase. Since this labor and materials cost increase will be felt by the competition as well, adequate measures to curtail a decrease in profit margins will result in a combination of consumer level price increases and labor shaping (read: layoffs and decreased hours per worker) should be expected for the entire market. In the US this will translate into an increase in those who are considered poor because it will directly increase the unemployment rate for low skill workers.

Internationally it will have a magnified effect, but that effect will be varied and broad spectrum. Alongside increased consumer level prices as the international macro economy finds ways to manage the supply and logistics chain’s increased costs, McDonald’s and its competitors will have to find new, cheaper sources of raw materials in order to maintain profit margins. This translates into decreased quality, lower standards, and ultimately higher instances of safety violation events that, because of the volumes I’m discussing, are not possibly able to be reliably overseen and prosecuted by any Government.

The Fast Food industry example is just a small snippet of what can happen when arbitrary values are mandated for unskilled labor instead of allowing for the market system to dictate what the value of that labor is in real time. This, of course, is an unintended consequence of what the Left would call a noble goal. Absent market forces pressuring corporations to act in a predictable manner when subjected to governmental stimuli, their noble goal might be attainable. Of course, this is not possible. The Governments of the world can only command so much before the corporations of the world simply cease operations because not participating in the economy is preferable to participating on Socialism’s terms.

Why Hatred is Such a Useful Tool for the Left

A very clear difference between the Left and Conservatism is that the Left has shown itself to be very adept in the use of hatred as a political motivator. In polite conversation most Americans would happily acknowledge that racism, sexism, and all of the other -isms that are active components of discrimination and prejudice are very dark parts of humanity’s collective gestalt, and would very much like for these aspects of human nature to cease to exist.

What won’t be discussed in polite conversation, however, is the application of the emotional response to publicized hatred as a means of control of a political point of view. Take, for instance, the over the top coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial. If an analyst were to take apart my words here today I’d be accused of being a racist because I didn’t refer to the case as the “Trayvon Martin murder trial”. Well, while that attitude wouldn’t have a lot of merit even while the trial was still in progress, the audience receptive to that sort of dangerous rhetoric would be incited to call me down for my racism, and it is entirely possible I would be the target of some of the death threats Zimmerman faces even to this day.

The fact of the matter is Zimmerman is not a racist, as evidenced by the FBI’s admission that they were not able to find any sort of racially charged motivations for his following Martin the night of the incident. That, however, isn’t critical to the core of the message from the hate-baiters that Zimmerman is a racist, that hatred fueled his murder of Trayvon, regardless of the facts being found to prove no murder took place in a court of law, and that anyone who supports Zimmerman is a racist just as guilty of spreading hatred and danger to the communities of America as those very lynch mobs who murdered so many black Americans in decades passed.

The Left doesn’t even try to square their use of hatred as a tool against the realities presented to the public they’re trying to drive toward their goals. The general theory on the Left is that the public either isn’t paying enough attention to reality, or that the public will listen to the Left’s version of reality before thinking for themselves. Sadly, this directed use of hatred as a political motivator has shown itself to be extremely effective throughout humanity’s history.

Conservatism doesn’t allow for hate to be a component of our psyche because hate is damaging to the soul. Of course we all feel hate from time to time, and Conservatives engaged in politics often feel it most when battling Statists, or when confronting infringements on individual sovereignty by an ever strengthening government. We simply know how to shunt that emotion out and channel the adrenaline rush it gives us into a productive avenue. For a Conservative, to give into an emotional response generated by a stimulus and allow for that emotion to motivate our discourse is anathema to our moral core. There are those who allow emotion to control their actions, but one of the planks of Conservatism is to address negative stimulus with a rational, measured response.

The Left truly knows how to channel hate. They know how to enrage a populace to action using hate as the progenitor to violence, all while sitting back and allowing for the incited rage to be blamed on the people and not the politician or media figure. A mob is a very effective tool because it substitutes the will of the individual for the will of the mob, thereby eliminating rational thought about the motivations of the mob by any of the individuals that make up its numbers. Because mob mentality can be so very successful in accomplishing a goal, regardless of the moral efficacy of that goal, the Left has seen fit to use hatred as a driving force for much of their rhetoric. Think about the “war on women”, the “war on poverty”, the “war X”… The Left paints their opposition as waging wars against everything the Left is for because it galvanizes their constituencies into joining up against the oppressive opposition.

A prime example would be the “war on women” rhetoric during the Sandra Fluke fifteen minutes of fame. Conservatives do not want to prevent women from being able to obtain contraception. That has rarely been the case, and most certainly isn’t the case in the modern era. The Left, however, neatly painted Sandra Fluke as being oppressed and that the Right was denying her access to free contraception because the argument at the time was that forcing religious organizations who provide private health coverage for their members and employees to fund the purchase of contraception violates the religious organizations freedom to practice their religion as they see fit, even if that practice denys insurance funding for contraception. This isn’t a stance grounded in hate, as the Left would purport, but a stance grounded in faith and the religious interpretation of the Bible by Catholics and other organizations. This doesn’t deny contraception; individuals are entirely capable of obtaining low cost contraception absent funding from their employer’s health care coverage. The opposing view is that contraception is a civil right to women, and that the college Fluke was attending owed it to her to provide it free of charge based on this premise. The stance that free contraception is a civil right for women is an untenable stance to hold, as there is no language in the Constitution or the Civil Rights Act that protects a woman’s right to free contraception. The Left’s rhetoric, though, was very effective in making it seem like the Right hates women because of their defending of religious organization’s First Amendment rights.

Of note, this issue has yet to be adequately resolved. Instead of addressing the issue head on, the Administration and Congress has deigned to delay the potential issues this creates until after the Affordable Care Act is actually stood up, since the potential of infringement of a protected right is not an actual infringement, and thus the religious organizations suing the Government to resolve this issue have been found to not have standing due to their rights not currently being infringed.

The Right doesn’t see hate as an avenue to success because hate is dangerous. There is no way to prevent it from being felt by humanity, but there is a way to stymie the effects it has on rational thought. Conservatism’s goal is to empower the individual. A single individual consumed by hate isn’t dangerous to society as a whole. Plainly put, a group of individuals seeking a common goal will focus on the goal because the accomplishment of that goal is the motivator for the individuals making up the group, not the emotional response their hatred may have on their state of mind. Groups of individuals are also self policing. If the goal is shared by all in the group those who harbor hatred as a motivator within the group will be quelled or removed based on the damage their hatred causes to the goal’s odds of accomplishment.

The Left, on the other hand, wants to focus hate because hate clouds the rational responses of human beings. Without rational responses to stimuli people tend to be very malleable when grouped together and focused, lending themselves to a mob mentality. The Left will do everything it can to subsume the individual in order to create a mob mentality that will be driven by hate toward a common goal, absent rational thought about that goal within the mob, and thus more likely to accomplish the intended goal without resistance to the methodology by which that goal is accomplished. This is especially true when that methodology is detestable, as most hate-baiting is seen to be when addressed in polite discussion.

This is one of the many diametrically opposing characteristics that separates Leftism, or Statism, from Conservatism.