Is “Democratic Socialism” Different Than Plain Old Socialism

I hate to keep harping on this topic and hopefully I won’t have to as Bernie Sanders becomes less and less likely to win the Democratic nomination. It is quite apparent that many people, mostly under 35, think that “Democratic Socialism” is a new thing, maybe a more compassionate and modern take on the socialism of old that has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people in the last century. Maybe the Bernie Sanders socialism takes all the good things out and throws away all the bad things? Let’s just see about that.

As a comparison between old world socialism and Bernie Sanders socialism, I’ll use the 1936 Constitution of the U.S.S.R. and various parts of BernieSander.com and other Bernie Sanders websites. If you remember in my previous blog on socialism, I explained the difference between capitalism and socialism. I think it’s only fair to point out that socialism is not inherently evil. It is a political system devised with the best intentions, I’m sure. Socialism advocates for the very poor people that, in the end, suffer at its hands. This is because of a very simple principle, as it turns out. The cornerstone of freedom and prosperity is the right to own things. Sounds simple right? How can you pin 100 million deaths due to starvation and mass murder on the right to own things? Well, in socialism, the cornerstone of the philosophy, what really makes it work is that individuals can’t own anything. The state allows citizens to own personal property, like their clothes and maybe a home, but stuff you would use to make money, called the means of production, including your building, machinery and all the other things you would need to run a business, are owned by the workers and more generally, the government. It stands to reason that if an individual can’t own the means of production, then they can’t really own anything.

That’s a bold claim. So how can I say that? Well, take a quick look. I think we would all agree that we own our own bodies right? My thoughts, what I’m good at, nobody can take away. So far so good, I hope. I also own my time, because I can choose to use my time here on earth however I choose. Good, bad or ugly. Let’s take that a step further and say when I trade my time, thoughts or talents for things like money or food, I also own those things I gain in the trade. Stated differently, if I trade my time by working, for money, since I own my time, I then must also own the money. By this logic, I can also truly own things by trading that money which I own for other things which I must also own. So far I don’t think many people would disagree with me. Even the Soviet Constitution agrees with me so far. Here’s where I must depart from socialism, and why in that system a person really doesn’t own anything.

This is a line of logic based on the socialist system:

  • I buy a home. Do I own it? Yes
  • I buy a printing press. Do I own it? Yes
  • I buy a typewriter. Do I own it? Yes
  • I start a home based newspaper with myself as the sole employee. Do I own it? Yes
  • Sales increase and I need help, so I hire a few employees. Do I still own my business? No, the employees take ownership of the means of production.
  • Do I still own the typewriters? No, they are part of the business.
  • Do I still own the printing press? No, they are part of the business.
  • Do I still own the home? No, it is part of the business.
  • If I purchased those things with money I gained by trading my time and talent, how can I say I own my time and talent? I can’t.
  • If I don’t own my time and talent, do I own myself? No

With this simple illustration you can see that in a socialist system you not only can’t own things, you don’t own yourself. Your time, talents and treasures are effectively owned by the state government. In socialism the collective group is more important than the individual. This system is enforced by workers unions and cooperatives that are organized by the state. These entities take ownership away from the person who started the business and give it to the workers in those unions and cooperatives. The state dictates the wages based on the income of the business to ensure everyone gets an equal share. This is outlined in the Soviet Constitution I linked to above in the section about “The organization of Society“. Just to recap, in the old socialist system the government, through unions and cooperatives takes over your business, dictates your wages and hours worked by the employees.

What about Bernie Sanders? Well in fact, he absolutely does believe in union and cooperative employee ownership of business. Dictated through government mandates. He absolutely does believe in government dictated wages for employees. Under the guise of income inequality, a socialist mantra, he proposes to steal from the rich and give to the poor, dictate the minimum wage, which is arbitrarily set by government bureaucrats. Class warfare, pitting the rich against the poor, is a classic socialist tactic. Bernie calls the rich the 1% and the poor the 99%, in the old socialist system they called the rich the bourgeoisie and the poor the proletariat. Same exact thing. Create a boogeyman to fight, divide the people, making it easier to control everyone.

