American Exceptionalism

American exceptionalism is about leading the way in search of freedom and prosperity, and calling on the rest of the world to join us in the common cause for justice and a sustainable and improving international community. American exceptionalism is not about undermining democratic systems and the rights of other sovereign nations in order to boost American success while diminishing the possibility of success for developing nations. America needs to be a global leader that leads the way with a beacon of hope and freedom, not a superpower that abuses its power over less powerful countries to solely advance its own interests, and not the common interests of the human race.

Open Letter to President Trump regarding trade policies

Dear Mr. President Donald J. Trump,

Globalization.

Are you familiar with this concept that has made the American economy so strong, the American consumer so wealthy, and the American corporation so exceptional?

It seems as though you may need some brushing up. Your proposed plan to impose tariffs and enact a protectionist national trade policy is alarming, pre-20th century in nature, and simply wrong (to which your reply to me is most likely that I’m “wrong”).

I supported you and I continue to do so. I have seen your success as a businessman and admire your beliefs on tax cuts instead of more government regulation. I admire your desire to make the American economy freer and more capitalist (obviously with some government regulation), and your goal to create so many American jobs. I support dramatically lowering income tax rates for the lower and middle classes, and slightly lowering them for the wealthy. I support lowering corporate tax rates so that corporations can pay their workers more and charge less for their products, while still making the same profit. I admire your commitment to helping the middle class and your realization that welfare and handouts are not the permanent solution to those who don’t truly need them i.e. those who are physically capable of providing for themselves and their family.

But your recent proposals on trade shock me. Deeply.

I was aware of your opposition to the TPP (aka the greatest trade deal ever written), but I firmly believed you would listen to the majority of us Republicans who support it.

But after somewhat accepting that America will be willingly harming its economy (or rather refusing to help it) due to your pen pulling us out of the TPP, I now find myself in a state of confusion and betrayal as a result of your proposed tariffs.

On election day, I celebrated. On inauguration day, I celebrated. And today I continue to celebrate because I still believe you have better ideas to move this country forward.

But today I also worry.

Today, I also feel confused.

Today I also wonder why you, our new Republican president, would enact policies to hurt the economy you promised to grow.

You promised to cut our taxes and give us more rights, but tariffs make Americans pay more for products, thus essentially FORCING consumers into buying American-made products.

This nationalist trade policy is anti-American. In the land of the free, consumers should be able to buy imported goods free from government overregulation of the market. Is that not one of the main reasons we declared our independence? (Add the “Sugar Act” to your list of topics to review).

Many people opposed to free trade argue that free trade hurts American jobs. First, let’s look at why Americans buy so many imported products. The simple answer? They’re cheaper. But what does it actually mean to be a foreign imported product? A large percentage of imported products in the US are actually not stemming from foreign companies. They are products from US corporations that have moved manufacturing overseas. Why? The minimum wage and various taxes in this country are seen as a barrier to profit. Thus, the US corporations move manufacturing overseas, but keep their headquarters here. So when they ship their finished products back to the US for sale, are their products really foreign imports? Is the iPhone actually a Chinese product? You claim that these products take away jobs from Americans because the manufacturing jobs are shipped overseas, but can you blame the businesses considering the current state of our labor costs and taxes?

You think the solution is to impose tariffs on these products; let me debunk this myth for you. A 20% tariff on imported products means it costs 20% more for Americans to buy the same product. If the consumer is unwilling to pay that increase, they will be forced to buy a cheaper product. As of now, foreign products are cheaper because of labor, taxes etc. With tariffs, the cost of foreign products increases due to government intervention, thus making US products cheaper in comparison (meaning they aren’t actually cheaper monetarily), and thus making more consumers buy American-made products.

“Sounds great!”, exclaims the factory worker.

Well, not so fast.

1. The 20% tariff is a violation of consumer rights because it highly discourages consumers (essentially dictates economically) from buying foreign goods (which aren’t always foreign if you think about it). Consumers should be able to choose what they want to buy and who they want to buy it from. Is that not the bread and butter of American capitalism? 2. The 20% tariff HURTS American workers. I’ll give you credit for one thing here, more manufacturing jobs will be created in the US (as a result of your government overreach of power). But, this figure alone is not the whole picture. There are more American consumers than manufacturing workers, and that will always be the case. This tariff may create more manufacturing jobs, but it comes at the cost of the American taxpayer and consumer.

