Category Archives: Taxation

Republican Party Platform (Part 2 of ?)

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Building the Future

Technology

There’s not much controversial here. The key here seems to be private-public partnerships, which are fine–if they work. Unfortunately, when it comes to broadband internet, the private players, pardon my language, suck. EPB here want to expand to the rural areas around Chattanooga, but Republican state legislators are blocking the move while Comcast and AT&T do nothing. Similarly, I agree that we are improving private launch capabilities for space research, but NASA needs adequate funding, which the GOP is unwilling to give.

America’s Electric Grid

“We support expedited siting processes and the thoughtful expansion of the grid so that consumers and businesses continue to have access to affordable and reliable electricity.”

I am pretty sure “expedited siting processes” is doublespeak for “weakened environmental regulations.” I don’t have a problem with streamlining the approval processes, as long as appropriate safeguards are in place. But the party of Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon–our two best environmental presidents–doesn’t particularly care about the environment.

Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Toward a Start-up Century

Once again we see talk of reducing regulatory burden when what we really need is to reduce the paperwork burden. The GOP wants to “consider the effect of capital gains rates,” but we all know that the GOP ideal would be to eliminate capital gains taxes.

What gets me here though is the mention of “National Labs, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and elements of the Defense Department” as “incubators of unconventional thinking.” So fund them. Democrats won’t argue.

The Federal Reserve

 

RonPaul

More transparency in the Federal Reserve System is probably a good thing. I’m not sure that annual audits are necessary, but some regular audits would not be horrible. I cannot help but get a little twitchy when someone talks about going back to the gold standard, as this is typically conspiracy theorist fodder.

Workplace Freedom for a Twenty-First Century Workforce

Often, “workplace freedom” is doublespeak for “giving employers the freedom to treat employees like commodities instead of like people.” Having said that, there are things in U.S. labor law that need reform. The Project Labor Agreements the GOP opposes often require union workers on government construction contracts–but minority construction workers tend to be non-union, leaving them out in the cold.

I have notice a disturbing trend in U.S. business regarding employees, and it is filled with irony. The group responsible for employees within organizations was rebranded from “Personnel” to “Human Resources” and is currently undergoing a second rebranding from “Human Resources” to “Workforce Management.” In the literature, HR-types justify the change by saying personnel departments treated employees like tools and HR treats employees as assets, but I disagree. I think personnel departments treated employees like people. (I think workforce management is a shift from assets to commodities, reflecting the disposable nature of employees.)

Transparency in unions is important, but I can’t help thinking that the objective here is to further weaken unions. Donald Trump is anti-union in his own businesses, and the party platform reflects that. I think many technology workers, for example, need union protection, as often their working conditions are borderline abusive, and they are under the constant threat of being replaced by imported H-1B workers.

If Republicans wanted true workplace freedom, they would move away from employer-provided health care and toward a single-payer system. One immediate benefit of this is that it would give parents to work part-time schedules while raising their children without fear of losing benefits or seniority–which should help reduce the wage gap. For many families, a forty-hour work week doesn’t make sense, and there is evidence that shorter work weeks make employees healthier, happier, and more productive. As pro-family as the Republicans claim to be, giving people the freedom to spend more time with their children would go a long way.

Having said all this, the actual policy recommendations in this section are pretty reasonable. As with anything, the devil is in the details.

The Federal Workforce

(There’s that word!)

“Federal employees receive extraordinary pension benefits and vacation time wildly out of line with those of the private sector.”

The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. The average U.S. private sector worker gets 16 paid days off–vacation days and holidays–per year. Every EU country has a legal minimum of four weeks paid vacation, not including holidays, which is what full-time federal employees get after three years of service. So, on vacation time, the federal government is in line with the rest of the world. To me, that indicates that we should pass legislation to bring the private sector into line with the federal government, and not the other way around.

As far as pension benefits go, I wouldn’t have any problem with transitioning federal pension plans toward 401(k)-type retirement plans, provided they included matching similar to what good private employers offer.

The big picture, though, is that I think much of this section is just spiteful. Most federal employees tend to vote Democratic, so slapping them around would make Republicans feel good.

We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government

This is largely a propaganda section. I’m sure I’ll address most of the problems with this as the specific issues arise further in the document.

