Coronavirus, Domestic Policy

Strength Through Resilience

A nation-state’ s power has traditionally been measured by the size of its military and economy.  As the attached article points out, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights a new and crucial source of national power – a nation’s resilience.  Resilience is defined as the ability to sustain and adapt to a systemic shock, or, as the old Timex watch commercial put it, the ability to take a licking and keep on ticking.  It is based on adequate infrastructure and governmental legitimacy more than material resources. 

Resiliency, however, comes in many forms.  China’s centralized communitarian culture allowed it to bounce back faster from the pandemic, but only by using the same totalitarian governmental repression that caused the crisis in the first place. In contrast, the individualistic culture of America hobbled our ability to control the spread after it arrived, but our decentralized federalist system gave state and local leaders the flexibility to create the necessary controls when the federal government failed to provide leadership.  Our freedom to innovate also helped foster development of reliable treatments and vaccines faster than China. 

At the same time, the weaknesses exposed by the pandemic must be addressed, especially those in our manufacturing capacity and health infrastructure.  By prioritizing efficiency over resiliency in our economy, we ended up dangerously dependent on China and other governments for vital materials, and not just in the medical field. The article touts strong alliances as a solution, but they cannot replace onshore local capacity in a crisis. Building national vigor means identifying and protecting resources we need to survive a future shock, whether it be from a disease, cyberattack, or climate change.

Theodore Roosevelt advocated “the strenuous life” of exercise and outdoor activity as a way of achieving personal resilience.  Both require short- term sacrifice and effort to build the stamina necessary to meet future challenges.  Similarly, we Americans will need to be willing to pay higher prices for domestically-produced goods or higher taxes in order to create the national resilience to remain a great power and a shining example of freedom. The immediate pain will be well worth it in the long run.

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/11/pandemic-revealing-new-form-national-power/170061/

Domestic Policy, Immigration

Protecting American Workers

The Justice Department just struck a blow for Americans by suing Facebook for abusing the H-1B visa and labor certification process to favor temporary immigrant tech workers.  The action is part of a Trump Administration initiative called Protecting American Workers and addresses a problem with one of the biggest loopholes in the immigration law – the “adjustment of status” rules that allow employers to convert a  temporary H-1B visa worker into a permanent resident.  In order to do so, the employer must file a proceeding with the Department of Labor to obtain a permanent labor certification (called PERM for short) to prove that there are no minimally qualified and available American workers qualified for the job.  The rules require the job to be posted at the employer’s workplace and publicly advertised before the filing of a PERM application. 

The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that Facebook created a process designed to prevent American workers from discovering an open position it wished to fill with the temporary worker and applying for it. For example, it failed to post the position on its public website or accept applications on-line in violation of its own human resource procedures.  It then used the contrived absence of applications to justify hiring the temporary worker instead.  The scheme affected over 2,600 high-paid technical positions with an average salary of $156,000.  The government is seeking not only an end to this gaming of the system, but also civil penalties and back pay for those Americans victimized by it.

As I mentioned in my previous post Immigration – The New Slavery, Big Tech has long been exploiting the H-1B visa system and immigration laws to keep their wages down with the acquiescence of the federal government.  The system cruelly betrays the American Dream by allowing companies like Facebook to import foreign workers to undercut the wage level necessary for Americans to afford the education to win those jobs and support a family. 

Democrats have long relied on big contributions from Big Tech.  The fate of this suit and the Protecting American Workers program will be an important test of President-elect Biden’s pro-worker rhetoric.  Will Biden continue to aggressively pursue these abuses or cave in to big business by ending the program to the detriment of American workers?  The answer will indicate whether this will be the presidency of the American worker or just the globalist elites.        

2020 Election, Domestic Policy, Government, Politics

An American Nationalist Voting Index – A Strong America

This is part of a series examining the issues in the presidential election. To see other articles in the series, click on the “2020 Elections” link above.

