One View on the Paris Accord Pullout

Well, President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and the anti-Trump pundits are in a full tizzy about him doing exactly what he said he was going to do during his campaign.  You can debate the merits of the Paris Accords all you like, and you’ll find people on both sides of the issue, hotly touting their view as the one which will “save the world from a climate cataclysm” or will “finally put America first, dislodging it from being the world’s lapdog for punishing the neo-colonial forces of the world.”

I’d like to stay away from those arguments to look at this issue in a couple of different ways. Trump’s pulling out of the accord is President Obama’s fault. No, don’t get me wrong. I’m not using the Obama administration tactic of blaming the previous president for everything. Obama set the stage for a withdrawal by circumventing the way U.S. treaties are supposed to work. The U.S. constitutional lays out very clearly that treaties with foreign entities must receive Congressional approval. The Obama administration didn’t even attempt to pass the accord through Congress because he knew, as written, it would have never passed. So he signed it as an accord, approved only by the executive branch, which allows the next chief executive to rescind it at will. If it had passed through Congress, President Trump would not have been able to pull out of it without, again, Congressional approval. Perhaps the Obama administration thought that his legacy would remain due to a favorable election outcome in 2016. Well, we all know how that went. The Dems walked away with egg on their face. And now they have a non-binding Paris agreement which falls by the wayside because they didn’t involve Congress.

It’s easy to see why Obama didn’t involve Congress. He knew that the Republican controlled House and Senate wouldn’t have ratified it. But this was his greatest mistake. Ours is a republic, a pluralistic one, a two-party one, which requires compromise, give and take, back and forth wrangling in order to get anything done. Can that be frustrating at times? Of course, but that’s the way the Founding Fathers wanted it. Obama would have been wise to use this tactic in Paris. “Look guys, I’m with you on this. I really am. But you have to understand how my government works. If you want a lasting treaty on climate which is going to mean anything moving forward, we have to negotiate with our elected Congress. No, you’re not going to get everything you want. But if we don’t come together and find an agreement palatable for both parties, this accord could unravel very quickly with a different president who doesn’t hold my views.”

President Obama could have approached the Paris Accords like this. But he didn’t and so the U.S. pulled out. Just like that.

President Trump said in his pull-out speech that he would be willing to renegotiate the Paris Accords in order to find terms more acceptable for the United States. Here’s a response written in one of the articles about the pullout:

“While Trump said the United States would be willing to rejoin the accord if it could obtain more favorable terms, the three European leaders said the agreement cannot be renegotiated, ‘since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economics.'”

And this brings me to my second point of contention about this whole issue. According to these world leaders, “it” (it being the Paris Accords) is a “vital instrument” for our planet … blah, blah, blah. It. Only it. This whole explanation reeks of elitism which I hate more than anything else. Only the accord as they have negotiated it, as they have proposed it, as they have signed, IT and only IT can be “a vital instrument for our planet, societies, and economics.”

A re-negotiated deal could never do that?  Really?

It’s the same old “our way is the only way.” Now their way will unravel because they are unwilling to ponder different possibilities.

Moral of the story: this is politics. If you live in a democracy, you have to work with others. If not, you just have a series of short jaunts in various directions depending on who is in office.

The Future of Discrimination: White Male

I’ve been waiting for this article. Perhaps there have been others espousing similar points of view, but leave it to some brilliant graduate student of philosophy, of all things, to express what I’ve been guessing at all along: the blame the white narrative is getting much more pointed.

Here’s the article if you want to read it. Not at all a surprising addition to the back list of of Huntington Post. You may want to read it before eating, though it might prove an effective means of losing one’s appetite. HUFFPOST South Africa

If you want to be spared the gross negligence your eyes may suffer while reading it, let me summarize. This forward-thinking philosophy student is posing the question of whether it’s time to put a moratorium on white male voting. This is coming from the post-Apartheid South African context. The reason for disenfranchising the white males, even for a period of 20 years as she suggests, is to redistribute wealth that white males have stolen over the years (stolen through capitalism, cronyism, white male privilege and other such ways, I suppose) so that a fair and equitable society can emerge. It would be a positive, long overdue step to help right the wrongs of the past.

