America needs a national dialogue to heal our political battle wounds

More specifically, “In 2016, Pew reported that 45 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats felt that the other party’s policies posed a threat to the nation.” Democrats and Republicans tended to view people who supported the other party as “exceptionally immoral, dishonest and lazy.” And about a third of the members of each party viewed members of the opposing party as “less intelligent” than average Americans.

In short, Democrats and Republicans — in unprecedented numbers — hold each other in contempt. This problem will not go away solely as a result of increasing bipartisan dinners and civility training. To truly address what ails our democracy, we must find a way for Democrats, Republicans and Independents to begin talking with — and listening to — each other again about the policy challenges facing the country and the factors that promote partisan mistrust, and rebuild their trust in their fellow Americans.

America needs a national dialogue to heal our political battle wounds The horrible and indiscriminate attack on a group of House Republican members of Congress at their early morning baseball practice for a charity baseball game may prove to be a watershed moment in our country: the day Democrats […]

To Improve Health Care We need to Change the Incentive From Making Money off of Sick People to Improving the Health of the Patient

To Improve health care and reduce costs we need to change the incentive from making money off of sick people to improving the health of the patient.

Tom Price has a plan for Health Care.  His plan is to reduce transparency, reduce standards, and increase freedom to exploit the sick.

Of course he would describe his plan differently.  If you ask Tom Price what his plan is, he would say that he advocates empowering individuals with their doctors so they can make their own health care decisions free from community interference.  And he is trying to pass laws in Congress and is encouraging the States to enact patient-centered, market-based programs to do this.

As a Doctor, it is clear why Rep. Price would like a system that frees him from any transparency and community interference.  He wants a lot of sick people that have no information so he can charge them as much as he can so he can make as much profit as he can.  He says, he wants patients to make their own decision in a free market system, just as one might when they by a car.  However, clearly, unlike buying a car where the buyer could know more about cars than the seller, Dr. Tom Price will always know more about what is wrong with the patient than the patient.  This places the patient at huge disadvantage.  In economics it is called “Information Asymmetry.”  Dr. Tom Price makes a lot of money on sick people.  And he wants to change the rules so he can make more money.

I had hoped the passage of Obamacare would put this debate behind us.  But, sadly, Obamacare did not solve the problem.  In fact, health care costs continue to ballon much faster than inflation.

So, what is the answer.  I came across an interesting study by Prof. Grayboyes.  The Title of the Study is “Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care.

Here is a short video Prof. Grayboyes put together to explain his view.

While I understand his view, I see the problem differently.

The problem is that, while every cell phone is exactly the same, not every hip replacement is exactly the same. While every Model T Ford was exactly the same, not every heart bypass is exactly the same.

Professor Graboyes comparison of health care services to technology is not a good comparison because you can gain huge cost savings through standardization in technology, but there is no such cost savings improvements in standardizing health care. In fact, by standardizing health care we would actually reduce quality care.

As long as the incentive is to make money on people getting sick, the sick will continue to pay more because those making money on people getting sick will continue to want to make more money.

We need to change the incentive of our health care industry from making money to making the patient well.

What is Wrong with the GOP “Pro-Growth Agenda.”

On February 4, 2016 House Republican leaders announced the formation of six committee-led task forces charged with developing a bold, pro-growth agenda. (For updates, visit speaker.gov/confidentamerica.)

In and of itself, putting forth a pro-growth agenda is a great thing.  Congress should always be working on a pro-growth agenda.  But, the question becomes is this the right pro-growth agenda for the 6th District.

Supposedly, President Obama hasn’t done anything to save Americas economy. It’s like the past seven years never happened for Republicans. And House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says he has a “bold, pro-growth agenda” for 2016. In his weekly address Saturday, Ryan laid out the “mission statement” of that agenda:

“We want to save the American Idea for the vast majority of Americans who believe it’s just not there for them anymore. We want America to lead again. We want America to be confident again. That is our mission.

“By giving the people a clear choice in 2016, we will seek a mandate to do big things in 2017 and beyond.”

Watch Courtesy of Speaker Ryan’s Press Office:

Here is their plan.

These discussions will focus on five areas.

First, national security. How do we go about building a 21st-century military? What do we need to do to make sure we’re equipped to defeat ISIS and the threat posed by radical Islamic terror? How do we make sure we are secure here at home?

Next, jobs and economic growth. Our economy is far from its potential. Wages are still stagnant. Families are suffering. How do we fix our tax code? How do we rein in our regulatory state? How do we maximize our energy potential?

Third, health care. Obamacare has driven up premiums, limited choices, and taken away access. These are not the signs of success – they’re the signs of failure. If and when we repeal Obamacare, what solutions will lead to lower costs and a truly patient-centered health care system?

Fourth, poverty and opportunity. There are 46 million Americans living in poverty today, and a big part of the reason is we have a safety net that catches people falling into poverty. How do we lift people up, bring them back into the workforce, and restore upward mobility?

The last piece of this agenda – and it’s so critical to all the others – is restoring the Constitution. The president’s executive overreach has undermined the Constitution and damaged the people’s trust. What needs to be done to restore the separation of powers and protect our constitutional liberties?

I disagree that this is the best “pro-growth” agenda.

