On Gun Control

The Gun Control debate is back in full swing in recent days due to the occurrence of high profile mass shootings in 2018, a strong left wing desire to “do something” regarding gun laws, and a series of marches and protests around the nation for some kind of governmental action to limit the number of shootings in the nation.

To preface this commentary I will state that I emphatically support the 2nd Amendment and I fervently believe that it is the single most important amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There is no Bill of Rights, Constitution, or United States of America without the 2nd Amendment. I do not believe in any form of gun control and it is my view that the majority of gun control legislation and regulation on the books in the form of federal, state, and local actions is likely illegal and unconstitutional if you view said actions through an originalist constitutional compliance point of view.

The 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution is as follows “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” With this intent of the founders in mind, every gun control law that exists is unconstitutional. Well regulated doesn’t mean that the Founders intended Congress to regulate specific types of weaponry. Well regulated means in good working order. The Founding Fathers wanted the American Citizenry to be well trained in the use of firearms and have the organizational structure to resist the government if necessary.

Main gun control or gun restriction laws:

  • The National Firearms Act of 1934 made it extremely difficult to purchase a machine gun, suppressors, sawed off rifles and shotguns, and introduced extreme regulation on private gun ownership
  • Automatic weapons are illegal to own
  • Certain states such as CA and NJ have enacted restrictions on the size of magazines
  • Certain states have enacted laws that allow Law Enforcement personnel to confiscate privately owned firearms without proper due process protections
  • Certain states such Hawaii no longer allow open or concealed carry of firearms
  • Forced background checks on private transfers of firearms
  • Many left wing states such as NJ have introduced draconian restrictions to the point where citizens give up trying to acquire a firearm due to the long and arduous process
  • FL has recently increased the age required to buy long guns to 21 and introduced waiting periods for the purchase of firearms

I oppose all of these actions because these laws and regulations infringe on the people’s rights to keep and bear arms. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter that the capacity and firepower of firearms has changed since 1776. The Founding Fathers obviously had enough foresight to assume that technology would make guns smaller, lighter, easier to maintain, and yes increase the capacity for killing. Citizens should be able to own any weapons that the government has, except for strategic military weapons used for attacking enemy states. Citizens should not be able to own WMD, strategic bombers, fighter aircraft, gunships, tanks, heavy artillery, etc. because those are not weapons used to subjugate your own population. If the government decides to become openly tyrannical, they will not conduct a nuclear strike on an American city because that would destroy a lot of their own infrastructure and it is highly likely that Armed Forces Personnel will refuse to carry out those kinds of orders. The government will likely use men, firearms, artillery, ISR drones, and possibly light tanks to subjugate the population. A well trained and disciplined citizens militia can and should be able to defeat the government in order to maintain the security of a free state.

The purpose of the 2nd Amendment was not for hunting and sport shooting. Just like the purpose of the 1st Amendment was not for discussing the weather, it was for saying controversial things and being free to do so without fear of reprisal. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment was for the citizenry of the American Republic to have enough firepower to take down the government if it becomes tyrannical. The magnificence of the American Constitution is that it recognizes the natural rights of man and informs the government that those natural rights may not be infringed upon. The most important natural right accorded to man is the right to self preservation. You have a natural, God given right to preserve yourself, your family, and your property. The only way to effectively protect yourself, your family, and your property is through the threat or use of firearms. Criminals and oppressive governments are not afraid of your martial arts training, your sword collection, your security system, your guard dogs, or your peaceful protests and hunger strikes. Criminals are not even afraid of Law Enforcement or the courts. They are fearful of your firearms and that is what keeps them at bay.

