Tag: National debt

Christmas Withdrawal From Syria Exposes Trump’s Allies

By Mark West | United States

President Donald Trump gave Washington a Christmas surprise by announcing, via Twitter, that ISIS is defeated and that the United States will begin the withdrawal of approximately 2,000 troops that are stationed in the civil-war-ravaged nation of Syria. Reports and rumors are circulating that an imminent draw down of forces in Afghanistan is also on the President’s agenda. President Trump’s allies have been knocked off their footing by this move towards a demilitarized world.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who has become a more vocal supporter of the President in recent months, is a leading voice of criticism of Trump’s move labeling it “a stain on the honor of the United States.” Graham also pointed out that he believes the President is ignoring “sound military advice” in his move to withdraw our troops from Syria.

President Trump isn’t taking Graham’s critique lightly, firing back in a tweet that it was “hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be against saving soldier lives & billions of $$$.”

Many Republicans in Washington and the media were openly critical of Trump’s decision before Defense Secretary James Mattis bombed the capitol with his resignation which appears to be directly impacted by his own dissension from the President’s decision on Syria. The most telling line in Mattis’ resignation letter reveals his reasoning as he says that Trump has, “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects.”

The next few days and weeks will be full of expert opinions on what to do next on Syria. Senator Graham is already pushing for Congressional hearings to discuss the move. Debates will swirl around how the Kurds will be impacted and how this move empowers Russian dominance in the region.

President Trump’s surprise announcement exposes his allies. We see now the reality of the establishment Republican status quo in DC. Most military spending to support our interventionist international military presence is, in reality, a right-wing, big-government boondoggle. Neocons don’t want their base to see that they have been hoodwinked.

Trump’s allies continue the tired and flawed argument that ISIS will be fighting us in our streets if we aren’t fighting them in the streets of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, Senator Graham shared that same thought in his tweets of criticism against Trump.

This rhetorical fantasy is meant to disguise us from the reality that the party of small, limited government simply isn’t living up to the slogan when it comes to empire-building, international policing activities using our troops. Our national deficit might be $6 trillion dollars less if not for our state of war in the Middle East since 2001.

President Trump is making the right call on the Syrian withdrawal and with the drawdown in Afghanistan. He is exposing his limited government allies’ dark underbellies in a way that will help balance our budget and begin shrinking the national debt. Our invasions abroad have not ended the terrorist threat and may even be one contributing factor in its continuing existence and strength.

Former Congressman Ron Paul tweeted his case that eventually all of our troops will have to come home because the tendency toward empire-building is bankrupting our government. We’ve spent around $3 billion per year in military interventionism that has possibly been as provocative as it has been proactive. How many new terrorists do we create by our interloping interference for every terrorist we kill or capture? We can’t deny the fact that we are indeed in their country, on their land, and in their backyard. We shouldn’t be shocked that the effect we’ve caused is continuing terrorism aimed at our troops and our citizens at home and abroad.

While not a proponent of the “America First” version of “Make America Great Again” that President Trump is pushing, I am in supportive agreement with his call to withdraw our troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Putting America first should mean that it’s time to bring our troops home so that the money spent maintaining their presence abroad can instead be invested in American infrastructure, innovation, and in keeping American troops present for their families here at home.


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The Tyrannical Nature of National Debt

By Jack Parkos | United States

There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country…One is by sword. The other by debt. – John Adams

The US national debt is rising at a dangerously high rate. In fact, it is nearly impossible for me to write the exact amount of the country’s debt as it will change every second. Right now, the United States national debt is at 21 trillion dollars and is approaching 22 trillion. One can observe the rising rate by looking at the US national debt clock. America is the most debt-ridden country out there, which is something truly frightening to look at. Even as tax revenue goes up, the debt too goes up.

Source: http://i2.wp.com/metrocosm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/us-national-debt-history.png

Many may wonder: how could this possibly happen? Quite simply, it was irresponsibility with our government. They keep spending more and more and never learn their lesson. Like a teenage girl with a credit card, they either had little knowledge of money or simply did not care. Essentially, we gave the teenage girl a credit card that won’t cancel, and we set her free to the mall. Now “she” racked up a bunch of debt, and someone must pay that off.

Naturally, this responsibility will fall unto the taxpayers. It would make the most sense that those who voted for the Congress that got us into the mess to pay it off through their taxes. But this will not be the case. The next generation will be the ones forced to pay off the debt, they will have trillions in debt slumped unto the backs of their shoulders. Already, the national debt per taxpayer is over $178,000. This will only continue to rise.

