Author: Ryan Lau

Ryan is a first-year sophomore at the University of Vermont, double majoring in philosophy and psychology. He is 71 Republic's Editor in Chief and a member of the Board of Directors. The works of Konkin, Goldman, Rothbard and Tolstoy have influenced his anarchist beliefs and led him to seek a way to bring those ideas into reality.

The End of Days? Apocalypse Cow Born in Israel

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Recently, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem announced the birth of a rare red heifer cow. According to the institute, if the calf qualifies, it would be the first “red heifer in 2000 years”.

An Apocalypse Cow?

Christianity and Judaism both state that the birth of a pure, unmarked red heifer calf spells the beginning of the end of the world. With a potential apocalypse cow born, the institute now must undergo vigorous screening of it. If the calf has any marks or blemishes, then it is not pure, and thus, cannot be the sacrificial animal that the religions’ sacred texts promise.

The Temple Institute is a non-profit Jewish religious group based out of Israel. Their main goal is to create the biblical Third Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. According to sacred texts, after the tenth red heifer in history is sacrificed, the people can begin building the temple.

The Red Heifer’s Religious Heat

However, the Islamic Dome of the Rock currently lies on Mount Moriah. In order to construct the Third Temple, they would first need to destroy the original structure. So, in order for this to occur, the Jewish community would first need to come to a consensus that the organization had truly found the right heifer. This, though, may turn out to be more difficult than it sounds, because they also would be bulldozing a major Muslim religious monument. And Islam, though similar to the other two monotheistic religions in many ways, does not recognize the red heifer as a symbol of judgment day.

Since 2015, the Temple Institute has been breeding cows in attempts at bringing about a red heifer. Though they have not resorted to genetic engineering, it is, of course, true that breeding knowledge is vastly more advanced today than in biblical times. Thus, it is not explicitly clear whether or not the cow would count, if it did not come about its conception through natural methods.

On the other hand, though, some may argue that the manipulation of animal lineage may necessitate judgment day, or at the very least, not disqualify it. In order for the construction of the temple to begin, the current owners of the Dome would need to agree to demolish it. Yet, it is highly unlikely that the Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places would do so.

High-stakes Conflict

Unfortunately, this refusal would likely stir up much more controversy. In recent years, Israeli leaders have threatened to take back the territory for Judaism. Only last year, the Jewish Temple movement stated officially that “We must liberate the Temple Mount from the murderous Islam”.

With a belief of the world’s end in play, these tensions would only skyrocket. Though they have threatened to tear down the Dome in the past, an important event such as the red heifer may be enough to prompt swift action. Muslims, though, having just lost a major religious monument, would surely retaliate if this was the case.

Without a doubt, the apocalypse cow has the chance to stir up some major religious controversy. If left unchecked, it could worsen the already horrific relations between Israel and Palestine, or even start a larger religious war. And unlike past religious wars such as the Crusades, Israel has nukes now. Other nearby nations are also hoping to attain them, so such a war could cause irrevocable consequences.

On Facebook, the institute officially declared the birth of the calf, but have yet to provide further information. Whether or not this calf can be the apocalypse cow may make or break hopes of peace between bitter religious rivals in Israel and the rest of the world.


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Inevitable Death at the Hands of the Former

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

As Jake sprinted down the dimly lit hall, he did not dare a look over his shoulder. Doing so would spell out his certain and inevitable death at the hands of the Former.

All-seeing and all-powerful, the Former, having created the whole of existence, could inhabit the mind of any man who did not recognize its power. However, Jake, having learned the world’s true nature in a dream long ago, was not under Its control. Rather, he was a threat to the Former’s hold, and thus, needed to be erased.

Jake had spent ten years on the run, never trusting, never even speaking to another man. From ghost towns to desolate woods to arid deserts across the world, the traveler always was ahead of anyone else. But now, in the abandoned theater, the Former had caught him.

Rounding a corner, fearing for his life, he bumped into a young boy of about ten years. “Wh.. what are you doing here?” the child asked, puzzled. “Are you going to erase me, like the scary man says?”

