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July 25, 2017

Will Trump "Make America Great Again"?

By Frank Li, phd

Donald Trump won the American Presidency with a big feel-good slogan: “Make America Great Again”. As President, can he do it? Yes, he can! But will he deliver? Increasingly unlikely, given the direction of his first six months in office! Two main reasons:

  • Obstruction by the swamp: He is more likely to be drained by the swamp than to drain the swamp. 
  • Self-destruction: He seems unable to wisely control himself.

1. Make America Great Again?

First off, three big questions:
  • Was America great before?
  • Why was America so great before?
  • How did America lose its greatness?
Let’s me succinctly answer each question.

1.1 Was America great before?

Yes! America was at its greatest throughout the second half of the 20th century, when it dominated the world not only economically, but also politically and militarily.

1.2 Why was America so great?

Thanks to America's superb capitalism and the lack of foreign competition! Specifically, America's chief competitors were either destroyed by WWII (e.g. Germany and Japan) or self-destructed badly by adopting/continuing, after WWII, a fundamentally flawed system called "communism" (e.g. China 1949-1976 and the USSR). As a result, America was left as the only chief producer on earth, making and inventing virtually everything, thus dictating prices. This not only finally lifted America out of the Great Depression, but also created unprecedented prosperity in America throughout the second half of the 20th century. We, America, even dragged the rest of the world along on our coattails.

1.3 How did America lose its greatness?

Two main reasons: self-destruction and foreign competition!

While America's superb capitalism has been driving the economy, democracy, as we practice it today, has been progressively driving America deeper and deeper into Democratic Socialism, as well as Democratic Imperialism - We became victims of our own success! However, no big problems showed up before 2000, because America, as the economic monopoly, could afford anything and everything, even democracy (i.e. one person, one vote)!

The bottom fell out at the turn of the 21st century, when BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) began to show their strength. The rise of BRICS not only signaled the end of America's economic monopoly, but also revealed the naked truth about American democracy: It does not work! As a matter of fact, democracy is failing in America today for the same reason it failed in ancient Greece more than 2,000 years ago, as well as in modern Greece today: debts!

Because foreign competition is not very controllable, let's just focus on the controllable part: self-destruction.

2. America's self-destruction

Today, most American politicians are career politicians, working for one paramount purpose only: getting re-elected ad nauseam, even if it means destroying America by emptying her public treasury! The image below highlights the problem.

Next, let me give you two examples: JFK and Congress.

2.1 JFK

By signing Executive Order 10988 on January 17, 1962, President Kennedy allowed public-sector workers to unionize against their employers, the people of the United States of America! This communistic act did help millions of public-sector workers join the ranks of the middle class, at the cost of America's future though: It ensured a spectacular failure of America down the road, city by city, state by state, as we have been experiencing over the past decade, with no end in sight! For more, read: Detroit, Public-Sector Unions, and JFK.

Now, why did JFK, against the explicit warning by his idol FDR (Letter from FDR Regarding Public-Sector Unions), allow public-sector unions? To maximize his chance of re-election in 1964!

JFK was not re-elected, as he was assassinated on November 22, 1963. But he committed the worst act against America on January 17, 1962! It's time for America to recognize it and then undo Executive Order 10988!

2.2 Congress 

According to Salaries of members of the United States Congress, the members of Congress were virtually unpaid (with a salary below $9) until 1855. Created by design: to be a member of Congress, first you had to make it (i.e. becoming financially independent), then you served with honor for a few years, and finally you went home. Serving was never meant to be a way of life - not even to make a living, let alone a career!

According to Congressional offices and staff,

"Prior to 1893 Members of the House of Representatives were forbidden from using public funds to pay personal staff. Those Members who had the ability to hire personal staff could do so with their own funds".

"Prior to the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 staff rarely topped one or two advisors".

"Members of Congress rely heavily on staff to handle a lot of legislative and constituent correspondence issues. Congress did not allow for the large staffs that exist now until the 1970s"

All hell broke loose after the 1970s, as the era of "career politicians" began! Since then, most, if not all, Members of Congress have been serving for one paramount purpose only: getting re-elected ad nauseam. In other words, it stopped being about us, or about the U.S. - It became all about them!

3. What's the solution?

Reforming our political system, so that it’s once again “for the people”, not for the career politicians!

In principle, we need to introduce some elements of autocracy into our democracy, which means to run our country like a gigantic company, with a structure as follows:

  • The President runs the daily show.
  • The board of directors (or Senate) oversees the direction.
  • The shareholders (or House) intercede only after grave mistakes are made.

Specifically, below is a 10-point proposal:

  • Setting term limits for the top political offices. Four examples: President: One term (e.g. six years), firm! Senator: Six years per term. One term, preferably. No more than two!  House members: Six years per term. One term, preferably. No more than two! For more, read: Term Limits for Congress!  The Supreme Court: Two terms for justices. Six years per term. Adding a mandatory retirement age of 70.
  • Raising the statutory requirements for the Presidency, such as the minimum age to 55 (American Presidency: Starting at Age 55-65!) and only after having served as a state governor for one full-term, at least (Let’s Redefine the American Presidency, Now!). 
  • While in office, the President must not participate in any partisan event (e.g. fund-raising), so as to be the President of the country, not of any party! 
  • Dissolving all public-sector unions immediately and banning them forever, with an executive order to undo President Kennedy's Executive Order 10988.  
  • Cutting the defense spending drastically. If not, we will soon have no country left to defend! Note that our military budget today is bigger than the next 10 countries, combined!  
  • Spending must be controlled!  Limiting spending to a certain percentage of the GDP (e.g. 15%).  The budget must be balanced. If there is growth potential, some deficit is allowed. However, always provide for payment before introducing any new spending program. Minimizing the government, with the understanding that government does not create real jobs in quantity. The private sector does!  Reforming Social Security and Medicare. Abolishing all entitlement programs (e.g. Medicaid) and replacing them with a minimal safety net. Bottom line: No one should be better off on welfare than they are by working!
  • Simplifying everything, from laws to the tax code, so as to reduce the number of lawyers and accountants. Most importantly, you don't have to be a lawyer to run for public office.  
  • A voter ID is a must, just like driving or drinking!  
  • Raising the minimum voting age to 21, so that voting is at least as important as drinking! 
  • Abolishing the Electoral College - Just count votes, instead, if you truly believe in democracy (but I do not).

4. Can President Trump do it?

Yes, he can!

5. Will President Trump deliver?

Increasingly unlikely!

One recent example of President Trump’s lack of self-control: by publicly criticizing his Attorney General, he violated the golden rule (shown below). Now, can you imagine his subordinates publicly criticize him in return?

6. Discussion

Here is the reality of the world: Overall, the world is better today than it was in 2000, with wealth being much more widely spread (vs. concentrated in America). For example, China has lifted some 600 million people out of poverty over the past three decades, with a burgeoning middle class.

Here is the reality of America: America’s extraordinary prosperity throughout the second half of the 20th century was an exception, not the rule! As the world settles into a new norm, America must adapt, rather than being nostalgic about the past which will never return.

In other words, America’s best days are well behind us – Fooled no more by the politicians, who keep deceiving you with the exception, not the rule!

I believe I have the most accurate diagnosis for America (Diagnosis for America (Version 3)), as well as the best solution (Solution for America (Version 3)). My entire school of thought has been documented in my new book (American Democracy), of which President Trump has a copy, as shown by the image below. The big question is: Will he listen?

7. Closing

President Trump is a very flawed person. But he is the best we have got. So let's support him and wish him the best.

Courtesy of Frank Li, Ph.D, Author of The GOP Bible for 2016 via Econintersect.com

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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