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2/21/2019: Are you wasting your vote on these guys???
If the last few weeks is a bit depressing for you – regarding building or not building a wall – for me it is just a great illustration of how the two-party system should not work.
 
Not that their shouldn’t be disagreements. That both parties have agreed for thirty years that something needed to be done…including a wall or some sort…all the current banter is embarrassing.
 
These two parties have become empty shells of their former selves, relying on twitter wars instead of Lincoln-Douglas style debate.
 
It is shameless partisanship that spends a lot of the political elites donations to fund the angry echo chambers which also includes asking those rich donors for more money, but are we moving the ball forward? Considering the lack of intelligent discussion its hard to tell what forward means.
 
If you think voting for a 3rd or 4th party is wasting your vote, think again. You are wasting your vote on Democrats and Republicans.
If the last few weeks is a bit depressing for you – regarding building or not building a wall – for me it is just a great illustration of how the two-party system should not work.
 
Not that their shouldn’t be disagreements. That both parties have agreed for thirty years that something needed to be done…including a wall or some sort…all the current banter is embarrassing.
 
These two parties have become empty shells of their former selves, relying on twitter wars instead of Lincoln-Douglas style debate.
 
It is shameless partisanship that spends a lot of the political elites donations to fund the angry echo chambers which also includes asking those rich donors for more money, but are we moving the ball forward? Considering the lack of intelligent discussion its hard to tell what forward means.
 
If you think voting for a 3rd or 4th party is wasting your vote, think again. You are wasting your vote on Democrats and Republicans.
2/16/2019 Medical for All: What you paycheck will look like. 

I thought I would circle back around to Medical for All costs.  To pay for Medicare for All, two tax changes are required.

First, Medicare for retirees is currently underfunded (combined with Social Security under funding) to the tune of $44 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  The SS trustees recommend raising retirement tax rates from the current 7.65% to 14.65%.

Second, to get everyone else into Medicare, costs over the next 10 years are about $2.5 trillion a year.  The Congressional Budget Office states that to cover this expense, Income Taxes would need to rise 35% for every tax bracket.

Here’s what the math looks like for a married couple that earned $135,000 (just over the limit for deducting SS/Medicare taxes, and a couple that earned $50,000.  Basically, each couple loses the benefit of their private insurance and then pays vastly more in taxes, reducing their take home pay drastically.

It’s ugly.

 
This Tax Payer loses about $1000 out of his paycheck per week.
The middle income taxpayer loses about $300 a week.
Quite of bite my dear leftist Dems.  If you want to keep you paycheck (and perhaps your doctor too) you can’t.
2/13/2019 Train and Planes: The Kermit the Frog New Deal.
I am writing a book about science (critical thinking) and politics. As there isn’t much science or critical thinking in DC, seemed like a good topic. I got stuck this last month when trying to elaborate about ‘thinking about the numbers.’ That is, if a politician proposes something, have they considered the impact of the policy regarding costs to the public. From a science perspective, when a theory is proposed, it is tested to see if it fits the data, the numbers. Poor science is ruled out quickly. Our pols generally put their mouth in motion without the benefit of taking a few minutes to see what the costs and benefits are, to test the idea against available data.
I was saved by the Left last week. AOC and Markel proposed a variety of solutions for the Kermit the Frog New Deal. It’s green but it’s a frog as a solution.
Twenty years ago, checking the numbers would take a couple of economists weeks to sift through books and peer reviewed papers to get an idea of the costs of any proposal. Ah, but the internet is here to help. The internet isn’t perfect, but it can generally provide a thumbnail of costs, a rough order of magnitude.
Reviewing just a few sites and a particularly good review by an engineer that proposed a network of links and distances between major cities, then adding an improved estimate of costs for the growing cluster-fork in California, the following was the results. Costs for high-speed rail, about $80 million per mile (California,) that would connect between cities with an accumulated population of 147 million people, and an expected network of track totaling just over 12,000 miles, would cost nearly $1 trillion.
That’s about $100,000,000 in additional taxes per year to build it, to meet that ten-year deadline. The cost of operations is unclear but say its only about 30% of the total build cost. The question is ‘who will use it?’ Is the government going to run this….Amtrak here we come. When distances to your destination go over a couple of hundred miles, the train becomes an inconvenience. Going for New York to LA or Orlando, or Dallas, is a timely consideration. Cross continent rail trips would take a day.
Ick. Is government, to assure ridership, motivated to force people onto trains by taking away planes? The answers to all and not pleasant.
So we spend a bunch of money on trains, but have we really reduced carbon dioxide? A bit, surely. Air travel,
though, produces less than 5% of greenhouse gases.
Even if trains reduce carbon dioxide by half, we have spent a ton of money to get a few percent benefit.
AOC and Markel would be vastly better off promoting nuclear power (the safest of energy producing solutions) and at a cost the is far under solar and wind. Nuclear energy replacing coal or natural gas for commercial and residential energy would reduce carbon dioxide by a third, if fully built out.
For the left to continually promote energy solutions that are either very old (trains and windmills) and/or expensive, wind, trains and solar, is just odd. Do they want us to go back to caves and hunting and gathering.
Oh, then there’s electric cars that I can’t afford, nor can about 85% of the public.

2/9/2019: Border What?

 
– FIRST: VIEW CIVIL SUNDAY with Tom Lewellen
 
Trying something new tomorrow: Hey, no one reads much and let’s face it, streaming video is more fun and more animated: Tune in to this page Sunday 2/10 at 11 MST for the first Weekly CIVIL Sunday.
 
The border? Nancy, says she ‘don’t need no stinking wall!!!’ Trump? ‘Make dat wall great again.’
 
What do we have. An immoral wall? Is a border without a
wall is also immoral?
 
What’s really going on, especially since Chuck, Nancy, Obama and Hillary have all voted to build the wall in the past?
 
Two simple things. 1) the Democrat base, the 10% of voters that vote in primaries, hate the wall because they hate Trump and the dems can’t get re-elected without these voters, 2) the way our immigration laws currently read, one step over the border and the illegal alien becomes a ward of our state.
 
