October 15, 2018

21 Months Later, Nothing in DC Has Changed Under Trump

Publication1Despite 21 straight months of screaming headlines from both anti-Trump and pro-Trump media, virtually nothing about Washington, DC and it’s empire has changed.

There are still US troops and their suppliers voraciously consuming taxes all over the world. Not a single regulatory agency has been eliminated or significantly cut. Entitlements continue their headlong sprint towards fiscal oblivion. And federal spending continues to outpace inflation, faster under Republicans, as usual.

And honestly, neither Republicans nor Democrats voted against any of that.

Trump was able to win the 2016 election not because he was going to radically change Washington, DC, but because he was going to superficially change its marketing from “progressive” to “conservative.” To be fair, he never promised to cut anything. On the contrary, he promised not to touch Social Security or Medicare and to increase spending on the military. He’s kept both promises.

He did promise to eliminate two regulations for every new one, but that is a very vague promise. Suppose there was one regulation that said all construction workers had to wear hard hats and another regulation that said they all had to wear safety googles. Repealing both regulations and replacing them with one that says, “All construction workers must wear hard hats and safety goggles” is perfectly consistent with Trump’s promise. Is that what his regulators are doing? It’s hard to tell. It appears the federal register is smaller, but is the economy fundamentally less regulated? What happened to getting rid of whole federal departments, as Republicans promised to do just six years ago?

The truth is the so-called Swamp continues because most Americans don’t really want to drain it, despite overwhelming evidence that everything it does creates large-scale human misery. Just ask any ten neighbors if they’d support cutting Social Security or Medicare, much less eliminating either, or cutting the military by even 30% (which would still leave it by far the largest in the world). Ask them if they’d support getting rid of the Departments of Education, Agriculture, or even the completely useless Department of Commerce.

When push comes to shove, they won’t even support getting rid of the TSA, which is Oh-fer in seventeen years on preventing actual terrorist attacks and still has a well over 90% fail rate in detecting dangerous items on its own tests. That’s not to mention the nightmarish surveillance state, five years after Edward Snowden exposed it. Americans are only upset about it when it spies on politicians – a completely backwards position in a supposedly free country.

The mid-term elections are approaching and the usual “this is the last chance to save the republic” rhetoric is already reaching a fever pitch. In reality, nothing about the republic has changed or will change until a critical mass of Americans truly want less government. Right now, that’s hard to imagine considering who wins elections.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Progressives Want to Revive FDR’s Undemocratic Court-Packing Idea

judgeandgavelReeling in horror over President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (or whomever Trump may have picked) to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, there are now a slew of progressive liberals calling for implementation of one of the most undemocratic ideas in the history of the Democratic Party: FDR’s “court-packing” scheme. Roosevelt responded to the Court striking down some parts of the New Deal by proposing Congress pass a law to allow him to add a new justice to the Court for every current justice over seventy years of age.

The bill was ultimately struck down by the Democrat-controlled Senate in 1937, but only after both the Social Security Act and National Relations Labor Act were ruled constitutional by the Court earlier that year. Opponents of the New Deal specifically or expansion of federal power through SCOTUS in general view these decisions as somewhat coerced by the threat of Roosevelt’s court-packing proposal.

Whether that’s true or not really misses the point. Seeking to achieve political goals through Supreme Court rulings rather than the constitutional amendment process—when those goals involve the federal government undertaking new powers—amounts to acquiring power without the consent of the governed. It’s ironic that it is again supporters of the “Democratic” Party who are advocating avoiding a vote on their proposals.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Leave the Persians alone, President Trump

_102649285_trumprouhanithinnerMr. President,

Just when you had us on our feet cheering your foreign policy courage in meeting with Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin, with all of the Swamp against you, you send an all-caps tweet threatening war with Iran.

I realize this appears to be the same tactic you used with Kim of North Korea – very tough talk ahead of the summit, to put the United States in a position of strength. However, in neither the North Korea nor Russia exchanges were you doing the PNAC crowd’s bidding. They don’t want hot wars with North Korea or Russia; they want the Cold War with Russia back, so they can funnel tax revenues to their friends.

Not so with Iran. They’ve been trying to pick that fight since at least the Clinton years and they’ll do anything they can to paint you into a corner to force you to back up your bellicose statements. Please don’t hand them the paint can and brush, especially after you just stood toe to toe with them on Russia and told them to pound sand.

