My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race
Socialism and My Final Conclusions
By the way, I fairly recently watched the first Democratic debate on television. Most of this blog was written before the debate. With a very few exceptions, it’s clear from this “group” of democratic candidates that we’re headed as fast as we can toward a socialist government. Because of this debate and for my own benefit and maybe yours, I did some (non-exhaustive) research on socialism, primarily in Europe.
I’m not an expert but I’m working on it. In my view, socialistic, mostly European, countries are not economic miracles, with the slight, temporary exception of Finland.
Sweden. The income tax in Sweden is 57% but can actually go up to 100% if you’re a property owner, like a rancher or businessman. Sweden also has a huge national debt. It is being said that because of Sweden’s declining oil revenues and alarming Islamic immigration, the welfare system will collapse. It is also widely written (I’ve read some European on-line sources)that the increasing popularity and dependence of the Swedish population on a social security culture (just what it says, not our Social Security system) is eroding a culture of individualism, a strong work ethic, a virtual 100% Protestant population, and self-reliance. This erosion will certainly cause the welfare state to collapse. It’s funny, isn’t it, that Sweden, like most of Europe, can handle adversity but can’t handle diversity?
My research indicates that Sweden is edging closer to being a country that assumes the state knows best and will increasingly block free enterprise. Sweden, like much of Western Europe, enjoyed the fruits of capitalism following the end of WWII. European states, like Sweden, were successful countries. A buildup of the welfare state such as we see today, however, has gradually changed Sweden’s cultural identity. It seems that a natural human tendency to rely on someone else doing things for them is taking over. I am particularly speaking about Scandinavian countries because I’ve done some research on them. I think, however, that all of Western Europe is headed this way or has already arrived. Look at Greece, who hasn’t come up with anything in 5000 years except a salad.
Norway – Norway’s individual income tax rate is about 48% but other taxes include a VAT (25%) plus a tax on net wealth and environmental taxes. I admire Norway’s long range national plans to change their economy from oil-based to other forms of income. They’re taking the long view. However, Norway is also succumbing to both the siren song of the welfare state and the burden of Islamic immigration, bringing in cultures that are totally alien to the successful economies that grew in the post-WWII period (see Sweden above). A large influx of immigrants will overcome the welfare state and the culture. Norway’s only hope is what a retired Norwegian general once told me: “Bob, cold is our friend. No one else can live and fight here.”
Denmark – Another prominent socialist country is Denmark (one of the highest income tax rates in the world (56%), lots of very small businesses). I recently read an article in Business Insider called: Free Universities and No Student Loan Debt is Hurting Denmark’s Economy. To extract a quote from the article: “…it’s become a free lunch that’s giving indigestion to Scandinavia’s already weakest economy.” I’ll summarize other thoughts in the article that illustrate what many in the U.S. fear is coming to pass here. Danish students are studying to become saxophone players, for example, where courses are free and they are receiving about $1100 a month stipends. Universities have top-heavy enrollment in arts and humanities studies. A poster-boy in Denmark, known as “lazy Robert”, is now 45 years old and studying social sciences, philosophy and Chinese. He states that he prefers living off social benefits rather than taking a job he doesn’t find “meaningful”. Danish industry is attempting to make science and engineering courses more attractive but it’s not working. Is this what Bernie is pointing to and admiring? Bernie, Bernie!
One of my favorite stories about Denmark is that they have the highest amount of wind-powered electrical generation in the world. But, you know how many nuclear and fossil fuel generators they have been able to shut down? None. When the wind stops blowing, they have to have all these other generators running. Maybe we should understand this. Do we all understand that the technology to store large amounts of electricity doesn’t exist?
Finland – They have free education, are egalitarian, have a 100% literacy rate and a 51% income tax rate. The typical high end job is woodcutter (I made that one up). Let’s all go live in Finland. Except the collapse of the timber industry and Nokia have Finland’s future beginning to look like Sweden. Timber and pulp production have moved abroad. Microsoft, who bought Nokia, has now abandoned Finland. Now people in Finland are saying that early retirement should end and maternity support is too generous (gulp!). It was not entirely Finland’s fault, but they weren’t prepared for the future and globalization.
