Last Post at NoSpeedBumps

April 18th, 2010

As you may have noticed my posts at NoSpeedBumps have become more and more infrequent. After five years of blogging I have decided to stop. I will leave this blog on the web, but I don’t plan any new posts.

If you have been a reader of NoSpeedBumps, thanks for stopping by and I hope that some things I have written here may have at times helped you in thinking about the world we live in.

I have enjoyed blogging at NoSpeedBumps and perhaps someday I will start another blog or website. For now I will be pursuing other interests.

Cheers,
Dan Morgan

Health Insurance Requirement Not a Bad Idea

March 27th, 2010

I don’t like the new health care reform because we can’t afford this right now. We are facing trillion dollar deficits for years to come! We should get our financial house in order before trying to use government funds to subsidize health insurance for millions of new people.

However, many on the right are overreacting to certain aspects of the bill. For example, the idea that you must buy health insurance or else pay a penalty is not so bizarre. It is normal practice now that you must buy insurance to drive on the roads. And everyone must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Thus, these programs require your mandatory participation. The requirement to have health insurance will one day be mainstream thinking too. (Consider the alternative to achieving near universal coverage: a single-payer government-run system like in Canada and Europe.)

In fact, the idea that you must buy health insurance or pay a fee is a Republican idea:

WASHINGTON – Republicans were for President Barack Obama’s requirement that Americans get health insurance before they were against it. The obligation in the new health care law is a Republican idea that’s been around at least two decades. It was once trumpeted as an alternative to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s failed health care overhaul in the 1990s. These days, Republicans call it government overreach.

Mitt Romney, weighing another run for the GOP presidential nomination, signed such a requirement into law at the state level as Massachusetts governor in 2006. At the time, Romney defended it as “a personal responsibility principle” and Massachusetts’ newest GOP senator, Scott Brown, backed it. Romney now says Obama’s plan is a federal takeover that bears little resemblance to what he did as governor and should be repealed.

Just Repeal It!

March 22nd, 2010

20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms. (via Instapundit)

Also, ObamaCare will push 16 million more poor people on to medical welfare (Medicaid). Where is the concern about increasing welfare dependency? Did we learn nothing from the 1994 bi-partisan welfare reform to make welfare more restrictive?

This health care reform bill is perhaps the single biggest government power grab in US history. It will be challenged on so many fronts, that I will be surprised if it survives. But then, the window of time for repeal is narrow. Like all new entitlement programs, once people are addicted – they can never be repealed.

Wanted: New Leadership in Washington, DC

March 6th, 2010

Now we begin to really pile up the debt for our grandkids:

President Barack Obama’s budget will lead to deficits averaging nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, the CBO estimated Friday.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said President Barack Obama’s budget would lead to annual deficits averaging nearly $1 trillion for the next decade.

The estimates are for larger deficits than the budget shortfalls expected by the White House.

Annual deficits under Obama’s budget plan would be about $976 billion from 2011 through 2020, according to a CBO analysis of Obama’s plan released Friday.

We need to freeze most of the federal budget and then begin gradually cutting spending. But do you get the sense that this is going to happen? No wonder there is the Tea Party protest movement. Something is really not right with the federal government.

It may feel good for some to blame this all on Obama. But the problem has been coming like a silent freight train for decades. Social Security and Medicare were structured wrong from the start. The pay-as-you-go structure of these programs is ill-suited for having a sudden wave of retirees like is coming as baby boomers begin retiring in mass.

Below is a chart I made in 2005 that shows where we have been headed. At this point I would say the red line is even steeper than that shown.

spending

We need a Constitutional Amendment to limit the size of government as a percentage of GDP. And we need entirely new leadership in Washington, DC to tackle this spending problem.

For reference, below is a 2002 chart from the CBO that showed the projected size of just the federal government. You can see that we have known about this problem for a long time.

government

But, with real leadership, it is possible to reverse this trend. Just look at what New Zealand and Ireland did when they had good leadership.

New Zealand

When Unions Become Legalized Corruption

February 28th, 2010

Is this right?

Michelle Berry runs a day-care business out of her home in Flint, MI. She thought that she owned her own business, but Berry’s been told she is now a government employee and union member. It’s not voluntary. Suddenly, Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have learned that union dues are being taken out of the child-care subsidies the state sends them. The “union” is a creation of AFSCME, the government workers union, and the United Auto Workers.

This racket means big money to AFSCME, which runs the union, writes the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank.

