Freedom Philosophy: The State Of The Union – Is America “Great Again”?

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Freedom Philosophy - Is America

Last night Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address, punctuated with painfully elongated applause, heart-warming stories of triumph, and gut-wrenching stories of tragedy. After much speculation we’ve finally arrived a year later to address the question – Is Donald Trump actually making America “great again”?

There’s no shortage of victories that he can list off:

– ISIS has been defeated.
– His record for job creation is on par with the greatest job creating administrations in US history; given that he didn’t inherit a recession this is actually quite remarkable.
– African and Hispanic American prosperity is at an all-time high, while their unemployment is at an all-time low.
– The Dow soared from 18,000 to 26,000 (a 44% increase outside of a recession is unheard of) — Detroit, the sick man of America, is beginning to economically expand.

There are three reasons for this:

The first is that he’s cut corporate taxes, which is an excellent cause for an upswing in economic growth because it has a long-term impact.
Various studies have shown that corporate tax is the most economically negative tax – impacting wages and employment more than any other form of taxation. Much more socialist countries, like Sweden and Denmark, have even managed to produce economic success with comparatively low corporate tax rates (and minimal debt), and now the US has rates in line with those countries.

The other two reasons offer less hope for the future.

The second is deficit spending. The Trump administration has carried on with the previous administration’s flirtation with economic disaster in terms of debt. Anyone’s lifestyle will dramatically improve if they are unafraid of debt – the difficulty is that in the long-term their lifestyle will dramatically suffer. Trump’s announcement of $1.5 trillion for infrastructure spending was less than inspirational for those of us with our eyes on the future.

The third is protectionism. Trade is becoming increasingly difficult with the U.S. This again has short-term benefits, with domestic employment opportunities, but this also causes prices to rise, leaving Americans with less cash, diminishing cash-flow of the economy, ultimately causing unemployment elsewhere.

Only a protectionist can in the same breath demand that Iran and North Korea buy Iranian and North Korean goods in order to punish them while demanding that Americans buy American goods in order to make America great again.

Trump also asked for increased spending on the military in order to keep America safe. America already has the most expensive military budget in the world and its enemies are increasing. Logic would dictate a change in strategy.

My humble suggestion, as a non-American, would be to stop literally murdering people’s children, and in all likelihood, fewer people will want to kill you.
I’m going to repeat this because Americans don’t seem to understand – if you literally stop killing people’s children they will be much less likely to kill you. A reduction in military spending will bring about a safer country.

Kim Jong-un now threatens America to an extent that Americans have never been threatened since the Cold War. We’ve seen American missile defense systems fail to repel the Houthi attacks in Saudi Arabia. And so this has become the most deadly threat to America and Trump has very much dropped the ball on it.

The last thing Trump boasted of in the State of the Union that gave me pause was the drug war. I need hardly to spend much time convincing a libertarian audience why the increased front lines on the drug war are deleterious, it will suffice to say that removing an addict from their network of support, or placing a criminal dealer into an echo chamber of destructive behavior has an ill-impact.

Trump has much to brag about, but there are areas of concern. I would argue that America has some long-term issues that ought to be dealt with. Trump’s presidency is a mixed bag in terms of liberty. Whether or not America returns to its greatness under the likes of Coolidge remains to be seen. There are short-term and long-term impacts. But because freedom matters, we’ll be watching his presidency with great interest.

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Brandon Kirby

Brandon Kirby has a philosophy degree with the University of New Brunswick. He works for a Cayman Island hedge fund service firm, owns a real estate company, and has been in the financial industry since 2004. He is the director of Being Libertarian - Canada. He is a member of the People’s Party of Canada and the Libertarian Party of Canada.