Lady Liberty’s Lights Go Out. On Purpose Or Just A Coincidence?

Statue-Of-Liberty-Lit-Up-At-Night1

Lady Liberty’s normal, beaming appearance

On Tuesday, March 7th, the Statue of Liberty temporarily went dark from 10:00 PM to 11:30 PM. With her entire body and robe completely covered in darkness, only her crown and torch was left glowing on the New York Harbor. Ironically, the incident took place on International Women’s Day, making timing of Lady Liberty’s blackout appear all too coincidental to some. Although the official twitter account of the Statue of Liberty National Monument posted the morning after the incident, “Some lights on the Statue were temporarily off tonight. Likely related to new emergency generator/Hurricane Sandy recovery project work,” some viewed the glitch as intentional. Organizers of the Women’s March called on thousands to strike on “A Day Without a Woman.” Some believe that perhaps America’s most illustrious woman took the opportunity to be the very first to speak and protest on the special day. According to the Women’s March website, their group’s strike intended to acknowledge, “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system, while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment and job insecurity.” Lady Liberty making her presence known during the effort was not gone unrecognized by the group, and the official Twitter account of the Women’s March posted, “Thank you Lady Liberty for standing with the resistance and going dark for #DayWithoutAWoman.” Others who also saw deeper meaning in Lady Liberty’s break from her normal illuminating self also took advantage and went to Twitter to post their opinions. Raymond Braun posted, “CNN has just reported that the Statue of Liberty has gone dark tonight. Power failure or social commentary?” Aparna Nancherla posted, “Apparently the Statue of Liberty lights went out due to a power failure. But I would argue women are also protesting due to a power failure.” Unfortunately, the activists were shut down to the idea that the recent happenings were purposely caused. Jerry Willis from the National Parks Service provided an explanation as to why everything happened the way it did, “ The temporary, unplanned outage occurred after a lighting system controller was switched off to change out faulty lighting equipment. When the repair was completed, the lighting system controller wasn’t properly reset, leading to the outage.” Deeper meaning and symbolism can still be found, for everything does happen for a reason, and Lady Liberty could not have picked a more perfect time to draw attention to herself. Fortunately, she has now gone back to her usual, shining self.

The HBC’s Plans For the Budget and Why It’s Harmful to the Future of America

Congress recently released what they want the federal budget to be for the next 10 years. With the U.S. approaching nearly $20 trillion dollars in debt, Congress is doing everything it can to try to balance the budget and reduce this burden of debt as fast as possible. The budget deficit of Fiscal Year 2016 was $587 billion. This year it is set to be around $443 billion and be exactly the same for 2020 and not balance it until 2026. This plan would accumulate more debt than we have accumulated in the past 8 years. This is only if we follow the same tax plan as we have followed under Obama and Trump plans to cut taxes for everyone – so this will most likely be much, much worse. The three things the U.S. government spent the most on in 2016 are healthcare, Social Security and Unemployment Benefits, and the military which add up to 76% of the budget. You would think the HBC would want to start making cuts to these or try and find out how to carry out these programs in in cheaper, yet still efficient way. But no, they do not. $120 billion is added to military, no changes to Social Security are made to try and control the increased spending every year, and Medicaid spending is cut slightly while Medicare spending is still being allowed to expand every year with no changes to the program. Major cuts however are made to education (2% of the budget), public broadcasting (> 1% of the budget), and agriculture (3% of the budget).

The purple is where US troops are stationed

The purple is where US troops are stationed.

There are countless ways to balance the budget in faster and more efficient ways. In 2016 the US spent more on military than the next seven countries behind us combined. The next country behind us, China spent $155.6 billion dollars on military last year, just a little more than 1/4th of our $585 billion dollars spent. Adding $120 billion to this will make us spend more than the next 10 countries combined. Some might say that this is necessary for defense against terrorism. They should see where our troops are stationed. The US has troops stationed in six out of seven continents on the globe and in 74 countries. We could put more troops in the Middle East and still fight terrorism more than we need to and still cut military spending almost in half. We even spend $5.9 billion dollars a year paying for the military of other countries.