The Judiciary

The GOP wants a Supreme Court that will overturn decisions like Roe v. Wade (abortion), Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage), and the various decisions that kept Obamacare in place. Of course they do.

Administrative Law

The platform sees a problem with executive branch workers creating rules instead of Congress. Raise your hand if you think Donald Trump wouldn’t rule by decree. George W. Bush wrote more executive orders than Obama has (Obama will probably end with slightly fewer at the end of his term), but Republicans weren’t complaining then.

The First Amendment

Religious Liberty

This section is mostly baseless fear mongering and a twisted interpretation of Amendment I’s religious liberty clause:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The Supreme Court has, on numerous occasions, interpreted this as meaning that government and government employees cannot endorse one set of religious beliefs over another. A religious school can require a teacher to belong to that school’s religion and to live according to its tenets, but it can’t require the same from the custodian, as teaching religion has nothing to do with the custodian’s job and thus would violate anti-discrimination laws. Public school teachers, coaches, and administrators cannot lead public prayers or allow school equipment, such as amplifiers, to be used for that purpose, but there is nothing that prevents students from doing this on their own–and there is no danger of any law passing that would prohibit this, and even if it did, it would be unconstitutional. 

I have no desire to restrict anyone’s ability to practice their religion, but I do think many people–like certain megachurch leaders–abuse the tax-free status of their institutions. Likewise, when a business like the new Ark Encounter discriminates in their hiring practices, they should not receive government tax credits.

The platform also condemns those who would boycott businesses that “support traditional marriage.” I strongly oppose anyone who threatens violence against said businesses, but a for-profit business is not a church, and as such is subject to state and federal civil rights legislation. Even if the business is not violating the law, there is no reason to compel someone to support business owners who disagree with their views or lifestyle. Frankly, if you’re going to conduct your business according to your perceived Christian values, post those values so people don’t waste their time and yours.

The platform supports the display of the Ten Commandments–which version?–in public places. There is nothing wrong with that, provided that members of all religions are allowed to equally display texts from their religions. The Constitution does not give Christianity a privileged place in American society.

The bottom line is this: You are free to practice your religion in any way that you want, but you are not allowed to do this while representing the government or with the use of government resources. The Constitution was written to guarantee equal treatment of beliefs, without interference from the government. The Republicans believe that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, despite John Adams’ explicit words to the contrary, and want to make it into one.

A Personal Note

As you may have guessed from the above, I am not a Christian. Depending on your definition, I am agnostic or atheist, based on where you choose to draw the line. I was baptized Catholic, but for various reasons–mostly my inability to believe in miracles–I don’t think I ever believed in the Christian God. I believe that Christianity can make some people much better, but I have seen warped versions of Christianity turn people into monsters. Most of my friends are Christian, including one preacher, and I respect–and sometimes envy–their faith. It would be better for me politically to either hide my lack of religion or pretend to be Christian, but I would rather be honest and true to myself than dishonest and loved.

The candidate in this race who emphasizes his Christianity the most is Rick Tyler. If you think that all Christians are better than all atheists, you really need to take a long look in the mirror.

Constitutionally Protected Speech

“Limits on political speech serve only to protect the powerful and insulate incumbent officeholders.”

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Charles Dharapak/AP/Corbis

OK…I’m back.

The GOP is opposed to overturning Citizens United because they benefit tremendously from it. Likewise, they would like churches to be able to engage in political activities, currently prohibited by their status as 501(c)(3) non-profits. Congress has repeatedly passed legislation–which courts have upheld–that prohibits campaigning by organizations that operate on a tax-free basis. If this restriction were not in place, it would certainly be abused by candidates and political parties.


That brings me to page 13 of the 58-page platform.

Tomorrow night I will be speaking to the Roane County Tea Party. I hope this meeting is better than the last one I attended.

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Republican Party Platform (Part 1 of ?)

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I got a copy of the draft 2016 Republican Party Platform. It’s subject to amendment through this morning, so I will compare to the finished product when it becomes available.

Restoring the American Dream

Rebuilding the Economy and Creating Jobs

This section is just statistics and criticism of Obama for the economy not performing as well as it usually does post-recession. No specific policies suggested, so there’s no real criticism here.