How did the old socialist system deal with the needs of the people? In chapter X of the Soviet Constitution, it outlines the “Fundamental Right and Duties of Citizens“. This is mostly a list of positive rights, with a few negative rights thrown in at the end: freedoms of speech, press, assembly and street processions and demonstrations. The positive rights include: the right to a job, leisure time (set workday and paid vacations), free healthcare and social security, free education from elementary to college and vocational school, paid maternity leave for women along with free daycare for their children and the right to join trade unions and cooperative associations.

If any of that sounds familiar, that’s because you have heard it before. Bernie Sanders thinks you have the right to a job, free healthcare and social security, free education from elementary to college, 12 weeks of paid maternity leave for women and expand public unions and grow cooperative businesses.

In chapter X of the Soviet Constitution, not only did they outline workers’ rights, but also the duties they were expected to perform. This is crucial to socialism. Everyone likes the rights because they benefit, but in the end the state has to have a way to provide all those benefits and therefor has to require that the citizens do their part. In the case of 1936 Soviet Union people were required to work, unemployment was illegal. If you did not have a job, a job would be designated to you. If you don’t work, you are an enemy of the state. Military service is mandatory, if you do not serve you are an enemy of the state. If you break any rules, you are an enemy of the state. You have freedom of speech, but if you speak out against the state, you are an enemy of the state. There is freedom of the press, but the state controls the press. There is freedom of assembly, which is state controlled. This is the ugly part of socialism, the part Bernie Sanders won’t tell you about. Without the Capitalist notion of competition and market incentives, a void is created that can only be filled by force.

This is the downfall of socialism and why it has never really worked anywhere it has been tried. It all stems from ownership of things. When a person does not own things, that person does not care as much about those things as when they do own them. Think about things in your life. Do you treat public restrooms as nicely as you treat your own bathroom at home? If you have rented a car, do you care as much about that car as you do your own? When you win a gift card in a contest do you spend that money as wisely as you spend your hard earned money? If you are honest, the answers are all probably no. That does not make you a bad person, just a bad socialist. There has been no system in the history of the world that has propelled people into health, happiness and prosperity like capitalism has. This is because capitalism gets around the problem of incentive by acknowledging the natural right to ownership. When you own it, you have an incentive to take care of it. As we drift closer and closer to a socialist state, we will also go the way of the old Soviet Union.

At the very least, you can at least now see that there is very little, if any, difference between the Democratic Socialism proposed by Bernie Sanders and that of WW2 era Soviet Union. To be fair to Bernie, he’s not the only one with this ideology. He’s just honest enough to admit it. Always vote for freedom.

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Political Supersymmetry

I came across this video the other day and it got me to thinking. It seems like there is a parallel between the concept of supersymmetry in science and the abstract political philosophies we have about government and society. Specifically, I was thinking about our current systems of government. We have all these different types of state systems, but are there any “cousin particles”, or political equivalent, that we can look to? Surprisingly, I was able to find a “stateless” version of almost every type of “state” government.

In this visual representation, it becomes apparent that they are not exactly symmetrical. As you move left on the political spectrum the resemblance between the state and stateless options become less apparent. State communism and stateless communism, for example are interchangeable, there is virtually no difference between them. You can also see that the gap between anarcho-capitalism and classic liberalism is bridged by minarchism, which is allegedly where most self-described libertarians live. A minarchist generally thinks the state is irrelevant in most situations, but a few things such as the military and justice system are best done by a state of some sort, at least until a better alternative can be described without a state.

There are several major dividing lines between left and right philosophies that are symmetrical between state and stateless philosophies.

Private property-

As you move left on the scale, the belief that property can be owned diminishes on both state and stateless philosophies. Both leftist systems hold unions in high regard and consider the means of production in private hands as immoral. As you move right on the scale, the concept of private property and ownership become more important, for both rightwing philosophies.

Individualism vs. the collective-

As you move left on the scale, the concept of the individual diminishes and the importance of the collective increases. As you move right the importance of the individual increases and the collective decreases. This is true for both the state and stateless philosophies.

Positive rights vs. negative rights-

As you move left on the scale, the importance of positive rights increase. As you move right on the scale the importance of negative rights increases. This is true for both the state and stateless philosophies.

Of course, I left out a lot of different philosophies and each category can be subdivided countless times. I don’t have the space or patience to list every single type of socialist or fascist or libertarian. But you get the point. This thought does beg the question though: If something can be done without a state, why is the state necessary?