Score

Biden -1.5 Trump -1

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is an impressive tool of American power, as is the rest of our armed forces.  However, a nation’s strength springs more from its internal stability than its military power. Without a strong American economy and people, the big stick would be an empty husk.  We would look strong on the outside, but would not have the full range of soft, social and economic power necessary to withstand a sustained challenge.  The issues affecting our strength to do so are diverse and worrisome.

Defense

The Trump Administration has increased defense spending almost every year and has proposed a significant increase in naval capacity.  The Pentagon has also begun pivoting strategy away from anti- terrorism to the great power threats of Russia and China.  Trump also recognized the importance of space exploration and development through supporting NASA and establishing the Space Force. However, the execution of this strategy is still foggy, and the swamp of defense procurement has yet to be addressed. Thus, Trump receives a +.5.

Biden has concentrated on measures to improve service members housing and benefits, which is certainly important.  Otherwise, he and other Democrats have talked about modernizing the force by retiring weapons systems and spending less. Modernization is necessary, but their murky statements on the subject cannot support anything other than a zero rating.

Infrastructure

Trump won the 2016 election on the three I’s – infrastructure, immigration, and international relations. While he made measurable progress in advancing the nationalist agenda on the last two, he has miserably failed to accomplish anything on the first.  It is true that the administration has relaxed some environmental rules that slowed down projects. However, this is not enough to repair our crumbling roads, bridges and ports.  He deserves a zero for this failure.

Biden has a relatively specific plan for an infrastructure program, though it features green projects as much as traditional transportation projects. Moreover, Democrats have made assurances that all projects would be subject to strict environmental review and thus dilatory litigation. Nevertheless, his plan earns him a +.5 for its detail. 

Reducing the Budget Deficit and a Strong Dollar

The use of the American dollar as the world’s reserve currency is one of our greatest sources of international power.  It helps protect us from inflation and makes American economic sanctions more effective, thus reducing the need for military action. To maintain this power, our national debt and budget deficit must remain under control so we don’t flood the world with dollar-denominated bonds.

This power is threatened by our increasing national debt, which has exceeded our annual gross domestic product since 2013.  The World Bank calculated that a debt level above 77% retards economic growth The Trump tax cuts increased the deficit and the rate of growth of the debt. Meanwhile, Biden has proposed billions of dollars of new programs with only a modest tax increase to pay for them. Both candidates are courting a Greek-style financial crisis from which America might never recover and each deserves a -1 for this fiscal profligacy.

Decoupling from China

Our dangerous dependence on China for vital materials was laid bare during the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic when we discovered that the manufacturing of masks, ventilators and other vital health materials had largely been outsourced to the Chinese.  Much of the rare earth minerals necessary for solar panels and defense production also comes from China. President Trump’s tariffs began the process of shoring up our manufacturing sector and so rate a +.5.  In contrast, much of this unhealthy dependence developed under the Obama Administration and Biden has belittled the economic threat from China.  This justifies a -.5 score for him. 

Political Violence

As serious as the above issues are, they are dwarfed by the increasing threat of political violence on the left and right. A recent poll showed almost 33% of Democrats and Republicans believe that violence would be justified if their candidate lost the election.  The very legitimacy of our democracy is in the balance.

 Unfortunately, both candidates stoked these violent trends in the past.   President Trump has shamefully encouraged white nationalist groups and the QAnon conspiracy movement but acted forcefully against left-wing rioters in Portland and elsewhere. However, his express statements encouraging white nationalist groups requires a -1 score.

On the other hand, Biden was part of an Obama Administration that tacitly encouraged a ragtag group of Native Americans and radical environmentalists to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline even after the courts rejected all of their objections.  This toleration of lawlessness to achieve their policy goals on climate change encouraged the growth of Antifa and violent urban protests.  Biden has since criticized the current violence.  However, we need a President who unequivocally rejects political violence of all kinds and Biden’s equivocations deserves a -.5.

Conclusion

America can be strong only if it’s people are strong. The development of strength requires sacrifice and commitment, yet neither candidate is truly committed to that goal.  If we cannot find the will to build and maintain our true sources of national strength, the nation that produced Theodore Roosevelt will disappear into history, perhaps with democracy itself.