Marxist America

In a country once founded upon Locke’s “Life. Liberty. Property.”, we’ve become a nation shockingly comfortable with policy that is rooted in “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Among the dying embers of absolute monarchism arose two new political ideologies, both, in their own ways, a response to the autocracy that had been the dominant form of government since the dawn of human civilization. Philosophically, at least, both rejected the idea of privileged political classes that is the hallmark of absolute monarchism and, more or less, sought to level the moral and political playing field between the “common man” and his government.

It is how each ideology addresses the problem of moral and political station of the “common man” that defines them. The first ideology, Individualism, was born from the western classical Liberal tradition of Adam Smith and John Locke. Individualism took the sovereign rights long denied the “common man” by tyrannical monarchs and granted them to the everyone. Rights to their lives, to freedom of action and expression, as well as to property and acquisition of wealth, once reserved entirely to a tiny political class, was granted to everyone.

The second ideology, Collectivism, was born of societies still largely under the thumb of diffuse but deeply entrenched political and religious controls. Beginning with thinkers like Charles Fourier and culminating with Karl Marx, Collectivism saw the sovereign rights possessed by the tyrannical monarchs as the main moral defect of monarchism. In their utopian theory, sovereignty itself is eliminated. The individual’s value is inherent not in himself but comes from the community of which he is a part. Thus ownership is greed. Freedom is hubris. Life is expendable.

These differences between Individualism and Collectivism have been at the heart of the Culture War (as well as numerous actual wars) around the world since the late 19th Century. In America, a country founded unambiguously upon Individualism, it has been tension between these two ideologies that has driven political debate since Theodore Roosevelt through Franklin Roosevelt and beyond. The Culture War in America is ultimately still the same old philosophical battle.

That war, however, is largely over, and Collectivism, not Individualism, has won.

“…Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
-Thomas Jefferson-

That Collectivism has won the Culture War will shock many who believe themselves “right of center“, but the fact of the matter should be obvious. Many of these “right of center” people support government regulating every employment contract, no matter how minor, throughout the United States. They believe government has a role in protecting domestic industries from a global market place. Worst of all, they defend the morally reprehensible systematic confiscation of private property from every worker.

In a country once founded upon Locke’s “Life. Liberty. Property.“, we’ve become a nation shockingly comfortable with policy that is rooted in “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” These people can’t comprehend of a nation without the government injecting itself into the commercial and private contracts of the people, because, wait for it, “what about the needs of society“? On a fundamental but unconscious level, their only question is how much of our “unalienable rights” is really alienable.

Do we, as a nation, believe that two parties have an unalienable right to decide for themselves what a fair and proper contract is without the involvement of “collective society“? Clearly not. Do we, as a nation, believe that it is morally wrong to impose upon our countrymen the cost government that outstrips its revenues every year enough to stop imposing upon our countrymen? Unequivocally not. Do we, as a nation, “prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery” enough to forgo intrusive government regulation and taxation to support agencies that are bankrupting us? Demonstrably, this is no longer the case.

“There are two distinct classes of men –
those who pay taxes and those who
receive and live upon taxes.”
-Thomas Paine-

So Collectivism has won, and positions espoused by voices such as this one you are reading now are accused of being “fringe” and “extremist“, even as we quote directly from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Paine, John Locke, Benjamin Franklin, and all of the other Founding Fathers. Is it that vocal voices of Individualism really are “fringe” or is it that Collectivism has crept, inch by inch into the national psyche and finally burrowed deep enough to become the accepted norm in America?

Call me an anarchist, because I believe taxation is theft? Call me an extremist, because I believe the government is always an enemy of the people? Call me a radical, because I believe that I am endowed by my Creator with unalienable rights and demand that my “countrymen” stop alienating them? Call me unrealistic because I retain the Spirit of Resistance necessary to fight for the Individualism of America’s founding? So be it. I’m in good company.

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil;
in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
-Thomas Paine-

Liberty is For The Win!


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Running Out of Rails: Trump’s 100 Days

So 100 days later, how have Donald Trump’s central campaign promises held up?

Every president has 100 days with which to set the stage for his administration, setting the tone for the rest of his tenure as president. Couple this with the great political, economic, and social dilemmas that are rending our nation apart, and that tone grows that much more important to a nation gnawing on anxieties and divisions that spilled over from the previous administration into this one. Let us not forget, however, that this man, so his most ardent supporters assured us, was a political ringer.

