If you happened to miss the first weekly Musing, you can click HERE to find out why I started doing this.
It’s that time where many Americans excitedly, wait, err….grudgingly head to the polls to select a candidate for President, vote on down ballot races where we might have seen a political sign or two to help with name ID, and make a gut decision on a bunch of ballot initiatives.
I’ve never in my adult life seen a Presidential election that was this much of a joke. For the two main party candidates we have Cruella de Vil and the dirty guy that sits at the bar telling sex jokes and stories about all his supposed business successes.
The good news is that most of us HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE TWO! A while back the NY Times had this great graphic that showed how only 9% of America chose these two fools.
I’m going to shock you here, but the world won’t end with Clinton or Trump as President. (Although, I do think that Trump is scarier than some on the right would like to admit.) The office of the Presidency gets too much credit. Great piece from George Friedman on how weak the office of the President actually is:
“The intentions of the president are unimportant. They are subject to many forces that can block and overpower him. They are hostage to events that might make his intentions pointless. The obsession with the American president is partly due to the fact that he is the only official directly elected by all of the people. It is partly due to the role of commander in chief, in an age of nuclear weapons and global presence. In domestic affairs the president can be influential or a bystander. But he is never, by himself alone, a decision-maker. The presidential election is interesting, but it does not define the future of the republic.”
There are several third party options on the ballot in Missouri and there’s nothing wrong with voting for one of them. If you’re on the left go vote for Jill Stein. If you’re on the right consider either Gary Johnson or Darrell Castle. But whatever you do, don’t waste your vote on the main two.
One last thought on the Presidency: Repeat after me, Rand Paul 2020. He’s currently leading polls in his Senate race with a double digit lead and 30% of Democrats in Kentucky. Leaked DNC emails showed that he was most feared of all the Republican nominees. I think we can muddle through this next four years, but something will have to change come 2020. I just don’t see how we can keep this insanity up far beyond that.
The thing I hate about the Presidential election is that it tends to overshadow everything. People spend all this energy on the big race and forget there are other candidates and issues that deserve your attention.
I’m not going to say much about the local political races with only one exception.
If you haven’t seen the report TheNorthlandNews.com published some months back, the Democrat Sheriff’s candidate, Benjamin Troupe, is currently facing disciplinary hearings in Jefferson City because he allegedly suffered paranoid delusions while working as a Clay County Sheriff’s deputy.
Yeah, I know, innocent until proven guilty, but go read the article and take a look at the hand written note Troupe submitted requesting an extension so that he could seek legal counsel. That alone should concern anyone wanting to hand the keys of the Sheriff’s office over.
Few in America even understand the importance of a Sheriff. They are not just law enforcement. They are the only elected law enforcement officers who are intended to protect the people against crime, and more importantly, violations of the US and State Constitutions.
I’ve known Sheriff Paul Vescovo for years. Vescovo is a leader and the best person to continue to lead the County Sheriff’s office. Clay County citizens would be smart to ignore the party affiliation on the ballot in this race and re-elect Vescovo for another four years.
I do have lots of thoughts that I’d like to share about some of the statewide ballot initiatives. Amending the state constitution is something that is important, and something you should give some serious thought to. We’ve been inundated this year with ballot initiatives.
Amendment 1 – NO
I find little use for most government. While I think you can privatize anything and run it better, I can see an argument for the Missouri State Parks. And as taxes go, a sales tax is the best form of taxation because it’s directly tied to the economy. Good times are good for the tax, bad times keep the bureaucrats in line with realistic revenues. Of course, it wouldn’t be good to have just a sales tax for the State Parks. Nah, we have to have some weird way for farmers to get handouts. I’ll be voting no. Give me a straight tax that is ONLY for State Parks and I’d continue to support it.
Amendment 2 – NO
One of the more annoying refrains you hear from people is how we must get the money out of politics. Let me explain something your football coach/civics teacher didn’t explain to you in high school.