With technology and people at the border, the best we can do, when that step over the border occurs, is stick trespassers in jail and then move them through the courts. They are here and we can do much to send them back home.
 
A wall prevents this. You can’t step over the border because of the wall. Nancy wants that first step. Trump doesn’t. Nancy isn’t going to tell you this. Trump should.
 
Wednesday: The New Green Deal
2/6/2019: Healthcare: A few fixes along the path to Dr. McCoy?
 
Innovation is the key to reducing healthcare costs and innovations are beginning to fly into our lives at the speed of light.
 
Star Trek’s early rendition of Dr. McCoy’s tricorder is here. Your smart phone is the new, budding digital technology that is able to collect real time information about your health. There’s even an solution for Teledoc for the simple problems that don’t require an office visit. Though the number of aps are small, expect more and more innovations to show up. Personalized genomic medicine is also beginning to take root and expect this revolution in healthcare to change our world dramatically. Near mid-century plus or minus 15 years, the these innovations will begin to reduce the cost of healthcare will begin. Which is good. By the end of the century costs will be fully commoditized, like buying generic drugs.
 
These diminishing costs will have nothing to do with the government. Pretty much government can only expand its footprint (Medicare for All) which will diminish healthcare innovation and put off the expected cost benefits of personalized medicine further in the future.
 
There are a couple of solutions that may be useful to assuring health coverage for all, but there is no magic bullet that will improve healthcare and reduce costs in the short term, only innovation will accomplish this.
 
Kevin D. Williamson of the National Review proposed a Swiss-like solution – fully-private insurance with a government mandate to purchase insurance that is means-tested to help those with the least resources to be able to afford the insurance. The citizen is financially responsible for routine care. The expensive stuff is the domain for insurance. This is conducive to protecting the private arena which is innovating new personalized healthcare that will ultimately reduce costs or both procedures and ultimately means-test almost everyone out of the insurance system.
 
Another way forward is a national healthcare savings system. According to the Kaiser Foundation seventy-one percent of health costs arrive after the age of 45. Savings would allow a more complete private solution as workers would save dollars starting with their first job (HSA’s would have no threshold) and savings could be used for routine expenses and buying higher deductible insurance.)
 
Catastrophic coverage above the typical healthcare costs should to be a mandated option to mitigate expenses for very high cost healthcare (think the top one percent of patients that spend 23% of total healthcare costs.)
The ultimate solution to most every problem we have is innovation, sometimes new ideas that we never considered but changed the world. Healthcare innovation is crucial to reducing costs and improving our health and so anything that diminishes innovation does great harm for our future prospects.
 
Medicare for All should be considered anathema because it will diminish out health innovation engine and hurt our healthcare quality and even our progenies’ healthy futures.
 
Wall, What Wall.Saturday, 2/9/201

2/2/2019: Why is healthcare so expensive?

 
Two reasons dominate the pack of high medical costs: Old style medicine uses older expensive technologies that are at the top of their price curves and given their aging approach are not likely to get much less expensive nor effective. Let’s call it analog medicine.
 
The new wave of genomic science and technology arriving with the beginning of the 21st century is a disruptive game-changer for health. Unlike the analog health based in aging technology and science coupled to doctors lending aging experience to a dying craft, digital health is fully science and technology.
 
A telecom analogy may help. In the 1980s my AT&T rotary dial phone costs me about $40 a month which basic telephone service and some long distant calling, which was very expensive so, being not very wealthy, there weren’t many long distant calls.
 
Today, for about $50 a month, I can still call people like my old phone, but now I have free long distance, internet access, email, a camera, video conferencing, a variety of free social media sites, 1000s of aps from which to choose should I wish to expand my digital horizons, and a bunch of stuff I don’t even know about.
 
Analog health is expensive because many highly paid, medical professionals and healthcare institutions are required if your health fails. Take cancer for example. You complain to your doctor about a pain. Tests are runs, which are expensive, and a determination that you have cancer. New doctors enter to process. Surgery may be involved, which means a hospital is now in your billing cycle, which probably includes post-surgery tests and chemotherapy. Additional palliatives from the pharma industry may be part of the course of action. The upside of the additional pharms is that your life may be extended. The downside, the drugs may only effective for a small group of patients. If you are one of the lucky few, the drugs may work but will be incredibly expensive.
 
Considering the number of highly experienced medical professionals required to keep you healthy, the number of institutions that are involved that must also pay for the bricks and mortar, and the efficacy of the aging world of 20th century pharma, this analog world is very expensive, and not likely to get less expensive.
 
Digital medicine is evolving to something vastly different: personalized medicine.
 
Today’s disruptors in genomic science will send us to a place that looks a lot like Doctor McCoy on Star Trek. With a handy tricorder the good doctor could examine your body, determine a fix for your problem, and then, in the secrecy of his back room, build a remedy that had the patient back to health in days. This is our future.
Cut out the specialists, cut out the hospital, cut out the pharmacy, cut out the pharma companies, cut out everything. You, the doctor and technology. And best of all, cures are personalized to your genome, without side effects, without carving you up, without gigantic bills to pay.
 
Here’s the problem today. This science is very new, immature, and at the front of the price curve. Today’s buzz words to listen for are CRISPR, AIM-10, mRNA, and CAR-T. There will be more. Costs today, for the experimental CAT-T solution for brain cancer are over $500,000, down from $800,00 last year. The first test on 23 subjects worked 22 times. Nice. The inventor of the process said that manufacturing costs will come down. ‘Give it to Chinese,’ he said. In reality, a whole new manufacturing industry will drive the costs down from around the world. Positive effects from innovation that will begin to bend the price curve and disrupt older, costly analog healthcare system is still from 10 to 40 years out. When the industry matures, the world will get vastly healthier quickly at significantly less cost.
 
The great news, as American healthcare is still mostly private, and health science is not lead by an incompetent government, America leads the world, and medical innovations are zooming ahead.
 
Aging Americans will see some of the benefit with longer, much healthier lives. Your children will see vastly lower prices for healthcare, and one hundred years old with be the new mid-live crisis next century.
 