Donald Trump was supposed to be a titan of deal making, quite literally “writing the book” on it. His ran on getting things done, ahead of schedule, with everyone involved a winner. In a deeply divided political year, to the true believers, this was exactly what the doctor ordered. After all, for most of eight years, the Republican Party has been playing underdog in practically every political fight on Capital Hill. Finally armed with not only the White House, but a high octane deal making machine White House, the sky was not only the limit, it was promised.

When the starting bell rang and the gates opened on January 20, 2017, what we were told to expect was a thoroughbred champion-to-be. What crossed the finish line, however, has been a horse of a completely different color. With zero significant legislative victories, a handful of largely meaningless executive orders, nosebleed inducing 180º flip flops, a clown car of personnel changes indicative of vicious infighting, and a growing foreign policy scandal that simply will not go away, the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency clearly has not gone as planned.

“We’re going to win so much. You’re going to get tired of winning.”
-Donald Trump-

Let’s start with what we were promised. First, Donald Trump and his stalwart supporters promised us that, despite his numerous flaws, the smash mouth real estate developer tycoon was a brilliant and strategic negotiator, the likes of which has never been seen. His pedigree as a successful deal broker that his vocal supporters claimed made him worth the gamble. With his Midas touch deal making, he promised he’d unify not only the Republican Party but the entire country. After eight years of scorched earth demagoguery in Congress and from the White House, Americans yearned for this.

Second, Donald promised to deliver on priorities that all Americans cared about: jobs. While on the campaign trail, not a week would go by without Donald eviscerating the Chinese for cheating and stealing American jobs through “unfair trade deals”. Donald promised to get America back to work by getting forceful with the Chinese. Once and for all, Donald Trump promised to not allowing China to “rape our country” anymore. He promised, on “day one“, to formally declare China a currency manipulator in breach of international law.

Third, Donald promised to secure the homeland, once and for all. His trashing of the Obama’s demonstrably feckless foreign policy, especially when it came to dealing with ISIL/ISIS. The Donald made a big show of being willing to say “Islamic terrorism“, over and over again, announcing that not only could he defeat ISIS, where Obama had proven to be totally ineffective, he said that he would do so in less than 30 days. He would not only defeat ISIS, he would do so without involving the United States in the Middle East or getting involved in Syria.

Finally, among many policies that Donald Trump (and the Republican Party) promised to do immediately was to repeal (and replace) ObamaCare. Even though legislation repealing and defunding ObamaCare has passed the Congress on numerous occasions, faced numerous court challenges, and has been the source of deep political outrage from Republicans and conservatives ever since it was passed without a single Republican vote, it withstood all of this, largely through the veto power under Obama, and helped along with a shocking betrayal by the Supreme Court. If there was ever a low hanging pitch begging to be smacked out of the political park, this was it.

So 100 days later, how have Donald Trump’s central campaign promises held up?

“…[Donald] is a chaos candidate, and he’d be a chaos president.”
-Jeb Bush-

Take just five minutes to browse any social media site, and you’ll find that the virtual (or too often very real) blood letting has only gotten worse under Trump, far surpassing even the worst days under Obama. After “The Donald” angrily declared war on the House Freedom Caucus, with several of his surrogates openly threatening political retribution, any illusion that Trump is interested in unifying either the party or the nation are simply gone. Quite simply, as far as his promise to unify party and country in his first 100 days is concerned, Trump has been a fantastic failure to the point that it defies description.

In regards to China, Trump’s drumbeat of hard line rhetoric and tough talk has turned into a soggy bowl of noodles. Very obviously, Donald Trump failed to deliver on his “Day One” promise of formally declaring China a currency manipulator. Twenty-four hours quickly became forty-eight. Days and weeks passed. Other than an executive order calling for an investigative review of trade balances, China falls completely off of Trump’s radar. Then, suddenly, Trump has done a complete 180 and said China isn’t a currency manipulator after all. On dealing with China, Trump has failed spectacularly.

Trying to deliver on tough talk on Islamic Terrorism, Donald began his administration by green lighting a military operation in Yemen that cost an American serviceman his life and killed left women and children noncombatants dead. Even after Trump has done several victory laps after the Yemen raid (that has yet to have produced any actionable intelligence) and then dropping a MOAB on some terrorists in Afghanistan a few weeks later, ISIS remains very conspicuously no “defeated“. Then, after promising not to get involved in Syria, he gets involved in Syria. After 100 days, Trump has not only failed to deliver on his promise, he’s broken those promises while getting people killed in the process. Looks kind of like a fail to me.

