Archive | January, 2013

America’s path to prosperity

29 Jan

I think many Americans would agree that today America is on a wrong course. It seems that the economy for now is very slowly recovering from the meltdown of 2008 however how many of you still personally know people who are unemployed or underemployed? Right now we have record numbers of people on food stamps and government assistance, and in some states there are more people on unemployment assistance than are employed. Many on the right blame the policies of Barak Obama and the growth of the Federal government for the problems America is facing. Of course many on the left try to make the argument that Bush is the one to blame for not having enough government involvement and that Obama simply inherited the problems Bush caused. Me personally, I think it is the fault of both ends of the political spectrum. In fact I think the problems America is facing now did not just start around 2008, I think America has been going down a wrong path for decades and we are now seeing just small fragments of the results of bad government policy on both sides of the aisle. America has been overspending for decades. The Federal government has participated in over reach, over extension, over involvement and intervention for quite some time and now. I believe America has to take some drastic measures to not only dig its way out of the hole its in, but to set the stage for long term sustained prosperity. Here is what I think should be done;

Address monetary policy

 

I am no expert on the Federal Reserve. I can tell you though that I have a problem with the idea that a very small group of people who work for a company that looks to be largely a private corporation, being able to have so much influence over economic decisions, and the value of the American dollar. I remember refinancing my house when I was in my 20’s. The mortgage officer told me that maybe we should wait on closing for now because “it looked as though the Fed was going to lower interest rates”.  Why should one small organization hundreds of miles away be able to have so much influence over my mortgage transaction with the bank? Couldn’t this set up a scenario where thousands of people would make economic decisions based on the actions of a small centralized group? How is this any different from the centralized planning that takes place in communist countries like China or Cuba? Is this what we call economic freedom? The Federal government right now participates in deficit spending. They are spending more money than what is being brought in. Whenever the Federal government falls short of money they simply print more money which aids in the erosion or devaluation of the currency. Think about that, if you or me had maxed out our credit card, we would be thinking more along the lines of cutting back on our spending and paying off our debts. Instead, because of the Federal Reserve the government is able to keep spending money and they simply print more money when they run out. This has to stop. There were American presidents in the past who opposed having a central bank. In fact the Federal Reserve bank is a relatively new idea in the history of America, coming into existence as of 1913. The Federal Reserve bank is being used by politicians to pay off corporate higher ups and even give money to foreign central banks. Why is the government participating in this when so many Americans are hurting at home? It’s time to start having a serious debate in this country about monetary policy. It would be nice to see people discussing terms like fractional reserve banking, competing currencies, Austrian free market economics and bimetallism. The monetary policy in America needs an adjustment so that the American people can stop being ripped off.

Cut Spending

 

America is 16 trillion dollars in debt and counting. It’s my belief that the 16 trillion dollar debt, along with a culture out of control spending is the greatest threat to America.   Many of us have heard that 16 trillion dollar figure so many times, that we are now desensitized to a frame of reference as to how much money that really is. I’ve heard a radio talk show host put it this way. Think about how much money you spend in one day in your day to day dealings. You probably buy food, gas, maybe some spending at a retail store. What number do you come up to? Now think about if you were to spend 1 million dollars per day. Think of all the things you would buy if you could spend 1 million dollars per day. Let’s say you had a really really long lifespan and you’d been alive since the time that Jesus was born, and you were spending 1 million dollars per day since then. If you were to spend 1 million dollars every single day since the day Jesus was born you still would not have spent 16 trillion dollars. That is how much trouble we are in with spending in America, yet the politicians give themselves raises and ask to raise the debt ceiling. I’d like to think that if any responsible and sane person had 20,000 dollars in debt and were spending more money than they were taking in, they would rethink their spending habits and begin to make the necessary cuts to avoid staying in debt and get to a point where they were prosperous. After all, individual wealth is directly related to a person’s savings and their ability to save money. If a business were overspending and putting itself into mountains of debt, how would they ever be prosperous? The government is different though, when the government runs out of money they do not necessarily go out of business, they simply raise taxes or print more money. We see no serious effort even by the Republicans in Congress to stop the spending problems. I’ve even seen Republican politicians complain about spending then immediately speak in favor of the idea of policing the planet and fighting more wars, both of which are methods of spending. In order to address the spending problem, we have to start talking about limiting government to its constitutional functions domestic and abroad, and therefore the abolishment of certain federal government agencies. No reductions or tinkering with code or regulation…abolishment. Here’s how you cut spending; Abolish the IRS, DEA, FDA, TSA, and the Federal board of education. Make drastic cuts to the FCC, EPA, Department of Homeland Security and begin to phase out the Federal Reserve. Lastly maybe we should consider bringing troops  home from Iraq and Afghanistan and remove troops from all conflicts where war has not been declared by Congress against a tangible measurable enemy. If we were to do these things, I think it would be a great start to cutting some spending.

Rethink the role of the Federal government

Tying in with the spending cuts, I think it’s important for people to think about the role of the Federal government. I believe that we arrived at 16 trillion dollar debt because people over decades have been asking the government to do more and more and more. We have become conditioned to seeing the Federal government in a more centralized far reaching role whether domestic or abroad. Americans to some degree seem to have lost confidence in their own decision making abilities and have developed a fear of personal responsibility. In part I blame a school system that has not really seemed to educate kids on the value of personal liberty and the intentions of America’s founders to have a small unobtrusive federal government. But then I guess we probably should consider the origins of the American public school model  and Horace Mann, who was influential (along with the Prussian education system) in the shaping of American public schools. Do we really need the government to regulate so much of our lives? Do we really need laws and regulations every time something goes wrong? The people that are more likely to be in touch with your daily lives are your friends, neighbors and social groups, why not place more emphasis on solving problems at the local level rather than looking to the federal government to do things for us? Every time we ask the federal government to act, regulate, provide or fight a war it is costing money that America simply does not have. Let’s start having a little more faith and confidence in ourselves and our abilities. If we put some emphasis into electing officials to different areas of state and federal government who believe in the 3 solutions I’ve mentioned here, I’m willing to bet that we would see an economic turnaround overnight.

