Job Emigration – Place Blame Where It Belongs

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

This past election, Barrack Obama and the DNC-loyals were attacking Mitt Romney and other business people for shipping jobs overseas. Like most patriotic Americans, it upsets me to see jobs leave the United States as well. But was this really a fair criticism of business owners?

No FartingAs a former entrepreneur myself, let me give you an analogy. This criticism is akin to farting while sitting next to me, then getting upset when I leave because you’ve made the room smell like three-month-old milk and despair.

If we were a statist nation like former Russia, China, Cuba, etc., businesses would exist to serve the state; something many on the left seem to wish were the case here—you know, the people who supported millionaire capitalist Michael Moore by attending his movies bashing capitalism yet fail to see the hypocrisy in that?

The reason I believe this idea is so ridiculous, is because despite my requests, not one of these people can name a statist nation whose people don’t live in absolute squalor. Note that Russia’s GDP has nearly quadrupled in the last 12 years, and they’re budding ideas on capitalism are still being ironed out. So I’ll be happy to consider statism a practical system of governance for maintaining quality of life and basic human rights when a successful example arises.

In our capitalist system however, businesses are the product of a risk an entrepreneur takes to offer a good or service to the public to make a living for themselves, as opposed to working at the behest of someone else. We all know that the greater the risk, the greater possibility for reward. This carrot on a stick is what makes entrepreneurs take such a risk.

Carrot On A StickSo to explain my flatulence analogy; America has the third highest corporate tax rate  on the planet. We also have one of the most intrusive regulatory networks as well, thanks to NHTSA, OSHA, the EPA, and other federal and local legislations and regulators. Add labor unions to that, which infect businesses like a cancer feeding off the host until the Hostess dies. All these roadblocks make America a very expensive place to do business. So how is it fair to blame people who leave America when we make it such an inhospitable place to do business?

Let’s ignore all the ideology for a moment and think about this skeptically and empathetically. What are some of the issues of doing business outside the United States?:

  • There are regulatory issues of your home country and the one you’re doing business in, requiring you to hire a plethora of compliance lawyers and staff just to make sure what you are doing is even legal.
  • Language barriers exist for nations that do not have English as their primary language.
  • Shipping, tariffs, and customs expenses increase.
  • Massive expenses in building a new facility and moving operations from a U.S. based plant to a foreign one.
  • Travel expenses increase for those headquartered in the United States that have to often visit overseas facilities.
  • Loss in quality assurances due to lack of direct oversight.

These are but a few issues I can think of off the top of my head; certainly there are many more. So if all these issues exist, why even do it? Because doing it is still more profitable than doing business here in the United States. Stop and think about that for a minute—let it fester in any liberty-minded bones you have in your body. If you’re like me, it should offend you to the core.

Because we are one of the richest nations in the world, American workers are not going to work for the pennies a day that some third world nations consider a reasonable salary, so if we intend to compete in the world market, you’d like to think our legislators would make every effort to overcome our higher wage demands by keeping corporate taxes and regulations as unobtrusive as possible so we can be competitive. Greater expenses make it more expensive to the consumer. Yet, during the election, the people like Mitt Romney were vilified as heartless rich bastards for attempting to rectify this.

I propose we start calling out those who want to bash the rich, playing the hero while doing it. This pure ignorance of economics, history, and logic is offensive. Our economy depends on people with money investing in American products and workers. But why would they when we treat them like dirt, tax them to hell and back, and regulate them like a dog on a choker chain dying to run ahead of its master?

Dog Pulling ON LeashIf you’ve ever been in the middle of a productive task and had someone interrupt to “help” you, only to slow you down and make matters worse, then you should inherently understand what government does to entrepreneurship every single day.

Unless we vote for liberty minded candidates, entrepreneurs will observe the basic physics principle of taking the path of least resistance. We have no one to blame but ourselves for electing and re-electing those who are content to push them away to pass “feel-good” legislation that is a product of jealousy as opposed to evidence based hypotheses. When emotion trumps logic, we all lose.