And we all know where these forced unions dues will go: Straight to Democratic politicians. It’s a perfect racket, and sadly, its legal in Michigan. Any state where the Unions+Democrats gain too much power, you know the citizens there are in for a bad time.

Why doesn’t the federal government just force us all into a union? Then union dues can be taken straight from our paychecks and given to the Democrat Party. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

U.S. Going Broke – as Expected

February 14th, 2010

In my last post I wrote: “The country’s #1 priority for the next decade should be to get our financial house in order – not coming up with extravagant new spending programs.” An article today shows why:

WASHINGTON – It’s bad enough that Greece’s debt problems have rattled global financial markets. In the world’s largest economic and military power, there’s a far more serious debt dilemma.

For the U.S., the crushing weight of its debt threatens to overwhelm everything the federal government does, even in the short-term, best-case financial scenario — a full recovery and a return to prerecession employment levels.

The government already has made so many promises to so many expanding “mandatory” programs. Just keeping these commitments, without major changes in taxing and spending, will lead to deficits that cannot be sustained.

Take Social Security, Medicare and other benefits. Add in interest payments on a national debt that now exceeds $12.3 trillion. It all will gobble up 80 percent of all federal revenues by 2020, government economist’s project.

That doesn’t leave room for much else. What’s left is the entire rest of the government, including military and homeland security spending, which has been protected and nurtured by the White House and Congress, regardless of the party in power.

Congress and successive presidents have waited so long to deal with these problems, that drastic measures are now the only options to fix things. The age to receive Social Security and Medicare need to be raised and reductions in the growth rate of benefits is needed. This can be done by increasing benefits each year by a little less than the inflation rate, rather than matching the inflation rate.

Of course if Social Security and Medicare had been converted into private savings accounts many decades ago, we would not be having any of these problems. On top of that, retirees would have a lot.

I have been warning about all of this for years. But in Chile, things will only be getting better because they converted to private accounts years ago.

Australia too converted to private accounts years ago – and this was done by the left-wing party. But in the US you can’t even bring the subject up without liberals going berserk.

In Singapore they have Medical Saving Accounts, and they work.

One sad thing is that Social Security was discussed as being in the form of private accounts way back at its founding in 1935. Just think what could have been. Instead of the country going broke, we would have trillions saved in private assets with no government obligations. Today’s unsustainable pay-as-you-go Social Security system would have never existed!

As I have so often said here since 2005, we should still convert Social Security and Medicare into private accounts. Here is how. It is never too late to begin. Just like if you run up a pile of debt, it is better to start paying it off now rather than waiting even longer. The process is painful either way – but at least when you address the core problem there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Update: I would now make one change to the reforms that I proposed in 2005. The private accounts should not be mandatory. This was a lesson learned during the recent health care reform debate. The federal government should not be demanding people buy health insurance or save money. But under the NoSpeedBumps reforms, the tax incentives are so strong, that surely over 99% of people would use the savings accounts and buy health insurance. Otherwise they would just be handing money they could have saved to the federal government in the form of income taxes (because the tax rate is flat whether you save the money or not.)

When US Debt Hits 100% of GDP

February 9th, 2010

Just replace “Greece” with “the US” and you can see our current path:

The Greek government has spent too much for years. Markets became concerned about this in November after the newly elected Socialist government revealed that last year’s budget deficit was more than three times as large as previously estimated. The EU says Greece’s financial figures have been fudged for years.

With debt piling up to 113% of the economy, investors fear Greece won’t pay its debts, in the form of government bonds — or will need a lifeline from other EU countries to meet its 54 billion euro ($74 billion) borrowing needs this year.

Decades of irresponsible government have put us on the current trajectory. Program after program were put in place and structured in ways we cannot afford. Social Security, Medicare, the new Medicare drug program, Medicaid, and so on.

Barack Obama is perhaps, hopefully, at the tail end of this madness in spending. We surely can’t afford the health care bill he wants – and it looks like these new “reforms” will never be enacted anyway. The country’s #1 priority for the next decade should be to get our financial house in order – not coming up with extravagant new spending programs. This kind of reckless spending is so 20th century.

Arthur Laffer on Bill Clinton

January 17th, 2010

With government spending completely out of control, one likes to think of other presidencies to look for better management. Well, it wouldn’t be the prior president, George W. Bush, because he spent like a maniac. You would like to look back to Ronald Reagan and think he did the best job. But really, he was never able to slash government spending as he would have liked to have done. At best, he just for a time slowed the growth of government some.