And as far as the low hanging pitch right in the middle of the strike zone? To be fair, he had help with the aborted “Trump Care” plan. Despite having months to come up with a plan, after conspicuously challenged by Marco Rubio to give details about his big plan to replace the failing ObamaCare, and the Republicans having years to devise their own plan, the American Health Care Act was rolled out onto the launch pad, then quietly rolled back off of the launch pad without a vote. ObamaCare was the one thing Trump and the Republicans were voted in, election after election to do something about. Honestly, 100 days is about 99 more days than should have been necessary to have fulfilled this promise.

“You know what they say about men with small hands…”
-Marco Rubio-

Trump was billed as the king of deal makers. He ridiculed his opponents as being “low energy” politicians that didn’t have what it takes to get the job done. It should be crystal clear 100 days into Trump’s phony phoned in presidency that, if there is one thing that Donald Trump knows a lot about, it’s not having what it takes to get the job done. As far as what tone Trump’s first 100 days in office have set? Probably somewhere along the lines of a flatbed of bag pipes being slowly fed to a rush hour bridge collapse.

Yes, that bad.

Liberty is For The Win!


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A Light in the Darkness

What if there were a political party purpose built for the great philosophical hunger of our times?

In the years leading up to 1854, the Whig Party, itself founded among the foundering remains of the Federalist Party, National Republican Party, and Anti-Masonic Parties, had reached the end of its political feasibility in the span of only a few decades. Not only had it managed to win the White House for only two nonconsecutive terms, both of its elected presidents, William Henry Harrison (1841) and Zachary Taylor (1849), died in office. Neither of their Vice Presidents, having taken over the reigns for their fallen superiors, were able to win reelection.

One, John Tyler, burned so many bridges politically that he was actually ejected from the Whig Party while in office. The other, Millard Fillmore, broke ranks with the Whigs in order to compromise with the Democratic Party on the contentious issue of slavery, creating a permanent rift with their abolitionist constituents. Faced with certain political obsolescence, holding only a small minority within Congress and no practical path to the White House, like minded men of the various minor political parties discussed a new political party, centered on the moral imperative of their time: abolishing slavery.

Though they may have agreed on few other political positions, with real disagreements on the size of government, and the proper role and balance of powers among the branches of the federal government, having slavery be perpetuated into the territories of the growing United States was simply so morally evil, it had to be stopped whatever the cost. So one cold week in Wisconsin, men of several political parties of like mind on the issue of abolition lay the groundwork of a political party to unify the different abolition factions into a single effective party.

Thus the Republican Party was born.

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
– Abraham Lincoln –

With the end of the Civil War over a century and a half ago, the driving political issue that necessitated voters in the Free Soil, Whig, and Know Nothing Parties to join the Republican Party, the abolition of slavery, ceased to be. The (northern) Democratic Party finally abandoned slavery as a national platform issue in 1864, and, while the end of slavery clearly didn’t mean the end of the prejudice or racism that festered at the roots of American slavery, the unifying purpose of abolition was achieved, even if only through strength of arms.

As the Civil Rights Era dawned, the Republican Party rose to political prominence, but without a defining political or philosophical purpose. Absent a such a guiding principle, They defaulted to an “opposition” second party platform, focusing on a punitive policy in the renegade Southern States, rather than on reintegrating them into the Union on equal footing. The lack of political vision of Republican carpet baggers in part stoked the fires of political antagonism that birthed the petty institutionalized racism in the South that persisted for the next 60 years.

By the 1932’s, the Republican National platform was already largely indistinguishable from the Democratic National platform, calling for the same policies of high wages, protectionism, and broad based government economic interventionism as the Democrats. The elections of 1932 and 1933 would mark the last time the Republicans would consecutively control either part of Congress for nearly 50 years and both houses of Congress for 60 years. More recently, the Republicans have been able to recapture the House and the Senate, not because their political vision has been so clear, but simply because the political vision of the Democrats has been so bad.

After promising for 6 years to repeal “ObamaCare“, the Republican Party has failed to do this one thing. It is clearly passed time for the Republican Party to go the way of the Whigs.