The Tyranny of Debt

The people who will be paying off this debt did not vote for the leaders who put them into this crisis. They had no say in the matter. The past generation forced this onto them. The responsibility mostly lies with the Baby Boomers. Since they did not vote for this and must pay the cost through taxes, are they not being subject to taxation without representation? Certainly, they are. Taxation is already high enough-now, and now the wallet of the American will have to feel the burden of another man’s debt. The colonists fought a revolution over taxation without representation, and now we simply punish future generations with this!

People can typically avoid credit card debt by being responsible. When they are not responsible they must pay back their debts. This is seemingly just, as they are paying debts that they got themselves into. But if someone was forced to pay another’s credit card debt, would this be justice? Would it be fair to punish someone for an act they did not commit? Any reasonable person would find this unjust.

Similar to paying for another’s credit card debt is paying the debt of the last generation-it’s simply unfair. Not only is it unfair-it is tyranny.

The current state of the debt is a crisis. We are already trillions of dollars in debt and Congress does not show any sign of changing its poor habits, still signing trillion dollar spending bills and raising the debt ceiling. Perhaps Congress needs to be taught a high school level economics course; where you learn to not spend money you don’t have.

Even if Congress stops its bad habits (which is unlikely), there is still trillions to be paid off, the next generation would see taxes increased and spending cut. The debt is owned by Essentially paying for services they never used. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. The boomers gave millennials debt and the millennials are giving the current generation debt. If the current generation does not pay it off, the next will get the debt. This process cannot continue forever, economic failure will result if this keeps happening.

The future does look dark, but let this be a reminder to my fellow younger citizens that you should care about politics. The actions today will ultimately affect your future.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

President Trump, We Can’t Just “Print More Money”

By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

Donald Trump, as reported in Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear: Trump in the White House”, told Gary Cohn, the Director of the National Economic Council, to just “run the presses– print more money” when addressing the insurmountable US Federal Debt. Donald Trump, the same man who ran a campaign to the White House that pledged to “eliminate the [$19 trillion national] debt over a period of eight years”, thinks we can print our way out of this mess.

Bob Woodward, an investigative journalist and Editor at the Washington Post since back in the Nixon days of 1971, wrote a full book exposure of the Trump White House in comparison to the other administrations he’s seen in his tenure at WaPo. In the book, Woodward describes a back-and-forth between the National Economic Council and Trump that is truly telling of how out of the loop President Trump is. While the book dates the quotes and conversations back to 2015 and 2016 during his campaign, it is hard to believe the stances on this economic issue have changed in the slightest. With the signing of reckless spending bills and omnibus budgets that only increase the forecast of US government expenditures, it is clear that President Trump is all talk and no walk on the subject of the current economic crisis that is the National debt.

Whether or not it was already known that Trump’s words bleed insincerity when it comes to spending cuts or a balanced US checkbook, it is evident now that the current POTUS has no viable long-term solution for the issue, which could cause the worst depression yet. His “solution” if it could be considered as such, of printing more money to offset the effects of the ever-growing now $21 trillion national debt is not just infeasible, but is admittedly extremely popular in Washington D.C. and the White House itself, with past Presidencies.

We see in the Obama administration, the idea of printing more money caught wildfire throughout the EU and G-20 with direction by former President Obama himself. In fact, there was a specific occasion during a G-20 meeting where Obama and Biden called on Angela Merkel of Germany to start “pulling their weight in the global effort of economic stability” by “printing” more money. As much of an oxymoron as that sounds to even the most amateur economist, it is a legitimate belief that has spiraled many countries to insurmountable debt.

The Basis of Economics

The principles of economics rest on responsibility with the money you own. It would be foolish for the average person to go out and buy a $350 Xbox One when after my checkbook is cleared, I only have $150 to spend. Why do we not ask this much culpability from our Federal Government?

It all started back in the days of Woodrow Wilson, and the creation of the Federal Reserve as an entity itself in 1917. The overarching power of a central bank to be the authority on all things money related can be a powerful responsibility, and in most times, a detriment to the economy it attaches itself to. Before the creation of the Federal Reserve, only $20 billion in debt had accumulated in the years after the Civil War. When adjusted to inflation, this comes out to around $51.7 billion, just barely 25 percent of what the US National Debt is today. Since then, we’ve seen the ability to print money used as a weapon to over tax citizens, and justify wars overseas where the US frankly should not be involved in at all.

