J.C. Moore Online
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Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

The 2017 Trump Agenda Survey

Thu ,27/07/2017

 A number of selected Republican voters have just received a Trump Agenda survey from the party leaders, along with a request for donations of course. This survey is actually less offensive than some of the Republican polls, but it is still problematic. It is difficult for thoughtful Republicans to answer many of the survey questions as they contain biased assumptions that you must accept if you answer. Below are some of the worst examples from the survey; please see what you think.

Question 2. asks you to rank several agenda items.  Among the things you rank are:

  • Build the border wall. (Is this really necessary?)
  • Reverse Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders. ( Were they really unconstitutional?)
  • Re-equip and rebuild our military. (Does our military need rebuilding? We have an excellent military and we now spend 7 times as much as any other nation on defense.)
  • Reduce regulations and corporate taxes to get the economy growing. (Reducing regulations will ensure that air and water pollution goes up, but there no evidence that reducing corporate taxes will get the economy growing. It will ensure that our national debt goes up, however.)
  • Encourage domestic exploration and production of domestic energy sources. (Does exploration and production sound like it will encourage renewable energy, where much of the job growth has been lately.)
  • Reform and simplify the income tax system to make it flatter and more fair. (Taxes are complicated because Congress has written so many special interests and to them, but certainly making the taxes flatter will not make them more fair. Flat tax schemes have always favored transferring wealth to those already wealthy.)

I did not rank the items as I could not figure out how to rank them all last. I added under Other:_ “reducing  medical costs and seeing that all Americans have health care – and ranked it as number 1., because it is one of the things that President Trump has promised. Certainly the bills that came out of Congress so far will not even begin to do that.

Question 6. was particularly troublesome as it asks about an executive order to suspend government unions to make it easy to fire government workers. This would remove worker protections against unreasonable terminations, and make them subject to political influence.

Question 8. asked about taking whatever steps necessary to have president Trump’s court appointments approved. We have procedures in place for approving judges, and we should just follow them.

Question 9. asked about whether the Democrats have any intention of working in good faith to address issues pressing our nation. Of course they do, but they may object to the way the problems are addressed, as is their right.

Question 10. asks if we are optimistic that President Trump and Republicans will pass reforms and conservative policies to improve our economy, strengthen our security and protect our freedom. The devil is in the details on those policies, but from what I have seen so far I would answer “No”.

Question 11. asks if we believe that Mainstream Media will give president Trump fair, unbiased coverage of his proposals and leadership. Of course they will, but there is already evidence that the Trump administration is claiming the truth to be unfair.

One problem with the survey is that it is not anonymous. Republican leaders who plan to run for office may refuse to complete the survey for fear that the Republican Party will work against them in the Republican primaries in their next election. It is exactly those leaders whose opinion should carry the most weight.

Another problem with this survey is that it is likely that those who agree with the biased assumptions will send in the survey, while many mainstream Republicans will just ignore the survey, further biasing the results. My concern is that the Republican leaders will use the results of this biased surveys to try to whip into line the candidates who might object by telling them, “This is what the Republican voters want.” But is it really?

I have filled out Republican several surveys like this, but have never seen the results, though I have searched. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what the results were, because the survey’s main purpose seems to be to provide propaganda and to request donations.

(c)2017  J.C. Moore

Why Not Privatize?

Sun ,17/04/2011

Privatization. It is usually assumed that private enterprise will find efficient ways to do things and lower costs to the benefit of consumers and taxpayers.  That assumption is probably true when it comes to providing innovation and developing resources. The recent failure of some of our largest private companies have caused an  economic downturn which, along with tax cuts, have left the federal, state, and local governments with financial problems. Privatizing public services and resources is being considered as a way to reduce costs and raise money.

