Should we have $15 minimum wage? Should we ban drugs and prostitution? Should we ban guns or give people free medical care? Shouldn’t we tax the rich more?
These are complex problems and the simplistic answer is frequently the answer that produces the most pain.
Tax the Rich
Who doesn’t want to tax the rich? When I was a kid before I graduated from college I didn’t see a reason for anyone to have so much wealth. I fantasized 99% tax rates. After understanding the economy and other things I realized that there are 2 sides to taxes.
Laffer wrote a seminal piece making an obvious point. If you tax people 100% you will get no tax revenue at all because nobody will make money that they don’t get to keep any of. If you don’t tax people at all you won’t have any tax revenue either. At some point taxes go up and people are willing to tolerate it and will work and pay taxes but even then people change their behavior massively based on taxes.
So, the amount of tax revenue the government collects is a bell curve where the ends are zero and somewhere in the middle produces the maximum revenue. The maximum revenue for the government may not be the result that produces the most growth or benefit for society. Looking at taxes as a zero sum game doesn’t work.
There are always ways to avoid taxation. You can move money outside the country in most cases or invest in tax free investments like municipal bonds in the US.
Obama during his administration after the great housing crisis recession did not do a tax cut like many presidents before. The result was a slow growing economy. The economy after the 2008 recession came back slower than any recession since the Great Depression. The result of that was that poor and middle class people lost wealth and have not regained their former income or wealth.
The rich did fine and recovered. So, Obama’s position that he wanted to tax the rich and hated the profits of big business didn’t accomplish its goal even if that was the goal. It did not punish the rich. It punished the middle and poor classes. Their health and longevity prove how terrible this policy was on them and the Democrats lost the 2016 election in my opinion because of this.
We will see if Trump’s tax policies which reduced dramatically the corporate tax rates and the Democrats have called a gift to the rich actually is a gift. So far, the middle class and people in the poor groups are doing amazingly well. Unemployment in those groups has disproportionately benefited.
I cannot say this strongly enough. The seemingly obvious answer of taxing the rich or giving a windfall to the rich may not in the end do what you think is obvious. If you think about this and the economy in more holistic terms you realize why this is true.
85% of people work for private business. If you hurt Business most people will suffer. Unless the government plans to get into the business of producing goods and services there will be fewer goods and services and no matter how you play with the money supply there is no way to consume more of them without the companies that make them producing more. So, a business friendly policy makes sense even for liberals because most people live and make their living and future from business.
There is another angle that is even more important. In order to create wealth you need the outsize gains you see from risk taking entrepreneurs. Thus if you take the incentive for these people to take chances then you crush the outsize gains that create the wealth that makes America and other countries rich. This is important to understand is a principle reason socialism fails to produce wealth. Ultimately our wealth is determined by these wealth producers. The US is littered with invention and creative destruction that produced incredible wealth at times. That is the reason the US is wealthy and continues to be wealthy not because we are white (which we never were) or stole it from anyone.
Prostitution and Drugs
Religious people will argue that prostitution is evil but the problem is that it never goes away. It is called the oldest profession. By outlawing it this means the women who do it become unsafe and they then they cause more disease, they become more diseased and become susceptible to more crime and overall the prostitution is still there. These things never go away.
There are countries who have legal prostitution like Australia which generally has prostitution legal. I have seen no negative consequences in Australia to legal prostitution. None. I don’t think they get divorced more or there is any obvious negative consequence.
Drugs is far more complex. I have argued for legalizing drugs. Many libertarians and conservatives have supported legalizing drugs.
I see many many negative consequences from illegal drugs.
Increased crime, Increased theft, increased overdoses and bad drug responses leading to increased deaths, increased police costs, increased court costs, increased jail costs, the distortion and destruction of some foreign countries, the perversion and corruption of third world countries. Corruption and other crimes result from the high cost of drugs and the illegal nature.
Drugs will always exist. The persistence of them in spite of incredible techniques to crush the business demonstrates and impossible to solve problem similar to prostitution.
The argument is that if you allow drugs to be legal then it will become more widespread and acceptable. The question then is do those consequences exceed the very real negative consequences of illegal drugs and is there somewhere in between where we control drugs but don’t stop them?
I don’t have the answer and nobody has succeeded in solving this.