The economy in this country revolves around the consumer.

If the American consumer can now buy less (due to higher prices), the American economy is WEAKER. If the American taxpayer now has to pay more taxes, the government is STRONGER. If the government dictates what products the American consumer can buy and where they buy them from, their RIGHTS are TAKEN AWAY.

In general, this tariff policy may help create jobs for a small percentage of the population, but it will have a NEGATIVE impact on consumers (which includes the workers receiving jobs as a result of these tariffs). After all, isn’t the goal of the US economy to be able to buy more? (Add “consumerism” to your list of topics to review)

Protectionism is an abuse of government power, and it simply doesn’t work in today’s world of globalization.

With multinational corporations, what does it really mean to be an American product? In my eyes, the country in which the product was manufactured means less than the country in which it was developed.

Ever since this country became a superpower, hasn’t American INNOVATION been more of a factor than American manufacturing? We had great manufacturing in the late 19th century, but were we as relevant then?

With the rise of the technological age, the world has looked to America for many advances and breakthroughs. They looked to America not because the products were physically manufactured here, but because our corporations and our people took first steps, and they took these steps successfully.

The Osborne 1 (the first laptop) was developed by Americans, but would it really matter where it was built?

Americans were the first to step on the moon, but if the materials for the Saturn V rocket were mined on another continent, does that make the success of the Apollo program any less American?

The MacBook Pro that I’m currently using to write this was ultimately manufactured in China, and contains parts inside that were individually manufactured across the globe. But aside from the “Made in China” engraving is also another engraving that states: “Designed by Apple in California.”

Apple is one of the many examples of American corporations that through innovation and determination was able to revolutionize the world.

My wish for this country is that it provides a business and innovation friendly environment so that America can continue to be a beacon for scientific development, medical advances, and technological evolution, just to name a few.

Whether or not a product was made in America means much less than whether or not it was invented and designed here. Steve Jobs and his coworkers at Apple put years of work into designing the iPhone. The average worker at a manufacturing plant may spend less than a minute on the iPhone on the assembly line, and the iPhone itself can be built in days or less.

Physical labor is important and can provide jobs, but innovation is what PROVIDES these jobs. Innovation is the key to our economy, both nationally and globally.

Therefore, to fully embrace and support the innovation that America has been leading for decades, your policy on trade must be freer and more friendly to corporations and consumers so that the profits can continue to lead to new developments.

Trade is best done as a competition between corporations to create the best market for consumers, with minimal government intervention. The days of imports and exports of countries having significant meaning are over, but the days of which countries are the most favorable to business and innovation has never been so important.

This being said, I propose to you a plan that will keep and create American manufacturing jobs while also maintaining consumer rights, keeping costs as low as possible, and allowing for more innovation: provide tax incentives and tax cuts to corporations that manufacture in the US (along with lowering corporate income tax rates) and eliminate all tariffs on imported products.

Make companies want to stay here due to an increased net profit, not out of fear of the government artificially eliminating foreign goods from the competition of the free market.

You ran on a platform of creating jobs, strengthening the economy, and rebuilding the middle class.

I call on you Mr. President to live up to these promises.

Cutting taxes and making the US more favorable to business is the solution to these three promises. Protectionism backfires and has adverse effects on these issues you seek to fix.

If you truly want to “Make America Great Again”:

Make America more favorable to business.

Make America have a freer economy that embraces competition not as a barrier to progress and jobs, but as a catalyst for future solutions and improvement.

And most of all, make America the beacon of freedom and innovation, not big government and high taxes.

The economic policies I’ve mentioned are the foundation of our party, and our country.

If you truly want to make America STRONG, WEALTHY, PROUD, and GREAT again, then I call on you to eliminate protectionism and tariffs from your trade agenda, and instead support trade policies that will help corporations, consumers, the economy, and the WORLD succeed.

These are the days of globalization and consumer and economic freedom.

These are the days of innovation and technology.

Mr. President, it’s time for FREE TRADE.

