Immigration is a hot topic these days and many people on the left and right are providing their opinions. I am going to provide my point of view on this topic as a person who immigrated to the United States and became a citizen.
An immigrant is a person who seeks to become a citizen of a new country. In my case, I was born in Egypt and I decided from a young age that I want to be an American citizen so I worked hard to build the right skill set that can land me a job in the United States. I worked for several years in Egypt until I landed a good opportunity to work for an American company and moved to the United States. I worked through the system until I became a citizen of the United States. In the process of becoming a citizen of the United States, I renounced my allegiance to my previous country and became an American citizen. I am not a Muslim-American, an Egyptian-American or an Arab-American and I hate that many people are pushing these kinds of dual identities that split people into distinct groups based on their race, national origins or religion. To me being an American is about being an individual which means that I am a unique person and everyone else is unique in his or her own way. This individuality is what makes us Americans, this individuality makes us value life, love liberty, and pursue our own happiness through family, community, and career. I immigrated to this country because I want to build my life without the interference of government, without permission from a supreme leader and without being harassed because I don’t follow a certain religious dogma. The meaning of assimilation, in my opinion, is to embrace the American individuality and be yourself. Unfortunately, many forces prevent immigrants from fully embracing their individuality. (more…)
If you follow the news coverage of this election cycle you will think that the most important issue that the voters care about is Donald Trump’s vs Bill Clinton’s affairs and sexual misconduct. In reality, this is all noise that has zero chance of affecting the lives of citizens. We have a legal system where crimes such as sexual assault and rape are supposed to be tried, where people can be convicted by juries of their peers after adversarial trial but the media focus on trying these crimes instead of the courts because they get good ratings and divert people’s attention from the real issue.
The real issue that affects America is the lack of free market in many fields that leaves people victims of monopolies that prey on them. In this post, I will touch on some of these areas and show why the lack of free market is hurting our country.
Many people on both the left and the right argue that our current trade deficit is caused by our trade agreements and blame the decline in manufacturing jobs on free trade. Trade is not the reason for this decline but it is the factor that exposed the weakness in the American industrial field which is the high cost caused by the taxes, regulations and labor laws that are enforced by the different levels of government. The cost of the government policies prevents the free flow of labor and capital to many industries such as clothing, furniture, and electronics because it is very hard to compete with cheaper imports coming from countries that don’t have the same tax, regulatory and labor burden. There is the wrong way to handle this issue by going into protectionism which will shield our industries from global competition while raising the cost of consumer goods and making all of us poorer. The right way is for the government to realize that it needs to free the American business from these burdens and dramatically reduce taxes and regulations burden and ease the laws protecting labor unions and restricting the flow of labor to the most productive use.
Many Trump supporters point to the foreign governments’ unfair trade practices such as currency manipulation and dumping of cheap products. I think that we should respond to such practices but not before we make sure that our government does everything it can to remove the obstacles facing our industries. (more…)
As Ludwig von Mises explained in his masterpiece book Human Action, the economy consists of individuals performing actions based on their individual preferences and engage in market exchanges “catallactics” with other individuals. People act to satisfy their needs and the needs of other citizens involved. For example, an employee performs his job to meet the goals set by his employer and to earn compensation. We can understand what happens in the market through analyzing the actions people make and the needs they satisfy. For example, when an entrepreneur starts a business that provides a product or a service that meet a certain need, people who value this need will buy this product or service to meet that need and while doing that they satisfy the entrepreneur’s need to have a successful business. If that business doesn’t satisfy enough customers to generate a profit, the entrepreneur will have to either adapt his business to the market or go out of business freeing his time and resources to work on something else.
Many politicians rely on a different standard in the analysis. They explain everything as a conflict between two groups of people:
Karl Marx and his followers explain everything through a class struggle between the workers and the business owners, proletariat vs. bourgeois.
Progressives in the United States explain everything in terms of business exploiting customers and the need for government to protect the customers.
Race activists explain everything in terms of whites exploiting other races.
Of course, there are business owners that abuse their workers, businesses that cheat their customers and white people who discriminate against minority people. But there are also many business owners that treat their workers very well, many businesses that do everything they can to serve their customers and many people who don’t consider race at all in their actions.
Many of the political discussions we have every day involve comparison. Income redistribution advocates compare the incomes of the top 1% or 10% with the income of the bottom 1% or %10, Gun restriction advocates compare gun murder rates in the U.S. versus the same rates in France and Nationalized heath care advocates compare the cost of health care in the U.S. vs. the cost in U.K. or France. Activists cite these comparisons to create a single punch line such as “the top 1% control majority of wealth” or “Nationalized healthcare will save the U.S. a lot of money” but these are misleading comparisons.
When you shop for a car you don’t just look at the price then buy the cheapest option. You look at the individual features, safety, price, warranty and many other variables and then you make your decision. Not all aspects will have the same weight and you will take that into consideration but if you care about price more than anything you may still buy a car that is a bit more expensive if it has a nice feature and the difference in price is acceptable to you.
We should use the same mentality when we evaluate options offered by politicians for a certain problem. When socialists claim that it is unfair for a CEO to have much more income than a typical employee in a company, we should look to other differences between the two people such as education, skills and productivity. (more…)
Should we support a government program just to do something?
Yesterday I participated in a phone survey about a proposed ballot measure to approve the county selling bonds to finance low-income housing construction. The survey asked for my opinion about a number of sentences that support the measure. The sentences were all like “the measure will offer housing to veterans”, “the measure will help low-income people crushed by high home prices” and “this measure will give homeless people a place to live”. After I answered all the questions that I will not support the measure and ended the call; I thought about how is this measure being sold and how government programs start.
The usual government program life start when a disaster happen or with news media focusing on people affected by a certain problem. Then loud voices in the media shout that we need to do something and politicians suggest a new government program to do something. Activists then urge People then to either vote or pressure their representatives to vote to support the program that will do something. Eventually the program passes and the media and the activists move to the next issue that we need to do something about.
This story is always missing asking two important questions:
Why do this problem exist or why did that disaster happen?
Does the proposed program actually solve the problem?