The Economy: Crash Cart Politics

Excuses won’t improve the economy but frankly neither will political rhetoric. Like a medical drama, the disease isn’t what’s killing the patient, it’s the treatment.

In hospital dramas, a patient is brought in with mysterious and horrific symptoms, and the medical staff race against time to save the patient’s life. To up the drama, the patient improves under treatment, then inexplicably relapses, developing new life threatening symptoms, and the doctors realize they were wrong about their diagnosis and the treatment. They run a battery of tests all through the night, then have some sudden insight, and try an experimental treatment.

It makes for riveting television. But what if the patient never gets better, no matter how many experimental treatments and expensive drugs are used? What if the goal of the doctors isn’t to actually let the patient get better, but to make the family think that they are doing something, so that the family will continue to let the doctors try experimental solutions? What if the doctors were politicians and the patient was the US economy?

So, the preliminary jobs numbers for October came out at the beginning of this month and were immediately touted as a sign that the economy is improving (seven years later). Taken on its own, 271,000 jobs created is a strong showing, not as strong as April (330), November (423), and December (329) of 2014, but it is fairly strong. However, between 15,000,000 and 20,000,000 Americans of working age are still sidelined by the economy, and, according to the Bureau of Labor, there are another 5.7 million Americans working part time, who want full time employment. That is as many as 25.7 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed in the United States. 271,000 jobs isn’t even a drop in the bucket at that point.

Further, there’s good reason to believe that many of the October jobs included tens of thousands of jobs that were NOT created in August and September, as only 290,000 jobs were created over the span of those two months combined. And while the job numbers have remained fairly stable through 2013 and 2014, the economy continues to have troubling symptoms. The third quarter GDP growth rate was revised downward from only 1.6% to 1.5%, half of the GDP necessary to create enough jobs to accommodate population growth, as was born out by the very modest job numbers in August and September. And it was only 0.6% in the first quarter of 2015.

The official U-6 number is currently at 10% to 11%, a number bad enough that even Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made a campaign issue of the 1 out of 10 American workers sidelined in our economy. So, yes, the 271,000 jobs created was a good number, but it’s not good enough to make serious headway on the 25 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed in the United States. It’s a number that’s largely a result of hiring that didn’t happen in the third quarter, and it’s likely to be revised downward in the coming weeks.

And on top of everything else, the federal core loans rate remains at 0.10%-0.25%, where it has been since the bleakest days of 2008 in the middle of the Great Recession. The Bush Tax Cuts are still largely intact. And the Federal Reserve is still relying on quantitative easing, because the economy still isn’t responding to the low federal core loans rate. If the economy is doing so well, why are all of these “stimulative” policies still in place? More concerning still is why no one is talking about this in the mainstream media? We still have high unemployment, sporadic GDP growth, and a punitive regulatory environment, despite a full scale barrage of stimulus programs and increasing venture capital investment.

If we are to believe everything the Keynesians and socialists are to tell us about how the economy is supposed to work, then the economy should absolutely be on fire. With a federal core loans rate at less than 1%, a healthy economy would have run away inflation. With the quantitative easing policy, the economy should look like the Weimar Republic. After everything that’s been done to stimulate the economy, the economy is perpetually “recovering“. It’s time to stop accepting excuses as to why the economy hasn’t reached “expansion“.

“The buck stops here.”
-Harry S. Truman-

Excuses won’t improve the economy but frankly neither will political rhetoric. Like a medical drama, the disease isn’t what’s killing the patient, it’s the treatment. The patient simply can’t heal, because the treatment has the patient in constant state of trauma. The “cure” is to stop the “treatment“.

Let’s not mince words, however. Once the plugs are pulled and the needles come out, the economy is going to crash. The economy isn’t a living thing, however. Like a phoenix, the economy will be reborn from the ashes, and flourish anew. That’s how economies have worked since the dawn of human civilization. We have to stop letting politicians pretend they know what they are doing. The real challenge is that there may not be a politician brave enough to make these things happen.

Here’s the cure:

  1. Stop taking money out of the primary source of demand in an economy: the consumer. Consumer demand drives the economy. Every dollar you take away from the consumer is a dollar that is no longer available to buy something that drives the engine of the economy. Fairly taxing 250,000,000 Americans isn’t just inefficient, it’s impossible. Don’t tax individuals. (The Liberty Tax)
  2. Reduce the cost of hiring people, especially at the bottom rungs of the job market. More people working means more people buying. And more people buying means more people needed to produce, which means more hiring. Reducing the cost of labor also makes American workers competitive with foreign workers on an even playing field. Remember, the value of the dollar is arbitrary by definition, because the value of the dollar is determined by the market. Since the value of a dollar is arbitrary, the price of all goods and services adjust with the value of the dollar, not despite it. Reduce the minimum wage to $1.00 an hour. (The Currency Wage Policy)
  3. Eliminate regulation that is needlessly restrictive. Yes, we need laws that keep the environment clean, but we don’t need laws that redefine science. CO2 is not a pollutant. Any regulation that doesn’t directly deal with the health and safety of workers or consumers needs to be repealed. There are over a hundred federal agencies, when there should be no more than ten. The federal government’s job is to regulate commerce not to run it, and anyone that doesn’t understand the difference should not be in office.
  4. Stop federal dollars flowing into any part of the economy that isn’t attached to actual productive purchases. The federal government is not a hedge fund or venture capital firm. The government’s track record is terrible, picking losers over winners every time, such as the billions lost in the GM bailout alone. No more subsidies. No more corporate welfare.
  5. Cut government spending by at least half. It’s past time to look for a way to humanely sunset welfare programs, Social Security, and Medicare. We must find a way to maintain these programs for those currently on the programs, but cut them all off. For those who don’t meet the cut off, compensation for their contributions have to be made. The transition to better market or state level solutions is a priority. This will require action from the States and belief in the power of the market to solve problems and efficiently utilize resources.

Get government out of the economy, because, the secret is that economies do not need governments. It’s governments that need economies.

Liberty is For The Win!


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Cognitive Dissonance: an Observation

As this article is intended to be a kind of “Epistle to the Conservatives”, if it stings a little, then that’s intended.

