Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman (Part 1)

How We can Build The Ideal World

‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.’ Oscar Wilde

The Return of Utopia. In the past, the world was much worse than what it was today. Poverty rates have fallen and life expectancy has increased. The last 2 centuries have seen explosive growth, like nothing mankind has ever experienced. People are 250 times richer as compared to the Industrial Revolution. People used to dream of a brighter future. Modern world suffers from problems like obesity, pollution etc. Modern medicine has allowed those who have suffered to live again. Driverless cars are on our roads. Internet access and smartphones are getting more widespread. Vaccines are useful to prevent diseases and pre-mature death. In terms of literacy, humans are at our all-time high. Although everything seems good, we may lack a purpose in life. We live in a capitalist and consumer driven society. How can we improve our current state? A common utopia is one of blueprints, where dissension is not tolerated. Transgressions are not allowed and will be punished. Why are we working long hours than before even though we are richer now. To many, utopias turn out into dystopias and nightmares. We crave freedom, but it some ways, it is an empty freedom. We spend too much on health care. The advertisers and mass media benefit from over consumption. This is the dystopia we are living in. We are pampered too much. We believed in big dreams in the past but we know that reality is very different. We are becoming more anxious over time. We are becoming more and more alike. There are other ways to progress other than via capitalism. Our utopia will start small and grow from there. Even though things are well, we need to constantly improve.

And the ad industry encourages us to spend money we don’t have on junk we don’t need in order to impress people we can’t stand. – Rutger Bregman

If success is a choice, then so is failure. Lost your job? You should have worked harder. Sick? You must not be leading a healthy lifestyle. Unhappy? Take a pill. – Rutger Bregman

Why We Should Give Free Money to Everyone. Feeding the homeless might be cheaper than locking them in jail or providing social services. One other way is to give them money. This is ironic, but it might work. How they spend it is up to them. The fact is that most of them were actually prudent in their spending. Some even used the money for personal growth. Giving money to them might be the most efficient way to help them. Free money doesn’t make people lazy. This has been proved by different studies. This has been proved in Namibia and Malawi. This might be superior to spending money on food etc. You have the freedom to buy want you need. This was already mentioned in Thomas More in his book in 1516. The dream is for all to have a universal basic income for everyone. Canada experimented with this idea in the 1970s. Mincome, a city in Canada, worked well under this model. There is a fear that people would be lazy if they didn’t work. There is little evidence that people would be lazy if they had a basic sum of money each month. President Nixon pushed for it in the past, but it often got rejected by the Senate. Many years back, democracy seemed a utopia, but it has worked. The benefit of giving people a basic income is that the poor can take on jobs which can give them growth. This should be the aim of capitalism.

Poverty is fundamentally about a lack of cash. It’s not about stupidity. You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots. – Joseph Hanlon

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the vast majority of people actually want to work, whether they need to or not. In fact, not having a job makes us deeply unhappy. – Rutger Bregman

So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living. – Richard Buckminster Fuller

The End of Poverty. A new casino opened in 1997. It was Harrah’s Cherokee. It was run by Cherokee Indians. Organized crime did not increase. Those kids who grew up in poverty tended to have behavioral problems. Which was the cause, and which was the effect? Costello’s subjects who were lifted out of poverty had much lesser behavioral problems. Money from the casino earnings were given to needy families. The tribe ended up thriving after the casino earnings. Genes can’t be undone. Poverty can. Why do the poor tend to make dumb decisions? Poverty is something the individual has to overcome on their own. In economics, always everything revolves around scarcity. Poor people find food scarce, so they need to find an incredible way to make ends meet and that is a good thing. You can’t take a break from poverty. It’s all about the context. You can’t take a break from poverty, unlike a situation where you are busy at work. We all need to increase our gross domestic mental bandwidth. Getting out of poverty is more important than education. One solution is to give needy students a hand with financial aid paperwork. Does money enable you to be happy and healthy? Inequality is a big issue in modern society. Relative poverty is very important because like to compare themselves with others. Social mobility goes up when inequality goes up. Even rich people might not feel good if the inequality in their country is too high. Providing free apartments are also useful, as it helps to get homeless people off the streets. Homelessness can certainly be solved. We need to address the root cause, not the symptom.