By the way, one of the reasons I find libertarianism superior to the main political parties, is that it forces me to think about things that democrats and republicans never do. A person’s political party is acquired much like their religion, by birth. You are what your parents are, until you rebel and become the other party. Not much thought goes into it. Very few people are born libertarian. It requires first, an epiphany that something is wrong with what you believe and second, research. That’s partly why I didn’t make each word in that word triangle a link to a further description, the other part was I’m too lazy to make that many hyperlinks. Happy researching!

If you are a republican or democrat, progressive or conservative, here is a little exercise to get you started. Answer these questions:

  • Do I own my own body, my time and my talents?
  • If I trade my time for goods do I own those goods?
  • Are my needs as important as the needs of my community?
  • Should my rights obligate you to serve me or take action? (positive rights)
  • Should my rights be able to be exercised without requiring action from others? (negative rights)
  • Should I be able to decide what is best for me and my family?
  • Is freedom more important than security?
  • How much freedom am I willing to give up to be secure?

When you answer these questions, take your answers to their logical conclusion and see if any of your answers contradict each other. They will contradict each other. At this point you will need to make a conscious decision about which way you want to go. Take that decision to its logical conclusion. Feel free to use the word triangle above to see where you place on the spectrum.

I would love to hear about your results. Tell me where you fall and why. Please feel free to ask me where I fall and why.

Immigration and Welfare Reform

Many of us on the libertarian spectrum would love nothing more than to have open borders where people can come and go freely. People of every stripe, coming from every part of the globe looking for a better opportunity to provide for their families. The problem, as many point out, is that while we welcome poor people in, our government does their best to keep them poor by incentivizing them not to work. Let me be a little more generous and say our government incentivizes them not to strive to get out of poverty. The fact is that being poor in America is exponentially better than being poor in a 3rd world country. They do this through entitlement programs, otherwise known as welfare programs. The problem with immigration isn’t immigrants, it’s the ever-growing burden of welfare programs that now takes up about 85% of our federal budget each year.

This wasn’t a problem in the early 1900’s when millions of people were coming to Ellis Island in search of a better life. There was basically no safety net for those people, they lived or died by their own effort. The vast majority of them survived, mainly because they had to. Of course there was poverty, how could there not be, but they worked hard and within a generation or two became the middle and upper class. That all changed with the social programs of FDR and later Lyndon Johnson. The war on poverty became an all-out assault on the poor. This was done purposefully to keep power in Washington and in the hands of the Democrat party. Even today, generally liberals love South American immigration because they get them on welfare and have voters for life. Republicans are seen as hate mongers for wanting to put a fence up along the border. They know full well the effect South American immigration would have on elections and the national debt. The reality is that these poor people are just pawns in the games Republicans and Democrats play with each other to see who can steal the most power away from a public much more concerned with pop culture than what is actually happening in the world that could affect their life.

So what’s the solution? How do we fix the problem, a broken government, so that immigration into and out of the country would at worst, not matter and at best, would be a net benefit to society? This is actually a challenge from a great blog that notices that lots of people are recognizing the problem, but not many are proposing solutions. This is my attempt at picking up the gauntlet of that challenge.

For this challenge, let’s keep the pie in the sky solutions such as ending all welfare programs and the Federal Reserve, repealing the 16th amendment and stick with things that would not require too much in the way of congressional backbone. Of course, this will take a major overhaul in some areas, so some backbone would obviously be required.

Solution 1:

Institute a flat tax with no deductions– Why a flat tax? A flat tax with one bracket and no deductions would not require the repeal of the 16th amendment. The revenue generated would be roughly the same as what we see today as far as which income bracket would pay what percentage of the taxes. No deductions means no lobbyists for tax favors. It would also mean a fair and transparent tax system. The tax code could literally fit on one piece of paper. We could in essence come close to eliminating the IRS with a flat tax, almost.

Get all entitlement programs under one roof– While searching for a list of every welfare program, I came across this, which lists the 13 main categories of entitlements, although there are over 100 welfare programs in total. Seems like half of the federal departments have their own welfare programs. While getting rid of most of the federal departments would be an ideal fix, it’s not doable, so we need to have a quantifiable way to figure out what is going where and to whom.