Part of the conservative argument necessarily requires dealing with criticisms that come from the left. The frustrating thing about these criticisms is far too often the left’s arguments do not conform to any version of reality regarding the conservative position, and the two political ideas are constantly juxtaposed in ways that make no sense philosophically. This makes most engagements with leftists totally unproductive.

Unfortunately, the left is not alone in this cognitive dissonance (www.simplypsychology.org), as half truths and outright jingoism with often no relevance at all to conservative ideas are freely ascribed to by both sides. Certainly there are plenty of people on the right who are misguided in their beliefs regarding what is “conservative”, so much so that their political ideology seems to be very much “I believe something different (but equally wrong) than those people believe”! So this article is directed less at the left and more at fellow conservatives.

Now, please take this article with a grain of salt or sugar, whichever suits the palate best, and try to put aside any immediate urge to reject this out of hand. The basis of this argument is based on the established philosophical positions of John Locke, Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson. So if anything in this article offends, then perhaps the reader should reevaluate whether they are putting their own personal beliefs in place of the established orthodoxy of conservative libertarian classicism that find their roots in Plato and Socrates. As this article is intended to be a kind of “Epistle to the Conservatives”, if it stings a little, then that’s intended.

Why Are We “The Right” Anyway?

A great deal of confusion arises from the words that are used to describe our polar political positions (left versus right). It’s why the political atrocities of Hitler are misattributed by leftists as being “right-wing”, which gives them some semblance of moral cover as they struggle to extricate themselves from the atrocities of Stalin and Mao. In their minds, since Hitler was “right-wing”, at least conservatives have a good deal of blood on their hands, too. Unfortunately for leftists, there are stark differences ideologically between what is considered “left” and “right” in the United States and what those very same labels mean in a European context, particularly in the early 20th Century and coming out of the 19th Century.

Long story short, what is orthodoxy today, may become the heterodoxy tomorrow, and this is most clearly demonstrated by looking at the Founding Fathers, respected to the point of reverence by the “right” for their classically liberal political wisdom and widely dismissed by the “left” for being capitalists and slave holders who promoted wealth inequality. Curiously enough, however, in the days of the Revolutionary War, the classical liberalism of John Locke and Adam Smith put the Founding Fathers very much to the “left” of the rigid authority of the Crown of England and its expansive Empire.

The “left” and “right” convention gets murkier in a politically complex society under economic and social stresses, such as when Adolf Hitler was rising to prominence in German politics through agitation and appealing to cultural heritage in the 1930’s. Would Hitler’s radical pro-worker’s rhetoric have been “left” of the post World War I government of the Chancellor? Was his psychotic hatred of the wealthy and industrious Jewish people to the “right” of anti-capitalist socialists? Did Hitler’s embrace of nationalized heavy industries and higher education for the sake of “The Reich” put him to the “left” of capitalists? Did Hitler’s rejection of international and egalitarian communism put him to the “right” of socialists? Did his abolition of militias that were not affiliated with the Nazi Party and disarming of “un-German” underclasses put him to the “left” of libertarians?

The reality is that in the scheme of political discourse what ends up being called the “left” or the “right” has largely been an arbitrary product of popular consensus, rather than any hard and fast application of political theory. We are, however, stuck with the dichotomy, because, even as arbitrary as it is, it’s still an effective shorthand to communicate differences between political ideologies. It’s just important that everyone, regardless of their personal political beliefs, understands that there is not homogeneity within any political ideology. There is no such thing as a monolithic institutional “left” or “right”, but there are fundamental values that are intrinsic to the ideas of both.

The Conservative Doctrine

As far as Liberty is For the Win, the political spectrum is less a line than a cycle of political positions where political identities will circle around from totalitarianism to individualism and back again, often in the course of a single lifetime. Individuals each have their own internal compasses that spin in whatever direction their personal beliefs may lead them, often in naive attachment to political ideologies utterly contrary to their espoused orthodoxy. This happens when the orthodoxy is unclear, so let’s make clear what we have been given as of first importance, so we can speak clearly about conservative “doctrine”, as opposed to the mystery soup that is slopped around colloquially today.

Instead of trying to cleverly rewrite what has been so clearly written, let’s establish this as summing up very succinctly the core doctrine of conservative thought.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (“property” – Locke). That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence of the United States from the English Crown, July 4th, 1776.

This can be boiled down into two essential concepts:

  1. The primacy of individual rights. That is Natural Rights exist regardless of what the government may attempt to impose or whether a government even exists at all, and any government is subservient to the People, and not the other way around.
  2. The necessity of rule of law. That is Natural Rights are so precious that governments are built to protect them, not to usurp them, and the best way to protect Natural Rights is through an objective set of laws.

In order to be right of center, we must believe, at the very least, in the primacy of individual rights to “life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness” (Locke and Jefferson). These rights come not from any authority of the State but are endowed to the People by nature of being human beings, capable of thought and action. Any attempt by another individual or the State to remove these rights is a transgression of that endowment.

To be fully and truly conservative, you must take the extra step to acknowledge that there exists at least some necessity of rule of law through which to protect these endowed rights, to which the People can peaceably appeal against minor transgressions of their rights by others. This creates a social compact by which transgressions can be objectively identified and punishments can be justly applied.

political ideology 2016

While a legitimate debate about what constitutes “rule of law” is consistent with the principles of conservative thought, any exemption on the orthodoxy of primacy of individual rights immediately disqualifies an individual as being a conservative or even being “right of center”. The assertion that there exist legitimate exemptions to the primacy of individual rights implies the authority of the collective or the State to usurp the Natural Rights of the individuals. The justification for this is always either that the good of the collective or of the State is higher than rights of the individual, which violates the definition of “primacy”.

For example, the left will impose taxes on individuals, usurping the individual right to one’s own labor, then turn around and use the revenue to fund subsidies to companies or organizations consistent with their ideology, or to build palaces and buildings that increase the power and wealth of the State, against the unanimous will of the People. And, without any irony, the leftists will blame the subsidies on capitalism and conservatives, when the funds wouldn’t have existed except for the violation of conservative values, and the very providing of subsidies violated the tenets of capitalism in the first place.