The question struck Jake like a heavy metal mallet, freezing him in place and dumbfounding him. “You hear it too? In your dreams?” He began to sweat, hands growing clammy, terrified and excited that he may not be alone in this world. The boy frowned slightly, mumbling, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. Quivering, he reached into his coat. Jake realized what was happening a moment too late as the boy pulled out a small silver revolver and shot him in the chest.

Gasping deeply, Jake woke suddenly, sitting upright with a look of alarm on his slightly wrinkled face. Though only twenty-nine, his knowledge wore away at his years, and he looked nearly double that. With grizzled gray hair, a coarse beard, and tattered clothes, Jake looked as if he had spent a number of months alone in the woods.

The woods, though, would have been preferable to his current surroundings. For nearly ten years, Jake had been in an insane asylum. For most of that time, today included, he was in solitary confinement, due to his tendency to attack anyone in sight. After all, he had yet to meet anyone who the Former had not taken control of.

If at any time, he thought, he helped another man see the world for what it really was, nothing more than an energy source for a powerful being, the Former would lose a little bit more energy. Without access to the mind, the Former could not control it, feed off of it, harness it for greater power. Jake knew little of the nature of the Former, why It desired such energy, why It could only inhabit males, or what It used it for. Merely, he knew that the Former was real, could inhabit anyone, and wanted him dead.

Anyone, then, could end his life at any time, for he was a threat to the natural order of the world.

Jake sat and thought, as he often did in the mornings. Of course, he thought at the other times of day too, for there was little else to do without the company of another person. But something about the mornings made those thoughts of particular importance to him.

In the previous night’s dream, he remarked, the boy had suggested that he, too, was enlightened. This was the first time, in his many lonely years, that a dream had revealed the possibility of someone like him. Every night had been the same: endless running, never stopping, always running into another person who killed him without hesitation.

At around noon, a scratchy-sounding buzzer rang through the confines of the small, uninviting room. A female voice rang through, no more smooth than the buzzer. “Visitor here for you, Mr. Anderson.”

Hearing this, Jake erupts into a panic, knowing only the Former would have any interest in visiting him. Though his life was without freedom or ability, he nonetheless feared deeply for its end. In life, at least, Jake knew how the Former reigned; but in death, anything was possible.

As his door creaked open, he feared for the worst. Surely, someone would emerge holding a weapon. Every night’s dream showcased one, always catching him off guard. Sometimes it came in the form of a knife, club, even a flamethrower, but none were so frequent as the silver handgun.

Suddenly, a flash of silver moved in through the now ajar door, and Jake flew out of his seat. “Jake! I told you I would come for you!”

But the voice was female, not male, as the Former had always been. As Lucinda, his fiancé, entered the room, Jake felt his heart turn to liquid, and he relaxed back into the seat.

“Luce, where have you been? Ten years in this place and not even so much as a letter or a message?” Jake spoke with no malice, only longing relief, as he embraced her for the first time in what felt like lifetimes.

Lucinda frowned slightly, looking ashamed. “It wasn’t easy getting in here. I spent the whole first year trying to get myself in. But after that, I couldn’t do it. I saw you through the monitors here, but every time you looked to be having those horrible dreams of yours.”

Jake began to make a remark, but Lucinda continued abruptly. “After that, I marched myself into the office and told them to let you go, and that you needed me, not some dark cold room. But they didn’t like that, and things escalated, and I did things I regretted. Spent some time locked up myself.” Jake inhaled sharply at the thought of his beloved behind bars but kept listening. “As soon as I got out, I decided it was time to do the same for you. I called everyone I knew, I fought the state and the country and the world and raised more money than I ever thought I’d have. You’re coming home with me now!”

The patient tensed suddenly at the thought of being a part of the outside world again. “Home?” he spoke quietly. “What home? Lucinda, this has been my home for almost a decade. This is my home now.”

“Well I mean, our home! I bought the place last week, a beautiful ranch on the river where we used to sit and watch the sunset. Not too far from where you proposed!” Lucinda flashed her engagement ring, beaming when she saw his as well.

