Guest Blogs

Wednesday
Jun242015

Kevin Bowe - How did Hillary and Jeb do taming their base last week?

This is the 2nd installment of a weekly web series on the NH Primary.  This 2 minute video gives you an overview of the back-to-back campaign events of Clinton and Bush.  

Sunday
Jun212015

Jim Rubens - GOP Pushback on the Pope's Politically Incorrect Science 


In my run for US Senate, I engaged in a lonely effort to persuade fellow Republicans to acknowledge fossil fuel combustion as the primary cause of global warming and the need for policy change to mitigate existential harm to humans and the environment. Many told me that these views cost me the election.
 
I can’t recall a single instance where debating science changed minds, so I wheeled out otherwise respected authorities like the Department of Defense, the CEO of ExxonMobil, and the National Academy of Science, all echoing my case. None seemed to persuade.
 
Now comes Pope Francis, who makes the case that earth and all its living things are God’s gift to humans who are entrusted with their care and that fossil fuel combustion is destroying creation and harming the world’s poor. The Pope is getting the same reaction from most Republican leaders, discredit the authority: he should stick to matters of the spirit, and limiting fossil fuel use will deny food, healthcare and progress to the world’s poor. Pushing back at the Pope, Jeb Bush told voters at a Derry, New Hampshire town hall that "I don't get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope."  
 
However, Republican policy preferences, including Jeb’s as Florida Governor, are unabashedly guided by faith on the social issues like abortion, assisted suicide and same sex marriage – and this distinction is key – where powerful economic interest groups have little stake in the outcome. Three weeks ago, Bush was the only Presidential candidate to address a closed-door, invitation-only event sponsored by owners and executives of six coal mining companies. The coal industry spent $11 million in the 2014 election cycle, with just 4 percent of that going to Democrats.
 
It’s time to get honest about this: the expression of faith in politics is filtered by big-dollar special interest campaign money. Republican campaigns are funded by fossil fuel interests who want the right to keep polluting. Democratic campaigns funded by unions who want to trap poor children in failing, monopoly schools.
 
The needed debate over global warming is not whether the Pope should talk about climate science and creation care. The debate between small government conservatives and big government liberals must be over high-impact solution options. President Obama’s approach through EPA carbon regulation is massively complex and therefore thoroughly subject to regulatory capture by the interest groups that run Washington and buy most election outcomes.
 
Unlike the Pope who leans left on tax-enforced wealth redistribution, I have great confidence that technology and American innovators can and will find robust solutions that will largely displace fossil fuels as the globe’s primary energy source within not more than two generations. Domestic policy can accelerate this innovation (and no, Governor Hassan, not with a gambling casino).
 
The US leads the world in medical technology and biomedicine, enjoying the resulting high-paying domestic jobs and strong net exports. We’ve achieved this as a direct result of $30 billion annual funding for pre-commercial health science research, sustained over the past decade and largely distributed via competitive grants by the National Institutes of Health. Despite this success and strong political support for protecting our science and technology lead, the US has fallen to #11 in global R&D per capita.
 
Heresy for small-government conservatives, but the $2 billion per year the federal government has spent over the past decade on basic energy research is too little to ensure continued American leadership. My pitch: add $10 billion per year in sustained national support for pre-commercial energy R&D.
 
I do not mean more Solyndras, taxpayer guarantees for nuclear plant construction, oil and gas subsidies, or corn ethanol supply mandates. Phasing out existing federal energy subsidies like these can pay for about half of a $10 billion R&D bump. Government should stop picking commercial winners and losers because crony capitalism distorts, corrupts and freezes marketplace dynamics which otherwise accelerate knowledge and technology commercialization and drives out cost. Taxpayer-backed energy R&D should focus on blue-sky work in materials science, nano-chemistry, quantum physics, solar PV, energy storage, batteries, offshore wind platforms, and thorium fuel cycle reactors, for example. 
 
Commercialized clean-energy technologies are already booming without subsides. Unsubsidized energy efficiency and utility scale wind and solar PV (in that order) are already cheaper than or competitive with combined cycle natural gas as electricity sources.
 
Once energy storage becomes less costly than natural gas, market forces will cause displacement of fossil fuels as primary heat, electricity, and transportation energy sources worldwide. Dictators and terrorists will be defunded, energy price shocks will be history, excessively resource dependent nations economically democratized, and global warming curbed.
 
