Tag Archives: keynesian economics

Practical Ways To Reduce School Shootings

The American public and media deal with tragic and highly publicized school shootings on a regular basis. Understandably, each episode leaves our nation gripped in despair and searching for answers. In search for solutions, we often rekindle the ageless political debate about gun rights that’s hard to resolve. As a result, instead of seeking practical solutions to reduce school shootings now, we often focus on a gun debate that goes on and on. 

Regardless of how one thinks about guns, America’s 2nd Amendment makes it clear that Americans have a right to bear arms. This fact alone will make it hard to get the comprehensive gun control some wish for. Also, since some countries with strict gun laws have had horrible shootings, there’s no guarantee that gun laws alone will eliminate threats to our children.

Practical solutions to school shootings come in many forms. And yes, none of these ideas are perfect. As history and day-to-day life show, humans have a creative ability to find loopholes when it comes to being violent.

A viable solution that’s actually being put in practice somewhat is to have police in schools. Although this isn’t perfect, it’s already been successful at times in minimizing violence. Whether the police are stationed at school as resource officers, or as police stationed at the school, the fact remains that having several police at every school could give potential shooters less time to act. If a strong police presence would be combined with minimizing school entry points, school safety should improve. In addition, some schools have had success in using metal detectors to find guns. Therefore, a trained police presence could not only interrupt a shooting, it may also deter.

Another way to improve school safety is to redesign classrooms to allow for at least two doors in every class. Too often, a killer in a school shooting is able to hold a classroom hostage since there’s only one doorway and no escape. Having two or more doors would allow an escape for students and give multiple points of entry to interrupt a shooting.

And finally, there needs to be thought in our high-tech world of designing classrooms with security alerts in mind. Would it be possible to have a button located on each desk that a student or teacher could press in case a school shooter were to appear? This button could send an immediate 911 message to police and staff located at the school in addition to the EMS system as a whole. This alert could give an exact location and save lives by making response times quicker. Other proposals include gun training for teachers who show aptitude with gun safety, and improving intervention with students that show mental health issues.

As for reaching consensus on gun control that both sides could agree on, that may be a long way off. After all, even when Democrats have had political power they’ve shown reluctance to advance a strong gun control agenda. And if comprehensive gun control is ever passed, the full effects of it may take a while to be felt. Therefore, it may be wise to consider concrete solutions to make our schools and children safer now.

America is at a crossroads regarding school shootings. Therefore, the time may be right to advocate a federal program to upgrade safety at all schools. Although such a program would come at a financial cost, this burden could be eased by our use of Keynesian economics.

As opposed to the endless partisan debate about gun rights, a proposal to make schools safer now should generate bipartisan support. After all, a national plan to protect students and reduce shootings could help schools focus on what they should be…a place to learn.

 

 

 

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Modern America’s Infrastructure Dilemma

Although it’s popular to dislike anything President Trump proposes, its possible that his American infrastructure plan is the best such proposal since Eisenhower. Even Obama’s impressive infrastructure stimulus package may end up being on a smaller scale than what Trump proposes.

Those who question Trump’s proposal range from many of his fellow Republicans, to a wide array of Democrats. Ironically, given the state of political paralysis America now faces in Congress, its possible that if Trump’s infrastructure plan is scrapped due to his impeachment, America may languish with sub-standard infrastructure for years. This is because Republicans rarely approve infrastructure upgrades, and Democrats are careful about advancing large agendas when they’re in power.

Part of the reason for the political paralysis in Congress is the radical disagreement about economics and the role of government in the economy. On a political and economic level, the left and right of America are caught in a Keynesian Economics time warp. This is shown by how many on the left ignore the perils of the debt Keynes advocated, while many on the right have shown an allergy to debt. Both sides seem reluctant to realize much has changed since Keynesian ideas were adopted in the 1930s. 

Although Keynes never advocated for the type of debt we see today, the influence of his economic ideas has been incredible. His idea that debt is something to embrace has invaded almost every pore of the developed world. As a result, debt has exploded in governments, businesses, and individual households too. This has led some analysts to say that Keynes’ ideas have led to an economic shift on a micro and macro level. As many remember, debt on all levels, from households to nation-states, used to be something to not only be monitored closely, but also in many cases shunned.

Regarding the Trump infrastructure proposal, many on the left dislike it since it doesn’t go as far as FDR’s New Deal of the 1930s. In addition, many on the right question it since they feel infrastructure concerns are over-stated, and too costly.

Agreeing with even one aspect of President Trump’s ideas is a hard sell to those who prefer smooth politicians. Obviously, his demeanor and communication style is highly unconventional. As a result, there are those who now tune Trump out at every turn regardless of what he proposes. Although political operatives now urge supporters to resist the opposition at all costs, it’s unfortunate there can’t be more bipartisan support on a basic idea like infrastructure. After all, this type of proposal, since it avoids the emotions common with social issues, is a natural fit for bipartisan support.

While Trump’s plan could be vastly improved by increasing the amount of federal dollars from $200 Billion, his goal of raising a total of $1.5 Trillion by creating public-private partnerships with business is not without merit. After all, many countries through the world and some Democrats now tout such ideas. This is because implementing strictly government-funded programs that add to debt without tax increases is unstable. Therefore, since tax increases are unpopular with all but the Progressives of the left wing, many politicians have embraced the cozy language of public-private partnerships.

In the long run, since America’s infrastructure is falling behind, there needs to be ways of getting both parties to compromise and move beyond the harsh political dogma in today’s society. Obviously, the Democrats have a point about increasing the amount of federal dollars allocated far beyond the $200 Billion level. However, since America’s debt is so high, it’s fair to think there could be a strong role for private business to play. Therefore, Trump’s business-friendly concept may work if tweaked through negotiation, and given a non-politicized chance. After all, even though certain politicians demonize business, the fact remains that for much of the developed world, private business provides not only goods and services, but also much of the creative color that enriches our lives.