If someone wants to donate a million dollars to one political candidate, they should be able to. If you don’t believe that, then you don’t believe in freedom. You see, you have this thing called a brain, and you live in the 21st Century where you have this thing called the Internet, and you should be able to use those two things to do substantive research on a candidate. Or, hell, I don’t know, if we’re talking about local races, get off your lazy butt and email them or call them. You’d be shocked at what might happen.
To limit campaign contributions is to limit speech. And, yes, if a wealthy person happens to have more money than me, I think they should be able to elevate their speech louder. I still possess a vote. And as you saw above, I don’t believe that I have to only vote for the status quo.
This proposal is antithetical to the values laid out in the first amendment. If you actually believe in free speech, then you should vote no on this.
Amendment 3 – NO
The first rule of anything in modern governance is to do it for the children!!!
After all, you don’t hate children, do you?
Please stop the insanity!
This is the epitome of everything that is wrong with our political system. This tax is literally a big tobacco company trying to use the government to tax it’s competition. But that’s okay, using the government to punish your competition is great as long as it’s for the children!!!
Stop with the sin taxes already. When you think about this critically it’s really pretty stupid. You want to tax a product that is unhealthy to pay for something that is “good?”
What happens if people use the product less?
What right do you have to punish a group of people who make “bad” choices, so you can pay for your “good.”
It gets even more confusing when you realize that 5% to 10% of the funding can be used for grants to pay for smoking prevention programs. Oh, so you want to tax people to help pay for preventing people to buy the product that pays for the tax that pays for the children?
Seventy-five percent of the funding will go to pay for early childhood education programs. The merits of early childhood education is debatable. The research doesn’t really show much value when compared to the costs. Missouri voters should vote no on this.
But IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN!!!!!!
I seriously heard an ad for this tax yesterday that actually said, yes, it’s special interest driven, but that’s okay because IT’s…never mind, you know already.
Amendment 4 – Probably NO
I get what the proponents are trying to do here.
Philosophically I’m opposed to all taxation because it’s theft by the government. I’m also a bit of a realist and realize that there are some small things that government must do. Governments don’t run on sunlight, so somehow those limited things must be paid for. I also believe that if we’re going to have the most fair tax, one that acknowledges equality, then a sales tax is the most appropriate tax. Plus, people would stop asking for more things to be done by the government if they were paying the size of sales tax we’d need to fund our current government.
With a sales tax everyone must pay the same percentage as everyone else. As mentioned above, a sales tax is most closely linked with the performance of an economy. It’s as close to real time feedback to the state as you can get. I’ve never gotten the argument that a certain service shouldn’t be taxed. It doesn’t make any sense. Just because one business sells hard goods and another business doesn’t, we shouldn’t force them to pay a tax? It’s still a sale no matter what was sold.
I’ll give you a good example of why I think this. Interestingly, one of the opponents of this tax is the Missouri Press Association.
Because news advertisements are not taxed.
In Clay County, where TheNorthlandNews.com and certain other local newspapers exist, there is a law enforcement sales tax. Why is it okay for news sources not to have to pay any sales tax on what they sell, but it’s just fine for a bar on the corner to have to pay sales taxes on the drinks and food they sell to their customers?
Don’t get me wrong, I love to not have to pay sales tax on ads on TheNorthlandNews.com, but I’m dumb enough to have principles, so, yeah, tax me.
The only product I think we should ever contemplate assessing differently with a sales tax is food. It’s the product that most directly affects the poor and the ability to live your life. That’s another discussion for another time.
Amendment 6 – YES
There’s no rational argument against Voter ID. Free and secure elections should be expected in any civilized and evolved society. Voter ID secures the vote in the state of Missouri.