The important message that can only be read between the lines – the only endeavors that will reduce the cost of healthcare is innovation. As hard as government may try, all its fumbling only increases prices because it decreases competition and kills innovation.
 
2/6/2019 Healthcare: Fixes, a few possibilities could help.

1/31/2019: Heathcare: Pre-Existing Conditions

During the last election for US Senate in Arizona, Kristen Sinema’s television commercials repeatedly hit Martha McSally’s votes against Obamacare as killing pre-existing conditions for 130 million citizens. Great marketing without much truthful content. Sadly, that is what we get in politics today. Truth is a causality during elections because unless there is reckless disregard for the truth, candidates can say pretty much anything.
McSally’s ‘no’ on Obamacare vote would have freed about 45,000,000 people without health insurance from a mandatory purchase of very expensive insurance. The number of people with pre-existing conditions is a tiny fraction. And millions from fines if they chose not to purchase insurance. Obamacare’s primary mission was to assure that the people without insurance and with a pre-existing condition could get coverage. Interestingly, the number of these people are tiny compared to yelling in the political boom box.

To put the election screaming straight, citizens with private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, about 270,000,000 Americans, are covered for pre-existing conditions.
According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a small number of rejected health insurance claims each year in the private insurance market regarding pre-existing conditions. That number is about 250,000. So there are some outliers in private insurance that are problematic.

Prior to Obamacare coming online and to help people that did have pre-existing conditions prior to the launch of the program, the government provided relief so those in need could be covered. About 100,000 signed up. Adding all the people that did fall through the cracks, a total of about 500,000 patients needed coverage, and almost everyone found a path to coverage. This number is well short of the 133,000,000 quoted in hit ads.

Which brings us to the solution for these high risk, pre-existing patients. Obamacare took the complicated, expensive route requiring 20,000 pages of regulation.

Though higher costs certainly killed the golden goose of success, the complexity of the solution was its ultimate downfall.

In 2017 the Republican solution floated to fix what was Obamacare’s central theme – assuring people with pre-existing conditions could get insurance – high-risk pools run by the state – would only cost about $20 billion and likely only require a few dozens of pages to articulate in law.

It is important to note that the challenge of pre-existing conditions is a problem, and an important one, it’s just not the problem the howling across the media would make it out to be.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-many-obamacare-patients-have-pre-existing-conditions-1484784577

2/2/2019: Healthcare: Why Healthcare is expensive

1/28/2019 Health and Healthcare Financing: Government Jumps In?
 
We elect representatives to lead us in Washington, but the solutions they divine are more about having good intentions versus having good ideas with great results.
 
Government slowly but perpetually invaded in the healthcare markets with great hope of marginal benefit.
 
1. Before the depression struck, Baylor University Hospital initiated a program for Dallas school teachers to pay a small fee a month (less than a $1) to pay hospital expense. This program later evolved to Blue Cross
 
2. In 1949, President Truman failed to pass Fair Deal legislation that included Universal, government provided health insurance.  What did pass: tax free benefits, generally healthcare, that were un-taxed, creating a benefit that went largely to employees of large businesses that could afford to provide the benefit.
 
3. In 1951, President Truman passed legislation excusing taxation from costs business group health insurance
 
4. In 1965, President Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid.
 
5. In 1973, President Nixon signed a bill offer HMOs as a dual-choice solution for business provided healthcare. This new solution provided a span of benefits from a doctor visit for minor maladies to the most serious medical issues.
 
6. By 1980 HMOs were appended by a new option, Preferred Provider Organizations, PPO.
 
7. In 2016, Obamacare launched. It was meant to cover the 50 million people without insurance and promised to reduce cost by $2500 a year, among other benefits which were never realized. The insurance could be purchased post tax income, making it even more expensive.
 
While the early HMO was considered less expensive than traditional hospitalization only, today it is the most expensive solution for healthcare coverage and nearly ever medical solution, from visits for a cold, drugs from the pharmacy, to a heart transplant is part of insurance. Again, there is no more expensive insurance solution, period.
 
The total result: healthcare is over regulated, highly expensive where government is asking to become even more involved. Kind of nuts.
 
Tomorrow: Pre-existing Conditions: What you May Not Be Aware of That Is Good To Know.

1/25/2019 Socialism Versus Capitalism: ‘The Forbidden Planet’ and ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still.’

 
The divine right of kings died as a notion in the 1776, but the notion was picked up by socialists the last two centuries, including those in the Democrat party. They believe a special group of persons exist who, like a king, are responsible to take care of the rest of us who lack the special talents required to take care of ourselves.
In the 1950s a couple of movies provide a point of view that is sometimes totally missed in the egos of the Left. (Though there some on the Right as well.)
 
From ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still,’ a man at a dinner gathering worries about a giant, intergalactic, military robot from a space ship captained by Michael Rene. The man asks ‘Why doesn’t the government do something. That’s what I’d like to know.’ Another man pipes in and says ‘What can they do? They are only people just like us.’ The original questioner says, ‘People my foot. They’re Democrats’
 
The authors intent may have been different, but it certainly suggests what is apparent today, that the Democrats think they are different than us and have special powers to lead us in ways that we cannot comprehend.
 
Another movie provides equal political fodder. From the ‘Forbidden Planet,’ a survey team from earth visits a distant outpost where only two people remain from the original team of researchers. Professor Morbius and his daughter. The planet’s original inhabitants, the Krell, an advanced civilization that has killed themselves off despite their great intelligence. Moribus has used their technology to increase his intelligence, and his ego. Once the advanced technology is discovered by the landing party’s Commander, the commander states. ‘No one man can be allowed to monopolize it (the science of the Krell.)
 
To which the Professor answers, ‘For the past two hours, i have been expecting you to make that asinine statement. I have come to the unalterable conclusion, that man is unfit to receive such knowledge for such limitless power.’
 
Morbius is no longer a commoner like commander and his landing party, or for that matter anyone on earth. Only one super-man is capable.
 
Thanks for the brief interlude. Try the movies. Not only are they great for political insight, they are a wonderful look into the view of AI from the 1950s.
 