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School Choice

19 Jan

A few years ago in Cobb County, GA a woman was charged with fraud for falsifying her address in order to have her child go to a particular school. If I remember correctly she was charged with 12 counts of fraud weighing in at 5 years a piece….all because this woman did not want her child going to a terrible school. Let’s get something straight here about the power of government in regards to the law in America.

The government has a unique power that we as citizens do not have. It is the power to use deadly force in order to accomplish its goals. We as American citizens can by law make use of deadly force, but it is limited to defending ourselves if our lives are in danger. The government has the ability to use force (deadly if necessary) to make a person comply. It can use force to accomplish its goals. In the case of the CobbCounty woman, the government was attempting to use force to keep her child confined to a particular school district. (On a side note, isn’t this the description of a hostage situation?)

Anytime a law is made in America, what we are actually doing is granting the government permission to use force to bring about justice if the law is broken. Here’s a hypothetical example. Let’s say the law states that I cannot drive my car while not wearing shoes, a policeman notices me get into my car to drive while I have no shoes on and later pulls me over for breaking the law of driving while not shoed. Let’s say the officer writes me a ticket and tells me to put my shoes on and I outright refuse to do it (just for the fun of it and to add extra unruliness, lets say I rip the ticket up and become belligerent). By law the officer can now pull me out of my car and arrest me for refusal to comply no? If I struggle with him, hit him, we fight, whatever it is….once I have crossed the threshold of breaking the law, it gives him permission to use force in order to accomplish the goal of convincing me to comply with the law. This is what takes place whenever we give the government permission to pass and enforce a law. I know that the shoe scenario is pretty dumb sounding, but any law even the small stupid sounding ones give government the permission to use force if you do not comply. Why do you think we call it ‘law enforcement’?

This brings us back around to this poor woman taking her child’s education seriously, and trying to ensure that her child could go to a good school. As far as I know in all of Georgia, what school your child will go to is decided by the state. Yes you have some influence as to where your child can go by where you live, but is it true freedom of choice in “the land of the free” if the government presents you with limited options to choose from? The government plays a large part in where your child will go to school. If you want your child to go to a particular school you have to move to the district that applies to that school. If you live in a crap school district and cannot afford a move to get your child into a better school district…then that’s just tough. The law says your child must go to a particular school……break that law and you could end up with jail time….simply for wanting better for your child.

Because of where I live, should government determine where I should shop for groceries? What if it’s a terrible grocery store that sells crap products and gives me crap customer service? Should the government be allowed to force me to stick with that terrible grocery store because of the specific district that I live in?  Should government be able to quite literally hold me hostage to a ‘grocery district’ and its grocery store if I can’t afford to move to a different geographic location? If this sounds like a crazy thing to do with groceries, then why on earth are we doing it with something as important and life shaping as the education of a child?

Why should the government tell me where I can and can’t send my child to school? This is a decision for parents to make. Parents are the closest contact in every way to a child. They know they’re child infinitely better than a government can know their child no? From dusk until dawn a parent sees their child and knows their wants and needs and their learning style along with their interests, so why should an outside, centralized entity miles away that knows absolutely nothing about their child, play such a large role in where the child goes to school? In order to have true freedom I think I should be able to drive my child 30 to 40 miles away to a different school if I feel like it is a better school and it has room for my child.

I’ve heard people that argue against school choice say things like; “but the bad schools will simply shut down, if there were school choice”…..my thought, isn’t this a good thing? Again in regards to car purchases….if you have a car that simply is not cutting it, that constantly gives you transmission problems, electrical problems, fuel injector problems, do you go back and buy the same car again? No, you get rid of it. You select one that runs better. Why not do that with schools? If schools in Atlanta, GA or WashingtonDC (from what I understand some schools in both these cities are pretty horrid) had to compete to give your child an excellent education or shut down, don’t you think the quality of education would improve? Why not let people have complete control over where their child goes, and for whatever reasons? Some parents may keep their child in a particular school because of convenience, proximity and so on, that’s fine. Other parents may actually use a school as a baby sitter rather than an educator, that’s fine too. Others may want the child to go to a school with a good reputation or other parents may want a religious or political emphasis to their child’s education. With all of those scenarios and factors, why not let the parent decide rather than taking this power of decision and handing it to the government?

Many politicians seem to consistently vote to keep school choice away from American schools….what schools do you really believe they are sending their children to? How many politicians do you think there are with children going to the City of Atlanta or Washington DC public schools? With the kind of money politicians make, do you really believe they are sending their children to public schools? I haven’t seen the numerical evidence, but I am going to make a guess and say no, they don’t send their kids to public schools. Why then do they confine us “regular people” literally by the threat of force (deadly if necessary) to go to schools decided by government school districts? Is this really freedom? This is the kind of thing I think about when I see Americans waving their flags on the 4th of July.

In the end the Cobb County woman was acquitted of the charges. The jury found that the penalties involved were simply too harsh to apply to a person who was simply seeking a better school for her child to attend. Kelly Williams-Bolar of Akron, Ohio was not as successful however.

I think one of the keys to bettering education in America is getting the Federal government out of education and then doing away with these hostage like school zones.