Jake screwed up his eyes as if some horrible demon was grappling his brain. “No, no, no. This is my home, Luce. It’s the only place I’m safe from the Former!” He trembled as the words slipped out.

Lucinda, hearing this, looked sullen. “Jake, you know that’s why they put you here. It was wrong of them and I fought so hard against it and I won. But this is all in your head, love. I’m real, and I love you, and I made a new life for us! You don’t have to live like this anymore.” She spoke with a soothing tone, delicately balancing her assertion with a strong regard for his predisposition.

“Well, of course, it’s in my head,” Jake replied thoughtfully. “But that doesn’t make it any less real. Ten years I’ve had to do nothing but dream horrible dreams and think horrible thoughts, and as much as I hate the latter almost as much, it helped me realize so many things. Nobody can disprove the existence of the Former, whether I’m right or not.”

“What are you going on about, sweetie?” Lucinda appeared not to understand this new direction. Though he had begun fearing the Former slightly before his confinement in the ward, he rarely spoke of the matter to her.

“I mean, those men out there can never, with full certainty, insist that their minds are their own. If a Former took them over, could it not, just as easily, convince them that they were thinking clearly and of their own accord? And even if I am wrong, and their minds really are their own, how could I ever prove it to myself? With all of the visions, all of the dreams, it is too dangerous to dismiss the possibility! I die every night in bed, only to come back to reality where I suffer through to die again the next. Nobody else has to live like this, and nobody else’s head is full of the Former’s haunting voice!” Jake’s own voice rose suddenly, with growing anger, then shrank again. “I’m sorry, Luce. I love you too but cannot jump into a world in which everyone wants me dead.”

But Lucinda, now fully understanding, took matters into her own hands. “You think your life is so rough? Then why sit there and dream and think? You don’t have to do this anymore. You can come with me and start a new life. We can even sell that stupid ranch and get a place wherever you would like, with nobody else around.”

“No, Luce, we can’t! They’ll always find me, they always do! The Former is in every man and can get everywhere, everywhere but for some reason, inside of this room. It always has and always will. I am the biggest threat of all men, for I alone know of the oppression that It brings to the world. I threaten Its way of being.”

“And how are you going to make anything any better from the inside of that cell?”

“I don’t know. I’m not. I’m going to sit here and think until I die.”

“And what good will that do you? What good will it do anyone else?”

“What does it matter what good it does me or anyone else?”  He grew angry once more.

“Well it would sure do me a lot of good, and you too, if we went and were happy together.”

“Until I die and leave you miserable and single.”

Identifying his true fear, Lucinda knew exactly what to say to soothe it. “So, Jake, if I am right, we get to live a wonderful life together. Perhaps we may finally marry, and raise a family, and move to the country. I have plenty of money so that we can invest it and never work a day in our lives. We can devote all of our time to each other. But suppose you are right, and every man in the world wants to kill you. I’m no man, as you should know by now. We can run away together, and if one finds you one day, we will have spent the remainder of your life together. That is all I could ever desire.”

Jake quivered, but this time, with a joy he had not felt in a decade. “You mean that Luce, don’t you?”

Lucinda grinned and replied, “You know the answer to that already, sweetie.” She reaches into her bag and pulls out a pair of beautifully-baked muffins, handing one to her fiancé. “Before I go and let the guards know you’ve decided, I thought I’d give you a taste of real food again! I spent all night baking them, knowing you’d want something special for the first edible thing you’ve had in some time.”

As he took the first bite, tears streamed down Jake’s face. After all of this time, he was finally going to make it out. Of course, the Former still lurked around every corner, but it was no matter. Even one day spent in peace with Lucinda was worth the suffering that may follow it. A small part of him even clung to the desperate hope that, by some miracle, she may be right, and the Former was all in his head.

After scarfing down the muffin, he looked at Lucinda with pure love as she moved for the door.

“I’m going to get the guards now, sweetie.” She smiled once more at Jake. “But I suppose I don’t have to even leave the room for that! I can just slide into their minds next.”

