Presidential Focus on Anthem Protests Just One of Many Government Overreaches

Once again the NFL’s National Anthem controversy has reentered the world of sports. It began last week when the NFL and NFL Players Association said that they were halting enforcement of all anthem rules as a result of a situation with players from the Miami Dolphins. President Donald Trump then tweeted that:

“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!”

This has been one of many instances where Trump has given his comments regarding this controversy. The league, including their players, is under no obligation to obey any of the commands that come from the White House (see: The First Amendment). But given the recent decline in NFL ratings and the desire it has to improve and sustain its image, putting forth a policy that at least tried to reign in the tension wrapped up in this polarizing issue made sense. As a result, a policy was put forward that a fine would be levied at players who kneel for the National Anthem, but players planning on doing so could remain in the locker room for the duration of the song. Trump seemed to approve of this new policy, but then came the news from the league and the NFLPA. Thus, the aforementioned tweet from Trump was made.

Many people do not care for the way that the president has injected himself into the National Anthem debate. A poll from last year indicated that the number of people wanting Trump to continue commenting on the NFL player protests had significantly decreased. Some referred to the policy of remaining in the locker room as the NFL “caving” to the Trump administration. But if athlete protests are no place for a president in particular, or government in general, to attempt to impose their will, what other areas should government at all levels avoid this kind of heavy handedness? Here are some examples:

-Governments should not be involved in setting a minimum wage for workers. This is especially the case considering the focus of the NFL anthem protests (disadvantages racial minorities) are so often the victims of minimum wage laws.

-Governments should not be involved in bailing out private entities no matter how big they are or how big a crisis the economy is going through.

-Governments should not be involved in subsidizing private businesses or entities regardless of how virtuous the private business is alleged to be.

-Governments should not be involved in banning sharing services like Uber or Air B&B. What private owners decide to do with their own property is none of the government’s business unless it directly harms someone.

-Governments should not be involved in creating occupational licensing that limits competition to protect a privileged few.

-Governments should not be involved in sending money overseas in the form of foreign aid.

-Governments should not be involved in telling a business who it can or cannot provide a product or service to.

-Governments should not be involved in dictating the health insurance that employers must provide employees.

-Governments should not be involved in dictating to individuals how to defend themselves.

These are just some of the examples of areas where government is involved where it should not be. Considering this frequent interference, should it really be a surprise when the president intervenes in the matter of a private entity like the NFL? Expecting solutions from the state only further causes those who represent it to attempt to make right all the perceived wrongs of society. Thus, Trump’s consistent addressing of the National Anthem issue is merely a symptom of society’s dependence on the government to soothe the things which make us uncomfortable. Relying on those with political power to rid our culture of its ills is certainly not a new phenomenon. It’s definitely time that those within society to stop looking to the state in this way.

No, the President is not our Coach

Fox News host Laura Ingraham certainly caused a firestorm with her recent comments regarding NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant. In case you haven’t heard, both James and Durant made disparaging remarks about President Donald Trump while being “interviewed” in the back of an SUV. Ingraham then responded to these comments on her show by telling both players to (among other things) “shut up and dribble.” As expected, a massive fallout has ensued.

But what perhaps is even more interesting is a part of the initial commentary on the part of both parties that many have missed when discussing the points that were made. While discussing the president, Durant stated that “I feel our team as a country is not run by a great coach.” This resulted in Ingraham saying, “LeBron and Kevin, you’re great players, but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach.”

So is the label that both Ingraham and Durant (and by association, James) give to the president an accurate one? Is the President of the United States really the “coach” of the people? In virtually every aspect that one could assign the title of coach, the president does not fit this description. The president (any president) is most emphatically not our coach and both of these NBA Stars along with Ingraham are incorrect for labeling him this way.

In any sport, a coach is someone who advises, critiques, inspires and instructs you. The president doesn’t do any of these things unless you work directly for him. A coach is someone you know personally who has a vested interest in how you perform your job. James and Durant do not know the president personally and appear to have no desire to ever meet him. In our own lives very few of us will ever even meet a sitting president, much less have a personal relationship with him.

All of this runs counter to the myth that most of us have repeatedly heard that the president “runs the country.” In reality, private individuals run the country rather than the president. Small business owners, CEO’s, bosses and heads of households are the ones who really run our everyday institutions. It’s not even correct that the president runs the government. He’s in charge of the executive branch of the federal government. That’s significantly more specific.

Possibly without knowing it, James and Durant have made an excellent case for a more limited presidential power. After all, if a bad president (as they both certainly believe Trump is) can seize the kind of control they fear he can, then the more limitations that president will need placed on him. A beneficial lesson can be learned from all of this. If a president that you vote for and admire assumes more power, then that same power can be wielded by an undesirable president in the future. This is something to keep in mind when any politician amasses more authority.