Canada – A socialist country and not a bad place to live but their free medical care system is beginning to fail and you’d better live in a big city if you want government benefits. Income tax differs in the provinces but typically is graduated from 15% to about 30% depending on income. It’s hard to equate Canada to the U.S. because of the huge difference in population. Canada’s latest election put Justin Trudeau in office. It seems he has planned a $10 billion deficit spending stimulus but most people ask what effect this would have on Canada’s $2 trillion economy.
Belgium – their social security welfare system causes much of the country’s budget deficit and is beginning to be a burden. Income tax rate is graduated from 25% to 50%. Belgium is trying to come out of the recession and is looking at VAT, environmental and consumption taxes to help. Belgium’s debt is expected to reach 107% of GDP in 2016. This is in the stratosphere. Arlyne and I traveled to Belgium. It’s not a bad country, particularly when the government supplies old school buses around the city where drug users can get free drugs and smoke or inject them. They just stay in the bus until they can navigate to where they live. Policies like this and Islamization may well overwhelm Belgium as well. I don’t think the country can sustain itself for the next generation.
New Zealand – Officially a free market country now but their welfare system offers support for housing, health care, unemployment, child care, and education. Income tax rate is graduated from 10.5% to 33%. It’s considered a poor country. I lived there for a year and I believe much of the welfare money goes to the native Maori people, but I’m not sure. According to what I’ve read, NZ elected a center-right government in the 80’s that reduced taxes and reduced the size of government. It has a robust geothermal power industry, great tourism and huge farming industry. I wish I had gone to live there when I was in my 30’s or 40’s. The saying around New Zealand is that terrorists come here on vacation.
China – The government manages and controls the economy. Many companies are owned and run by the government. Income tax rate varies from 3% to 45% but it’s a bit complicated. It’s felt that life in China is more relaxed and less stressful than the U.S. However, you’d better not be a dissident. China executes more people than the rest of the world combined. They persecute a number of minorities and religious organizations. I sincerely hope we don’t model our country on China. It seems that China is having several problems that they have never tried to solve, like pollution, an aging population and large spending on military. I also think China’s attempts to solve their country’s problems are typically simplified, knee-jerk reactions. If their population was not as compliant as they are, after decades of totalitarian rulers, this country would not be doing well at all.
Therefore: Most European (and other socialist) countries are judged by how great their welfare system is. That’s pathetic. None of these countries has any defense spending to speak of (perhaps Canada and Norway) so they can spend large on welfare. I hope no other countries have to defend them, but I know better. I believe that in small countries, welfare “free loaders” exist but in a much larger country like the U.S., the ”free loader” problem is magnified, much more visible and harder to manage. However, if I was an illegal immigrant, I wouldn’t go to small European countries…..I’d hold out for the U.S. I could hide in the larger geography.
I could go on and on but this seems to be enough. Many of you probably couldn’t get through all four parts. That’s fine. I may change my mind before this election cycle is over anyway but there are a few candidates I won’t vote for no matter what. I did vote for a third party candidate once and then I found out he was an idiot.
I really did want to take on the biases of the media but they’re too powerful for me, so here’s my “final answer.”
FINALLY FINAL SUMMARY RESULTS.
If you’ve read this far, here is my personal, biased, partisan summary.
Ta Da – My List of Presidential Candidates in the order I would vote for them:
- Carly Fiorina tied with Marco Rubio – both are smart, knowledgeable, articulate people who I believe can lead the country and will pick smart, possibly unbiased people for their administration. Particularly Forina, who most likely didn’t ask what party her co-workers belonged to.
- Chris Christie – As the president he would be fun to watch. I like his no nonsense approach. He’s slipping now but could rebound. He’s better than many below him.