The grin suddenly turned shrewd. “I really thought this would be more difficult. You really couldn’t fathom the notion that I could get into a woman’s mind, too? Well, I’ll be on my way now; these guards have a body to dispose of! Don’t bother trying to resist, sweetie. The poison in that muffin will take effect long before anything you do has any prayer of working.”

As if on cue, Jake started gagging violently, as his insides erupted with pain. Choking, he was unable to form a clear response.

“You really thought that I would let my men and women let you out of this place? What, so you go could go about, trying to take the world back, stealing from me? I fight a battle stronger and more powerful than anything your puny brain can imagine. Your attempts to derail me are pitiful. But, you can at least die with the knowledge that you were right about Me.” Lucinda slowly walked out of the room, the door closing behind her with a resounding thud.

Convulsing on the floor, Jake looked up, fury in his gaze. But in less than a minute, the fury, along with his life, had completely subsided.


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Russia Alleges U.S. Dropped White Phosphorus Bombs on Syrian Village

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Late Sunday night, Russia accused the United States of dropping bombs containing white phosphorus in a raid in Syria. The Kremlin alleged that two planes flew over a small town in Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor province. At that point, says Russia, they released the white phosphorus bombs, which caused massive fires.

Russian Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko said Sunday that Washington carried out a similar raid with the white phosphorus bombs on Saturday. “Following the strikes, large fires were observed in the area”, he told RT. Information regarding deaths and injuries for both alleged attacks is not yet available.

What is White Phosphorus?

White phosphorus is a war chemical with a number of purposes. The smoke is usable for both offense and defense. When lit, it burns very quickly and brightly, serving as a useful smokescreen to hide behind. These blankets of smoke are quite common and are generally legal.

However, it can also be highly deadly. When used offensively, the gas can burn through skin, all the way down to the bone, in a short timeframe. Because of this, the Geneva Conventions placed heavy regulations on the incendiary white phosphorus missions. Essentially, the substance is legal as a smokescreen, but not as an instrument of death. To ensure this, they barred all use of it against civilian targets, as well as against military targets in civilian areas. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons also bars the use of incendiary weapons against civilians.

The Pentagon’s Denial

Despite the harsh allegations, the U.S. is denying that either strike used white phosphorus. In fact, Commander Sean Robertson said Sunday that such an attack would be impossible because he did not have the chemical. “None of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorus munitions of any kind”, the U.S. official declared.

However, Russia is not without controversy of its own in regards to the matter. In March, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British organization, accused the Kremlin of using incendiary bombs against a rebel base near Damascus. Russia has since denied these accusations in full. Neither country, however, has denied entirely the use of military force against largely civilian targets.

A History of Misuse

This is not the first time that the U.S. is coming under fire over chemical weaponry. In 2005, they admitted to using white phosphorus as a weapon in efforts to secure Fallujah in Iraq. “It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”, said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Veneable, speaking on behalf of the U.S. The country also admitted to using it for incendiary purposes just one year earlier, in the First Battle of Fallujah.

Before admitting this, however, they had denied using the substance. They claimed, on the other hand, that they were only using it as a smokescreen. When the truth came to light, it was a major mishap for the country’s public relations. Questions rose in regards to what else the military was hiding from the people and the world.

Just last year, controversy arose again about the banned incendiary. In June, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. had used the gas twice in Syria as an incendiary. The New York Times, on the other hand, gave a different look. A military official told the paper that the U.S. had used the gas, but only in legal methods.

Mass Casualties in Syria

While Russia and the U.S. continue their patterns of denial, the evidence is growing that Syria is also using banned tactics in their civil war. Residents reported this weekend that President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces had used barrel bombs in Southern Idlib, where rebel forces reside. According to the report, at least two children died as a result of the attacks.

Syria has also faced questions regarding their own use of white phosphorus and other chemical weapons in the past. In total, over 350,000 people have died since the dawn of the war, many of whom were civilians.