Scarcity consumes you. You’re less able to focus on other things that are also important to you. – Eldar Shafir

The effect of poverty lowers your IQ by around 13 or 14 points. That’s comparable to losing a night’s sleep or the long term effects of alcohol. – Eldar Shafir

If you’d like to have more money, time, friends, or food, you’re more likely to experience a sense of scarcity. And the things you want are determined to a large extent by what people around you have. – Rutger Bregman

Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult. – Samuel Johnson

The Bizarre Tale of President Nixon and His Basic Income Bill. Historians have more to give us. We should look and learn from history as much as possible. We shall look at Richard Nixon. He was forced to resign after the Watergate scandal in 1974. There were many who opposed his plan of giving free money to everyone. Anderson managed to change Nixon’s mind. The Speenhamland system failed badly in the 19th century England. Why did the President switch his mind? However, his message of wanting to fight laziness among the poor caused people to turn against the idea of basic income. Speenhamland appeared to be successful initially. In the fact, people were convinced that population growth will exceed food production. However, it was a disaster because of a few reasons. Marx believed that a revolution was needed to bring people out of poverty, not a basic income. Modern historians have realized that the results from Speenhamland might not be reliably measured. The consensus that the poor were becoming more lazy might be untrue. The Royal Commission Report changed Nixon’s decision. The truth of population growth indefinitely might not hold true. In 1834, the Speenhamland system was dismantled. The idea of a self-regulating market that will liberate the poor was still a dream. There are some scholars who believe that Speenhamland was a success. Things could have been handled so much better. The idea of a welfare state was hit badly as a result of Speenhamland. People who are poor only thing about the here and now and not the future.

The gross national product…measures everything…except that which makes life worthwhile. – Robert F. Kennedy

New Figures for a New Era. The Japan earthquake on Mar 11, 2011 wrecked havoc on the Japanese economy. However, the economy recovered miraculously fast. It had a silver lining for GDP. Rebuilding has a huge impetus for the government. However, we shouldn’t welcome these disasters. GDP does not measure the intangible benefits to society. It does not measure things like community service, clean air etc. Also, things like domestic workers are not measured in the GDP. Denmark has tried to quantify the value of breastfeeding in its GDP. GDP does not measure advances in technology. The higher the social problems, the more it will contribute to GDP. In the past, banks took up a huge slice of GDP due to their risk taking culture. Are we placing too much emphasis on GDP? Almost all politicians believe that growth is good for employment and the economy. The idea of GDP was already mooted in the 1800s. Adam Smith believed that those who worked in services industry produced nothing at all. Alfred Marshall realized that it was not so much the nature of products that mattered, but the price. However, accurate calculations on GDP only existed in the 1900s. It was essentially invented by a Russian professor named Simon Kuznets in 1932. It would be an excellent yardstick for any country. The GDP could give an overall picture of the economy. Even today, many professors do not understand how GDP works. GDP measures all the activity within its borders (including by foreign enterprises). GDP was very useful after a war. There are many other useful statistics that can serve us better than GDP. Today, the economy is so much more complicated than just some production numbers. In Bhutan, a gross national happiness index was suggested. Two possible candidates might be the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) or the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW). The wealthier a country is, the more difficult it is to measure that wealth. In Europe, the governments subsidize domains where productivity can’t be leveraged. The cost of health care is bound to increase. We will need indications to track life, eg. Community service, social cohesion, jobs, knowledge etc. We need to rethink how we relook at growth?