Here is a request from a net taxpayer: leave the Persians alone. Neither you nor American taxpayers will benefit from a war with Iran. AIPAC is going to deliver over 70% of the Jewish vote to the Democrats no matter what you do (check the Jewish vote totals in the 2004 and 2008 elections after Bush’s Middle East Wars). Taxpayers will sacrifice blood and treasure for…nothing.

Honestly, we don’t even benefit from sanctions on Iran. Reducing the supply of oil and other Iranian exports just makes the whole world poorer than it would be if Iran could trade freely – I don’ t need to explain supply and demand to a Wharton Business School graduate.

Neither do American taxpayers derive any benefit from Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. I know that’s political heresy, but I’m talking to the man who got elected for heretical speech. Ask yourself: Why should American taxpayers care which is the most powerful country in the Middle East? They shouldn’t. That they have any interest in the question is just a PNAC Jedi mind trick.

We should be the well-wishers to Israel’s freedom and independence, but the defender only of our own. Besides, Iran is never going to attack Israel. If you are truly concerned they might, then negotiate a mutual defense treaty with Israel and send it to the Senate for ratification. I’d rather we stop handing out war guarantees, but this is one that will never be used.

The truth is the anti-Iran drumbeat is just more of the Swamp’s failed foreign policy you campaigned against in 2016. Don’t let them trick you into thinking it’s any different. America First!

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Trump under siege by the PNAC crowd for seeking peace with Russia

pnacTwenty-one years ago, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowicz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and a host of other “neoconservatives” collaborated on the “Project for the New American Century.” That produced, among other documents, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” in which Thomas Donnelly posited the US had an opportunity after the fall of the Soviet Union to do whatever it wanted militarily, before a new power rose to challenge it.

Dominating foreign policy and entrenched throughout the military and intelligence establishments ever since, these neocons have attempted to prolong that unchallenged status, including doing all they can to ensure Russia would not again become a superpower rival. To that end, the U.S. government has:

– Broken its promise to Gorbachev that NATO would not move “one inch eastward;” instead rolling the alliance right up to Russia’s borders

– Waged a proxy regime change war against Syria and covertly helped overthrow the elected president of Ukraine, threatening Russia’s only two warm water ports that remain ice-free year round.

– Meddled in Russia’s 2012 elections to attempt to prevent Putin’s re-election, in response to which Russian intelligence retaliated pathetically and ineffectively during the 2016 U.S. presidential election

– Generally done all it can to keep its boot on Russia’s neck and reignite the Cold War, which they’ve somewhat succeeded in doing. This continued throughout the Bush and Obama years – these people don’t care who is president or what you voted for.

They are also likely the primary source of all the propaganda about Trump’s visit to Russia, and the Mueller/Russiagate hoax in general. They will stop at nothing to prevent a normalization of relations with Russia, including fomenting what amounts to mass hysteria among a well-meaning but incredibly naive populace, ready to hate another boogeyman, just like Saddam Hussein (their work as well). Remember “freedom fries?”

Anyone who has read any of my writing knows I am often critical of Trump’s policies, but when you join in on this “treason” nonsense, just be aware of whose side you’re taking. I implore you to look up the document I mentioned for yourselves and check my story.

No, this is not “blaming America” for anything Russia or any other foreign actor does. “America” and the entrenched, unelected bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. are not remotely the same thing, something the American people instinctively grasped during the last election, regardless of whether you believe their candidate was the best solution. And as for anyone who reflexively yells “treason” or even “unpatriotic,” I’d remind them that blind allegiance to one’s government is about as un-American as it gets.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Why the Bull Market May Be a Jedi Mind Trick

Publication1The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that over 300,000 jobs were created in February, making it the best single-month total since July 2016. And unless you’ve been exploring the Arctic Circle or were kicked off Twitter for expressing politically incorrect views, you know that’s just the latest “great” news about the booming economy, bull market in stocks, and, best of all, the significant new job creation since Donald Trump became president.