As conservatives, we must reassert our devotion to these two principles: primacy of individual rights and necessity of rule of law. While we may legitimately and necessarily wrangle with the issue of the extent of the rule of law, the primacy of individual rights is something we cannot compromise on and still consider ourselves conservative in any American theory of the word. When a conservative is wrong about a position of the primacy of individual rights, then it is crucial that we challenge them on that position, and try to bring them back to the orthodoxy with firm conviction.

How can we expect leftists to at least treat our arguments consistently if we cannot even do that ourselves.

Until next time,

Liberty is For The Win!


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Embracing The Market Prosperity Model

America is losing ground, losing opportunity, and losing prosperity, and that’s simply not what America is about.

When we see the struggles facing so many today, such as the 94 Million Americans without jobs (www.bls.gov), steep declines in labor force participation, and many older Americans forced to continue working past retirement (www.bls.gov), we can’t deny that things haven’t gone to plan. America is losing ground, losing opportunity, and losing prosperity, and that’s simply not what America is about. If we want different results, however, we need to start making different choices.

In 2007 and into 2008, the “Great Recession” knocked the American economy right onto the ropes, and the economy continues to stumble on its feet, even after seven years of every conceivable federal program, subsidy, give away and free money. In September, the Federal Reserve Board elected yet again to not raise the interest rates from near 0% where it’s been since the worst of the 2008 Recession (www.nytimes.com). Even with the Federal Reserve’s brakes completely off of the money supply, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate has been more than 4% (robust growth) only 3 out of the last 16 quarters, and 2015 has staggered along with growth rates of 0.6%, 3.9%, and 1.5%*(www.bea.gov).

Why isn’t it working? It’s because the true believers of leftist ideologies believe that government can solve all of our social ills, if only they can find the magical combination of huge government bureaucracies, punitive taxes, and costly entitlements. This is a pretentious delusionThe cold hard reality is that there is no “magic bullet” policy that will eliminate the ills of unemployment, income inequality, poverty, racism or anything else. As the wisest of the wise once said, “The poor shall always be with you.”

No matter what the federal government may try to do at the national level, by the time the federal dollars hit actual working parts of the economy, people choose to do what is best for their particular situation, not necessarily what the administration hoped they woul. This is because business owners do NOT hire workers that they don’t need, and consumers do NOT buy things that they don’t want.

So, many might be wondering if there even is any way a society can minimize poverty and disenfranchisement. The overly simple response is “yes”, but the solution doesn’t fit into the any politician’s time scale. It’s slow, so things won’t get better overnight or even in a matter of years. The changes necessary at each of step are incremental and will vary from community to community. Some communities seem hopelessly off track, but everyone can take hope! There is no place that can’t recover and thrive if the community as a whole buys in philosophically and emotionally for the long term (ten to twenty years).

The Market Prosperity Model

To start with, we must look at the fundamental building blocks of a community, and we’ll start with the absolute worst case, where things have gone horribly wrong for so long, that things actually do seem hopeless. Crime is rampant. There are so many thousands of derelict and abandoned homes. Joblessness is almost normal, and people are just existing day to day, with no real aspirations for tomorrow.

Even under these circumstances, there are what the market prosperity model refers to as basic tier one businesses (businesses that provide basic individual needs and wants: food, fuel, and shelter), whether it be gas stations, fast food restaurants, a local diner, a grocery store, or what have you. There may even be a few barber shops or hair salons, because people need to have their hair cut periodically. When taken as an aggregate, however, the maximum possible number of jobs that these tier one businesses could possibly offer the community is far below the number of people who need work, with precious few opportunities for middle class careers.

The good news is if we look anywhere in the world, we will find these sorts of tier one businesses. These tier one businesses will exist even if the people are literally being butchered in the streets by their government. As long as human societies have existed, these tier one businesses have existed, eking out a living. Which leads us directly into “Step One” of the market prosperity model.

STEP ONEEstablish a secure and law abiding community wherein private citizens and business proprietors can reasonably expect that their physical assets are not in danger of damage or theft, and where possible barriers to business growth, such that restrictions of land use and cost of labor, are limited to only those that are necessary and reasonable to all parties.

It’s obvious that living in a community where it’s safe to leave a front door unlocked, kids can leave their bikes lying unattended in a park, windows are not broken for sport, and walls are not gratuitously defaced by graffiti is superior to living in communities where this is not the case. It should be unsurprisingly that it’s also better to own a business in such communities.

Why would a business owner consider opening an expensive store with costly inventory in a community where they have to fear night after night after night what they will find when they come to work the next morning? A business is more than just property or a source of income for a business owner. It’s how the business owner intends to provide for his or her family. If he loses his business, then he loses the ability to pay for a roof over his family’s head. And no one should be forced to put their family’s welfare into jeopardy. That’s why the business owner is not only justified but actually obligated to look for the best possible community to live and open his business in.

As far as barriers to growth, all communities must have reasonable restrictions on resources, especially when resources are limited. Real estate is a good example. This cannot, however, come at the expense or exclusion of the opinion of business owners. It is true that a community can impose whatever restrictions that they want on the business community and plead “democracy”, but that does not then force business owners to stay in these communities where their opinions and needs are clearly not appreciated. Only the community can lose in these situations, that’s why it’s critical that the concerns and reasonable objections of business owners be taken very seriously.

Once a community has a safe and secure business environment that is not hostile to businesses, then there will be a gradual and natural increase in the number of tier one businesses, which should then reach a critical mass and lead to the development of tier two businesses.

STEP TWOPromote a robust market of a sufficiently large amount of established tier one businesses (needs businesses) to create the natural demand necessary to support tier two businesses (trades businesses) that cater to the trade needs of businesses and of the community.

Once the basic needs and wants of a community are covered and saturated, which naturally depends on the size of a community, there is a natural demand for tier two businesses that specialize in the trade servicing of businesses as well as private citizens. Whether it be a plumbing company that mainly does commercial plumbing, but also does residential services, or a restaurant that mainly focuses on its restaurant business but also starts to do some business and private catering on the side, these businesses open up other opportunities for employment for employees of various skill levels above what most tier one businesses can offer, in many cases including middle class salaries.