“And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”
– Ronald Reagan –

The demonstrable truth of this assertion is understandably going to cause much angst among both conservative and long time Republican voters, but the writing is on the wall for the Grand Old Party, and it has been for over a century now. The growing number of right of center 3rd parties demonstrates the ever growing dissatisfaction with the Republican Party. At the heart of this dissatisfaction is a desperate hunger for an unambiguous vision, a guiding purpose so true, so obvious, so clear, and so bold that its light shines through the darkness, bringing hope and meaning to all that see its glow.

For a brief moment late last century, this political platform actually existed. In 1980, it carried 44 of 50 states. In 1984, it carried 49 of 50 states. In 1988, carrying 40 of 50 states, based just on the 8 years before. The Republicans lost again only when they abandoned this shining path. Now, after Clinton then Bush, Obama then Trump, what does the Republican Party stand honestly for? Just looking at the spectrum of candidates from 2016, can it be said that the Republican Party stands for any unifying philosophy at all? Clearly not.

What if there were a political party purpose built for the great philosophical hunger of our times? A party with a political and ideological vision of bold colors, not pale pastels, not simply chasing down myriad issues or nibbling around the edges, but instead aimed directly at the center of what is killing our republic: its tyrannical runaway government and the corrupt politicians and their establishment enablers? A party that shone with a brilliance that burned the darkness infesting the very heart of our national government away?

Sadly, I can tell you with certainty that this party does not yet exist. I can also tell you that it is well passed time for this party. And I can tell you that there is nothing more that the political Establishment fears than exactly such a political party. America needs this party. America wants this party. It’s time.

Liberty is For The Win!


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Playing with Fire: The Syrian Problem

Inconsistency, it seems, is the only consistent policy between the Obama and Trump administrations.

In 2010, after nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, deposing two tyrannical regimes, the military forces of the United States were on the clock to leave Iraq in December of 2011. Just 4 years earlier, the entire world watched Saddam Hussein, the “butcher of Baghdad“, hang for his countless crimes against the people of Iraq. Whatever direction political opinion of the Iraq War may have been blowing in America, the wider psychological and political impact of seeing the corpse of a hated dictator hanging limply by his neck resonated across a region of the world dominated by such hated dictators.

The seeds of change had been planted in the largely Arabic nations from Morocco, on the western coast of Africa, to Iran, deep in the heart of the Middle East. The tinder of raw nerves of decades of living under repressive dictators that, until Saddam, had seemed simply a fact of life now lay exposed. The entire Middle East became a powder keg of pent of rage that, for the first time in generations, had hope for release. The smoldering discontent that would soon explode into a raging inferno of protests and civil war awaited only a single spark.

“The cause of America is in a great
measure the cause of all mankind.”
-Thomas Paine, Common Sense-

Like countless men before him throughout history, Mohamed Bouazizi did not seek to start a revolution. He was simply a man born poor under a despot in Tunisia. At age 10, he dropped out of school to support his parents and put his younger sister through school. Unable to find steady work, Bouazizi, an honest man who believed in honest work, decided to take his fate into his own hands, becoming a merchant, selling fruit on the side of the street. He would buy his wares on credit, then sell them for a small profit, about $5 (US), the next day.

This was his life, and he embraced it. Through honest work and sheer will, day by day, customer by precious customer, Bouazizi hoped only to better his humble lot in life. One fateful day in December of 2010, a corrupt police official accused Bouazizi of not having paid for a permit to operate his stand, nevermind that no such permit was required by law. Bouazizi protested, partly out of indignation but mostly because he had no money to pay the official’s bribe.

As punishment, the police turned over his cart, spilling his livelihood into the street, and seized the only thing of value Bouazizi had on him, his produce scales. After futilely trying to get his scales back for an hour, with no way to pay back his debt, continue his business, or to pay for his sister’s schooling, Mohamed Bouazizi stood defiantly in the middle of the street in front of government offices with a can of gasoline. Before stunned onlookers, Bouazizi doused himself then screamed, “How do you expect me to make a living!?

The fire he lit set the entire Arab world ablaze.

“It is change , continuing change, inevitable
change, 
that is the dominant factor
in society today.”

-Isaac Asimov-

The Arab Spring was a moment in time, a chance for great leaders to do great things, and to change the fate of the world for millions who lived under tyranny. Sadly, for those rising up against their tyrannical governments, the west has long since exhausted its great leaders. When America had an opportunity to stand with the people, who had lived for so long under the yolk of tyranny yearned for freedom and equality, America failed to be America.