 

What Tax System Would You Support?

Once you’ve taken the poll, please retweet, share on Facebook, or post on some other media sharing medium of your choosing. As always, the more voters in a poll, the more accurate it is likely to be. Thanks for participating!

Could You Elect An Atheist For President?

In an effort to interact with users more, I wish to engage in some making polls. Plus it’s just fun. So for my first poll, I’d like to ask you if you could elect an atheist president?

Once you’ve taken the poll, please retweet, share on Facebook, or post on some other media sharing medium of your choosing. As always, the more voters in a poll, the more accurate it is likely to be. Thanks for participating!

Si vis pacem, para bellum – If you wish for peace, prepare for war

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Si vis pacem, para bellum – If you wish for peace, prepare for war

One of the traits often associated with libertarians is anti-war. I’ve always found this moniker somewhat odd, as I can’t think of anyone who is pro-war. There are merely those willing to fight for their rights, and those who feel there is always away to settle differences without war—you know—the people who have apparently never heard of Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Emperor Hirohito, et al. If you wish to argue Hussein doesn’t belong on that list, tell that to the people of Kuwait.

I understand that some will consider the 2003 Iraq war the result of a pro-war sentiment, but being the type who doesn’t believe complex conspiracy theories easily, I trust that the Coalition-of-the-willing who decided to re-engage Iraq in 2003 were reacting on what they believed was a real and imminent threat, as well as enforcing U.N. resolution 687, U.N. resolution 1441, etc.

The United Nations
The United Nations

Iraq had violated U.N. resolutions 16 times in total after being driven from Kuwait, which ultimately was the legal basis for going to war as noted here. The threat of WMD’s which turned out to be either Saddam Hussein’s own false bravado, or they were simply moved to Syria as reported by Saddam’s former Air Force general, was perceived to be real by all involved and I will not engage any other wild theories about why we removed Saddam from power.

When people say it was an illegal war and all nations who participated are guilty of war-crimes, I generally assume they are mired in Bush-hatred to the point of being delusional. I’m not necessarily condoning the war, but reasonable people must understand that hindsight is 20/20—had we known he wasn’t the threat he worked so hard to convince us he was, I have little doubt we would have continued to work towards peaceful resolutions with Hussein and focused our military efforts solely on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But that being said, if we’re not prepared to back up a surrender agreement and/or U.N. resolutions with military force, what is the point of accepting the agreement or enacting the resolution in the first place? If we’re going to allow someone to violate them 16+ times without repercussion, we are a paper tiger.

So about the size and scope of our military, I wish to make a few points.

  1. I believe it is foolhardy to assume that if we just left the world alone, no one would ever attack us. We tried avoiding war during World War II, but Japan attacked us anyway. We are a resource-rich nation with a lot worth stealing, and these resources and our rights are worth defending. Are we involved in too much? Absolutely. Should we be completely uninvolved? Absolutely not.
  2. If we understand point one, then we must have a system of defense. Every organism  has a defense mechanism, why shouldn’t we? I understand the idea of peace, love, and happiness, and I generally support it. But it’s hard to have peace, love, and happiness with people who want to kill you and/or take your stuff. To deny this, would be akin to arguing that every serial killer was simply misunderstood and likely provoked by their victims.
  3. If we are to have a system of defense, there’s not much point in having it if we refuse there’s ever a reason to use it. There must be a point at which you decide it is the best alternative, and reasonable people are always going to disagree on when that is. But for me, it’s when us or our allies’ are attacked or credibly threatened.
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

So with all that in mind, I’d like to reiterate something I noted in my earlier post, Great Leaders Make Results, Not Excuses. While Reagan was often criticized for military spending, and was arguably the greatest builder of the U.S. Armed Forces, every successive president has placed our military in harm’s way more than Reagan did. So how is this?

It may seem counter-intuitive that a president hell-bent on maintaining the most powerful military in the world would rarely use them, but as most martial arts practitioners or gun owners already know, being trained to thwart any aggression against you doesn’t make you aggressive, it just makes you prepared.

