The Morality of Capitalism

From the Washington Post:

“(A recent) Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.”

That is a scary statistic. 

Capitalism is what makes the American Dream a reality for so many hard working individuals. It is what has made America a force for good in the world. 

Consider the words of John Mackey, Whole Foods co-founder, from the source linked below:

“…capitalism and business are the greatest forces for good in the world. It’s been that way for at least the last three hundred years . . . and they don’t get sufficient credit for the amazing value that they have created.”

“(Capitalism is) voluntary exchange for mutual benefit…Capitalism is ultimately people cooperating together to create value for other people, as well as for themselves.”

“Every profession has a purpose beyond maximizing profits.”

“Profit is essential in order to better fulfill your purpose…Without profits, you wouldn’t be very effective…your impact would be limited.”

“Creating profits provides the capital that our world needs to innovate and progress—no profits, then no progress. They are completely interdependent.”

“So does (capitalism) increase inequality? I suppose it’s not so much that capitalism creates inequality, as it helps people to become more prosperous, and inevitably that means that not everybody is going to rise at the same rate, but everybody ultimately rises over time…Capitalism enables people to escape from poverty and become more prosperous and wealthy and that is very good. That’s the issue that we should focus on.”

“Everyone in society is a beneficiary (from capitalism). It is what has lifted much of humanity out of poverty.”

The millennials polled in the Harvard study may have formed their opinions from events they have seen in their lifetimes, such as the financial crisis, recession, and sluggish growth throughout the Obama Administration. 

But that doesn’t make the system wrong. To function properly, we must have laws enforced fairly across the board. In other words, a level playing field. Yet, at the same time, the process must be free from hampering regulations. 

There will be ups and downs, but our economic system is not the problem. It’s the solution – when allowed to operate as intended. 

Consider the statistics:

At the beginning of the industrial revolution, the percentage of the world population living in poverty was 94%. Because of capitalism, by which new technologies, new companies, and new jobs can be created and developed, that number had dropped to 51% by 1992. As of 2011, global population in poverty was only 17%. 

A rising tide lifts all boats…

-JohnAnchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Harvard University Poll

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/26/a-majority-of-millennials-now-reject-capitalism-poll-shows/?utm_term=.9310f86fb079

John Mackey

https://www.atlasnetwork.org/assets/uploads/misc/The-Morality-of-Capitalism-PDF.pdf

Poverty Statistics

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/amazing-chart-shows-thanks-to-capitalism-global-poverty-is-at-its-lowest-rate-in-history/article/2562224#!

Tax Cuts and Economic Growth

“(Trickle-Down Economics) doesn’t work. It has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible post-war boom of the 50s and 60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade.”  -President Obama, December 6, 2011

Let’s look at the historical data.

The income tax was created by passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913 after the Supreme Court previously declared it unconstitutional. The initial top rate was 7%. 

By 1918, the top rate had risen to 77%. 

1920s 

Tax cuts reduced the top income tax rate from over 70% to under 25%.  Personal income tax revenues increased (despite the reduction in rates) from $719 million in 1921 to almost $1.2 billion in 1928. 

By the 1950s, the top rate had risen to 92%. 

1960s

Across the board tax cuts reduced the top rate from 90% to 70%. Tax revenues increased from $94 billion in 1961 to $153 billion in 1968. 

The 1970s saw the top income tax rate hover around 70%. 

1980s

A series of cuts brought the top rate from 70% down to 28%. Total tax revenues increased by 99% and income tax revenues increased by 54% by 1989. 

2000s

Across the board tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 reduced the top rate from 39.6% to 35%. Total tax revenues increased from $794 billion in 2003 to $1.16 trillion in 2007. 

Historically, dramatic cuts to the top income tax rate (“tax cuts for the rich!”) with across the board cuts have in fact stimulated the economy and increased tax revenues. 

Remember this as President Trump tackles tax reform in the coming days. 