In light of all this, we should be thankful that the president does not act like our coach, boss, pastor, parent or any other authority figure in our personal lives. If he did, it would be a clear violation of the constitutional limitations that are supposed to restrain him. So when we vote for a president, we aren’t voting for a coach. The person we vote for has a much more limited role in our lives than that. This is a very good thing.

Lebron James and the Safety Pin Opportunity

With Sports Illustrated selecting NBA superstar Lebron James as the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year, an opportunity was seized by the reigning finals MVP to make a social/political statement in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election. For the picture taken for the award, James wore a safety pin on the lapel of his jacket.  Wearing a safety pin has become a symbol of solidarity for people who feel disenfranchised by the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency. Those who wear one show that they not only oppose Trump’s entry into the White House, but also that that the wearer of the pin is a “safe” (hence the safety pin) person to be around in an America soon to be led by Trump.

To act like a president who hasn’t even taken office yet is already disenfranchising you seems like a bit of a stretch. But James isn’t the only athlete, or former athlete, who is acting like the not-yet-inaugurated Trump is already having a negative effect of American life. After racist graffiti and the word “Trump” was found at the home of New York Giant fullback Nikita Whitlock, teammate Victor Cruz was quoted as saying, “I think it’s definitely a direct reflection of how this country is being run…the things that are being said by the people at [the] helm of this country and at the helm of our day-to-day lives.” Of course, Barack Obama is still running things until January 20th. NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an article two days after the election titled What it Means to be Black During a Trump Administration. Apparently he doesn’t want to actually experience an America under Trump before assuming what it will be like.

So one might ask that if Lebron James is a safe person to be around during the all-encompassing awfulness that a Trump Presidency will bring, what kind of actions could we expect from him in order to aid those who feel they have become so threatened by this? Would he give the person a hug? Would he give them a pep talk like the ones he gives to his team before they take the court? Would he give them some of his money (he has a lot)? Would he section off a part of one of his houses as a “safe space” since young millennials who are upset have shown a desire for those?

This phenomenon of wearing a safety pin to convey a political message presents a unique economic opportunity. Since the demand for safety pins has now increased, perhaps it would be a good time to invest in companies which produce and sell them. The Singer Sewing Company has their safety pins sold at Walmart, Target and CVS. The craft store chain Michaels has reported difficulty in keeping safety pins in stock since Trump’s victory.

Safety pin sales haven’t been the only product that has seen a jump in sales as a result of a presidential election. Often when a Democrat is elected president, there is a major uptick in the sale of firearms. But left-wingers might have some reservations about investing in an industry which manufactures something that so many of them dislike so much. In contrast, conservatives should have no problem benefiting as a result of increases in safety pin production since they are not a part of an industry opposed by right-of-center individuals.

The safety pin demonstration is most likely a fad that will dissipate over time. Perhaps it will be after Trump officially takes office and people realize that the conditions of the people he supposedly has it in for act with relative independence of who the president happens to be. But until inauguration day, the flames of fear will likely be stoked to the point that safety pin sales will continue to surge. That’s when investors may be wise to make their move.

Comparing the Two Victories of Trump and the Cubs

When people look back on the month of November in 2016, they will likely cite two momentous events that occurred in American culture. One was the shocking victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States. The other was the victory of the Chicago Cubs in the World Series to end their 108 year title drought. Both of these things happened within a week of one another.

There are several similarities between the victories of both Trump and the Cubs. Both involved a result so astonishing that many people couldn’t believe what had happened. Both took fans of opposing sides through emotional rollercoasters on the way to the final result. Both will no doubt cause people to forever remember where they were when the victor in the two contests ultimately prevailed.

But any time when there are comparative similarities, there will also be inevitable differences. The Cubs’ epic World Series victory is not as parallel to Trump’s upset win as many have thought. This doesn’t mean that we can’t all stand in collective amazement at both. But let’s also understand what makes the two legendary wins so unlike one another.

1. The hate factor.

It’s certainly not accurate to say that no one hates either the Cubs or the Indians. All teams have rivals who despise them. The Cubs have the arch nemesis St. Louis Cardinals and the crosstown White Sox on the South Side. The Indians have their rivals within the American League Central where there is no love lost as well. But considering the length of time since each team’s last championship (1908 for the Cubs, 1948 for the Indians), it’s harder for sports fans in general to summon intense hatred for teams who haven’t won in so long.

Meanwhile, the candidates put forward by the Republican and Democratic parties were statistically the most hated presidential candidates in American history. Usually a president actually has to serve a four year term to be unlikeable with a significant portion of the public. But Clinton and Trump were both more unpopular having never served as president than any previous president at the four year mark. Not the kind of record you want to own.

2. One was an upset, the other was not.

Many have cited how the Cubs were big underdogs after falling down three games to one to the Indians in the World Series. But this only makes the North Siders strongly disfavored if you cite a specific time after a specific game that put them in a 3-1 hole. Aside from this brief time, no one had better odds of winning the 2016 World Series than the Cubs. They were widely considered to be the best team in baseball the entire season and ended the regular season with the game’s best record.

