El despertar de la gente de Ecuador: El final de la dictadura en Ecuador

Las manifestantes en Quito

Los manifestantes en Quito

Author’s Forward: For 6 weeks this summer I was fortunate to study at the University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador. I traveled the entire country, from the Amazon, to the Galapagos Islands, to Afro- Ecuadorian communities. I talked to students, lawyers, small business owners, the poor, the middle class, always asking questions about their opinions about their government and the state of Ecuador. When I arrived in Quito, President Correa’s government proposed a staggering death tax on the country, resulting in major regular protests against his quasi-dictatorship, which I frequented next to my host house. The following article is The Right Way’s first article in Spanish. 

Ellos gritan en las calles, “Fuera Correa, fuera!” Los manifestantes marchan con sus banderas negras y las banderas de Ecuador. La línea de la policía armada, separa los dos lados de manifestantes para proteger un pequeño grupo de partidarios del Presidente Rafael Correa. Por semanas, los manifestantes en las ciudades de Ecuador han protestado por la meta de Correa: un nuevo impuesto de las herencias, unos de los más grandes en el mundo con una tarifa más alta del 77,5%. “La dictadura de amor,” quien queda en el poder por sus regalos e ingresos gubernamentales de su política populista por ocho años, finalmente no entiendo bien esta frase.

En Ecuador, la gente depende del régimen de Correa. Él quiere que se queden dependientes. En 2007, el gasto público fue 24,61% del PIB, en 2012 aumentó a 44,04% del PIB. Entre 2007 y 2012, el gasto público se triplicó, mucho más rápido que el sector privado.

El presupuesto del gobierno depende del petróleo. La industria es la mitad de la economía total de Ecuador y 61% de las exportaciones del país. 53% de las ganancias del petróleo van al presupuesto general del Estado.

Antes de su elección, Rafael Correa prometió proteger el ambiente, parar los efectos negativos de petróleo. Apoyó una nueva Constitución la cual dio derechos y protección al ambiente. Sin embargo, su “dictadura del amor,” necesita los ingresos del petróleo. Aunque el gobierno ha asumido la operación de varios campos privados del petróleo, la producción total ha aumentado. ¿La única diferencia? Ahora, el estado controla más.

El petróleo depende del precio mundial. La política de Ecuador, en general, ha sido proporcional al precio de petróleo. Durante los gobiernos populares de Guillermo Rodríguez Lara y Rafael Correa, el precio del petróleo fue (y ha sido) alto (como USD 147). Estos gobiernos han utilizado estos fondos para gastar en servicios públicos como hospitales, infraestructura y programas sociales. En contraste, Jamil Mahuad y Abdalá Bucaram tuvieron crisis económicas y el precio del petróleo fue solamente entre USD 6,21 y 22,89. Los dos presidentes fueron “derrocados democráticamente.”

Desde el 2013, el precio de petróleo ha caído el 50%. Con un presupuesto gigante e ingresos más pequeños, Ecuador espera que China lo ayude. China dio a Ecuador $9 billones en los préstamos con una promesa de $7 billones más, 1/5 del PIB de Ecuador.  A cambio, China va a recibir 90% del petróleo de Ecuador para devolver la cantidad del préstamo a China.

La gente es esclava del gobierno. El gobierno es esclavo del petróleo y de China. Este es “la Revolución Ciudadana” de Correa en la actualidad (o en realidad).

Con el populismo de Correa, Ecuador marcha a un acantilado. Con los impuestos altos y los regulaciones estrictas, Ecuador es clasificado 115 de 189 en los mejores países mundiales para hacer negocios y 71 en la competitividad. Estas tasas están empeorando. También, la Constitución prohíbe la propiedad intelectual. Correa mata la invocación, la competencia y el crecimiento económico sostenible para que su régimen pueda ser más poderoso.

Correa dice a la gente que él apoya la pobreza, la clase media. Por otro lado, sus políticas, como el deseo de implementar el nuevo impuesto de herencia, hace sufrir a la gente. Las familias de la clase media necesitarán vender sus casas cuando sus abuelos mueran si este impuesto es la ley. Estas familias no son ricas, pero el impuesto afecta todos en esta gran clase media que incluye muchos niveles de ingresos.

En Ecuador, no existe la libertad de prensa, no existe libre expresión. Es ilegal publicar un periódico en contra de Correa. La discusión ha sido silenciada. Sin embargo, la esperanza del cambio está en el aire.

En Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, en todas partes del país, la genta protesta. 375.000 personas marcharon en Guayaquil el 24 de junio para rechazar las políticas del régimen  de Correa. Ahora, Correa tema a la gente. Él retiró temporalmente la Ley de Herencias y Plusvalías porque no quería tener vergüenza cuando el Papa llegara. Esta decisión temporalmente no fue suficiente para la gente. Un truco político no es suficiente para la gente ahora.