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Anarchy: What It Is and What Teen Vogue Fails to Realize

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

On Friday, Teen Vogue author Kim Kelly ran a piece that she titled “Anarchy: What It Is and Why Pop Culture Loves It”. In it, she attempts to answer both of those questions. However, her perspective is nowhere near accurate. Frankly, it makes her look like she does not understand a thing about the general principles of anarchism. Here, unlike Kelly, from an actual teen, is a real representation of anarchy’s ideology of peace.

The Ideology Without an Ideology

Initially, Kelly correctly states that the media often believes that anarchy is a no-rules, middle-fingers-up attitude. But the second she begins explaining what is really is, the logic falls off of the block.

Her claim that “anarchism is a radical, revolutionary leftist political ideology…” is partly true. Yes, it is both radical and revolutionary, of course. Like any great threat to the state, it is a fringe group that proposes radical ideas for change. However, anarchism has absolutely no inherent association with the left or the right.

Ultimately, anarchism deals with the abolition of the state. Before it is left, right, or anything else, it is anti-state. Anarchists believe that the state inherently restricts the abilities of people to freely associate with each other. However, they are very much divided on whether they believe in a free market or voluntarily controlled economy.

Kelly points this out, later going through a list of various anarchist views of thought. Despite this, she only paints half of the picture, basically stating that anarcho-capitalism is a fringe ideology that most other anarchists do not recognize. While this is true, she forgets that all forms of anarchism are pretty fringe. Note that not a single major politician today identifies with any of the varying forms.

Moreover, she fails to state that anarcho-capitalists often do not consider anarcho-communists to be legitimate, due to their belief that communism, and the associated collectivism, are inherently at odds with the idea of freedom.

In the end, though, anarchism is not a political ideology. Without a state, politics does not exist. Individuals would merely associate freely with each other in the communities that they desired to live in.

What Anarchism Really Is

In her entire piece, Kelly does not once mention the most critical point of anarchism: it is a rejection of the initiation of violence. Whether that violence comes in the form of capitalism, regulations, war, taxation, or the police, (or all of the above) anarchists agree that the state is an aggressive institution that should not exist in a free society. All of them desire a society where they can live in peaceful freedom, and all recognize that the state is the biggest threat to that freedom.

The differences only come from the fact that each views the state slightly differently. Some anarchists believe it to be a form of capitalist greed, or elitist power, or military might. Others may find it to be an organization that steals inherently from the people to fund things like social safety nets.

Anarchists also inherently oppose war, believing that they are antithetical to freedom. Though opposing war has been a very key part of anarchism, dating back to the more radical members of Vietnam War protests, Kelly fails to point this out in any capacity. She instead focuses on an interesting term that has absolutely nothing to do with anarchy.

Anarchy is NOT Democracy

One of Kelly’s most prominent assertions is the idea that anarchy is a radical democracy. This simply could not be farther from the truth, and democracy is, in fact, impossible in an anarchist society.

When it comes down to it, the two terms are entirely incompatible. Democracy, of course, is a system where the people vote directly on laws and events. Notable examples include the ancient Greek state of Athens, famous for putting Socrates to death over his differing beliefs. Anarchism, on the other hand, removes all forms of coercive power. In such a system, no majority of people can simply decide to kill a man for being different, or corrupting the youth. But in a democracy, this is entirely possible, and, clearly, happened on a number of occasions. When it comes down to it, democracy is nothing more than the state’s tyranny of the majority. Anarchy, though, opposes coercive tyrannies of all forms, including democracy.

In short: democracy is a form of government. Anarchy is a lack of government. A government cannot exist in a society without government.

Antifascism and Anarchism

Following the flawed point on democracy, Kelly then claims that all anarchists are anti-fascist. Technically, this is not untrue but is essentially just a monotonous and repetitive talking point to garner more support. Fascism, again, like democracy, is a form of government. Kelly does not seem to realize that anarchism opposes all forms of governments, for if she did, she would not need to spend any additional time addressing particular forms. More strikingly, she would certainly not, as an opponent of the state, support a form of government.