Rather than impoverishing third-world nations via increased dependency on fossil fuels imported from dictators and terrorists (as most Republican presidential candidates inferentially advocate) let’s heed the Pope by using accelerated innovation and free-market commercialization to bring low-cost clean energy to the world’s poor and to humanity and all creation.

 

Thanks for listening,

Jim Rubens

Tuesday
Jun162015

Mickey Long - An Immigration & Deficit (or Debt) Elimination Act (“IDEA”) 

Every day, hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire residents rise out of bed and compete for jobs and wages. NHetwork (NH.gov) reports that NH has 650,000 (non-agricultural) workers. They also report that over 100,000 of them (about 16%) commute into Massachusetts and other New England states to work. Experts estimate that employers employ about 200,000 aliens unlawfully to work in New England. The 100,000 NH workers seeking work outside of NH must compete every day to find jobs against cheating employers that unlawfully employ those 200,000 aliens.

Even honest employers compete against these cheating employers. Cheaters win low bids for contracts in construction, janitorial services, restaurant services, landscaping, hotel maid services, and etc. Mostly, these low bids reflect illegally deflated wages and prices. Nationally, honest employers seeking to employ over 11 million United States citizens must compete against those actually employing the 11 million unlawfully here. Honest employers and workers struggle every day against this illegally infected market place. This infection results from the continued failures of elected leaders to solve the 11 million illegal immigration problem.

While employees compete, elected politicians bicker and battle over procedure, not substance. For example, the Comprehensive Reform bill passed by the US Senate in 2013 died in the US House without even a vote. The biggest hold up: What to do with the 11 million here. All other parts, e.g., border security, e-verify, seasonal employees, STEM visas, and etc., have substantial bipartisan agreement. Yet, political positioning stokes the fires of hatred that fuels division for politicians. This division costs us money. It results in dishonest employers getting work, reduced tax revenue to state and federal budgets, increased tax expenditure on border and other enforcement efforts, and stagnant wages and zero to no profits for NH’s competing workers and honest employers. Hence the following IDEA.

The IDEA: 1st Secure Our Borders, Permanently:

To protect honest businesses, a market-based solution (“MBS” 1) helps. First, imprison high profile cheating employers to end the current hiring pipeline. Second, let honest employers (market participants) sue dishonest employers that cheat to compete. Honest employers will obtain a court judgment of $50,000 per illegal worker as liquidated damages (50% as a finder’s fee, 50% to our US Treasury). Cheaters will lose their incentive to employ workers illegally, and they will lose their capital to honest employers and taxpayers. Taxpayers will save billions on taxpayer financed enforcement efforts by encouraging privately financed enforcement.

The IDEA employs whistleblower concepts used for over a hundred and fifty years beginning with qui tam (Google it) civil actions. Qui tam suits allow private citizens to sue cheaters who steal from the US government; such citizen suits began after the Civil War to stop supply-vendor (uniforms, munitions, equipment, food service, etc.) cheating. Today, qui tam plaintiffs earn millions suing to help recover billions more for the government. Recently in Massachusetts, this approach has helped honest businesses against cheaters engaged in worker compensation premium evasion (See MGL c 152, Section 25C (11)). Just the threat of a civil lawsuit reduced within five years of enactment the number of employers who cheat to compete. Consider also NH Rev. Stat. 167:61-b (NH’s False Claims Act), which allows private civil

lawsuits against the dishonest. This private enforcement IDEA is old, but the time for its application to immigration has come. A cheater’s fear of a lawsuit stops border penetration by eliminating the employment pipeline incentive permanently. Spending billions of tax dollars on border wall building will not stop penetration. Drone and other tech surveillance, maintenance, and paid guards, and etc., provide contracts for political contributors (Halliburton, Black Water security, and etc.) but will not stop penetration. Penetration will persist via the oceans, Canada, the Great Lakes, air, and overstayed tourists, work & student visas. This IDEA empowers employers to clean up their own industry by suing cheating employers to end the employment pipeline, the purpose of illegal penetration.

