Tag: Missouri

Minimum Wage Raises Are Causing Price Hikes – Just As Expected

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

For us it’s very simple. There’s no big pot of money out there to get the money out of.

That was the statement of Mike Wiggins, owner of Granny Schaffer’s restaurant in Joplin, Missouri. He is being forced to raise the prices of food items up to 20 cents for one reason: the minimum wage increase.

Continue reading “Minimum Wage Raises Are Causing Price Hikes – Just As Expected”

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These 4 States Could Legalize Marijuana this November

Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

November 6th marks a turning point in the United States, as the elections will determine which party holds the majority in Congress for the next two years. What many people do not understand, however, is that voting for candidates to represent them will not be the only thing that occurs next Tuesday in booths across the county.

After voting on specific state and national Congressmen and Congresswomen, an alternate section in the voting booth will ask questions pertaining to major issues in the respective state, by voting on initiated state statutes. On the ballots for 2018, four states will mention either the legalization of recreational and/or medicinal marijuana. Among those four states are Missouri, Michigan, Utah, and North Dakota. These states are taking the initiative that we have seen in many other regions across the country.

Marijuana — Side Effects & Consequences

Missouri

Missouri is the most radical of the four, laying out a 54th section to Article IV of the state Constitution. The proposal would make amendments as follow:

“Cannabis shall immediately be removed from the Missouri list of controlled substances”.

“Remove state prohibitions on the possession, growth and sale of marijuana for personal or medical use by anyone 18 years and older.”

“Anyone under the age of 18 shall have access to cannabis through physician recommendation or consent from legal parent/guardian”.

“All prisoners who have been incarcerated for non-violent, cannabis-related crimes shall be released within 30 days, unless time remains on the sentence for another dissimilar offense”.

Under Amendments Nine and Ten of the US Constitution, Missouri will reserve its right to nullify any federal laws conflicting with this act. The state will also prohibit any state funds to be used to assist in DEA or any other federal agencies in marijuana offense enforcement.

Michigan

With Michigan’s Proposal 1, the state would become the first state in the Midwest to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for citizens aged 21 and over. The motion would set a state-mandated tax on cannabis products with a 10% tax, to eliminate incentive to buy the products. “Revenue from the tax would be allocated to local governments, K-12 education, and road and bridge maintenance”.

The other side of this Proposal allocates the full responsibility of their actions to the pot users and growers, allowing the citizens of Michigan to grow up to twelve plants on their respective property unless municipalities restrict marijuana institutions in their jurisdiction. Marijuana-related charges will be decriminalized for future cases, and cases with offenders currently serving time may be overturned on a case to case basis.

Utah

The culture around Utah has a different outlook on legalizing all cannabis, like the cases in Michigan and Missouri. Most prominently, the progressive political action committees are lobbying for the legalization, while the protruding Church of Latter Day Saints suggests otherwise. Proposition 2 this November pledges to legalize medicinal marijuana for specific situations with the necessary conditions. Licensed physicians would be able to give out medical cards for marijuana products with guidelines and restrictions on use of said products.

Approved individuals are permitted to buy at most two ounces of unprocessed marijuana and/or a cannabis-based product with no more than ten ounces of THC included. The restrictions get even more limited, with absolutely no permission to smoke these products. Proposition 2 also will levy high business costs for the institutions creating the products, but alternatively spare marijuana from local and state sales taxes.

North Dakota

After trying to get this statue, or ones like it on the ballots for the past three election cycles, North Dakota finally has landed a position for ‘Measure 3, Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative’ for the 2018 Midterms. This option on the ballot was created to legalize all the uses of cannabis in the state of North Dakota, whether for medicinal or recreational reasons. This would be true for any citizens aged 21 and over, with lobbied penalties for offenders caught using or abusing marijuana products who are under the age of 21.

Furthermore, the state of North Dakota will turn to the elimination of criminal records for people sentenced to jail time because of marijuana-related crimes. People arrested with counts of possession or were caught dealing will reserve their rights under Measure 3 to a speedy trial in order to pardon them out of the prison system.


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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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Austin Petersen Should Run For Chair of The Libertarian Party

By Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

The Libertarian Party is at it again. In a bitter tweet teeming with contempt, the Libertarian Party attacked former presidential candidate Austin Petersen over his third-place finish in the recent Missouri Senate GOP primary. Suggesting the outsider campaign received a ‘thorough drubbing’, the Libertarian Party attacked Petersen in a predictable, garish fashion that situates party over principle.

