“When children stretch their hand down a narrow goody jar, they can’t get their full fist out and start crying. Drop a few treats and you will get it out! Curb your desire – don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 3.9.22
There was also a popular Rolling Stones song with a similar title, but I digress.
My takeaway from Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address last Tuesday night is that Americans are not getting what they need, and that is why the president’s words fall flat. When polled, the top things on most people’s minds are: curbing inflation, protecting/enforcing our southern border, and ending the Covid mandates. At least that is what the priorities are for most conservatives.
Did Mr. Biden address these issues during the State of the Union? Well, some of them – sort of. He spoke about lowering inflation by simply telling companies to lower their costs, but not their wages. I am sure my boss was delighted to hear that all he has to do to cure inflation is start cutting costs (somewhere) but keep paying me the same amount – or more. Is Biden really that dumb? Does he really think businesses aren’t always looking for ways to cut costs and increase profits? It just so happens that personnel costs are typically among the highest of any business’s costs, and thus personnel reductions are usually among the first to take place when businesses look to cut those costs. Do these people who run our government really just not know how basic economic principles work? Or do they just want a sound bite to go over the airwaves that some will hopefully turn into memes and bumper stickers?
He proposed a global minimum corporate tax to prevent corporations from going overseas to get lower rates. Ok. That’s one idea, I suppose. But what happens when all those countries get that power to tax every company on the globe at some arbitrary “minimum” rate? What happens if they together decide later on that the earlier arbitrary minimum tax rate is too low and they have to raise it? What happened to his previous argument earlier in the speech where he was talking about capitalism requiring companies to compete, and when they don’t that’s not capitalism? He said, “it’s not capitalism – it’s exploitation”.
Aren’t these countries offering lower rates to lure more companies to do business in their country simply competing with the countries that demand higher rates? Just like Biden’s home state of Delaware does with its corporate tax rates? Seems like Biden should understand how that works. Isn’t that the definition of competition? Would eliminating that system be exploitation? I’m not sure having a global top-down command and control structure would lead to more freedom and autonomy in the end, in fact, I’m pretty sure it would have the opposite effect.
To me, it just sounds like more potential for graft and corruption for those who run the system and more money coming out of the pockets of us at the bottom who are subject to that system. It’s similar to the arguments against implementing a global carbon tax. It’s interesting that Biden and his party support both. I’m not opposed to finding some solution to the issue of offshoring jobs and closing current loopholes but this is clearly not the correct way.
However, Biden was in office as a VP and a senator for the last 50 years, and so he must have had some input on how those loopholes were created. The politicians who created those “loopholes” are the same ones who are now claiming how unethical they are. Biden has been involved in those policy making discussions for a long, long time. Was he opposed to those loopholes when he helped create them? No. So why is he now? Is he even really opposed to them – or is that just another policy shift that he has been told polls well?
What about the current crisis at the border? Under his watch we have approximately 200k undocumented immigrants coming across the border every month. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates the current population of illegal immigrants is 46.2 million people. In a country of approximately 330M, that’s roughly 14 per cent of the population. That’s a lot of people. It’s taken us decades to get to just this this point, with both sides of the aisle saying they’ll do something, but nothing actually being done. At what point do we ask ourselves who is profiting from this system? They’ve been talking about this problem in Washington since Reagan was in office. Biden’s been there the entire time. Yet now he’s saying “let’s fix the border”? I am pretty sure Biden’s predecessor had a lot of ideas on how to get that done that were systematically dismantled on day one of his administration. So, what’s the plan? Turns out part of it includes building the wall he maligned Trump so much for advocating. That would be the same wall the Democrats were willing to shut down the government over to avoid funding. Funny we don’t hear much about that in the press?
There was much talk about Ukraine during the speech. But nothing about how we’re still buying our oil from Russia, or about resuming drilling in ANWR, or opening the Keystone Pipeline. These are all steps that we could take today that would hurt Putin and ease our pain at the pump. Why not do that? Well, they tell us, “um, the environment.” Oh. So, buying oil that’s drilled in Russia or (now – possibly per Pete Buttigieg, Iran), or Saudi Arabia or Ukraine doesn’t hurt the environment? Why is it ok to do it over there but not here at home? If fossil fuels are so bad and antiquated, why aren’t we doing what Putin’s been doing for years – using nuclear energy to power most of the grid, and exporting all our excess oil overseas? That seems like a good idea.
The political science (not the actual science) seems to have been dictating the mask mandates from day one, and still is, so not much new there. What is new is the administration via the CDC asking social media companies to report to them any and all instances of persons who’ve spread misinformation or disinformation about the virus, and how many people may have been exposed to these nefarious people.
Interestingly, according to the polls, the crisis in Ukraine and the SOTU speech apparently gave him an 8 point bounce so, miraculously, it has worked in his favour.
However, this administration has its hand wrapped around too many treats in the cookie jar, and it doesn’t want to let go. What Americans are asking for is a curb to some of these desires. If he can actually lower the deficit by half (as he claimed in the speech) by the end of the year, great. If that becomes yet another false promise, then I predict his poll numbers will dip back down to the thirties where they were just a couple of weeks ago.