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

President Obama

https://thinkprogress.org/obama-on-trickle-down-economics-it-doesn-t-work-it-has-never-worked-e92be238bde7

Income Tax Rate History 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States#History_of_top_rates

Historical Rate Cuts

http://www.heritage.org/node/18247/print-display

Bush Tax Cuts

https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2012/12/06/why-america-is-going-to-miss-the-bush-tax-cuts/#1c10a95d800a

Tax Facts

STOP!

Before reading any further, ask yourself one question:

Am I lower, middle, or upper class?

How many times have you heard politicians spout about the rich not paying their fair share? How many times have you heard these same politicians define what constitutes “rich” or what exactly makes up a “fair” share?

Here are a few facts about the taxes we pay in the United States.

Upperclass is now defined according to the following income statistics:

Household of one: Minimum of $72,126
Household of two: Minimum of $102,001
Household of three: Minimum of $124,925
Household of four: Minimum of $144,251
Household of five: Minimum of $161,277

Top 1% Adjusted Gross Income: $465,626
Top 10% Adjusted Gross Income: $133,445

The top 1% earns around 22% of America’s gross income, yet pays 38% of total income tax revenue.

The top 10% earns 48% of total income but pays 70% of total income tax revenue.

The top 50% earns 89% of total income and pays 97% of all income tax revenue.

This means the bottom 50% of wage earners make up 11% of total income, but they pay only 3% of tax revenue. And…

The bottom 99% of income earners comprise 78% of gross income and yet pay only 62% of all income tax revenue.

Tell me again about the rich not paying their fair share?

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Upperclass Defined

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/20/heres-how-much-you-have-to-earn-to-be-considered-upper-class.html

Top 1% Top 10% AGI

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/16taxstatscard.pdf

% of Income Tax and AGI

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/soi-a-ints-id1506.pdf

Lessons in Syria

Let’s look at the facts we know about the Syria chemical weapons situation. 

We’ll start with what the American people were told by the Obama Administration about the weapons removal. 

President Obama on August 18, 2014: “Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.”

Secretary of State John Kerry a month earlier in July 2014: “We got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

National Security Advisor Susan Rice before leaving office in January 2017: “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”

Well, apparently not. Chemical weapons were released once again on the Syrian people this week in an attack that appears to have been conducted by the Assad regime. 

Were we lied to by the President, Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor? Some are saying yes, but I think it is actually a systematic and philosophical failure of President Obama’s foreign policy. We cannot trust our national security to the reliance on evil dictators to tell us the truth. 

Is that what happened here? Let’s look at the timeline. 

From the Atlantic article linked below, we know the following:

“The first prominent (chemical weapons) attack came in 2013 in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb—about a year after Barack Obama declared that using such weapons would cross a ‘red line’ and ‘would change our calculus’ about intervening. That attack killed 1,000 people.”

“Kerry said a military strike could be averted if Syria turned over its chemical weapons to the international community. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed such a plan almost immediately—and Syria signed onto it.”

“…the U.S. and Russia formulated an agreement under which Syria agreed to allow international monitors to destroy its chemical-weapons stockpile by 2014…”

“The plan called for Syria to disclose its stockpile within a week, and provide international inspectors access to all its chemical-weapons sites.”

“Despite the agreement, however, there were subsequent reports that Assad used chlorine gas against civilians. The deal struck with the international community did not include chlorine because the Assad regime hadn’t added it to a list it submitted to international monitors of the chemical weapons it possessed.”

“Syria missed the…deadline for the weapons destruction.”

See how much trust by the U.S. and broken trust by Syria was involved here?

Perhaps the most famous example of what not to do in this regard is the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain in dealing with the aggressive nature of Adolph Hitler. Chamberlain presided over the Munich Agreement of 1938, which offered parts of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in exchange for a commitment of reduced aggression. Chamberlain claimed he had achieved “peace for our time”.  Six months later Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, kickstarting a chain of events that would result in the second world war. 

