A Really Bad Idea That Sounds Wonderful

Andrew Yang is running for President in 2020.  One issue in his platform is what he calls the Freedom Dividend.

Andrew Yang’s website describes the Freedom Dividend as follows:

Andrew would implement a Universal Basic Income, ‘the Freedom Dividend,’ of $1,000/month, $12,000 a year for every American adult over the age of 18. This is independent of one’s work status or any other factor. This would enable all Americans to pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses, be more creative, stay healthy, relocate for work, spend time with their children, take care of loved ones, and have a real stake in the future.

Any change to the Freedom Dividend would require a constitutional amendment.

It will be illegal to lend or borrow against one’s Dividend.

A Universal Basic Income at this level would permanently grow the economy by 12.56 to 13.10 percent—or about $2.5 trillion by 2025—and it would increase the labor force by 4.5 to 4.7 million people.  Putting money into people’s hands and keeping it there would be a perpetual boost and support to job growth and the economy.

This proposal reminds me of 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern’s proposal to write a $1,000 check to every American. That sounded good to me, so I voted for George McGovern. I have learned a little since that time.

The obvious question is, “Where would the money come from?” Mr. Yang’s answer is that it would come from a value added tax that would add equity to the American tax system. Last year Amazon paid no federal tax on its $11 billion profit. A Value Added Tax (VAT) would change that. Other companies that paid no tax last year were Delta, Chevron, IBM, Netflix, General Motors, and John Deere. I am not criticizing those companies–they simply took advantage of the tax laws the way they are written. That is good business practice, and there is nothing illegal about it. However, there is a concept being omitted in this discussion–corporations don’t pay taxes–their customers do.

A value added tax levied on these companies would be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices for the goods or services involved. Every taxpayer might get his $1,000 Freedom Dividend, but it would be spent to cover the increases of the cost of the goods the VAT was levied on. Most countries do have VATs, but I am not sure adding any additional tax to American companies is a good idea. In the end, the consumer suffers and the cost of paperwork soars.

Some Common-Sense Questions

Yesterday Ben Stein posted an article at The American Spectator which discussed some of the issues dealing with the idea of reparations. He points out a few basic facts that need to be considered in discussing the idea.

The article notes:

Slavery was so hideous a crime and caused so much pain and suffering that something should be done about it. But we face a lot of problems in the concept of reparations. For one thing, there were a fair number of black people who emancipated themselves through superhumanly hard work, then used their savings to buy slaves. How do we assess their liability?

For another, the conditions of slaves varied wildly. Some were house servants and lived halfway decent lives. Others worked like myrmidons in sugar cane fields and were literally whipped to death if they faltered. How do we account for this kind of difference in degree of suffering?

For yet another, some moved north immediately and led barely normal lives as did their children and grandchildren. Others stayed in the deep south and were subject to every kind of humiliation. How do we compare how much these two different groups are owed? If a black person voluntarily stayed in a horrible Jim Crow environment, what should be his progeny’s measure of damages as compared with that of the offspring of black people who moved to Des Moines?

Also, there is a chain of causation in many cases. One black tribe attacked and captured others then the captors sold their slaves to Arab slave traders who then sold the slaves to New England slave brokers.

…Also, who would be taxed for the reparations? The great majority of white Americans never owned any slaves. Why should they be taxed? The present population of America is by a wide margin the scions of Poles and Czechs and Italians and Chinese and Jews who never owned any slaves at all. Why should they be taxed at all for reparations?

Reparations sounds good to those who believe they might receive money, but the idea bears a strong resemblance to George McGovern’s campaign promise in 1972 that if elected he would give every American $1,000 (in 1972 that was real money). We all know how that campaign promise worked out–he lost forty-nine states. At any rate, the promise of free money to those who feel they are entitled to what other people earn has long been a staple of some politicians. What all Americans need to realize is that the government has no money of its own–any money it gives away is taken from someone who earned it.

The Old Guard Versus The New Left

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the Democrats’ summer meeting next week in Chicago. It seems that not everyone is happy with the role the superdelegates played in the 2016 Democrat primary election.

The article reports:

The battle is over a proposal that would reduce the power of superdelegates ahead of 2020. Superdelegates are Democratic leaders who are able to vote for their preferred candidate at the convention, even if that candidate lost the primary or caucus in the delegate’s state.