Tomorrow: Back to Health
01/23/2019 Health: A Short History
 
In 1800, the average person lived about 35 years. Not long. If you were a person of means, like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, your chances of a long life were better. They lived 83 and 90 years respectively.
 
The poor, however, about 90% of Americans lived in poverty in 1800, did not fare as well. If infant mortality did not take your life, an infection from a cut could kill you, or the flu. Jobs in industry and farming could kill as well. Life was dangerous. God forbid if you fell off your horse and broke bones far from home or a machine flew out of control and killed you. No iPhones, no EMT, no doctors – well, almost none. Only 4 medical schools existed in 1800.
 
Early death from the simplest of health problem was the rule not the exception.
 
The sad upside is that healthcare cost nothing, because there was none. All too often people succumbed to maladies that are cured with a pill. For the most part there were no treatments except to go home and hope for recovery and if that didn’t happen, die.
 
By 1900, two diseases topped the list of death causes: pneumonia and polio. People lived longer, about 45 years on average. The nation was richer, so citizens ate better and lived safer lives.
 
During the next 40 years, life expectancy increased 20 years. Amazing. Better diet helped as fewer people succumbed to poverty, but new health solutions bubbled into our lives. Cleaner hospitals and medical instruments were meant vastly improved chances of surviving surgery. Penicillin, cortisone and insulin – changed the landscape of medicine and extended lives. Medicine became a mainstream profession as more and more medical schools came online producing vastly more doctors.
 
By the 21st century, like expectancy had closed in on 80 years and the disease landscape changed vastly. Diseases of the aged now topped the list: cancer, diabetes and heart disease. With these changes the medical innovation engine ramped up. So too did the costs for cures. The cost of penicillin was and is negligible. The cost of a heart transplant run into the $100,000s. Imagine all the options we have today that didn’t exist 50 years ago. Knee and hip replacements. Chemotherapy. Cancer pharmaceutics. Cancer.gov lists over 550 drugs. Neurosurgery. Not just X-rays, but MRIs and PET Scans, and the list of new therapies is endless and gets larger every year. And so too does our insurance bill which increases with each new medical solution added to coverage.
 
Is there an end to rising costs and increasing number of treatments? There is. Innovation: Life at the Speed of Light. But more on this later.
 
Tomorrow: How Government Got Involved
1/22/2019: To Your Health: A Couple of Tough Facts to Overcome
 
I’ve been considering how to solve the healthcare financing problem for a handful of years. It’s a tough nut for a variety of reasons.
 
Contrary to what you might hear in the press, America has the best healthcare in the world. Though the left would argue with questionable stats, the reality is that if you live outside the US, if you have a problem, the last, best venue to get THE best health service is in the US. Period.
 
Second, regarding innovation, innovation being the path to both provide better care and reduce health costs long-term, again, the US is the number one nation in the world with regarding to innovation.
 
Third, there are gigantic demographic challenges to consider 1) the top 1% of patient billing cost 23% of over are healthcare costs, and 2) the top 5% of billings account for 50% of the healthcare costs.
 
If you are work for a company with one 100 employees and your insurance (both what you and your company pay) costs $1000 a month then look around because half the cost is from 5 people.
 
More astonishingly, the healthiest population, about 50% of the insured, consume only 3% of the billing. Wow.
 
What is unknown is how people transit, year to year, from the cheapest 3% to the most expensive 1% or 5%, or even if they do. Are there specifics programs that could assure that those that are healthy do not slip into these high costs groups.
 
Anyway: here’s a great link to review to get a better picture of healthcare costs. All graphs…nice, from the Kaiser Peterson Foundation.
 
https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/health-expenditures-vary-across-population/#item-discussion-health-spending-often-focus-averages-spending-varies-considerably-across-population_2015
 
Tomorrow: Pre-Existing Conditions
1/21/2019: Profits or Not!
 
Friday, while my Uber Driver chatted me up on my way to the airport, he shared that he worked as an air traffic controller, too.
 
The FAA has been working for a couple of decades on installing the next generation of solutions to radically increase the productivity of the national system. I asked if America should privatize the FAA to speed up the process of moving their solutions up to the present.
 
So, the Uber driver, who is part of one of the most interesting private innovators in history, says, no, private would be a bad idea. Going private would just mean that the owners would focus on profits, and paychecks would go down, and bad ‘stuff’ would happen.
 
So I asked if he had every worked for a private and profitable company where his pay was reduced. No. Did he buy his products from private companies that were unprofitable? No. Were Apple’s profits bad, because they had made a bunch of money on the iPhone. Well, ahhh….
 
Profits mostly translate into more innovations in the company which allows workers to earn more.
He couldn’t quite translate this info from all the muck he learned in the news and during his American education.
 
Oh, well.
 
Tomorrow: A Series: Fixing Healthcare
1/19/2020 Marketing Versus Monopolies
 
When a friend touts socialism, ask this: Name a business whose product you purchase that is not profitable. There aren’t any. Consumers love their iPhones, Hondas, Starbucks and Amazon. Very, very profitable companies. Capitalist companies. Those with bad products go the way of the Dodo.
 
Now, name a monopoly you love doing business with that you trust, and that you are happy that they exist. The cable company? How about the utility company, or the MVD?
 
Socialism produces monopolies, social monopolies like education or others like regulatory monopolies like healthcare. You have not choice with these monopolies.
Democratic Capitalism produces markets where your vote is the most important asset in every business’s success. And there success has a single source, your vote to purchase there product.
 
Now ask your friend: would you like the government building your iPhone or Honda or anything?
 
Tomorrow: Profits or Not!

1/18/2019:  What To Say When Your Friend Likes Socialism: Big Brother is Watching!

Motivational Speaker Simon Sinek speaking recently about leadership principles described a barista’s love affair with the company he worked for, the Ritz Carlton.  He loved coming to work, talking to his customer’s, how the company wanted him to help improve their experience during their stay.  Who wouldn’t love this kind of employment experience.  And the gent didn’t just like his job…he loved it.  The barista added he worked at another job, at a casino, where management spent their time looking over his shoulder, telling him what he was doing wrong. Big Brother lurked every moment, so he flew under the radar as best as possible and collected a paycheck for the suffering.

