Alexonomic's Outlook for 2013: South America

Yes, the Brazilians are still the centerpiece of South American economic growth, yet there are competitors arising. While Venezuala faces a period of uncertainty with the potential replacement of Hugo Chavez, Argentina offers a renewed challenge to the Falklands under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Alexonomic's Outlook for 2013: Europe

Europe reminds many historians of conditions during the 1930s. Economically depressed countries are embracing extremist political parties with racial divide, riots, and anger as the symptoms. Currently, most of the population is aware of the European debt crisis. Although a serious as the economic crisis is, the side effects of lower economic output can be more serious.

Americans and their Guns

To stray from the Predictions of 2013 series, I did an infographic of the gun control debate raging in the US, along with some statistics. The objectives of Obama gun control rules come plainly from the White House publication on the topic. As one can see, the proposed regulations are quite practical.

Alexonomics' Outlook for 2013: Africa

Egypt has often been the focus of news in Africa as of late. The removal of Mubarak and election of Mohammed Morsi has proven to be an interesting turn of events, but the excitement is far from over. Morsi symbolically removed ties from the Muslim Brotherhood, but that move hardly removes the influence the party has on the President.

A guide to Environmental Economics

Often, articles will be conclusions with a few supporting facts that will often sway the reader. I find this problematic for two reasons. First, the reader does not have the chance to fully understand the topic because no background is given. Secondly, the reader doesn't really have an opportunity to disagree with the writer's conclusion if the reader has little to no knowledge of the topic.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Why YOU should vote Republican (Part 2)


If you read the other article, you’re probably a newly converted Democrat. Re-reading my post, I realized how I made the Republican Party look like a bunch of bumbling buffoons.

To be fair, I’d classify Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden in the bumbling buffoon category as well.

However, the Republican Party is worthy of a vote, and there are plenty of good reasons to commit to Mitt Romney. Sure, he engaged in activities such as buying twitter followers,  but Obama does as well. And meh, using private information to find new donors  isn’t that bad compared to how under Obama the NSA intercepts billions of personal communications of Americans..

Wow that was a cynical paragraph.  Back to the point of this post.

Alexonomics presents: Why you should vote Republican.

When I use quotation marks in this post
I am quoting from Mitt Romney's website
.
As usual we’ll go through a bit of history. Anti-Slavery activists formed the early Republican activists, as the Democratic party was very much pro slavery. On a side note, this is what makes Joe Biden’s remark on how the Republicans will put African Americans in “shackles” so ironic. The Republican Party was actually quite progressive as they coined the 1856 slogan of “Free Land, Free Labor, and Free Men”, and equality among all citizens. Interestingly, the Republicans were quite anti free trade and promoted high tariffs, high wages for all workers and relatively high pensions for soldiers who fought for the North during the civil war.

The Republican Party actually became known as more conservative and pro-business through its opposition of membership of the League of Nations, and high tariffs to protect local businesses.  When the "New Deal" politics of Roosevelt were introduced, the Republican Party in its opposition further cemented its view as a capitalistic pro-business party. In terms of elections, the Republicans have sent 18 men to the White House, among them Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Dwight Eisenhower.

Easy to see why Republicans don't like
Regulation - quite expensive. 
In terms of policy the Republicans tend to side with laissez-faire economics – which basically allows the market to dictate the economy without government intervention. Fiscal Conservatism and advocating individual responsibility over welfare are both strong ideas in the Republican Party. One of the ideas that have been pushed by many Republicans is supply side economics, which advocates that lowering incomes and capital gains taxes while reducing regulation will encourage more economic activity. In terms of health care, the Republicans do not like the concept of paying for their neighbor’s healthcare, and is against a government run health care system that taxpayers pay into.  Lastly, the Republicans generically are against unions and the minimum wage. 

So, why in the name of Elohim should you vote for Mitt Romney?

How did it come to this? Well, public sector unions are just as
(if not more)greedy as "Fat Cats" (left wing term for bankers). 
Well, he wants to cut spending – which is good. As I explained a year ago, America’s debt crisis is cause of concern. If interest rates increase on America’s debt less money will be spent on government services and more will be spent on interest payments. Romney states that he wants to cut spending 5% “across the board” and set a cap on spending at 20% of GDP. Additionally, Romney would reduce foreign aid, privatize Amtrak (America’s train/bus system), and align the grossly inflated public sector employee’s salary with the private sector. These are all good ideas, but very difficult to implement. Obama attempted to cut 1.5 trillion through a bipartisan committee only to have failed. The point is politically these ideas are very difficult to put through.

However, Romney has a record of running Bain Capital, something Obama cannot even come close to when it comes to experience. Regardless of what the media will say about Bain, it is an esteemed organization of intellectual professionals who know how to get things done. Romney’s experience in running a large organization is unquestionable.

 Romney also wants to encourage immigration for highly skilled workers and grant permanent residency to those who have engineering, math or scientific backgrounds. This is part of Romney’s idea to use human capital as effectively as possible, as the government has retraining programs that often overlap and are inefficient. To solve this, retraining will be done through private companies competing through tender for the best price. Additionally, Romney will fight union greed (yes, modern unions are as greedy as Goldman Sachs in most cases) by prohibiting the automatic deduction of funds from union employees for political use, and support right-to-work laws.

What's America doing while the rest of the world signs Free Trade
Agreements? Debating between legitimate and illegitimate rape. 
In terms of trade, Romney wants to complete negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and continue aggressively forming Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s). Additionally, Romney may be the first President (yes, may be) who will confront China on currency manipulation – as the Chinese currency does not float freely undercutting Western manufactures through their exports.

Lastly, Romney is committed to providing the largest helping hand he can to small business, and that is in the form of repealing regulations. Amending  Sarbanes-Oxley and repealing the legislative mess that is Dodd-Frank.Although the Acts are good starts, both regulatory acts are long and complicated. Even election legislation has gotten a bit much.