Subcommittees within the larger Democratic National Committee have advanced the measure over the last year, tweaking it along the way to go even further than previously recommended. The current proposal has the support of both delegates who supported Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

…The original proposal was drafted by the Unity Reform Commission, created in the aftermath of the 2016 election to unite the Sanders and Clinton delegates who came to blows during the primary. The commission also proposed measure to provide DNC budget transparency and crack down on conflicts of interest, but those measures have been pushed to the side.

The meeting next week is expected to be contentious as an opposition wing has formed against the superdelegates measure. In the final days, members have been whipping each other to rally behind weakening the influence of superdelegates.

Reforming parts of the nominating process have been critical ahead of 2020 to heal divisions among factions of the party. Democrats expect a large number of candidates to jump into the 2020 contest, and are hoping that changes to the nominating process will prevent another gruesome primary.

The following is from Wikipedia:

The rules implemented by the McGovern-Fraser Commission shifted the balance of power to primary elections and caucuses, mandating that all delegates be chosen via mechanisms open to all party members.[15] As a result of this change the number of primaries more than doubled over the next three presidential election cycles, from 17 in 1968 to 35 in 1980.[15] Despite the radically increased level of primary participation, with 32 million voters taking part in the selection process by 1980, the Democrats proved largely unsuccessful at the ballot box, with the 1972 presidential campaign of McGovern and the 1980 re-election campaign of Jimmy Carter resulting in landslide defeats.[15] Democratic Party affiliation skidded from 41 percent of the electorate at the time of the McGovern-Fraser Commission report to just 31 percent in the aftermath of the 1980 electoral debacle.[15]

Further soul-searching took place among party leaders, who argued that the pendulum had swung too far in the direction of primary elections over insider decision-making, with one May 1981 California white paper declaring that the Democratic Party had “lost its leadership, collective vision and ties with the past,” resulting in the nomination of unelectable candidates.[16] A new 70-member commission headed by Governor of North Carolina Jim Hunt was appointed to further refine the Democratic Party’s nomination process, attempting to balance the wishes of rank-and-file Democrats with the collective wisdom of party leaders and to thereby avoid the nomination of insurgent candidates exemplified by the liberal McGovern or the anti-Washington conservative Carter and lessening the potential influence of single-issue politics in the selection process.[16]

Following a series of meetings held from August 1981 to February 1982, the Hunt Commission issued a report which recommended the set aside of unelected and unpledged delegate slots for Democratic members of Congress and for state party chairs and vice chairs (so-called “superdelegates”).[16] With the original Hunt plan, superdelegates were to represent 30% of all delegates to the national convention, but when it was finally implemented by the Democratic National Committee for the 1984 election, the number of superdelegates was set at 14%.[17] Over time this percentage has gradually increased, until by 2008 the percentage stood at approximately 20% of total delegates to the Democratic Party nominating convention.[18]

The superdelegates were put in place to prevent the Democrats from nominating a candidate too far out of the mainstream (as exemplified by George McGovern). (For an interesting article on George McGovern and what he learned when he opened a bed and breakfast in Connecticut, click here). Let’s be honest–the establishment of both parties likes to be in control. Superdelegates help maintain that control. Unfortunately the superdelegates for the Democrats in 2016 worked against their success–Hillary Clinton was simply not a popular candidate, and she also had the right-direction, wrong-track poll working against her (here).

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this convention is. I don’t expect the mainstream media to report it, but I will go looking for it.

Why American Voters Are Angry

The Washington Examiner posted an article today that represents the opening salvo of the establishment Republican effort to determine the Republican nominee for President without considering the will of the voters.

The article reports:

The Republican Party does not require a presidential candidate to win eight states to qualify to be placed in nomination at its upcoming Cleveland convention, GOP officials say.

The Republican National Committee’s “Rule 40(b)” makes eligibility for the GOP nomination contingent upon winning a majority of the convention delegates in at least eight states or territories, an achievement generally accomplished by winning at least eight primary or caucus elections. However, Rule 40(b) only applied to the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., that nominated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

When the rules don’t agree with your wishes, change the rules.

The article explains:

Party officials and knowledgeable sources have confirmed over the past few days that Rule 40(b) doesn’t exist for the purposes of the upcoming convention. That means at this point, the three candidates left in the race, front-runner Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are all eligible for the nomination, as, possibly, are the Republican contenders who have since suspended their campaigns.