I understand that mass shootings are a tragedy and they cut deep into the fabric of American society. Nobody wants to see innocent people die and see their families suffer. The media and the political left wish to paint gun owners and guns rights activists as heartless guttersnipes who do not care about the plight of the poor souls who died at that Texas Church, Las Vegas Concert, or Florida High School. We do care. We do mourn at the fact that someone would do something so sick, twisted, and immoral. But, we will not give up our natural rights to self preservation because a criminal committed a crime. Murder is already illegal and it has been for millennia, yet murderers still murder. A criminal is by definition someone who commits crimes, they do not care about the law. The idea of gun control is antithetical to the idea of liberty and it is unproductive and directly harmful to those it claims to protect. Gun control only serves the interests of tyrants, criminals, and despots. It preemptively punishes the innocent for the crimes of the guilty.

All throughout the past week or two many of us saw protests and marches around the nation. These people were essentially protesting private ownership of firearms. There were signs that said “Fuck the NRA”, “The NRA has blood on their hands”, “Real men use fists”, “Ban Assault Rifles”, “Is freedom more important than safety?”, among others. Let’s break down a few of these slogans to demonstrate the irrationality and stupidity behind them.
The first two regarding the NRA should be a good starting point. Why is the NRA such a political villain? The NRA has been advocating the safe use of firearms for more than 100 years. They provide training classes, safety tips, and updates on the safest and most effective way to use firearms. They also help gun owners understand all their local laws, restrictions, and regulations regarding firearms so that they don’t inadvertently become criminals. In what way is this negative? The left claims that the NRA “buys” politicians with contributions. An estimate regarding what the NRA spent on Congressional Campaign Contributions since 1998 is $3,533,294, that would amount to approximately $0.04 per NRA member per year in 2017 dollars. The estimate of their total politically relevant spending is $203.2MM, that would work out to approximately $2.14 per NRA member per year in 2017 dollars. I don’t see the issue here. Gun owners as a group have freedom of speech rights just like anyone else and we can choose to have our voices represented through the NRA. There is no question of illegality or lack of ethics. It seems to me that this is considered corrupt and immoral simply because the political left dislikes it. In the same time period of 1998 to 2017 the American Chamber of Commerce spent around $1.4B and the American Medical Association spent $372MM on lobbying. The National Education Association spent $124MM on campaign contributions over the past 28 years. Why can these organizations lobby and provide campaign contributions without the kind of scrutiny the NRA receives? I guess because their agendas mesh well with the political left or at least don’t collide with it. Let’s address the second phrase. How does the NRA have blood on its hands? Is the NRA a criminal organization, a gang, a group of assassins, a terrorist group, or a foreign intelligence or military organization hellbent on killing Americans? Nope, it is none of those things. Both slogans have been dissected and a rational individual can conclude that they are ridiculous and illogical.
“Real men use fists” is another popular slogan for these protesters’ signs. Let me paint you a picture. A 22 year old female who is 5’1″ and weighs 100 lbs broke up with an abusive boyfriend who is 6’1′ and 200 lbs. How in the hell is she supposed to defeat him in hand to hand combat or wrestling? The only thing that will keep him away is if he knows that she owns a gun and is willing to use it to protect herself.
“Ban Assault Rifles” is another big one. Assault rifles are not AR-15’s and imitation semi-automatic AK-47’s. Assault rifles are already illegal, even though they shouldn’t be. AR stands for Armalite, the company that designed that firearm. AR does not stand for Assault Rifle. An AR-15 is not an “Assault Weapon”, “Military style weapon”, or “weapon of war”. The AR-15 has been used in exactly zero Military engagements. The U.S. Armed Forces uses the M4-A1 Carbine Rifle which fires in full automatic or burst mode (3 shots at a time). The M4 is the actual “weapon of war” and is unfortunately illegal for civilian ownership. The only reason AR-15’s get a bad rap is that they look similar M4’s, have a pistol grip, have the capability for magazines up to 100 rounds, and look black and scary. AR-15’s are one of the most popular firearms in America. They are fantastic for hunting, shooting at the range, and for the defense of one’s person, family, and property. There is no reason to ban these weapons considering that banning them in the past has not yielded any useful results.
“Is freedom more important than safety?” Geez, do I even have to respond to this? Yes! Emphatically, yes! I prefer dangerous liberty to peaceful slavery. I don’t feel safe when firearms are monopolized in the hands of the state. Maybe you do because your trust in the state is much higher than mine, maybe you have not learned the lessons of history, maybe you wish to trick yourself into believing you are safe when in fact you actually are not. I do not know why you think that way, nor do I concern myself with your views. Freedom is safety.
 I will not give up my rights today, I will never give up my rights in the future. I love my country, I revere the Constitution upon which it was founded, and I will not allow my natural rights to be curtailed so that ignorant and naive people can feel a false sense of security at my expense. Gun control does not reduce violent crime or make law abiding citizens safer. It makes everyone more vulnerable and I will not allow myself to become a victim.
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were not fools, they were remarkably intelligent individuals with awe inspiring foresight and a formidable understanding of human nature. They built the greatest nation and civilization in the history of the world, so they must have done something right. We would be wise to follow their example and learn the lessons of history so we are not doomed to repeat it.