Big Brother is no fun and at capitalism job.  It’s a job.  You can always leave.

When Big Brother begins to envelope your entire live, life is lived…under the radar.

If you want our nation to look more like the Ritz Carleton, it’s hard to vote for a socialist.    If you think Big Brother government is just for the guy down the street you don’t like, Big Brother is not that discriminating.  He’ll find you sooner or later and you will be flying under the radar too.

1/17 Ideas are THE path to economic greatness.  Period.

When China’s Deng Xioping stated after Mao’s death that China needed more ideas to be successful, that the communist party had not been able to create a sustainable economy with the few ideas they generated, China changed their constitution to allow for private property, which Communism forbade.  A very big deviation from the Marxist Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Spoiler alert.  Socialism doesn’t kill ideas so much as it limits the number of ideas that see the light of day through prohibitions for Big Brother.   The Bigger the Brother the fewer ideas.   Worse, if something sees the light of day, it is just implemented without any testing.   Thing: Common Core or No Child Left Behind.   Big heads with big classroom ideas without testing.  Really.

Democratic Capitalism is a giant testing ground for new ideas, and only the best succeed.  It takes 10,000 ideas to build an idea that would create the revenue of a Fortune 500 company.  What kind of intellectual conceit is required to believe that some intellectual or political elite can possibly conceive of an idea that would work first time, without testing or competition.  Answer, a lot of conceit.

America isn’t great because government thinks of good ideas, no government could ever be.  Government is create because it supports the economic superstructure to test the ideas of 300,000,000 ingenious commoners.

Tomorrow: Big Brother or Not. 

1/16/2019: An example: Socialism versus Capitalism: Why

Medicare for All Is Great Marketing but Poor Governance
 
Monopolies, and Medicare is one, are economic and value killers in two ways: They kill our pocketbooks because they are increasingly expensive. Second, as monopolies have no competition and want to keep it that way, they hate innovation which is the primary driver of reducing costs.
 
Taken together, as costs go up value, decreases over time. Government social monopolies fare much worse, if only because of scale. They are big and government is the ultimate fighting machine regarding protecting its monopolies.
 
Medicare for All has been floated by many socialists in the Democrat party. It may sound good to the leftists in our midst, but how does our nation pay for its costs which are estimated to average $2.5 trillion a year over the first ten years.
 
What I presume of these politicians who float this terribly old idea is that they are unaware that the current Medicare is severely underfunded – $37 trillion over the next 75 years. Full funding of the current program would require an increase in payroll taxes of around 4 percent. (Social Security is also underfunded at minimally requires increasing those taxes about two percent.) Added together, imagine your very high retirement taxes going from 7.65% for both you and your employer to close to 14% – for both you and your employer. For those retired, full-funding will cripple your children’s paycheck.
 
Additionally, getting original monopoly in good financial steed will likely cripple the economy. A double whammy on your kids. So not only a smaller paycheck, maybe no paycheck at all. Adding the rest of the nation to Medicare for All is even more staggering.
 
How much more must income taxes be increased to pay for Medicare for All. Good question. The total income tax revenue – individual and business income taxes combined – collected in 2018 totaled $1.9 trillion. What tax increases are required for Medicare for All to pay for this new program?
 
To collect another $2.5 trillion in income taxes would require that every tax bracket increase another 130 percent. If you are in the lowest tax brackets, you are paying 10% now, Medicare for All would increase your income taxes rate to 23%, and your Medicare and Social Security taxes would rise from 7.65% to 14% (the employer would also pay another 14% as well.) For an average guy like me, my taxes accelerate from 22% to about 50%.
 
The highest tax brackets, the one-percenters pay 39.6% today. With Medicare for all, their retirement payroll deduction, like us average guys – is 14% (plus the employer’s 14%) and their income tax would rise to 91.06%. Conscripting every single dollar would not pay the bill. Which gets to the second problem.
 
These top filers, as well as a few brackets below, are investors, job creators, and wealth builders. They are the crucial component in America’s innovation engine as they are constantly looking for the next generation of ideas that will change the world. The money they might invest to support America’s innovation engine would vanish, further slowing economic growth. Additionally, profits from healthcare businesses are also support innovation. When their profits go away under government run healthcare, so to go dollars seeking innovation. The very thing, innovation, that will help reduce healthcare costs, disappears.
 
If you want much smaller paychecks, much bigger government, and much more expensive, status quo healthcare, then welcome to the Brave New World. Vote for Socialism and get less for your dollar every day.
 
There are better solutions.
 
More next month: Destination Quality Health Care and Health Care Financing.
 
Tomorrow: The First Short Argument to Counter You Socialist Friends.

1/15/2019: Socialism Versus Capitalism: The short List of Why Socialism Doesn’t Work:

Too Few Government Institutions Creating Ideas Versus a Flood of Ingenious Commoners Producing Ideas

Monopolies not Markets

Pessimistic View That Needs Government Help To Live Of Man Versus Optimistic View Of Man That Knows Everyone Can Seek Their Own Greatness With Great Freedom

Redistribution Dollars  versus Pursuit of Happiness

Freedom Without Choice (Monopolies) versus Freedom With Choice (Markets)

Distrust of Citizens versus Distrust of Government

Resultless Government Versus Government That Fosters Faster Economic Growth Through Individual Freedom

Government is the Answer to Every Problem Versus Individual Freedom as the Catalyst of Greatness

Big, Strong, Intrusive Growing Government That Limits Individual Freedom Versus Constitutional Limited Federal Government Focused on Protecting Our Freedom

Tomorrow: An example: Socialism versus Capitalism: Why Medicare for All Is Great Marketing but Poor Governance

1/13/2019: Socialism Versus Capitalism: Pessimism versus Optimism

 
Perhaps the saddest premise of socialism is its pessimistic approach to individual behavior. The individual is broken.
 
He is unable to fix himself without the aid of government expert social designers. Oddly, that socialists believe that man is broken, they seem to believe there is a special class of fixers that overcome this basic brokenness. The pessimism of the Left and its intellectual conceit is so shocking it’s a bit unbelievable that anyone would buy into such notions.
 
