State Of The Union: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

In a land where every person is supposed to be equal, the fact that one man stands in front of the country each year to be lauded for the accomplishments of each individual is stupid and imperialistic. It gives the office of the Presidency the appearance of Monarchy and diminishes the accomplishments of the individual Americans who made the real difference. Since it seems America will never return to a letter from the President to Congress about the State of the Union, it seems necessary to evaluate the speech as it is.

This is going to be a review of President Trump’s speech in light of this reality. While I would rather have no State of the Union Address, it is a part of the government we have, so it must be discussed as such. With that in mind, I’ll be discussing the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the whole night from Trump’s speech to the audience reactions to the rebuttals.

The Good

We are going to start with the good parts of the speech first. The first good part of the speech was Trump’s overall performance. He stayed on script and appeared presidential and put-together. This wasn’t a campaign speech,and he recognized that. He didn’t just play to his base, but spoke to the good economy, American response to disasters and the need to be Americans rather than partisans. He extended olive branches to Democrats with policies that they usually endorse, such as infrastructure and leave. All of this made Trump look good.

The best part of the speech was the people who were in the balcony for Trump to call out (admittedly as political pawns). The heroes and victims that were named and honored show what America really did last year. They were:

  • A cop who didn’t leave a heroin addict to destroy her child’s life
  • A man who escaped North Korea on crutches and now helps others do the same
  • First responders to disasters
  • Parents of the victims of horrific crimes

This was the Good of the speech. This reminded Americans that it is the people who make America what it is, not the government. The only reason that government should exist is to allow amazing people like these to do these amazing things. For the first time since Trump came to office, he had a chance to talk to the American people without the media distorting what’s really happening: ISIS is nearly destroyed, REAL job growth, REAL tax cuts, deregulation, good judges, better immigration policy. And he made full use of his chance.

The Bad

The bad really fell on the side of the Democrats. They have made their party platform nothing but hating Trump, therefore compromising the values they preach. Traditionally, they are for the government spending on aid and infrastructure, but couldn’t even clap or stand for these topics when Trump advocated for them.

I want my audience to know that I lean to the Conservative/Libertarian side of politics, but this is not a partisan criticism of the Democrats, just bad politicking. Imagine Republicans not applauding Obama if he said he was going to reduce gun control and taxes: it’s stupid. I would be upset if that happened, and if democrat voters aren’t enraged by their Representatives sitting for unifying themes, their party may be in its death throes.

Trump did have some bad in his speech as well. His speech was long, which really made it a tough thing to watch and stay engaged. The other bad he had was advocating for some of the democrat policies above. I don’t think the government should be involved in infrastructure, but that’s not the first thing I’d attack because many Conservatives are in favor of that class of government spending. His tangent on paid leave was unnecessary, but time will tell what comes of this.

The Ugly

The Democrats took the Ugly as well, trotting out Joe Kennedy III for the rebuttal. In reality, the only thing dumber than the State of the Union is the rebuttal. No one ever has had a good rebuttal. This was especially true for Kennedy as he looked awful, sounded stupid and was drooling throughout his speech. It was horrible. He was positioned with a broken-down car in the background, which begged the question: Which Kennedy has had the worst luck with cars- John, Ted or Joe?

The real issue is his speech showed the lack of commitment to principles of the Democrats in response to what was an out-of-character, principled speech from Trump (who usually does rely on rhetoric and name-calling). Joe, a rich, white, straight, cisgendered man, from one of the most powerful families in American history- gave a speech about intersectionality and the working man. I think these talking points are incorrect and unprincipled, but if that is your political platform, you should stick to it. The Democrats have a platform and a brand for their party built off of that, and no one in their party matches that, which shows how insincere they are.

Last Words

The idea of the State of the Union is stupid, but if it is going to happen, the people involved need to be on top of their game in politicking. If there’s winners and losers, then Trump won in a landslide and the Democrats shot themselves in the foot with the starting gun.

But the real takeaway should be that the real stars of America are the people in the balcony. You and I are the people who make America what it is. It was individuals who came together in the Revolution, marched for Civil Rights, respond to emergencies, innovate and create new opportunities and take care of ourselves and our communities. We are the center of the American project, not the Presidency, Congress, the government or anything you see on the news. The citizens of America shined during this State of the Union because we are the foundation of the country, not the government, and we should act like it in our everyday lives.