Productivity is for robots. Humans excel at wasting time, experimenting, playing, creating, and exploring. – Kevin Kelly

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The Fix by Jonathan Tepperman (Part 1)

How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies. – Groucho Marx

Introduction. This book is about success stories which the author has seen for himself. This is about finding solutions in an uncertain world. It is possible to overcome the problems if the right strategies are adopted. The negative news in the media can easily overwhelm you. Life is difficult and some of us have problems to make ends meet. Many Americans are not optimistic about the economy. After 2008, things seemed to go downhill. Even in Russia, there is negative economic growth rate now. In 2011, there was conflict in the Middle East. The US-Iran nuclear deal has been a disaster. Growth is predicted to slow down. Greece almost went bankrupt, the EU is no longer as united as before. ISIS is gaining ground again. Many refugees are heading to Europe. China’s economy is also slowing down. The emerging-market growth rate from 7.4% to 3.8% between 2010 and 2015. The liberal, rules based global order doesn’t seem to be working all that well now. A lot of our global failures is due to the failure of politicians to lead. We need to understand the problems actually and notice that they can be fixed. The stories in the book will show that it is indeed possible to solve. The first problem is inequality. It can certainly pose a lot of problems for us. The income gap in the US is widening and the poor get more disgruntled. The solution is to grow the economy in the past. A lot of corporate profits might be ending up in the hands of the rich. The second big issue is immigration. Many of the displaced are heading to Europe. Trump denounced immigration in a harsh manner. Attacking immigrants might not be the best solution overall. A lot of bright Americans are not retained by their country. The fact is that there is little evidence that immigrants cause a lot of trouble. Although Germany has let refugees in, they are not given the support to integrate in society and they end up causing trouble in the end. The third big issue is Islamic extremism. The Syrian rebel forces were allowed to grow and the Islamic State was formed. The Jihadists seem to be expanded in recent years. Civil War is the next big issue to hit us. Iraq is now in a big mess after the US troops pulled out. There are other civil wars in Africa, Syria etc too. Corruption is the next big issue to face us. Corruption tends to affect both poor and rich countries alike. This often leaves the poor at a disadvantage. It undermines the trust in the government and the system of rule. The Resource Curse is our next big issue (6th). Africa is known to have a lot of untapped natural resources. However, will they be able to handle this wealth? They might invest in the wrong things that do not aid the people. It is also common for resource-rich countries to be run by dictators as you can bribe your people to win yourself votes. Energy is also a big concern. There was a shale revolution in recent years. A lot of the countries that have shale are unlikely going to tap on them. The next big issue is that of the Middle-Income Trap. It is hard to reach the developed country status as there needs to be productivity increases. It might sound easy, but politicians are not up to the task. Many countries know what to do, but executing it is hard. The next major problem is gridlock I. Infighting among political parties in Mexico, Italy etc have caused many problems. Even though India’s Modi is good, he is still facing gridlocks. Despite all the problems in the World, it is not wise to abandon hope. We just need to look for the right fix.

Profits to the People (How Brazil Spreads its Wealth). How did the former Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, turn inequality into a manageable problem? Economic growth is not working the way it is used to. Thomas Piketty suggested a global wealth tax. However, the rich can get around paying tax and it might get controversial. How did Brazil do it? It is hard to imagine Brazil as a model for anything. Brazil is blessed with resources and a young population. Many are living on less than $2 a day. However, by 2011, its economy was growing by 4% a year. Inequality fell as well. Lula had a 87% approval in 2012. Lula had humble beginnings. He worked hard and climbed in the Sao Bernardo Metalworks. Later, he founded the leftist Workers’ Party. He lost the president election 3 times. Many people didn’t trust him at the start and Brazil was in shambles in 2002. However, his predecessor, Cardoso’s structural reforms were not popular. Lula listened closely to the ground and understood the problems people faced. He cut spending and reduced budget deficit and demanded a budget surplus when he took officer in 2003. Within 6 months, their bond value had risen by 20%. Now, he launched a social welfare campaign. His programme handed people money instead of goods or services. These were effect at eradicating poverty. Many denounced the idea as giving the poor dietary staples would be more practical. The food programme launched in the past was a flop as corruption was rife. It was shown that many families did not squander the money. The scheme would be targeted at those in extreme poverty. However, it came with conditions, like parents needed to send kids to school, women needed to go for checkups etc. The critics thought that the money would be better used to build schools etc. There was also concern for welfare dependency. He made the public feel that they ‘earned’ the cash by fulfilling the conditions. Lula had issues dealing with non-compliance with conditions. Also, he had to deal with undeserving candidates applying to the scheme. It worked after he set up a ministry to deal with these issues. The trick was to imposing conditions for assistance. The programme does not give out excessive amounts of money, just enough for the family to get by. It is a cheap antipoverty programme. It was certainly an innovative welfare program. Lula also adopted conservative macroeconomic policies. He offered large firms cut-rate loans. He was not upset that the rich got richer. He wanted the greatest good for all. The results of his policies were great. Bolsa Familia, the social welfare programme, worked wonders. In addition, vaccination rates are increasing, infant mortality is dropping etc. The poorest Brazilians are also more optimistic about their futures. The money was paid directly to the beneficiary, with no intermediary. The rich do not care about the programme as it is run cheaply. Even in 2006, when Lula was allegedly accused of corruption, he still won. Lula was an everyday man who could relate to the poor. However, despite this, there are still 28 million Brazilians living in poverty. The good thing is that the payments given out are quite low and people are still incentivized to work. Many of the international media have lauded this programme as being successful. Many other developing countries are also trying to learn from Bolsa Familia.