2nd Get In Back of the Line & Show Me The Money

Simultaneously, charge the four million lawfully waiting in line $10,000 each and walk them in, first. Use that $40 billion to pay down the debt or finance infrastructure jobs (bridges, schools, etc.) to create thousands of jobs. Afterward, place the 11 million illegally here behind those lawfully here. Then, charge those illegally here $30,000 each, as liquidated damages, for a work visa. They can pay over 10 years via IRS weekly payroll deductions ($3,000 per year – about $57/week). Their employers, family, and bank loans will help them pay, too. That pulls in an additional $330 billion to pay down the debt, the deficit or create millions of infrastructure jobs. As an additional penalty and to compromise, deny them citizenship for 20 years or allow citizenship in normal time, but after all is paid. We exempt the elderly, the very young, & seriously disabled; felons we deport. The IDEA is not visa selling; taxpayers have spent billions on illegal immigration. We want our money back! Now, immigrants can help fix five problems:

1) Illegal immigration; 2) A final & permanent solution to secure borders; 3) The US debt or budget deficit; & 4) Deteriorating infrastructure; & 5) Job creation. 

Do the math: Add that $370 billion ($40B + $330B) visa charge to the tax gain of about $30 billion a year those now legalized workers will pay as taxes. Plus, add the $30 billion saved in enforcement efforts each year (assume only one year), and that near half-trillion dollars ($40B + $330B + $30B + $30B) helps pay down much of our deficit or debt or investment in infrastructure and jobs (which produces yet more tax revenue).

Better still, those illegally here get behind those now waiting in line who get in first. Further, the undocumented pay to stay and/or wait 20 years for citizenship. Most criminal acts result in only fines. By using the pay raises that they will likely earn from their new “legal” status they can afford the $57/week fine. Further still, employers get a sufficient and much needed workforce for the next decade’s boom years now underway (because of energy, fracking, raising wages in China, & etc.). Moreover, honest workers no longer compete every day against dishonest employers who hire those unlawfully here. Moreover still, taxpayers substantially reduce their debt, i.e., a windfall or create about 6 million infrastructure jobs, or a bit of both.

Guest Workers: Guess Who Benefits

Some want a Guest Worker program. This is a bad idea for workers, but a great idea for employers. Given Maslov’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” those illegally here will take a Guest Worker program over nothing. “Guests,” however, would work subservient to employers who will sponsor a worker’s visa. American citizens would compete with “Guests.” 

Picture yourself applying for job against a group of “Guests”. Guess who an employer would prefer? “Guests” who ask for a raise will risk termination and loss of sponsorship, i.e., deportation. Guests who sue for overtime pay, age or other discrimination or sex harassment will find difficult obtaining new employer-sponsors. Sure it would be retaliation, but not many Guests would sue. Guests must leave after a term or two in the program (probably 5 years with a 5-year roll over, if the employer agrees). 

Guests provide employers with a compliant young workforce and a revolving door that rotates out older workers who must leave. Employers will rotate their “human resource” stock and capitalize on lower wages and working conditions endured by “Guests.” Guests know too well the employer’s power over their visas. Employers benefit when American citizens compete against co-worker “Guests.” Most New Hampshire workers know their bosses’ power, too. Guest programs also work well for those few unscrupulous business owners or supervisors who will ‘scan the crop’ for good-looking, stronger, and otherwise compliant immigrants to work in their stables. Envision the lawsuits at best or despicable acts at worse endured by “Guests.” New sources revealed recent sexual exploitation by some Australian employers holding visas.2  

Further, Guests send money home. They do not spend it here in our malls and main street stores. Guests realize that they must leave. Accordingly, they must invest at home, not here. Moreover, Guests will not help our entrepreneurs who sell homes, condominiums, new furniture, and our property owners who seek to rent out apartments. Guests would jam many into single apartments to save money for their return home life. Guests will not save in our banks, spend in our restaurants or other retail outlets. They will save for the day the must leave. Accordingly, billions of dollars will leave our shores. A guest program helps employers and the Guests’ home countries. But, such a program will hinder US workers, US retailers, realtors, other merchants, and our economy. 