Because of the necessity of keeping large amount of expensive inventory and the absolute catastrophic loss that the destruction of this inventory would represent financially to these businesses, they simply do not exist outside of communities that are not safe and secure. They also generally need either very large markets or very few barriers from the local government. Florists, furniture stores, art boutiques, and jewelry stores all start cropping up during Step Two, but they are such costly enterprises, that the heavier the burdens of local government on their incomes, the larger the market must be in order to offset the costs of conforming to local regulations, however, when both factors are present (large markets and reasonable local regulations) the development of tier two businesses is that much more rapid.

The most important thing that tier two businesses bring to a community is the opportunity for members of the community to earn middle class incomes without having to own or manage a businesses, which begins to vastly expand the economic base of the community. The marvelous thing about having people that have money is that they tend to want to spend it, and since they want to spend that money without going too far from home, they would prefer businesses that offer things that they want, not just need, closer to their home, which creates demand for more tier two businesses.

STEP THREEPromote a robust and growing market of tier two businesses (trades businesses) to create the natural demand necessary to support tier three businesses (professional services businesses) that cater to the professional services needs of businesses and of the community. 

Eventually, with more and more tier two businesses, there are enough such businesses that eventually someone will open up a tier three business. Maybe the florist, the restaurant owner, and the barber all decide that they need an accountant, and it just so happens that someone from the community studied to be an accountant and had been working for a firm in another community for a while, but would prefer to work in the same community that she lives. She opens an accounting firm, and all of a sudden, the tier three is opened in the community.

The amazing part about Step Three is that it happens entirely by accident. This is why there are such stark differences between communities are plagued by broken windows and obnoxious graffiti everywhere and communities that are buzzing with economic activity. This is why the kind of crushing poverty that Americans see magnified by the media goes so often hand in hand with oppressive crime rates. This is also why crime rates are minuscule in communities that reached Step Three of the market prosperity model.

Don’t get too excited, though. The transformation from an utterly dysfunctional urban community to robust and prosperous step three market economy is huge. The tallest of the three hurdles is unfortunately the first, because it requires that literally everyone in the community commit to the betterment of the community, and that’s a hard change to make when everything has gone absolutely wrong for so very long. The buy in is the hardest part of the market prosperity model, but this model works will work on lifting 95% of people out of poverty. The 5% that remain we will have to address in a later article.

The key thing to remember, however, is that the market prosperity model works so well, so surely, and so predictably every time it’s tried that it has a specific name in economics theory. “Capitalism.”

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 Jobs Problem: Life on the Margins

The sad reality is that poverty is not as complex as the left seems to want to make it out to be, and the solutions to the poverty problem don’t actually need to be complex or even expansive.

What do we do about the poor and disenfranchised?

This question in many ways defines the political landscape of the United States, and there are so many stark divides, even within the political parties, that it’s difficult to discuss this issue without hyperbole. We need to focus on the reality of the problem, if there’s any hope of making headway on the issue. Everyone can agree that it is a real social moral good to alleviate poverty and suffering as much as possible, but we can’t kid ourselves. This problem has plagued mankind since the dawn of civilization, so if there were some magic bullet policy that could totally eliminate suffering and poverty for all people, everywhere, surely, it would have been discovered by now.

The reality is that we live in an imperfect world, with limited resources, and quantifiable but effectively unlimited demand. We are stuck with people who have various motivations, some good and some bad, with no way to tell the difference. The whole problem with the “principle of fair“, then, is that there is no way to distribute limited resources to everyone equally in the real world. And worse, to impose this “fairness” on everyone, we necessarily have to violate the rights and liberties of tens of millions of people. Clearly, to the rational person, there is no question that such a solution would not only fail utterly to address the problem of inequality, but would also increase general unhappiness of the people. Incredibly, this is exactly what the policy of this nation has been for the last 50 years.

In a Gallup poll taken in 2009 regarding income tax rates, a plurality of Americans (48%) said that their tax rates were “about right“, while almost as many Americans (46%) said that their taxes were too high. Only a tiny fraction of Americans (3%) thought that their tax rates were too low. Now this was while the Bush era tax cuts were still in place. Obama not only allowed those tax cuts to elapse, he has also imposed new additional taxes, increasing the burden on all Americans. The current Gallup polling shows that the majority of Americans (51%) now think that taxes are too high. A minority of Americans (42%) believe that taxes are “about right”, and the same tiny minority of Americans (3%) still believe that taxes should be higher.

Leftists will regularly (and inaccurately) assert with great conviction that we live in a “democracy”; though isn’t it curious that they then imposed tax increases that were opposed by 93% to 94% of Americans and only 3% of Americans supported? Why is it only a democracy when it’s convenient for their arguments, but those democratic principles are ignored when they are imposing taxes?

As far as welfare spending, Americans are fairly split on the issue of welfare, but a shift in popular perception of welfare is occurring in the political debate. Another collection of polls found that a plurality of Americans (47%) believe that the government programs for the poor are actually causing actual harm to the welfare of the poor. Many Americans are beginning to realize that dependency on the State is not the same thing as increasing opportunity, and, in many ways, the two goals are mutually exclusive.

The Definition of Insanity

The sad reality is that poverty is not as complex as the left seems to want to make it out to be, and the solutions to the poverty problem don’t actually need to be complex or even expansive. While some individual situations may be more difficult than others, the best solution to poverty is creating a robust jobs market with greater opportunity for all, not just the educated, not just the privileged and well connected, but for everyone. From the kid on the street who might not even finish high school to the single mother who had to put aside aspirations of higher education to take care of ailing parents, all citizens of all stripes deserve a shot at a future of opportunity, not simply of welfare.

Not every person out of the work force or on welfare is a charity case. In fact, millions of Americans are out of the work force simply because they can’t find a job where they live, even if they live in large cities where jobs were once plentiful. A total of 9 million Americans lost their jobs in the recession of 2008 through 2009. And every year, from 2008, through now, about 2 million workers (at least 18 years old) have been entering the job market every single year. Since the beginning of 2008, that’s 16 million new workers who needed jobs of some kind. All together, that is about 25 million Americans who either entered the job market for the first time or lost their job during the recession. Every single one of them not only just needs a job, they deserve one.