It is also worth noting that antifascism does not necessarily imply support for Antifa groups. Though Kelly voices her support for them, she again only shows one side of things. Many anarchists, in fact, oppose Antifa just as much as they oppose fascism. As Antifa often supports violence, especially against those they claim to be fascist, peaceful anarchists tend to oppose them, as they do all forms of violence.

A Weak Definition From a Fake Anarchist

To summarize, it is not enough to be an enemy of the current state to be an anarchist. To fall under the definition, you need to oppose all forms of government and believe that governments are an inherently immoral institution.

Kelly does point this out in her piece, but at the same time, does not support her own ideas, and voices clear support for democracy, a coercive form of government. She also endorses Antifa, an organization that has behaved violently in the past, even though she claims to oppose the violence of the state. A clear supporter of both state and anti-state violence, her actions are in no way consistent with her words.

Kelly’s ideology proves to be very dangerous, and if the anarchist community ever wants to see ideologically sound success, they should steer very clear of it. Democracy is not anarchy, and violence is not anarchy. The very suggestion of such makes it quite obvious that Kelly either does not understand what anarchism is, or does, but is not an anarchist herself. In either situation, take her words with warning, as they are nothing more than violence and government action under the guise of radicalism.


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Josh Hawley’s Wage Plan will Cripple the Working Class

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

The 2018 mid-term season is in full swing, and Missouri’s senate race is heating up. Republican attorney general Josh Hawley defeated Austin Petersen, among others, in the August 7th primary. Since then, he has been in a tight battle with incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Too Close to Call, so Far

Recent polling suggests that the race is one of the closest in the country. Real Clear Politics lists a number of polls between the two, in which Hawley recently averages a slim 0.6 point lead. This, of course, is well within the standard margin of error, which is between two and five points. RCP also ranks Missouri’s race as one of only nine toss-ups in the country.

Given this knowledge, it is unsurprising that Hawley is seeking out ways to distinguish himself from McCaskill. However, he is quite unwise in the means that he selects. This Monday, the attorney announced his intents to create a bill that, if passed, would effectively become the second largest minimum wage increase in United States history.

The “Work Credit” Minimum Wage Hike

Interestingly, Hawley is not directly calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage. Instead, he desires a “work credit” for all those making less than the median wage. Specifically, the credit would take their wages and bring them 50% closer to the median. The very nature of this plan is a disaster waiting to happen.

As of May 2017, the median wage was $18.12 for hourly workers in America. In the same year, 80.4 million workers were earning an hourly wage, which amounts to a little bit under three-fifths of the total working population. Of these workers, only about 542,000 were earning the minimum wage itself.

That was How Much Again?

At the current $7.25 federal minimum wage, a worker would be compensated with an amount that brings them halfway to the median. In this case, they would receive a total paycheck of $12.69, where $7.25 comes from the employer, and the other $5.44 comes from the state. This means that in occupations without tips or other compensations, the lowest anyone could possibly legally receive is $12.69 for an hour of work. This is a 75% increase in the overall minimum wage. The only time that the government raised it by a greater percent was from $0.40 to $0.75 an hour (87.5%) in 1950, following the negative inflationary effects of high amounts of war spending.

If the median wage was $18.12, then it would necessarily follow that 40.2 million workers earned less than that amount, or that amount exactly. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that the proportion of workers at all levels, from $7.25 all the way up to the median of $18.12, is equal. Of course, this is not going to be exact and may vary in one in direction or the other. Yet, the failure to estimate here would yield a calculation that is hundreds of pages long and nearly impossible to finish, as it would then have to account for every specific worker in the United States.

The Economic Burden

A simple average suggests that the typical wage worker in the bottom half makes about $12.69 an hour. Again, some variation may exist, but such variations are nearly impossible to find precisely. Hawley’s plan would take this wage and bring it halfway to the median. So, a bottom-half worker making an average of $12.69 would see a bonus of $2.71 per hour. This means that the worker’s total average earning will amount to $15.40 an hour: $12.69 from the employer, and $2.71 from the government.