Moreover still, in all countries where guest programs existed, including the US under the “bracero program” from 1942 to 1964, guests brought in family, friends, and neighbors. This resulted in the millions who overstayed “guest” status, e.g., the very people Ronald Reagan legalized in his 1986 amnesty law. Finally, Guests use social services, as they pay taxes (though low wage taxes). Currently, taxpayers pay low-wage workers tens of billions in subsidies for rent, food stamps, and etc.3 Accordingly, a Guest Program would deplete tax services, burden taxpayers, and compromise -not enhance, border security.4 

Deport Now! Currently, some seek to harness American anger by shouting self-deportation or mass deportation. Only 20% of Americans support this unlikely solution.5 They shout ebola, terrorism, and criminal conduct of a few to induce fear and divide NH’s voters. NH will host the 2016 presidential primary candidates. Some will voice illegal immigration hate messages for votes.

Decades before this scare mongering & voter “persuasion” or mind-manipulation, many in New Hampshire’s construction industry called for deportation. 

For 30 years (a construction workers' career span), politicians failed to deport the millions who came in under Bush I (after Reagan's 1986 amnesty, which lacked border control and pushed wages lower for a generation by more illegal penetration). Politicians failed to deport the next few million who entered under Clinton. When more millions penetrated our borders under Bush II, their number catapulted to 13 million. He failed to deport them even with Republican majorities in both chambers, though he tried reform, too. Many left under Obama, but eleven million remain. Now, many more seek entry as we embark on an historic economic revival spurred by fracking and energy exporting, rising China wages, added to emerging market countries who now have hundreds of millions of consumers. Meanwhile, both Parties failed an entire generation. What makes anyone think that mass deportation will result, especially before any one reading this is dead. That is why almost 75% of Americans want simple legalization, not necessarily citizenship.6 Legalization eliminates illegally deflated competition for a new generation. 

For decades, dishonest employers have been employing millions illegally. Aliens are not taking our jobs; they have held these jobs for a generation. A generations-old problem and nothing new has developed, except pitting immigrants against American citizens to push a wedge between voters. During the past 20 years, ¾ of a worker’s career span and five presidential campaigns, politicians have played with the hearts and minds of voters. Politicians have no IDEA and do not need an IDEA; the current system works only for them, not us. Some seek a piecemeal approach. That works only if the hard piece, i.e., what to do with the 11 million, results first. Failure to address that piece has held up all other pieces. 

Back Taxes  Though politically sweet, insisting on back taxes misses the point. Too many of the individuals here illegally know the real dollars they earned during the past 30 years. Many of us know how much we earned only when we look at our weekly year-to-date total and our w-2 from our employers come January of the next year. If truth be told, too many could not afford to pay the taxes, assuming only $5,000 per year is owed. Five thousand times ten years, puts (without IRS interest, punishing penalties, and etc.) most individuals in debt for life and more. 

Some will owe hundreds of thousands of dollars, never being able to pay. Too many will lie. Lying is a deportable offense; back to square one. So, too many will not come forward. This issue will divide us and will help keep the status quo. Too many politicians will exploit this one boiling issue for your vote; but, that is not in your best interest. Back taxes forces too many to consume less, heavily burdened by tax debt. Business and entrepreneurs should want these folks spending in stores, not giving money to the IRS. How much of those back taxes will you really see in your neighborhood, in New Hampshire? Meanwhile, you will see and experience the effect that workers illegally employed will have on your daily ability to earn better wages, business profits, for you, your children, recent college graduates, and your neighbors too. A one- time $30,000 liquidated damages helps you more, though this clearly remains a tough, blood- heating and enormous stumbling block. Level-headed, clear-thinking individuals require cooler blood to run through rivers that nourish their brains.

5  

So: Why Now? Why NH? Eleven million have been working here illegally for a generation, 200,000 in New England alone effecting 100,000 NH employees who commute and others who do not. Legalized, individuals spur economic growth for businesses looking to sell condos, houses, furniture, vacations, restaurant meals, show tickets, automobiles, cell phones, and clothing sold in our local shops and malls. Businesses need better paid workers who become consumers who can spend in local stores. New Hampshire’s workforce should not have to fight over who will work for the lowest wages based on illegal tactics of cheaters. Too many earning low or illegally deflated wages hurt our economy. Further, taxpayers subsidize low wage employees with food stamps, fuel assistance, and other welfare. We pay Walmart’s employees over $6,000,000,000 in welfare each year (yes, billion)). Low wages do not put consumers into our local shops that line the main streets of Berlin, Laconia, Concord, Keene, Manchester and Nashua -businesses that yearn for consumer spending. Time has long passed to take worker illegal status out of the employment equation. Those lawfully here must compete every day against New England’s 200,000 illegally employed. 