If there’s one thing I’m not ashamed of, it’s profit. But I want people to know that my philosophy, at heart, is that of a mother. No one is fairer than a mother. Even if she has 300 kids, she will treat them all equally. That’s what I used to say to the Brazilian people: that I govern for all. – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Let the Right Ones In (Canada’s Immigration Revolution). The middle of the last century was turbulent indeed. In the 1940s, Canada were strict with their immigration policies. Justin Trudeau is their new PM. They took in Syrian asylum seekers. Canada has one of the highest immigration rates in the world. More than 20% of their population is foreign born. People from the Philippines, China and India are there too. Many of their residents don’t mind. There is sufficient public support. There has not been anti-immigrant riots in the last half a century. The government has been good at convincing the people that immigration is a necessity and is good. Pierre Elliott Trudeau was PM from 1968 to 1984. He was extremely charming and smart. He studied in the UK at LSE and gained a holistic picture of the world. The French militant group caused havoc in Quebec in 1967. Trudeau took power in 1968. Trudeau transformed Canada from a bi-national one to a multicultural one. The two language policy of French and English won’t cut it. He wanted to treat the minorities better. He also set up the Human Rights Commission in 1978. He wanted to create a distinctly Canadian identity. Some politicians in Europe have denounced multi-cultural policies. For Trudeau, he still wanted to keep the native and core culture intact. There were two problems: cultural divide and the assimilation of immigrants. It is the world’s second largest state by landmass. There was also a push by the government to increase its population due to the large land mass. In addition, many workers were moving to the US from Canada. In the 1940s, Asians were largely not accepted. In 1962, Canada abandoned ethnicity as a basis for evaluating immigrants. However, Ottawa was slow to adopt this new stance and there were still issues. Later on, the point system was created based on 9 criteria: education, age, fluency in English etc. More non-Europeans entered the country. In the US, immigration still centers on family reunification as the primary entry criteria. However, in Canada, it was different. Ottawa now focuses on formal education. Trudeau oversaw the development of Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All these policies have helped avoid the backlash that modern economies have faced in recent years. Indeed, the immigrants rely less on welfare and their employment rate is also highest in the OECD. This definitely helped to overcome the shrinking and aging workforce. Many see immigration as a way to strengthen nation’s identity. Brits are very hostile towards immigration. The immigration story of Canada has a lot to do with pragmatism and necessity than idealism. The US should study Canada’s success story

There cannot be one cultural policy for Canadians of British and French origin, another for the original peoples, and yet a third for all others. – Jonathan Tepperman

Canada has the highest naturalization rate in the world, with 85% of eligible permanent residents becoming citizens. That’s important because citizens are more likely than guests to invest in their new homeland and be welcomed for doing so. – Jonathan Tepperman