Ecuador puede ser un país magnifico sin las políticas de Correa. Puede usar el gas natural en los sitios de extracción de petróleo en la Amazonia para minimizar el impacto del ambiente. Debe liberalizar la economía para que los sectores sean más diversos y para que el país no necesite ser dependiente del precio del petróleo o de China. Debe fomentar la innovación, no debe destruirla.

La balanza entre la protección del ambiente y la energía es posible. La balanza entre la eliminación de la pobreza y el crecimiento de los sectores privados es posible. La balanza entre un gobierno efectivo y la libertad de expresión es posible.

La propaganda engañosa de la Revolución Ciudadana de Correa eventualmente será sustituido por el despertar de la gente. Ha comenzado. Cuando la gente ya no tenga miedo de Correa, Ecuador ganará.

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This article presents the views of author Alexander Bobroske, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Bobroske and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

It’s the Free Market, Bernie!

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You may have heard of a politician named Bernie Sanders – or you may have not.

The relatively unknown and self-described socialist senator from Vermont, the 49th most populous and third most liberal state, has convinced himself that he can become president of the United States. Given the lack of actual competition on the Democratic side this election season, that wild-eyed notion is more of a legitimate proposition than it would be in any normal election year.

Like with former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), fringe candidates will always gain a fervent following among those not well versed in reality or common sense. This is no different with Senator Sanders: he has bragged of large crowds at his campaign events and increased enthusiasm for his campaign in recent weeks. While there is certainly room in the Democratic field for a candidate far more genuine, authentic, and energizing than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders is not the one to carry that torch.

Putting aside his actual prospects of becoming president, Sanders does represent the views of many of the far-left in this country on economic matters. That’s part of the problem. Recently on Twitter, Sanders commented on what is clearly the main focus of his campaign: attacking the rich. “We have more billionaires in this country than any other nation. We also have more child poverty than any other major industrialized nation,” he tweeted.

I suppose it’s a legitimate argument that the richest in our country have too much say in politics, but it is quite another thing to insinuate that the mere existence of rich people is a threat. Senator Sanders is right that the United States has more billionaires than any other nation. It is also true that we have the largest economy in the world, and these things are not unrelated.

If you break down the numbers, California has more billionaires than any other state, with a combined $560 billion in wealth. A third of those business people made their money in none other than the tech industry. The following companies may sound familiar to the senator: Oracle, Facebook, Google, Uber. All these American companies, whose founders are the billionaires he so dismisses, could only have been operated here in the United States, where wealth creation is a trademark of our free-market economic system.

Beginning as a mere British colony of only 5 million, we became the economic powerhouse of the world. With less than five percent of the world’s population, we became the preeminent global superpower. Companies like Apple would employ even more of their workers in the United States if only we had a more conducive business environment: America has the highest corporate tax rate in the free world. But apparently, that is not high enough for the tax-loving senator.

If the senator is concerned with raising revenue, he might want to take a look at Norway, a place that he himself often cites as a socialized nation the United States should emulate. Yes, Norway is socialist, but it also is energy independent (and a nation with a very small population). Norway does something that today is virtually prohibited in the United States: offshore drilling for oil and gas. After discovering vast oil deposits off its shores in 1969, Norway has opened its energy industry to the private sector, gaining immense wealth for the very small Scandinavian nation. Today 36% of the government’s revenue comes from energy, paying for all the services Bernie Sanders thinks should be provided by government, like free health care and education. Oddly enough, Bernie Sanders is the most extreme on this issue here in the United States, having vowed to completely ban all offshore drilling.

The free market, not government, is the sole creator of rich societies. The rate of worldwide poverty tumbled in the late 1900s, as developing countries on average increased their economic growth rates from 4.3% to 6% by 2010. China alone lifted almost 700 million people from poverty during this same time period, as its extreme-poverty rate stands at 10% today, compared to almost 90% a mere 20 years ago. Whether it was the ‘Reform and Opening Up’ in China or the Reagan Revolution here in the United States, economic growth always follows government action that liberalizes markets and allows the poor to become richer, unrestrained from government regulation.

In fact, it was precisely the free market system that created the social safety net. With accumulating wealth, economies began to afford to take care of the most vulnerable in society. The problem with poverty today, centralized in places like India and Africa, is poor leadership at the executive level and even worse governmental restrictive policies on businesses. The effects of high tariffs on Africa, for instance, has added to the hampers on the economy and free and fair trade.

If Bernie Sanders is concerned with lifting people out of poverty, his goal shouldn’t be to tear down billionaires. Instead, it should be finding ways to create more of them.

This article presents the views of author Michael Khan, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. Khan and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Tyranny of the Judiciary

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First it was John Roberts. Then it was Anthony Kennedy.

Each of these men served as the deciding swing vote in the Supreme Court’s two most important and wide-reaching decisions of this session, first in King v. Burwell (concerning Obamacare subsidies) then in Obergefell v. Hodges (the now famous same-sex marriage decision). Perhaps it is just coincidence that the two decisions were released on consecutive days. Yet, both them illustrate the failings of America’s court.