Sincerely,

Proud American citizen and high school student,
Mike Brodo

Fossil fuels cause more problems than simply climate change

The argument against continuing to rely on fossil fuels that isn’t used enough is not about climate change. Climate change is real and is a big reason why we need to stop relying on fossil fuels. But, let’s say for the sake of the argument that the “climate change is a hoax” people are correct. The non-existence of climate change does not change the fact that fossil fuels are non-renewable. Fossil fuels will run out, and if we continue to rely on them, we will run the world back into the dark ages. So to all the fossil fuel supporters… you’re wrong on climate change, but even if you weren’t, fossil fuels are not a permanent solution to energy. Case closed. It’s time to invest in green energy infrastructure, which will create millions of jobs in the process.

Decriminalize drugs to help patients

Decriminalizing all drug use is part of the solution to ending the opioid epidemic. We need to stop treating addicts as criminals, but rather as people who fell victim to a horrible disease. Rehabilitation is beneficial to their recovery; incarceration is not. I hope to see a statewide effort to decriminalize drug use so that we may help these people, not lock them up.

Marijuana Legalized in Massachusetts

RIP Marijuana Prohibition in Massachusetts (1911-2016).

Obituary:
Name: Marijuana Prohibition in Massachusetts
Date of Death: November 8, 2016
Date of Burial: December 15, 2016
Cause of Death: Common sense and the will of the people

Summary of Life:
Marijuana prohibition was a total failure and led to the imprisonment of non-violent people, especially minorities.

Family Members: Marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts is unfortunately survived by its siblings in 42 other states. We’re hoping that their lives are short lived.

How can I help? In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, or Students for Sensible Drug Policy so that all of America can end the failure that is marijuana prohibition.

How can I celebrate? Funeral celebrations can be public as long as marijuana is not smoked in a public place. If you want to celebrate the funeral by planting, remember that the maximum is 6 plants per person and 12 plants per household.

It’s official. Marijuana prohibition is over. Now we can make this into a regulated and safe industry that doesn’t target minorities.

It’s Time to End Marijuana Prohibition in Massachusetts

Article first appeared in the Holliston Reporter

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After reading the Holliston Reporter’s summary of the recent debate over marijuana policy at the Holliston Democratic Town Committee’s meeting (“To Pot or Not to Pot,” Aug. 15), I remain more convinced by the “Yes on 4” message. From a common sense, social justice, and economic standpoint, it is clear that regulating marijuana is far better than the current policy.

               At the meeting, the opponent of Question 4 focused on the threat of “Big Marijuana,” and claimed that the industry would target children just like “Big Tobacco.” While this may sound scary, it is important to remember that over the past couple of decades we have successfully reduced teen cigarette smoking to historic lows, according to the Monitoring the Future youth behavior study. Apparently, regulating tobacco and educating youth about its dangers — not criminalizing adult use — has been very effective in achieving public health objectives. Our current policy of marijuana prohibition, on the other hand, has not been at all effective in reducing the availability and use of marijuana among teenagers. According to that same study mentioned above, four out of five high school seniors report that marijuana is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.

My opponents argue that legalizing marijuana will make it easier for teenagers to get their hands on it. However, as mentioned above, it is already extremely easy for teens to get marijuana if they so choose. While legalizing marijuana won’t necessarily make it harder for teens to get, it certainly won’t make it easier. Also, when marijuana is bought legally from a store, the consumer knows exactly what strain it is, and is guaranteed that it is not laced with toxic substances or drugs. Therefore, if legal marijuana were to fall into a teenager’s hands, it is much safer considering it didn’t come from the streets where it could have been laced or otherwise altered.