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CFPB And Other Bureaucracies Threaten American Liberty

Americans have become accustomed to the alphabet soup of government agencies interfering in their lives and chiseling away at their freedom bit by bit. Instead of following the guidelines of the Constitution and allowing checks and balances to restrain governmental power, Congress has passed the buck to the executive branch to create laws. This degradation of the American Constitution and the latest example of its absurdity will be discussed in depth.

The Purpose of Executive Agencies

Because this is not the focal point of this essay, it will be brief; however, it is important to understand the purpose of the executive agencies in order to comprehend the magnitude of the CFPB’s transgressions.

Executive agencies have been established to help the president in fulfilling his obligation of executing the law. The way the Constitution is framed is that the legislature writes laws, the president executes the laws, and the judicial applies the laws in courts. As the country has grown, some have found it necessary to allow the president to create agencies, or government bureaucracies that act on his behalf, in order to execute the law.

The easiest way to imagine it is that it is the legislature’s job to declare war, and the president’s job to manage the military and fight the war. If Congress says there should be a postal service provided by government, it is the president’s job to ensure post offices are built and postmen are delivering mail. In short, the executive branch is the part of government that manifests laws into reality.

Executive Overreach

Where this has gone awry over time is in the expansion of executive power as Congress concedes their power to it in order to shed the blame. This has allowed the executive branch to usurp powers of the legislature via regulation. Congress is able to claim innocence and an inability to stop the president’s actions, and since they have no term limits, doing “good enough” and having name recognition guarantees them a job for life.

The executive overreaches began with what seem to be benign and sensible. It is things like the EPA stopping pollution, the FDA preventing bad drugs or the CDC controlling disease. While these are important things to manage, and arguably fall in the powers of the government via Constitutional authority, it is not the executive’s job to dictate the laws and regulations that make this happen.

Congress should be passing laws that prevent these things by debating each other and pleading on behalf of their constituents instead of ceding this authority to the executive branch. The reason this is dangerous is that it puts power into the hands of many unelected officials, who therefore are unaccountable for their actions. No one would consider putting mid-level managers for large corporations in charge of writing laws for the whole country, but when they’re called bureaucrats, the sentiment changes.

The Crimes of the CFPB

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) sounds like an organization created to help the Average Joe. It should be there to defend against big, evil corporations taking advantage of ordinary people by defrauding them or monopolizing markets. In reality, it is a bureaucracy that is not subject to Congressional funding mechanisms, operating outside of the bounds of normal Executive Agencies.

The CFPB was created in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Supposedly, it was meant to stop a repeat of the 2008 collapse and protect people from predatory business practices by corporations. All that sounds good, right?

Well, it ended up not fixing the real problems with Wall Street investors or educating consumers. Think about it, do you actually understand what happened in the 2008 crash? Do you think Wall Street wasn’t financing Obama, Clinton or other democrat campaigns to protect their interests and stay out of jail? No.

What has actually happened with the creation of the CFPB is it has been a slush fund for Democrat campaign financing. It creates absurd, onerous regulations for businesses to follow, which are basically traps, then charges penalties for violating these regulations. This money is then used to finance campaigns for Democrats who then protect the CFPB from the checks and balances government should have.

Because funding for the CFPB comes from the Federal Reserve, and not Congress, it is barely answerable to any part of government, especially the parts that are democratically elected. In essence, it operates on its own terms. It has even claimed recently that the president cannot appoint the head of this agency (which is basically his job) and has not recognized Trump’s appointment.

The point of an agent is to act on another’s behalf. Therefore, an agency is an organization that acts on behalf of another organization or person. The fact that the CFPB is not answerable to the president shows that they are not agents of the government, but of the Democrat Party. To be clear, this would not be acceptable if it were funneling billions of dollars into the Republican Party either, but it is essential for preserving liberty and the Constitution that this issue be brought to light.