I’ve seen this coming, this philosophy, this radical departure from sanity. And it won’t take long for some far-flung politician to pick it up and throw it in the debate arena. The push will be slow and steady until one government, undoubtedly democratically elected, will inch towards compensation, demanding a wide range of actions meant to address historical grievances against the white male.

In full disclosure, I am a white male. I’ve lived the last twenty years in different cultures, working alongside people from all backgrounds, creeds, and ethnicity. I’ve been in schools where diversity isn’t lauded, it’s a simple backdrop of life. My first child was five years old when she finally realized that all her friends had black hair. There is a movement in the world, there are people in the world, there are day to day interactions in this world which have come to the point where differences and backgrounds and colors and creeds and social envy means nothing because everyone is treated the same.

This is what real progress looks like. I’ve seen it, and yes, I know the world is not a dreamy-eyed utopia and it never will be. There are problems. But hearkening backwards looking for villains who happen to be white and male is the essence of anti-progress. You do not compensate historical grievances by stripping people of rights. You can not further progress by ripping apart one of the modern world’s founding tenets of progress: universal suffrage.  I just wish a certain graduate student would realize that philosophy is dead if this is the best you can come up with. Heaven help us if this is the future of education. Heaven help us if this is the future of our world.

Perhaps I’ll discover it was all a mistake. A piece of brilliant satire. But I doubt it, because I knew it was coming.

On a brighter note, this world of ours continues to be an unending source of new writing materials. I guess I should thank her for that. Now let me get to work on that new play. A satire, perhaps.

Minimum Wage Robots

Does mandated federal and state minimum wage increases help those struggling on low paying jobs?  Or does it simply give more jobs to robots?

In this opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal, The Minimum Wage Should be Called the Robot Employment Act, Mr. Pudzer makes the case that the increasing minimum wage will do nothing to help low wage earners and will, most likely, force more workers out of the market place as employers, restaurants especially, automate.

It’s already  happening. McDonald’s kiosks are rolling out all over the country. Wendy’s is doing the same thing, and as Mr. Pudzer explains, a California burger joint is going a step further by hiring robots to grill, flip burgers, and put the patties on the buns.

There is no mystery here. Many places simply can’t make a profit where, especially in some areas, the minimum wage is going to hit $15 an hour in the next couple of years. Who will this hurt? Mostly inexperienced youth and it will disproportionately affect minorities. Liberal governance is once again going to be hurting the very population which they say they want to help. But government can’t control capitalism to the degree it needs to in order to for minimum wage laws to work. In order for that to happen, you need to shift everything into a highly controlled mixed if not bordering on command economy. Oh, and with that, you’ll get a loss of freedom and more widespread poverty as everyone becomes the same: unproductive and poor.

I defer to the experts on things like this. One such expert I respect and quote a lot is Thomas Sowell. Do yourself a favor and spend some time on Youtube marveling at his logical and concrete examples. He’ll tell you what minimum wage actually does, it robes the poor and the youth of valuable work experience. The only way a youngster is going to get experience – learn how to show up to work  on time, learn skills, learn to function as a subordinate, etc… – the only way someone is going to get that experience is to get an entry level job. The unemployment rate for under 25 is already high. A higher minimum wage is not going to help that. In fact, it’s going to do the opposite because jobs will be scarcer as companies “hire” robots to fill positions rather than pay an unskilled 18 year old $15 an hour.

I wish the government would  let the market work. Of course, it should look out for abuses and step in when someone is clearly being taken advantage of, but it should stay out of private agreements between individuals. If I agree to work for $8 an hour, I should be allowed to do so, and it is a death to freedom and individuality when I’m told I’m not allowed to work for $8 an hour. But I am allowed to stay at home and gain no experience and no income.

If we don’t let the market work, then we are only giving way to a robotic takeover. I’m afraid there’s no stopping it now.

9th Circuit Seems to Get This One Wrong

If you agree with the rule of law, regardless of your political persuasions, then this ruling by the 9th Circuit to refuse to lift a stay on President Trump’s immigration order is just plain wrong. Here. You can read the law for yourself.