I have mentioned that in any group of 10 human beings in any place on earth at anytime you will find people who smoke and people who drink. I suspect you will find the equivalent of prostitution. Its obvious that given a chance people will want to put something in their mouth and smoke it and people will take mind altering substances. I don’t believe you can stop it entirely. So, how do you regulate this so it is the least damaging? I don’t think we are doing a good job of this in America.
Letting people in the border so we don’t separate children from parents
Again we are faced with a difficult problem. By allowing people to come here with children and not be separated we either have to have sufficient facilities to hold an incredibly large number of people with their children in a way that doesn’t violate existing laws or change the law about exporting people without a trial when they come in illegally or we let people wander in and provide an incentive to people to come here with children.
The result of this catch and release policy is that more kids are stolen from parents in South America and Central America. Human trafficking results. 80% of the girls ferried to the US border claim to have been raped along the way. By having this humane policy more people in central and South America have their kids stolen and more people are abused.
For the people who get in who in the end should have gotten in many more are abused or crimes committed of all kinds. This is not a problem that started in the last 18 months. It is a problem endemic to the whole system we have erected.
We can change that system. We have to have the willpower and desire but the answer is not to just let people in the border to walk free in the US. This policy has produced huge problems that may not be the separation problem at the border but may involve many other negative consequences that are overall much worse.
America is a very gun place. We have over 250 million guns in the country. There is no known way to confiscate and bring America to the point say in Britain or some European countries.
America also would suffer a massive illegal gun trade if we tried. I have no doubt that if we tried to confiscate guns the result would be no different than in drugs or prostitution. There would simply be a massive trade in illegal guns producing a lot of money, corruption and problems.
Interesting statistic most people should know. Only 3% of all gun deaths are caused by legal guns.
This is very important statistic to understand. What should you realize when you read this is that if we did remove all the legal 250 million guns in America the death rate would be reduced by 3% at most.
The people who own guns legally are not the ones killing people. It is the illegally held guns that cause 97% of the deaths. So, the real issue is again like prostitution and drugs how do we actually stop people who get guns illegally from getting them?
Rudy Giuliani had a policy called frisk and release. He allowed police to confront people on the street and with some reason to frisk people for guns or drugs. If illegal products were found they were confiscated on the spot. This program was incredibly effective apparently. New York saw a massive decrease in crime for this and other reasons.
This policy was eventually stopped and there is argument if it is fully legal but I am arguing that sometimes the obvious answer: In this case, ban all guns may not be the best or may even be a counterproductive answer. However, the current situation is still unacceptable. So, we need to look at creative ways to solve a very real and substantial problem.
Maybe it’s not frisk and release. Maybe there is a way we scan people on the street for guns. I don’t know. I’m saying we need creative answers because the current approach of the left to attack all gun owners and to attack guns and the other approach to say that we have to live with the situation today are both unacceptable.
Let’s stop yelling at each other and accusing each other of wanting to kill children or to remove guns and look for creative answers and stop yelling at each other.
Obamacare solved a problem for some people who couldn’t afford insurance and it solved a problem for some people who had pre-existing conditions.
However it also caused a huge number of other problems, among them a massive rise in insurance rates generally which resulted in people not hiring as many full time employees. Full time jobs during the Obama administration increased only 1% and many people feel this was a big reason.
The deductibles climbed so much that it is not apparent that people are able to use the insurance they have.
And the most important and damaging consequence. The life expectancy of people especially in the middle class has dropped for 3 years in a row.
In other words paradoxically even as we spend vastly more we couldn’t use the coverage and people were dying earlier in spite of the apparent increase in the number of people covered as if medical care was actually hurting people or something.
I believe this last point nullifies the whole value argument of Obamacare. It was supposed to increase the types of care that were affecting the most ill treated groups and this seemed like it inevitably would have led to higher life expectancy. In fact, no. The opposite.
People can say it was a massive increase in suicide and opioid overdoses were the main causes but these were caused by what? We don’t know. All we know is the result. If we rollback Obamacare and life expectancy doesn’t climb them Obamacare wasn’t the problem but such social experiments are difficult to carry out.