City Services: As a way to save money, many small towns and cities are considering turning their basic services such as water, trash and sewer over to private companies. This has not always worked out well.  As an example, Coatesville, Penn decided to sell off its drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 2001 and invest the money in a trust fund to be used for city services. But privatization hasn’t been the economic boon the city hoped.  The residents have seen their water and sewer rates jump 85 percent since American Water, the largest water corporation in the country, took the helm. Last year the company proposed a 229 % rate hike for sewer services, forcing the city to cobble together money for legal fees to fight back. (1) Privatization doesn’t always promote efficiency. The trash in Wichita, Kansas is collected by several private trash companies, and customers in any part of town can contract with any of the companies. The result is that several large trash trucks navigate most streets of Wichita each week, resulting in increased noise, wasted energy, more exhaust fumes, and damage to the streets, which of course, the city repairs.  Even though residents of Wichita pay 30 to 50% more than residents of comparable cities with public trash services, a measure to franchise the trash system was defeated amid criticisms of “government control” and “loss of freedom to choose”.

CompSource. The state of Oklahoma gave its wealthiest citizen a nice tax cut in 2004, which, with the economic downturn,  has left the state government strapped for cash. One proposal to raise money was to sell CompSource Oklahoma, which has been providing workman’s comp to state workers for 76 years – apparently successfully. State Rep. Dan Sullivan pushed for privatization of CompSource because: “It’s a fundamental issue of what is the proper function of government . Is it to compete with private enterprise? We think not.”  He also claimed the increased competition would lower rates. That sounds good, except an expert in comp insurance pointed out it would cost more to insure state employees and 40% -70% more to insure workers in high risk categories, such as volunteer firefighters, oil field workers, and farm workers. The plan fell through, for the time being, when it was discovered that the state might not get the proceeds from the sale and that the politicians pushing the matter had ties to the insurance companies who would profit from the sale. (2)

Medicare and Social Security. Privatization of Government services for ideological reasons often fails as a practical way to lower costs. While privatizing Medicare was ostensibly done to reduce costs, the Medicare Advantage Plans created have increased the cost to the government by 14% and decreased the long term stability of the program. Also, to reduce costs, the plans created the infamous “donut hole“ that costs seniors an additional $25 billion annually. (3) The cost created by privatizing is not a mystery, as the VA and Medicare  have a 3-5% overhead while private insurance companies have an overhead of 15% or more. That is something that should be considered when thinking of health care reform.

Social Security is one of the most effective and popular government programs. It provides a safety net so that no matter how fortunate or unfortunate people are in their choices and investments, they will not be destitute when they retire.  The recent attempts to privatize SS would have been a boon to the financial services industry and money poured in for promotion and campaign donations. After the recent economic downturn, we should all be grateful that the plans to privatize Social Security failed. Some private pension accounts lost as much as 40%, while Social Security paid reliably. The idea that SS is going broke, part of the PR created to try to justify privatizing SS, still lingers on. (4)

Public Service: Our public servants, teachers, firefighters, police, military personnel, and the myriad employees that run our country, actually serve us well. Their pay is usually determined by their responsibilities, experience, and education, as in the GS ratings of federal employees that determine their compensation. Public servants seldom receive bonuses and sometimes little appreciation for doing their job well. The government does not make a profit so their services can be provided at lower cost. And, while we have little say about what goes on in the boardroom, our elected representatives are in charge of public employees.  While it may not be the role of government to compete with private industry, it is certainly not the role of government to make policies that favor private companies over the needs of our citizens. Certainly, privatization for purely ideological reasons is a bad idea that should not override practical considerations.

(1) http://www.alternet.org/story/149725/vision:_how_small,_mostly_conservative_towns_have_found_the_trick_to_defeating_corporations

(2) http://jcmooreonline.com/2009/10/01/will-privatizing-compsource-lower-costs/

(3) http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2917

(4) http://jcmooreonline.com/2010/08/04/is-social-security-going-broke/

(C) 2011  J.C. Moore

Update on 10/26/2016: Here is another case of a privatized water system that didn’t work out well  that cities should  consider before privatizing.