Our nation is resilient and the American people generally make the right decisions. I continue to have faith in the American experiment.

 

“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” – George Washington

 

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” – William Pitt (the Younger), Speech in the House of Commons, November 18, 1783

 

God Bless America

This is Saint Reagan signing off

 

*I am not advocating any kind of violence or law breaking, I am simply stating my opinion which is protected by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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Rex Tillerson fired as Secretary of State

I’ve been observing Rex Tillerson’s fractured relationship with the Trump Administration ever since he was confirmed for the job. I always assumed it would all work out in the end and hoped that the President and Mr. Tillerson would patch things up. My assumption was based on the fact that he is well liked by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump has a lot of respect for his opinions. Unfortunately, my prediction was wrong and Rex Tillerson was fired yesterday as Secretary of State of the United States of America. It is rumored that he was fired in a very haphazard and disrespectful manner, eerily similar to the James Comey firing. If it is true that the President fired Tillerson over a tweet and didn’t even have the courtesy of having a proper discussion with him to formally inform him that he would be replaced and the reason for this personnel change, I lost some more respect for this President. An effective and inspirational leader doesn’t treat his subordinates and team members like doormats. You have to treat them with respect and courtesy. You have to take everyone’s views into account and exercise sound judgement to reach a decision. You cannot treat them like garbage and expect to be considered a good leader. President Trump’s weak and ineffective leadership at managing his own Administration is becoming an embarrassment for the country and the institution of the American Presidency.

I personally wouldn’t have had such a problem with this incident if Tillerson was laid off in a respectful and courteous manner and for the right reasons. President Trump seems to have fired his top diplomat because they had different views on certain issues of great importance with regards to foreign policy. Isn’t it good to have dissenting views so you are not consumed by your own bias in an ideological echo chamber? President Trump’s views on foreign policy, international trade, and America’s leadership role in the world are often flat out wrong, uninformed, and based on faulty assumptions. His populist, isolationist, and protectionist attitude is severely damaging America’s role as the undisputed global superpower that was already damaged by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. America needs to get back into its role of vigorous global leadership as the undisputed economic, military, diplomatic, cultural, and technological power in the world. For that to happen we need a whole of government and private sector response which will include competitive diplomacy, strong engagement and strengthening of military alliances, and the expansion of free trade and investment agreements with nations and blocs around the world. Tillerson seemed to be moving broadly towards those goals, albeit with limited success.

In my view, Tillerson had a lot of difficulty getting certain things done because he didn’t believe he had full buy in from the President. When you’re dealing with the Russians, the Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, amongst a million other issues; you need Presidential support. He didn’t have it and that lead to his downfall. He was living a peaceful life with his family in Texas. Why did the President bring him out of retirement just to fire him in a year?