Kill Them With Kindness (How Indonesia Crushed and Co-opted Its Islamic Extremists). In 1998, Indonesia tossed their leader out of office. It has more than 10000 islands. Suharto was a tyrant, but at least he was competent. He kept the economy growing at 7% per annum during his 30 year reign. Although it is a Muslim state, where 90% of the people are Muslims, he crushed those who tried to make it more Islamic. People feared that Islamist militias would start bombing the place. Now, Indonesia is a stable democracy. Terror attacks are rare. The majority do not believe in extremism, unlike in the Middle East. They are close to eliminating the threat of extremist violence. Islam was never imposed in Indonesia in the past. The people are more open minded. The Islamist political parties are also not competent. The irony thing is that as the population became more devout, Islamic extremism declined. Although people want to embrace sharia law, they don’t like the way it is being enforced. Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono managed to do a good job on this front. They all wanted to consolidate the country’s fragile freedoms. The leaders wanted to seem popular by appealing to the common Man. Wahid was a sick old man, but his pluralistic policies were lauded. Megawati was related to Sukarno and didn’t tackle the issues well. However, she got the army out of politics. Yodhoyono was a democrat at heart, despite being an Army General. SBY also protected the minorities and guarded against discrimination. He also actively eradicated corruption. He launched major anti-poverty campaigns. Between 2006 and 2011, Indonesia did very well and doubled exports. Indonesia also learnt that attempts to eliminate Islamic parties like in Egypt have failed. They invited some of these parties into their coalition and cabinet. This was a very intelligent move. Megawati reacted to the Bali bombings and set up an anti-terror unit. It was called Detachment 88. Many of the JI members have been killed or captured. Also, they have been able to dig information out of the criminals. Also, they have tried to rehabilitate those who can be helped. Those prisoners who co-operate are rewarded as well. In July 2014, Joko Widodo was elected as President. He seems even more democratic than SBY and seems willing to fight extremism too. He also doesn’t have an elite background. He is also very into technology and knows the benefits of it. Jokowi is often compared to Obama, who doesn’t have a lot of national and international experience. He is a symbol of hope.

Learn to Live with It (Rwanda’s Wrenching Reconciliation). Rwanda’s Hutu majority tried to exterminate the country’s Tutsi minority. It happened in 1994. Kagame was the then leader of Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel army who was fighting the Hutu-led government. The Inkotanyi, Tutsi insurgents, managed to prevail. Rwanda was decimated by the war. Many of the Tutsis were slaughtered. Rwanda is one of the world’s poorest countries. Many of them were suffering from post-traumatic stress as well. The President had to heal the situation and restore order to Rwanda. The government had to deal with genocides. Kagame had to deal with the genocide suspects. There were not enough jails to house these people. Trials alone were not enough, and justice had to be served. In addition, it would not help the victims in somehow forgiving their perpetuators. Kagame was a real pragmatist. The strategy for recovery had 4 parts. The first was that RPF would establish a strong force and build a unified garrison state and control the country. Next, the government would invest in economic growth and build institutions. This included boosting human capital and providing free health care. Corruption was also stamped out. Kagame also tried to turn Rwanda into a race-blind nation. The government created 12 thousand village tribunals to hear the cases. The trials would not last for many days. It would promote both justice and reconciliation, not one or the other. Communities could select their judges, based on their integrity levels. Thus, the people had a say. Gacaca was an ambitious transitional justice projects. Kagame was criticized as many criminals managed to get away with a lighter sentence if they were co-operative. In addition, the judges were not trained. Gacaca was not a perfect system, but they managed to see many cases and speed up the process. It was a good interim measure given the severity of the situation. The tribunals also encouraged engagement between the victims and perpetuators. It also emphasized community service as a form of rehabilitation. The country is in much better shape now. Many people have been lifted out of poverty. A vast majority of Rwandans supported Gacaca. Hutus and Tutsis now live peacefully together. It was a form of enforced unity, but it works I guess. Kagame has become a polarizing figure in the last few years. His critics target his human rights record and intolerance for dissent. His government has been accused of killing Hutu soldiers and civilians. Many nations can learn from Rwanda after their civil war. Usually after a civil war, it helps to take a more radical approach. Rwanda invented a solution, Gacaca, which was tailor made to their own organization. That was remarkable indeed.

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Great Again by Donald J. Trump (How to Fix Our Crippled America)

You Gotta Believe. I realized that there were many naysayers in my life. These include some politicians and lobbyists. Unemployment has been at a high. Congress has been deadlocked and can’t make decisions easily. 45 million Americans are stuck in poverty. President Putin is putting together a coalition in Syria. Our leaders are failures in the military front and wasted trillions in the Middle East. I want to do something great for our country. I have an outstanding business track record. My brand is associated with success. I strongly aim to stop illegal foreign immigrants into our country. I persevered to fight a strong campaign despite all the odds. I say the truth and do not mince my words. In this book, I will state some of my plans for the US. What the US is better leadership. This book will give me a better understanding of my future. It is time to turn America around.