The US also spends the most in the world on healthcare. This might come as a surprise to you, considering the US does not have universal healthcare like many other countries in the world. I’m sure the first thing that just popped into your head is, “Well our population is higher than those countries”. That is a natural thing to think and would be a good argument if it made a difference. The US federal healthcare spending is 17.7% of our overall GDP and 9% of the US is uninsured. The next country behind us, The Netherlands’ federal healthcare spending is 11.9% of their GDP and has universal healthcare. We spend the most in the world on healthcare by far and we have 9% uninsured. In countries like Canada and many European countries, healthcare is very cheap because of how cheap their medicine is. Opening up trade for medicine with these countries would bring the cost of our medicine down and ultimately making healthcare must cheaper. We do not need single-payer to have universal healthcare either. Many countries have achieved universal healthcare without single payer. Germany has achieved universal healthcare through a mix of public and private insurance. Their spending on healthcare is 11% of their GDP (7th highest in world) and their life expectancy for average citizens there is 81.0 years as opposed to our 78.7 years. The US can follow this system and save a lot of money while still having very high quality insurance. While making cuts to Social Security is not wanted by most people and is immoral, we can stop the growth of Social Security spending by raising the retirement age from 62 to 66 or higher. Critics of raising the retirement age would say its not right to give people a longer working life and take less time away from their retirement. If Social Security is going insolvent soon, then it is better for this generation to get less than for every generation 20 years from now to get none. We should also cap benefits so that the rich and others who do not need social security at all don’t receive it. This may also seem unfair and almost seem like discrimination if everyone is paying into it their whole lives, then everyone should get it back. Again, it is better for some to not get it than for every generation after 2035 to get none at all.

If the US were to do all outlined above and raise individual income taxes on the upper middle class and up, balancing the budget would be no problem. Cutting taxes when $19 trillion dollars in debt is plain irresponsible. This is not fiscally conservative. Cutting back on education spending is going to do little to nothing to reduce the deficit and will be harmful for America’s children. The HBC needs to cut back on what we actually spend excessively on and possibly reinstate PART (Program Rating Assessment Tool) in order to get rid of waste and balance the budget. While private citizens have no say in the budget we can vote in people who can vote on the budget. Our next chance is in 2018; vote safely and smartly.

Kim Jong-un the Solution to Missed Senate Votes?

Kim Jong-un (N. Korea)Since the 2016 presidential campaign trail began for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, the two senators had notably been absent on Capitol Hill lately, having missed the third highest and highest number of U.S. Senate votes in 2015, respectively. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid found Rubio’s attendance so lacking that he went so far as to suggest that the Senate resign his seat. The heavy lack of attendance to the Capitol was surprisingly interrupted by, surprisingly, North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.

A vote on the sanctioning of North Korea and its current dictator yanked Cruz and Rubio off the campaign trail and onto the Senate floor on Wednesday. When asked why he diverted from his campaign trail to vote on this issue, Cruz replied that, “the national security threat is serious.” Rubio’s aide, Alex Burgos, made an extra effort to wave off reporters as his boss entered the Senate Wednesday evening. When asked why he wanted to vote, Rubio, while entering the Senate floor, replied, “it’s an important issue.”
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz

The legislation on the North Korea issue is obviously important to national security, and if the two Senators had to pick something to eventually vote for, this one is definitely one of the more important ones. However, one factor as to why the two decided to come back, is to avoid looking weak. A presidential candidate should look strong on matters of national security, and an opposing senator in the race could have attacked in an upcoming debate or on the campaign trail for not voting on an important matter of national security. There’s nothing wrong with this—strategy is obviously needed in a presidential election. However, it’s the duty of a U.S. Senator to vote on these issues, whether it affects their poll numbers or not.

Feel the Bern

Bernie Sanders has promised his supporters tons of free things, which our country should be excited for. This man has promised us the world: free college, free money, free everything! At first, I didn’t think he even knew what the word “free” meant. I thought the man was a complete fool until I heard an interview FOX News conducted, in hopes to stump him regarding where he’d get all the money for the “free life” he plans to give Americans, should he become President. But, when he was asked about his economic policies, he responded with unbelievably incredible answers.

The Future $100 BillAs it turns out, Bernie Sanders is an economic genius! He has revolutionary ideas about ways to fund his plans. His first response was amazing. “Well, the first way that we can get money is obvious, we can just print hundreds of times more dollars than we do now. This has caused inflation in other countries in the past, but we have a foolproof way of preventing an economic meltdown.” I was surprised. Then, his next idea was the most intelligent thing I’d heard from any of the 2016 presidential candidates, the most outstanding improvement to our economy ever proposed, “The foolproof way to do this is to use less paper. If we use less paper, we’ll still be printing the same amount of paper, just more money. We can use thinner paper, smaller bills, who wants to have those big, hard-to-fit bills in their wallet anyway?” Revolutionary. Feel the Bern.