Toward that end, New Hampshire voters remain front and center. Television and other personalities appear on NH streets for our 2016 primary vote. This IDEA can receive national attention, if NH voters demand action now. Senator Kelly Ayotte will host many national and international celebrities and leaders in her quest for re-election and in their quest to elect a President. She enjoys vice-presidential front place consideration for 2016. (Paul Ryan ran for Wisconsin’s US House seat while running as Mitt Romney’s VP.) Regardless, New Hampshire voters and voices can influence our Nation’s immigration policy that will surely effect each of our daily work lives. 

In the 2016 race, immigration looms large. Let candidates know your IDEA that will pass. In the battle to pass immigration reform in the US House & Senate, adopt this IDEA.

1 You can learn more MBSs at Cato Institute: http://www.cato.org/cato-journal/winter-2012, a think tank financed by conservatives and Libertarians. There, you will discover that immigrants who actually do become citizens (only 46% of the 1986-Reagan amnesty became citizens) vote both Republican and Democrat. A win-win! 

2 http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/labor-exploitation-revealed-in-australias-food-industry/ 3 http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2014/03/how-taxpayers-subsidize-low-wage-workers; $7 Billion for fast food workers alone. See also, http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-walmart- workers-cost-taxpayers-6-2-billion-in-public-assistance $6.2 Billion for Walmart alone. 4 See “The Mirage of Mexican Guest Workers,” Foreign Affairs Mag. Nov/Dec. 2001.  5 See http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-immigration-the-gop-is-out-of-touch-with-the-rest-of- america/2015/02/25/8e40d966-bd1b-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html Washington Post, Feb. 25, 2015, Editorial Board OpEd. 6Id., see also: http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/PRRI-AVA-Immigration-Policy-D1.pdf

Thursday
Jun042015

Jim Rubens - Gov Hassan Vetoes Delegate Limitation Bill; Shows Hostility to Restraining Corrupt, Unaccountable Congress 

Governor Hassan Vetoes Article V Delegate Limitation Bill
Opposes Restraining a Corrupt, Unaccountable Washington


Governor Hassan today vetoed HB-148, a bill specifying how New Hampshire delegates would be selected to an increasingly likely and first-ever Article V convention to propose amendments to the US Constitution. HB-148 would also have confirmed historical precedent that delegate actions are limited to the subject matter contained in any legislative resolution applying for an amending convention.
 
The Governor’s veto message is stuffed with purposeful misinformation, apparently to conceal her opposition to the single greatest power granted by the Constitution to the states, the power now needing exercise to restrain our corrupt and unaccountable Washington government.
 
I have personally worked during my campaign last year for US Senate and, this year, in New Hampshire and in several other states around the country in support of all three of the leading efforts to launch an Article V convention of states.
  • Governor Hassan questions whether the state-led process for proposing and ratifying constitutional amendments is the “right course of action.” In their proposed and subsequently ratified Constitution, the framers voted unanimously at the 1787 constitutional convention to include two paths to amendment in Article V: Congress initiated and state ratified; state initiated and state ratified. The framers included the state-led process specifically because they feared a Congress that could one day become corrupt and unaccountable and that would block needed amendments impinging on its own interests and powers. Congress would not have proposed the Bill of Rights and several other of the current 27 amendments had Congress not been pressured to act by simultaneous organization of the state-led process for these amendments.
  • Congress has today become corrupt and unaccountable, acting as it does in the interest of large campaign contributors and ignoring the interests of average Americans. The convoluted federal tax code and massive debt are evidence that Congress has lost the ability to restrain itself and to act in the national interest.
  • Governor Hassan asserts that, “a convention for considering amending the constitution is not going to be called by the states any time soon.”In fact as of today, 27 of the needed 34 states have passed resolutions applying for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. New Hampshire is one of those 27 states.Four states each have applied for a convention to propose amendments related to political money corruption and to federal fiscal restraint, term limits, and restoration of federalism. Given current momentum, the 34 states needed to trigger a BBA convention call could be in place within one to two years.
  • Governor Hassan states that a delegate limitation law would be “contrary to the true purpose of any constitutional convention.” Here, she is egregiously wrong. The US Constitution in Article V provides for a “convention for proposing amendments.” Nowhere in the Constitution is there any provision by any route for a constitutional convention at which amendments could be proposed relative to subjects never contemplated by or undesired by the states.
  • Governor Hassan wrongly asserts that a New Hampshire delegate limitation law should not be considered until an amending convention has been called.Delegate limitation laws, such as HB148, increase public confidence that delegates will not “runaway” by proposing amendments not germane to the subject matter limitations contained in their state application resolutions. Opposition to delegate limitation laws often conceals hostility to the state-led Article V process and to a preference that Washington continue unrestrained.
  • Finally, Governor Hassan parrots a serious historical error frequently promoted by the John Birch Society, that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was itself a runaway convention. In fact, the 1787 convention was suggested by the five-state Annapolis Convention of 1786, resulting in ten states adopting the following application language to guide delegates: “… taking into Consideration the state of the Union, as to trade and other important objects, and of devising such other Provisions as shall appear to be necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies thereof.”
Please urge members of the New Hampshire House and Senate to override Governor Hassan’s veto of HB-148 and support state powers granted by the Constitution.