The President didn’t like Tillerson’s strategy because it valued the old school diplomatic process of talks, constant engagement, and the formulation of a coherent strategy for each region. This takes time, effort, and buy in from key stakeholders. This was too slow and cumbersome for Trump so he decided to replace Tillerson with someone who could perhaps work on his speed and they would be on the same wavelength. He chose Mike Pompeo, his CIA Director for the past year or so.

Pompeo has impeccable qualifications.

  • Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
  • Armor and Cavalry Officer, U.S. Army (Captain)
  • Graduate of Harvard Law School
  • Successful business career
  • 3 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives

Mike Pompeo has become quite close with the President due to somewhat similar views and their friendship has developed from the Daily Intelligence Briefings that the President has everyday with the CIA Director and the Director of National Intelligence. I have no particular issue with Pompeo as Secretary of State except that it causes discontinuity in our foreign policy, he is known to have some Neo-Conservative views, and he may not dissent much with the President.

I am cautiously optimistic about the future, but I remain wary of the the constant staff turnovers at the White House. Mr. Tillerson, we appreciate your service and tenure as Secretary of State.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

Detente with North Korea?

The hot news of the past couple of days has been that Kim Jong-Un, Dictator of North Korea is interested in having a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kim’s Proposals:

  • Signing of a peace treaty, which would formally end the Korean War that ended with a stalemate in 1953.
  • Installation of a U.S. embassy in North Korea and normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States, South Korea, and possibly Japan.
  • Missile testing freezes while talks are ongoing.
  • Possible denuclearization of North Korea.

To the layman this might seem like great news, but to a student of history, foreign policy, and international affairs this situation looks all too familiar. This is very likely a feint by North Korea. First of all, a North Korean summit with a U.S. President prior to any concrete concessions would look meek on our part. Kim claims that he will freeze missile testing while talks are ongoing, but those are just empty words and the reality is that he can restart testing whenever he likes. There is also no way to verify if his scientists and engineers are refraining from continuing R&D while the talks take place.

The U.S. has the capability to quickly defeat North Korea in almost any Military scenario, so for the President to quickly accept talks without preconditions looks weak and reflects poorly upon us on the global stage. There have been no reported meetings between lower level officials in the Trump Administration and the North Koreans. It would make more sense for the U.S. to quickly have a series of strategy and planning sessions with our allies in South Korea, Japan, and possibly Australia prior to making any decisions regarding high levels talks. Kim has actively been trying to exploit the divide between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and President Trump to hurt the long enduring U.S. – ROK alliance. The Japanese leadership was also reportedly perplexed and baffled at the President’s rapid decision to accept talks with Kim. A good statesman doesn’t treat his allies with disregard and disrespect, he keeps them well informed and understands their concerns while seeking to persuade them to view things from his perspective. I am aware of the fact that President Trump is not a statesman nor does he intend to become one, but observing that principle would be the best thing he can do for the country.

The Trump Administration’s tough sanctions package has likely inflicted severe damage on the fragile North Korean economy, but a person like Kim doesn’t give in so easily. The goal of the sanctions, diplomatic offensive, and displays of military might were to bring Kim to the table and eventually lead to total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Ostensibly, we have reached that point. However, I think the reality is more complex. In my estimation, Kim still retains his main objectives of pushing U.S. forces out of South Korea and reunifying the peninsula on his terms. But the realities of his military, diplomatic, and economic impotence have forced him to temporarily put those large scale objectives on hold and possibly lure the U.S. into making an unfavorable deal so he can create some breathing and maneuvering room. After we sign a treaty and possibly pass them some humanitarian aid, they will go back to doing what they do best. Being a thorn in America’s side.