Last Words

The expanse of the Federal Government now is beyond the wildest nightmares of the framers of the Constitution. They intended to create a system of checks and balances that would slow the movement of laws and government because it would require careful politicking as well as overwhelming support to manifest their ideas into law. This vision slowly degraded throughout the 20th century as Congress allowed for the growth of the Executive Branch.

This has become an issue for people across the country, often those who are working hard to build businesses and raise a family, who are too small to fight against the cumbersome regulations.

What needs to happen is for Congress to stand up against the executive growth and reclaim its power. It is essential for liberty to thrive that government remains in gridlock, allowing opposing interests to battle for the approval of the public. When Executive Agencies take this power into their own hands with authority granted through the cowardice of Congress rather than the consent of the people, they undermine the Constitution and betray the ideals of America.

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Net Neutrality Is Anti-Liberty, And Here’s Why

The debate about Net Neutrality has been revitalized as the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, has released a plan to eliminate the Net Neutrality regulations. Surrounding this decision are hysteric cries of unfair practices by the cable companies and the need to “protect the little guys.”

But, what does this mean for everyone involved? Is it really an attack on the internet? Is the Trump administration signing over control of the internet to Time Warner?

In short, no. The truth is Net Neutrality is far from simple. To understand why Net Neutrality was an affront to liberty, it is important to know what it is.

Net Neutrality: The Basics

Net Neutrality arose when Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) decided to charge large content providers more to create an express lane for them. This is due to the fact that ISP’s can only provide so much bandwidth at a given time. As more people began accessing the internet more often and utilizing streaming services, ISP’s had trouble keeping up with the demand for internet.

To solve this, ISP’s approached the large internet companies and offered them their own lane. What they would do is have a certain amount of bandwidth reserved for these giants, which would speed up the internet for both the behemoths and the little guys.

Picture It Like This

Picture the internet like a road. There are cars, trucks, vans and semis. The semis begin clogging up the road because there are so many and they are clunky and slow. Everyone experiences slower commutes, traffic jams and an overall worse experience as semis take over the road.

To fix this issue, the owner of the road creates a new two lane road exclusively for semis that runs parallel to the other road. To do this, he would charge the semis more to use the road, but it would make everyone’s commutes faster. By opening this lane, cars can move freely on the normal road without worrying about being held up by semis, and semis have their own lane.

That is what Net Neutrality was trying to stop. It made it illegal to charge internet content producers and distributors more based on how much internet they used. In other words, Comcast couldn’t ask Netflix to pay more, even though the streaming of Netflix was making loading all the other small websites people wanted to access harder.

How This Affects Liberty

Liberty and free markets require businesses to be able to charge their customers as they please. If it is not worth the price to the customer, no one will buy it, and businesses will be forced to lower prices. The market will decide the price based on competing interests.

If paying more for the express lane doesn’t make sense for a company, they won’t do it, but for large companies like Netflix and Google, it would most likely be necessary. The reason they fought this was to maintain their current profits by lobbying the government to put a price ceiling in place.

By not allowing companies to charge the price they see fit, the government prevented thedeadweight loss industry from reaching equilibrium which takes away benefits from businesses and consumers. Price ceilings create what is called in economics deadweight loss.

The picture to the left shows how this works. Normally the purple box and yellow triangle would be evenly split between consumers and producers. Instead, the yellow triangle is lost, and fewer people are able to access the good or service being traded.

When markets have artificial restrictions placed on them, they become inefficient. This either makes goods too expensive for most people or limits quantity, depending on where economic pressures lie. To restrict the free transactions between ISPs and content distributors does what the graph above shows, create loss and either limit supply or lower demand.

Either way, it creates losers and limits the freedom of people to make their own economic decisions.

Last Words

Net Neutrality would not give content distributors of any size an advantage over the other, nor would it give ISP’s an upper hand. It would just make end user experience better. Without getting too far back into the economics, freeing up markets allows for more gains for consumers and producers, which is how economies grow.

People are afraid of the internet not being “free” without Net Neutrality, but what they fail to see is that this restricts the liberty in this space and makes it more expensive in the long run. The only entity that can control or limit freedom online is the government, and inviting the government to regulate this space is a foolish idea. The FCC is right to pull away from Net Neutrality, and this is a good thing.

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