We cannot trust our national security to the reliance on evil dictators to tell us the truth.

For the same reason, President Reagan took issue with arms control treaties the United States had negotiated with the Soviet Union prior to his presidency, writing in his 1990 autobiography, An American Life:

“…recognizing the futility of the arms race and the hair-trigger risk of annihilation it posed to the world, I tried to send signals to Moscow indicating we were prepared to negotiate a winding down of the arms race if the Soviets were also sincere about it — and proved it with deeds.”

“And, because we viewed them realistically, it was clear that if we did negotiate an arms control agreement with the Soviets, it had to be absolutely verifiable. Agreements couldn’t be based on trust alone.”

This is why President Trump’s air strikes last night are so important. A calculated, measured response, they sent a clear message Syria and the rest of the world that use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated by the United States. We will respond. 

No longer will we trust you to tell us what weapons you possess and voluntarily “eliminate” them. 

Makes you wonder about that Iran deal, doesn’t it?

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Timeline

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/syria-chemical-weapons-attack/521883/

Obama Statement (August 18, 2014)

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/08/18/statement-president-completion-mv-cape-ray-destruction-syria-s-declared-

Kerry Statement (July 2014)

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/apr/05/revisiting-obama-track-record-syrias-chemical-weap/

Susan Rice Statement (January 2017)

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/01/16/510047606/obama-adviser-susan-rice-cites-syrian-war-as-biggest-disappointment

Neville Chamberlain 

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/chamberlain-and-hitler/

Initial Reaction to Tonight’s Syria Airstrike

Two days ago, Syrian authorities launched a chemical weapons attack on their own citizens. Children were killed. Hundreds were wounded. 

Tonight’s response sends a clear message of U.S. moral leadership in the world. If you gas your own people – innocent children – we will respond. 

The response appears to have been measured and proportional. Assad has six air bases. Reportedly, we could have taken out all six. We took out one – the same one the chemical attack is believed to have originated. 

Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were launched. One Tomahawk is eighteen feet long, two feet wide, and carries one thousand pounds of munitions. 

We launched the attack in the early morning hours when the number of people at the base should be at a minimum so as to minimize third party casualties. It’s being reported we notified Russia with a warning of the time and place of the attack. 

This is a strong response. It appears to have been well thought out, and it shows a willingness of President Trump to take decisive action when necessary. 

Text of President Trump’s comments tonight are linked below.

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

The President’s Comments

http://www.ajc.com/news/world/read-full-transcript-trump-speech-syria-strike/dzqP0Of5U266yH1WMlqOGM/

 

Mike Pence

On March 28th, the Washington Post ran a profile of Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence.  The Post piece contained the following: 

“In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”

And then the world exploded. 

Criticisms, ridicule, disbelief has been abundant. Here are a few of the examples:

 “Mike Pence will not buy Little Debbie snack cakes unless his wife is with him.”

“The calling card of all religious fundamentalism: terror of women.”

“How is this different from extreme repressive interpretations of Islam (‘Sharia Law!’) mocked by people like Mike Pence?”

There are a couple of articles linked below that do a great job of responding to the issue and explaining the steps Mike Pence has taken to protect his family. 

I’d like to focus instead on broken home statistics and what can happen to children who grow up in fatherless environments. 

The divorce rate in the United States currently sits at 52.7%. Specifically relating to Mike Pence, the divorce rate in Washington D.C. is the highest in the country. Isn’t that interesting?

Statistics about children who grow up without a father figure in the home: 

Four times as likely to be poor. 

Twice as likely to commit suicide. 

Higher levels of drug abuse and aggressive behavior. 

Lower grade point averages. (71% of high school dropouts are fatherless.)

Higher rates of teen pregnancy. 

As you can see, the role of a father is critical to a child’s development and transformation into a productive citizen. Too many fathers today are neglecting their responsibilities to their families. 

Mike Pence is a Christian, but regardless of how you feel about Christianity, the steps that Mike Pence takes to protect his marriage is practical. It works, and he should not be mocked for it. 