The United States and its European allies, instead of siding with the people, tried to prop up dictatorships in countries like Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and even Syria. In the philosophical space that should have been filled by western values of individual Liberty and moral equality, in rushed radical Jihadism, uncontested. The battle lines in people’s hearts had been drawn, and, with the absence of American idealism, the intractable fighting began between the tyranny of political elites on one side and the tyranny of radical Jihadism on the other.

The full cost of Obama’s feckless foreign policy during the Arab Spring is spilling over into our streets, and, in no small part, set the political stage for the rise of Trump. Trump then came into the White House on a wave of bluster, slogans, and pejorative. However, if we objectively compare the “Obama Doctrine” to the “Trump Doctrine“, it’s hard to see any difference after the April 6th bombing of a Syrian and Russian held airfield. In just a few weeks, we went from “regime change” under Obama, to “not our business” briefly under Trump, and now back to “regime change” again.

Inconsistency, it seems, is the only consistent policy between the Obama and Trump administrations.

“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence…
the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly
awake, since history and experience prove that
foreign influence is one of the most baneful
foes of republican government.”
-George Washington-

Let’s be absolutely clear on one point. Where there is no clear American interest, the United States should not engage in a policy of “nation building“. By “American interest“, I mean where American lives have been taken by bad actors abroad. If it were not for the lives taken by Barbary pirates, Jefferson would have had no justification to spend American lives in Tripoli. Were it not for the lives taken at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt would have had no justification to spend American lives in Europe and the Pacific. Were it not for the lives taken on 9/11/2001, Bush would have had no justification to spend American lives in Afghanistan.

As of the time of this article, no American lives have been lost because of the Assad regime in Syria. Despite this, Donald Trump has decided to pick a fight Syria and, by proxy, Russia. By all accounts, the airfield that was bombed by US forces was up and operational again within 24 hours, but the foreign relations damage may be permanent. Whether Assad goes or stays, there is nothing to be gained by intervening on behalf of either side, with the Syrian government being geopolitically aligned with the Russians and the rebels being geopolitically aligned with Jihadists.

If Trump’s intent is truly to do good for the sake of doing good, not simply for his own political aggrandizement or, worse, to deflect attention away from the many suspicious connections between his campaign and Moscow, then there are avenues for a pro-American non-intervention. It would, however, create significant long-term friction between Washington and Moscow. There are no safe alliances to be found in Syria, but there is a group within Syria that has capitalized on the political instability to try to assert their autonomy: the Free Kurdish Movement.

While not perfect, the Free Kurdish Movement has a legitimate and morally justifiable political grievance. Though the United States should not directly involve itself in the military activities and necessities of the Kurds, it is long past time for the United States to take an affirmative stance in support of Kurdish independence, but that is the topic for another time.

Liberty is For The Win!


We just checked, and it turns out that fighting for Liberty isn’t free, because it requires time and energy to research, prepare, and propagate this message for you. Please drop just a dollar a month into the proverbial tip jar and become a Patriot Patron. Of course, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share. Keep this fight for Liberty going! – @LibertyIsFTW

The Economics Quarterly: 2017Q1

The economy has been moving upward since about 2015, but, from a purely political standpoint, much of this growth could be attributed to the general impression that the political winds were going to change in Washington.

In 2016, I started a monthly article commenting on US economic data called Economics Speed Round. Though I ended up retiring the format this year, since monthly data tends to be so volatile in the short-term, I remained interested in commenting on the economy and the political climate that surrounds it. To that end, I introduce The Economic Quarterly, which will focus on economic data by quarter on a longer 15-year mean and 4-year trend perspective that will ideally allow comparisons of economic climates between previous administrations. This should allow for a broader view of the economic data and better illustrate the impact different governing ideologies have on markets and the economy.

So, without further ado…

GDP GROWTH DATA

The GDP Growth Rate for 2016 Quarter 4 was officially 2.1%, per the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This puts it just above the 15-year mean, which includes the 2007-2008 recession, but below (not shown) the non-recessionary mean. The 4-year trend from 2013 through Quarter 4 of last year shows a slight downward trend, though 2013 and 2014 were the strongest economic years of Obama’s 8 years in office, and the economy cooled off considerably in 2015 and 2016. Presently, the 1st Quarter forecast is a solid 2.5% GDP growth, however poor initial job numbers for March may reflect a possible slower GDP growth at the end of Quarter 1.