First, while national security is important, it should not be first on the list. Unless it is assumed the way to grow the country is to grow the military-industrial complex.  This is where we might need some more discussion.  But, assuming that one believes that by growing the military-industrial complex we grow the economy, is the GOP saying the way to grow the economy is for the government to spend more money?  That seems a lot like Keynesian of them.  And since I don’t think they follow Keynesian economics, I suspect they are thinking something different here.

I am in favor of national security.  As I am in favor of financial security and personal security.  And I want to defeat ISIS and all religious fundamentalists that want to force their ancient world view on others.  But, to make sure we are “secure here at home” as they say, we need to also focus on right wing Nationalist that threaten our security here at home.  We also need to talk about how to keep guns out of the hands of Islamic, and White Nationalists hands in order to be more secure here at home.

Second, I agree our economy is far from its potential.  I agree that wages are stagnant and families are suffering.  But, I don’t agree that taxes and our “regulatory State” is most to blame, if at all.  I think the reason wages are stagnant is that Globalization and improved manufacturing and transportation technologies are driving wages down  It is now cheaper to ship a widget from Vietnam to Los Angeles than to ship from Detroit to Los Angeles.  And since a worker in Vietnam makes an average of under $200 dollars a month there is no reason for a US Company to pay their workers more.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this problem.  So, while I am happy to have this on the agenda for growth, let’s not fool ourselves that simply reducing taxes and eliminating regulations will have the effect we all want – Higher wages.

Third, I agree that health care belongs on this list.  And I would like to see changes made to Obamacare.  But, I don’t want the requirement for “pre-existing” conditions to go away.  And I don’t believe simply saying we should go to a “truly patient-centered health care system” without full transparency to the outcomes of the service providers with result in a better health care delivery system.  My personal belief is we need to go to a “Kaiser” model.

Fourth, the statement that the way to solve poverty is to eliminate the safety net is ludicrous on its face.  Unless I’m wrong, poverty has been around for a long time.  If I am not mistaken, the Bible even talks about poor people.  And, how do you eliminate poverty while at the same fighting to eliminate the minimum wage.  The question I would ask is what does the GOP think is a annual salary of a full time that would eliminate poverty?  And if so, what are they doing to ensure someone that works full time achieves that wage.  As I said in #2 above, I think giving all our money to multinational corporations who ship jobs overseas and put all that money into un-taxable foreign bank accounts, is to blame? The GOP seems to assume that you’re poor its because you want to be poor. They seem to think that the best to eliminate poverty is to just give all that money to rich people and corporations, because they’ll share some of it.

Lastly, the GOP seems to think that putting the Constitution first will grow the economy.  This made me laugh.  This is the party that assumed, when they won a majority in Congress, that Obama’s re-election was inconsequential, that it was the Republican who had been given a mandate by the people, and that the president had to do precisely what they say. They are the ones who have violated the Constitution again and again to legislate religion, to stab the president in the back in the area of foreign policy. Executive overreach? How about legislative overreach?

Ryan is certainly using the right language, pretending to have learned the valuable lesson of the years he pretends never happened:

“To do that, we can’t just be an opposition party. We have to be a proposition party. If we do not like the direction the country is going in – and we do not – then we have an obligation to offer an alternative.”

The big problem with Ryan’s agenda is that as Robert Reich has demonstrated, that alternative has already been tried, and look where it got us in 2008.

Ryan closes by saying,

“We see it as our duty here in the people’s house to offer real ideas, to tackle the real issues head on. We want a confident America. Now it’s time to get to work.”

I agree we need to tackle the real issues. But, I don’t consider repealing Obamacare for the seventieth time without a clear plan to 1) cover pre-existing conditions and 2) prevent families from bankrupt in order to save a family member as the best way to grow America.

Pay Attention 6th District. Just because they say they’re going to fix things does not mean that it will actually fix things.

 

Libertarian Bias in Describing Economic Myths – Or How to Spot an Economic Strawman

I happened across Cato Institute’s 20 Economic Myths.

So, let me start with # 4 – It demonstrates both a Myth and -Straw-man at the same time.

The Cato says the following sentence is a Myth.

“Markets Depend on Perfect Information, Requiring Government Regulation to Make Information Available.”

I agree that is a myth. So, great we can start off agreeing.

Now, let’s look at his next sentence.

“For markets to be efficient, all market participants have to be fully informed of the costs of their actions. If some have more information than others, such asymmetries will lead to inefficient and unjust outcomes.”

I also agree with this sentence. Do agree with this sentence also?

Is Cato saying the sentence #2 is a Myth?

What I learned from reading the second sentence is that – Markets determine value based on information. The more the buyer and seller have “symmetrical” information (as opposed to “asymmetrical” information) the more optimum the market works. If a goat seller knows the goat is sick but does not tell the buyer then the seller is a ‘bad actor.” (obviously if the seller dosen’t know the goat is sick, that is different. A economic bad actor is when the seller intentially hides the fact the goat is sick. And the how far the seller goes to hide it determines how much of a bad actor the seller is.)

Let’s take two examples, con men selling Seniors stuff they don’t need and Internet Spam.

The first example is that the con man is a bad actor. In the second example those that abuse email are bad actors. In both cases they do not help commerce. In fact, in both cases they impede optimum commerce.

The point is that in a free market: individual actors may sometimes be bad actors. How we stop bad actors from skewing the market depends on the context.  But, we first have to acknowledge that bad actors exist.