If more men lived like Mike Pence does, our world would be a better place. 

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

The Federalist

https://thefederalist.com/2017/03/30/dont-mock-mike-pence-for-protecting-his-marriage-commend-him/

The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/pence-wife-billy-graham-rule/521298/

U.S. Divorce Rate

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-17/boomers-are-making-sure-the-divorces-keep-coming

Washington D.C. Divorce Rate

http://time.com/4575495/divorce-rate-nearly-40-year-low/

Fatherless Home Statistics

http://www.fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-consequences-of-fatherlessness/

The Gender Gap in Proper Context

Today is “Equal Pay Day”.

The statistic most often quoted to support the argument that women are still not paid wages equal to men in the United States is “women currently make $0.80 for every dollar paid to a man for the same work.” 

Is this true?  Let’s take a look. 

The Associated Press quotes this statistic and attributes it to “U.S. Government Data”.

A quick search of the Department of Labor website turns up a study that confirms this number.  But a closer look reveals the following contextual details:

The $0.80 number varies based on data used. (Median annual income versus weekly income versus hourly wages.)

The $0.80 number does not take years of experience into account. The average female has less years of experience due to lifestyle factors such as leaving the workforce to raise children. 

A comparison between single childless women and single childless men actually reveals a reversal of the gap. Women make more, specifically $1.08 for every dollar men work. 

So is the gender pay gap real?  Not when one is comparing apples to apples. Remember this the next time a politician or political analyst quotes the $0.80 statistic to you. 

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Associated Press

http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/f70471f764144b2fab526d39972d37b3/Article_2017-04-04-US-Equal-Pay-Day/id-b4137a783f90405e969b66d733c6c1b5

Department of Labor

https://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/earnings_2014.htm

Context

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/04/14/here-are-the-facts-behind-that-79-cent-pay-gap-factoid/?utm_term=.2c5468028d0d

Single Childless Men v Women 

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba766

The Value of Coal

When then-Senator Obama ran for the Presidency in 2008, he said during an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

On March 20th of this year, @SierraClub tweeted: “Today marked 250th US coal plant that’s retired or committed to retire since our @BeyondCoal Campaign began in 2010…”

Eliminating coal as an energy source via policy is not a wise strategic move for the United States. Coal continues to be one of our cheapest, most abundant sources of energy, and becoming overly dependent on too few energy sources is economically dangerous.

Consider what is happening in other countries, where access to affordable electricity is perhaps the single biggest factor as to a country’s citizens’ quality of life. 

Since 1994, China has tripled its use of coal for electric generation. In this time, its poverty rate has plummeted, and its gross domestic product has increased by a factor of eighteen. 

India has ramped up its use of coal dramatically since 2012 and is expected to become the world’s largest coal importer within the next few years, in a country where 400 million still lack access to electricity. 

Since the 1980s, Indonesia has increased its coal usage 5,900%, and their electricity usage is expected to double by 2022. 

In Germany, on the other hand, renewable energy use has increased, but so has the country’s electricity prices. Renewable energy subsidies are costing its citizens $32 billion per year.  As a result, Germany has been unable to eliminate the use of coal. Their market won’t allow it. 

As you can see, countries around the world are relying on coal to meet their energy needs. Therefore, policies aimed at eliminating coal as an energy source in the United States, such as the Clean Power Plan, have the potential to hamstring our economy with very little global environmental benefit. 

Studies have shown the Clean Power Plan that Trump repealed last week would have resulted in only a 0.2% reduction in global CO2 concentration by 2050, a 0.01 degree Fahrenheit difference in global temperature, and a reduction of sea level rise of 0.2 millimeters. In other words, virtually zero benefit. It would, however, have raised electricity prices as much as 40% in some locations. 

The United States has currently about 240 years of coal reserves at our current rate of consumption, and we need every source of electricity we can find, including natural gas and renewables. 

