Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

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Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

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The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips after he had refused to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. So, the Left is after him again.

Phillips says that on the same day of the Supreme Court decision, he received a call from an attorney asking him to make a cake that fades from blue to pink to celebrate his gender transition. Phillips again refused. He has also been harassed by the same attorney with multiple requests for cakes celebrating everything from drug use to Satanism. Naturally, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is going after Phillips for discrimination. Again.

RELATED: The 'Masterpiece Cakeshop' ruling is actually a win for LGBT rights

Well, Phillips has understandably had enough. This week he filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado. In the lawsuit, Phillips says his family lost 40 percent of its income due to the harassment he has received. He also says he and his employees were forced to complete a "reeducation program" about not exercising his faith at work.

In the Declaration of Independence, just before the list of specific grievances against King George III, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"To prove this [talking about the king's tyranny], let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

The Left isn't interested in liberty and justice for all.

I wonder, do candid citizens in the U.S. notice that the tyranny against personal liberty, and religious liberty is not coming from the Right? Really, you would think that the Left would be all about the anything goes, to each his own kind of philosophy. "You do you," that's the typical Leftist philosophy, isn't it? It's certainly the spirit of postmodernism.

But the Left isn't interested in liberty and justice for all. They're interested in liberty and justice only for their vetted list of oppressed groups.

The Left is also pretty confident in its ownership of the "bigot" label to slap on whomever it deems necessary. But let's just go ahead and say it since no one else will – the Left is bigoted toward Christianity. This has nothing to do with the state of Colorado defending LGBT rights, and everything to do with their contempt for Jack Phillips' religious beliefs.

You know you're in for trouble any time an article begins with the following words: "These have been challenging times to be white in America."

Oh. I see where this is going:

People who aren't white may find this surprising. After all, it has been decades since white people could feel so free about loving their whiteness, or so openly celebrate whiteness, or talk about how much they relish being white and doing white activities.

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Those are the opening lines of a recent NBC News op-ed- titled "Are 'white people' jokes racist? Let a fellow white person explain." I mean, it would make for incredible satire. I mean, if it were mocking the outrageous postmodern mental gymnastics of the modern Left, this article would be awe-inducing in its satirical prowess. Alas, it is not. It's real. The author, somehow, means what he's writing.

You know the routine: Racism against white people isn't a real thing. It's a clever mechanism which allows that racism against white people is purely linguistic, based on the idea that power determines who can say what.

You know the routine: Racism against white people isn't a real thing.

The idea is embodied by the entire article, but one sentence in particular smacks of it: "one of the great things about being white is that you'll never have to know what racism feels like (on the receiving end anyway)."

I think I know what it feels like. It feels like someone is judging based entirely on my skin color. Kinda like this entire article about how white people cannot be judged based entirely on their skin color. How does that not make sense?

The great censorship jihad continue'ith. And maybe one of the most bizarre developments in this war is how members of the media have formed a Caliphate to wage this jihad. There are actually beat reporters from the mainstream media, hanging on every word Alex Jones says with the hopes of catching him violating social media terms of service rules.

If these mainstream media jihadis catch Jones in the act of saying anything haram - or forbidden - they instantly charge the battlefield and pummel companies like Twitter with examples of how their rules are being infringed upon. Their strategy bared more fruit yesterday. Twitter, one of the last platforms Alex Jones still had, slapped him with a seven-day ban.

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I just can't understand where the Media Caliphate is coming from here. When you're in the business of and count on, the free flow of information, is it not counter-productive to your business model to advocate for censorship? Do you not see the slippery slope you're on? Look, I get it. You think Alex Jones is looney tunes and maybe even dangerous, but silencing ideas and information should never be the answer.

Countering crazy and dangerous speech with rational and sane speech should be your mission… not censorship. You're helping Jones get silenced and cheering it on, but what will you do when someone comes to censor you? Because that's where this is headed.

But while the call for jihad was raised for Alex Jones, and silence now falls on his Twitter account, these accounts still have full access. The Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, Beverly Hills Antifa, Antifa Philadelphia… there are more Antifa twitter accounts than I have time to mention.

The radical Left is so well represented on Twitter, you'd think they have their own private office at Twitter headquarters right next to Jack. The Revolutionary Communist Party of America is but one still posting and calling for things like - you know - just the violent takeover of the U.S. government.

I hope the advocates for censorship enjoy these early victories because it won't be long before the monster they're unleashing turns on the master.

But the Media Caliphate isn't calling for their social media heads. They just want people like Alex Jones and Gavin McGinnis to shut up. I sure it doesn't have anything to do with - no it couldn't be - this is crazy talk, but both Jones and McGinnis work for rival media outlets and deliver rival narratives to the mainstream media.

I'm sure that has nothing to do with it. If smaller outlets like CRTV and Infowars are cutting into their viewership and stealing their YouTube and Social Media clicks, would it benefit the Caliphate to come at them full bore on a digital battlefield where they're currently getting their butts kicked? You bet it would, but that's just crazy talk.

I hope the advocates for censorship enjoy these early victories because it won't be long before the monster they're unleashing turns on the master.

How could you say no to that face?

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Do you trust your own ability to unplug from technology? Some people born before the 1990s are wearing it as a badge of honor now – that they quit Facebook, or they do a regular technology fast.

We like to think we're not overly dependent on technology, while posting on social media about how old-school we are. That's all well and good until the technology starts giving you puppy dog eyes and producing digital crocodile tears. What if your robot begs you not to turn it off? Will you still do it?

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This isn't science fiction anymore. It's right around the corner. And if you're skeptical whether humans will treat robots like a family member, a new study might alter your view.

Researchers in Germany set up an experiment to examine how people treat robots when the robots act like humans. Each human participant was asked to work with a robot named Nao to create a weekly schedule and answer a series of questions.

What the participants didn't know was that completing the tasks was just a way for the researchers to find out what they were really interested in – how the participant's interaction with Nao would affect their ability to shut down the robot when asked.

Half of the participants were asked to shut down Nao without the robot protesting. But the other half of the participants heard Nao plead with them, saying: "No! Please do not switch me off! I am scared that it will not brighten up again!"

Of the 43 people who heard Nao's plea, 13 chose not to turn him off. Some said they felt sorry for him, others that they didn't want to act against his will.

The other 30 people did turn him off, but they took twice as long on average to do so than the group that did not hear the robot's plea.

Our 2018 problems will suddenly seem very quaint.

The experiment confirms previous research demonstrating that humans are prone to treat technology, especially robots with human-like traits, as living beings.

Now, take this human tendency, and fast-forward a few years in the future when robots will look, sound, and act human, and know everything about us. Our 2018 problems will suddenly seem very quaint.