The sad reality is that much of America’s infrastructure such as roads, trains, bridges, and airports is in need of repair. On this issue, it’d behoove us to acknowledge that Trump is addressing this serious matter. Now we should challenge the dealmaker that he is to work with both sides of the political aisle to get the job done.

 

 

 

Towards a More Practical View of Economics

When some people hear the term economic theory, they often act indifferent or roll their eyes. This is because for years, many have equated it with a type of intellectual game playing.

Unfortunately, few modern theories have as much day-to-day impact on people’s lives as economics. Also, since economics is the silent partner of politics, few issues escape its grasp. In fact, when one applies a follow-the-money approach to political topics, they often find that across the spectrum, many issues have their origin in economic theory.

Because economics is misunderstood, it can be hard to discuss beyond the usual clichés. Therefore, when anyone mentions the possibility it can become more practical, many shrug and say, “Here we go again.” This confusion is compounded by how some theorists seem to setup axioms out of premises before all data is collected. As a result, economics is sometimes viewed as a statistical mishmash of competing ideas arranged in an arbitrary fashion.

But is economics really just a game? How can it be just a game when so much of what we do in life revolves around some kind of monetary exchange?

One of the reasons modern economic theory puzzles many is that much of it seems counter-intuitive. The abstract nature of modern economics, just like the abstract nature of modern physics, proves to be a barrier.

For instance, to the average American who’s struggling to pay down debt, the fact that our government can seem to function with a large amount of growing debt appears somewhat illogical. When politicians and economic experts talk about Debt-to-GDP ratios, and favorable levels of debt, many average Americans shrug as if it’s yet another example of political-economic gamesmanship.

In addition, to the average American that looks upon their family as a self-enclosed economic entity, the ever-present concept of globalism seems confusing. To many, the American nation is still the largest economic entity we envision. Therefore, getting used to the whole globe as an economic entity can appear abstract. Yes, most Americans understand globalist trade concepts and the importance of global trade. After all, since the days of Marco Polo and the Silk Road, individuals and countries have enriched themselves through trade. However, that’s not what creates confusion for many.

What puzzles many about globalism is how some American-based multinational corporations pursue loopholes to drastically lower their taxes. On occasion, these companies hint at the fact that such tax practices are a necessary part of globalist trade. Although the American corporate tax rate is high on paper, they often pay much less than what the official rate implies. Unfortunately, the reputation of corporations that pay taxes fairly is damaged by the tax avoidance pursued by some.

Adding to the bewilderment many have with modern economics is the fact that corporations are now viewed as people in legal terms. Therefore, many think that as people, corporations could pay a fair share for the roads, bridges, ports, and airports they use to conduct trade.

Probably the most confusing part of economic theory is how it’s used in the political arena. As is well known, both parties have economic experts and economists at their disposal who polish the rhetoric politicians employ. As most Americans attest to, there’s a tug-of-war between the Republican embrace of the more Free-Market approach of the Supply-Side revolution starting in 1980, and the more socialist Democratic approach of government-based Keynesian ideas used to maintain economic demand. 

In reality, although America has swung between Republican and Democratic directions the past 30 years, the economic dogma espoused by both seems to have resulted in the system that some call Corporatism. In a sense, Corporatism, as reflected in the political talk of Public-Private partnerships, has arisen since implementing the economic views of both parties in total has proven difficult. Therefore, the political-economic theorists that predicted Corporatism are correct to say this system could grow out of modern political rivalries. Although some say Corporatism resembles Socialism insofar as there’s a strong government hand in the economy, it differs by leaving the means of production in private hands.

As for developing a more practical economic view if indeed we’re living in the age of Corporatism, there are many proposals.

First off, since the post-Keynesian economic model has allowed for large amounts of unstable debt to accumulate in many advanced countries, there’s a need for debt limits that are achieved transitionally without imposing high levels of austerity. In line with keeping debt lower, the debt-risk posed by those wanting more finance deregulation needs to be recognized. After all, if another finance crash creates a freezing of liquidity assets similar to what we had in 2008, billions of dollars of outstanding derivatives contracts may trigger the need for another bank bailout. Obviously, another bailout would be added to our nation’s debt again.

Regarding debt reduction, we could actually increase tax revenue from corporations by both cutting their official tax rate, and then closing certain loopholes. This policy could help reduce debt, while also improving the negative public image many have of corporations due to how some pursue tax avoidance.

In addition, since many central banks have been pushing for lower interest rates the past 15 years as a means to stimulate certain areas of the business cycle, there needs to be recognition that we need to slowly allow interest rates to return to historic levels so the natural ebb and flow between saving and spending can be restored. As many economists note, such unnaturally low levels of interest rates, if continued, will make it hard for us to not only stimulate the economy for future growth, it’ll make it hard to stimulate the economy to reduce the chronically high levels of underemployment we now have.

Since chronic underemployment has become an outgrowth of globalism in many advanced countries, it’s apparent that relying on historically low interest rates as the main way to boost employment has led to a situation begging for creative solutions. As many have said, America could deal with its high level of underemployment by borrowing ideas from both right and left of the political-economic spectrum. These ideas include creating infrastructure improvement jobs and streamlining small business regulations to encourage true entrepreneurship. 

And finally, although globalism’s here to stay and has benefits, it’s obvious that although recent trade pacts reinforce large multinational entities, that the most important entity for each nation… remains that nation. Therefore, if politicians can honestly find ways to look out for all aspects of our nation more, America’s economic outlook could improve. 

Hopefully, with more involvement from ordinary citizens, economics will start to lose its reputation as a confusing line of thought, and become more an everyday part of everyone’s lives.