So the needs of the country are clear, how many jobs has the economy under this administration created? According to the White House’s own numbers, the economy under Obama has failed spectacularly to create even half of the jobs needed, creating only 11 million private sector jobs since the end of the recession in 2010. Even if we account for 200,000 Baby Boomers leaving the job market (a conservative estimate based on assumptions about the delay of retirement caused by the recession), that is 3 million jobs short of what was needed, with even generous assumptions. In fact, in order to get back on track in the remaining 16 months of his presidency (including October) and to accommodate an additional 2 million new workers entering the work force in 2016, the economy will need to create 312,500 jobs every month, until January 2017 when Obama’s second term comes to an end.

The most jobs in a month created under Obama was 518,000 in May 2010, right before four consecutive months of losses, totaling 282,000 jobs lost, for a net job creation rate of 47,200 jobs per month from May through September of 2010. Over the 81 months since 2009, there have only been 8 months with more than 312,000 or more jobs created. And since 2013, there have only been 5 months that met this requirement. Suffice to say, the chances of hitting a stride of 16 months of consecutive jobs created on target a month are pretty slim. It’s clear by now that the administration, fully influenced by a tiny minority of far left elite, is set on continuing with more of the same. It’s unlikely that we are to experience different results, so how do we get out of this mess?

The Red Pill

The left and the right come at this problem with two very different answers, the reality is that the left has owned this issues since the 1930’s and the New Deal, 1960’s and the start of the “War on Poverty”. And the economic policy since 2009 to today has been the standard “democratic” socialist/Keynesian playbook of the last century. As the recent weakening employment numbers continue to show, the economy continues to slip further and further behind.

The last time the economy was in such a place (1978-1981), it required a bold new vision to turn the economic situation around. America got only a taste of what conservative ideas can do, and we sorely need that kind of bold vision again today, because the leftist playbook that’s been in force since the 1960’s is clearly not only not working but is actually hurting the American worker and the American poor. It’s time to put someone else behind the wheel and try the conservative solutions to employment and poverty, because America and her people deserve better.

We’ll deal with the solutions in the next article.

Liberty is For The Win!


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The Liberty Tax: Defanging the Serpent

Any tax upon the People’s livelihoods is tyranny…

In our Constitutional Republic, there are important and specific functions that the federal government is empowered to do. There is no conceivable way for these things to be accomplished without funding, which is why Congress was empowered to collect taxes so as to create the funds necessary to pay for the functions of government. No conservative, in good conscience, could coherently argue against these established facts.

Reality, as we see what has become of the Constitution in the early and mid 20th Century, reveals the sad erosion of Constitutional restraints on the Congressional power to seize the property and livelihood of the People. The leftist argument was and remains that these changes, in particular the taxation of personal incomes and livelihood, are necessary because of the necessity of “fairness“. As have been dealt with in previous articles, this fairness doctrine is not only impossible to define, it fails to even be fair.

Even if a quantitatively equal distribution of goods and services is achieved, there is no guarantee that the distribution of goods is a qualitatively equitable distribution of goods, as many will not care for what they receive, and others will have no use for what they receive. This is why it was never the intention of the Constitution for the federal government to impart fairness, only justice. It was left to the States and the People to fill in the blanks of social equity.

The most compelling argument for this is that from 1786 until 1836, or until the last of the Founding Fathers, James Madison, succumbed to death, there was not a single penny collected in personal income tax. Not one. No direct or Capitation tax of any kind was ever passed upon the People of the United States. There can be no clearer precedent that the Constitution granted no power to the federal government to violate the rights of the People to be secure in their possessions and livelihood. The “doctrine of fairness” would be so alien and so offensive to the Founding Fathers, that James Madison clearly and forcefully spoke out against such pretenses to justify any act or power of the federal government to pay for “objects of benevolence” using “the money of their constituents”.

How far have we come in this regard that even those who consider themselves conservatives (and even I have been guilty of this when younger) should have heated and impassioned discussions on the justification of tax rates between 20% and 30% on the personal incomes of citizens of these United States of America, when our Founding Fathers went to war against the Crown of England largely because of what amounted to a three penny tax on a barrel of tea (www.ushistory.org). The precedent of the Founding Fathers is clear. The correct and proper tax rate that should be imposed on the American citizen should be 0%, so the only question for conservatives is how do we get back in line with the intent of the Framers?

“…the money of their constituents”

There are two sides to the problem. The progressive policies of the New Deal and the Great Society have imposed unconstitutional obligations upon the federal government that those who have been forced to pay into those programs have a rightful expectation to receive. Conservatives must do what is right and just for the People and honor these obligations, but conservatives also have an obligation to uphold the Constitution and the protection afforded by it to future Americans, so we cannot continue doing what is clearly unjust and in violation of clear precedent of the Framers.

The ideology of socialism and the concepts of communal ownership and economic theory were common and well known in the 18th Century. Socialism had been tried, both in the old and the new world, with absolutely dismal results. While the philosophical intentions of the ideology were unarguably well intentioned, there was no point in attempting to allow failed economic principles to infect the Constitution. This is why the Framers excluded a known failed ideology from the Constitution, and instead embraced the proven principles of capitalist market driven economics.

When James Madison emphatically blasted proposed federal spending on “objects of benevolence”, he was well acquainted with the precepts of socialism. Over two hundred years later, if James Madison could see what those who consider them conservatives condone as federal obligations, would he even spare a single word of disappointment before returning to the silence of the grave?

“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it
must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
-James Madison-

So how do we pay for the legitimate needs of government and settle the obligations of those who have come to depend on the financial support of Social Security and Medicare if we don’t tax incomes? It’s a reasonable question, and it’s one that, again, we can balance the precedence of tax policies as it existed when James Madison still vehemently stood against the ceaseless attempts of well meaning but misguided leftists of his era to impose abusive and tyrannical “abuses” of federal power upon the People and balanced with the realities of our technological culture.