Winning Again. America needs to start winning again. America shouldn’t be bullied. We need to walk away from unfair negotiations. The nuclear treaty with Iran is just one example. Also, we are bringing in too many refugees from Syria to destroy our country. How can we start winning again? Congress hasn’t done much for the people. We need smart people to run things and manage things. Many journalists cast doubts on my abilities. My job is to prove people wrong. Even Hispanics, black people and women are listening to me because they are frustrated with the current regime. I create jobs, build buildings etc. I do not need to make anyone happy. Winning matters a lot.

I’m a practical businessman who has learned that when you believe in something, you never stop, you never quit, and if you get knocked down, you climb right back up and keep fighting until you win. That’s been my strategy all my life. – Donald Trump

Our ‘Unbiased’ Political Media. The media loves me. People sincerely need to hear the truth. Megyn Kelly is certainly one that was against me. Throughout my life, I am known to be a winner. Some people question my temperament. The more the press flames me, the more attention I get. With this attention on me, I can use it to my advantage. I give viewers what they want. My relationship with the media is mutually profitable. There are of course journalists who are decent and whom I respect. Criticism doesn’t affect me much. Sometimes, the media exaggerates on the wrong aspects of things. I deeply respect Hispanics and black people. I am not afraid of the political media.

I learned a long time ago that if you’re not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you or beg you to come on their shows. If you do things a little differently, if you say outrageous things and fight back, they love you. – Donald Trump

I find the people who are the best in the world at what needs to be done, then I hire them to do it, and then I let them do it… but I always watch over them. – Donald Trump

Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbors. My immigration policy certainly attracted a lot of attention. A lot of countries were dumping their bad people on us. I later said that I would build a great wall to stop them from coming. We need to take greater action. We need to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Too many people have been ignoring the problem. Immigration is good if the people coming in are of quality. We have problems tracking who is coming into our country. There is a need to stop illegal immigration. Some of the Mexicans in our country are up to no good. The Chinese had the courage to build the Great Wall of China. The wall will be a superb one. Construction will begin and Mexico will pay for it. The trick is to get the criminals out. I would also increase the number of immigration officers. Also, there is a need to enforce visa regulations. I want to make it clear that legal immigration is okay. Our immigration policy needs to make our country great again.

Foreign Policy: Fighting for Peace. Our foreign policy is messed up. We need to learn to operate from a position of strength. We need to push for what we want to create alliances. To protect others, we need to be paid for it. We need to better fund our military budget. There is a need to better pay our military and give them better benefits. Many of the wealthy countries are being defended by us for free. We spent too much money in Iraq without reaping the benefits. If you want to fight a war, there needs to be a clear objective. We should only fight to further national interests. To me, Iraq is of no threat and our plan to leave was a failure. Without Iraq, Iran would dominate. We need to fight the Islamic State. To get rid of ISIS, it would be useful to bomb their oil fields. That oil is the source of their wealth. Iran is a threat to us, because they are a threat to Israel. President Obama negotiated a horrible deal with Iran. The US cannot allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. I want to shut down their nuclear program. China is also quietly building up their military strength. They also hold a lot of our debt. They also devalue their currency, upsetting the balance of trade. We need their trade more than we need them. How are going to compete with them? To me, they have destroyed entire industries by using of low wage workers. I would like them to stop devaluing their currency. We buy almost 20% of all their exports. Now, we need to get tough with them. It is important to hold our cards and not to reveal our plans so soon. It is better to remain unpredictable. One should learn to keep the cards close to the vest. Everything begins with a strong military.