In order to properly exercise the power of judicial review, the Court must use the Constitution and the law in question as its sole source in determining constitutionality. To do otherwise invites biases and special interests into the process, meaning that the resulting decisions will appear arbitrary and based on factors besides the Constitution. It turns an impartial and dispassionate process into a more civilized version of elementary school kids shouting, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”

The outrageous King v. Burwell decision epitomizes this exact problem. The Constitutional challenge revolved around the fact that Federally-created exchanges have been receiving subsidies to keep the price of premiums at a reasonable level. However, the text of the Affordable Care Act dedicates subsidies only to national subsidies to “exchanges established by the State.”

This should not have been an overly difficult decision: the law clearly reserves direct subsidies to state exchanges, so these subsidies should not be able to directly support insurance plans purchased under national exchanges.

Apparently, logic has no meaning to five members of the Supreme Court, especially Chief Justice John Roberts. In his decision, Roberts not only upheld but inexplicably rewrote the law. Roberts reasoned that:

It would be odd indeed for Congress to write such detailed instructions about customers on a State Exchange, while having nothing to say about those on a Federal Exchange… The statutory scheme compels us to reject petitioners’ interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very ‘death spirals’ that Congress designed the Act to avoid. We doubt that is what Congress meant to do.

This is absolutely ridiculous. Words literally have no meaning for Roberts and his cohorts because “that is [not] what Congress meant to do.” Justice Scalia put it best in his dissent: “The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.”

In this decision, the Court exercised an unconscionable abuse of power by rewriting the law to read what they, in their oh so infinite wisdom, decided what Congress meant. Or more accurately, these justices did not want to be responsible for people seeing their insurance premiums triple, so they eviscerated the rule of law and the separation of powers.

No matter your opinion on Obamacare or any other law, it is a complete abomination that the Court can arbitrarily decide to rewrite laws it likes despite whatever the Constitution and the law itself says. This is not democratic governance; this is centralized, undemocratic tyranny.

This latter point is even more evident considering the Obergefell v. Hodges decision upholding same-sex marriage. Before I analyze this case, let me clarify that I support same-sex marriage as a freedom-minded, constitutional conservative. However, the actions of the court in this case subvert both democracy and the American people.

Whether you support same-sex marriage or not, our Founding Fathers established a democratic process to allow for these type of transitions in public opinion to become law. Though same-sex marriage has been gaining popular support, it is far from universal–in the latest Gallop poll, the split was 60% for legalization and 37% against.

Whatever my or anyone else’s opinion, the decision about whether marriage constitutes a fundamental right must be decided by the people and their representatives thereof in a public debate, as prescribed by the 10th amendment.

If you do not believe that this path would be successful, consider the civil rights and women’s rights movements as parallel cases. With a few exceptions (such as Brown v. Board of Education), the Court played no role in furthering either of these movements. As the public debate shifted in favor of extending and/or protecting the rights of certain groups, legislators reacted. Rights were conferred upon these groups not by judicial fiat but through legislative action as prescribed by the Constitution, with the passage of the 19th and 24th amendments, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Act, among others. Not to mention, these were more widely accepted than a controversial Court decision (like Roe v Wade) because the people were involved in the process of shaping these laws.

Instead of this process, we had 5 out of 9 unelected justices impose their personal opinions on the American populace. Consider this excerpt from Justice Kennedy’s decision:

In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death… Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.

If there is a legal argument or any reference to the Constitution or the democratic process in this excerpt, I must be missing it. Justice Kennedy sounds like he’s writing an opinion piece for MSNBC, not a legal decision. He is sermonizing, lecturing the American people about why 5 justices are so much wiser and more intelligent than the 37% of Americans who stand opposed to same-sex marriage. Kennedy and his cohorts started with the conclusion, that same-sex marriage was to be deemed constitutional due to public support, and worked backwards to invent a Constitutional basis where none existed.

If you do not consider this tyranny, think about the fact that this decision was decided by nine unelected Justices. Yet at the end of the day, as few as 5 of these justices have a power that would have made King George jealous. They can rewrite laws and reject precedent and the Constitution while deciding questions of fundamental importance to millions of Americans.

Worst of all, we have no recourse, no override, and no way to continue the debate. The justices have biases and political viewpoints just the same as every one of us, yet their ruling constitutes as the final word. This is too much power for one group of individuals to have, never mind that they are unelected by the people.

The Founding Fathers had a word for this type of rule: tyranny. The fear of tyranny led them down a path of revolution to end it, and it guided their debates for months in Philadelphia while forming a new government. Alas, we have come full circle, past the point of no return.

If you don’t think I’m right, just ask yourself this: what would you say if Kennedy had ruled the other way?

This article presents the views of author Mike McVea, not necessarily those of the Georgetown University College Republicans or GUCR Board. This piece belongs solely to Mr. McVea and cannot be reproduced in any way without his approval. For more GUCR updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.