- Ben Carson – pretty low key, no doubt, and he had a high quality career that very few ever have. NOTE: A problem has emerged, however, regarding some weird religious beliefs and possible embellishment of his accomplishments. I may have to move him to 4th or 5th. (Arlyne has Ben Carson in 4th position) NOTE: There is no longer a number 3. I am adding this paragraph after I recently published Parts 1, 2 and 3. I’ve found that my very limited analysis of Ben Carson completely missed the mark. My research into Carson was superficial and useless. My recently acquired understanding of his 7th Day Adventists beliefs has destroyed any conceivable chance he has to be president in my mind. I don’t care about his activities as a young man but I am stunned about his creationist beliefs, which I think are ludicrous. He has said that if one believes in evolution, that person has no morals, no ethics and no conscience. I thought, being a neurosurgeon, he must have a solid technical background and would naturally be a rational person. I thought he must have been trained in science and reason, in tests and evidence and careful diagnosis, but……..he once said that a person who believed in evolution wouldn’t dive in a lake to rescue his own son, because of a lack of conscience. I don’t know who taught you these incredible beliefs, Carson, but you just dropped out of my list like a grand piano. In fact, I think you would be dangerous for the United States and even the world. Sorry, Ben. Not only will I not vote for you, I will encourage other people to not vote for you either.
- Jeb Bush – If we can overlook his last name, he would be a president who probably wouldn’t destroy the country. He’s not his brother. He would at least be rational and I would hope he would surround himself with rational people. He probably won’t make it though. (Arlyne puts Jeb Bush in 3rd position)
- Donald Trump – only if I have to. If everybody else fades away, he may be the only GOP candidate left. If he tried to be serious, he may have something to say, but I don’t know if he could and we’ll probably never know. There are candidates walking around today that I would pick Trump ahead of, but he’s still way down there. (I may leave the presidential box blank)
- Ted Cruz – only if I absolutely, absolutely have to. He may be close to a Carson-person. (I may leave the presidential box blank)
- Nobody else, especially not Bernie and especially not Hillary. What if the election comes down to Cruz and Clinton? (I will leave the presidential box blank if it comes to that)
Some final, final ideas:
- Let’s legislate, finally, that the U.S. should only have two political parties, with, by law, each party getting an eight year presidential term, followed by an eight year term of the other party. Presidents will be highly paid, have only a 10-year pension but will have to have a thorough background check.
- Let’s legislate that no person of any kind can serve in any Federal elective office for more than 8 (or maybe 10) years, consecutively or otherwise. Wow!
- Let’s eliminate the Vice President position. This would create millions and millions of dollars of savings. Since this is probably against the U.S. constitution, we’ll make the VP an unpaid honorary position, with a tiny staff.
- Let’s finally cut back a bit on government spending, make government employment less attractive, and reduce pensions. I want to actually reduce spending, not just slow down the rate of increase. Let’s at least keep spending level for a few years. Let’s show we can at least chip away at our huge deficit. Let’s examine higher education and steer students to technical subjects. We’re going to need them.
- Let’s have the government publish a list of programs, projects and organizations that can be put on the chopping block and let citizens vote for the top five. If the country can tolerate and come back from large private unemployment, why can’t the government do the same?
- Let’s not keep pushing government programs and promises out to 2025 or 2050. We know how the world is today. Nobody cares about 2025. The year 2050 is at least eight presidential terms from now. These lofty promises are great rhetoric now but will be forgotten soon enough.
- Let’s consider passing a law that congressmen are only allowed to author bills once in two years, whether passed or not. This should give each of them time to fully study legislation proposed by someone else. Hey, there are 435 congressmen. This is still nearly 220 bills a year, potentially. Think of the savings. I don’t think the U.S. needs more bills than that. Let’s also set maximum term limits of 4 years maximum for congressmen. This should be enough.
- Here’s an interesting idea: Let’s have major corporations (Walmart, Home Depot, Wells Fargo, General Mills, Bank of America, etc.) sponsor parts of our military. Imagine a group of tanks or HMMWVs, with Home Depot flags, engaging the enemy. The companies would actually fund and support the tanks and perhaps even individual soldiers. The largest companies could form a consortium and fund some of our aircraft and bombs. Smaller companies could purchase specific military equipment, single bombs, single missions or drones. Great advertising, in this era of videos. Soldiers, like athletes, would have corporate patches. Exciting drone videos could be purchased for a reasonable price (at your local Walmart?). Imagine!
Thanks for reading all this and I’m glad it’s all over, for now.