Certainly, there is no denying that the stock market has continued to rise, with the S&P 500 up over 27 percent since 11/7/2016, as of this writing. But as for the overall economy and, specifically, job creation, even the Trump-hating liberal media seems to have fallen for an economic Jedi mind trick. Regardless of single-month spikes like the one that occurred last month, it only takes one click of the mouse to see that job creation continued to fallin 2017, as it had the previous two years. Looking at yearly totals over the past ten years, job creation looks a lot more like a protracted version of the last business cycle leading up to the 2008 crash.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Economics Was Invented to Refute Trump’s Tariff Arguments

twoboatsWhen Adam Smith wrote Wealth of Nations, it wasn’t to refute the “godless socialists” 21st-century Republican voters believe are taking over the world. It was to refute the kinds of protectionist ideas championed by conservatives like Edmund Burke and Alexander Hamilton in Smith’s day, Abraham Lincoln eighty years later, and Trump today.

Bastiat remade Smith’s case in 1848. Henry Hazlitt did so again in 1946. Still, these economic fallacies persist because they offer the victims of other bad economic policies villains they can blame for largely self-inflicted wounds.

The Broken Window Fallacy

Every time a Trump supporter sees “Made in China” on a pair of sneakers, he throws up his hands and says, “Do you see that? They’re stealing our manufacturing jobs.” He then repeats a version of Bastiat’s broken windowfallacy. It goes something like this:

China puts tariffs on our products so our exports can’t compete in its markets. But we don’t put tariffs on China’s exports, making their sneakers cheaper than we can make them here. American sneaker manufacturing jobs go to China, but no Chinese manufacturing jobs come to the United States.

Not only do millions of Americans lose their jobs, say the protectionists, but all of the money they would have spent domestically is instead spent in China. This causes other American businesses to fail, cut production, or not expand as much as they otherwise would. The unemployed American factory worker doesn’t eat out at the local restaurant. The restaurant needs fewer wait staff and cooks, who in turn don’t have money to spend on new clothing, etc.

As Bastiat would say, this is “what is seen.” But their argument ignores what is unseen.

What is unseen is the money American consumers no longer have when the tariffs are put in place. For example, the tariff may result in them paying $200 for the same pair of sneakers they previously paid $100 for. That means they no longer have $100 they previously had after buying the sneakers, which they could spend on other products. Whatever jobs they were supporting with that $100 are now lost.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Trump and His Supporters Make the Bubble Economy Great Again

blowingbubbles“Well, you know, the participation rate is going to go down over time because all these boomers are retiring,” said Jon Hilsenrath on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria” Friday. Hilsenrath, a frequent guest, was referring to the labor participation rate, which measures the overall percentage of workers who are presently employed. It differs from the unemployment rate in that the latter only counts those actively looking for work.

The Participation Rate

Hilsenrath’s statement would have been rather uncontroversial if it weren’t for the previous, eight-year cacophony from conservatives on how falling unemployment numbers were misleading. After every jobs report during Obama’s presidency, Republicans would, without fail, point out falling participation rate numbers, concluding, “People aren’t going back to work; they’re just giving up looking for work.”

While there undoubtedly were some conservatives who acknowledged that some part of the participation rate decline represented people who were just retiring (perhaps even Hilsenrath himself), this writer never heard it mentioned on a conservative program once. Not a single time in eight years.

Perhaps aware of the context, Hilsenrath went on to say, “The fact that it’s held steady is a sign that people that aren’t aging, you know, older people, are coming back into the labor force and that’s a good sign. I’m watching the unemployment rate today. We talked about this earlier. If it goes below four percent, then that shows me an economy on fire.”

Not to pile on, but even the participation rate “holding steady” began during Obama’s presidency, the last dip below 63 percent coming in 2015, followed by a recovery to 63 percent in early 2016 that has held steady ever since.

The President Doesn’t Really Matter

This is not meant as an endorsement of Obama’s economic policies nor necessarily criticism of President Trump’s. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that long-term trends in these metrics haven’t really changed since 2010, other than a leveling off in the labor participation rate, and neither president has had much to do with them, regardless of what they or their supporters would like you to think.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Newsweek: As Congress and Trump Grind to a Halt, the Government Rumbles On

gettyimages-642093036 Newsweek

Donald Trump in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.MARIO TAMA/GETTY

President Trump spent the weekend embroiled in yet another Twitter skirmish, this time with retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker. Trump may even have suffered a rare defeat on his own turf, based on Corker’s hilarious rejoinder about someone missing their daycare shift at the White House. If Trump has a soul, even he laughed at that one.