Fair and Simple Taxes for Growth and Jobs

“Our proposal is straightforward. Whenever taxes penalize thrift or discourage investment, they must be lowered. Whenever current provisions of the code are disincentives for economic growth, they must be changed.”

Again, few specifics in this section, but the second sentence has interesting ramifications. Theoretically, what we want for economic growth is economic activity. Thrift–especially by the wealthy–is harmful to the economy because spending money is what generates economic activity. If a corporation is thrifty by maintaining high profits while paying large portions of its workforce wages at or near the minimum wage, this is a thrift that should be penalized. If your idea of investment is to buy real estate and invest the bare minimum to make the property available for rent, this is not positive economic activity. We should encourage investment in companies that improve the world while discouraging investment in companies that prey on the public. Not all investment is good.

Fundamental Tax Principles

A few things here worth mentioning:

  1. Opposing “tax policies that deliberately divide Americans or promote class warfare.” No one likes taxes. The wealthy view paying increased taxes as class warfare, while the poor may look at those same policies as improving equity. The current cap on Social Security contributions is seen as fair by the wealthy–as there’s a limit on what they can get from the system–but it’s seen as punishing the poor by taxing a higher percentage of their income.
  2. Maintaining the tax-free status of religious organizations. I think there should be a difference between money donated to and spent by a religious organization for the purpose of religion and money donated to and spent by a religious organization for charity. A megachurch pastor shouldn’t get his home and income tax-free. If your church endorses specific candidates for public office, that’s not religion, that’s politics, and it should be taxed accordingly.
  3. Calling for a value added tax or national sales tax with the simultaneous repeal of Amendment XVI (the amendment that authorized the income tax). I’m not opposed to a national sales tax in principle, but I think it should be phased in as the income tax is phased out. An immediate switch could be catastrophic for the economy. I also think we need to be very careful about how we implement a sales tax. If it shifts the burden of taxation to the poor, there’s a problem.

American Competitiveness in the Global Economy

This section is criminally misleading. Yes, the U.S. has the highest (or one of the highest, depending on your source) corporate tax rates in the world. If that rate was what corporations actually paid, this would be a problem. But it’s not.

According to The Congressional Research Service, the effective corporate tax rate is comparable to that of other OECD countries, once standard deductions are included. If you compare the tax rates weighted for GDP, the U.S. tax rate is 27.1% and the rest of the OECD is 27.7%. Office of Management and Budget figures show the percent of taxes paid by U.S. corporations is 10%, compared to 32% in 1952. Corporate tax deductions need to be reworked to reward producers and penalize leeches. I’m not sure the GOP knows the difference.

International Trade

“We need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first.”

Trade agreements are not a zero-sum game. It is rarely a case of one country winning and another losing. More often it is a case of boosting already strong sectors of the U.S. economy while sacrificing sectors that are struggling. There are problems with the way the U.S. negotiates trade agreements, because once government negotiators get enough experience to be effective they are poached by the private sector, but I don’t see the Republicans addressing that problem.

The call for China to stop excluding “U.S. products from government purchases” is hilarious in its naïvete. The bargaining chip there is ridiculously simple: Open U.S. contracts to Chinese products. Because far more industry in China is state-owned than in the U.S., we would be opening far less competition here than China would be opening there. But, of course, China’s negotiators are probably too smart to let that go as an even trade. Regardless, complaining about another country doing the same thing we do is a bit silly.

Restoring Financial Markets

Dodd-Frank wasn’t perfect, but it did introduce much-needed regulation into portions of the financial industry that were neglected–and which, contrary to what the platform says, contributed heavily to the 2008 recession. The GOP is correct when it says Dodd-Frank imposed a heavy regulatory burden on small banks, inadvertently allowing large banks to grow faster as they could more easily absorb that burden. One of the largest problems in government overall is the tendency to add new regulatory paperwork requirements while it never goes back to old requirements to reduce or eliminate obsolete or redundant paperwork.

The bulk of this section is a rant against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As with Dodd-Frank–and Obamacare, and untold other government entities–the default method of fixing something for the Republicans is to eliminate it and start over. Sometimes, yes, things are so bad that you just need to get rid of it and begin anew, but most of the time the problem is something you can fix. You don’t get rid of your car just because it needs a new oil filter.

