Friday, February 15, 2008

Let's Strengthen the Electoral College

In a time when many are calling for the elimination of the Electoral College, I believe that we shouldn't eliminate but in fact make it stronger. Why do I think this is a good idea? Because I do not think the American people are best suited for electing a president.

The voting for president should not be a popularity contest. In fact, the founders thought that the office should look for the man, not the man for the office. (Now a days we can say man or woman...)

I really think that we should take the electoral college system one step further: members of the electoral college should decide for themselves who will be president. You may be thinking, that's not Democratic and takes away the people's voice. I ask you to hang in here as I try to explain my reasoning.

First I really think that the common man or woman are not in a position to know what kind of person the office of the presidency needs. This is a generalization but think about this:

What do the following know about the requirements for the office of the presidency, or who will be best suited as a president?
  • An 18 year old fresh out of high school.
  • A grocery store cashier.
  • Your average pastor or priest.
  • A project manager in some IT shop.
  • A stay at home mom.
  • A taxi driver.
  • A doctor.
  • A lawyer.
  • A welfare repeat user.
  • The guy who picks up your garbage.
  • A fashion model.
  • A software developer.
  • A drug addict.
Reading through this list might make you whence. You may think that some may know better than others. It could be that the garbage truck driver does know more than the lawyer. In general, I really think that most people lack the wisdom and technical ability to select a president. We do however know people who we consider wise, who have proven themselves to one degree or another. I think that the electoral college should be made up of these wise people. We should elect these people to choose our president.

Another degree of separation with which I would be very comfortable is to have the state legislatures themselves choose the members of the electoral college. One side benefit is that the state legislature would be better watched by the people. As it is now, it seems that the people are more focused on the Congress in Washington than the legislatures in their own states.

Bottom Line: The American public is not fit to elect an American President. They are more fit, to elect an American Idol.

State Owned Telecoms and ISPs - Not So Good Idea

The state owned telecom here in Costa Rica is ICE (pernounced /ee-say/). ICE also oversees RACSA, the state owned ISP. ICE is the only phone company in Costa Rica. RACSA is virtually the only ISP (they have given a concession to at least one cable ISP that I know of.) This cable ISP has the right to provide internet to about 10 or 20 city blocks in downtown Cartago.

Late December, a friend of ours agreed to lease me some space for an office. Immediately, we went to ICE to apply for a telephone line. Finally, during the first week of February the line was installed. It took them about 6 weeks! We got it this quick because we know someone in ICE and we kept hounding him. I still cannot use the office though because now, I'm waiting on ICE/RACSA to get the internet connection going for me!

We've been told that RACSA is out of internet ports. They're waiting on users to cancel their internet service, from there the port will be returned to a pool. There is a waiting list of at least a 1000 people in front of me. This is their story. We do have the option of transferring our existing port (that I'm using right now) from our home to the office. No word right now on when that can be done. 6 weeks ago, they gave me the impression that it would be something that could be done almost immediately. I'm still waiting........

This is just my case. How many other business people are suffering in Costa Rica because of this slow state-owned monopoly? Fortunately, there is an answer that will be coming in the future. That answer is competition via CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement.) I'm not really a proponent of this agreement because of concerns about eroding national sovereignties; however, this agreement is going to allow for competition to exist in the telecom industry here in Costa Rica. These companies are going to come in here and eat ICE's lunch. It will be a much welcomed change on my part.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Socialized Medicine is a BIGGER Problem

As many of you know, I am 100% against any kind of socialized medicine.

Reason #1
: Socialized Medicine is blatantly unconstitutional. The opening paragraph of the Constitution says (my emphasis in bold):

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. "

Notice that the common defense is to be provided (that is a role of government); however, the general welfare is to be promoted (the government should do things to promote the general welfare of the citizens - not provide it) In many cases this is simply just getting out of the way of the private sector.

Also, notice the verbage: "and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity". Any act of the government confiscating property or income from one group of people and redistributing it to another is not a form of Liberty. It is a form of servitude or slavery.

Reason #2: It goes against basic economics - supply and demand. The more demand that exists for a service or a product the higher the price for that commodity.

If the Federal Government steps in to provide health care for the masses, the demand will increase. The poor and even parts of the middle class have absolutely no restraint. If they have something for free, they will abuse it. This abuse for health care will manifest itself in the over use of medical services. With this increase demand the prices of health care will go up. Doctor's and other medical professionals will be able to charge higher prices. There will even become a greater shortage of nurses.

Who will pay for these higher prices? Tax payers will in the form of higher taxes. Once the tax payers complain too much, government will then go back to the medical industry to set some kind of price controls. Once this happens, the quality of health care will plummet. It will be nothing like it is today.

Part of the problem with health care now is that the Federal government and the states already participate in socialized medicine to some degree. This has already caused the price of medical services to increase. In the cases where the government has a cap on what it pays out, doctors and hospitals regain their losses by charging a little more to other clients for other services.

The Solution
1. We need to get away from employer based health care.
A side benefit to this is that whatever the business sells will go down in value because the embedded cost of employee health care will not be present. Putting extreme pressure on someone to stay with an employer because of a child with some kind of illness is a knock against Liberty.
2. We need to quit using insurance for general doctor visits; this causes insurance premiums to be higher. When you take your car for an oil change or service, do you use your insurance?
3. HSAs appear like they may be part of the solution. HSAs are great in that we can save money tax free for medical expenses. Usually an HSA comes with a high deductible. We should only use insurance for worse case scenarios anyway. In doing this, insurance premiums will be much lower. Having something like a high deductible HSA makes sure that the user shows restraint on the use of medical services. This also helps the price of medical services go down in general.
4. Do not use tax money to buy medical services for anyone. If someone is too poor to go to the doctor, then I call on Christians to step up to see to it that the children of the poor are taken care of. In the US we have many great charities like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Why would a charity be better than the government? A charity helps insure some kind of restraint on many levels. With the government, a person is demanding for the service and does not see the true expense. With a charity a person generally feels more appreciative and will be less likely to abuse as they realize that the expense was paid for by a generous person. I also want to point out that the poor in the United States are wealthy compared to the poor in Bolivia, many parts of Africa, South East Asia and many other parts of the world. We don't have it that bad at all in the US.
5. Let the private sector solve this problem The government needs to back off a little bit and let the private sector step up. In a free market society, where a problem exists an enterprising person is not held back and can provide an economical solution. When you have a bunch of creative people competing with each other the price of that solution drops.

I'm interested in your comments. Please critique this and help me make this article better.