But many blame this kind of drama as a major contributing reason to Trump “not getting anything done” so far during the first year of his presidency. Even those on the blood-in-their-eyes, Trump-hating left make this criticism. One would think they’d be glad he’s not getting anything done, but apparently, a government not doing anything is even worse for them than one doing things they don’t like.

If only “not getting anything done” were true. The Pentagon goes on waging war, uninterrupted by elections, supposed gridlock, or even “government shutdowns.” War has become the normal state, with “an act of Congress” required to stop it, rather than start it.

Domestically, all of Washington’s unconstitutional regulatory agencies have hummed along without pause. The FDA is still driving up prescription drug prices by keeping thousands of generics off the market. The TSA is still violating the 4th Amendment millions of times per day while virtually never discovering dangerous items brought on board, even during their own tests. And the Social Security Administration goes on cutting checks as if it didn’t have tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities.

Read the rest at Newsweek…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Move Over Obama, Trump Has a Pen, a Phone… and a Tweet

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (standing, L-R), Vice President Mike Pence and Staff Secretary Rob Porter welcomes reporters into the Oval Office for him to sign his first executive orders at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

President Trump spent the weekend embroiled in yet another Twitter skirmish, this time with retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker. Trump may even have suffered a rare defeat on his own turf, based on Corker’s hilarious rejoinder about someone missing their daycare shift at the White House. If Trump has a soul, even he laughed at that one.

But many blame this kind of drama as a major contributing reason to Trump “not getting anything done” so far during the first year of his presidency. Even those on the blood-in-their-eyes, Trump-hating left make this criticism. One would think they’d be glad he’s not getting anything done, but apparently, a government not doing anything is even worse for them than one doing things they don’t like.

If only “not getting anything done” were true. The Pentagon goes on waging war, uninterrupted by elections, supposed gridlock, or even “government shutdowns.” War has become the normal state, with “an act of Congress” required to stop it, rather than start it.

Domestically, all of Washington’s unconstitutional regulatory agencies have hummed along without pause. The FDA is still driving up prescription drug prices by keeping thousands of generics off the market. The TSA is still violating the 4th Amendment millions of times per day while virtually never discovering dangerous items brought on board, even during their own tests. And the Social Security Administration goes on cutting checks as if it didn’t have tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

How Long Can Americans Go on Hating the President and Each Other?

redandblueTrump Derangement Syndrome rages on, the latest symptoms flaring equally based on causes both legitimate and ridiculous. A key characteristic of the syndrome is its ability to evoke the same outrage over the president retweeting a harmless (and let’s admit it, funny) meme as threatening to destroy an entire nation. The breathless apoplexy over absolutely everything Trump-related, down to the shoes his wife wears while traveling, has desensitized Trump’s supporters to behavior even they should be concerned about.

It is true Trump has inspired new levels of hostility — even for politics — but Americans have been hating the president for this entire century, which is no longer in its infancy. Bush may not have been “literally Hitler,” but he was Hitler nonetheless to the Democrats, just as Obama was “literally Mao” to conservatives. But the proud American tradition of hurling invectives at the president isn’t nearly as ominous as the trend towards violence. Both the right and the left have mobilized armed groups, not just carrying signs but ready for violence. In fact, violent resistance is the far-left Antifa’s stated raison d’etre.

US Government Power Has Never Been Higher

It isn’t that the three men who have held the office since 2001 are monsters. Anyone who paid attention when Bush, Obama, or even Trump was caught in a quiet moment “off the record” would have to admit that they seem like reasonably likable people. That’s the rub. Government makes nice people do terrible things, things even they themselves would have considered barbarous before taking office.

Unfortunately, most Americans do not bat an eye at the worst offenses committed by the presidency, namely the killing of millions in undeclared wars of choice with nations who have never attacked the United States. But Americans on both the right and the left are increasingly feeling the effects of ceding power over domestic affairs to Washington and the executive branch in particular. The stakes of presidential elections are much higher now that Washington doesn’t just regulate interstate commerce, but regulates the minute details of how businesses are run, how crops are grown, what local public schools teach and even what signs they put on their restrooms.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.