Proposition A – NO
We covered this above in Amendment 3
Proposition L – NO
I’m a huge fan of the public library. A library is a repository of knowledge. It’s part of the foundation of a civilized society. A well run library can be a huge asset to help the poor gain access to information that can make their lives better. I think Mid-Continent does an incredible job with the money they currently have. I think Steve Potter, the Mid-Continent Library Director, is doing an outstanding job.
I don’t think the library should be funded through property taxes. Again, a sales tax is the best form of taxation, a person should not have to pay a tax to a government to be able to own their property. Property taxes tend to lag the economy by a year.
Despite the good that we get out of the minimal investment, I can’t vote for this.
Time for the weekly reads…
I forgot to mention last week that I completed a book. I love reading about economics. It’s such an important subject and few people really understand it. The Ethics of Money Production by Jörg Guido Hülsmann takes a look at the moral arguments regarding the creation of money. It frames the argument of the creation of money in a Judeo-Christian perspective which I wasn’t overly fond of, but it’s still an important look at a topic I never really thought much about.
Moral arguments can and should address whether a government creates money or allows the market to develop its own form of money. Much of our economic problems over the last century can be better understood through an ethical discussion of this issue. Let’s just say the government hasn’t been acting in a moral manner for some time.
This week I picked up Matt Ridley’s The Evoloution of Everything. I’ve really been wanting to read this book as it’s Ridley’s first since his incredible The Rational Optimist. In that book, Ridley takes a look at human history and demonstrates with extensive evidence that the world is far better today than it’s ever been, that the “good ole days” never existed, and that despite challenges one should remember how good we really have it.
I also got my copy of Patrick Cox’s The Methusaleh Effect in the mail this week. Cox writes a biotech investment newsletter for Mauldin Economics. This book takes a look at the coming demographic tsunami called old people. No one in the media is talking about it, and it really matters. Contrary to popular Malthusian pseudoscience that Al Gore would probably find interesting, we actually don’t have an overpopulation crisis in the world. In fact, much of the Western world has slipped below a birthrate that will replenish much of our populations. If you don’t understand why that’s a problem, we have to have someway to pay for the baby boomers who are nearing retirement. Less people=less tax revenue=big problems.
Speaking of overpopulation fears and Matt Ridley. Here’s an outstanding lecture Ridley recently gave on the evils of the misapplication of Malthus’ work.
Malthusian misanthropy – the notion that you should harden your heart, approve of famine and disease, feel ashamed of pity and compassion, for the good of the race – was wrong pragmatically as well as morally. The right thing to do about poor, hungry and fecund people was always, and still is, to give them hope, opportunity, freedom, education, food and medicine, including of course contraception, for not only will that make them happier, it will enable them to have smaller families.
Leave the last word to Jacob Bronowski, speaking at the end of his television series The Ascent of Man.
Standing in a pond at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where many of his relatives died, he reached down and lifted some mud: “Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.”
By the way, if you’re an avid reader consider connecting with me on Goodreads.
The world is best understood through geopolitics. It’s basically a blend of geography, politics, and human history. Everything that’s ever happened between nation states has a geographical component to it. George Friedman is one of the brightest geopolitical minds alive today. Great piece that looks at how the shifting political ideologies of Americans may affect the global geopolitical landscape.
My focus, in general, is on the broad geopolitical forces shaping and reshaping the world. Politics (or which individual has what job) is of little interest to me. But in this case, there are two reasons to be interested in the American election. First, this is the United States, and shifts in the behavior of the US affect geopolitics globally. Second, this election (regardless of who wins) has revealed some profound changes in the underlying dynamics of American politics.
In back rooms and think tanks, Republicans are already mourning their party—and plotting the fight over who’s going to be in it after Trump.
Speaking of Trump…
Maybe the worst won’t happen on Tuesday. Maybe this catastrophist possible reading of our times is massively overblown. Maybe this short essay will be ridiculed in the future, as either Clinton wins and prevails in power, or if Trump turns out to be a far different president than he has been as a candidate. I sure hope so. But the fact that we may barely avoid a very deep crisis does not mitigate my anxiety. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we live in a republic, if we can keep it. And yet, more than two centuries later, we are openly contemplating throwing it up in the air and seeing where it might land.