US law code says this, word for word, verbatim, exactly as it is written here:

“(f)Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

You can look up the full text HERE from Cornell law.

Is not that wording rather unambiguous?

“Whenever” – That seems to indicate at any time. There are no qualifications on that.

“for such a period he shall deem necessary” – That also seems straight forward.

“suspend the entry” – “all aliens or any class of aliens” – “any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Question: How, in light of this US statute, did the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rule against Trump?

And this is the problem, they didn’t even address this statute in their ruling. They were sure to mention statements Trump made during the campaign, but they didn’t mention the law. Aren’t judges meant to interpret law rather than campaign stump speeches? I could be wrong, I’ve never gone to law school.

Regardless of your personal view on Trump’s executive order, this ruling is a clear overreach by the 9th circuit. It is substituting their opinion on immigration policy in exchange for the President’s opinion. The judges even asked the government attorney to show them the information which would prove that this ban is necessary. But here’s the PROBLEM, according to the law, the President doesn’t have to do that. It’s at the President’s discretion and only the President’s discretion. Read the statute again. The language couldn’t be more clear.

The 9th circuit is the most liberal and frequently overturned appellate court in the United States. This ruling from them is not unexpected, especially when you  hear the arguments the government’s lawyer made. Honestly, I think some of my American Government students could have made a stronger argument.

If this case reaches the Supreme Court, I think it is an easy win for the executive branch. If the 9th Circuit wanted to  argue that the statute above is unconstitutional and should be overturned, at least that would have made some logical sense. It may still be devoid of fact if you scour the Constitution, but at least it would be a court, using their judicial review privilege to state that a law in unconstitutional. But now all you have is a court calling an executive order unconstitutional when it has a clear and unambiguous law backing it up.

The 9th Circuit has proved their bias once again.

Democracy Hits Back

With the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States this weekend, democracy has officially hit back!

The U.S. political landscape has always been a see-saw affair, with one party pulling one direction for a while until the other party swings back with a vengeance. It is in this give and take that we find our true democracy. No side of the political spectrum has ever or will ever monopolize the political discourse, and it’s probably a good thing.

Now, before you ask if democracy actually won in this election cycle because Clinton received more votes than Trump, let me dispel that right away. Democracy did win, because the United States is a state-by-state democracy. Democracy won in enough states to secure the victory for Trump. If you say it doesn’t seem fair, I would take you back to the 1960 World Series when the New York Yankees trounced the Pirates 56-27 over a seven game series. However, the Pirates won the series 4-3 by winning four games. The overall score is meaningless in American politics. It’s the way the founding fathers wanted it, and it’s a pretty clever system to distribute power throughout the county so everyone has a say.

Now that that is settled, let’s get back to the victory for democracy. Eight years of Obama leading the nation to the left will be followed by Trump leading us somewhere else. We will have to see where that is because no one knows for sure.

Obama’s election was a shift to the left from eight years of GW Bush. Bush was a shift right (in some respects) from 8 years of Clinton (who was fairly centrist in many respects). Clinton’s victory in 1992 was a shift left from the Reagan and Bush years of 1981-1993.

If you go back further in time, Harding, then Coolidge, righted the ship in the 1920s after Woodrow Wilson’s grand overtures overseas. That was followed up by Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1932 which dramatically shifted the country left as the country sought relief from the crippling depression.

When a democracy shifts suddenly, it’s working. That means everyone has a seat at the table and everyone’s voice is being heard. Is it a slip-shod way to run a government? Sure is, but it’s much more preferable to an authoritarian alternative.

When you welcome Trump into the White House, whether you like him personally or not, you are welcoming a properly functioning democracy.

And that’s a very good thing.

 

The Electoral College Over-Represents Wyoming. And That’s a Good Thing.

A recent social media video was describing how a state like New York or California is underrepresented in the electoral college, which proves that the electoral college system is not fair and should be discarded.

The video was correct in one aspect. Populated states like California are underrepresented in the electoral college, but, contrary to the wise conclusion they made in the video, it’s a good thing. A very good thing.

So what’s really going on?