 

Thanks for listening,

Jim Rubens

Monday
Jun012015

Jim Rubens - 12 Step for Beltway Hawks: First, Admit Failure 

 Time for an Effective National Security Strategy


Beltway establishment hawks – who lost the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, squandered $100 billion on Afghanistan reconstruction (only 10% of which can even be accounted for), created a failed-state terror haven in Libya by toppling Muammar Gaddafi, and in 2012-2013 armed and funded the “moderate” Islamic insurgents who morphed into ISIS – now want us to forget their serial strategic blunders and drag us into yet another Middle East ground war.
 
The national security debate has degraded into more versus less intervention, with the more camp pinning the blame for the rise of ISIS on President Obama’s failure to reach a status of forces agreement to keep post-surge US troops in Iraq.

 
Now, we know the real reason for the rise of ISIS, and it’s not because we failed to intervene. Judicial Watch just published a previously secret August 2012 Pentagon report almost precisely predicting that US support for insurgent anti-Assad Sunni factions would lead to unification of those factions and to the creation of an “Islamic state … in Iraq and Syria.” The Keystone hawks persisted well into 2013 in spite of this verbatim warning from the Pentagon in 2012:
 
“This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq) to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy …  ISI (Islamic State in Iraq) could also declare an Islamic state through its Union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”

 
Desperately lacking from the national security debate is a coherent, long-range strategy to protect America from Islamic terror. Nation building has failed. Regime change has increased instability in every case. Whack-a-mole bombing campaigns simply drive jihadi insurgents into temporary hibernation or into other failed states, like the one we created in Libya. This haphazard interventionism has loaded our children with a trillion dollars in debt and sacrificed the lives and broken the bodies and minds of tens of thousands of our immensely brave and professional soldiers.
 

Toward an Effective Strategy
 
Surgery, not nation building.  Whether as lone wolfs or organized in jihadi-controlled regions, Islamic radicals around the world will continue to plot harm to Americans.  In failed state or enemy territory and using drones and Special Forces, our military (not the CIA) should neutralize individuals directly responsible for killing or seriously harming any American citizen. Every such operation should be promptly followed by an after-action evaluation by a special Congressional committee named for that purpose. A declaration of war with appropriate parameters must first be adopted by Congress, and the Constitutional rights of any involved American citizen must be protected.
 
Don’t get sucked into the Sunni-Shia proxy war.  There are no good guys for us to save. Let the proxies spill each other’s blood, not ours. Wealthy Middle East nations such as Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia which have substantial air and ground forces are in the best position to contain their internal security threats. Caveat: Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons, and Israel must not be prevented from defending itself.
 
Autonomous sectarian regions.  Abandon the myth of a unified Iraq and allow Iraq and Syria to disintegrate into autonomous Shia, Sunni and Kurd sectarian regions. A UN safe haven will be needed at least transitionally for regional refugees. The US can play a substantial humanitarian role here.
 
Demand that Saudis stop funding terror.  In the near term, the US must end our tacit agreement with Saudi Arabia that it act as the world’s primary buffer against oil price/supply shocks while Saudi royals act as the
world’s leading funders for the radical Wahhabi ideology and global terror network. In return for this funding and for imposition of Sharia law (the Saudis do more beheadings than ISIS), the Islamic radicals wink at the princes’ debauchery and their $100 million London apartments and refrain from attacks on Saudi soil.
 