Make no mistake – the LP has had it out for Petersen ever since the Missourian had the gall to go against the grain in 2016 with his firebrand candidacy for President. Staking out against pragmatist and power broker favorite Gary Johnson, Petersen brought an inspired, youthful spin on what has become a water-logged party pushing a message of post-libertarian pragmatist philosophy.  The most recent outburst from party officials signals exactly where they stand: they would rather get their asses kicked every election with ‘their guys’ than cede any small semblance of provisional power they have extorted from true-blue libertarians that have been rooted out or left the party, year after year, in protest.

This isn’t about libertarianism. If it were, Austin Petersen would already have his membership back and we would all be celebrating his return. So aggrieved are they that Petersen dared to run as a Republican, the Libertarian Party refuses to do the right thing and extend an olive branch to one of the few people that has time and time again stuck by libertarian values even if it meant a slower climb up the political ladder.

This is the same maddening practice that the LP resorted to regarding Ron Paul. Paul, who used his Republican Congressional seat to inspire and educated the masses on what it means to be a libertarian, is persona non grata amongst the leadership in the LP. While Mr. Paul gave an intimate speech to the LP Mises Caucus the night before the 2018 convention, the LNC had spent months parroting claims that Paul had no idea what libertarianism meant. It would all be a great joke if the balance of the country wasn’t at stake.

Petersen’s principles have never been questioned. Sure, he has had his run-ins (most notably with his suggestion that we might take another look at the NAP) but over and over again Petersen has espoused a small government, minarchist position when given the opportunity. Running for federal office as a Republican, Petersen accomplished more for the libertarian movement and principles than arguably any other campaign in the past decade. No, this bickering is simply about party politics. That same gross malady of back scratching and power positioning that turned so many of us against the two-party duopoly is apparently alive and well in the current Libertarian Party.

Austin Petersen has always had his enemies. Some have been made through his own doing but many more have simply been the type of jealous, snide simpletons that often anchor themselves to fringe political movements. Make no mistake, the Libertarian Party is a fringe one. There, the funds will always be thinner and the votes fewer at the ballot box. Until we break out from the zombie-like lull of ill-suited pragmatists and the never-surrender wing of economic fundamentalists, the Libertarian Party will remain an afterthought. Petersen, more than any other libertarian, sits in a unique position to mend the wounds of the disaffected caucuses while bringing new people, from every walk of life, into the movement and party.

While some have resorted to pot shots at Petersen for his 8.3% performance in the Missouri GOP Senate Primary last week, any libertarian worth their salt recognizes just how impressive he actually was. In Missouri, Petersen ran a grassroots, anti-war, all-your-guns, pro-Bitcoin, from an open heart of liberty campaign and he performed with class and substance. He made countless media appearances on some of the biggest networks in this country and spoke eloquently from a classically liberal point of view.

As he emphasized small government, a smart, well-oiled Libertarian Party would see the benefits of this performance. They would put feelers out to see if AP would consider rejoining the party and perhaps even suggest he run for a position of power within the structure. Instead, they have done nothing but attack, deride, and immolate any chance at a reconciliation. Case and point: current chair of the Libertarian Party Nicholas Sarwark.

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 2.32.35 PM

This facebook post is indicative of the type of authoritarian hierarchical traits that Sarwark displays at every opportunity. While his doomed Pheonix Mayor campaign has yielded absolutely no mainstream media attention whatsoever, Sarwark is happy to post crass, juvenile messages from the comfort of his bully pit. As the youngest presidential candidate on the stage in 2016, Petersen rallied the disaffected membership and almost sank the tired ship of cat herders that goes by the title LNC. This message, posted only two days after Petersen’s loss is the perfect example of Sarwark’s consistently snarky tone and dismissive attitude towards Petersen.

When was the last time you can recall Nicholas Sarwark, the current chair of the Libertarian Party, involved in any meaningful media push? You can’t, because he never has. While some have chosen to lampoon Petersen’s third-place performance in Missouri last week, I doubt we will hear the same people trash talking the campaign of Sarwark for Phoenix Mayor. He will finish a distant last, without any major media representation and chalk it up to just working outside the two-party duopoly. Meanwhile, Petersen featured prominently on Fox News throughout the campaign while giving headlining speeches at YAL summit and Politicon.

Instead of reaching his hand with a welcome gesture, Sarwark shot a spiked torpedo at Petersen and his many thousands of fans across the country. Recruit someone better? Let me give you a little reality check Mr. Chair – there is no one better. Since Ron Paul, there hasn’t been one serious Libertarian candidate who possessed the intellect, organization, and unbreakable spirit of Petersen. If you believe Gary Johnson lit the world on fire in 2016 then I’ve got a bridge to sell to you. Never forget, these are the same folks who are gleefully suggesting we run gun control advocate Bill Weld as the presidential candidate in 2020.