Economically, Romney knows what he’s doing.

In terms of foreign policy Mitt Romney wants to support the Iranian opposition, which was led by the Green Movement in 2009. This is a very good approach, as I recommended that approach myself after briefly looking at the situation. In terms of Afghanistan and Iraq, Romney is relatively unclear on his website as he states the US clearly needs the cooperation of Afghanistan and Pakistan governments, but doesn't really say how he will receive that cooperation. Due to the hate of the United States in that region, especially considering how the US blatantly entered Pakistani territory during the bin Laden raid, I doubt cooperation will come easily. In terms of Iran, Romney’s plan is to “enter office seeking to use the broad array of our foreign-policy tools — diplomatic, economic, and military — to establish a lasting relationship with Iraq and guarantee that Baghdad remains a solid partner in a volatile and strategically vital region.”. Basically, that means Romney will assess the situation when in office, a good approach to a really complicated situation.

I think they want the Americans to leave. 
I will pause for a second, and state that sometimes the best policy is simply admitting you’re not sure. The Middle East is a prime example of this. American involvement in the area to secure oil interests has stirred much hate against the land of the home and brave. Simply stating that peace is the best idea, keeping out of the entire territory is the best idea, or bombing an entire country is the best idea is very irresponsible. The best American and Western world can do in the Middle East is gain knowledge through strong intelligence networks, and react to the information as it comes in.

However, I will admit that Americans ending their interference in the world would be a nice break from the last decade.  

Social Security and Medicare are 40% of
government spending. 
In terms of social security, Mitt Romney proposes to ensuring “that America honors all of its commitments to today’s seniors and strengthens the program so that it is financially secure for future generations”. Simply adjusting payments so those with higher incomes receive less and raising the retirement age are both practical measures. Already, Canada has risen the retirement age as it is fact the mortality rate has risen, so the retirement age must rise as well. Adjusting payments so that the less fortunate receive more is ironically would belong to a more socialist school of thought, but a good idea nonetheless.

In terms of Medicare, Romney wants to spur competition among medical insurance plans while again seeing that lower income seniors receive more support than higher income seniors. Seniors will receive a set amount to pay for a plan, if they choose a more expensive plan – they pay the difference, less expensive they can pocket the difference. Nothing will change for current seniors or those nearing retirement.

Lastly, Romney will repeal Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. I sort of agree. I don’t think there should be a federal health care program, instead allocate funds so each state can offer their own healthcare system that will provide competition among states. Additionally, employers should not have to pay for their employee’s health care, it is a huge cost burden on the economy. For those reasons alone, I’m not a huge fan of Obamacare. However, Romney’s ideas are not agreeable with mine – if you wish to see what Romney’s ideas are go here.

So there you have it, some solid reasons to vote Republican. Notice I never touched taxes as I completely disagree with the Republican platform on it. Removing regulation, raising the retirement age through Social Security, lowering public sector wages and instituting some reasonable cost savings are all good ideas that should be promoted.

The problem with the Republicans is they focus on issues that should not be discussed. Enraging the population with a remark on rape and fueling an abortion debate that cannot possibly end well is sheer stupidity. Additionally, Republicans need to learn to tell the truth during campaigns. Paul Ryan is looking more and more like a deadbeat Vice President with his latest speech at the convention, proven to be rife with – well – lies. Even Fox News recognized how many tall tails Ryan pronounced. Most laughable was when Paul Ryan stated Obama “ created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report.  He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing”. Well, Paul Ryan was a member of that commission and they voted down their own recommendations –  which Paul Ryan supported.

Just shut up. Seriously. 
The Republicans need to stop spewing rhetoric and lies that is turning off any sensible voter and focus on the key elements of Mitt Romney’s plan that sound promising and effective. Paul Ryan needs to use something called facts when he opens his mouth. Romney needs to stop trying to pander to the extremist wing of the party that he clearly does not agree with.

Lastly, the Democrats can be attacked on their hypocrisy on many issues, mainly national security. The gross privacy invasions that have occurred under the TSA and NSA under the Patriot Act while the fact that SOPA was even considered as a bill is a stark reminder of the Democrat’s hypocrisy when it comes to freedom. The American government is creeping more and more into individual American life, and Obama has done nothing to stop this. Instead he’s allowed it to expand. What started under the Patriot Act is now a right infringing machine under the guise of national security.

Democrats have grown accustomed to stupidity from the Republican side ever since George Bush took office. To counter, the Republicans need to abandon rhetoric and counter the Democrats on their own faults and hypocrisy. Simply asking Obama why the NSA intercepts so many messages illegally per day during a debate may cause him to stutter.

Overall, the voting for the Democrats is like eating a rat because there is nothing better on the table except a maggot infested deer. Sure, the deer would have been great for dinner, but there’s far too many maggots to make it safe for consumption. If the Republicans can rid themselves of the maggots that have manifested themselves as lies, rhetoric, and extremism – they are a solid party to vote for. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Guest Blog Post: A response to why you should vote Democrat


Editor's Note: This is a thorough response for "Why YOU should vote Democrat". The pictures and captions are from myself, to add some commentary. It is written by John Inglis, a Political Science graduate from the University of Ottawa. 


I appreciate that you concede that the Americans will have a new President in 2013, haha. I can agree that Democrats had white-supremacist members, but that lasted for a long time- the Deep South was solidly Democrat until the '64 election. Which means it was Democrat throughout the segregationist period. And lets  recall the phrase to endorse it "Separate, but equal" it sounds very nice in theory, like more Democrat ideas do, but it was a practical disaster.

Hoover did change the Democratic party forever, but Woodrow Wilson (that old white supremacist) and Teddy Roosevelt had already been long identified with the Progressivism that the Democrats would take on. Democrats may have not had the black vote until Roosevelt, but they had over 60% of the vote in 36' so they had nearly everyone's vote, but they would not sustain it, in the 50's and early sixties the black vote was Republican. Evidence suggests MLK Jr. was too.