A massive audit of the regulatory structure of our government– There are so many regulations that it’s hard to tell what is legal and illegal sometimes. Eliminating bad regulations would save job creators billions of dollars a year. All regulations that have an estimated cost to business of 50 million dollars or more each year should be removed from the books immediately. This would include environmental and banking regulations. This could get done if the political motivation was right.

A balanced budget amendment- In order to keep most of the welfare programs we have today, we would absolutely have to force by law, a balanced budget amendment. The increase in tax revenues caused by the flat tax and reduced regulations should be able to pay for the increases in entitlements brought on by more immigration, but only if we tie the hands of the people who spend the money.

Root out government waste– It’s time to take seriously all the money that our government wastes each year. They would not have to spend a dime to compile a list of programs to cut. There are countless lists of waste that could be cut with one vote. These lists are gathered by any number of think tanks and taxpayer watchdog groups. Hundreds of billions of dollars are knowingly wasted each year on stupid stuff. Can that not be a thing anymore please? Here is a good read regarding federal spending. At the end of it you will find one such list of government waste.

By my standards, this solution is very noninvasive from the perspective of the welfare recipient. They would not see a noticeable change in benefits. It does nothing to address the big problems in entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). It would simply pay for most of what we have now by streamlining the government. If we had the right people in the House and Senate, this could be done. That’s a big if, though.

Solution 2:

Take solution 1 and add:

Privatize Social Security- Partially or fully privatizing Social Security would give the power of retirement back to the people. They would get better returns on investment and the government would not be able to steal their money for pet/wasteful projects. This would mean for brand new citizens, they could start saving for retirement without inadvertently taking money out of a system they did not pay into.

Replace Welfare programs with cash payments- This is often called a negative income tax (NIT). The idea here is that you could take all the welfare programs, eliminate them, and replace them with a minimum income guarantee. This would have the effect of transferring the responsibility of taking care of ourselves from the government officials back to us. We could literally take what we are paying for in welfare payments and half it with direct cash transfers. Think about the prospect of reducing the size of government by almost 50% while taking better care of the poor. The nice part about this program is that it’s not all or nothing. Right now the working poor have to worry about making too much money lest they lose government benefits. These welfare programs are creating giant incentives to not work, or work as little as possible, or work under the table. With the negative income tax, you can make more money and still get a proportional share of money back. It incentivizes work and self-reliance. We actually have a form of this right now, it’s called the “earned income tax credit”. That was a kind of compromise for the NIT and continues to be the most efficient form of welfare. There are many different types of NIT proposals, here is a more modern version. Any one of them would better for the country and for any immigrants who decide to come to this country and work. It also incentivizes becoming a citizen, but citizenship would not be necessary to work in the country if there were no benefits to abuse anyway.

These extra proposals would have a bigger effect on the welfare recipient, but in the end I believe it would be positive. These two things would be very hard to pass due to the fear involved in this type of change.

Anyway, this is my set of initial ideas to create a situation where mass immigration from South America would not be considered a problem by anyone. This should by no means be considered comprehensive. Just a conversation starter. Please feel free to add or subtract any idea to this list of things. And thanks to the Anarchist Notebook for inspiring me to blog again.

Baltimore, Deja Vu

I wasn’t going to write about the riots in Baltimore. It wasn’t because it’s not topical or important, it’s that I didn’t want to simply rehash the same complaints I had regarding the events in Ferguson, MO. There are many parallels regarding the people involved, reasons for the riots and the driving factors that would lead them to riot in the first place. A young black man with a criminal record dies while in police custody, a downtrodden people, a bubbling tension with the police just waiting for the final straw. Mix in the final ingredient, a few agitators, and you have a recipe for violence and riots. There are differences too, but they hardly seem to matter at this point.

Instead of re-hashing my Ferguson blog, I’m going to explore possible reasons why and how we got to this point in the first place. Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head:

  1. War on Poverty
  2. War on Drugs
  3. Monetizing Victimization
  4. Politics of Fear

Of course these poor people marginalize themselves by the people they elect to office, but that is just a symptom of the problems I listed above. What appears to be a circle of life for these people and many others around the country when viewed from the surface, changes to a whirlpool when viewed from a different angle.

