Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wrap Up April '14

April - a month of warmer weather (here, at least), pleasant wildflowers and...unpleasant taxes, argh. One of the seemingly endless debates, is that of corporate tax rates in the U.S. as higher than much of the developed world. Given the free market rhetoric of the U.S. (compared to some nations) that statistic seems odd: how did it happen, anyway? Just the same, hope springs eternal. Thus, there are still proposals to change some aspects of the tax system.

Tax reform is a daunting political challenge, and the present circumstances which require heavy taxation seem as though "baked in the cake". It may be that the U.S. has to try different systems on small levels, to find what works better for those already on the losing end of redistribution. Of course, healthcare still plays a starring role, in the fiscal obligations of the U.S., which doesn't help. It's weird that even Walgreens considers a move to Switzerland, because they've been around since 1901 and are the largest drugstore chain in the country.

Too bad Washington didn't tend to hidden aspects of entrenched welfare for special interests, before corporations started getting such itchy feet. One can hand out goodies all day but when everyone else also gets goodies from the same government pile...Only consider the obligations of Medicaid which are paid directly to healthcare workers, even though this is part of the safety net. As Natalie Scholl of AEI indicated, (point 6) "Combined federal and state spending on Medicaid ($31 billion in 2012) is more than 5 times the amount on food stamps, and more than 25 times the spending on the federal cash welfare program."

Unfortunately, Obamacare does not change an existing knowledge use gridlock in the healthcare system, hence the whole mess should be broken down and begun anew. Since that isn't likely to happen soon, I simply recommend that lower to middle income levels be allowed to create marketplaces for themselves, with healthcare options as a centerpiece. Some regions would be glad to start fresh in this regard, especially if their existing healthcare comes up short compared to more prosperous regions. At the very least, some doctors are bypassing insurance payments and Medicare requirements altogether. Even so, this mostly provides more choices for middle to upper income levels.

A post from James Pethokoukis, "Thinking about government as a creator of platforms that allow citizens to solve their own problems", is also a reminder of potential for domestic summits. Would all that "big data" actually help at local levels? I still believe that much of what is needed for further growth, isn't being caught in any data, yet. Skills arbitrage could allow local "small data" to be encouraged and maintained. What's more, local activity would gain impetus from ideas in the cloud. These ideas - in turn - could be locally "adopted" by both educational entrepreneurs and the community as a whole. That would allow "free agents" in the cloud (no affiliation with existing institutions) to have real, geographic "homes" for their work. Through such a process, local communities could become natural "schools" for thought in numerous capacities.

Local knowledge use collections could benefit those in search of homes for their work, as well as the communities which gain further identity from the process of adoption. Local digital "libraries" would also include the skills based activities of local participants as they develop. Plenty of aspects regarding Internet "holdings" remain uncertain, and a geographic representative approach is one possibility for the preservation of knowledge and information. The above linked Pethokoukis post encouraged me to "think out loud" about some of these ideas. Let's substitute the word "problems" in his post title, with "aspirations", in regard to domestic summit proposals.

Apologies if my recent post regarding plenitude and scarcity, seemed unnecessarily pessimistic towards the end! I ended that post with the negative quote which "got my goat" in the first place. Those who emphasize plenitude, are right to stress where standards of living have dramatically improved from those of the past. It's just that there are so many ways plenitude can be more effectively managed, without having to constantly fill holes which developed primarily to catch the extra wealth.

Speaking of filling holes, some do need to be filled, but aren't getting any attention! There was a story in the news today of a 69 year old who - when the city didn't respond to weeks of calls regarding one pothole, got a shovel and proceeded to fill the hole, himself. Not only was he doing the work free of charge, but with a surgically repaired knee. That's inspiring.

P.S. I do feel that I owe Scott Sumner an apology, for the times I chided him about frequently referencing Paul Krugman. After all the ruckus over Piketty, and the fact he's already been mentioned plenty of times here, I can only say to I get it!

No comments:

Post a Comment