Well I never said I was a fan of affirmative action,
just that the Democrats supported it
You mentioned a list of the things the Democrats have supported, which implies that the Republicans do not support those ends. Affirmative Action has been one of the worst policies for the black community, in fact anywhere in the world it has had the same results, I'll refer you to  Thomas Sowell's "Affirmative Action Around the World". The Republicans support gender and race quality, the difference is that Democrats seem to be focused more on results than oppurtunity, the statistics that they cite to make their case often just look bad but are not consequential, that's a long topic, so if you want me to speak on it I will. I'll point out that the black community experienced its best economic growth during the Reagan years. Republicans are not happy with the current state of affairs in health care in the States, if you want I could explain that more too, just let me know. Fighting poverty, I'd like to quote Ronald Reagan on that one "Don't you think it's time for them to read us the score?" If the fighting poverty was working based on the way and length of their fighting it wouldn't poverty be eliminated by now? $250,000 per family of 4 is spent on those below the poverty line. Now obviously that money does not go straight to those families that need it, again to quote Reagan from the same speech, "Obviously there must be a little bit of overhead."

Kerr-Mills was different from Social Security as there
was no mandatory enrolment. It provide funds
 to state's who could not fully afford  to provide health care to
those who could not afford it.
The people that were hurt most by the increase in the minimum wage were the black community, black teenage unemployment was the lowest for any demographic at that age at 16% and it rose sharply thereafter. Civil Rights were not the same as what you speak of today were you mean "rights" back then those were first generation right now people speak of rights in the second generation understanding of the term. If I need to elaborate I can.I'll point you to to Healthcare Reform called the Kerr-Mills Bill, it would have providing health care on a needs-based program, not the universal health care which forces people into it like Medicare and Medicaid do. The government would have paid for your healthcare only if you couldn't pay for it yourself, what's wrong with that program? If you're in favour of government increasing in size, as Statists are you would have a problem with that For more information on that I'll refer you to a Ronald Reagan audio on healthcare from that period available on youtube.

 Read the history for yourself  
Eisenhower in that quote isn't saying it would be wrong to eliminate those programs, but merely that it would mean political death for the party that does it. Besides very few Americans actually know what Social Security is and how it operates. The American people were lied to about it when Roosevelt proposed it, for that I would let you compare the structure of the program to the commercials at the time explaining how it works.

They're mostly the same people.
It's the Romney plan, not the Ryan plan. I'd like to clear something up about the American tax system. In American 75% of those earning more than $250,000 are actually small businesses registering as individuals, because that is the best way for them to register in the States, mostly because of the costs involved in registering as a corporation every year. Another thing to be clear here about is that the top 20% are not the same people every year, Republicans are interested in having an upwardly mobile society by the way, not equal outcomes. 6% of the people in the bottom tax bracket are in the top the next year, because selling a house is counted as income, so if you owned a house in San Francisco or New York you could make a million dollars one year and then make nothing the next. But the greatest come from young college students who have no real income but then enter the workforce, or haved worked their whole lives and been paid more as they aged. Which is one of many reasons why a younger black and Latino population are not easily comparable to the white or asian populations. A huge percentage of those in the bottom 20% are people who are retired, they are not the lazy people many think of they have little income but huge savings. Which most have been taxed on their entire lives. These are the fallacies that make arguments for the Democrats where otherwise they wouldnt have them, I could argue this more but since it's a large issue I'll only clarify what I am asked to clarify. Environment: in the 20's progressives argued that the state of the black community was due to inherit weaknesses in the race, later it was all about environment. To give you a clue of how wrong this is, as late as '57 75% of black households were two- parent families, with the increase in civil rights legislation that number dropped dramatically, mostly this appears as a byproduct of things like affirmative action (also a long story). Black income as a group was rising dramatically, and was on the whole (outside of the Deep South) in a far better condition than it is today. Hoarding money? Helping the poor? I would like to ask how they hoard money, the best thing rich people do with their money is re-invest it thereby creating jobs and wealth. Also if the rich people are so self-interested how does that make them different from other people? Are not all humans self-interested? What is there to suggest that a government official would be any different in their humanity? And how they would advocate not helping the poor, these are charicatures of what the Republicans suggest to do with regards to poverty.

Ronald Reagan: Republican Rockstar
When Ronald Reagan lowered tax rates in the early eighties he also closed many tax loopholes. he lowered marginal rates from 70% to 28% and actually increased revenues by $375 Billion dollars over 3 years. The graph that you provided to prove you argument takes very little else in account. I'll point out that the 90% (which was 94% in reality), on marginal income occurred in the forties and fifties, during a time when America was reaping the benefits of the Marshall Plan and the economy had finally recovered from the Great Depression, in 43'. Also it was JFK who reduced (yes, a democrat) the rate to 70% as he anticipated the downturn in the economy at the time, which is why the 90%+ bracket looks better than the 70%. Also the 28% figure was actually an increase in economic growth as it occurred immediately following the stagflation years of the Carter Administration. Also note that the 38.6% bracket were Clinton's tax increases and a lower growth rate than previously, and they also used that as a chance to cut capital gains taxes to try to keep in economy going strong. I'm sure you'll guess there's more to the story than that graph suggests.

Your suggestion that the economy has done better under Democrats that it did under Republicans may be true, but if you look at graphical analysis of the situation, you will often find that not the poor effects that the Republicans had are directly related to actions taken during the Democrat Presidencies. Examples? Stagflation which was a cause of the previous administations actually got worse under Reagan in the first few years before his policies began to ring it out of the system and create economic growth. The inflation rate under Reagan was still very high throughout his administration, but it declined the entire time. Inflation was a policy that the American government actually encouraged, as a way to vote themselves $10-14 Billion dollars extra because it was not until Reagan that the tax system was index for inflation. Which meant you could have a higher tax rate but no real increase in Income. Another example would be the information the Democrats use to suggest the the policies of "The Great Society" lowered unemployment rates, which they did for a few years, but graphical analysis shows that it had been lowering for a long time anyway. The information seems to suggest that those policies actually ended that trend. Also I'd like to point out that prior to the Reagan Administration and continuing until 94' the Democrats had controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives for fifty years except 2.