Petersen, on the other hand, has been spearheaded a political philosophy that seeks to expand gun rights instead of restricting them. While Weld calls certain guns ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ Petersen made headlines around the country for auctioning off AR-15 rifles and 3-D printing machines. You know… like a real libertarian should do.

Petersen’s 54,810 votes and over $500,000 raised are a testament to his messaging strength and impressive fundraising abilities. More than any single person in the Libertarian movement, AP seems apt and positioned to perform at a new level of political size and philosophical scope for a movement and party that are yearning to discuss the real truth of the American situation. Petersen possesses the passion, diction, star power, and organization necessary to lead the Libertarian Party to where it’s going. Where is the Libertarian Party going? With Petersen at the helm, it’s going to win and change this country forever.

Ideologically, Petersen puts a fresh spin on the tried and true, bread and butter of the Libertarian Party: The Fed. It’s all about the Federal Reserve. It is through the Federal Reserve that the wars are financed and it is through the Federal Reserve that our dollar has been inflated and devalued through the long, finite arm of the unrepentant state. Throughout his campaign, Petersen was forward thinking in his adoption and advocacy for Bitcoin. He repeatedly broke the record for Bitcoin donations and brought a reliable intellect to the political discussion about the nascent economic space. This emphasis on a counter-economy that is voluntary and independently sovereign speaks to the core of what Austin Petersen represents as a candidate: freedom.

When was the last time you genuinely heard the Libertarian Party say anything remotely relevant or interesting about crypto? The answer is never. I saw it on the ground in New Orleans at this year’s convention. The low levels of knowledge and interest in the blockchain community were startling. Outside a small wave of newcomers who found libertarianism through crypto, the power people in the party seem in no real rush to capitalize on a movement that is definitively anti-fed and anti-war. While the Libertarian Party speaks in bated breath about the massive independent vote waiting to be won throughout the country, they seem terribly incapable of reaching out to one of the largest and most ideologically libertarian subsects of contemporary society: cryptocurrency.

In the age of Trump, it would be false to assume that flash does not matter. In many ways, the political process in America has turned into a game show of unabashed braggadocio. Electing Petersen chair of the Libertarian Party would give the party the sort of immediate media push that is desperately needed to propel our numbers, base, and opportunities to win throughout the country.

Many inside the party point out the fact that the 60% of independent voters that don’t vote in our current electoral system are a target for the LP but as it stands, they aren’t even hearing us. Right now, if we have a great candidate or new platform addition that we want to promote, a beleaguered email in gaudy type font goes out to the membership and dies in the laps of LP activists across the country. Sarwark possesses no great microphone to reach the disenfranchised masses. Petersen has shown, consistently, that he attracts the media in a way that the LP arguably has never been able to.

If I seem frustrated, it’s because I am. I sat idly by at this year’s convention and bowed before the altar of moderate pragmatism. Although I didn’t vote for Mr. Sarwark, I accepted it with the usual ‘next time’ sentiment and packed my bags for the East Coast. I was every part of that glazed over membership who, for one weekend, forgot the insipidness and hardened maliciousness of Sarwark and company. The recent outbursts on social media have reconfigured my lens. I hope Petersen considers running. With the Mises Caucus hopefully at his back, Petersen could take the Libertarian Party in a bold direction that harkens back to the principles that founded the movement and party. If nothing else, it would be a hell of a race.


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Prop A: Missourians Vote Against Proposition A

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

On Tuesday Missourians voted on whether or not they would uphold or repeal the contested Senate Bill 19 legislation that established a right-to-work law in the state.

Missourians have voted against Proposition A.

Approximately 30% of Missouri voters voted in favor of the proposition, while 70% voted against it.

This is in accordance with the July 10th poll done by the Remington Research Group which showed that 38% of voters would vote yes, while 56% would vote no.

What is Proposition A?

Proposition A is a Right to Work Referendum in the state of Missouri. It determines whether or not Senate Bill 19 will be upheld. Senate Bill 19 established a right-to-work law in the state of Missouri.

This law would mandate that no person can be required to pay dues to labor unions or join a labor union as a condition of employment. Left-leaning people see this as a stomp on the autonomy of unions and a dangerous stab at worker protections. People on the right see it as a blow to the contractual relationships between workers and their employers.


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