Rebuilding Home Ownership and Rental Opportunities

The GOP, once again, blames the government rather than private lenders for the housing crisis that caused the 2008 recession. As a result, the GOP wants to roll back environmental regulations on home purchases and eliminate lending requirements based on race for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and federally-insured banks. I am fairly confident that the U.S. has not reached a level playing field for mortgage lending, so removing race-based quotas is premature. I could see removing the quotas on a case-by-case basis, if an institution has shown a pattern of compliance over a significant period. Environmental regulations may need to be updated and streamlined, but older homes still have lead-based paint, and the government is usually the only defense against other environmental contaminants.

Finally, the GOP wants to make sure that zoning decisions are made at the local level. Too often, zoning is used for gentrification purposes, at the expense of established minority neighborhoods. It sometimes seems like zoning officials get their marching orders from Rick Tyler.

America on the Move: Transportation

There are several policy recommendations in this section. First, the GOP wants to remove non-highway-related programs from being funded by the Highway Trust Fund, including mass transit, bike-share programs, sidewalks, and scenic byways: “These worthwhile enterprises should be funded through other sources.” If I had any confidence that these would be funded through other sources, I would wholeheartedly approve this initiative. However, state and local governments–especially Republican-controlled governments–are almost universally hostile to the idea of funding mass-transit or urban transportation programs, like bike-share and sidewalks. I think on this issue, what the Republicans criticize for “coerc(ing) people out of their cars,” is actually a pretty good thing. We should encourage people to live near their jobs and encourage companies to allow as many employees as possible to work from home.

Again, the GOP wants to lower environmental protections, this time in the National Environmental Policy Act–ironically, signed into law by Richard Nixon. They want to get rid of worker protections, namely the Davis-Bacon Act, which require government contracts to pay workers the prevailing wage in an area. The GOP also opposes an increase in the federal gas tax, which is problematic, since the tax is set at 18.4 cents per gallon instead of being set as a percent rate. As a result, since the tax has not increased since 1993, when accounting for inflation the tax should be about 30 cents per gallon. This tax should be converted to a percent rate.

Finally, the GOP wants to encourage private investment in rail and high-speed rail transportation. I’m skeptical on this point, as I am not sure the infrastructure investment is something that can be handled privately, especially with the right-of-way purchases required. The start of the California high-speed rail system is a comedy of errors, especially starting in the middle instead of at either end toward the outer suburbs where people already commute, but I don’t think removing federal funding is necessarily the answer.


Five pages down, fifty-three to go. Not sure how many sections overall. Tomorrow, I will take a break to do my candidate analysis for the August primary.

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Democratic Party Platform – 2016 Draft (Part 1 of 6)

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The Democratic Party released a draft of their 2016 platform on July 1. It is subdivided into 13 sections. Here’s what I think about the first two (If I passed over an issue, I agree with it, or, at least, have no significant quarrel with it):

Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class

Minimum Wage

The platform supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and indexing it–making it rise with inflation.

I think this makes sense. I think it may need to be phased in and there might be some room for exceptions for workers under age 18 living at home–to avoid job loss for these workers. Overall, though, it’s a solid position.

Labor

The Democratic Platform unequivocally supports unions.

Unions were a significant contributing factor to the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, and the corresponding loss of power made sense. However, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Employers have seized power, and current laws have helped them do so.

I like most of the platform in this area, with two minor exceptions:

  1. I’m not sure I like mandatory union dues. We have seen corrupt unions in the past, and one way to fight corruption is to allow workers to not pay dues. Yes, I know that union members can vote out leaders they don’t like, but that isn’t always effective. If workers feel like they are getting a good return on investment, they’ll pay dues.
  2. I understand why the Democratic Party wants to allow voluntary membership payments to be used for political purposes, but I would be happier if this died–as long as Citizens United is overturned and corporate political contributions are also curtailed.

Equal Pay, Paid Leave, and Caregiving

The United States is not the only country without paid maternity leave. Papua New Guinea also doesn’t offer it.

Every other country has paid maternity leave.

We need to fix this. If anything, the Democratic Party Platform doesn’t go far enough.

Housing

I’m not entirely happy with the interventionist approach in the platform. I’m not necessarily opposed to the ideas in the platform, but it seems to me like the solutions may actually lead to an increase in real estate values–and costs–by creating an artificial government-supported floor in rents. However, I will freely admit that this is not an area where I have put much research.