The war on poverty is, in my opinion, the largest reason for the current mindset of the American poor. It was a wholly unnecessary idea with the expressed purpose of creating dependency. That was not the stated goal, of course, but the goal none the less. The thought that a government can pay someone a salary in order to make them self-sufficient is, for lack of a better word, stupid. That the government would pay more for each child as long as no father is present is, for lack of a better word, intentional. The fact that they would pay poor people just enough to scrape out a meager existence without having to find work, but not enough that they out of their control is nothing less than cultural genocide. Since the “war on poverty” began in 1965 the poverty rate that had been falling steadily for 20 years became stable and has not changed to this day. Black unemployment has changed drastically. The first 60 years of the 1900’s show that black youth unemployment was about the same or better than white youth unemployment. The war on poverty specifically targeted the black population and while the poverty rate has remained unchanged, the unemployment for black youths is consistently increased and is now hovering around 70% in Baltimore and most poor, black areas of the country. This unemployment rate is twice that of their white counterparts. The war on poverty was designed specifically for this purpose, in my opinion. I think this because given the data and results of the program, no other conclusion seems likely.

The war on drugs is on the list because it builds on the failure of the war on poverty. Let’s face it, when you are poor, drugs are an easy way to make money. There is no question that being addicted to drugs has devastating effects on a person’s ability to be self-sufficient. Drugs destroy families, relationships and lives. I’ve seen addiction first hand in my family and wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. I don’t think that being addicted to drugs should be illegal. We should see these people as patients instead of criminals. The people dealing these drugs are harming their society, but are not forcing people to buy, therefore, what they are doing should not be illegal. If drugs were made legal, I would worry about an increase in drug use, but the fact that these people would not have to fear jail time would allow them to more easily get the help they need. When drugs are not hidden they can be made safer and drug cartels would essentially vanish. When you look at Freddie Gray’s record, almost all of his crimes were drug related. When our prisons are filled with mostly non-violent drug offenders it contributes to unemployment and government dependency. People with jail time find it harder than others to find gainful employment. I’ve never had to deal with drug use or incarceration, but I would imagine that these people have a less than rosy outlook on life after being chewed up and spit out by the system.

As the poor people in urban areas grow more and more dependent on the government, people have found ways to capitalize on the misery. These people are often called “poverty pimps” and similar things. They get paid by fomenting upheaval within the black community, extorting businesses with threats of racism, generally perpetuating the victimhood of these poor people. They create industries revolving around things like “multiculturalism” and “diversity”. These programs are designed to define the victims and villains in our society and thereby keep them in business. They create an, us vs. them mentality by inventing terms like “white privilege”, “triggering” and “social aggression”. These terms are specifically designed to keep poor people down. They, by their nature, mentally place poor black people on a lower footing than white people creating a never ending boogey man and cash flow for themselves. These are the worst kinds of people because they are often black people who grew up in poor neighborhoods that found a way to be successful by praying on the very people they claim to serve. They are the first to cry racism. They are the first to call for justice, as long as that justice gets them paid and a little more power. These people are part of the problem because they use the power of language and uplifting sounding speech to convince a people already downtrodden by welfare and unemployment that there is no hope but through more government and of course, themselves.

The politics of fear refers to the vicious cycle of dependence created by government. The generation born into dependency has nothing to compare with. Dependency becomes the baseline for existence and threats to that existence are met with fear. The politicians who promise more are heroes and the ones who offer another way are rejected out of hand. They see people outside the system, but it has to look foreign to them. They might try to conform what they see into the reality of their own life. Others get more because the government lets them have more and they should be entitled to the same. The private sector is a foreign concept to these people trapped in generational welfare dependence. People trapped in dependence and the self-sufficient people in the private sector have a hard time communicating, or even understanding each other. Government dependent people are not stupid, or lazy, or shiftless. These are people who see government assistance as a normal part of life and often work, as long as the work does not interfere with the assistance. So many of them have drug offenses that a really good job is hard to come by. The industriousness by which they endeavor to make money under the table is impressive. These people are America’s greatest untapped resource. I firmly believe that a good free market education goes a long way. It may take generations to get out of the mess caused generations ago, but it is well worth it.

