Money Talk: The danger of group thinking in the political process

Why it’s important to think before you cheer for a political candidate

Yesterday I had the displeasure of attending presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally at the First Niagara Center with my colleagues.

While most politicians will stick to talking points and spend some time on an issue, Trump was all over the place, barely staying on one topic for a sentence – and the crowd loved it.

Trump is leading the Republican primaries due to his perceived “straight talking” and “honesty,” but he fails to explain how his quick fixes will affect the change his ideas will cause. The crowd cheered for the U.S. and Mexico boarder wall and taking our jobs back from China and Mexico. Along with all the cheering, there seemed to be a lack of critical thinking, which was the most alarming facet of the rally.

Opening up for Trump’s rally was Nicholas Langworthy, chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee.

His most memorable line, at least for me, was, “we’re going to make a smaller government and a stronger military.”

His understanding of government is questionable since, if you decrease the size and revenue of the government, how will you be able to afford a stronger military?

Mind you, we already spend $601 billion on the military, a 2015 figure according to Business Insider.

According to the Peter G. Peterson foundation, we spend more money on our military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Japan and the UK combined.

Langworthy also had the crowd cheering at the idea of ending our “progressive” government. I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

Trump’s biggest promise to his supporters is his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. No one seemed to see the irony in wanting something free – from Mexico of all places.

According to Statista, Mexico, with a population of 125.4 million, has an approximated GDP per capita and was under $10,784 USD for 2015. The country’s national GDP was $1.295 trillion USD for the same year.

Even without this information one has to ask, “if you could somehow make Mexico pay for this wall, where would they get the money from?”

The wall, which Trump has tagged would cost $8 billion, has been fact checked by The Washington Post and that estimate is much different from Trump’s.

While Trump has said we only need 1,000 miles of a wall, not 2,000 due to natural barriers, it’s important to note that the fencing we have now cost $2.4 billion and that’s only for 670 miles of fencing.

Materials for the wall have to be manufactured, then transported, along with building tools and equipment. Labor and maintenance would also have to be paid for.

Anyone who thinks that this wall won’t have a final astronomical price tag is out of their mind.

Washington Post found the wall to be $25 billion dollars, which is a conservative figure.

So the question returns, where is Mexico going to get this money?

If the response is deficit spending, then you’re probably not thinking about the socioeconomic results of that. If you think Mexico is bad now with the cartels, just wait. If we economically destroy their country we give them a reason to hate the U.S. like those radicalized in the U.S.

The icing on the cake was Trump comparing the proposed wall to the Great Wall of China, which if you studied your history, didn’t stop the Mongolians from invading China.

Trump also wants to stop China and Mexico from “stealing” our jobs.

The question that comes to mind is, “how will you make Americans want to have competitive wages with countries who are willing to let their working class work for less than a dollar a day?”

In the U.S. there’s a notion that immigrants are coming in and taking our jobs, but most of those jobs are ones that Americans, typically, will not even look at.

How many people do you know are willing to work long hours as a dishwasher for less than $10 dollars and hour?

These people are called a drain on the economy due to the capital outflow that is attributed to them.

Regardless of Trump’s speech, the most disturbing part of the rally was what happened outside.

Protestors were confined behind lines of local police, state troopers and other various agencies. We’re supposed to be leaders of the free world and the world is watching this election more closely than ever before – we’re making ourselves look like wild, untethered children.

It’s a sad realization to see your political process go from civil debates of various issues to people fighting in crowds and being held back by police in riot gear.

If this is how the “leader” of the free world behaves, I’m afraid to see where the world is being led.

Kenneth Kashif Thomas is the senior features editor and can be reached at