Rule 40(b) was put in place in 2012 to block the name of Ron Paul from being introduced as a presidential candidate in Tampa. The bigwigs interfered in the primary choice and came up with a candidate who lost. I believe Mitt Romney would have won the nomination even if Ron Paul was also running, and I think there would have been more voters willing to come out and support Mitt Romney. It would be nice if the party let the voters decide who the nominee is. The Democrats have a similar problem with the super-delegates. Those delegates came into existence to prevent the Democrats from choosing a candidate significantly outside the mainstream of American politics after the resounding defeat of George McGovern. We do live in a representative republic rather than a democracy, but I believe that in a representative republic, the voters get to choose the people who represent them.

How Many Democrats Have Been Mugged By Reality?

I used to be a Democrat. I voted for George McGovern for President. I stayed a Democrat until about half way through Jimmy Carter‘s presidency. At that point I was mugged by reality. Evidently I was not the only one.

The Daily Caller posted an interview today of Charles Krauthammer (one of my favorite people in the whole world) by Howard Kurtz on the Fox TV show “Media Buzz.” I strongly suggest following the link and reading the entire article, but here are a few highlights:

People don’t remember that in the 1970s, there was a strong conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Pat Moynahan, Hubert Humphrey, Scoop Jackson, they were called the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, Committee for the Present Danger… that is where I came out of. Joe Lieberman is the last of those Mohicans, and obviously he had no home in the end.

KURTZ: You were trained, as you mentioned, as a doctor. Does that influence your political prognostications? Analyzing the sanity of those in the political community, perhaps?

KRAUTHAMMER: Oh, no, it never does. However, my training as an M.D. has made me particularly open to empirical evidence. And when you talked about my evolution from a liberal to a conservative, it isn’t that i had an epiphany, the clouds parting and a shaft of light from the sky. I was open to empirical evidence, on the War on Poverty, the Great Society, which I believed in and saw it didn’t work, at least the evidence I read, and I changed. That is the major influence on my life.

I suspect that I am not the only person who can relate to that statement.

The Massachusetts Fourth Congressional District

The Republican primary in the Massachusetts Fourth Congressional District has three candidates–Elizabeth Childs, Sean Bielat, and David Steinhof. The Democrat primary candidates are Rachael Brown, Joseph Kennedy III, and Herb Robinson. Of the six candidates, Joseph Kennedy III is the only one who has raised over a million dollars.

Meanwhile, back to the Republican primary. Holly Robichaud posted an article at the Boston Herald today about the voting history of Elizabeth Childs. According to the article in the Herald, Ms. Childs did not join the Republican party until eleven days before filing the paperwork to begin her run as a candidate. Ms. Childs has been endorsed by former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and ex-Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Nassour,

When Ms. Childs spoke at the local Republican Town Committee, she described herself as a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. She also mentioned that she supported federal funding of abortion. That is not the position of a fiscal conservative.

I am a former Democrat. I voted for George McGovern in 1972. It is obvious that my politics have changed over the years. The contrast between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had a lot to do with that change. Ms. Childs does not seem to have any explanation for her sudden political transformation or the timing of that transformation. That seems to be a problem with Republican voters in the Massachusetts Fourth.

Sean Bielat seems to be leading in the primary, but both Sean Bielat and David Steinhof have ideas that are much more in keeping with traditional Republican views.

 

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Rest In Peace Charles Colson

The Detroit Free Press reported today that Charles Colson died yesterday. Charles Colson was Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man” and eventually went to jail after he pleaded guilty to efforts to discredit Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg. The former hatchet man became a born-again Christian and founded Prison Fellowship, an organization that has helped millions of prisoners and their families.

When Mr. Colson became a Christian, there were many people who believed it was a ploy to obtain a reduced sentence, but Mr. Colson’s actions proved them wrong.

The Boston Globe commented in 1973:

“If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everyone.”

I wonder if they knew how correct they were.

Charles Colson enriched many lives after his conversion. He was a beautiful example of a person who had fallen from the height of power and decided that his role was to serve others. He is an inspiration to anyone who has read his story.

I would like to mention at this time that I recently heard an interview with someone in the Nixon Administration that convinced me that everything I thought I knew about the Watergate Scandal was wrong. During that time, the only media we had was the mainstream media, and the media was generally very critical of President Nixon. I wonder if the story would have been different if we had had the alternative media at that point. What the Committee to Re-elect the President did (bug the DNC) was illegal and stupid. The cover-up was also illegal and stupid. I just wonder if more was made of the incident that should have been. It just seems that there were many other forces at work during that time. Just for the record, I was still a liberal at that time and in response to the Watergate scandal, I voted for George McGovern.

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