The bottom line is that the people rioting in Baltimore are being manipulated by the government they depend on so much and poverty pimps that make money on their misery. The fact that they are angry at the system that, at the same time, sustains them and controls them might be a sign that big government answers are being looked at with skepticism. Maybe when the dust settles someone can go in and show them that there is another way. Freddie Gray wasn’t the reason for the riots, he was just the last reason. I can’t and won’t condone any riot. However, when I have a choice to support people or government, I will always choose people, even these people. I’m not excusing their actions, I don’t understand their actions. The concept of rioting eludes me. These are criminal acts that cannot be justified, but we should not give up on them. In the horrific videos shown on the news, there were some nuggets of hope. All is not lost.

Where Money Comes From, Part 1

I decided to use the holiday season while news is slow and people are out spending money to write a little bit about our money and where it comes from. I will be talking mainly about the Federal Reserve, what it does, how it interacts with the government and why it is important for people to know something about it. This is not a fun topic. I do my best to write in a way that people who don’t really pay attention to politics can understand and enjoy. This is going to be a stiff test, so I ask that if you are one of those people to try and stick it out. I am not an expert in any way on anything I talk about, (so far). I am not an economist or a political scientist but I do, however, enjoy learning things and understanding how the world we live in works, so I write this blog as a way to organize my thoughts. This topic is going to take more than one blog, so I think I will break it up into a few parts.

Where does money come from? It’s not something most people think about much. Money comes from the government right? They print the money we use. Well actually, not really. There are a few main players in this game, so let’s meet them. First you have the congress, it’s their job to spend the money that our government uses to pay for stuff. There is the treasury department, which is in charge of printing the physical money, and you have the Federal Reserve, which is like our national bank.

The congress votes to spend money on stuff like roads, war or whatever. The only problem is that they don’t have any money in the government, they have to get some from somewhere else. What they do is have the treasury department print a piece of paper called a treasury bond, which is basically an IOU that says if you give me money so I can buy stuff, I’ll pay you back later with interest. Banks buy these bonds and take them to sell to the Federal Reserve, who writes them a check to buy the bonds. The checking account that they write this check from has no money in it. They give this check to the bank that bought the Treasury bond and presto, money is created. To recap the government traded an IOU from the Treasury department for an IOU from the Federal Reserve and money is created out of thin air.

This money is deposited into a bank where it is spent on whatever the congress voted to spend it on. It is used to pay government employee salaries, contractors doing work for the government and other people. These workers in turn deposit the money into their personal banks. Let’s follow government employee “Joe” for a minute. He gets his paycheck of $1000 deposited into his bank account. What he is actually doing is loaning his paycheck to the bank. The bank then puts $100 of that paycheck aside for Joe and lends the other $900 out to other people. This doesn’t mean that Joe only has $100 in the bank. What happens is that the bank just creates $900 more dollars out of thin air to make sure Joe doesn’t freak out while they give his original $900 away to people who need a loan. This is called fractional reserve banking. It means that the bank only has to keep a fraction of the deposited cash on hand at any given time. The percentage can vary, but 10% is normal. Joe’s $1000 deposit immediately becomes $1900. When the person that took out the loan for the $900 puts the money into their bank, the bank deposits $900, keeps $90 safe and lends out the remaining $810. Now Joe’s $1000 has been increased to $2710. This goes on and on until the original $1000 becomes $10,000. Fun fact: 97% of all money is virtual. Just numbers on a computer screen. To recap, congress trades an IOU for an IOU from the Federal Reserve and money is created, People deposit that money into banks where they just magically add 90% more money into the system.

People who have jobs work for money. This money generally comes from someone who got a loan from a bank who gave them someone else’s money, then replaced that money with new money. The guy who got a loan to start a business uses some of that money to pay an employee. This is where our money comes from. We then, in turn, pay taxes to send some of that money back to congress so they can pay for more stuff. Congress then has to use some of the tax money to pay interest on the IOU that got sold to the Federal Reserve. This all happens on a massive scale. To recap, congress trades an IOU created out of thin air for an IOU from the Federal Reserve created out of thin air, to give to people to put into banks where 90% more money is created out of thin air and lives on a computer screen in a bank. This money is lent out so people can start businesses and pay people with this money created out of thin air in order to collect taxes to pay interest on money created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve. Clear? Good.