My hope is that the President consults with our allies and works with his advisers to develop a detailed and comprehensive strategy that will lead to an acceptable outcome for the U.S. and North Korea. Any question of recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power should be off the table, forever. We can not and should not accept North Korea as a nuclear power state, that must be the red line. If we do accept them as a nuclear state and military power, then we will be setting a negative precedent in the world. We will be letting rogue regimes and terrorists know that the U.S. will respect and accept the existence of irresponsible states and groups with WMD and will not interfere. I would support starting low level talks between U.S. – ROK and North Korea after Kim makes a small gesture of goodwill such as moving his massive group of artillery pieces farther away from the DMZ. President Trump needs to take this situation seriously and ensure that we can come away from this experience with a safer world and a world where it is known that the U.S. will not accept rogues with nukes threatening their neighbors and us. It needs to be know that we will absolutely take decisive action when the homeland, our allies, or our interests are threatened. Our strategy should also demonstrate we are willing to make concessions, only in exchange for concrete actions and permanent behavioral change.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

Terrible Governance in the United States of America

Senate leadership in both parties are supposedly nearing a two year budget deal that would increase annual spending on defense by around $80B and other domestic spending by around $63B. It looks like this budget will sidestep the immigration debate and the situation regarding “Dreamers”, illegal immigrants who were allegedly brought to the U.S. as children. President Trump’s Justice Department will stop enforcing former President Obama’s DACA Executive Order on March 5th, so Congress will have to come up with some kind of legislation to deal with this soon.

The U.S. Congress has been funding the government via “continuing resolutions” for the past few years and it is an irresponsible way to govern for a several reasons. Continuing resolutions are short-term spending bills that typically span a month or so and are filled with a bunch of government pork, have no accountability to taxpayers, and constantly put Military readiness in peril because the Department of Defense isn’t clear if the money will come through and if priority programs will be funded.

This haphazard process seeks to escape from the idea of setting spending priorities, dealing with persistent and humongous budget deficits, and deciding what to do regarding our $20.6T federal debt. Governance like this is the reason that the world and even the U.S. is becoming skeptical of Democratic institutions. Racking up large amounts of debt, constant partisan bickering, and a lack of progress on imperative policy areas such as defense, healthcare, entitlements, welfare, education, etc. is hindering American economic growth and progress.

I would like the whole United States Congress and Trump Administration to have a series of meetings over two weeks to make the following decisions on a firm two year budget.

  • Prioritizing what needs to be funded and what doesn’t.
    • Democrats have to get serious and admit that providing for the national defense is actually in the purview of the Constitution and most other things that the federal government does are not and that funding the Military is not ever going to be held hostage by them in negotiations.
    • Republicans have to get serious regarding how much defense spending is enough and what absolutely needs funding for the 10 year period. We cannot treat the DoD like a sacred cow and have to identify areas of increased efficiency and resource optimization. Ideas like privatizing the VA and cutting spending on small and/or unnecessary military bases and operations we cannot afford can be good ideas.
    • The $75B intelligence budget is too hard for anyone to stomach and there needs to be reform on combining and/or eliminating some agencies while also cutting down on personnel and ensuring all agencies are compliant with the U.S. Constitution.
  • Identifying policy areas ripe for bipartisan reform.
    • Civil Service reform.
    • Occupational licensure reform.
    • Housing finance reform (elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).
  • Identifying policy areas that require simple and relatively painless fixes.
    • Cutting 1% spending every year.
    • Making it easier to start a business.
  • Identifying a strategy that will keep federal revenues at around 15% of GDP and have the budget generate surpluses in 10 years that will be used to only pay down the national debt.
  • Identify whether the Congress believes the U.S. Armed Forces are a priority anymore or not.
  • Work with Military and Intelligence Agency leaders on a coherent strategy for achieving decisive strategic military and political victory in Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support) and in Syria and Iraq (Operation Inherent Resolve).
    • It has been 17 years in Afghanistan, we must finally destroy the Taliban and all other terrorist organizations and finally secure the country. WE ARE STILL AT WAR, AMERICA JUST FORGOT ABOUT IT!
  • Finally identify what is to be done with ~11MM illegal immigrants in this nation and how the border will be secured to stop the inflow of people who have not been granted authorization to enter the nation and how to ensure people whose visas or Green Cards have expired will be sent back to their home country’s.
  • Have a bipartisan debate regarding how the U.S. is going to remain the worlds largest economy, this conversation has to center on what the government is going to do to ensure China does not overtake us in real GDP and how we will regain the top spot in the PPP GDP calculation. This will require Democrats acknowledging that the U.S. needs to remain on top, even if only to fund their handout programs. China overtaking us is not yet a foregone conclusion, there is still time to reform ourselves to stay on top and gain back that number 1 spot on the PPP list.