A policy that is consistent with the policy as demonstrated by James Madison and the other Framers must be only on those economic activities that are tied to the operation of business, corporate, public and private sector. As our tax code stands now, 46% of the burden of government is imposed on the People (www.cbpp.org), compared to 0% for almost the entire first Century of our country’s existence. Shifting away from such a crude tax burden on the People must be counterbalanced with incomes from capital and financial instruments that are consistent with transactional and automatic excise taxes, so that the natural profit motivations of the market will result in a constant flow of tax revenue into government coffers. Finally, it must not prey upon charitable or otherwise nonprofit income of organizations that seek to serve the public interest. Ultimately, however, taxes are intended solely for funding the government, consistent with the Constitutional intent, and not necessarily on imposing artificial constructs of “economic justice”.

So what would be the Liberty solution to taxation? It would look a lot like this…

  1. Abolish all taxes on W-2 income, regardless of wherever derived. Any tax upon the People’s livelihoods is tyranny, but if congress shall no longer impose taxes on wages, salaries, tips, or any gratuity, this will open a large hole on the federal revenue structure that will have to be closed through excise taxes on business operations and expenses (see below). From a practical standpoint, it is impossible to consistently enforce a tax code on literally over one hundred million people, so this will more efficiently direct federal enforcement on a smaller population of businesses.
  2. Abolish all taxes on inheritances or properties or estates. If it is unjust for Congress to seize the incomes and livelihoods of the People when they are living, it is no less unjust to seize the incomes and livelihoods of the People when they are dead.
  3. Tax only net profits (revenue less all expenses) of business operations, consistent with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. When people no longer have to give their earnings to the government, that money will reappear on the balance sheets of businesses across the United States. Once a tax code is brought in line with accounting principles that companies depend upon to make sound financial decisions, the reporting of incomes to stakeholders of the business will match that which is reported to the tax collectors, which would eliminate legal tax avoidance accounting practices.
  4. Tax the purchase or the sale (not both) of real estate for business use, capital manufacturing equipment, financial instruments (including when they are issued as compensation), and goods that could be considered luxury or investment goods (such as jewelry, artwork, planes, automobiles, vans, trucks and boats). These excise and sales taxes replace the revenues lost from the abolished direct taxes on the People. When tax codes are made congruent with the motivations of businesses, revenues will come naturally and justly from business operations. Many of these transactions have formerly been excluded as “expenses” in accounting of business operations. These excise taxes is insured to be a new tax revenue stream.
  5. In order to cover prior New Deal and Great Society obligations (that must be phased out), congress shall impose a payroll tax on employers sufficient to fund those obligations until an equitable private sector solution can be initiated. This is an imperfect solution to an imperfect betrayal of the intent and precedent that the Framers clearly set for the purpose and role of the federal government. It is the responsibility of all in government to unburden the People of federal expense, so that they have the means to save for their own future. We, as conservatives, must push to reeducate the principles of frugality and saving for the people. The fundamental principle of personal responsibility must once again become the cornerstone of Americanism.

Coupled with the Currency Wage Policy, this is how we reestablish the culture of Liberty to these United States of America.

Liberty is For The Win!


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Constitution Day: Lost and Found

Unrestrained government ultimately benefits only those with political power

So Constitution Day came and went last week, but how many Americans were even aware of it? There was no fanfare, no grand speeches, no parades. It was a quiet day, more or less ignored by Americans, but it was this day, more so than even Independence Day, that really marks the birth of our nation. Where the Declaration of Independence described the why for the nation, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights established the how. It is the framework of government of our society, enshrining the values of the Revolutionary War, and ultimately what defined the United States.

When the the framers of the Constitution of the United States set out to establish a new government after the Confederation had failed, they intended to establish a government that would lead to a stable Republic. To those ends, they focused on three critical things:

  1. establish the structure and limits of the federal government, because society without government is chaos, and government without limits is tyranny.
  2.  define the three parties to the United States: the federal government, the States, and the People, because a government does not exist without the People, and the States are the natural homes and allegiances of the people.
  3.  and acknowledge and protect the inherent rights of the People and of the States, because the rights of the States and the People naturally exist, and the abridging of those rights is tyranny.

These three philosophical pillars of the American federalist experiment are absolutely necessary to the Constitution. Remove any one, and the Constitution falls apart. Unfortunately, a sound case can be made that these pillars no longer stand. Americans of all stripes should be concerned, because unrestrained government ultimately benefits only those with political power.

Chipping Away at the Edges

For many Americans, the erosion of the Constitution remains invisible. Like a tree rotting on the inside, the leaves remain green, and the limbs appear strong. There are just a few bare branches at the top of the tree. It’s those limbs that are fed by the core, and that’s not a sign of a healthy tree. When looking at our government, there are plenty of dead branches.

The primary function of the Constitution is to define the form and limits of the government. The Republic can’t survive without these limits. And in the opinion of many in government, these limitations on government no longer exist. For example, when pressed on the roles and powers of government, Former US Representative Pete Stark (Democrat), California 13th District, famously replied, “The Federal Government can do most anything in this country.” Does that sound like a limited government?

From 2009 to 2013, under the leadership of then Senate Leader Harry Reid, the United States Senate failed to pass even a single federal budget (thehill.com), despite it being the primary function and duty of the Congress. No other branch has the power to pass a budget. This failure led to a series of budgetary crises and makes clear the Democratic leadership of the Senate did not take seriously the duty of Congress to control the costs of government.

In November 2014, when President Obama signed an executive order that countermanded immigration law, in clear violation of the Constitution (www.politifact.com), there can be no illusion at all that President Obama believes in a Constitutionally limited Executive branch. Together with the disregard of Constitutional limits and duties within the House and the Senate, those within our federal government obviously have little, if any, regard for the Constitution.

As to the States and the People, the 17th Amendment passed in 1913 at the height of the progressive movement in the United States eliminated the representation of States in Congress by changing how Senators were selected. From being chosen by the State Legislatures, Senators became elected by a direct popular election. While this seemed to have increased the influence of democracy, the Senate was supposed to provide the States themselves a direct hand in the legislative process, particularly when it came to foreign negotiations and dealing with out of control presidents who were impeached.

