Feed Your Head Archive: 10/21/2009

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In times where it is clear that something is amiss, we are often distracted by the details. This distraction is somewhat akin to an illness where we are often inclined to recognize and treat the symptoms without actually addressing the disease or even making it worse. For some time now, we have been in this mode in America.
Some examples of these actions are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Minimum Wage. Social Security was developed to address the problem of people not saving for retirement. Medicare implemented to protect seniors without health care. Medicaid designed to cover health care for the poor. Minimum Wage established to improve the lot of those at the bottom of the skills ladder. Social Security, meant to ensure that people who survive after the age of 65 who are not employable, was not envisioned to provide for a people with an average lifespan of over 75; but it does. Medicare, meant to aid those few who lived past 65 live even longer and better lives, now covers the additional 10 years of average lifespan plus the additional years of life that the half of seniors who live beyond 75 will enjoy. Medicaid has expanded to cover all U.S. residents -- including illegal aliens -- whose incomes are below the national level for poverty: fortunately, not all who are eligible are enrolled in this program. And Minimum Wage, meant to aid those at the bottom of the employment ladder earn a living wage, has resulted in less opportunity for the young people entering the workforce and less motivation to build skills and climb the ladder.
These programs are all focused on homogenizing the American nation. I know a man who will turn 80 next January. He still works though he receives an ample military pension; he also receives social security and works only enough to keep from impacting his social security payment. There are multitudes like him. Others, in cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, and Detroit, whose only income is social security, live well below the poverty level. I know seniors who are so afraid of death that they visit their doctor on a weekly basis and have for years though they have no serious health issues. Additionally, in an escalating and perverse game, Medicare offers physicans less and physicans raise their rates more to assure compensation for services rendered,  thus raising the costs of health care for all. The vast under-enrollment in Medicaid speaks for itself: 60% of those eligible are not enrolled. Finally, a two income Minimum Wage family in Mississippi would have an income just slightly below the median household income in Mississippi while the same family in Maryland would have an income half that of Maryland's median household income. Clearly these efforts at leveling the social conditions across the country have merely increased costs while aggravating the problems.
Today, the symptoms are economic distress, health care, and our environment. Again, distracted by the symptoms, we have a central government that is tryng to implement homogeneous solutions spending the taxes of the citizens of North Dakota (4.2% unemployment) to create jobs for the citizens of Michigan (15% unemployment), trying to force citizens happy with their health care to be part of a government health care system that is bankrupt and ineffective, and trying to mandate the reduction of CO2 by businesses to address climate change that is actually driven by the natural cycles of the earth and the sun.
The solution is quite simple: let each state address their problems on a local basis. The same way that Maine is known for its lobster, California for its Dungeness crabs, and Florida for its Alligator tail, states would be known for the economic security of their retirees, the health care of their citizens, and the economic prosperity of their workers. Citizens would make their decisions based on their priorities. It's been done before. From 1960 to 2000 the population of the San Francisco Bay area nearly doubled in size as Silicon Valley attracted the best and brightest from all over the country and the world. In response, other states like Massachusetts and North Carolina put programs and policies in place that resulted in similar economic development and their associated migrations. Let California dig itself out of the economic mess it made for its citizens. Let those states whose health care does not satisfy its citizens address their problems in their own way. Finally, let those states who feel the war on CO2 has merit (like California) suffer the consequences of their bad decisions. Successes will propagate themselves, failures provide lessons to be learned, populations will vote with their feet, and we will be a better, stronger nation for it.
Homogeneity is a great thing. There is much that we all share: a desire for freedom and security, and the right to make our own decisions and our own way in life. However, not everyone likes avocados and artichokes, some prefer black-eyed peas and grits. For some, a day noodlin' is far better than a night at the opera. That's the way it should always be.


Overwhelming mandate?

  • Registered US voters: 169M
  • Voters for Barak Obama: 69M
  • Voters for John McCain: 60M
  • Voters for neither: 40M

Whose Recession?

  • Start of Recession: 12/2007
  • Earliest possible end: 12/2009

Your Money's Worth?

  • Average Fed salary: $80K
  • Average State salary: $50K
  • Average Local salary: $50K
  • Average Joe salary: $50K

Tipping Point?

  • Goverment Employees: 20M FTE
  • Private Sector Employees: 90M FTE
  • Retirees: 50M
  • Total US population: 300M

All numbers rounded to simplify comparison


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