Reaganomics did not play out as you suggest the increase in the national debt actually occured from having more than 20% interest rates during that time. As you may know, rates of 10% doublethe principal amount in a period of seven years. Reagan cut spending, but the Democrats under Tip O'Neil wouldn't allow him to make the cuts in spending he liked. Under the Reagan Adminstration government expenses did not grow or increase relative to the economy, they are best described as flatlining.

Triple Facepalm: " No, raising taxes to ridiculous levels like
 France has is not the answer, Britain already has tried that and has
lowered their tax rates to try and decrease tax evasion. "
Tea Party does not want to raise taxes, as I showed you, taxes rates and tax revenue are not directly related. The best way to increase government revenues is to grow the economy.

This rape thing is a low-blow I assume you're talking about Todd Akin's comments, Republicans were amoung the first to ask him to drop out, obviously this is not a Republican-Democrat issue, it is a right-wrong issue. I could go into Planned-Parenthood, but I will point out that it began as a product of the eugenics movement in the 20's, and Margaret Sanger's comments on this illustrate it. She wanted to eliminate the undesirables through abortions, her undesirable were blacks as an example. Abortions of black babies represent more than 50% of all abortions to this day, and most abortion clinics are set up in black communities. Perhaps you heard of the recent scandal where people went into Planned Parenthood buildings wishing to donate money, but only "...if it was used to abort black babies." The Planned Parenthood representatives were more than happy to oblige. Also re-read that quote by Romney "Republicans, and myself in particular, recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives." That doesn't mean that they have to right to have them funded by the government. Also don't argue the possibilty of a Ryan Presidentcy if you wont consider a Biden one.

Not all Republicans are social conservatives, look at Ron Paul's supporters for instance, and perhaps they give more money to strip clubs because if as you suggest they have more money they could give more of it away. Republicans also donate to charity at a far greater rate than Democrats, and it is estimated that if the rest of the country gave blood at the same rate as Republicans there would be 40% more blood donated every year. Extremists in the White House? During the Republican primaries it was general consensus that Romney was a moderate, even amoung non-Republicans, which would explain why Republicans were not that enthusiastic until Ryan was added to the ticket. But here's proof Ryan is not a"Radical".

The statistics about how many Americans were not covered by the healthcare plan before Obama was touted as 40 million during the 2008 campaign, but now it is generally recognized that only 8 million of those people could not afford it and were not covered by the structure already in place. I can't see why legislated that all Americans must own health insurance would be better than simply extending the existing coverage ( which would seem to me like a left of center idea, which I would have problems with but merely points out the radical nature of the steps Obama himself was actually taking.

I'll just leave this here.
I don't have enough knowledge to argue against the "No Child Left Behind" program, but I'll point out that Bush was not conservative with the policy, and that one of the most controversial aspects of it was that schools would actually be graded for their effectiveness with standardized testing. Who opposed this? The teachers unions. I bet also that Obama's funding programs for Post-Secondary education will increase the costs of those schools in the years to come.

Gridlock is not a bad thing, I'll point out that Bill Clinton had this, from 94' onward. And the American Constitution was actually intended to be slow moving body, read the Federalist Papers, particularly the ones written by James Madison. Also I'll point out that the gridlock occurred because Americans were so unhappy with the way the Democrats had ruled both the Executive and Legislative branches.

I don't know enough about net-neutrality laws to comment so I won't.

I'm sorry but the last paragraph doesn't make any sense, I think it is mean to say that Republicans are against "progress" but I would argue that depends on how you define progress.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Why YOU should vote Democrat (Part 1)


In November the United States will elect a President.

Wow.

How time flies. Mitt Romney who has been the chosen one ever since the disastrous McCain/Palin ticket will face off against a seasoned Barack Obama. With the Republican National Convention taking place in Tampa this weekend, it’s as good a time as any to do a series on both parties. I’m going to explain why you should vote Republican, and why you should vote Democrat – if you’re an American of course. In my pro Democrat post, I will obviously talk about Romney, Ryan, Obama and Biden – but I will focus more so on those individuals on separate blog posts like the one I already have done for Paul Ryan. These posts will outlay some of the chief strengths and weaknesses of each party, and will have a conclusion.

So, Alexonomics Presents: Why you should vote Democrat.

Warning: This article does not mention
Joe Biden. Why? He's irrelevant. 
It’s interesting to note that the Democratic Party was once the Democrat-Republican Party – meaning both the GOP and the Dems were one party. They were united against the fiscal policies of Alexander Hamilton and were against national banks, corporate monopolization, and favoured strict adherence to the Constitution.The split occurred chiefly because of slavery. Many members left the party to form the Republican party, as they were anti-slavery and the Democrats were relatively numb to the idea. Abraham Lincoln’s Republican victory can be credited to Democrat divisions concerning the slavery issue. Additionally, the Southern States once were dependable voters for the Democratic Party, while the North voted Republican. Although today's Democratic members will most likely vehemently deny it, they had a few influential white supremacist leaders.

Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression probably changed the Democratic Party forever. With Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the ideas of social welfare, labour unions, civil rights, and commercial regulation all became chief components of the Democratic Party. The Democrat Party never had the African American vote until Roosevelt, as many African Americans supported the newly promoted equality and welfare ideas.