 

I do not understand why the politicians in this country especially, Democrats are busy with their bullshit redistribution schemes while we are facing an extremely dangerous international security situation and the U.S. is set to be overtaken by China. We need to get serious as a nation and get our fiscal house in order and also reform government at all levels if we are to remain globally competitive.

Congress needs to get serious about having real debates and reform the size and scope of the federal government. Hell, at this point I would even be fine with having a light “safety net”, as long as overall government spending is decreased and debt starts getting paid off.

 

This is Saint Reagan Signing Off

Book Review: Old Soldiers Never Die by Geoffrey Perret

I just finished reading Old Soldiers Never Die by British-American Author Geoffrey Perret. It is a detailed biography that covers the life of the legendary U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur. I profoundly enjoyed reading this book and I would say it is on my list of favorite books. There were many positive lessons to be learned from this book that cover the topics of history, leadership, team management, communication, military strategy & tactics, and many varied life lessons. There were also many lessons to be learned in what not to do. General MacArthur made many decisions in his life that were unfortunate and there is a lot of value in reading about those lessons and avoiding those pitfalls in the future if you become a leader in the Military or private sector.

The book is written masterfully and provides a lot of rich details on MacArthur’s early life being the son of a decorated Army Officer and the experience of moving to many different bases and living life out on the frontier. It covers the various struggles and difficulties he faced in his early days and the hard work he had to do do in order to achieve his dream of entering West Point and being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. His experiences, toughness, and perseverance in the face of constant adversity is shown. Also, his more romantic side and his views regarding heroism, soldiering, and patriotism are visible and offer some inspiration.

My favorite section of the book comes after MacArthur and his staff are ousted from the Philippines after the Japanese attack and he has to work his way back throughout the War to defeat the Japanese. He often faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles such as an uncooperative Naval Department, a distant Joint Chiefs of Staff, politicians who hate him at home, lack of supplies, lack of trained men, infighting amongst his staff, among several other issues. He breaks through all of these problems and shortages and starts the offensive against the Japanese. Along with some uncomfortable cooperation with the Air Corps and the Navy he is able to end the Pacific War and start the successful occupation of Japan.

There were numerous prescient predictions made by MacArthur that have held true. He predicted that Asia would be the continent of the future and he is correct. There is vast economic growth and great power competition happening in the Indo/Asia-Pacific region with a rising and militaristic China, growing India, an apprehensive and fearful Australia, and a worried Japan and South Korea. Many countries are becoming wealthy and indeed powerful. If the U.S. is to maintain global leadership, we need to ensure that we have strong military, diplomatic, cultural, and economic foothold in Asia.

He predicted that Japan would become rich, successful, and a strong American ally; he was correct. He told JFK not to engage in a ground war in Vietnam, he warned him it would be a disaster; he was correct.

The story of General MacArthur is one filled with heroism, romance, and the will of a great man who did what was necessary to save the American Republic and ensured we would live to fight another day. I agree with him that history is just the collection of the biographies of the great men who created that history, he believed in exceptionalism and so do I. It is the classic American story of hard work, adversity, failure, and finally glorious triumph. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this fantastic book on one of the greatest soldiers who ever lived.