From a policy perspective, the United States should let the free market work. Level the playing field. 

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

2008 Coal Comments

http://www.weeklystandard.com/obama-warned-that-his-policies-would-bankrupt-coal-power-plant-owners/article/644384

China, India, Indonesia, Germany, United States

https://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/eper_14.pdf

Germany

http://energypost.eu/german-conundrum-renewables-break-records-coal-refuses-go-away/

The Truth about the Clean Power Plan

Last Tuesday, March 28th, President Trump signed an order repealing the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s energy regulation. 

Many politicians commented on Twitter:

Senator Tim Kaine:

“Our energy strategy should be getting cleaner tomorrow than today. Disappointed @POTUS is breaking his promise to promote clean air & water.”

Senator Bernie Sanders:

“Mr. Trump, you cannot run a government by rejecting science. Listen to the scientific community, not the CEOs of the fossil fuel industry.” And: “Our job is to save the planet not make more profits for the oil, gas and coal industries. We must act boldly to transform our energy system.”

Here are some facts about the Clean Power Plan:

As of 2015, the United States generates approximately 213 Million Megawatt-Hours of electricity from renewable energy sources annually. (Wind, Solar, Etc.)

The Clean Power Plan projects that this number will increase to 706 Million Megawatt-Hours by 2030. 

Renewable energy sources are expensive and, as of 2013, require more than twice the government subsidies that fossil fuels receive in order to remain competitive. 

An increase of renewable energy production of this magnitude coupled with a decrease in coal production, as per the Clean Power Plan, is projected to result in a rise in electricity prices between 10% and 40% over this same period. 

The benefit? A 0.2% reduction in global CO2 concentration by 2050, resulting in a 0.01 degree Fahrenheit difference in global temperature and a reduction of sea level rise of 0.2 millimeters. 

The Clean Power Plan was bad policy. It would not have saved the planet, in terms of having made much of a difference at all in global concentration of carbon dioxide, temperature or sea level rise, but it would have caused a tremendous increase in utility prices to American families. 

More Facts, Less Rhetoric…

More on this tomorrow. 

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Clean Power Plan (CPP)

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-11/documents/tsd-cpp-ghg-mitigation-measures.pdf

Energy Subsidies

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies

Impacts of the CPP (Electricity Prices)

http://www.nera.com/content/dam/nera/publications/2015/NERA_ACCCE_CPP_Results_Nov72015.pdf

Climate Effects of the CPP

http://www.americaspower.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Climate-Effects-Paper-August-6-2015.pdf

Welcome

Glad you are here.

Reality Based Political Analysis 

The purpose of this blog is to clear away the mud that politicians are throwing that leads to the murkiness through which so many today view politics. Most don’t even follow it. 

Our goal on these pages is to present information to you, our readers, that is available to the public but maybe doesn’t always get reported, at least not at the frequency or detail that would make the average reader aware of it. Information that would influence your decision making if it were at the front of the news cycle. 

Responsible citizens must stay involved in the public discourse.  Maybe this blog will encourage you to do so. 

We’ve named this blog John Anchor for two reasons:

John – After John the Baptist, a voice of one crying in the wilderness who came to testify about the Light. He wasn’t afraid to speak the truth, even when it cost him his head. 

Anchor – Inspired by the Ross King song “Jesus Is My Only Anchor” which contains the lines… “It’s bigger than your politic / ‘Cause there is no policy that rescues us out of the shadowlands / It’s bigger than your rhetoric / ‘Cause this is a Living Word, you speak it with your feet and with your hands.”

This world (and the direction of our nation) is bigger than the politicians’ rhetoric. It’s bigger than the media’s spin. It includes you and me…

Provided we stay engaged. 

– John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

John the Baptist

Matthew 3

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+3

John 1

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1

Mark 6

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+6

“Anchor” Lyrics

http://www.newreleasetoday.com/lyricsdetail.php?lyrics_id=28095