GDP Growth Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-4/7/2017)
united-states-gdp-growth

GDP Growth Rate – 4-Year Trend (4/1/2013-4/7/2017)
united-states-gdp-growth (4-year)

FEDERAL FUNDS RATE DATA

The Federal Reserve announced another interest rate hike, bringing the Federal Funds Rate to a full percentage point for the first time since the end of 2008. This move reflects a series of positive moves that date back to the end of 2016, though the Fed had been making noises about raising the Federal Funds Rate as far back as 2015. At 1.00%, it is still at a historically low level, far below its peak of 5.25% in 2006-2007, and well below the 15-year mean. The Interbank Rate is at 1.16%, which is also pretty well below the 15-year mean and has been creeping upward since early 2016.

Federal Funds Rate Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-4/7/2017)
united-states-interest-rate

Interbank Loan Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-4/7/2017)
united-states-interbank-rate

INFLATION RATE DATA

Inflation has climbed above the 15-year mean to 2.7% and has been moving steadily upward since 2015, with only a slight hiccup in the first two quarters of 2016. It is still well below the rates seen in 2005-2006 or the hot market leading to the crash in 2008. The last time the inflation rate began climbing like this was in the presidential election year, 2012, cooling off rapidly after Obama’s reelection.

Inflation Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-4/7/2017)
united-states-inflation-cpi

CAPITAL GOODS NEW ORDERS (Non-Defense) DATA

New Orders of capital goods is above the 15-year mean, but measurably below the heights of 2013 to 2014, and even 2015. There has been an upward trend since mid 2016, however, fairly in line with the up tick in Labor Force Participation.

Capital Goods New Orders – 15-Year (1/1/2002-4/7/2017)
united-states-new-orders

JOB NUMBER DATA

The jobs numbers for 2016 Quarter 4 totaled 443,000 net jobs. Compared to 716,000 net jobs in 2016 Quarter 3 and 832,000 jobs in 2015 Quarter 4 a year prior, so job numbers in Q4 were considerably lower. The job numbers for 2017 Quarter 1 totaled just 533,000, as of the preliminary numbers for February, which were revised downward, along with January, and for March. The March numbers of 98,000 jobs is the third time job numbers have dropped below 150,000 mark in last calendar year. It should be noted that annual net jobs have been on a downward trend since 2014, where they peaked at 2,998,000 jobs for the year.

Job Numbers – 4-Year (1/1/2013-4/7/2017)
latest_numbers_CES0000000001_2013_2017_all_period_M03_net_1mth

LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE DATA

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) remains at historic lows, hitting its lowest level in late 2016 at 62.4% in September of 2015. This number, which had been at a record high as recently as 2000-2001 at 67%, slid slightly after the 2001 terror attacks but stabilized and was climbing until 2008. From 2008 until the end of 2015, the LFPR dropped 3.5% as older workers retired, experienced workers lost their jobs, and younger workers found few available jobs in their fields. The 4-year trend continues to show a decline, though the trend has been positive since April 2015 (not graphed).

Labor Force Participation Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-4/7/2017)united-states-labor-force-participation-rate

Labor Force Participation Rate – 4-Year (4/1/2013-4/7/2017)united-states-labor-force-participation-rate (4-year)

GOVERNMENT DEBT TO GDP DATA

Finally, a stat that used to be an important conservative political point, but has since dropped off of the political radar, the National Debt to GDP ratio. As of 2012, the National Debt exceeded 100% of the GDP and has not been below 100% since. The last official number for the debt was at $19,959,594,000,000.00, which is technically over the 104.17% Debt to GDP number from 2015 and growing.

Debt to GDP – 4-Year (4/1/2013-4/7/2017)
united-states-government-debt-to-gdp

THE READ

The economy has been moving upward since about 2015, but, from a purely political standpoint, much of this growth could be attributed to the general impression that the political winds were going to change in Washington. Much of the capital that’s been sidelined for much of the Obama administration was starting to move back into the market as it became clear the GOP was assured a political victory in 2016. The primary concern for these investors was ObamaCare, which has been a dead weight around the necks of American companies since its passage in 2010, even before the serious negative economic impacts of the legislation went into effect.

As consensus that a GOP “Repeal and Replace” bill was a foregone conclusion, since Repeal measures have repeatedly passed Congress several times before, the only question employers had was what would the new legislation look like, not if it would pass. With the build up and infighting that was sparked almost as soon as the ill fated American Health Care Act was announced at the beginning of March had to cool the expectations of success, even though the total failure of the GOP to deliver on its single unifying political purpose didn’t come until the end of the month.