Currently, the Democrats believe in more or less social liberalism. Affirmative Action, Pro-Choice, Gender, Race and Sex Equality, Mixed Economy (government economic intervention), progressive taxation, and encouraging a government role in healthcare and fighting poverty are all policies of the Democratic Party. Since 2000, professionals have supported the Democratic party by a slight margin, while academia in the United States have sided resoundingly with the Democrats (Humanities Professors are not surprisingly the most liberal, while Business Professors the most conservative).
"Why do you hate me? I'm a
Republican  under Ike's definition"

So why in the name of Barack Hussain Obama should you vote Democrat?

To be honest, simply to prevent the Republicans from taking Presidency is actually a solid reason.

The Republican Party has strayed far from its roots of being actually a progressive party that in the 1950s advertised a surprisingly progressive platform. Under Eisenhower,the Republicans boasted about raising  the minimum wage of workers, increasing civil rights and gender equality, and emphasized more spending to improve healthcare and increase scientific and technological research while also ensuring immigration laws were fair . Shocker isn’t it?

Eisenhower actually wrote to his brother: Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are…a few…Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid,”

Most likely Eisenhower is rolling in his grave with the likes of Paul Ryan and the Tea Party taking over.

So what exactly does the Romney/Ryan plan entail?

"But..they need to go even lower!"
First, it wants to lower (again) individual taxes of the rich. “America’s individual tax code applies relatively high marginal tax rates on a narrow tax base. Those high rates discourage work and entrepreneurship, as well as savings and investment” is the statement from  Romney’s website. This statement is simply not true. First, America has the lowest individual tax rates for the  upper class in the G8 (yes I just sourced Wikipedia – but for this it is relatively accurate), and  the lowest nationally in in decades. Sure, Republicans argue that the top 20% pay 70% of federal taxes while the bottom 20% pay 2% - that’s their argument for lowering the taxes on the wealthy. It honestly does not make sense. Of course, the rich will pay more than the poor – some members of society are more fortunate or clever than others. If we’re going to have a just society, are we supposed to just let those poor people just, well, die? Sure, Republicans may argue that these bottom 20% members consist of the scum of society; they do not work hard and simply drink all day. In many cases, that could be true. But many times these members are victims of their own environment. When you’re born in a bad neighborhood, it’s tough to get out.  Additionally, since the Republican Party places so much emphasis on Christianity and religion; most religions would advocate assisting the poor and not allow the elitist/uber-rich to continue hoarding money.

Sorta seems like the reverse is happening. Could
higher taxes mean more economic growth?
Hearsay!
The argument that decreasing taxes will all of a sudden create economic prosperity is bunk. Economists will tell you about the Laffer curve, which measures taxable income elasticity – which shows the change in income taxes reacting to income tax rates. Basically, actual work done pretty much stays the same. The only thing that is affected is tax write offs such as charitable donations, or the amount claimed as capital gains. And no, this is not documented by liberals.The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post both document this, and Forbes even dispels the myth that lowering the capital gains tax will automatically spur economic growth.

So, let’s cut the income tax argument into what it really is about: tax shields, hiding income, and transferring money to avoid it being classified as revenue.  No, raising taxes to ridiculous levels like France has is not the answer, Britain already has tried that and has lowered their tax rates to try and decrease tax evasion. However, American taxes for the wealthy are at their lowest in years, they should increase. Although heavily biased, a social justice activist claims cracking down on tax evasion by the wealthy  could pay off the deficit. To be honest, it’s a very interesting analysis with decent sources. One of the facts that stood out was the top 10% of American earners paid 19% on a cumulative $3.8 trillion, instead of the 30% they should (from 2006).

Additionally, Republicans were never so hot with the economy. 

Businessweek reveals that under Democratic Presidents since the 60s, the Dow does much better. Inflation, unemployment, and government spending (“those evil Democrats spending so much tax payers money”) have all been lower, and GDP % per capita has been higher than when Republicans were in office.

Additionally,when the Dow did go up with Reagan, that’s because Reagan raised the deficit to unprecedented levels in the Cold War effort to outspend the Soviet Union. Reaganomics is simply borrowing (nominal national debt increased from 900 billion to 2.8 trillion during his presidency) to alleviate the burden of lowering taxes and thus lowering governmental revenue. That cannot be done anymore.

Honestly, I have no idea how the post 60s Republicans became known as good with money.

A Paul Ryan supporter. 
Republicans also have a very extreme wing of the party which would have a large amount of influence should Paul Ryan become Vice President of the United States. Tea Party policies cannot infiltrate government, as that would cause disaster. Why? Tea Partiers do not want taxes to rise - period. They do not seem to understand that the government needs revenue to run, like any other business. For the government, taxes are revenue. Therefore, to pay down the deficit taxation needs to increase among the rich. It’s a pretty simple statement- one the Tea Party does not understand. Additionally, the Tea Party does not understand the government must spend to facilitate growth. A great example is Sher Valenzuela, scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention on how she “made it on her own” – or without government help. That argument is clearly faulty, as a Redditor parodied her story  with a site revealing some interesting facts. 

 Additionally, stupidity from the Republicans on issues such as rape (I’m still trying to wrap my head around how the Republicans made ‘rape’ an issue) could cause problems for quite a few people. Romney’s flip flopping on social issues should also cause some concern. He is apparently against abortion and will cut funding to Planned Parenthood, but Romneycare back in Massachusetts covered abortions. Romney also stated that everyone has the right to contraceptives And then with regards to contraceptives, of course, Republicans, and myself in particular, recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives. There's absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort to try and bring that up” which is fuzzy when contrasted to Paul Ryan’s staunch efforts to reduce contraceptive funding.
So is Romney for, or against?
I don't think he even knows.

It is humorous that Republicans are more apt to attend strip clubs than Democrats, and actually spend thrice as much money while at them. This is same party which under Tom Buchanan sees as the defender of American family values. 

To be honest, I think Romney will switch on social issues to attract the votes needed. With gay rights, Romney stated to Richard Tafel (leader of a LGBT GOP group) that when it game to gay rights he was " with you [Tafel/Gay Rights] on this stuff, I'll be better than Ted Kennedy." This is quite the contrast to a majority of Republican views today, and I daresay Romney stating this again could cost him greatly when it came to Southern Tea Party support.