For the benefit of those not alive during the Reagan era like I was, it’s hard to appreciate the overall feeling of the people at that time. We were in a cold war with Russia, and mutually assured destruction hung over us like a dark cloud that could send shivers down your spine just thinking about it. A real and rational fear of death was everywhere.

Don't Tread On MeBut one thing we understood was that if anyone dared attack us, the sleeping giant that was the United States would demonstrate the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag’s message with deadly consequences. Reagan was as affable as any president in modern history, but there was little doubt he would not hesitate to eliminate any threat against us.

For eight years, no one dared to attack us because of the threat of imminent death that would result. With the exception of Grenada, we were pretty keen to leave them alone too.

Andrei Arlovski
Andrei Arlovski

To illustrate this point, imagine you were walking down the street and ran into MMA fighter Andrei Arlovski, even if you hated the guy, you probably wouldn’t pick a fight with him. We all inherently understand the idea of not attacking someone we have little chance of defeating—it’s an example of our DNA’s self-preservation attribute. It’s for that reason that Peace-Through-Strength is the best chance for the safety of the United States.

So when should we attack? I wasn’t alive during Hitler’s reign, but my father was. One point he made to me was that after Hitler was defeated, the people of the allied nations had a collective belief that we could never let another Hitler be allowed to forcibly take over nations in a bid of world dominance. Hitler became more dangerous with every action we avoided taking against him.

Being the world’s last remaining super-power, on occasion, we may have to step in as we did for Kuwait in 1991 for the same reason. Had we not, Hussein surely would have become the Hitler of the middle east without stopping until someone had the courage to intervene as we did.

The United States is undoubtedly spread far too thin around the world. With the miracles of modern technology, we can cut spending by reducing troop levels yet increasing the capabilities of future weapons systems. But the best way to assure the safety of the United States and its allies, is to assure that we are so powerful, no one would dare mess with us.

I will never condone wasteful spending by any government agency, including the military, nor will I condone putting our military in places where we don’t ultimately need them, but I will never believe that reducing our government should involve reducing our military to a level that makes us vulnerable to defeat from an attack. If you truly want peace, you must prepare for war.

Business People In Office: A Good Thing?

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

I’m going to try an interesting op-ed approach; debating with myself. While this may seem silly, this is how logical thinking and skepticism usually works. I list the pros and cons in order to come to a logical conclusion and attempt to refute my own theories to see if they hold up. The latter part, a version of falsification, being the most important.

Normally I do this before I write something, then write my opinion once I’ve come to a conclusion. But on this one, I just cannot commit to a particular opinion. So instead, I’ll lay out my arguments, and at the end, just leave it open for further discussion. I would love to hear your own opinions and why.


GCaseAs a young man, I had been initially enamored with the idea of Ross Perot as president (as evidenced by my trusty old guitar case). I don’t even remember any of his actual positions, I was just beginning my politically literate phase in life. But what I did know is that this man, having borrowed $1,000 in 1962 to start a company called EDS (I believe his wife had to sign because he had bad credit, no less), later sold that company to General Motors for an astounding $2.5 billion in 1984. By all accounts, a pretty good investment and an amazing American success story.

I say initially interested, because as you may know, his campaign soured in the end with claims of death threats and such that seemed to indicate Ross might be either succumbing to senility, or was honestly just a kook.

The part that interested me about Ross though, was the generic idea of a businessman in office. Whether it be as a president or legislator, I felt that the people running our government should have business acumen so that they actually knew how to manage employees and solve problems—something successful business owners do in the marketplace every day.

But is this really logical?

H. Ross Perot
H. Ross Perot

Let’s first ask if we’ve had any successful businessmen as president. Herbert Hoover stands out as the only truly successful businessman who went on to become president, and in the scientific community, when trying to establish a pattern, only one data point isn’t exactly helpful. We’ve likely had numerous successful businessmen as legislators, but it’s nearly impossible to judge a single legislator’s success when everything they do is by committee. So for now, we’ll stick to theoretical arguments as we can’t really use history.