So the question is, how hot did the the economy get in expectation of the GOP’s move to kill ObamaCare and how much did the economy get chilled after it became clear that there wasn’t a lot of support for the plan the GOP had cobbled together? Does the economy keep its gains made over the last campaign year, now that the central expectation of that political year is back at square one, or do industries walk back their bulking up in expectation of political gridlock in Washington over ObamaCare’s future. If the capital flows out to sea again, so to speak, it won’t come back in until after some sort of clear consensus is found on the job killing ObamaCare.

Look for markets to be split on the question. Some larger players will likely carry the load, expecting some sort of action in the next calendar year. Other players, especially those that can’t carry the extra expense that comes with additional hiring, will likely cut payrolls either through layoffs or reduced hours to run leaner until Washington moves. If the GOP can’t deliver the end of ObamaCare while in control of both halves of Congress and the White House, look for serious downturn potential as markets will have to play defensive in the mid-term. The weak 98,000 net jobs created in March, blamed partly on inclement weather, is also likely from uncertainty over the AHCA misfire.

Taking all of this into consideration, I’m calling bear. I believe The weaker than expected job numbers reflects employers tapping their brakes on growth expectations. Look for the inflation number to cool off as well. I expect the GDP Growth Rate to miss the 2.5% target, though the number may look good with the initial estimate, which will be based on data from January and February, when hopes for action on ObamaCare were higher, with March data cooling that number down by the time the second and third estimates roll out in May and June.

This has been the Liberty Is For The Win Economic Quarterly. Catch you all in a few months.

Liberty is For The Win!


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How Pushing Price Over Principle Is Killing Conservatism

Whether you agree in whole, in part, or not at all with Reagan’s politics, let’s agree that Ronald Wilson Reagan could be considered a “subject matter expert” on American conservatism.

Just shy of 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, still recovering from surgery on his left hand, sat down behind the Resolute Desk and bid farewell to the country that he had served as president for 8 years. In an evocative speech that ran roughly twenty minutes, Reagan stayed away from politics and, instead, spent these last precious minutes with the American people outlining the political vision that had guided him for the previous thirty years of his adult life.

To this day, Reagan’s presidential farewell address remains the clearest and most concise expression of modern American conservatism by any political figure to date, before and since. Perhaps you are too young to have seen it the first time around or maybe you simply haven’t watched it in a long while. Whether you consider yourself a conservative or not, please take a moment and watch it now.

Whether you agree in whole, in part, or not at all with Reagan’s politics, let’s agree that Ronald Wilson Reagan could be considered a “subject matter expert” on American Conservatism. If he said something was Conservative, then that is what is Conservative. If something does not mesh with Reagan’s Conservatism, then it’s safe to say that it does not mesh with American conservatism.

This is our measuring stick. So what does our measuring stick look like?

“…I wasn’t a ‘Great Communicator’, but I
communicated great things, and they didn’t
spring full bloom from my 
brow, they came
from the heart of a great nation…”

-Ronald Reagan-

In 1980, Ronald Reagan ran on a platform of “Making America Great Again“, though what he believed made America great was rooted in the fundamental pursuit of economic, political, and individual freedom. In 1975, Ronnie sat down with Manuel S. Klausner for an interview published in Reason Magazine, and said, “If you analyze it, I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism… The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

During his presidential farewell address 14 years later, Reagan again echoed this idea when he said, “…I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” And 25 years earlier, Reagan communicated the exact same idea while stumping for then presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, “This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

At its very core, Ronald Reagan’s Conservatism necessarily opposed government power and, as he noted in his Goldwater speech, preserved the principles of self-government by “We the People“, and not, as it is today, 536 politicians who dictate our private health insurance decisions, what kinds of light bulbs we can use, how much we must be paid to wait tables or sweep floors, what types of cars we may buy, and even if we may drink raw milk. This is Conservatism, which will undoubtedly come as a shock to many Republicans.

So what happened to Reagan’s conservatism? Honestly? Nothing happened to it.