Now, $2.71 may seem like a pretty small number, and on the face, it is. However, this number is not a one-time payment and must go out, under Hawley’s plan, to every worker in the country making less than the median. Some, depending on where they fell, would get more of a bonus, and some would get less of a bonus. But just how much of a burden would this be on the American people, including the lower-class workers?

Given a 40 hour work week, and 50 weeks worked per year, the numbers are staggering. In a single day, each of these workers would receive a check for, on average, $21.68 per day. In a week, the number increases to $108.40, and in a year the costs to pay a single worker would average out to $5,240.

A Massive Expenditure

Multiplying the figure times the number of workers earning below the median wage reveals the sheer horror of the plan. With 40.2 million workers receiving an average of this amount, Hawley would create an additional $217.8 billion in expenditures. This is equal to an immediate 5.3% increase in federal spending and would add over $2 trillion in debt in two years. The program is over four times more expensive than Trump’s massive military spending increase in the 2018 budget. It also happens to be more than the military spending of China and Russia combined in 2017.

Money Isn’t Free, Mr. Hawley

Hawley risks serious economic problems if he continues to add more to the national debt. Though the Republican Party has long since abandoned fiscal conservatism with few exceptions, this idea threatens the very nature of fiscal conservatism as a whole. It is entirely possible that rather than increasing the national debt, Hawley may instead propose to increase taxes. If he balances the plan, then he would need to raise $217.8 billion dollars annually. However, the money does not come from thin air, though the U.S. Treasury may suggest otherwise.

Currently, there are 138.1 million active workers in the United States. Most likely, they would bear the brunt of this fiscal burden. If divided equally, them each taxpayer, including the lower income earners, would owe $1,577 at the end of the year. So, of their great gift, the working poor would instantly pay 30% to the state.

This, of course, is a bare minimum. Realistically, that rate would be much higher, because the government does not operate at 100% efficiency. To collect, manage, and distribute the money, they would need to collect, manage, and distribute even more. Government efficiency is low, and even at two-thirds efficiency, that rate increases to 40% from 30%. This tax rate on their bonus is actually much higher than what they already pay on their current incomes, which varies from 10 to 12 percent.

May it be Even More Dangerous?

Moreover, it is unclear whether Hawley supports this idea for salaried workers. In his op-ed, he merely states that all workers below the median should get a significant pay raise. If Hawley implemented the same thing for salaried workers, who generally earn more money per year, he would be facing an even greater economic crisis. As the debt counter reaches for the sky, more debt is not the answer.

Unfortunately, this is not where Hawley’s ineptitude stops. Last week, he actually said that not only should below-median workers see pay raises, but every worker in America. Though he emphasized helping the poor, he did not exclude a single American worker. If he follows through on this, then the state will be handing checks to millionaires. It is immoral and coercive to tax the country to aid the poor. But it is morbidly wrong to tax the country to aid the rich.

Though Hawley fails to state where this money will come from, the options are increased taxes or increased debt. The country can currently afford neither, as debt shoots past 75% of GDP. Hawley’s plan will take an already volatile economy and make it much worse.

Taking, Giving, and Taking Again

Rather than increasing taxes more, Hawley should be focusing on why the people are poor in the first place. The fact of the matter is, minimum wage workers are not taking home $7.25 an hour. Subject to a 12% tax rate if they work full time, that figure drops to $6.38. Hawley identifies the problem that the poor do not have enough money to live comfortably. Where he fails is the solution. When the government is taking money from the people, the solution is not to give the people money back, just to take another 30% of it.

Let’s look at some of the numbers again, with the same $12.69. In the 12 percent income tax bracket, that average worker only takes home $11.26 while the government collects $1.43. They then see a bonus of $2.71 come their way in the form of Hawley’s plan. But, in the end, the government needs to take 30% of it to cover the costs. As a result, the worker hands over another $0.81 in income tax hikes.

This, of course, does not factor in the efficiency, so there goes another $0.27. All in all, that’s $1.08 gone from the $2.71. And, they already lost $1.43 from the initial income tax. Altogether, the state would take $2.51 from the average worker per hour, just to give them back $2.71 an hour and call it an act of generosity. I hate to break it to you, Hawley, but a net of $0.20 per hour is not an act of generosity, nor is it even a significant figure.

