18A007 Improving the SOTU by Jim Davies, 2/13/2018    


President Trump's first State of the Union speech was, unlike most of its recent predecessors', worth watching. It began to be half way decent. Here's why, and how it might have been better.

Heroes were named and greeted in its opening minutes, and that's a very good sign. In a bland collectivist state where everyone is forced to pay for government to meet every need, there's little room for individual heroism; but part of the renaissance of the American spirit, for which Trump claims credit, is that when disasters strike, anyone able to do so pitches in to help.

So when Hurricane Harvey drenched Louisiana, boat owners looked for appeals for help and rescued stranded people, as what was dubbed the "Cajun Navy." A marvelous contrast to the disgrace of Obama's FEMA, which turned away volunteers who had driven from Florida trailing air boats for use in rescuing victims of Katrina.

Trump named others, in and out of uniform. It's what people do; kindness is part of human nature. He might have added that since good people volunteer, there is no need for a Coast Guard to exist, for when it's not being helpful that branch of the military is busy interfering with free use of the ocean. In the coming Zero Government Society if a need is perceived for a well-equipped rescue service to stand by too, the market - probably working with insurance firms - will provide it.

Economic improvement was identified next; reduced unemployment, rising wages, increasing business confidence and lower taxes - both a long-awaited one on companies, and on individuals. Good! I've not noticed a large-scale scrapping of restrictive regulations on business, so this fine recovery could be a great deal better if a machete were taken to those. And if lower taxes lead to greater prosperity - they do - why not slash them to zero?

Government won't ever do that, because it is a non-market institution that can survive only by stealing money, and denizens of D.C. like their jobs. But as increasing numbers of people learn what they are missing in a ZGS, they will quit their government jobs and then the fat cats in Congress will no longer have a choice.

Trump rejoiced in a booming stock market, saying $8 trillion had been added to its value since he took office. But he didn't mention that under the outgoing Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, $5 trillion of new "money" had been created; so less than half of that nominal gain actually came from increased value. He could have announced the need to end the Fed, and challenged Congress to get that done; but he didn't. No matter; in the coming ZGS, we'll do it for them.

Veterans were thanked next, and a young lad called Preston Sharp was praised for organizing the placement of 40,000 US flags on veteran graves. No doubt he did well; but I heard no shadow of a promise that the steady stream of wars waged (115 so far) will dry up, so ending the need for such graves. That was the worst omission in this SOTU, and the end of warfare will be the biggest single benefit resulting from government's evaporation.

Meanwhile it's good that the VA is being sharpened up, by the firing of 1,500 staffers with substandard performance. It's a start; I hope that practice spreads to all departments, especially the IRS; and as more and more workers learn what's taught here and here, there will be less need for firings - for there will be an avalanche of resignations from every part of government.

Justice came next in the SOTU, with reference to the appointment of judges who will honor the Constitution. If fulfilled, that will bring a huge improvement; for example, the Income Tax could not survive it, nor the border police without a new amendment qualifying the Fourth, nor the NSA and several other government obscenities. We shall see. And whether those things happen or not, they will certainly happen after E-Day - along with a vast range of others, for Constitutional rule allows a dreadful set of actions that will have no place in a free society.

Trade Agreements came next in the President's lineup of goodies, but he just doesn't get it. For a buyer in one country to purchase a product from a vendor in another, the only thing government needs to do is to get out of the way. No "agreement" between the two governments is required. All the US one need do it to declare an end to all restrictions and taxes on items crossing borders, and the job will be done; if and when foreign governments follow the example prosperity will rise yet further.

So what's needed is not "reciprocity" or "fairness" but simply a shredder - and then the dissolution of the Customs bureaucracy. The coming ZGS will furnish both.

Infrastructure was said to be crumbling, and it may well be so; it's a massive failure of government to build roads and bridges but to fail to maintain and augment them. Unfortunately instead of calling for all such roads to be sold off to for-profit enterprises, Trump called for $1.5 trillion of tax money to be devoted to repairs. Something else he just doesn't get; and as a large-scale builder himself, he really has no excuse.

Prisons got a mention: "this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance at life." Good. But hardly radical. Why not question the whole assumption that imprisonment is useful or remedial? If justice were based on restitution instead of retribution, the need for re-training and reform would not arise. It's yet another benefit that will probably have to await arrival of the free society.

Immigration is a favorite theme of Mr Trump, and it's what occupied the rest of the SOTU speech. That part was too long and almost fully irrelevant. An anecdote was used to suggest that criminals are imported from Mexico; but no data was offered to support the idea that violent gangs are more numerous among immigrants than among native-born Americans and the "MS-13" gang he spoke of has fewer than 1% of the number of gang members in the country. This ZGBlog showed how to stop or limit mass immigration, and it's too bad that evidently, the President failed to read it.


So how is this SOTU to be rated? - an "F" by the standard of individual freedom, of course, but that is a bit less than fair if one compares it to other recent ones. By that standard, it was worth watching and did have a few good points, and so perhaps deserves a "B".


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