Free Trade and the Economy
Along with security, economic prosperity is one of the government’s core responsibilities. Most of the important issues facing our nation–including access to safe, high quality, affordable healthcare, housing, education, and even retirement insurance, are all economic issues. In every case, the more the government has intervened in a sector, the more dramatically that sector has failed, and the more scarcity and inefficiency has resulted. It is often said that no one became poor by giving, but it is also true that no one has ever been lifted from poverty by being given to. In every case, the government’s policies have only led to further concentrations of wealth.
One of the most disturbing recent developments in economic policy is the reemergence of protectionism. Over the past 300 years, the developed world has been forged by trade. No area of public policy is better understood or less ambiguous than free trade. Free trade lowers prices and raises quality for consumers, contributes to innovation, and allows for economic growth in all areas. From left and right, opposition to free trade is driven only by ignorance or political opportunism. On both the left and right, populists such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have resurrected the devastating and insidious idea that tariffs, subsidies, and other forms of protectionism can create jobs and benefit people. If they are not stopped, the costs of their self-imposed embargo will be immeasurable.
War on Drugs and Criminal Justice Reform
The US has by far the highest incarceration rate of any nation on the planet. Even authoritarian regimes like China and Saudi Arabia have managed to spare more of their populations from the horrors of imprisonment than the United States. For decades, the government has pursued a War on Drugs that has destroyed millions of lives and families, while drug use has remained constant or even increased. The over-policing of American behavior has had dramatic effects on almost every area of American life, with nothing to show for it. It has had particularly devastating effects on minorities, and has not only failed to prevent or end criminal behavior, but is one of the primary drivers of gang violence throughout the country. Ending the War on Drugs would have the same results as the end of prohibition in the US, saving hundreds of billions of dollars, and saving thousands of lives every year, while restoring respect for the rule of law, and providing justice for those who have suffered.
Foreign Affairs and Interventionism
The US is fighting a war without end, on countless fronts, against an ill-defined, and poorly understood enemy, with nebulous and inconsistent objectives. It has cost trillions of dollars, millions of lives (including thousands of American servicemembers), and had no tangible results. It’s time to take responsibility for our conduct, and end these senseless conflicts. Our safety is not dependent on the routine and heartless slaughter of innocent people abroad. Instead, we should utilize some of the immense resources we’re squandering on this war on effective measures to ensure our security, including by investigating and addressing the real threat from terrorism.
America owes its greatness to the many generations of immigrants who made it their home. For most of our history, the US benefited from almost completely open borders. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty itself proclaims our country as a refuge for immigrants, and the Declaration of Independence lists restrictions on migration to the United States as one of the central causes for the Revolution. Immigrants produce more than they consume, benefiting not only the people lucky enough to legally immigrate, but also the natural born Americans who reap the rewards of their labor. Immigrants are the backbone of the American workforce, and enrich our lives in countless, immeasurable ways. The existing restrictions on immigration are nothing short of criminal, and are the direct cause hundreds of recorded migrant deaths every year, as desperate individuals are forced to walk, swim, and crawl across a desolate and inhospitable desert in order to escape conditions that make it worth trying. We could save thousands more lives every year, by making it easier for some of the millions of refugees fleeing failed states and war-zones (often caused or exacerbated by our failed foreign policy) to escape to the US. It is unfortunate that there is a large and vocal movement in this country to make immigration even more difficult. Legitimate concerns about terrorism, gang violence, or other national security issues are only compounded by turning innocent people into criminals. Diverting law enforcement and judicial resources to the investigation and prosecution of innocent people for the crime of seeking better lives is expensive and unnecessary.
Modern technology allows us to make immigration and access to America easier and faster without sacrificing security. It’s time to rethink what made America great in the first place.