 

“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

 

A Government Shutdown

On Saturday, January 20th at 12:01 PM EST the Federal Government of the United States was shutdown. It means that Senators and Representatives of both parties couldn’t compromise on a budget and that as a result of their inability to form an agreement, the federal government ran out of funding and was shut down. Generally, budgets require 60 votes in the Senate to pass and 218 in the House of Representatives. The Senate can pass budgets and bills with 51 votes (GOP currently has 51 seats), but Democrats may use the filibuster and that will lead to requiring 60 votes to pass the budget because you need that many votes to invoke cloture, which ends the debate.

Congress has been funding the government through “continuing resolutions” for the past few years. Continuing resolutions are short term spending bills that don’t allow any time and deliberation for actual spending reform. Passing a budget a year at a time will lead to spending reform and that is why Democrats and Statist Republicans don’t want go back to a system of some accountability. They use these continuing resolutions and claim that the other party won’t compromise. I don’t really care too much if the Federal Government shuts down but there are some risks.

  • The U.S. Federal Credit Rating could be downgraded, as happened in 2011.
  • Military operations can become strained because certain procurements and training programs have to stop. Troops may or may not get paid.
  • Investment into the U.S. slows down because global confidence is waning in our economy.

Some funny things about these government shutdowns is that they never lead to an actual shutdown. 800,000 “non-essential” federal employees have been furloughed or sent home. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The fact that we have 800,000 “non-essential” government employees at the federal level clearly demonstrates how incompetent our government is. I would guess that these non-essentials cost the taxpayer at least $50B a year and that is a very conservative estimate.

And what is the actual disagreement between Republicans and Democrats you ask? It isn’t even about important issues such as entitlement reform, cutting government spending, deregulating the economy, etc. The major fight here is regarding legal and illegal immigration and border security. The Democrats essentially shut down the government over DACA. They literally shut down the government because they want to provide amnesty to people who entered the country illegally. What the f**k is wrong with the Democratic Party and those who support them?

Republicans are asking for increased military spending to:

  • Expand the Naval fleet.
  • Purchase more Aircraft, recruit more pilots, and increase flying time for pilots.
  • Recruit new personnel for all branches.
  • Invest in nuclear modernization and develop new “limited strike” nuclear weapons.
  • Increase R&D spending on new space weapons, cyber tools, and other technology.

 

On the real fight regarding immigration the GOP wants:

  • An end to chain migration, which is a system that allows U.S. Green card holders to sponsor an unlimited number of people to immigrate to the United States.
  • An immigration system that focuses on skills and education while only allowing nuclear families to immigrate.
  • An end to the diversity visa lottery that seeks to provide 50,000 visas to people from countries that are underrepresented in U.S. immigration.
  • $18B of funding over 10 years for a southern border wall.
  • Limit the rights of people who turn themselves in to border patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Limit asylum for these people. Allow children to be deported.

 

Democrat asks:

  • Green cards and a path to citizenship for all DACA recipients which could be anywhere from 800,000 to 3.5MM people.
  • Overall, a path to legalization for the more than 11MM illegal immigrants in the country.
  • Domestic spending increases that match increases in Defense spending.

 

What the Democrats are doing is despicable but the reason is because they are betting that their politicking will pay off in the midterm elections. I don’t know if this strategy will pay off or not. But if there are segments of the American voting population that think that the Democratic Party shutting down the government over illegal immigrants and increased defense spending is “brave” or a good idea, it just proves that there is no one as stupid as the voter.

Regarding budgets, the continuing resolutions system is an affront to good governance and it needs to stop. Congress needs to pass budgets for 1 or 2 years at a time. Congress has totally stopped demonstrating their power as a coequal branch of government and have been downgraded by the Imperial Presidency and Activist Judicial branch. Congress simply fights over the President and not over the actual problems. Congress needs to come to a meaningful compromise that will cut total spending (discretionary and mandatory spending), increase defense spending till readiness is back up to where it should be, and makes an actual effort towards generating surpluses and paying down debt. Our debt is around $20.5T now and our unfunded liabilities for the entitlement monsters of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare total more than a $100T. The Federal Reserve cannot keep printing money (expanding money supply) to pay down the profligate spending of Congress. Continuing resolutions really hurt military readiness because the military is unable to properly plan or execute procurement, R&D, recruitment, and training programs because of the uncertainty regarding the availability of funds.