Without representation in Congress, the States are forced to seek redress of encroachment of their powers and liberties in the Supreme Court, a branch of government which is appointed by members of the executive branch. The Senate now favors the power of political parties and the lobbies that fund them, instead of representing the political necessities of the States. Further, one of the most important, if rarely utilized, functions of the US Congress is the creation and proposing of Amendments to the Constitution. Without a voice in the Congress, where is the power of the States to protect their 9th and 10th Amendment rights?

Finally, the inherent Natural Rights, of the People have been seriously eroded. In the Constitution, as it was originally crafted, one of the core protections of the rights of property of the individual in the United States. This was done through Article I, Section 9, Clause 4, which protected American citizens from taxation without the Congress performing an apportionment of costs to all individuals, as we were, at that time, a nation of equals. This required Congress to (1) know the overall cost of a given budget and (2) keep the budget consistent with the ability of the American People to pay. Congress could not, under the original wording, pass discriminatory direct and often punitive taxes on a certain groups, which was a lesson from the Revolutionary War.

The 4th and 9th Amendments in the Bill of Rights were specifically to ensure that the people would be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures“. For example, the federal government could not seize a person’s income, property, or wealth because “it was unfair of them to have more than someone else“. Even expenses on moral goods, such as welfare spending, were clearly understood to be beyond the Constitution. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, famously said “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

It was this understanding of the Constitution, by the very men who crafted it that determined the political and economic policy of the United States. From 1788 to 1861, there were no taxes imposed on the personal incomes of individuals of any kind. Even the income tax passed in 1861, passed in the midst of the Civil War to cover budget short falls due to military expenses, was short lived, facing fierce resistance, and was repealed in 1862 when another tax was passed with a specific expiration date of 1866.

For 101 of the 106 years between 1788 and 1894, there were no income taxes of any kind imposed on the people. In 1894, the progressives in control of Congress and the office of President (Grover Cleveland) passed the Wilson-Gorman Tariff, which imposed the first peace time income tax on private citizens of 2% on only the very rich. This was quickly challenged and overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1895. And that’s began the fight from the progressive leftists to change the Constitution in dire ways.

Power Corrupts

First, the 16th Amendment removed the limit on the power of Congress to lay taxes upon the people. The private incomes of the people, for the first time in America’s history, was treated like business incomes, and the taxes could be imposed without any regard to how much was actually needed nor how many people were being taken from. And, most importantly, constituents could potentially impose taxes and duties on other constituents against their consent, instead of the imposition of taxation on all people in proportion to the need of government and the number of individuals.

Second, the 17th Amendment, of course, eliminated the influence of States in Congress, and thus disenfranchised one of the major constituents of the Constitution from representation and thus political control of the federal government. Curiously enough, this resulted in the States being placed in the very same position that they had been in the 18th Century, and the very reason for which the Revolutionary War was fought.

Freed from these restraints, the federal government has grown from less than 5% of GDP in the beginning of the 20th Century to around 20% of GDP today (www.usgovernmentspending.com). The accumulated federal debt was less than 20% of the GDP at the turn of the 20th Century, and is over 100% of GDP today (www.usgovernmentspending.com). Looking at the chart of federal debt, we see debt immediately balloon after the 16th and 17th Amendments, continuing to grow unabated for the next century. This is a direct result of Congress no longer having to carefully weigh the expense of government against the ability of the American people to pay.

How does our nation find itself back to Constitutional sanity? That is the subject for another essay.

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

Minimum Wage: Down the Rabbit Hole

The minimum wage remains a fiercely debated issue, and the conservative position is too often misrepresented and caricatured into an indefensible straw man. This isn’t helpful to anyone, least of all to the poor and disadvantaged, so it’s well past time to clearly spell out what is at stake and what the positions of both sides are.

While it is a crucial public good to ensure justice in all relationships between employers and employees, it is vitally important to establish policy that takes into account economic realities in the United States and beyond. While the left is quick to point out that industrial era employers paid arguably exploitative wages to workers, they forget to mention the mob extortion tactics of organized labor against employers that followed. Now, the rallying cry of the left is a “living wage”, which is based on the presumption that every worker should be able to earn enough to support a family.

This reasoning seems to be philosophically and morally adequate to justify the minimum wage policy, but there’s just one problem with it. If this policy actually worked, it would surely have worked by now, having been the practice for most of the last 100 years. Still many people buy this political rhetoric, with very few Americans being willing to jump down the rabbit hole to see just how deep the problems go, so we’re at a point where everyone must make a choice.

Either take the blue pill, close this article, and go back to the regularly scheduled bumper sticker issues…

OR

…take the red pill, stop accepting rhetoric at face value, and take a long and serious look at facts that the left doesn’t want anyone to even think about, let alone talk about…

Are we on board? Down we go.

Welcome to the Rabbit Hole. Watch that First Step.

While the left continues to try to frame the issue of the minimum wage as being about helping working families keep up with the rising costs of goods and services, they ignore several fundamental realities of the economy. First, the price of goods are driven by costs, and one of the largest cost drivers of every single good and service in the world is the price of labor. The basic price of materials is literally pennies compared to the cost of labor that’s built into the price of extracting, growing, building, manufacturing, baking, cooking, frying, pushing, or pulling those goods or services into being.

Go to fast food restaurant for a burger. The price of every burger has the price of the meat, bread, vegetables, cheese and condiments included. Also included in the price of that burger is the labor of the cook, the cashier, the manager, and some profit, but we’re not nearly done. In the price of the bread, the meat, the vegetables, and the condiments are the costs of:

  1. the bakers,
  2. the butchers,
  3. the farmers and ranchers,
  4. the gas station attendants and owners,
  5. the delivery truck drivers,
  6. the industrial sales representatives,
  7. and everyone else responsible for producing, transporting, and delivery of the ingredients in any way.

In reality, the material cost of the hamburger is probably less than 10¢ altogether. The rest of the price of the burger is all labor. The same burger that costs $2.00 today cost less than 20¢ in the 1950’s (www.livinghistoryfarm.org). Why did the price change, despite technological advancements that make it easier to produce, care, and extract the basic ingredients? The minimum wage in 1950 was 75¢ an hour (www.dol.gov). Today, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and the effective minimum wage at McDonald’s is $9.00 an hour (www.wsj.com). After the price of labor has increased by more than ten times, should it be a surprise to anyone that the price of the burger has increased over ten times as well?