Cut pork to fund defense priorities.  Our most expensive weapons program, the F-35 fighter bomber, is
unable to reliably fly in desert conditions and, because of its heavy, single-engine design, was defeated in simulations by Chinese fighters. Congress continues to spend ($120 million this year) on the Abrams tank program that the Army has repeatedly stated it does not need. Congress has allowed the Defense Department budget to remain un-auditable since 1990. Before spending more money, fiscal conservatives should require a full DOD audit so that we know where the money we are already spending is going. Fund needed defense spending from cuts to pork, not by breaking healthcare and pay promises to our soldiers.
 
And Energy
 
Replace fossil fuels. Beltway hawks thought that, by strengthening ISIS, they could weaken Russia and take down Syrian President and Russian ally, Bashar al-Assad. Russia now has Europe by the short ones because Europe
imports 17 trillion ft3 of natural gas per year (65% of net EU-28 consumption), its top source being Russia. Qatar has the world’s third largest proven gas reserves and could replace EU dependency on Russian gas given sufficient transmission pipeline capacity through Western Syria and Turkey. The US and Qatar have long sought this pipeline route blocked by Assad for reasons made obvious by the chart below.

Better than continuing our blowback-prone proxy war to take out Assad, let’s permanently end free-world dependency on fossil energy from Russia and the Middle East.
 
Here’s how.
 
The US leads the world in medical technology and biomedicine, enjoying the resulting high-paying domestic jobs and strong net exports. We’ve achieved this as a direct result of $30 billion annual funding for pre-commercial
health science research, sustained over the past decade and largely distributed via competitive grants by the National Institutes of Health. Despite this success and strong political support for protecting our science and technology lead, the US has fallen to #11 in global R&D per capita.
 
Heresy for small-government conservatives, but the $2 billion per year the federal government has spent over the past decade on basic energy research is too little. My pitch: add $10 billion per year in sustained national support for pre-commercial energy R&D.
 
I do not mean more Solyndras, taxpayer guarantees for nuclear plant construction, oil and gas subsidies, or corn ethanol supply mandates. Phasing out existing federal energy subsidies like these can pay for about half of a $10 billion R&D bump. Government should stop picking commercial winners and losers because crony capitalism distorts, corrupts and freezes marketplace dynamics which otherwise accelerate knowledge and technology commercialization and drives out cost. Taxpayer-backed energy R&D should focus on blue-sky work in materials science, nano-chemistry, energy storage, batteries, solar PV technology, offshore wind platforms, and thorium fuel cycle reactors, for example.  
 
Commercialized energy technologies are already booming without subsides. Unsubsidized energy efficiency and utility scale wind and solar PV (in that order) are already
cheaper than or competitive with combined cycle natural gas as electricity sources.

Policy change can still help with commercialized energy sources. The US can sharply reduce the cost of residential solar PV by slashing regulatory complexity.  Residential solar entrepreneur Barry Cinnamon blogs that US bureaucracy and paperwork about double the cost of US domestic rooftop solar compared with Germany. 
 
“Amazingly, it boils down to the difference between a one page incentive application in Germany for the installation of a standardized system that does not even require an inspection...compared to hundreds of pages of permits, applications and agreements coupled with multiple inspections and jurisdictional requirements that are required in the U.S.”
 
Once energy storage becomes less costly than natural gas, market forces will cause displacement of fossil fuels as primary heat, electricity, and transportation energy sources worldwide within two or three decades. Dictators and terrorists will be defunded, energy price shocks will be history, excessively resource dependent nations economically democratized, and global warming curbed.
 

The Presidential Primaries
 
Sadly, this post contains more detail than the announced national security/foreign policy planks of the candidates because detail invites attack.  Candidates with whom I’ve talked at length admit to me that, as yet, they have no strategy to offer. Others are getting by just fine on poll-driven rhetorical generalities. The lack of competing and well-articulated national security strategies is restricting debate, forcing voters to run blind, and delaying formation of the national consensus always needed for sustained public support of any strategy.
 
Primary voters, for the good of our nation, please demand more detail from the candidates.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jim Rubens