Because of the rising deductibles many people are health care poor. They won’t see a doctor because they have to pay 4000 or even 8000 in deductibles for their family before they see any benefit from the insurance policy. Thus people may not be seeing doctors for things they did before. This is a paradox and a surprising result but we have to look at what actually happens not what we wish will happen.
Since the rise of Identity politics we have also seen a massive rise in unrest and division. For some looking at Identity politics is obviously the cause of this. Emphasizing one’s unalterable and irrelevant physical or unchanging qualities as something to be proud of is stupid.
If those characteristics were evidence of superiority or inferiority it would be racist or someist and evil. So, Identity politics is not the solution to racism or any other ism.
Identity politics represses criticism of people and cultures. Changeable qualities that do affect the outcome of people. Paradoxically by prohibiting criticizing one culture or group identity politics causes people to criticize other groups and to blame them for the outcome that they don’t like.
We see that people of any Identity succeed in America. In fact, just 10 years ago we had the election and then re-election of a black american. We see black billionaires and many black millionaires. The same is true of any other identity. This says that you can succeed in America with those identities thus how could they do this if the system is irretrievably or metabolically racist?
Why would Trump be gloating over low unemployment and better economics of black people, freeing blacks held improperly and having policies which have disproportionally benefitted black and hispanics if he was a racist? It’s impossible.
Trump called some countries “S***holes.” The fact is these countries are transparently “S***holes.” Nobody could deny it. What’s the point of saying the President is a racist for saying the truth? Wouldn’t it be better to understand the reason these countries are “s***holes?” If you don’t ask such questions because you are too busy denying that they are “s***holes” then you are facilitating their evil governments what do so much to make the refugees and other fleeing people leave.
Wouldn’t it be better to make these countries aware of their problems and not pretend they don’t have problems. The same situation exists with identity politics at the national level. Denying problems does nothing to solve the problem and only leads to the exacerbation of the problem. It’s better to face our problems and the uncomfortableness we feel at being criticized and honestly appraise what are solutions rather than denying problems exist.
Many of these issues and others turn into a moral issue that one side or the other accuses the other of literally killing people
There are many such issues I could talk about above that the simple answer by one side or another is actually no solution or a bad solution that leads to more problems.
Whether the economy, racism, border policy, drugs, … one side tends to accuse the other emotionally and this leads to the division we see.
It is extremely unlikely that anybody really wants to kill anyone. They simply don’t believe their policy is leading to that result. We need to lessen the rhetoric and look at problem, proposed solution, result if that solution is tried and correction if it doesn’t work. We need to do this dispassionately and stop accusing each other of wanting to kill that group or this group or people in general.
What we need is for people to be willing to accept that a solution may not be intuitively better than the more moral position but it may work while the “moral” or intuitive solution just produces more of the problem.
In order to change and improve you need to be honest and transparent
I think this is the biggest problem for many people. We have a society now that likes to scream and blame people without evidence. We have an accusational society that is falling apart. In my opinion this cannot last. We cannot keep screaming about things that have no evidence and are not examined dispassionately. Bias must be removed and we have to look at results not politics or morality.
Democracy works by iterative improvement. At every stage it is important for us to be able to accurately determine if the solutions tried and changes made resulted in a positive outcome. If so, we can continue. If not, we need to change leaders.
In order to have an accurate assessment each individual has to see their current situation accurately and judge if it factually has improved.
Are you feeling hotter? Do you see a trend in temperatures that is much higher? Maybe but to really determine this you need to understand it is very complex answer. The same with society. None of these issues is solved with an obvious solution and they all have complexity or they would have been solved before. We should stop blaming one side or the other because the liberals and conservatives have been in power alternately. If we have a terrible situation then Obama didn’t fix it with whatever he was doing or Clinton. Why not give someone else a chance?
An important point: Any change is difficult
People resist change. There are lots of people who like the status quo and don’t want to change. Many people don’t like the solution because they make the wrong conclusion about what it will cause. Many people don’t like a solution because it will hurt them personally even if it benefits society as a whole.
For these reasons change is extremely hard. In some cases a proposed solution may not actually solve the problem but exacerbate it. OBama’s Obamacare may have solved a small number of people’s problem with healthcare but countless millions have seen a massive increase in rates they pay, lack of coverage even though they have coverage and most remarkably an unexpected negative consequence. People die younger now.