“We’ve got to do a better job of getting
across that America is freedom – freedom
of speech, freedom of religion, freedom
of enterprise – and freedom is special
and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.”
-Ronald Reagan-

After the Civil War and Civil Rights eras, the political spark that created the Republican Party went away. Slavery was eradicated, and the Democratic Party had taken over Civil Rights. The GOP spent the years after the New Deal in perpetual semi-obsolescence, with no coherent message, no coherent values, and thus no coherent elections. For decades, their few victories were based on foreign policy, military readiness, and, ultimately, the price of government. Since foreign policy and military readiness are just budgetary arguments themselves, the Republicans only really ever talked about price.

After almost half a century of political irrelevance, there came a tiny spark that, for the briefest moment, caused a drowsy Republican Party to stir and stare bleary eyed at a right-wing loon shouting about Liberty and Freedom. Barry Goldwater’s fiery brand of Libertarian-Conservatism caught the 1960’s GOP completely off guard, creating a chorus of vocal critics. To these critics, Barry defiantly declared, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” Sadly, Goldwater ultimately lost, and the Grand Old Party rolled over and went immediately back to price politics irrelevance.

Between 1964 and 1980, American politics shifted further to the left, but a bad economy created an opportunity to unseat the incumbent Jimmy Carter. Again, there was a contentious battle for the GOP nomination, with the race finally coming down to the very traditional “price of government” conscious George H. W. Bush facing off against another fiery Libertarian-Conservative named Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s Conservatism was so completely out of step with the price obsessed GOP that the elder Bush famously quipped that Reagan’s budget plan was “Voodoo economics“.

Then a crazy thing happened. As it turned out, people liked hearing about Liberty, Freedom, and feeling reconnected to the Founding Fathers. They liked the idea that America is special because it’s free. Reagan won and won big.

“If we forget what we did, we won’t know who
we are. I am warning of an eradication of that –
of the American memory that could result,
ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.”
-Ronald Reagan-

Reagan’s Libertarian-Conservatism blew the doors off of everything the Republicans thought they knew about themselves and the American electorate. For a precious moment, Liberty reigned again. Unfortunately, Reagan’s American conservatism still remained an anomaly in a party of price obsessed accountants. As soon as Reagan passed the torch to George H. W. Bush, the elder Bush talked a really good Liberty game, making all the right noises about continuing the Reagan Revolution and even famously promised, “Congress will push me to raise taxes and I’ll say no. And they’ll push, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push again, and I’ll say, to them, read my lips: no new taxes.

However, in less than a single term, when an economic slowdown caused a larger budget deficit than expected, George H. W. Bush and the Republican Party quickly folded on that key promise. American voters made them pay for that in both the mid-terms and in 1992, when the elder Bush joined a very small group of US presidents who failed to win reelection. After Bush came Dole, who talked about a lot about decency and patriotism but ultimately kept coming back to sounding like an accountant.

It took a seriously morally compromised Clinton era to leave a tiny window of opportunity for the moderate morality of George W. Bush, whose “compassionate conservatism” captured just enough voters in the middle to earn him the Oval Office. After winning reelection in 2004, a bad economy and run away deficit made the GOP extremely vulnerable again, especially for the party of price. McCain, like Dole, tried to rattle the old can of patriotism and country, but ultimately his moderate politics, like Dole before him, was just more GOP snoring. Romney and Ryan rattled the old foreign policy can before going right back to snoring about the price of government.

At the end of the Obama era, the American electorate, angry and bored, found itself a new president, all style, no substance, and even less principle. As far as the Libertarian-Conservatism of Goldwater and Reagan? It was long dead, and the very thing Reagan warned us about has come to pass.

The American spirit was eroding.

“And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all
who must have freedom, for all the 
Pilgrims
from all the lost places who are 
hurtling
through the darkness, toward home.”

-Ronald Reagan-

Lucky for us, however, these ideas are not lost. Those truths that were self-evident in 1776 are still just as self-evident today as they were then. All men and women are still, in fact, created equal and are still, in fact, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these being Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness! There are still those of us who speak the language of Liberty and will share it with the generations of Americans yet to come.

Reagan is lost to us. He is gone. The ideas that he loved, however, the ideas that he venerated above all else are still here and very much alive. Fight on, patriots. Never tire of being extremist, far right loons, for you are in the very best of company. Keep beating the drum. For Liberty. For Justice. For Freedom!

We are all Reagan, now!

Liberty is For The Win!


We just checked, and it turns out that fighting for Liberty isn’t free, because it requires time and energy to research, prepare, and propagate this message for you. Please drop just a dollar a month into the proverbial tip jar and become a Patriot Patron. Of course, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share. Keep this fight for Liberty going! – @LibertyIsFTW