The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Monday, October 18, 2010

On Mark McKinnon's program (Part 2 of 3)

The next four of Mark McKinnon's proposals:
5. Stop the cannibalization. Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will consume all tax revenues by 2052 at current rates. We are eating our young, spending their earning potential before they are even born. It's time to save the safety nets—for them. On this issue, the Democrats are the party of no (no grasp of reality). But Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has the right idea: Give the people the same choices Congress enjoys. Protect folks over 55 today from any changes to the commitments made. Give those under 55, as they become eligible, vouchers to purchase private health insurance, just as Congress does. Sicker and poorer enrollees would get larger vouchers. Vouchers put the consumer in charge, forcing providers to compete against each other to deliver care more efficiently rather than lobbying for reimbursement rate increases under Medicare's current single-payer plan. Let workers invest a third of their payroll taxes in their own savings account, guaranteed and managed by Social Security. Raise the retirement age, indexed to average life expectancy. And decrease benefits by 10 percent for everyone under 50.
This is probably a good idea. The idea of giving people vouchers to purchase insurance privately — as opposed to the mandate in "Obamacare" — makes it much more like the Medicare Part D system which I praised in an earlier post. I think I would favor this proposal.
6. Neuter the czars; let the sun shine in. Signing statements, executive orders, and the appointment of czars were once considered a serious threat to congressional power. Obama's pledges of transparency and accountability have expired. Unelected, unchecked, and unaccountable staffers now have the power to regulate our physical and financial health. The most frightening words in the health-care act are "as the Secretary may determine." Whether with nudges to dictate "lifestyle behavior modification," or with not-so-veiled threats of IRS action against private industry, or with guilty-before-proven-innocent charges against an organization of small businesses and private individuals, the ends do not justify the jackboot means. It's time regulate the regulators and let the sun shine in on the executive and legislative branches. Fannie, Freddie and the Fed must come out from behind closed doors. Congress must reform and rebalance the power of the people. And Congress should have a say in any regulation that has a fiscal impact.
Certainly this is a good idea. People objected to "the imperial Presidency" when it was Nixon in charge; Obama is doing far more to interfere with people's rights.
7. Stop teaching our children (the wrong lessons). That we fail our children is our greatest shame. Newark, New Jersey, spends more than twice the national average per pupil but graduates only half its students. Will a $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg improve results? Underfunding is not the reason for underperformance. Nationally, charter schools and voucher programs produce better results with less money. And though real federal spending per public school pupil has more than tripled since the 1960s, achievement scores remain flat and graduation rates are the same as in 1970. Radical education reform is needed. It's time to get the unions out of the classroom. The American Federation of Teachers spent $1 million to defeat D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty for his support of education reformer and school chancellor Michelle Rhee, who resigned Weds. The right ideas are already out there. Hold schools accountable to national standards, but allow problem solvers at the local level to design education solutions that reward performance for students, teachers, parents, and schools.
He is totally right there. I couldn't have said it better.
8. Copy Clinton's conservative moves. To open up new markets and create American jobs, we need to make global bilateral free trade agreements a priority as they were under the Clinton administration. Free trade grows jobs here. President Obama agrees: "Export growth leads to job that pay 15 percent more than average. So at a time when jobs are in short supply, building exports is an imperative." It's the trade deficit, importing more than we export, not free trade itself that kills jobs. The U.S. has a manufactured goods trade surplus with its free trade partners but a trade deficit with countries that have not entered into an agreement. Without agreements, 60 percent of available markets are closed to us. Free trade grows jobs here, and helps improve lives in developing nations—a cause that should be shared by all. But to unleash the powerful potential of free trade, we also need to slash the deficit, which diverts billions in foreign spending to the purchase of American debt rather than American goods. And while we're at it, let's kill farm subsidies.
Though I have no love for Bill Clinton, the specific areas McKinnon points to are right on the money.

The final four points will be discussed in the next post.

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