Thursday, 1 December 2011

Taxes and the 1%

Things have gotten really busy with my real life so I haven't updated this blog much. Nevertheless, I want to share this thought provoking opinion piece penned by Nick Hanauer.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Why Laissez-Faire fails to control medical costs.

I just read a good piece in the Economist, which does a good job explaining why a Laissez-Faire policy will not control costs better than the advisory board set up by the PPACA.

Credit Ezra Klein for the link.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Keynes & Hayek

The folks at have put together another amazing music video explaining the economic ideas of Lord John Maynard Keynes & Frederich A. Hayek.

Here is the new video:

Here is the first video:

GOP's subsidy problem

David Jenkins recently posted an article discussing the hypocrisy problem facing the GOP over subsidies over the fossil fuel industry. Conservatism has long played the game of saying one will shrink government while in actuality growing it. Now the GOP is trying to reform itself and put its rhetoric into action. I'm still interested in seeing how this plays out.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A Bold New Experiemt

GOP house budget chairman Paul Ryan has finally endorsed the essence of last year's health care reform law. His plan phases out the current single payer health care systems that exists for old people and poor people (AKA Medicare and Medicaid respectively). These single payer programs are to be replaced with vouchers to allow recipients purchase care in the market. Ryan appears confident that this will work despite the boondoggle that was Medicare Advantage.

I'm glad to hear the GOP is now actually serious about implementing their ideology of decreasing government spending. Limiting cuts to cover just non-defense discretionary spending while entitlements go untouched just screams hypocrisy. Ryan's budget shows that the GOP is serious about cutting entitlements, thereby ending the 70+year experiment started by FDR.

Although I'm not the sort of person who desires capping government spending at 20% of GDP (25% seems more appropriate in my mind for peacetime), I am glad to see that the Republicans are putting money where their mouths are; personally I'd enjoy seeing Ryan's proposal enacted just to see how it turns out. Maybe I'm being a bit selfish because I know the entitlement cuts probably won't impact me much, but fair is fair. I'm certainly never going to enjoy a single payer health plan when I turn 65 in 2054, so why should baby boomers enjoy such benefits?

If Ryan's plan does get enacted, I have no clue what the reaction will be. Will so-called conservatives rejoice now that they have slain the beast? Or will they whine in the streeets when they discover how many government benefits have been taken away from them?

If only we could cut farm subsidies and enact a carbon tax, then I'd be thrilled.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Vermont versus the World

A new study from Doug Hoffer of the Peace & Justice Center examines the right-wing talking point that high levels of taxation and large numbers of public employees make a state "unfavorable to business" and inevitably leads to businesses relocating to states which are "friendly to business". The results might surprise you.

Via Matt Yglesias

Friday, 14 January 2011

I just want to see that I am gladdened by the news coming out of Tunisia.

The Arab world has lacked democracy and human rights for decades, hopefully the events in Tunisia will spark change for the better throughout the region.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Improving the PPACA

Last night on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney, I watched Emily Rooney interview a man suing Massachusetts over the individual mandate in Mitt Romney's health care reform law. Romney's law is the inspiration for Obama's similar law, so this lawsuit will have national ramifications. Several state attorneys general have already filed lawsuits against the individual mandate; two of those challenges failed when they met a federal judge, but one succeeded. So far, all the federal judge rulings have fallen along party lines so it really is going to boil down to what Anthony Kennedy thinks when everything goes to the United States Supreme Court.

One of things I really regret is that the Democrats did not try to defuse the backlash that the individual mandate presented in the general public. Although most of the provisions of PPACA consistently polled well, the individual mandate has never garnered majority support. I understand why the mandate is necessary; I also understand that the idea of a mandate had its origins with GOP alternatives to the Clintonian proposals for health care reform, but most Americans don't and probably never will. Also, I'm somewhat inclined to agree that the individual mandate violates the spirit of liberalism on which our nation was founded. Although this provision will do a lot to promote the general welfare, it won't do much for securing the blessings of liberty.

It is for these reasons, that I think the new Congress should set about reforming how the individual mandate is implemented, in order to give citizens like Michael Merlina the choice to forge his or her own destiny. I like Paul Starr's approach. Give people who want to risk it the option of opting out, but prevent them from collecting on any of the benefits of PPACA for an extended period of time. Starr says five years, but I'm sure Congress would have to do quite a bit of research to find the optimal period of time to prevent an opt-outer from reentering.

There are also other ideas of similar ways to reintroduce more choice into the system to make the individual mandate less punitive and more voluntary. I like some of them to varying degrees.

Instead of foolishly working on repealing PPACA, I implore Speaker Boehner and other Republicans to instead work with Obama and the Democrats to make surgical cuts in the original law to make it better. Replacing the mandate with some sort of opt-in/opt-out scheme would be a very good place to start.