Take Away from First Presidential Debate

Poo slinging at the presidential debates

Well… my take away from this first presidential debate only confirms what I expected at the outset.  This is a choice between a bologna sandwich and a shit sandwich.

First, I’m not a Hillary Clinton fan.  My opinion is that her choices with the private email server as Secretary of State amount to deliberate actions to avoid freedom of information act requirements based on what I’ve read from several different sources.  I can sympathize with her reasons for making those choices because I’ve worked with email services and users enough to understand the issues that motivated her choices.  She said in the debate, and I agree, it was a poor choice.  Also, I don’t like the prevailing attitudes she and the left wing seem have about government needing to solve societies problems and narrow the curve between the haves and the have-nots down to a greatest common factor.

Next, I strongly dislike Donald Trump.  Everything I’ve seen from him tells me he’s a shallow, racist, blowhard.  I can understand, and sympathize to some extent, with the tribalist underpinnings of what makes his hollow message appeal to some.  I don’t think it’s wrong to give priority to taking care of your own family and community.  I’ve just never heard one idea come from his message that sounds like it would remotely work.

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Tonight’s debate, as they all are, was very lean in terms of communicating specifics about policy ideas.  Here’s what I recall from tonight:

From Mr. Trump:
  1. “We need stop and frisk” and “Law and order”
  2. Our military equipment is too old
  3. Our airports are run down. Build and rebuild infrastructure
  4. The POTUS needs stamina
  5. Cut corporate taxes from 35% to 15% to get corporations to repatriate their cash holdings
  6. Large tax cuts for the wealthy so they can create jobs
  7. Bring back manufacturing jobs
From Mrs. Clinton:
  1. Student Loan reform in the forms of:
    1. Allow for the refinance of student loans
    2. Facilitate education so the loans are necessary in the future
  2. Criminal justice reforms
  3. Raise taxes on the wealthy

Mr. Trumps points…

  1. “We need stop and frisk” and “law and order” reeks of authoritarianism and a lack of respect for the 4th amendment.
  2. His statement to the effect that we have B52s that your grandfather could have flown is absurd and meaningless.
    1. Those aircraft have been maintained and refitted through iteration after iteration to equipment them with the most sophisticated and lethal combinations of technology and armament the world has known.  So what if the aluminium in the air frame was cast in the ’70s.  The engines, targeting systems, weapons, navigational elements are as modern as they come.
  3. and 4: Airports, road, bridges and infrastructure.
    1. Seriously, you’re going to bring this up as an action item for a Trump presidency?  Paying for these things is the job of Congress and private industry.  This is talking out both sides of the mouth.  Cut taxes, shrink government, spend a pile of money on public works projects.  Yeah, those are congruent messages.
  4. Stamina
    1. Please!  That backfired on him beautifully.  Clinton had pneumonia.  It kicks your ass.  She’ll get over it if she isn’t already.  I see a non-issue being pushed by someone fishing for every petty flaw he can identify.
  5. Cut corporate taxes.
    1. I don’t object to trying to make this work .  15% of something is better than 35% of nothing.  I’m skeptical it would work without drastic penalties for moving money overseas and crystal clear accounting rules to keep companies honest.  For multinational companies, 90% to 100% of something moved overseas is probably still better than 85% of that something kept in the U.S.  It would have to be made more expensive to move capital overseas than it is to just pay the taxes for this to work.  I don’t see anything in Trump’s message to suggest he’s thought anything through to extent this would require.
  6. More trickle down economics in the form of tax cuts for the rich.
    1. My opinion is that this is may be the biggest bunch of bull shit pitched to Americans in the last 40 years.  It ignores half the equation in basic economics and depends on an assumption that capital would be reinvested rather than horded or consumed on oneself.  In the absence of demand, this only slides the economic burdens of public spending down the ladder to lower brackets.  I’m open to a debate about the merits of a graduated income tax, public spending, wealth redistribution, the burdens and benefits of taxation, and the role of government.  However, my opinion about the reasoning behind voodoo economics is that it is fatally flawed.
  7. Bring back manufacturing jobs
    1. This is a tired talking point of politicians and panders.  Manufacturing jobs as they were in the mid-twentieth century are not coming back.  They’ve been replaced by the technology workers of the modern day.  The armies of software developers, systems administrators, and technicians that build and run the Internet have filled that role in our country.  Labor is too cheap in the developing word, and 15 to 20 years from now we’ll be lamenting how all our tech jobs were moved overseas (H1B Abuses).  I’ve seen mixed message from Trump on the H1B issue, and the same goes for Clinton.  As a technology worker, this one area that could have tremendous influence on my opinion.

Sec. Clinton’s Points:

  1. Student loan reforms and educational spending
    1. I have mixed opinions on this topic.  First, spending money on education is something I completely support, provided that it goes to pay for the supply side of the equation, and it serves to offset the cost to the student consuming the service.  In my opinion, public education money should be primarily allocated to paying for teachers and facilities, not administration, to the extent possible, and absolutely not to for-profit organizations.  Furthermore, my observations over the last 20 years tell me that subsidizing the demand for education artificially drives up the price of education because increasing the supply to match the demand is a slow process.
    2. I also think student loans are as bad or worse than credit cards.  I would like to see reforms made that force banks to adjust for the risk and allow borrowers to treat those loans like any other unsecured debt.
  2. Criminal justice reform
    1. I think the war on drugs is as untenable as prohibition.  Numbers show it’s responsible for about 20% of incarcerations as of 2012.  The fact that the US ranks near the top of world governments in per capita incarceration is evidence for me of an imbalance between authority and liberty.  Furthermore, I don’t think using the prison system to deal with addiction and drug abuse lends itself to positive results.  Instead, I’d rather see those issues addresses with healthcare, education, and safety net programs.
  3. Raising taxes on the wealthy
    1. Frankly, this strikes me as an empty talking point.  If she said she wants to treat capital gains taxes as regular income and raise the limit on maximum taxable income for social security you’d have something of substance to discuss.  Otherwise, I think it’s political smoke and mirrors.

Parting THOUGHTS

I see Donald Trump as a shallow, lying, pandering, fear mongering slime-ball who can sling ad hominem around but is totally lacking in substance and entirely unfit to occupy the executive branch of government.

Hillary strikes me as intelligent and capable, but deceptive and flawed.

Between the two, I believe Hillary would make decisions that would better respect freedom and would lead the executive branch of the federal government in a more positive direction.

My opinion is that America already is great, and that it’s better off today than 8, 15, 30 and 50 years ago.  I believe Donald Trump would be a HUGE setback for freedom and compassion in the country.  I don’t really like bologna, but I assume it tastes a lot better than shit.

External links

a.  Incarceration rates

Wikipedia

prisonstudies.org

H1B Visa AbusesDisney, WSJ, More, and more

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