I was born and raised in Trump country. My family are Trump people. If I hadn’t moved away and gotten this ridiculous job, I’d be voting for him. I know I would.
How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind (Warning, this one is a little raw, but it gets it right)
And yes Trump does have a path to victory. It’s going to be a fascinating election Tuesday.
I have two college degrees. I was the first in my family to ever receive a college degree. If my son was 18 today, I’d tell him to be damn sure he wants to go to college and that it will benefit him because most colleges today are zoos of the ignorant teaching the clueless. There’s little pursuit of the truth. We often hear the term “social justice” used in society today. The problem is “social justice” and truth are not compatible. Great look at this conflict we’re seeing on college campuses.
As a social psychologist who studies morality, I have watched these two teloses come into conflict increasingly often during my 30 years in the academy. The conflicts seemed manageable in the 1990s. But the intensity of conflict has grown since then, at the same time as the political diversity of the professoriate was plummeting, and at the same time as American cross-partisan hostility was rising. I believe the conflict reached its boiling point in the fall of 2015 when student protesters at 80 universities demanded that their universities make much greater and more explicit commitments to social justice, often including mandatory courses and training for everyone in social justice perspectives and content.
Interesting look at poverty in the US. 3 TVs and No Food
I’m so sick of war. Do you know how many countries we’re bombing right now?
It’s seven. That’s too many. We’ve lost our minds.
My wife and I eat pretty healthy. We tend to loosely follow a paleo diet and try to eat more fruit and vegetables. We shop at Sprouts. One of the things I get tired of seeing is the GMO stuff. It’s such scientific ignorance. And often tied into the GMO thing is making Monsanto out to be this sinister company. They’re not.
Do Big Ag companies sue or harass innocent farmers for unknowingly planting patented seeds?
This should concern you…
FORBES found a court filing, dated May 9 2016, in which the Department of Justice sought to search a Lancaster, California, property. But there was a more remarkable aspect of the search, as pointed out in the memorandum: “authorization to depress the fingerprints and thumbprints of every person who is located at the SUBJECT PREMISES during the execution of the search and who is reasonably believed by law enforcement to be the user of a fingerprint sensor-enabled device that is located at the SUBJECT PREMISES and falls within the scope of the warrant.” The warrant was not available to the public, nor were other documents related to the case.
And because sometimes you just have to be entertained…
I was able to get in a few movies this week.
I’m almost finished with Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary’s America. I’m not sure how effective documentaries like this are. I just don’t see politically apathetic people watching something like this. More than likely really expensive preaching to the choir. The way it’s told is a little bit off-putting at times, too. It’s unfortunate because there’s some stuff in it many Americans could stand to learn about.
We took our little guy to see Trolls. Once you get past the glitter farts and excessive amount of troll butts in the early parts, you really get to enjoy a great movie! The movie actually has a great message about happiness that older kids could stand to learn from. Lots of laughs for both the old and young. Plus, I really like the artistry in the movie. It’s different than a lot of other animated films. Well worth the money you might fork down at the box office.
The wife and I watched the Free State of Jones. It takes a look at Southerner Newton Knight and his small rebellion he led during the Civil War in Jones County Mississippi. Knight is played by the always talented Matthew McConaughey.
Much of the movie is devoted to the rebellion. The last 45 minutes or so focuses on Knight post Civil War. He continued to fight for freedom and the rights of black Americans including the right to vote. One thing I was pleasantly surprised with is the movie writers actually acknowledged and allowed in the fact that blacks would have been and voted Republican during this time period. There’s a powerful scene where Knight leads 22 black men to vote. With gun in hand, Knight demands Republican ballots and threatens to open fire if the ballots are not produced.
Don’t miss this film. It’s currently at RedBox if you want to rent it.