I believe that one of the problems of government is that it is inefficient. In the business world, this is the path to insolvency, but in government, it is quite common and somewhat by design.

Inefficiencies in the government work place are indeed problematic though, and having a leader that not only inspires people to be better, but holds them accountable when they’re not, should improve productivity and reduce waste. This is my initial case for a businessman as president.

But when it comes to a president who works with legislators, they’re not supposed to be efficient at making change. The point of our Constitution and resultant system of government is one that is intended to be insusceptible to changing on a whim. A constitutional republic protects the minority from the majority, whereas a pure democracy could change in a heartbeat due to panicked legislators making knee-jerk reactions or merely those wishing to serve at the whim of a charismatic president.

Huyton Internment Camp
Huyton Internment Camp

An easy hypothetical to explain my meaning on this would be to go back to September 11, 2001 and imagine we were a pure democracy. Once we were aware that it was radical religious zealots at the behest of Osama Bin Laden who attacked us, the majority of America could have easily demanded that we deport all Muslim immigrants, instate Muslim internment camps, and/or attempt to close any Muslim mosques. There was a significant amount of anti-Muslim sentiment in those following months; if they were the majority, it would have been a real possibility without our Constitution and the 1st amendment to prevent such actions.

So would a businessman who is used to being able to put their foot down be able to deal with a Constitution, legislative branch, and judicial branch telling them what they may or may not do? I’m not convinced someone used to having “the power” could make the change without becoming jaded and end up giving up. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be a perfect example of this.

One of the other problems I perceive is of a fundamental nature. A successful businessman achieves success by growing his business. But in a free country, a successful politician should be one that shrinks government to what is considered to be the bare essentials. Two diametrically opposed philosophies, and ones that may not translate well.

Businesspeople solve problems, politicians fancy themselves as people who solve problems; but, unlike a business person a good politician should recognize when it’s not their problem to solve. That more often than not, they should simply abstain and let free people work it out.

What about combined experience? Clint Eastwood famously ran for mayor of a little town called Carmel, California after being offended by the bureaucracy of zoning laws and other restrictions that he felt were unfair. He understood how government affected him and would go on to make decisions accordingly.

I have conversely read news stories (can’t remember the name) of a legislator leaving office for the private sector only to get frustrated by laws that he had been instrumental in getting passed in the first place; showing regret for all he surely must have done to harm businesses he had intended to help.

Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy

In both situations, an opinion on politics was formed due to the effect of government on the private sector. This is something that life long politicians like the late Ted Kennedy likely never understood.

So I do believe that any politician should have some understanding of how laws they might pass will affect those being governed—it’s the difference between theory and reality. I hope there is not a capitalist among us that doesn’t want to vomit every time they hear the words “Compliance-lawyer.” The thought of having to pay someone to make sure you’re legal, in a free country, seems ridiculous. Shouldn’t one know when they’re doing something wrong?

So here is where I throw it to you the reader. Surely there are other pros and cons to be considered, what say you?

Great leaders make results, not excuses. Reagan v Obama

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

For many, an interest in politics, who our leaders are, and which political side we’ll choose to stand on is sparked by single events. For me, as a pre-teen adolescent, it was the Iran hostage situation. I could not fathom how one of the world’s two superpowers was allowing a little 3rd world country to hold our people hostage. It was troubling, and I detested Jimmy Carter for not sorting it out. To be fair to Carter; being so young, I was blissfully ignorant of the behind the scenes actions that were being attempted—all I saw was the big picture.

Carter Era Gas Shortage Sign
Carter Era Gas Shortage Sign

The long lines at gas pumps, thanks to Carter’s poor handling of OPEC, were hurting adults trying to make a living as well, but as a kid, I simply didn’t understand economic issues yet, so it didn’t really affect me like the Iran hostage situation. As we all know, Ronald Reagan took office, and our hostages came home. From then on, I was a Reaganite.