Compare this with The Donald and a stark difference emerges. Trump’s candidacy was largely considered to be a joke in many circles. Political pundits and experts were constantly predicting that he couldn’t sustain the momentum that caused him to surge to frontrunner status. His election astonished people because of how it flew in the face of so many pollsters and political scientists who attempt to forecast electoral outcomes.

3. The Cubs were long suffering, Trump was not.

The reason Chicago’s win was so memorable was because of how long they waited to finally get to the top of the baseball world. They had failed for so many years that it had seemed like the moment would never happen. Donald Trump, however, had no such long term suffering. Although he had entertained the idea of running for president in the past, this election marked the first time he had ever taken the plunge. A sports team equivalent of the Trump’s victory would be something along the lines of the 1997 Marlins, 2000 Ravens or 2001 Diamondbacks all winning championships within the first five seasons of their existences.

So for those reasons (and likely many more), the Trump victory and the Cubs victory are not as similar as some may think. They will, however, be forever linked by the fact that they both happened in relative succession to one another. The high emotions surrounding both events will likely also be prevalent in people’s memories for quite some time. But look closer and the pronounced differences will be there as well.

Trump Embraces Migration Restrictions of Both Rich and Poor

“A free and prosperous society has no fear of anyone entering it. But a welfare state is scared to death of every poor person who tries to get in and every rich person who tries to get out.”

-Harry Browne, former Libertarian nominee for President

This quote seems to ring especially true any time that politicians (or those who aspire to be) propose either immigration restrictions or economic protectionism. The reasoning for those proposals is quite obvious. Those who fear the migration of the poor to their country are concerned about the cost of lavish welfare benefits available for disadvantaged individuals (despite evidence that immigrants are less likely to use such benefits). Those who fear the fleeing of the rich do so out of concern that fewer tax dollars will be available to pay for extravagant government spending programs. Methods imposed by the state to dictate both inward and outward migration are often totalitarian in nature and stem from the fact that the society enacting those methods is not a free one.

Perhaps no recent federal level candidate has exemplified this way of thinking more than presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The desire of Trump to impose heavy-handed immigration restrictions as the potential commander-in-chief is well known to the American public. He plans on having a wall built that stretches the length of the US-Mexico border that Mexico is allegedly going to pay for. He very much wants to round up and deport the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States. Certainly part of this desire stems from the fact that Mexicans (and other immigrants) are often poor and unskilled. Trump made this very clear in the speech he made while announcing his presidential run when he said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.” Many people who agree are fearful that the American taxpayer will have to foot the bill for the fact that many of these immigrants are from the lower economic class and therefore are not “the best” Mexicans.

But Trump’s desire to restrict voluntary migration doesn’t just apply to poor Latinos. It also applies to rich businessmen and wealthy organizations who may choose to do business elsewhere. Trump conveyed his supposed need to prevent this occurrence when the World Golf Championships decided to opt for Mexico City over the Trump owned course in Doral, FL (where it had been held since 1962) for the event next year. The billionaire real estate mogul then addressed this decision at a campaign rally in Sacramento, CA by saying, “They moved the World Golf Championships from Miami to Mexico City. Can you believe it? But that’s OK. Folks, it’s all going to be settled. You vote for Donald Trump as president, if I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop.”

It’s not clear what measures Trump would go to in order to prevent a private organization (like the PGA) from voluntarily moving one of its events out of the US. But his desire to use the power of government to stop such action reflects his fondness for economic protectionism. It is not much different from the plan once proposed by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to levy taxes on wealthy individuals after renouncing US citizenship. The bill, often nicknamed “The Ex-Patriot Act,” was motivated by the fact that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin had renounced his U.S. citizenship. Clearly the legislation served as a last ditch effort for the American government to obtain some portion of a wealthy person’s money before they lost the ability to do so. It’s difficult, however, to see how an action like this could be directed at the PGA since they are not treated as an American citizen. Perhaps only Trump knows the strong arm tactics he would use to prevent something like this from happening.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has followed Trump’s campaign thus far in the 2016 election cycle that he would embrace totalitarianism espoused by both the left and the right. His need to vilify poor foreigners and prevent their entrance into the country delights many on the right. His desire to keep rich organizations and the individuals associated with them from exiting the country embraces a philosophy often championed by the left. Considering the fact that the Trump has backed extraordinarily expensive proposals such as a gigantic border wall to keep Mexicans out, a police state to hunt down illegals and some sort of unspecified government run health care system, it isn’t hard to see why he would want to prevent both entrances from the poor and exits from the rich. If a country rejects these types of expensive and expansive policies, our fear of these types of migrations across our borders will dissipate. Harry Browne was right; a truly free society has no concern over such things.