That said, the Left has the best marketing engine in the world- the mainstream media, and for that matter, social media – to transmit their pessimist message in the most optimistic light. Sounding good and doing good are, however, two vastly different things.
In the late 18th century, Adam Smith, the first to write about capitalism, describes man in vastly different and optimistic terms than the Socialists that would follow him in the 19th century. This from Smith:
 
‘The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition…is so powerful, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.’
 
The first time I read this, I thought, like socialists, that this couldn’t be right. It is essentially correctly however as we don’t live in caves or continue to hunt and gather. Our civilization has consistently improved throughout history. It’s a process, albeit a slow one.
 
When one realizes that perfection is not achieved at a point in time but a journey throughout time, then socialism is easily seen as an inept regimen with incompetent results. There is no continual improvement process with socialist architecture. Socialism locks up economies.
Citizens lose trust. Cultures die.
 
With capitalism and democracy, the engine of governance constantly asks our advice via the vote. That confidence in us, inspires us to think better and do better, whether politically, economically, socially, culturally or personally. As a collection of persons, not a collective of followers, we improve ourselves and our lot…every single day, year, century and millennia. The going is sometimes tough. Individuals are persistent, gritty, curious, inventive. We make mistakes, but as Smith says, we surmount ‘a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.’ Prescient.
 
So, what sounds better, Smith’s optimism about our lot, or Marx’s pessimism about the imperfection of man requiring a dictatorship of the masses. Or, as in America, the small legislative tyranny of the Left run by the administrative that.
 
We can do better. CIVIL!
 
Tomorrow: The Summary Arguments for your Friends

1/12/2019: Socialism Versus Capitalism – Social Welfare Versus Pursuit of Happiness

 
Our unalienable rights – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of
Happiness – are often quoted but don’t get the deserved respect they should. They have become a refrain instead of a central theme of governance.
 
For example, our War on Poverty, and its associated policies and programs are focused on providing dollars or free services from the government to those in need. More simply, the approach attempts to solve an income inequality symptom of poverty with money. Sadly, most of these programs harm family formation, which is a key component of happiness. Passing money from one hand to another not only harms the potential for happiness, it assumes that money can buy happiness. There are numerous happiness studies, and none validate that money helps the happiness scale.
 
Imagine a set of policies built on improving our Pursuit of Happiness: better education to improve one’s ability to get the best job possible. Working increases happiness. Working and a good education produce an increased likelihood of marriage, a very key indicator of happiness. When these life practices are executed, the opportunity to live in locales with high degrees of social trust improve. And all these items produce increased happiness. Executed in this order, ninety-seven percent of these generally happy persons do not need government services.
 
What a great set of anti-poverty programs. No income-inequality, redistributionist, socialist programs needed, here. At less cost, because we all know ‘money can’t buy you love.’
 
Tomorrow: Socialism Versus Capitalism: Pessimism Versus Optimism.

1/11/2019: Socialism versus Capitalism: Trust.

The quality of every single human interaction is based on trust.  Our personal relationships depend on trust.  So, too, do economic, political and religious interactions.  Where trust ceases to exist, there is either no interaction or no perceived value in continued interaction.

As our government has slowly moved to a large strong intrusive government, toward socialism. from a well-defined, limited federal government with specific duties articulated in the constitution research shows an equally well-articulated reduction in trust.  Federal spending in the 18th and 19th centuries seldom rose to 5% of GDP.    In the 1950s, spending rose into the teens.   This century, when adding in borrowing to cover our habitual deficit spending, the cost of government is over 25%.  Government tentacles are ever, whereas is government’s inability to spend smart or provide solutions that deliver on our expectations translates into reduced trust.

Pew Research conducted government trust surveys since the 1950s.  Our trust in government, as its spending and scope has increased dramatically show our trust in government has fallen from 80% in the late 1950s to just under 20% today.

If government is the answer to our problems, the trust polling numbers would be vastly higher.   The stronger and stronger our government has become, the more we are dubious about its abilities to sustain a trusted relationship.  And no government is focused on keeping you as a customer, none.  You will always be a customer by default.  Government can’t go out of business, so its focus is on increasing budgets and power and customer service or efficient service delivery.

Government has no motive to improve itself.  The bigger it gets the worse our situation.  There is no sound reasoning nor any good example for a big, strong central government where the political objective is expand the government.  None.  Were longer government improving our lives a highly-valued, trusted relationship with Washington, D.C. would exist and it does not.

Tomorrow: Socialism Versus Capitalism: Pursuit of Happiness

1/10/2019: Socialism versus Capitalism: Power Corrupts

 
Power is a dangerous elixir that few handle well. Sometimes it arrives with payments of cash stuck in the freezer. In Washington, power corrupts our leaders and bureaucrats thinking. In the 21st century, power sucks any potential for innovation, ideas and invention out of every political debate. Even worse, debate in Washington more about well-financed, verbal volleys between two angry internet engines than a civil discussion.
 
Business can be corrupt, and though infrequent, some wise and simple regulation is needed to organize and minimize corruption. The bigger the business the greater to chance for corruption. The age old adage applies: power corrupts, absolute power corrects absolutely. As money is power, big money corrupts in big gulps.
 
As government is 10 times bigger than the largest corporation – Walmart – and nearly 200 times the average size of a Fortune 500 corporation, government corruption should be of great concern to the voters. If money creates power and corruptibility in the federal government’s $4 trillion dollar enterprise, then the risk for corruption is 200 times as great as the average Fortune 500 company. Sadly, the government has no throttle to moderate itself and has been running full throttle for decades without seat belts or airbags.
 
The creeping into our free, capitalist democracy of socialism has produced a slow, steady ramp up to government now owning about 20% of our economy. Though far from the socialist upstream parent, communism that owns 100% of the economy, the path to more powerful, corrupt, ineffective socialist government in America is clear. So clear, the many voters are beginning to more easily see that something is definitely wrong in the all and powerful socialist Oz. Alternately, calls from the socialists to provide free college education and Medicare for All would require the government to triple our income taxes, increasing the government’s propensity to acquire power which translates into more corruption.
 