One of the things that upset me this past election was the notion that the economy was still so horrible because of what Obama inherited. While we all mostly agree he did inherit a poor economy, four years later, is it really an acceptable excuse?

 As Reagan took office, he inherited a misery index of 20.76. It was the highest recorded misery index in history going back to that statistic’s inception in 1948—it hasn’t been to a higher level since either. Carter may have been a nice man and a brilliant scientist, but as a president, he failed miserably at maintaining America’s economic strength, much less growing it.

By comparison, Barack Obama inherited a misery index of 9.65. Less than half of Carter’s benchmark. While I agree G.W. Bush’s handling of the economy at the end was poor, it was a far cry from the disaster Carter presided over.

So approaching the “Inherited a poor economy” argument, let’s see how Reagan and Obama handled what they inherited:

After four years under Reagan, the misery index improved from the aforementioned 20.76 to 11.81—a significant improvement. After four years of Obama, it went from 9.65 to a slightly worse 10.15. Reagan wins this battle; one point for the Gipper.

But let’s delve further. If we look at GDP numbers, at the end of the Carter administration, dividing our total GDP by our population, we have approximately $11,433 per person in 1979. After 1983, that number improved to $15,171; an improvement of 25%.

Now let’s look at Obama. In 2008, the average GDP per capita was $47,363. At the end of 2012, that number grew to $49,494; an improvement of 4.3%. Reagan wins again; two points for the Gipper.

1984 Election Results
1984 Election Results

All that being said, one of the fairest tests of a president in a democratically-elected contest is how he is judged by the people he governs during a reelection. After four years of Reagan, he resoundingly beat Walter Mondale 49 to 1 states—Minnesota the lone stand out. He won 525 electoral votes compared to 13 for Mondale, and a popular vote of 58.8% vs 40.6% (54,455,472 to 37,577,352 votes). This means that a Republican actually won the left-wing bastions of California and New York! It was the greatest election defeat in history.

Barack Obama against Mitt Romney on the other hand was 26 to 24 states; 332 to 206 electoral votes; 51.1% to 47.2% with 65,910,437 votes to 60,932,795. We’ll call that an easy Reagan victory as well—three to nil; the Gipper.

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

It was a long time ago, but when questioned about the state of the economy, I don’t remember Reagan blaming Carter his complete first term; he was too busy making his case for the future. He lowered the top-tier tax rate from 70% to 28%, gave people their money back, and just as planned, the economy took off like a rocket. So well in fact, that we reduced the world’s superpower population by half as Russia crumbled while attempting to compete. It was capitalism versus communism; capitalism won.

So why am I promoting Ronald Reagan if I’m a libertarian? Because not only do I believe that the GOP should be the libertarian party, I believe Ronald Reagan was my generation’s closest thing to a libertarian president, and this excerpt from a 1975 interview with Reason Magazine should illustrate why:

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to ensure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.

One of the constant knocks against Reagan by libertarians and liberals was his massive spending on defense—a criticism he fairly leveled at himself. But people seem to lose sight of the fact that for all of Reagan’s spending on defense, every succeeding president has put more troops in harm’s way than Reagan did. Contrary to belief, he avoided conflicts as well as any president could.

What he did do however, was ensure that America was deemed to be so powerful, that any nation endeavoring to threaten us would understand it would be assured destruction. And with the exception of Russia, it wouldn’t be mutual. He referred to it as peace through strength.

When America was founded, there were many superpowers—we weren’t yet even one of them. But by the end of 1988, in no small part thanks to Reagan, we were the only one left standing, and remain as the only one still today.

If you lead by example, others will follow. America was a leader 200+ years ago in adopting a principle of liberty, and as a result of our success, there are free nations all over the world who followed our lead; including the monarchies we rebelled against so many years ago. Sadly, they may never give us credit for inspiring them, but true greatness doesn’t need acknowledgement, it’s content in the knowledge it is great.