The confusion of Romney’s idea for social issues, the bastardization of the taxation argument relation to the economy, and preventing extremists from entering the White House, are all sound arguments to vote Democrat just to ensure Republicans do not become to ruling party.

Besides not wanting a Republican President, why else vote Democrat? Well, Obama has done a decent job from the mess he was handed – in terms of the economy. He’s attempting to re-regulate Wall Street with the Dodd-Frank Bill - which is a legislative mess admittedly. This comes after repealing the Glass Steagall act in 1999, which created a mess as it removed the separation between commercial banking and investment banking (Yeah, Paul Ryan voted for this). Additionally Obama did cut taxes for small businesses through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

More expensive than Obama thought. 
The President has tried to fix the healthcare issue, but to be honest the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) doesn’t allocate funding correctly. Business owners should not be in charge for the health care of their employees by law. Additionally, Medicaid Part D should be looked at to remove the barrier that prevents the government from negotiating drug prices with big pharmaceuticals – but that’s another story. Obama has increased health care coverage by a significant amount – which is essentially a good thing.

Obama has made it easier for students to go to school with reformation of federal college loans and doubled funding for Pell Grants. This has been done while stressing the importance of education after Bush’s disastrous “No Child Left Behind” plan.

Socially, Obama has announced support for gay rights. He has added contraception coverage to the Affordable Care Act which was the center of media attention as Rush Limbaugh called one contraceptive user a “slut”. So, if you’re pro those ideals, Obama has done something favourable for you.

Legislators are just salivating about
introducing laws to the internet.
There’s also the fact that voting Republican could cause another gridlock in Congress. If we elect a Republican congress/ Democratic President or Republican President/Democratic congress, we could see the same partisanship that has blocked any sort of progress for the last couple of years. Therefore, to bypass that elect one party – and right now the Democrats are leading in the polls – so vote Democrat to ensure no gridlock.

Democrats have also proposed net neutrality laws, which have been blocked by the Republicans. It is a fear that if Republicans do enter government, net neutrality could be a thing of the past.

So there it is, if you’re voting Democrat those most likely are at least some of your reasons. In summarization: Mitt Romney’s floppiness on issues, idiotic Republican statements and extremism, Obama’s decent (not great, not bad) record, and hedging your bets to prevent another partisan driven legislative gridlock.

Barack Obama can be quoted stating A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, 'Huh. It works. It makes sense.” This is partially true. The non-extreme, well rounded, mildly intelligent people will recognize good ideas. It’s the dinosaurs from the past blocking anything that will cause their natural extinction that will prevent this. I’m afraid the metaphorical dinosaurs are the ones who are funding the Republican Party, which is as good a reason as any to vote and cause their extinction. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Official Guide to Paul Ryan

I was about to write up a post on Paul Ryan, but I've been realizing lately that this blog has been lacking creativity and some graphics. So, I opened Photoshop. Now, this really doesn't cover nearly all the points about Paul Ryan, but it gives a good introduction to the guy. I know the poster looks a bit like a negative portrayal of the running mate of Mitt Romney , but I can't make the truth what it isn't. Paul Ryan has been supporting government money going to big oil and big pharma , issues his supporters (the Tea Party) should be principally opposed to.





Friday, 10 August 2012

Yes We Can! (have an Educated Debate)

I’m going to take a break here for a second, and address the internet. Yes internet, I am looking at you. Listen closely; I have a little anecdote to share.

In elementary school, we had a student council which I headed, and I remember one kid really wanted to be on it. He said he had good ideas, was enthusiastic, and seemed fairly bright. There were two problems. He came from a rather wealthy family, so a lot of kids out of pure jealousy grew a dislike for him. Secondly, some of his ideas were blatantly ridiculous. For example, he thought it was ridiculous that we charged three dollars on non-uniform day to wear plain clothes – absolute tyranny. What he didn’t know was that collection formed a good majority of our budget, and without it we probably couldn’t do anything at all.

The time came where a member of student council transferred schools, so we had a by-election to replace him. Obviously the enthusiastic kid jumped at this chance and began putting up posters. Some of his ideas were pretty cool, like trying to bring in “Jumping Castle Day” or “Water Fight” day. His opponent was a relatively clever girl. She created a rumour that the enthusiastic kid had stole Pokemon cards and stashed them in his locker. If you remember, Pokemon was a huge deal back then.

Well, it was war. The students demanded he open his locker, which he refused. He was subject to ridicule, embarrassment, and the occasional wedgie. He lost the election by a landslide.

I approached him after the election, and asked him why he hadn’t opened his locker. He looked at me, sighed and removed the lock and swung the door open. Inside was a picture of his Dad hugging him.

“He died in Afghanistan years ago; I didn’t want everyone to know I didn’t have a dad”

And I realized how stupid it was that he lost an election because he didn’t want to open his locker.
The internet loves to capitalize on some rather embarrassing policies of the Republican Party, specifically the Tea Party. Yes, a lot of rather humourous ideas come from that group, but a lot of even more ridiculous theories have come from the Occupy movement. I realize the lovefest for Obama, but truthfully the guy hasn’t done much in office that differentiates him from any other President. The Dodd-Frank laws are a regulatory mess, Obamacare caters to big Pharmaceuticals, and he has failed to adequately address the budget deficit and push through the taxation increases needed. Yes, I realize he has been stifled by a Republican congress, but honestly Obama hasn’t been that special.

Enter Mitt Romney. No one can deny the guy is a brain. He was great at his job, whether you agree or disagree with what his job entailed. Sure, his public speaking skills needs work (okay that may be the understatement of the century), he comes from a wealthy family, and he flip flops on issues a lot.