Social Security

I agree with the platform’s desire to tax Americans with incomes over $250,000 to properly fund the Social Security Trust Fund. I am not sure why they don’t want to tax incomes between the current limit of $118,500 and $250,000. (Could that be where the salary of Members of Congress lies?) Realistically, the cap should be eliminated entirely.

The platform is also adhering to the AARP directive not to raise the retirement age. When Social Security started, the life expectancy for Americans was 62. Now it’s 79. I think we would be better off allowing Americans to take partial Social Security if they wanted to work part-time, giving them the opportunity to remain active in a job they enjoy while not penalizing them for doing so. In the grand scheme of things, I would not be opposed to indexing the retirement age to the average life expectancy.

Create Good-Paying Jobs

Infrastructure

The platform understands the importance of infrastructure investment, but misses what is perhaps the best selling point: return on investment.

Transportation projects vary wildly in their returns on investment, with some projects, frankly, being bad investments. Building new roads has a significantly lower return than repairing existing roads, for example. However, sewer and water projects are almost always good investments, with one study indicating a $2.03 return in tax revenue for every dollar spent. I think we need to prioritize investment based on expected return, so that, in effect, early projects fund later ones.

I hope the commitment to high-speed internet isn’t just lip service, but I’m cynical. The cable and telecom companies managed to shut down EPB’s expansion here via government intervention.

Manufacturing

Yawn.

The only specific policy in this section is to “claw back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”

You can do better.

Research, Science, and Technology

I would have liked to have seen a specific NASA call-out here. I like that they specifically endorse net neutrality. However…

Democrats value American innovation and believe it is one of our country’s great strengths. We will protect the intellectual property rights of artists, creators, and inventors at home and abroad. The entire nation prospers when we promote the unique and original artistic and cultural contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation’s heritage.

Democrats will fight against unfair theft of intellectual property and trade secrets. We will also increase access to global markets for American intellectual property and other digital trade by opposing quotas, discriminatory measures, and data localization requirements.

This sounds really good, but part of it isn’t. When the first copyright laws were enacted in the U.S., the term was fourteen years, plus an additional fourteen if the creator was alive to renew it. Now the term is seventy years after the death of the creator, or ninety-five years for a work for hire. This length of time is extreme, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty would make that length standard throughout the treaty signatories. Creative works need to enter the public domain in a more reasonable period. I recall reading a suggestion that called for shorter renewal periods–like five to ten years–but for a minimal fee. If the creator or the creator’s estate didn’t renew or didn’t feel the work was worth renewing, the work would enter the public domain. Probably 95% of creative works don’t make any money after five years of their publication, so we could see a huge boon in works available for adaptation or production. Instead, we have a country where almost everything published after 1923 is still under copyright.

Fixing our Financial System

Theoretically, this part is pretty good. It is very confrontational though: It would be nice if there were some middle ground here where cooperation with Republicans could achieve something. Breaking up the “too big to fail” institutions and committing to putting individuals in jail for financial crimes is refreshing, but I think it’s all talk and no bite. The weaselly sentence, “We acknowledge that there is room within our party for a diversity of views on a broader financial transactions tax,” does concern me, as it makes clear that there are some in the party who want to keep the status quo.

Stopping Corporate Concentration

Antitrust regulation is mostly ineffective, with the notable recent exceptions of Comcast/Time-Warner and AT&T/T-Mobile. The Democrats want to strengthen antitrust legislation and enforcement, which is critical to reducing income inequality.

Taxes

I agree with what the Democrats want to do with taxes–I just question whether it’s politically feasible. I would like to see a focus on working with allies abroad at closing tax havens, rather than trying to solve the problem solely through legislation at home.

Trade

I think the Democratic platform is too protectionist, paying more attention to feelings than to facts. Of the twenty countries with whom the U.S. has free trade agreements, we have a trade surplus with sixteen. I agree that we need to include worker and environmental protection in free trade agreements to make sure that companies don’t move jobs overseas just to skirt U.S. laws. Most trade agreements cost some jobs while creating others, and lawmakers need to recognize that. I am happy with specifically calling out access to prescription drugs in this section, but the ambiguous statement about the TPP doesn’t please me.


