Is the City Council of DuPont, WA making informed decisions? (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘politics’
During the campaign, the candidates told us what their policy initiatives would be for everything from taxes to the military. I usually don’t focus much on health care policy, but delved into each candidate’s platform en force after speaking with a good friend on the topic.
The campaign is over. Even though he lost, I’d like to talk about one of the items in McCain’s plan. Here is the pertinent quote:
“Families should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines.”
At first, this sounds like a great idea. Why shouldn’t I be able to take my insurance from New Jersey to Washington? It would sure make life easier, right? Just ask those folks that live near a state border and have to constantly tune out 50% of the ads they hear / see since the products aren’t available in their state.
But then I thought about the idea, and the ramifications of implementing it. What would portability mean in the long term?
For one, the federal government would take on the role of regulating which companies can offer health care. States currently fill this role. This would make it easier to get coverage, especially for those living near state lines. It should also free states of the burden of managing the insurance companies. But…
Would it hurt states that lose licensing revenue? If, on balance, it results in net savings for the industry then I’d be tempted to think it’s a good idea. The states may not agree, though.
My big concern here is that removing the state barriers will likely result in consolidation in the health care insurance business. Right now, small regional firms can survive because they have marginal protection behind the artificial barrier of state lines. Without that protection, we’d likely see larger insurance companies swallow up smaller ones, much the same way banks consolidated in the 90s. Is that good?
Of course, opening up the system would also kill some of the near monopolies that exist out there. Well, for a time… until the consolidation results in us only having five insurance companies in the whole country.
Portable health insurance sounds like a good idea, at first, but I think it would have a net negative effect on the industry. Without other reforms, it would certainly hurt the consumer in the long run.
So why bring it up now? McCain lost, right?
Alas, the first part of President-Elect Obama’s Health Care Reform Plan states:
“Give all Americans access to affordable, comprehensive, portable health coverage.”
I hope that, when the new President and Congress sit down to talk about health care, they carefully consider the ramifications of consolidating health insurance regulation in Washington. Breaking down the state barriers may seem like a good idea, and may be publicly popular, but I don’t think it is the best move.
Not yet. (And I’m not sold on the idea that it’s necessary, anyway.)
I’m not a big fan of popcorn, but I love Cracker Jacks. Popcorn and peanuts, smothered in caramel? Yes please. As much as I love Cracker Jacks, though, I was never a big fan of the prize inside. It didn’t bother me, per se, but it didn’t turn me on either.
Who are the Cracker Jack bloggers (and podcasters)? They are the people who establish a name for themselves on one topic, and then feel that entitles them to spout off about something totally unrelated and expect their audience to care – and stick around to read / listen. The PR professional who feels the need to include a post espousing their view that creation should be taught in schools, or the social media podcaster who thinks his knowledge of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN means he should also share his views on global warming.
Until recently, these people didn’t bother me. They were the Cracker Jacks – throwing in a little ‘prize’ from time to time. Most of the time, these little nuggets are easy to ignore. However, more and more people are turning into Cracker Jacks – and instead of an occasional prize, I’m getting deluged with vitriolic, snide and pompous remarks about various topics.
Don’t think I’m only talking about one side of an argument either.
Look at the US Presidential race, for instance. Conservatives may think Obama has a messiah complex, may despise his socialist policies, and may not trust his lack of experience. Liberals may claim McCain wants to pillage natural resources for cheap energy and fear he’ll appoint judges that will overturn Roe v. Wade. I get it, but if you’re giving me a podcast or blog post on macro-economic theory (which I enjoy), please refrain from throwing a disrespectful jab at ‘Barry’ or making fun of old-man McCain. If you feel so strongly about the subject, start a new blog, but don’t soil your reputation in my eyes, as a thought leader, by turning into a political hack.
Why is this bugging me so much?
I was reading Mike Gorski’s Real DuPont blog this morning. The city council of my home town (DuPont, WA) is debating the merits of a skate park. Some of the discussion is silly, focusing on how people feel and whether or not kids will “like” the decision. There is very little open discussion about the economics of the decision, which as a taxpayer disturbs me. It reminded me of Milton Friedman’s matrix of spending, from his Free to Choose series. Here’s a snippet…
I just voted–filled out my absentee ballot, and stuffed it in the mail.
The ballot this year was fairly empty, with only two real choices to make for elected office. It’s sad to think that six people will be elected to public office without contest. I don’t know if I’m happy with their performance, but their doing a decent enough job that I’m not going to go out and find a replacement for them. I’m certainly not going to run for public office.
While there were few races for office, there were sixteen ballot initiatives to consider. I was amazed at the number of constitutional amendments were on the state-wide ballot, and how many charter amendments were on the county ballot. All told, these two categories accounted for 12 of the 16 initiatives.
I wonder if other states have the same experiences with off-year ballots. It’s been a while since I lived in New York, and I never paid attention to the off-year races while living in New Jersey. So, needless to say, I can’t remember what it was like in those two states. I get this feeling that off-year election cycles are the chosen time for busy-bodies to get things passed while the rest of the electorate is asleep…
In his book, 20:21 Vision, Bill Emmott makes mention of a report named Economic Freedom of the World, published annually by the Economic Freedom Network. This report ranks how much economic freedom exists in each of (at present) 123 countries, based on certain measures. I have long been convinced that political and economic freedoms serve to reinforce each other – especially that, when a country grants more economic freedoms, political freedoms are sure to follow, but also that political freedoms are essential for true economic ones. Anyway, check out the report, it’s worth the read.
In the December 2003 Imprimis, Michael Novak writes about the so-called separation of church and state. Much of what he has to say is really informative (go read for yourself), though I think I’ll have to read some more of the writers he referenced in his piece.
His discussion of tolerance was right on. I could not agree more, nor say it any better than he did, and so I shall quote him here:
…among Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others there have been examples of generations of “tolerance.” But tolerance is a different (and less profound) concept than the right to religious liberty. Tolerance may arise merely from a temporary lack of power to enforce conformity; it does not by itself invoke a natural right. The concept of religious liberty, on the other hand, depends upon a particular conception of God, a particular conception of the human person, and a particular conception of liberty. Reaching these conceptions took Jews and Christians many centuries. They had to be learned through failure and sin and error, and at great cost. But they were eventually learned.