What this really means is that every single dollar in existence is debt. If you had to borrow the first dollar, how do you pay that back? You have to borrow more dollars to pay back the first one. And so on, and so on. Every dollar in your bank account is owed to someone else, by someone else. If there was no debt, there would be no money. This is how money is created in virtually every country on earth, throughout history. Of course it is not sustainable and will eventually crash, just like every other time in history. This seems like a good place to stop. I will continue to explore this topic further next week. Don’t forget to buy that thing for that person you forgot about.

PS. Look at a dollar bill, or the one in the picture above. What does it say at the very top? It’s not money, it’s a Federal Reserve Note.

Having Your Cake, and Eating It Too

I struggled a little this week to find a topic of discussion. I’ve been too busy with holiday parties, Christmas stuff and life in general. I decided to go back to a theme that has been quietly and not so quietly present in most of my blogs, and deserves a proper mention. When you ask most democrats what the difference is between a republican and a democrat, or a conservative and a liberal, you will hear things like, democrats for common people and republicans are for rich people. Conservatives are against gay people, women and minorities, liberals like to help people. A typical republican answer might be that republicans like lower taxes and democrats like high taxes. Conservatives are moral and liberals are hedonistic socialists. The actual differences lie in the size of government that each party and group prefer. Republicans tend to like a less powerful central government where states have more power and democrats prefer a large central government that treats everyone the same. While what actually happens while each party is actually in power is very similar, I’m going to take the under riding principles at their word and speak to those people who think our federal government’s job should be to help people. I’m not sure if there is an actual term for these people. Libertarians call them statists. Being called a “statist”, by a libertarian can be done in a few different ways. Adjective- “Stop being a statist idiot!” Noun- “Stop being a statist idiot! You statist!” It’s basically not good.

The problem with these statist type of people is that they want to have their cake, an all-powerful and giving government taking from the rich to feed the poor, but they don’t want that government to interfere with their lives, eating the cake. What these people apparently don’t get is that when you cede all that power to a central government, you basically hand them your freedom to take care of as well. For instance, if you were to eat to the point of being bed ridden and asked a nurse to take care of you, that nurse gets to pick how they take care of you. It’s really that simple. You can scream for all the Twinkies in the world, but that nurse does not have to give them to you. If you give your government the power to dictate your freedom, security, income, healthcare, housing, food, what you can and cannot buy, sell or own, they have that power, you cease to. There is no case in which you share your freedom once you give it away.

Who cares? We have a benevolent government that concerns itself with helping the less fortunate and it only enhances and protects my freedom. If that were true it would follow that where in the country we have the largest government there is the most freedom. Is this so? Certainly the freest parts of the country would be the poor inner cities with all the public housing, public transportation and large police presence right? No? Certainly, then, the safest people in America live where the government protects them with rigorous gun laws and highly regulated businesses, right? The truth is that where you find a large governmental presence, you find the most oppressed people. Where you find the people most helped by government, you find the people who are least able to help themselves.

Our government, while better than most, is not immune to power. There are two sides to every coin. If you want a government that enforces you freedom, expect some enforcement. They are able to make the rules because they have the biggest guns. You want your government to make people to behave a certain way, expect that other people will want the government to make you behave a certain way. You want your government to take from some to give to others, expect that you will have something taken from you. If you live your life completely dependent on government, understand that they own you and can do with you what they wish. There is no such thing as something for nothing where our government is concerned. Every time a law is passed, you give up a little of your freedom. What’s worse, you give up a little of my freedom. Stop it.

Ferguson, Not Ferguson

In the aftermath of the riots in Ferguson, MO last week, I decided to write this week’s blog about a very small part of what is a very complex issue in race relations in America. I have seen a lot of posts from my black friends on Facebook decrying the behavior of the police toward the protesters, rioters, and black people in general, not only in Ferguson, but in the whole country. I have seen just as many if not more of my white friends post things in favor of the police and the actions they have taken to protect themselves and the town. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a typical middle aged white guy. In the vast majority of cases I am pro-law enforcement. I live in the suburbs, so I have had a very positive experience with police officers in my life. For these reasons I cannot comment on how black people and especially poor black people get treated by law enforcement as a whole. What I decided to concentrate on is how the government views white people and black people differently and what might be one cause of that. I try to keep my blogs to around 1000 words and trying to fully develop this topic would take thousands of pages, so I’m going to stick to the topic of voting patterns for the purposes of this article.