But there was another president, uh-hum, a President Bill Clinton, that some say did the best job of all in recent years. Economist Arthur Laffer gave his view back in 2007:

“… he became more Reagan than Reagan the day afterwards. He lost the House, he lost the Senate, he lost the governorships, he lost the state legislatures. And then he became more Reagan than Reagan: He got Nafta through Congress, against the unions, against his own party. He reappointed Reagan’s Fed chairman twice. He signed welfare reform, that you actually have to look for a job to get welfare. He cut government spending as a share of GDP by 3.5 percentage points. No president ever has come anywhere near him on that. He had the biggest capital gains tax cut in our nation’s history in ’97. He got rid of the retirement test on Social Security. This guy was a great president and I voted for him twice.”

Insincerity On Immigration at the New York Times

January 6th, 2010

I ran across a sane sentence in a New York Times editorial today:

America needs to shut the path to illegal entry and employment while opening smoother and more rational routes to legal immigration.

If we take this at face value, this would mean that the NYT’s editorial staff supports a secure southern border. And a secure southern border requires a high, multi-layer fence along nearly all of the southern border. Do they mean this? No way. So what do they mean? You know – hire a few more border agents, provide more aid of some type to Mexico to get people to want to stay there, or add a few more guest-worker programs. Right, like these things will have any impact on illegal immigration.

You can be sure that this NYTs editorial claiming they want to “shut the path to illegal entry” is all lip service. They would never support the steps needed to actually “shut the path to illegal entry”.

I recall the last mass amnesty reform in the 1980s. There were lots of claims then about how border security would be tightened. That turned out to be a complete joke as illegal immigration then dramatically increased over the southern border. I guess we are all just supposed to ignore this piece of history and plow ahead with this latest immigration reform.

All amnesty proposals should be opposed until the southern border is first secured. Actually, this was sort of agreed to at the end of the last Bush term. A program was put in place to build a fence – to first secure the border – but then this fence building program was gutted once the limelight went away. The American political class, Democrats and also establishment-Republicans, really don’t mind the open border. They ignore all of the problems that illegal immigration is leading to over time – like increased inequality, increased crime, massive new urban welfare-ghettos, educational decline, more demands for socialism, more congested highways, and charges of American racism as evidence mounts that 2nd and 3rd generation Latinos are not moving up economically.

It’s really bizarre that we let about 500,000 people sneak illegally into our country each year, and our elites believe that there are no problems with this. Imagine if you sat in an airport and watched 500,000 people (1370 per day) sneak into the country each year. Wouldn’t you think maybe something is wrong with the security system?

Mexicans Should Restore the Death Penalty

December 22nd, 2009

Does Mexico need the death penalty? They have not executed anyone in Mexico for a civilian crime since 1937. But consider this that happened today:

MEXICO CITY – Gunmen mowed down the family of a Mexican marine just hours after the military honored him as a national hero for losing his life during a raid that took down powerful drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva.

The brazen attack happened shortly before midnight Monday at the home of fallen marine Melquisedet Angulo in the town of Paraiso in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, police said.

Hit men linked to Beltran Leyva’s cartel have a strong presence in the state and are believed to be behind the slayings of Angulo’s mother, his two siblings and his aunt, federal officials said Tuesday.

Murderers like this deserve the death penalty.

What is the view of ordinary Mexicans regarding the death penalty? It is as you might guess – they believe, like most Americans, that the worst of murderers should get what they deserve:

A large majority of people in several countries, including the United States and Mexico, support the death penalty, according to a poll by Ipsos-Public Affairs released by the Associated Press. 71 per cent of respondents in Mexico and 69 per cent in the U.S. back the idea of sentencing convicted murderers to death.

But would the death penalty really help reduce the number of murders in Mexico? Based on recent studies , it appears that the death penalty does indeed deter murderers.

Mexico not having a death penalty impacts us too in the US. A lack of a death penalty increases violent crime in Mexico, and this crime spills over into the US. And there is this too:

Mexico does not extradite to countries that are seeking the death penalty, and has successfully defended 400 Mexicans charged with a capital offence in the United States. This has in the past led to American fugitives crossing the border into Mexico in order to avoid the death penalty.

Update: Oddly, it is the Green Party in Mexico leading the charge to restore the death penalty (… something about the carbon footprint of murderers or something).

No U.S. Warming in Rural Areas

December 19th, 2009

I wondered what yearly temperatures have been doing in the US. I was thinking that we should look at non-urban temperatures to get a better read since as cities grow they could surely artificially alter temperature readings (roads absorb heat, car and trucks emit heat, buildings block wind, etc.). This boy and his father did exactly this:


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