Tomorrow, hopefully, I will address civil rights and voting rights.

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So, I’m running for Congress…

In Tennessee it is ridiculously easy to get on the ballot for federal offices. Essentially, I need twenty-five signatures from registered voters within Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District.

So, why exactly should you vote for me? Simple: I have ideas. Some of these ideas are good, some probably aren’t, but my ideas are ones that aren’t getting widespread attention. (Note: When I say “my” ideas, I’m not claiming that they are true original thoughts–although some may be. I’ll try to give credit where credit is due.) I’ll give details in future posts, but here are a few highlights.

Taxation

I don’t like the income tax, because I believe it does things completely backward. Income tax punishes people for earning money, when I believe people should be “punished” for spending money wastefully. This may sound similar to the Flat Tax various Tea Party and other groups support, but it really isn’t, because, while I propose a national sales tax, there is nothing “flat” about it.  I would like to have three levels of sales tax:

  1. For necessities like food staples, those items that are currently WIC-eligible; a reasonable housing and utilities allowance; work and school clothing; reasonable transportation costs; and similar items; the tax rate should be low or none.
  2. For items that aren’t necessities but which have some societal value, we would have a moderate tax rate. I would put things like books, computers, moderately-priced clothing, and non-luxury automobiles in this category. This tax rate would be around 10%.
  3. For luxury items, I would have a high tax rate, probably in the range of 35% to 50%. Now, by luxury items I don’t just mean yachts, sports cars, Jimmy Choo shoes, and first-class airfare. I include things like DVDs, video games, candy, soft drinks, movie tickets, and fast food meals. This level is not designed to punish the rich: It’s designed to punish those who spend their money on garbage instead of investing in themselves and their families.

This is just a brief summary–I want input from many others with expertise before trying to introduce it–but you get the general idea.

Immigration

First, note that the above tax plan works perfectly well for illegal immigrants, as they will be taxed on the products and services they buy, instead of dodging income tax. They will pay their fair share for the government services they use.

The current immigration system is broken in almost every way imaginable. Motivated individuals in impoverished areas or who live under oppressive regimes move to give themselves and their families a chance at better lives. Everyone living in the United States has ancestors who left their homeland in search of something better–yes, even the Indians crossed the Bering Strait to leave Asia. I don’t want to punish people for wanting a better life. Having said that, I do want to encourage people to follow simple rules to gain timely permission to immigrate to the United States. Right now, if a Mexican wants to legally move to the U.S., he cannot enter the lottery to obtain a green card. If he doesn’t have a family member already living here legally, his only choice is to sneak across the border and hope he doesn’t get caught. Furthermore, the same people screaming loudest about illegal immigrants “taking American jobs” are the same people complaining when a company opens a factory outside the U.S.–which would help encourage people to stay in their home countries.

What should we do?

  1. Simplify the immigration process to let more people of all national and educational backgrounds legally enter the country. Ideally, we would start this under better economic conditions, and throttle the admission process upward and downward depending on the current economic conditions. Theoretically, we could admit people to work in low unemployment areas while heavily restricting immigration to areas of high unemployment.
  2. Encourage microloans so women can start businesses in countries with strong pressures toward emigration. Some of this might be done with federal aid seed money, but much can be done through private means.
  3. Target foreign aid toward the education of girls. Uneducated women have far more children than those who are educated, so if we want to solve the immigration problem in the future, we need to do our best to make sure that women aren’t having more children than they can afford.

The current proposals, such as stronger immigration enforcement and building border fences, are only bandages. They don’t address the real problem of income inequality. By encouraging the most motivated individuals to come to the U.S. while providing economic opportunities for them at home, we can fix the long-term problem.

Gay Marriage

My solution to the problem of gay marriage is simple: Take government out of the marriage business. Marriage is mostly a religious institution, so if your church doesn’t want to allow same-sex marriages, it shouldn’t have to perform them. If someone else’s church feels that they should sanction such relationships, they should be allowed to do so. If marriage is no longer a factor in income taxes, then most government functions involving marriage can be handled through other legal documents, such as powers-of-attorney and wills.

Tomorrow I will address some other hot button issues, but if you have any suggested topics, please feel free to make comments.

Topher

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