I would support a compromise that cuts total government spending at around 5% a year in exchange for legalizing all DACA recipients and I would even go as far as a one time legalization drive for all illegals. But after the legalization, illegal immigrations should be stopped with stronger border security and changing illegal immigration into a criminal offense from a civil one. If spending is cut at around 5% a year, the budget will either be balanced or generate a small surplus in 4 years. 5 cents of off every dollar government spends isn’t that much and compromise is worth it so that debt, dollar devaluation, and entitlements don’t ruin the greatest country on the planet.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off

Civil Society and Community vs Government

From the founding of this Republic, the American society and culture has been focused on families, communities, friends, colleagues, and neighbors helping each other out in times of difficulty rather than through government fiat. When French Diplomat and Political Scientist Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the early 1800s he marveled at how Americans rolled up their sleeves and helped each other without involvement from government. If a neighbor’s barn burned down, all the neighbor’s pitched in and helped the family quickly rebuild it. That is the kind of country we had, where individuals voluntarily chose to help their friends, families, and neighbors without the gun of government pointed at their head.

Do we have that kind of society anymore? Some would say yes, some would say no, and some would say we still have some aspects instilled in our society. I would venture to say that most of this has dissipated from society. Our country spends trillions of dollars each year on social welfare spending, so that feeling to engage in civil society voluntarily has decreased throughout the country. I am not by any means insinuating that this is completely gone in society but it has decreased substantially. America still leads in voluntarism, charitable donations, charitable works, etc. but that may be a function of our national size and wealth rather than the same level of voluntary community activity remaining. When we spend trillions of dollars on social programs every year at the federal, state, and local levels; it can create a feeling of complacency and resentment in society. When so much of our income and wealth is being stolen by the government and redistributed to those who haven’t earned it, it can breed resentment in taxpayers who don’t wish to donate additional money, time, energy, or ideas to community causes such as cleaning up litter on the streets, food at a soup kitchen, or free medical exams to the poor. Since we can see on the news the sheer amount of money the government spends on these programs, we assume that all issues are basically taken care of.

I argue that this situation of the government taking over all aspects of community life such as providing healthcare and food to the poor, cleaning up parks and lakes, organizing community events, running libraries, conducting small construction projects, etc. has frayed the bonds of society and our feeling of camaraderie with our friends and neighbors. Everything has been centralized and usurped by the state and this isn’t good for society because it dehumanizes us and turns people into cogs of the state. I often feel resentment at people who don’t have to work and receive free benefits such as Medicaid and Food stamps from the government. The federal government stole my money which I earned through productive economic activity and give it to who someone who didn’t. That doesn’t seem fair to me and reduces my personal incentive for participating in community activities. The government has usurped almost all community activities. Small towns and cities used to make the education decisions for their children together, now that is usurped by federal and state level bureaucrats. The government is even in the business of running concerts and summer camps for kids during the summer time, it has taken the incentive away from people to make the tough decisions with their neighbors regarding changes to the local community. We have outsourced our responsibilities to nameless and faceless and bureaucrats and there is no one to blame but ourselves.

I believe that America’s political and cultural divisions can be solved by eliminating government from these areas and allowing communities to independently make these decisions. This will create the incentive for people to take responsibility for their schools, parks, and community activities among other things. All levels of government need to be heavily downsized so that the American people can make their decisions at the local and individual level, in a way that directly affects them. Constantly sweeping change in Federal policy every few years is setting a bad precedent for the country and is dividing us further and further.

 

This is Saint Reagan signing off