Education: A Failing Grade. My father understood the value of education. I also understood the value too and studied at the Wharton School of Finance at uPenn. How do we give the best education to our kids? Common Core doesn’t seem to work and the one size fit all approach doesn’t work. I believe in locally run education instead. Leave no student behind. We cannot fail our children anymore. In the military academy, I understood the meaning of discipline. We need a kid who can win. Teachers and students need to want more and not keep lowering the standards. Students need to learn persistence. Competition makes you stronger and I believe it is useful. Let the schools compete for the right to admit kids. Fostering competition improves the quality of education. Charter schools have also better performance than ordinary schools. The schools in the urban areas have a lot of work that needs to be done. The unions have a monopoly and I am not a big fan of them. We need to pay teachers more so as to attract them to the profession. There is a need to instil better discipline in schools to make it a safe environment for learning. The cost of education is also skyrocketing and needs to be controlled. Our society is also becoming more paper-chase in nature and many aspire to have a degree. The federal government should not be taking profit on student loans.

The Energy Debate: A Lot of Hot Air. The experts are not clear what they are doing. They can’t predict extreme weather accurately. There are many more pressing issues than climate change. To be honest, most Americans do not bother about climate change. Not every natural disaster is man-made. We are also spending a few billion dollars to develop technologies which we don’t need. Oil prices are too high. The fact is that there is still a lot of natural energy underground, sufficient for us to use for a few centuries. We are highly dependent on oil. We are often held hostage by the OPEC and then oil cartel. The US needs to drill our own oil. The Middle East is also unstable and all the more, we need to rely on our own sources of oil. Our priority is to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. To me, solar panels do not make economic sense and the cost exceeds the benefits. At least at the current stage of technology, it is not viable to be considered. Wind turbines are also troublesome. Bill Gates wants to invest in renewable energy research. Even wind power can emit more carbon dioxide if it is powered by gas-fired generation. To extract more oil, we will need fracking as well. This is also a great way to create new jobs for our economy.

Health Care is Making Us All Sick. I know how to buy good medical coverage at reasonable costs. Our ‘affordable care’ act was not very useful. Obamacare was too complex to be understood. The premiums are always increasing and it will get worse. It has to be repealed and replaced. Deductibles are way too high and even doctors are not happy. The paperwork is a nightmare. There is definitely a need for real healthcare reform and the single-payer system should not work. We should not cut either Social Security or Medicare benefits. The best way forward is to let people purchase different insurance companies across state lines. Increased competition will help to drive down prices.

It’s Still the Economy, Stupid. Many people doubted me. I am filthy rich. Most politicians do not have commercial experience and do not know how to pass a budget. That is really embarrassing. Many of them do not have the requisite leadership qualities. What we need is tough leadership to keep us going. Obama plays golf, but not with the right people. I love to shake up the status quo. This is leadership. Free market works, but only with good leadership. I will re-look at the tax code and ensure it should be biased towards the rich. Our national debt is too high and cannot afford to be any higher. Some people have suggested cutting social Security to reduce debt. We should not touch that money as many people rely on it. However, some of the rich people will not need Social Security. Jobs are being lost and the ‘real’ unemployment rate is over 20%. Whole industries have simply moved overseas because they could not compete. I sure know how to create jobs for the people. For instance, I do this via construction of golf courses, hotels etc. We shall start by negotiating better trade agreements. We have to bring back the jobs which we have lost along the way.

Our country is going through a bad time – I get it, and I know how to solve it. I’m a fighter. Knock me down, and I come back even stronger. I love it! – Donald Trump

Nice Guys can Finish First. I don’t mince my works. I will only do what is right for my country. I am very loyal to my family and friends. Terry Lundgren was not a loyal guy. I have an on-going lawsuit with Univision. Illegal immigration is a big issue and I am not afraid to talk about it. The American people seem to love me because I stand up for what I believe in and stand for their interests. A great leader should hold his principles and yet be savvy at negotiations. Many of the politicians can’t speak freely because they have to protect their own interest groups etc. My dad was a special man, who I learned a lot from.

That has always been my philosophy: If my critics attack me, then I’ll fight back. – Donald Trump

Lucky to be American. I won the ovarian lottery to be born in the US. With US citizenship, it conferred many rights. I fly the American flag in front of my house. The US flag is a symbol of equality, hope and fairness. Our soldiers are not being given enough protection in combat situations. We need to treat our war veterans better. The Department of Veterans Affairs is too political and not run competently. We will take good care of our veterans.

