Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Real First Post: Meet Your Author

Hey everyone.

If you're reading this, you probably don't know me, since I would have likely linked you to a direct post, or you're bored and scanning through the archives, or both. Either way, let me first say, "Welcome."

Let me say next that I don't write recreationally often.  However, when I do, I get my money's worth.  I write a lot (scroll down if you don't believe me).  Reading my work will be a time commitment, no doubt, but I personally feel I write in a very free-flowing, intellectual but fun, upbeat tone that is very easy to read.   This first post will provide an insight into where I'm coming from when I write about things, but will not necessarily be a requisite for understanding my other posts.  This would be a good post to read, however, if you think I'm crazy, if you want to know how I came to think the way I think, or if you think I'm an awesome person in general.

So what's this blog all about, you may be wondering.  Well, to be honest, it's a place for me to write down my ideas, which will, admittedly, often stem from frustrations in the world.  After all, how can one come up with ways for things to be better if there isn't that room for improvement? (cough euphemism cough)

Perhaps a bit of information about me, the writer, is in order.  I'm a young adult, recent graduate of a southern California university with an emphasis in Economics and a minor in French.  Economics was a major that I came to love and embrace, and I have found it has equipped me well to deal with many of the issues going on in my new life, such as politics and (of course) the economy; my thought processes and methodology for dealing with information from the news media and other sources I feel have put me at an advantage over a staggering percentage of my co-workers and friends.

Here's the thing, and this may come as a shocker to some people, seeing as how I'm in my early twenties: I'm what traditional politics would call a conservative.  WHAT?  Well if you haven't closed my blog page yet, I ask for you to have a bit a patience and allow me to explain myself.

I wasn't always a conservative.  In high school, where my awareness of politics (and most of the outside world) began, I was a liberal.  Although I came from a "privileged" area, I thought rich people were too rich and that the atrocities in terms of income distribution were absurd and a clear sign of greed, the principle fault of our economy and of our country.  It makes sense, looking back on it now: when you don't have any money, it is rational for you to be liberal.  You want government spending and increased taxes (on the rich) to promote income redistribution.  Granted, government spending is a large factor in GDP (Gross domestic Product), a renowned measure for an economy, but I'm sure I will have plenty of time to talk about that stuff later.  Suffice to say I was a liberal and thought anyone who was young and not a liberal was stupid.  And I do not mean the childhood, "I accidentally backed into the curb, I'm so stupid," stupid, I mean like I thought they were suffering from some lapse of judgement such as severe stubbornness.

I went to college and there undertook in the same sort of silent prejudice against student Republicans that goes on in many parts of the collegiate country.  I had a good friend, now one of my best friends, who was a Republican, and it was very difficult for me to discuss things with her... both of us were relatively equally uninformed about the whole process, and at least in my eyes I could not get over the fact that being a conservative as a young person seemed silly.  I practically believed young people should be liberal just because they were young... anyone who denied it was wrong.  How naive I was...

It wasn't until I began taking economics that my perspective changed.  All of a sudden I began learning about the government... not the history of the Constitution or the Civil War or the 1960s (although I did take a year-long course on the history of the 60s), but about the fiscal government: how it worked, what it did with those taxes that everyone but us students had to pay, who decided where it all went.  I learned about the free market, the concept of mutually beneficial trade (now something I sort of live my life by), how markets can act at complete efficiency and how interference (such as, by a government) usually only creates a waste of resources and a loss to society.  I learned about how even when markets fail, the sole chance that government interference can help (excuse me; my econ teacher would prefer if I said "hurt less") comes only if the government can manage to not screw up, and how many factors could lead to a negated assisting hand in the market or even push that interference toward the omnipresent realm of making things worse.  After all, even if the government's cost of operations were low (and they are woefully high), how can we know that the government will spend the taxpayer's money better than the taxpayers themselves could?  It would be difficult to justify most of our current government spending programs if they had to answer to that prompt.

And so I learned, and, more importantly, understood (a key distinction).  My liberal paradigms were dashed into a million pieces.  It didn't take me becoming rich and not wanting to get taxed so the government could give my hard earned money to a poor person who doesn't pay his fair share to make me conservative, it was my economics studies.  I'm not saying I'm against government; this is one of the most frequent attacks on my when I explain my reasoning.  I've said that government interference can be good when there is a market failure due to externalities.  A traditional example: 10 people in a town suffer $200 each in flood damages, but no individual wants to build a $1000 levee.  The government steps in and taxes everyone $100 (or perhaps more realistically $150) and builds a levee (for $1500 instead of the private sector's $1000).  Now people are saving $200 and only spending $100 ($150)... society has benefitted.

These examples can exist in many other areas of life beyond flood prevention (modern example: national defense... who would individually want to fund and hire an army to protect their personal assets?), and not always with saving money against bad things.  Sometimes there can be positive aspects of an activity that are being underutilized because they aren't being accounted for.  A real simple example would be, let's say algae production.  An algae farmer produces algae as fish food, but doesn't really care about the fact that algae produce fresh oxygen.  The government (on behalf of society), however, does care, and may subsidize algae production so that the farmer produces more than he normally would if left alone so that society might benefit more from the increased algae production.  A simple example that should prove that I am in favor of government at least in its purest form.

Anyhow, where was I?  While I don't hate government, I believe that its interference into the free marketplace should be kept to a minimum: government interference via taxes/subsidies on producers or consumers, price floors, price ceilings, tariffs, etc, should only be applied during market failures (when an externality is not being properly accounted for, from society's perspective) and only if the chance of improvement is high (i.e. the market is badly failing, or our government is just spot on correct concerning a solution and can have low costs while executing it).  If this is my belief about the government, what does that say about me?  That I am a conservative.  A fiscal conservative, at least.

I want to minimize government intervention.  I don't want the government to tax me and spend it on something I don't want... I can spend my money in a manner that is efficient to our economy, and the government doesn't always do that (in fact, it often doesn't).  Thus I believe taxes should be lower and government spending should be cut.  This aligns me with what is known as the conservative right: the GOP.  While I would prefer to call myself a Libertarian, the closest realistic political affiliation I can adopt is that of a Republican.

Now if you've made it this far, I salute you.  This thing is probably one of the longest blog posts you've read and it's coming from a rookie author.  Kudos to you, as well as a personal thanks re: the vote of confidence in staying with me til the end.  I'm almost done here, let me just say that if you still would want to argue with me about what I've said in the preceding paragraphs, please, take some economics classes first.  I've gone the route trying to explain economics principles to people who haven't taken classes; it's a frustrating, annoying waste of time, especially when the person is liberal and a name-caller.  If you have an issue with what I've said, take some economics courses, understand the basic principles and if you still feel the same way you do now, I would be more than happy, in fact eager, to oblige a discussion on my personal economic policies (which are only, don't laugh, briefly described here).

Whew.  Ok, we're done for now.  On to the real posts, eh?

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