A Great Big Immorality

It is wrong to take money from individuals for any purpose. However, even when you ignore this moral principle, a scathing immorality remains. This program would, if it was lucky, give a tiny bit more than the government would need to take. The complex system of giving and taking only makes life harder for Americans on tax day and grocery day, too.

Of all tax and wage ideas out there, this is perhaps one of the worst. It expands government massively, so much that they would likely need a new agency to administer the program. At the very least, it would swell the Department of Labor’s budget. In either sense, it is unfit to exist. Taking money from the people, wasting it, and giving about the same amount back is not unlike breaking your neighbor’s arm, and then paying his medical bills and sending him a batch of cookies while you caringly help him recover. No amount of alleged kindness can take away from this great wrongdoing.

A Proposal for Prosperity

Thankfully for working-class America, there exist a number of much more successful plans to put more money in their pockets. But sadly for working-class America, few politicians, least of all Hawley, are talking about it. Ultimately, though, one point sticks out in particular as a method of surefire success.

It is time to at once abolish the income tax on poor Americans. Just as a cigarette tax is a deterrent to smoking, an income tax is a deterrent to working. When those who struggle so much to get by cannot keep what they earn, it makes survival and comfort both that much harder. If lower-half Americans had that average of $1.43 an hour back in their pockets, they would have much more social mobility. With an extra $2,860 a year at a forty-hour week, the possibilities are endless.

By freeing up that extra income, these individuals can begin to buy things that are lower on their priority lists but still very important. For example, there may no longer be a decision between hot water and a child’s birthday present, or healthy food and a good education. If a family budgets well and has all of these, maybe they can start to save, and truly move up the economic ladder for the first time.

Manageable Economic Costs

Of course, when taxes decrease, spending must also decrease in order to balance the program out. Unlike Hawley’s plan, however, this one has a real solution in order to create balance. By eliminating the income tax for those earning less than the median hourly wage, the government would lose $115 billion in annual revenue. But this is only slightly over half of the burden of Hawley’s plan. And, it gives working-class Americans an average of over seven times more additional money than Hawley’s ($1.43 vs $0.20).

Hawley, in his editorial, does not in any way suggest how he plans to pay for the program. This plan, however, accompanies necessary and easy cuts in federal spending. In a 2017 report, Senator James Lankford asserted that the federal government wasted $473 billion that year. Surely, different members of the Senate would contest that some of the spendings were necessary, or at the very least, not known at the time to be an eventual waste.

Common Sense Budget Cuts

Waste spending will always exist. However, eliminating just 10% of this waste covers $47.3 billion of the total costs. Removing the unnecessary $52 billion increase in military spending yields $99.3 billion saved. Further, it is feasible to remove the $4.4 billion increase to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and $2.8 billion increase to the Department of Homeland Security, as well as eliminate the TSA’s entire $7.6 billion dollar budget within the DHS’s remaining funds.

This totals $114.1 billion, which is only $900 million short of the cost of removing the working class income tax. The remaining money, naturally, comes from the Internal Revenue Service. Considering they are handling almost 30% fewer clients, they surely could survive after a less than 10% budget cut. Taking away just $1 billion of their $11.5 billion in expenditures yields a net savings of $100 million. At the same time, working-class Americans will be saving money. By eliminating more waste, that positive figure can reach even higher.

American Fiscal Success is at Stake

Without a doubt, Josh Hawley’s plan is destined to grow government while hurting the working class. Moreover, it may even give taxpayer money directly to the wealthy, based on one statement. At the very least, it cripples the working class and then acts as a gift.

Eliminating the income tax for these Americans, however, keeps their money in their pockets. It boosts the economy, as they will have more disposable income. It also gives them seven times more than the work credit plan. Surely, American fiscal success rests on the backs of the workers, and it is time to stop crippling them and start allowing them to reach never-before-seen levels of success.


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