Second, there are people, who are also poor, with fixed incomes that the minimum wage only hurts, by effectively putting a minimum cost for commodity goods and services. Every time the minimum wage goes up, these people can afford less and less. As bad as things are for the working poor, they are much worse for those on a fixed income. As the price of those burgers go up, so do the price of eggs, milk, flour, meat and vegetables.

And as the minimum rate paid to unskilled labor increases, the amount expected by skilled laborers increases. So the price of water goes up, as the wage of engineers that work at the water plant increases to reflect the additional value of their labor above unskilled minimum wage workers. The price of electricity goes up, as the wage of engineers that work at the electricity generation plant increases to reflect the additional value of their labor above unskilled minimum wage workers. The price of housing goes up, as the wage of construction workers increases to reflect the additional value of their labor and the inherent danger of their career above unskilled minimum wage workers. The surest way to make life harder for the elderly living on Social Security is to raise the minimum wage.

Third, there is a third world, and it has been industrializing for decades now. The minimum wage law doesn’t even consider the entire rest of the world, and it is destroying American competitiveness in the global market place. The average wage for manufacturing workers is $19.93 as of July 2015 (www.tradingeconomics.com), and manufacturing worker in India doing much the same job is paid as much as $1.46 an hour or as little as 10¢ an hour (www.tradingeconomics.com).

For the price of one American skilled laborer, a company can hire a dozen equally skilled employees in India. At $7.25 an hour, the rate required by law for American unskilled labor is almost five times the price of skilled labor in India. By taking production to practically any other developing economy, a company can cut their production labor costs anywhere from 80% to 95%. Is it a mystery why the manufacturing and textile industries left the United States?

Fourth, and worst of all, the minimum wage does absolutely nothing to ensure that economically depressed regions (such as economically depressed rural areas and inner cities) have the capital available to support the wage. It is obvious that having to pay someone $7.25 an hour requires more money than having to pay someone $5.15 an hour for the same work. The higher the minimum wage, the more money it takes to employ a worker.

In areas that are already economically depressed, the price of labor is already at the point where every new job comes at a high premium. Unemployment rates are highest in urban environments and rural areas where jobs are scarce, and the minimum wage law does nothing to reduce either poverty or unemployment. In reality, all the minimum wage law does is insure that any job that would otherwise exist with a wage between 1¢ and $7.24 an hour is illegal. Even if the worker, desperate for work, would be overjoyed with a wage of $5.00 an hour, and the employer simply can’t afford even a penny more than $5.00, the federal government is so certain that this job should not exist that this job is illegal.

That’s why there are no children cleaning windows at gas stations, no children bagging groceries at check outs, and no children selling newspapers on street corners. Now, we pump our own gas. Now the cashier bags groceries after ringing them up. Now newspapers are sold from vending machines or at magazine stands. Not because these things are any more expensive to do, not because there aren’t children that wouldn’t love to earn a little pocket change and would do these things, but because these jobs simply aren’t worth paying $7.25 an hour to do.

Rock Bottom Hard Truth

Now that we’ve hit rock bottom. Reality has stripped away leftist rhetoric, and reality isn’t going away. Yes, we have to protect workers from exploitative wages. Yes, we have to try to do something about the cost of living. Yes, we have to do something about revitalizing the American manufacturing and textiles industries. But we’ve been trying the leftist answer for fifty years, and it hasn’t worked.

The rest of the industrialized and industrializing world is not going to go away, and the American skilled worker needs to be able to compete on price, not just productivity. The cost of living is linked to issues of scarcity and consumption, and honestly, there’s little that can be done about these issues in the face of the laws of supply and demand. There has to be an amount an hour that can be paid to the American unskilled worker that is commensurate with the value of their productivity and won’t be exploitative.

The value of the dollar needs to be based on the value of productivity, able to represent the most basic unit of work: the unskilled and inexperienced worker. Whether it’s a teenager looking for a little pocket money to help pay for the car that his parents agreed to go halvsies on or it’s the mother going to work for a second income to try to earn a little more to help with the family budget, it is a social good to make room in the economy for jobs like these to exist, because in a robust economy, it shouldn’t require a college degree just to earn a basic income.

So what should the minimum wage be?

The Currency Wage Policy: $1.00 an hour

With a wage rate tied to the value of the currency, foreign industrialized and industrializing countries must compete on price and productivity with American workers, making American manufacturing competitive even in foreign markets. It also reduces the competitive exchange advantage of foreign workers to illegally immigrate to the United States to work at relatively high wages and sending the excess value to their home countries.

At $1.00 an hour, the value of the currency has an easily understood value, tied to the cost of unskilled labor. A worker can earn a dollar by performing basic labor (such as bagging groceries or cleaning houses), and the price of basic goods and services can be easily correlated to basic labor pricing. The domestic wage scale would be stable in regards to the premium on wages paid for skilled and experienced labor versus unskilled and inexperienced labor. As the value of currency increases, the buying power of lower wage earners and those on fixed income becomes less variable.

The Currency Wage Policy ($1.00 minimum wage) would restore the American dollar along side the American worker to a position to compete on the world economic stage on stability and productivity. This is the sensible alternative to the gold standard which would require billions of tons of gold in order to establish a meaningful transaction rate in today’s economy, which would grossly exacerbate industries that utilize precious metals for manufacturing (jewelry and electronics).

The fact is, we cannot continue as we have, with our currency untethered to any meaningful commodity, and with the left continuously pushing for meaningless increases in the minimum wage, which have proven to do nothing but create unemployment and destroy the buying competitiveness of the American worker. The Currency Wage Policy is the answer to the riddle, tying the value of an currency undeniably to human productive power, the highest good there is.

Liberty is For The Win!


LibertyIsFTW asserts that helping the poor and disadvantaged is a real and necessary public moral good. Since socialist leftist policies have consistently failed to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, it is a moral duty of conservatives to promote solutions that are proven to actually lift people out of poverty!

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