In the case of George W. Bush, the National Debt was increased 101%, tacking on $5.849 trillion to pay for the (ongoing) War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Military expenses rose to all-time highs, and when the US taxpayers couldn’t chip in the yearly $600-800 billion necessary to fund it, Bush and the Federal Reserve created the money out of thin air to respond to the 9/11 attacks over a span of 8 years that hasn’t stopped since. When will we be done with this intervention? The question has yet to be answered, and President Trump hasn’t made progress in that regard either.

Bad economic habits and fiscal irresponsibility is prevalent across the board, no matter party denomination. President Obama raised the debt 74% in his tenure in the White House, adding $8.588 trillion from fiscal years 2008-2016. Whereas Bush picked his poison with military spending, Obama focused more on tax cuts, unemployment benefits, and public works projects to recklessly spend more money than the US Government could even think about obtaining. That’s not to say that Obama didn’t have his fair share of military spending checks sent to the Department of Defense consisting of artificially printed money, because the War on Terror persisted throughout his Presidency as well. These bad values will lead us to the next depression at the expense of the taxpayer and common folk, while the people who got us in this mess leave untouched.

Hyperinflation

Hyperinflation is defined as the monetary inflation that occurs at a high. uncontrollable rate. When the economy sees an influx of money in circulation, prices rise as the natural tendency of the free market sets out to do. When the government steps in to pay for it’s mistakes or overspending by printing money out of thin air is where the problems really start to occur. As Kimberly Amadeo of The Balance describes: “Instead of tightening the money supply to stop inflation, the government keeps printing more. With too much currency sloshing around, prices skyrocket. Once consumers realize what is happening, they expect continued inflation. They buy more now to avoid paying a higher price later. That excessive demand aggravates inflation. It’s even worse if they stockpile goods and create shortages.”

The economy will crash in the event of Trump printing more money to stabilize the National Debt, and it won’t be a small recession. We will see the closing of businesses as the value of the US dollar declines, leading to lower imports and exports, and a shortage of goods in the US market. With all of this leading to a disaster, we beg the question: Why aren’t we holding these government workers to higher standards? After all, they clearly aren’t looking out for our best interests. On his campaign trail, Trump vowed to be the change in the government bureaucracy that is Washington D.C., but he clearly can’t live up to that.


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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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The National Debt Mess: How did we Get There?

Indri Schaelicke | United States

At the time of writing this, the US debt sits at $21.15 Trillion, and recent trends would suggest that our elected representatives do not care to step back, consider the potential disastrous effects, and reverse our course. How does such a large debt even come about? Let’s examine a few fundamental reasons.

Politicians give people what they want in order to win votes, but have no regard for what the budget can handle.

Over the course of the past year, many people have realized that nearly every facet of our lives is becoming increasingly politicized. The same is true of our budget creating process. Both parties make a show of what they wish to focus their spending on. Since the beginnings of the earliest political systems, the savviest politicians recognized that while campaigning for office one will be most successful if they tell their constituents what they want to hear. They can then promise a whole host of “free” programs, portraying government as the superhero that will save you from whatever affliction you face. Once in office, the politician will move to fulfill these promises, thereby expanding the scope of government and widening their base of supporters.

The public would be in uproar if the government taxed at the rate required to cover all spending.

In order to cover the cost of the programs that they wish to create, politicians would need to charge taxes at an incredibly high rate. There’s just one problem- no one wants to pay high taxes in order to get some “free” hand out from the government. They simply want their free healthcare. People want to have the cake, and eat it too. Politicians cater to this desire in order to secure votes, and the debt continues to grow.

As a libertarian, I support a dramatic reduction in government spending and seek to end our federal government debt. There are a few reasons I support this:

The more the state spends, the more control over our lives they have.

Government spending increases the size of the bureaucracy, creating more and more agencies that have a say in the way I live my life. Don’t you think I can manage my life better than an unelected official sitting at a desk in Washington DC, who knows nothing about me?

I don’t believe in coercion and wealth redistribution policies.

No one should have to pay for someone else’s birth control, for example. I say we lower tax rates for everyone, and minimize government influence in our daily life (cut spending),  allowing people to make decisions for themselves. No one knows how you should live your life better than you, so why pretend a government agent does?

However, knowing the tendency of both parties to oppose any spending cuts, a solution will have to be much more pragmatic. Fiscal conservatives must push for cuts to spending whenever they present themselves, such as when a bill comes up in committee, is being debated on the floor of their chamber or discussed in the public eye.

Ideally, fiscal conservatives who seek to end several agencies will be elected, as well as leaders in both houses of Congress who are committed to entitlement spending reform. Doing these two things will help us eliminate our debt.

I was driven to become a libertarian by being made aware of the government’s waste. I’m sure that a coherent message preaching the inefficiencies of the state would attract many more to the liberty movement.

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