Why does he flip flop? Well, it’s because people force him too.  Romney instituted a similar health care system in Massachusetts that was used as the base of Obamacare, yet Romney has to cater to his voter base – the extreme right of the Republican party. Why can’t Romney issue a better tax plan? Well, according to Republicans raising the taxes on the rich is equivalent to declaring Jesus was a homosexual and endorsed gay marriage.

Romney needs to appeal to his voter base.

And let’s cut out the ridiculousness of Romney not releasing his tax returns. Who cares? Does this actually matter? Internet, you lambasted the right for demanding the birth certificate of Obama, but now you are demanding Romney release his tax records? Yeah, I know anyone who runs for President by tradition usually release them, but Romney isn’t. Who cares? All those tax records will do is create more arguments of stupidity that are completely unrelated to the actual debate that should be occurring – which leader has better ideas on national security, American debt, reacting to the Euro crisis, or ensuring Iran doesn’t block of the Strait of Hormuz.

Internet, if you think you’re smarter than the typical voter, stop attacking Romney on trivial matters – who cares he won’t open the anecdotal locker. Let’s stop the one sided attack of the Republican Party, the Democrats surely have done similar dirty tactics (both parties are funded by the same freaking people). It just makes this election more painful to watch.

Let us, for once, have an actual educated debate about the issues that matter. This may be too large of a wish, but like Obama’s 2008 campaign, I believe in change, not more of the same. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Equalization without Discrimination

Politically, equalization payments have been an interesting topic ever since the system has been implemented.  At both the federal and provincial level, the topic has been debated since inception, and is often seen in opinion articles throughout media outlets. The purpose of the equalization program is to provide a similar level of social services across Canada, including education and social assistance. This ensures Canadians are treated equally nationwide as theoretically the same level quality of service should be granted in all provinces. Equal treatment of all Canadian citizens should lower rivalry between provinces, and assist against high differentiation levels of quality of living between Canadian citizens.  Additionally, with regional fiscal disparities countered, this should lower the temptation of citizens to migrate to another province to search for a better life, and instead contribute to their home province. Lastly, the province of Quebec historically has a higher interest in social programs, and thus equalization payments assist in quelling the motivation of separatism. Overall, equalization payments are systematically unifying Canadian citizens allowing for equal treatment regardless of geographical location.

Equalization payments began in 1957 as a method to ensure that all provinces had similar social programs that were acceptable, ensuring equality among the provinces as the program’s title suggests. With different resources and populations in each province, it is expected that some provinces will have stronger economies than others, thus allowing for more taxation revenue and a different level of service to be delivered from provincial governments. The provinces that have stronger economies that contribute to the equalization program are colloquially defined as have provinces while provinces who receive from the program are known as have-not provinces. Quebec is by far the largest receiver of equalization payments, with $8.5 billion transferred to the French speaking province in 2010/2011. The major contributors through throughout the program’s history have been Ontario with their commercial and manufacturing economy and Alberta with their oil revenues. However, in 2009 Ontario qualified as a have-not province while Newfoundland and Labrador ceased to qualify as a have-not province.

Throughout the equalization payment system’s history, there have been multiple changes in the calculation method. In 2007, the equalization program was reformed based on the recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Equalization, or the O’Brien Report. The report recommended increasing funding to the equalization program by $900 million annually, more transparency, reject deals that favour provinces, and include all 10 provinces in the calculation of the national standard. Currently, the formula to calculate equalization payments is based on comparing provincial revenues and estimating fiscal capacity of each province in five different categories.These categories are personal income taxes, business income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and natural resource revenues. After this data is gathered, the per capita amount is calculated in each category and each province is compared categorically to the average of the 10 provinces to decide who receives equalization payments.

By using an average of 10 provinces in five distinct revenue sources, the government objectively has made a large contribution to enable that Canadians are granted the same quality of service from West to East coast. However, the program has faced controversy as the have provinces often criticize equalization payments for its unfairness, while the have not demand more financial support. Additionally, some analysts have correlated equalization payments to the Atlantic region`s slow economic growth, attributing reliance on the payments as a reason for provincial governments not to encourage economic activity. This is because the higher the growth of the economy, the higher the revenue in forms of taxation the province receives, which leads to lower equalization payments. However, the federal government has recognized the lack of incentive and addressed it with special programs such as the Atlantic Accords, which allows for a delay period between the lessening of equalization payments while other sources of revenue such as resources are being developed. As a result of the adoption of fair policies for the equalization program, all provincial governments should have the correct amount of financial resources to provide their population with the same quality of service across Canada.

Quality of service should be equal in education and health care across Canada. However, according to Heather Smith, president of United Nurses of Alberta, the shortage of nurses in Alberta has reached around 1400 due to cuts in post-secondary programs. Estimations suggest that in the next 20 years, 75% of all jobs will require post secondary training.This statistic is troubling, and reveals the value in governmental subsidization in post-secondary education. Equalization payments can help stem the education cuts that have occurred in provinces such as British Colombia, and ensure that provinces have the correct tools to adequately accommodate correct training of their workforce to contribute and succeed in the world economy.

With different economies across Canada, and different median rates, Canadians have different levels of income that differentiating provincially. In 2001, Ontario and Alberta led the way with the highest income per capita rates while Newfoundland and PEI had the lowest. Interestingly, Quebec was at the average, even though they receive by far the highest amount of financial support from the equalization payment program. These statistics reveal that some provincial economies provide more opportunity and higher levels of income than others. Recognizing this, the Canada Health Act ensures that Ottawa assists in health funding provided that the administration is public, healthcare is accessible and portable, universality, and comprehensive. This is one social program that reveals the federal government’s intentions of ensuring that all Canadians are provided with equal governmental support.

However, some provinces have begun to cut health care expenditures due to looming deficits that threaten the province’s future. For example, Ontario has seen health care spending decline from 50% of the budget in 1981 to 34% of the budget currently.Some have suggested that efficiency and process changes can be made, but as Ontario has become a have not province they will need federal support to continue a strong level of health care service. To ensure that all provinces provide similar health care service to all Canadians, the equalization payment system gives provinces some latitude in healthcare.