Being born in this country is a matter of luck. Being grateful and proud of this country and what it represents and honouring the people who have protected it is a privilege I am proud to share with all Americans. – Donald Trump

The Right to Bear Arms. In the second Amendment, people have the right to keep and bear arms. The government should trust the people with arms and the right to use them to defend themselves. I feel safer when I own guns. I also have a concealed-carry permit with me. There should be tests and people need to pass before they can carry guns. We need to start prosecuting violent criminals. Violent crime is bad in our inner cities. The Project Exile program, where if a criminal gets caught committing a crime with a gun, he would get 5 years jail at a minimum, worked. This project will help our community to become safer. Protecting ourselves is a big responsibility. We have to be vigilant when we spot crimes. People with mental issues should not be allowed to carry guns. For mass murderers, there are usually red flags that were not picked up before they committed the crimes. We need to revamp our mental health care system. The right to keep and bear arms is essential for law-abiding citizens.

Our Infrastructure is Crumbling. The conditions of our airport are simply horrible. Our infrastructure is deteriorating badly. It is falling apart and bridges have collapsed. Some of them might even be dangerous. LAX is a disaster as compared to airports in other cities. The power grid is out of date and can’t meet our power needs. The roads are filled with potholes. We really need to improve the infrastructure in our country. I have the ability to transform dilapidated buildings and make it better. It will be a massive undertaking but our infrastructure needs to be solved and improved for all Americans. In the process, jobs will be created. This will be one of my main priorities, to repair the infrastructure. This will help brings the jobs back.

Values. Rich people may not be nice. To me, family and religion make a big part in happiness. My parents were big influences in my life. I am always there for my kids. The church also had a strong influence on me. To me, the Bible is the most important book ever written. I try to visit church every Sunday. I have given women employees much freedom and treat them as equals.

I’m not going to pretend that being rich doesn’t offer a lot of wonderful opportunities, but it doesn’t necessarily make you happy. I’ve learned that wealth and happiness are two completely different things. – Donald Trump

A New Game in Town. The White House needs business acumen. We should be winning and not losing. I put my names on the products etc. We need to step up and make America brave again. Putin ignores Obama now. I am committed to the nation. You must not be away from walking away from a bad deal. When I make business deals, I keep pushing and pushing. We need to restore law and order in our courtrooms. My main message is ‘To America Great Again’.

Stand behind your word, and make sure your word stands up. – Donald Trump

Teaching the Media Dollars and Sense. Our media is hardly ‘objective’. Our media is very dishonest. Reporters like to twist the words and change what I want to say. However, it doesn’t bother me. I really respected my father as a friend and a mentor. I am the richest President in US history. I try my best to be accurate when filing my financial statements. Our country needs to stand up and fight.

A Tax Code that Works. Our tax system doesn’t work and is too complicated. I would want to provide tax relief for middle-class Americans. I want to provide security for its people. We need to eliminate deductions and loopholes for the very rich. I will also simplify the tax brackets. We need to grow the US economy and cannot let it standstill. I will make repatriation of money back to the US at a lower rate. This will ensure our country will be successful. Many of our US businesses are leaving the country and setting up shop outside the country. SMEs are the engine of our economy. How will you pay for this tax plan. This be largely paid via tax on the rich. We throw away billions of dollars each year and it is time we stop it. We want to bring the jobs back, for good this time.

Making America Great Again. I revived Commodore, a horrible building in a struggling city. I saw that it had potential. I never gave up persuading leads in order to secure the rights to build it. I worked with the cities and banks etc. The hotel was named the Grand Hyatt. This is my Trump quality brand. We can make our country great again. I have a vision where we need to accomplish our goals and ensure that we stand up to our enemies. I always emerge from our challenges and come up stronger. I will really do what it takes to make America great again. There is also a need to stop illegal immigration into our country. We also need a viable energy policy to use resources to power us back into economic prosperity. I have a proven track record. It is definitely important to learn to dream big. For the deals I have made, it certainly wasn’t easy and involved a lot of liaising work. Full employment is very important. Our best days have not passed us yet.

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