The historic path of socialism’s strong central governments produces a sad description: Complex, expensive, burdensome, untrustworthy, result-less government.
When using our federalist blueprint, democratic capitalism, the description changes: smaller government, with simple and smart regulations, a reduced scope of responsibilities, a government focused of producing great results using markets instead of socialist, government monopolies, mitigating government power and corruptibility.
 
The question is, what is good for you the citizen:
Socialism that increase the size of government and the likelihood for more corruption, complexity, confusion with diminishing results and a more and more powerless citizenry.
 
Or
 
A capitalist democracy that focuses on smarter, leaner government that produces trust in its citizens because it creates opportunities for great achievement for all of us and thus better results for the nation.
 
There has never been a socialist nation whose economic output has outproduced a capitalist democracy. Nor do socialist nations increase human happiness.
 
Tomorrow: Socialism versus Capitalism: Trust.

1/7/2019: Socialism versus Capitalism: Micromanagement versus Trusted Leadership

Socialism and micromanagement have much in common; they both make our lives more difficult. Micro-managers, after all, are annoying. Having a manager look over your shoulder is bad enough. Having the government look over your shoulder is beyond burdensome.
 
Socialist thinking, including those in our government, micromanages literally everything by erecting vast pools of rules and regulations. The IRS code is more than 75,000 pages. Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, another 20,000 each. Federal agencies hire lots of lawyers to see if anyone is working outside the lines. They are looking over your shoulder. Even when you sleep. The bigger the government gets the hungrier for power our political elites get, the more shoulders they can look over.
When a government official knocks on the door and says, ‘I’m Joe and I am from the federal government. I am here to help you,’ he is not here to help you. He is here to serve the needs of the government. We have all worked for an annoying micro-manager that makes us crazy. Socialism is just micromanage at great scale.
 
For businesses, great, 21st century leadership begins with trust in the employee. Freeing the employee to execute their jobs with few rules as possible so they can work smart and provide insights on how to do their job better. We all like working with this person because they are not only trying to make us successful and are looking for our ideas to make the job better. They count on the individual to make good decisions. This leader leverages and expands our human capital. Consider the great leaders you have worked for, that trusted in your capabilities and sought your advice, who employed basic rules and then provided help when challenges arose. That’s what capitalism and democracy is about.
Ask yourself which type of leader you enjoyed best? Micromanagement takes our freedom and our dignity away? Do you want to be taken care of via the government’s lardy rules, or would you like to make your own decisions? Do you want a leader that is looking over the transom to make sure you are conducting your job the right way, or a leader that trusts you? Socialism or capitalism?
 
Tommorow: Socialism Versus Capitalism: Monopolies versus Markets

1/5 Socialism Versus Capitalism

Ideas as the currency of personal and national economic success.

Try to imagine a world without new ideas.

Not only no iPhone, no wheel, no electricity, no nada.  We’d still be living in a cave.

Capitalism and markets aren’t successful because they make investors and the financial class richer.  Success arrives because there are enough investors, investing in an abundance of ideas. These great ideas find access to commoners like us who vote on what is good, bad and then great.  It takes a lot of ideas to make one so good that a tiny company grows to big company.  
 
Socialism and its experts believe they know what the good ideas already and so erect one-size-fits all government monopolies where new ideas have no path to the light of day.  Solutions without our testing and input. Freedom without choice.
 
Even Communist China finally understood the lesson of capitalism plenty of ideas.  Deng Xiaoping stated this pivotal change of view after Mao Tse Tung’s death. ‘To make revolution and build socialism we need large numbers of path breakers who dare to think, explore new ways and generate new ideas.’  China changed their constitution from Marx’s no private property (not only land but ideas as well) to an allowance from private property.
From a few idea generators under Mao, to a billion under Deng, the Chinese economy rocketed to success.  From nothing to the second largest economy in the world, all built on the back of commoners with new ideas. 

The political elites simply were simply too small of a group to great enough ideas to drive a successful economy.  In America, five hundred and thirty-seven elected officials, some K-streeters, and the intelligentsia have no way to produce enough ideas compared to the 333,000,000 citizens who are trying to find ways to make their lives better every day.   And yet, this is what the Left would like you to believe in.   That the few can proliferate ideas like the many.  The ‘ingenious commoners’ of the Renaissance produced what Matt Ridley calls a time when ‘ideas were having sex with ideas.’  Economic success under Mao or Stalin could never be described as the foundation for a radically effective way of idea generation.

Why, socialism is a form of governance that kills new ideas because the party has all the experts’ ideas required to control the citizenry and economy.   The intellectual conceit is that the commoners is not required.  Central planners have all the answers.  Conceit, indeed.

If you want to assure you kids have a good future vote for the party that is looking to assure the success of the entrepreneurs working in their garage, like Steve and Woz, not the gent seeking government credits so rich folks can afford his cars like Elon.

Ideas rule and the more the better.  If you get a chance, kick a leftist in the skin and tell them to go home and hide.

Tomorrow: Ideas in Short

Socialism Versus Capitalism: A Thought Series: Expert Socialists

The 18th and 19th centuries produces a covey or European writers seeking to improve the governance of kings and popes.  The seeds of socialism, though, instead of replacing the dual-class system of kingdoms simply replaced kings for leftist experts, our dear socialist/Progressive nobility.

Today’s socialists understand society to be made up of two distinct classes, enlightened leaders like kings, and commoners.   Kings were responsible for the lives of commoners because commoners just didn’t have the right stuff to live without kingly guidance.   In today’s lingo, this intellectual conceit has been offered in less kind words.  Consider Hillary Clinton’s ‘deplorables,’ or Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s ‘the stupidity of the American Voter,’ or Maynard Keynes’ belief that the common man was too ‘ignorant’ to understand public policy.’

The results of their enlightened tutelage and leadership over the last 8 decades appears to contradict their two-class society proposition.    Having taken ownership of retirement, education and social welfare, are we commoners better off?