The concept of brain drain has been discussed internationally. Basically, it is the concept that if a nation does not provide opportunity for their most intelligent or ambitious citizens, they will migrate to another location that does.  Similarly, this concept can be applied on a provincial level within Canada. Exemplifying this is British Colombia, which has seen an increasing migrant outflow with its higher cost of living than other provinces. Most of the British Colombian talent has settled in Alberta, where the economic activity is far greater as oil exploration drives opportunity for entrepreneurs. Problematically, engineers or other skilled tradespeople are needed in British Colombia for economic growth, but according to the Director of Research and Learning with BC Human Resources Management Association someone can simply “fly in and fly out from Alberta and make a lot more money [relative to the cost of living].”

The problem of brain drain affects most provinces who are economically lower contributors to national GDP than other provinces, as Newfoundland and Labrador have also suffered from brain drain in 2008.New resource projects in the Atlantic region have assisted in lowering the migration, but the problem still exists as younger talent who are mobile seek better opportunity and higher quality of life in provinces such as Alberta or Ontario. Equalization payments can help solve this problem as they grant provincial governments additional tools to entice talent and skilled trades to stay in their home province by providing programs which can create opportunity. Programs such as offering post-secondary graduates tuition/tax rebates have been created in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Nova Scotia has sent out representatives of provincial industries armed with incentives to attempt to persuade migrants to move back home.With the assistance of equalization programs, provincial governments are given the tools to fight brain drain and retain the talent necessary for bolstering economic growth.

Some critics have suggested that provinces given equalization tools will not use the funds to bolster the economy. With provinces being given the tools in the form of additional funds through equalization payments to fight brain drain in terms of education and talent migration, it is more likely a province will eventually not require equalization payments. Saskatchewan has gone from being a have not province to a have province, while Newfoundland and Labrador have joined them. While ensuring a steady budget, the provinces have made economic gains in terms of natural gas exploration. It is difficult to say that without equalization payments, the talent that has explored and harvested these resources to add to the provinces wealth, would have stayed within the province. Obviously, some outside help has been granted, but with examples such as Saskatchewan it is very hard to suggest that equalization payments are an addiction that prevents governments from pushing economic growth.

Additionally, critics have long accused Quebec of taking far too much federal assistance in proportion to other provinces. Agreeably, Quebec does take the highest percentage of equalization payments with $7.4 billion in 2012. Some economists such as Yourri Chassin from the Montreal Economic Institute have stated that there is little incentive for Quebec to develop their economy as they receive so much from the federal government. This is arguable, as Newfoundland and Saskatchewan have pulled out of their have not status by developing their economy. A better argument in favour of Quebec receiving equalization payments can be made by looking at their past. Historically, Quebec’s Roman Catholic inspired society has had a government providing extensive social services involving a larger government. These services include the lowest tuition rates in Canada, and $7 a day daycare. Although Quebec’s taxation rate remains higher than all the other provinces, the government has had difficulty meeting their budget as they try to preserve their culture. Laws such as the French Language Charter are enforced to protect the Quebec culture, or distinct society, but often deter business.  Quebec has a different culture than the rest of Canada, and that culture is often protected at a certain financial expense.

With two referendums in Quebec and the continual threat of separation, it is reasonable to argue that equalization payments have kept Quebec within confederation and prevented secession. Without equalization payments, the Quebec government would face a larger budget deficit, and a much more difficult time in providing the same type of service that Quebeckers have grown accustomed to. It is interesting to note that Quebec on a per capita basis actually receives the second less amount of equalization payments, with PEI being the highest. Ensuring Quebec receives some support from the confederation to continue their distinct society is crucial to ensure that separation does not occur.

Equalization payments have often been criticized across Canada. However, often the criticisms are based on misconceptions surrounding the payment system. The largest misconception is that Alberta and the other have provinces fund the have-not provinces. During the Alberta election, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith criticized the equalization payment immensely stating specifically that Quebec benefits at Alberta’s expense. Ms. Smith is incorrect, equalization payments are paid directly from the federal government’s coffers, and is not a directly transferred from another province. The federal government collects taxes their income from a wide variety of sources such as GST, federal portion of gas, or other federal portions of taxation. If the equalization payment was ended, this would not affect the amount collected from each province, it would simply end the payments received by have not provinces. Additionally, the federal government collects revenue from all Canadian sources equally, and does not receive specific payments from provincial governments based on economic growth. Basically, the equalization payment program is not a direct financial transfer from province to province, more so financial assistance from the federal government with revenue it collects with or without the equalization program.

Although the preceding argument is probably the largest criticism, some falsely state that the equalization program allows for have-not provinces to charge lower tax rates in their province. This is simply not true, as Quebec has one of the highest tax rates compared to Alberta which has one of the lowest. Others argue that provinces should raise taxes themselves in order to fund their own governments. Unfortunately, provinces all were not given equal resources. PEI’s population of around 146 000 does not have the manpower nor the resources of a province like Alberta to fund their social programs. Raising taxes would most likely impair PEI’s economy further with today’s highly competitive international market. As a result, federal assistance is necessary to ensure that all Canadians have similar social services.

Equalization payments allow Canadians to be treated relatively equally nationwide in terms of social assistance indifferent of the economic provincial condition. The main objection of the equalization payment system is to provide all Canadians with the same level of social services from the East to West coast without discrimination. Hypothetically, this program should ensure that Canadians are treated equally across the confederation. Equality among provinces should lower provincial rivalry and differentiation in national living standards, thus lowering provincial migration or brain drain. Additionally, equalization payments most likely have played a part in the prevention of Quebec secession and successful stifling of the separation movement. Equalization payments will always be a continual topic of discussion and critique; however the general idea promotes equality among Canadians regardless of the province which promotes unification.