The Ruling Class

August 30th, 2015


Many have suggested that the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both result from a dissatisfaction with the status quo. I think a key component of this dissatisfaction is due to the feeling that there is a ruling class and the common man has little say.


Part of this feeling is the loosening of restrictions on campaign contributions. A $50 donation doesn’t seem very meaningful if someone else is giving millions. Much of it comes from the nature of the candidates themselves. Our last four presidents all have college degrees from elite eastern universities. Bush 41 is a Yale grad. Clinton graduated from George Washington University and Yale. Bush 43 has degrees from Yale and Harvard. Obama graduated from Columbia and Harvard.


This partly explains why the supposed front runners have had trouble. Hillary Clinton went to Wellesley and Yale. Jeb Bush went to Texas but his family has ties to Yale going back to his great-great grandfather.


Obviously class determination is more complicated than just background. The three Republican outsiders (Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump) have degrees from Yale, MIT and Penn. Joe Biden entered the Senate when Barack Obama was 11 yet is seen as more of an outsider.


I expect both Trump and Sanders to fall by the wayside but, to be successful, the eventual winner should show that they have the brains and talent to be president but do not come from the ruling class. In my opinion, the one candidate that best meets these criteria is Marco Rubio.  


Over the Top

August 28th, 2015


Any political candidate ought to have enough common sense not to compare their opponent to Hitler or a terrorist. Hillary Clinton seems to think it is perfectly acceptable. Yesterday she was talking about the controversy over Planned Parenthood and said compared Republican views to those of terrorist groups.


I have several problems with her comments. First of all, it is way over the top. Politics can be a rough game but comments like that just add to the widening divide we are facing.


Secondly, it is entirely unfair. Republicans are merely proposing to shift funds from Planned Parenthood to other organizations providing health care to women. Whether or not you agree with it, it clearly doesn’t equate to terroristic views.


Finally, it was politically stupid. While the base might like it, many will be turned off. Trying to make the so-called “War on Women” the key to success doesn’t work. Ask Mark Udall. He pushed the issue so hard that some called him Senator Uterus. He is now out of office.


The Clinton campaign has a number of serious issues to overcome. Outbursts like this don’t do them any good.


Birthright Citizenship

August 25th, 2015


Recently Donald Trump issued his recommendations on illegal immigration. Now other candidates are trying to show they are as nutty as he is. Ben Carson is attempting to out-Trump Trump. He proposed launching drone strikes. He claims they would be aimed at caves, not people. He didn’t explain how the drones would detect the caves or carry enough explosives to destroy them.


One of the more controversial suggestions is to end birthright citizenship for children of illegals. A number of candidates are joining him. Some are proposing a constitutional amendment while others think they can get around the 14th Amendment. For a while Scott Walker seemed to change his mind every time he opened his mouth.


The idea of a constitutional amendment is ridiculous. There is no way it would ever get the necessary votes. The first sentence of the 14th Amendment reads “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside”. They think they can take the jurisdiction phrase, which applies to foreign diplomats, and apply it to illegal aliens. I find it interesting that people who claim they are strict constructionists now are anxious to find a loophole.


With Hillary Clinton in trouble, a Republican win seems more likely. Some GOP candidates are now hurting their party’s chance at winning the election.


Soak the Rich

August 23rd, 2015


Last time I attacked the Republican flat tax. Now I’m after the Democrats.


The personal income tax is the workhorse of the federal budget. It pays the bulk of the cost for all the government services we want. Right now 43% of households don’t pay a penny and the top 1% pay more than the bottom 80%. I believe in a progressive tax. However, I think that all but the poorest Americans should pay something.


But this is just the beginning. Many want a liberal utopia with a small percentage of the population picking up the tab. Hillary Clinton wants them to pay $350 billion for her education plan. Robert Reich wants a 100% tax bracket. That doesn’t sound very fair to me.


Beyond fairness, I have some practical objections. Narrowing the tax base can be dangerous. In the midst of the tech boom 200 people paid 20% of California’s taxes. It is questionable strategy to depend so heavily on those who you wish to harm through laws and regulations. My biggest objection is it leads to misallocation of capital. Any time the tax rate is 50%, earning a dollar or trying to save 50 cents in taxes is equally worthwhile. That leads to investments that don’t grow the economy or create jobs but look good on the 1099.


I believe there is a group out there that so hates business and the rich that they want to destroy the free enterprise system. The only difference with Bernie Sanders is that he is willing to admit he is a socialist.  


Soak the Poor

August 19th, 2015


Some Republicans, including a few presidential candidates, want to scrap the progressive income tax. Their idea is the flat tax. Some also call it the fair tax. Everyone would pay the same rate. Some versions call for no tax on capital gains which means the poor would pay a higher rate.


In a recent interview Ben Carson called progressive tax rates socialism. I guess neither he nor DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz understand socialism. The idea that Warren Buffett should pay a higher rate than a single mother working as a waitress is just common sense. 


We are seeing a widening gap between rich and poor. It is ludicrous to think that the poor should subsidize a tax break for the rich. If this crackpot idea is adopted into the Republican platform, a Democrat will surely be our next president.