Nope: retirement programs are under funded by $44 trillion and this number is probably understated.  The education monopoly has produced declining results over other industrial nations though they spend half what America does.  Worst or all, after spending over $40 trillion in the last 50 years on the War on Poverty, our poverty rate has not moved an iota.   Is this the best our Leftist can do?  No they can do worse.  Just give them more responsibilities.  Medicare for all?  Run away, quickly.

If socialism worked, these experts should have much better results.  But they don’t get the results proposed because they aren’t the experts, they think they are.  They are simply well-educated with opinions that don’t produce results.

America has always been a one-class society.   Our classless society works well because we have the power of the vote and we vote on just about everything in life, not just political candidates.  Smart phones, food, housing, cars, clothing…widgets of every kind.  We are experts at just everything, and just about every business we engage trusts us to vote for products businesses’ hope we will love what they produce.

Some businesses, charities, and churches produce well and get our votes, and some don’t and either change or cease to exist.  With the internet, the world of our voting got even better.   Now we can review what we invest in.   It let’s the rest of us know the product is a good one, or if it is not up to snuff, gives the entity feedback on how to improve.

Try giving feedback to one of the government’s agencies.  Good luck on that.

Tomorrow:  Socialism Versus Capitalism: Ideas as the currency of 21st Success

1/3/2019: Pre-requisites for Immigration and Border Enforcement

Walls and shutdowns and budgets, what a bunch of political malarkey.

The parties will agree on little and manage to do less.

What’s the problem?  The parties not only do not have a common set of principles on how to govern.  The foundations for immigration policy and border security are irreconcilably different.

The Left says border security is important but in the same breath silently transmits subliminal messages to non-citizens to please come to America illegally.  About half the conservatives do the same.

The Left erects sanctuary cities.  Worse, some of its membership goes to south and central American nations and educates illegal entrants how to beat the system.  This is just about as mean-spirited as is humanly possible.   ‘Come hither’ and work for less than citizens and in the darkness of having no credentials to be in country.   How is this good for either the immigrant or our nation’s poor who compete with illegals for jobs?   Not to mention the criminals that join in this illegal entry game.

Worse, half of Republicans do the same, albeit more in the shadows of illegal business hiring.

How to move ahead?

First, if we are going to have sane immigration policy, everyone……every single politician in the US, local, state and federal, needs to agree that the current laws, no matter how good or bad, need to be enforced.  Everyone takes an oath of office to enforce the law.  If an elected official doesn’t like the laws, then their responsibility is to change them, not ignore them.

Second, agree that enforcement does mean border enforcement.  Instead of politicizing every discussion about funding a wall or fence or more people, a debate about the options to create the most effective solution at the border would be better.

Tomorrow:

1/2/2019 Shutdown or Politics as Usual

 
If there is at least one good reason to dismantle the two political parties, it lay with the complete politicization of building a small fraction of the wall Trump would like to erect.
 
Why is this topic of importance now, and not over the last two years? I could not tell you. But both parties seem to agree that they cannot agree on something both parties have both agreed to on more than one occasion. The most recent agreement was in 2013 when Senator Schumer worked to get $8 billion for a border fence.
 
Heck, if we can’t do $5 billion for a wall, let’s do $8 billion for a fence. Agreeing on something seems to be largely semantics or posturing.
 
The argument, though, isn’t over border protection or a wall or a fence, it is simply politics at its worst, each party trying to gain political advantage over the other, without merit or common sense.
 
Are these folks in DC trying to help Americans…or just themselves.
 
Tomorrow: Pre-requisites for Immigration and Border Enforcement

1/1/2019 New Year’s Resolutions for Fixing Washington

Ideas that might help make it easier to understand our sloppy, complex, expensive, result-less government.

1. A chief simplicity officer for Congress. Complexity of government is killing the ability of government to govern. Creating an institution in the CBO that stresses a culture of simplicity in process or legislation would reduce costs dramatically.

2. X-Prize for solving problems. X-Prize is a private foundation and funds a variety of projects from education, to space travel, to education. Special interests and lobbyists have been the go to platforms but focus on last century’s solutions not the future. Why use X-Prize’s to seek new ideas for healthcare, fixing retirement and welfare. There are just not enough people in DC to come up with innovations that can fix many of our problems and soliciting those outside the beltway might improve our odds of finding good solutions and take some of the politics out of the equation.

3. Instead of launching one-size-fits-all solutions, test ideas in the states, counties and cities first to see if they work. America is dragging along a large number of programs that provide little or no benefit but have a big political following that makes it difficult to end programs and expands the opportunity for perpetually poor governance. Let’s start testing ideas on a smaller scale to find solutions to replace aging and poorly performing laws, regulations and government programs.

Tomorrow: Shutdown?

2019 Debates!

In Arizona, the two Senate Candidates spent over $30 million.  After all the spending, and TV, web and radio commercials, my IQ went down about 20 points and frankly I could not tell you one thing that either candidate would do to fix the problems with Washington.   The only debate I saw was about  DNC and RNC talking points.  The objective of the debate seemed more about whether the candidates passed their parties litmus test.  Underwhelming, to say the least.

The reason there are ‘low information voters’ is because parties spend billions of dollars on tweaking the voter to make them mad enough not to vote for the ‘other’ candidate, but nothing about a plan for the future, no vision, no new ideas…

Wouldn’t it be great to talk about ideas that can change the vector of our future to something positive, something that will ensure our children’s future.  CIVIL thinks so.

Here are some ideas

  1. What’s the Biggest Problem in Washington and How Would You Fix It?
  2. Transformational Government: What the problem with our Retirement System and How Would You Fix It?
  3. Transformational Government: Why Can’t Our Inner City Children Get an Education, and How Would You Fix It?
  4. Transformational Government: Social Welfare or Pursuit of Happiness?
  5. Climate Change: Alarmist or Denier?
  6. Immigration:  What is the Road Forward to Improve our Economic Fitness?
  7. Is Complexity and Size Killing our Trust in Government?

If you have more ideas, please send them to us.

Our desire is to schedule these in Tempe.  I have reached out to a few groups to see if they would like to participate.

Tom Lewellen

Executive Director