If an average person were to do nothing but watch the news they would probably be under the assumption that most black people are poor. That is actually not even close. If we round the numbers to make them pretty, about 25% of black people are poor, 65% are middle class and 10% are upper class. In contrast about 10% of white people are poor, 75% are middle class and 15% are upper class. I bring this up because the perception of police are probably varied by income scale to some degree. Rich black people probably have a much different experience with the police than do poor black people and the same could be said for white people. What people need to remember is that a police officer is not the authority. A police officer is a hammer in the toolbox of our elected officials. They get paid to enforce laws passed by other people, whom we elect. Our local, state and federal governments are the authority. There is a certain circular of logic that is taking place in poor areas that goes like this: poor black people have a negative view of the police, the police see this attitude and are more fearful when dealing with these people, causing a quicker than average violent response against them, that causes the poor black people to have a more negative view of the police. This cycle repeats indefinitely.

Here’s the problem, white people among these income brackets do not vote for the same people. Roughly half of white people vote democrat and half vote republican. Black people on the other hand vote 96% democrat regardless of income. I’m sure that those 4% that vote republican are the more wealthy ones, but they are not significant when it comes right down to it. Why does this matter? When politicians are trying to get elected, they spend their money where it will get the most votes. That is to say, they will spend time and money on people who may change their mind and vote for them. Generally, when it comes to political parties there are always 10-20% of the people that will vote right down the party lines no matter who is running. Politicians take these people for granted and court the other 80% to try to take them away from the other guy. The other guy ignores those 10-20% because it would be a waste of money and time to try to get them to vote for him. When you apply this logic to black voters, you begin to see a small part of what is happening. Democrats know that no matter who is running that 96% of all black people, rich or poor will vote for him/her regardless of what they say or do, and will keep voting for them election after election no matter what they have done, simply because they are a democrat running against a republican. Because of this fact two things happen, one, black people are taken for granted by the Democratic Party and two, black people and their concerns are completely ignored by the Republican Party.

Why does this matter? Well, over the years many laws that hurt black people more than white people have been passed by both parties. The democrats passed the welfare bills in the “war on poverty”, which have devastated the black family. The republicans started the “war on drugs”, which has had a much more devastating effect on black people than white people. Polls show that average black people support ideas like school choice and have a negative view of welfare. They have a high percentage of Christian population. These are all conservative republican ideals. You will never see a democrat vote for school choice because it would upset the teachers union, a group they must court to win. Since they don’t have to court black people, the union wins. A democrat will never curb the drug laws because they think, and probably correctly, that white voters would never go for that. They must court white voters, so white people win.

What about power in numbers? There is something to say about power in numbers. Black people do, in fact, have a seat at the Democratic Party table. The problem is that black people are viewed as a voting block instead of a varied group of people, and are as such relegated to the “kids table” if you will. They know that they need to keep you happy, but know that a little cake every once in a while will keep you where you need to be. Black people who stray are not treated kindly, see Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Thomas Sowell, Allen West, Herman Cain, etc… While democrats cater to hundreds of special interest groups and break them up into categories like, women, blacks, Latinos, unions, etc…, the republicans work differently and break up categories into broader things like Christians, libertarians, Tea party, etc… The difference is that when a black person asks a republican what they can do for black people the answer is usually that republican polices make it easier for a black person to do for themselves. This is a scary proposition when it comes to reforming welfare, social security and the other entitlement programs.

It is easy to understand why black people would be hesitant about voting for a party that ignores them and perpetuates the war on drugs. It is not so easy to understand why a black person would vote for a democrat, a party that takes them for granted, have kept them by design as a permanent underclass for the last 50 years. A party that was on the wrong side of the civil war, Jim Crow laws, segregation and even the civil rights movement. A party that after all these years of outright racism, has evolved into the more palatable yet equally dangerous benign racism of lowered expectations. Yes, the Republican Party ignores you, but if they believe what you believe, vote for them. Contrary to what democratic leaders tell you, they do not hate you, and they do not want to harm you. If the black people were as varied as white people in the voting booth you can bet that you would not be ignored by either party for very long. Like my grandfather used to say, “If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.” He was a wise man.