The legality and existence of tobacco is hardly ever complained about in our community. However, when the prospect of legalizing and regulating marijuana is brought to the table, many people rise up in opposition. According to a study from the University of California-San Francisco, it is scientifically proven that tobacco is much more harmful to the lungs than marijuana. Another study published in Scientific Reports reveals that marijuana has the lowest risk of death when compared to other drugs used recreationally, including alcohol and nicotine. According to the CDC, “cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States”. However, when the NIH released their report on overdose deaths in 2015, not one overdose death was reported from marijuana. This proves that it is impossible to fatally overdose on marijuana. Therefore, when people support the legality of tobacco, especially cigarettes, but wholeheartedly oppose the legalization of marijuana, it somewhat perplexes me. I can understand the opinion of keeping the status quo, and that there has been a cultural taboo on marijuana for years. Marijuana was federally outlawed by the “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937”, but had been illegal in many states prior to that year. However, tobacco has always been legal in the United States, and cigarette smoking was a norm just a few generations back. The legality of tobacco has misled people to think that tobacco is less harmful than marijuana, even though that is far from the truth. These studies prove that our drug laws are flawed. Therefore, I present Holliston voters with these facts. The current purchasing age for tobacco in Holliston is 18, while under laws passed through Question 4, the purchasing age for marijuana would be 21. The prospective laws in Question 4 also strictly prohibit marijuana use in public, while current tobacco laws prevent no such use. Tobacco smokers are currently allowed to light up a cigarette in our streets, increasing the risk of secondhand smoke to the rest of us, especially children. Question 4 makes sure that those who choose to refrain from marijuana are never exposed to it in public.

The same argument can be made against the legality of alcohol. Alcohol poisoning causes 2,200 deaths in the US each year according to the CDC. This stat again shows that there are legal drugs that have far more overdose deaths than marijuana. MADD statistics show that “teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year – that’s more than all illegal drugs combined.” Yet the support for alcohol prohibition is astoundingly smaller than the support for our current marijuana prohibition.

My opponents say that although marijuana cannot directly lead to death from overdose, it can lead to deaths indirectly. This is a true statement, however, alcohol use is responsible for overdose and indirect deaths. In fact, alcohol related deaths are responsible for 88,000 deaths each year in the US according to the NIH. If my opponents want to argue the indirect causes of death from marijuana, but support the legality of alcohol, I will simply ask them how that is not a contradiction. Question 4 explicitly states that “it will remain entirely illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, and employers will be able to maintain all current employment drug use policies.”

Furthermore, the opponent’s argument overlooked the fact that we already have a “marijuana industry” — it just exists in the shadows where we have no oversight or control. Legitimate marijuana businesses are obliged to follow laws and the rules we set up. Simply put, they are accountable to us. In the illicit marijuana industry, dealers have no incentive to ensure the safety of their product; no incentive not to sell other illegal drugs like heroin alongside marijuana; and no incentive not to sell to children. Illegal dealers are simply not held accountable to us.

Since this underground marijuana industry already exists, it makes complete sense that we make this a legal, regulated industry. As a result of regulating and taxing marijuana, Massachusetts will generate an estimated $100 million in additional revenue. This revenue can be put toward crucial programs in our state, especially education and transportation. Also, law enforcement will no longer waste resources on petty marijuana crimes, thus freeing up more time and money to focus on the dangerous crimes that plague our state’s communities, such as murder, rape, and DUI (marijuana-related included).

A regulated marijuana industry will also boost Massachusetts’ economy as it has done in Colorado. New businesses and new jobs from legal marijuana will have many positive ripple effects that strengthen the economy. This will create legal and safe jobs for many people in Massachusetts, including current dealers. Regulating marijuana simply takes it off the streets where it is dangerous, and has it sold by government-regulated stores that have to follow the same health codes and business policies that any other store does.

Approving Question 4 will also end a socially unjust and racially discriminatory policy.  A study from the ACLU found that black citizens are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite virtually identical usage rates among the two groups. Legalizing marijuana prevents this unjust discrimination from being carried out against minorities possessing marijuana.

For individuals who need marijuana for medical purposes, it can still be difficult to access and be unaffordable under the existing medical marijuana law even though medical marijuana passed on the ballot four years ago. Out of 36,000 physicians in Massachusetts, only 155 are certified to issue medical marijuana cards, according to state records. Passage of Question 4 allows doctors and patients to make important healthcare decisions without fear of committing a criminal act.

For me, this issue boils down to a simple question: do we want to pretend that marijuana doesn’t exist and refuse to regulate it, or do we want to have more control and impose sensible regulations on the production and sale of marijuana to better protect public health and safety? The answer to me is clear. Whether one loves marijuana or hates it, we have to accept that it exists and is widely used in society. From a public policy standpoint, regulating marijuana makes far more sense than continuing the failed policy we have in place now.

Please visit https://www.regulatemassachusetts.org/ for more information and vote YES on Question 4 this November.