It is clear that a revolution is looming on the horizon. Bernie Sanders is the modern George Washingtonson. His genius is unrivaled, his economic and social ideas unparalleled. Unemployment will no longer be a bad thing, because jobs won’t be necessary to make money and live healthily. Motivation will no longer be required. The poor will no longer be poor. The rich will no longer have salaries thousands of times higher than that of the middle class. Bernie Sanders will turn America into the most amazing and prosperous place in the universe. There will be no more war, no more suffering. Poverty will be eliminated along with homelessness.

FEEL. THE. BERN.

Trump and Sanders Take New Hampshire

The winners of the New Hampshire primary.

The winners of the New Hampshire primary.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won in a landslide during the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, with each garnering a 20 point lead in their respective party, causing speculation that voters are fed up with regular politicians. Both men were projected to win by the statistical forecasting website “538”, which gave Trump a 68% chance of winning, versus Bernie’s 99%. Voters came out in record numbers, and some of the results were surprising. In the Republican primary, John Kasich surprised everyone by coming in second place and receiving roughly 15% of the vote; he was followed closely by Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush who both received approximately 11% of the vote.

After votes have been tabulated, they are then converted– using each state’s respective idiosyncratic system– into pledged delegates, which are then combined with un-pledged delegates, typically prominent politicians who are not bound to vote for any particular candidate, in order to identify the candidate who yields a majority of the delegation. If no such majority exists, then a brokered convention occurs, during which a frontrunner is chosen based on political bartering. Brokered conventions are atypical, since in recent years a clear frontrunner has emerged with enough traction to avoid such a situation.

This delegate system endows New Hampshire’s primary rules with special significance. New Hampshire awards delegates proportionally, as one might intuitively expect, but only if they exceed a certain threshold– at least 10% in this case. Candidates who don’t exceed the threshold have their share of the delegation stripped from them and given to the front runner. Republicans compete for a New Hampshire delegation consisting of 23 pledged delegates in total, versus the 24 reserved for the Democrats.

Putting aside the technical aspects of the primary convention, the results of New Hampshire are (roughly) as follows: Sanders gets 15 pledged delegates, Trump gets 10, Clinton gets 9, Kasich gets 4, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush get 3, and everyone else gets a pat on the back.

In total the pledged delegate breakdown (combining the results of Iowa and New Hampshire) looks like this: Sanders 36, Clinton 32, Trump 17, Cruz 11, Rubio 10, Kasich 5, Bush 4, and Carson 3. Republicans need 1,237 delegates to win their nomination, and Democrats need 2,382.

#Hillary2016 is Official

Hillary Clinton in her “Getting Started” campaign video

Finally emerging after two years of rumors and speculation, Hillary Clinton announced last Sunday that she would be running in the 2016 presidential race, marking her second attempt in becoming the first woman president of the United States. She introduced her goals and focus for her second run in her campaign video “Getting Started” that garnered much attention and feedback after it was released just after 3 PM.

A multitude of diverse people and their current life are highlighted in the video, which reflects Clinton’s sentiments of wanting to become the champion of “everyday Americans.” From a stay-at-home mom returning to the workplace after many years, to a pair of expectant parents, a job-seeking college student, and a same sex couple on the verge of marriage, Clinton promises to these people that she wants to run “so you can do more than just get by — you can get ahead and stay ahead.” Even on her Twitter account, she shoutouts this particular group of people. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” she says. This specification calls attention to one of the key objectives in her campaign: to fight for those who have been just getting by during the States’ economic recovery.

However, regardless of her pledges, she still has a ways to go in terms of swaying public opinion and showing the warm, fun side of Hillary Clinton. It is both a blessing and a curse that she’s starting with such experience, having been a First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State. Her image is that much more difficult to reinvent, but she’s also gained a substantial amount of supporters due to her time in the political spotlight. The Republican National a Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus, talked about “Clinton’s air of ‘inevitability'” when speaking about her candidacy on CBS News’ Face the Nation, saying that she gives off an impression that she intends to “waltz into the White House.” That image is very much something Clinton and her team are definitely working to transform during her presidential candidacy, and it’s apparent what she says during her campaign video. Instead of going the “starting a conversation” route that she took in 2008, she tells voters that she’s “hitting the road to ear [their] votes.” In pursuing this goal of evoking a feeling of familiarity between the voters and Clinton, her advisers say her second presidential run is going to look less like her first but rather her run for the Senate seat from New York in 2000 where a listening tour took place and she even spent a few nights in supporters’ homes.

Her campaign reports to be planning to spend the next six to eight weeks hiring staff and reaching out to volunteers, before starting her first rally sometime in May. With an all-new campaign message and a renewed team, it’s time to see if perhaps second’s a charm for Clinton.