Better Government for a Better USA

There’s a good conversation going on in the comments of this post.

Terra scratched the surface of this Conservative and may have discovered a Bleeding-Heart Liberal.

The point is, I do want people to be happy and comfortable.  I’m a cynical optimist (or an optimistic cynic), however, and I don’t believe that liberal methods work very well at all.  I think problems should be resolved at the lowest level possible, i.e., if someone needs money for cancer treatment, and putting out the spare change cans at every local 7-11 raises enough cash to do it, well then, there’s no reason for govt to get involved.  The higher up the level of govt is that provides the benefit, the greater the problems.  The problems can be as simple as overly broad policy: “Every homeless person should get one winter blanket and one heavy winter parka every October 1” sounds good in theory, and isn’t that expensive.  However, do they need a parka in Hawaii and Florida?  In Chicago and Minneapolis, it can drop to below freezing in September.  (not an actual policy, as far as I know). Or it can simply be fraud.  There are plenty of people who find ways to get multiple benefits, or make money and still take benefits, or sell their food stamps to get drugs, etc.

So big government doesn’t work.  The Federal govt should only do what states or communities can’t do.  The Federal govt should provide for common defense, negotiate treaties with foreign nations, tax (and disburse most of those funds to states and communities, mostly without strings attached), fund national-level research, and resolve disputes between states.  And develop a system of nationalized health care, I guess.

I’m not going to bore you by continuing with that any further.

The point is, govt at every level is run by people.  Which means there are mistakes, and failures, and laziness, and misunderstandings, and ineptitude, and corruption.  And the govt provides services for people, which means there are mistakes, and laziness, and misunderstandings, and ineptitude, and fraud.

This isn’t surprising.  But what is surprising to me is how little our govt does to fix these problems.  The problems with nationalized health care are: 1) there is no incentive for providers to give excellent service, because they will get the same pay and have the same amount of drudgery whether they work efficiently or are lazy, and 2) there is no incentive for people to restrain their demands on the system, so they go in for every little sniffle and end up overloading the system with trivial complaints, and someone dies of cancer because they can’t see the doctor in time.

Okay, so can’t we develop a plan to provide incentives for efficient, excellent health care and restraint on the part of customers?  I’ll bet we can.

Can’t we come up with a method that stops illegal immigration without deporting US citizens?  I’ll be we can.

Conservatives hate liberal policies (at least, this conservative does) because liberals always propose great sounding things, but never admit the possibility it might not work out as planned.  They convince people to “just try it out”, and then once it is in place, it becomes an inalienable right.  The liberals can’t seem to ever accept that the problem was with the idea, or with basic human selfishness, they just say it needs more money.  And the American people remain on the hook for billions and billions of dollars of wasteful spending that does little more than keep delivering votes to the Democratic Party so the cash flow doesn’t get shut off.

Why can’t we pass a law that every program has an automatic cancellation point of 5 years?  At that cancellation point, the GAO can review the program for efficicy, and if it doesn’t pass clearly defined objectives, it goes away, but if it passes, then it gets another 5 years…we could even raise the standards of efficiency at each 5 years or something.

Why can’t we take all non-vital spending (exempting things like defense, infrastructure, emergency response, etc) and put a 10-year freeze on the budget.  That means that every single social program would not get cut or reduced, but would have to find and eliminate waste if it wanted to maintain its same level of services (because with a constant budget, they would lose approximately 3%/year in real dollars due to inflation).  We could even add incentives for waste-cutting by allowing the top 5 waste-cutters an expansion in their budget.  That would balance the budget within 10 years, I’d wager.

Why can’t we pass a balanced budget amendment?  Or even just a law, and make it stick?  Liberals always complain about Republican tax cuts, saying they don’t leave enough money and will create a deficit, which is HORRIBLE.  But when they take charge and raise taxes, they raise spending at the same or even greater rate, which creates a deficit, but is somehow okay when Democrats do it.

And now I’m just ranting.

But my point is: Republicans/Conservatives do sometimes let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  We don’t have to say no to everything just because of possible adverse consequences.  We can use our intelligence to find ways to resolve those adverse consequences.  National health care is probably one of those issues that can be initiated, and then tweaked to avoid the problems of UK and Canada.  It won’t be “free health care for all!” that the liberals/Democrats promise, but it will be better than letting people sicken and die because they can’t afford health care.

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3 Comments

Filed under Politics, rant, Social Issues

3 responses to “Better Government for a Better USA

  1. Morgan

    Generally speaking Cheifmuser, I’m with you on this. I certainly don’t claim to fully understand all of the intricacies of the health-care system. But something does need to be addressed, because the one area that completely free-market capitalism fails is the area of individual compassion. Individuals within a capitalistic structure can be compassionate, but the structure itself is focused on maximizing profits. That works fine for many things, since the relative value of, say, a car or a boat or a steak dinner or a pearl necklace should be determined by the demand. If a BMW is too expensive, don’t buy one; if enough people stop buying them, the prices will come down.

    But necessities of life such as food and shelter (note that “shelter” is not the same as “home ownership”and health care can’t be accurately compared to “stuff” you buy in the store. Physicians (or more specifically insurance companies) have far greater latitude to charge higher and higher prices, because health care is not the same as a car. It might be difficult, but you can get by without a car…and you certainly can get by without the most expensive car. But everybody needs healthcare. In many ways, the same is true of food and shelter.

    On the other hand, I vote Republican because I believe that there is a fundamental difference between a hand-up and a hand-out. There must be some personal responsibility, and those who truly cannot take care of themselves need to recognize the fundamental difference between a “need” and a “want”. Terra says that she has always sacrificed so that her child could have health care when she herself does not. Bravo! She understands personal responsibility. But that doesn’t mean that she *should* have to go without health care.

    Problem is government (really any big bureaucracy), is the worst at addressing these problems. The government should be the safety net only. Is *some* oversight of issues involving fundamental human needs really that bad a thing?

    Your right about liberal policy – it is often excellent at pointing out the fundamental problems in the system, but lousy about offering viable solutions besides throwing more money at the issue.

    One small note – I “hate” many liberal policies. I certainly don’t hate most liberals. I think that’s probably what you meant as well…

  2. Morgan

    Oops…meant “Chiefmuser” not “Cheifmuser.” And “You’re right” rather than “Your right.”

    Sheesh, maybe I am ignorant and uninformed after all…

  3. chiefmuser

    Yeah, I hate the policies, not the people. I’ll fix it.

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