The electoral college system is wrongly accused of not choosing the president by popular vote, and critics point to the 2000 election as proof that the system is flawed. However, the system is working just find and for a good purpose. And, by the way, the results are based upon population, not nationally, but on the state level.

Here’s how it works in case you need a refresher course. Each state is allotted a certain number of electoral votes based upon their population. Those numbers can change every ten years after a census, but the total number of electoral votes always remains 538. Therefore, if a state loses a lot of people, they may lose one vote in the electoral college. The votes correspond to how many senators a state has (always 2) and how many representatives they have in the House of Representatives. Each state has one congressional district for every representative they have in the house. In the case of Wyoming, the least populous state in the union, that is exactly 1. So Wyoming, in the electoral college, has three votes – 1 for their rep, and 2 for their senator.

However, since Wyoming has so few people, they end up being over-represented. If it was truly based  on population, they would lose some of their representation in the electoral college and that vote would go to a more populous state such as California.

So yes, California should have more votes, but they don’t.

So why is that good?

Because the United States wasn’t founded as a unitary nation where all the power is concentrated in the central government. The united states was founded as a federal nation, where the thirteen original states voluntarily joined together, but in doing so, they worked hard to preserve the identity and powers which the states had to themselves. Founders such as Thomas Jefferson were adamant that the states hold onto much power, thus limiting the federal government which he viewed with suspicion. And with good reason. They had just fought a war against a government (King George) who wielded too much power and didn’t listen to the individual concerns of his colonies. The electoral  college ensured that each state would continue to have a voice, regardless of how many people lived there. The electoral college acknowledges how America was founded and designed. It hearkens to the 10th Amendment  in the Bill of Rights which says that whatever power is not delegated to the federal government is reserved for the states. The power of having a voice of who elects the president is one of those powers. It’s an important power.

In addition, the electoral college insures that more rural states still have an important and viable voice in American politics. Without the electoral college, the election would be decided by a handful of urbanized areas with little regard for the hard-working folks living in the hinterlands.

What happened in 2000 is meaningless. We are a nation of states. Therefore, the electoral college is the best system for preserving the individual states rights and giving a voice to everyone, not just the urban elites.

 

A Bump for Trump

The post-convention bump has lofted Trump into his first lead over Hillary Clinton for the race to the presidency according to Real Clear Politics poll averages compiled July 25.

Here’s the chart:

bumpfortrump

It must be a little jarring for the Clinton camp to see these numbers. I’m sure they’ll put a good spin on them, especially with the Democratic Convention this week. Will Clinton see her own bump in the polls come next Monday? With all the turmoil going on with the DNC chair resigning over the Wikileaks email release, it will be interesting to see how the Democrats stay on message and the attack mode. I’m sure Trump is bracing for it.

In the meantime, I don’t put much stock in July polls of a presidential election year. I believe you’ll start to see some stable and possibly more reliable numbers after the first debate in September. That’s when the American people will see them side-by-side and will be able to judge whether they are sure about their decisions.

But I do think that the above chart gives us some interesting insight. A year ago, nobody gave him a chance to emerge as a primary contender. Now he’s leading in the poll averages in the general election! Quite the accomplishment that NO ONE saw coming.

Secondly, Trumps numbers are trending upward. Many pundits showed how trump had trouble getting over the 40% range in the polls. Only one of the eight polls has him under forty percent. Four have him at 45% or higher and the Gravis poll was the high water mark of 51%.

It is beginning to seem that a Trump presidency is certainly likely. Of course, at this point, anything can happen, both good and bad for either candidate. But Trump has shown time and time again that he can put his foot in his mouth and it doesn’t affect his polling, except for possibly an upward trend. It’s remarkable, actually.

If you watched his acceptance speech, it was classic trump, but presented in a much more presidential way. He phased out the insults (which I’m sure will return shortly) and focused on what he intends to do as president. Of course, his speech was a broad road map which couldn’t ever be all accomplished. But it was the first time, to my knowledge, that the nation began to see how he would govern. So far, it seems like the American public has responded positively to his message. How will Clinton fair this week?

This is going to be an up and down election cycle, but Trump is certainly enjoying his early bump.