progressivelibertarian.comThe Progressive Libertarian

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Title:The Progressive Libertarian

Description:The political philosophy built on three simple tenets: 1) The power of the free markets to most efficiently distribute in a resource-constrained world. 2) The power of individual choice in making the best decisions collectively for society. 3) The need for govenment in insuring the success of the ...

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The Progressive Libertarian The Progressive Libertarian The political philosophy built on three simple tenets: 1) The power of the free markets to most efficiently distribute in a resource-constrained world. 2) The power of individual choice in making the best decisions collectively for society. 3) The need for govenment in insuring the success of the first two points. These three simple tenets are the basis for our view on every important issue that affects America today. Site Disclosures Privacy Policy Terms of Use Manifesto & Contact Us Categories Abortion Affirmative Action Budget Economy Elections Energy Government Pork Health Care Mortgage Crisis Taxes See More September 17, 2009 Health Care Debate With Obama's Heath Care Plan dominating the headlines, we have had several questions regarding our stance on publicly funded health care overall, and Obama's plan in particular. It is clear that the system is broken and needs to be improved. What we find particularly disturbing in the debate is the number of individuals that are adamant against government funded health care, yet you ask them how they feel about medicaid or medicare and they have a completely different answer - with many even covered by it! Overall, we would be in favor of a health care plan that is very different from the current system. Fitting with the Progressive Libertarian platform, the goals would be: * to let the free market operate much more efficiently than the bureaucratic and opaque system currently in place * encourage individual responsibility and personal choice for health care decisions * have the government take an active roll in making sure individuals are insured against a catastrophic event Specifically: 1) All routine expenses would be paid out of pocket. If you want to control costs, make individuals take the money directly out of their own pocket to pay for it. This follows our tenet of putting the power of choice to the individual. 2) Increasing "price discovery" for health care services rendered. When was the last time you knew the exact amount you were paying for a medical service rendered? Is there any other item that you can think of that you would buy where you don't know what the cost is? And individuals wonder why health care costs have skyrocketed... "Price discovery" and "comparison shopping" are crucial to make health care a competitive market. 3) Having a government funded mandatory insurance program that covers "catastrophic events." There would be some large deductible -- call it the first $20,000. But, after that the government insurance pool would cover the costs beyond that. Making it mandatory would force all individuals to be covered. This is already done with vehicles and with homeowners. When you really think about it, isn't it actually shocking that it is not mandatory for something as potentially devastating as excessive health care costs? 4) Having the insurance program be revenue-cost neutral. Being a mandatory program would disburse the costs across the population and the goal would be to have it revenue-cost neutral. The key question for society is at what level is the cost-benefit (i.e. taxes vs. services rendered) trade-off maximized. Overall, the #1 cause of bankruptcy in America is a catastrophic health care event. Having the government provide support for this "Reverse Lottery Ticket" is consistent with the Progressive Libertarian philosophy. This insurance could still conceivably be done through the private sector as well (as is the case with car insurance or home owners insurance). Without question, the crucial and most difficult question of the health care debate -- which surprising no one ever seems to talk about -- is "How much is a human life worth?" There are numerous related questions that stem from trying to come up with a quantifiable figure for something that is conceptually very difficult to assign a dollar value. Specifically, while we have the technology to prolong life, there is a cost -- and in some cases, a prohibitively high cost -- in doing so. Obviously, if it is you or a family member that is dying, it is impossible to assign a monetary value to prolonging that life. But, for society and government, there is an inherent trade-off on the tax versus the benefit. As an example, the value to society in doing an expensive operation to a child is much greater than the value of a similar operation to someone over 70 years old. As such, it makes sense to have an objective rule for the insurance plan that will spend significantly less once an individual is past the "productive" part of the life cycle. Perhaps surprisingly, there have been a number of economic studies that have come up with implied values that individuals assign to their life, with most ranging in the $50k-$200k range. Such a figure would be an obvious starting point for the discussion of where the cap should take place and the cost-benefit trade-off that makes the most sense for society overall. Posted at 02:51 PM in Health Care | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0) May 01, 2008 Tax Platform The income tax system began in 1913 as a two-page form backed by 14 pages of law. Today, we have over 700 different forms, nearly 300 publications, and more than 17,000 pages of law. Tax law is the epitome of unchecked government bureaucracy growth. It is time to create a much more efficient system, that minimizes time spent in providing, collecting, and enforcing the tax code. We would recommend taking a gradual approach over a 10-20 year horizon that increasingly moves towards the following five goals: * Move Towards Flat Income Tax - Goal is to make 10% flat tax. Flat tax kicks in at prescribed income minimum -- call it $25,000, which is adjusted for inflation every year. First $25,000 there is no tax. After that, flat tax rate. * Federal Consumption Tax - Implement 10% Federal consumption tax. You want to increase saving, tax consumption. In addition, is a way to tax non-reported income. Recommend not taxing groceries and possibly other necessities. * Equalize Tax Rates on Income and Capital - There are few more regressive tax policies than the differing tax treatment of capital gains, dividends, and income in the U.S. All would be taxed at same 10% rate. * Significantly Simplify Tax Code: Essentially get rid of all tax write-offs, credits, and deductibiles. One page, that includes all income, dividends, and capital gains, along with tax owed. * Get Rid of Corporate Income Tax: More money is spent on avoiding the tax than is collected. Corporations are simply pass-through organizations anyway, with many corporations now getting around taxes through LLC organizations. Conceptually, the double-taxation issues has created very inefficient choices that would be better served by getting rid of the corporate tax all together. Posted at 02:07 PM in Taxes | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0) April 01, 2008 Abortion Platform The official stance of PL is "anti-abortion." Our view is that abortion is more a very unfortunate result, not the underlying problem -- the problem is largely a lack of effective birth control. Thus, the real platform stance for PL is very Pro Birth Control. Basically, the goal is to end unwanted pregnancies, and thus to significantly reduce the use of abortion as a form of birth control. It is an unwinable debate on when human life "officially" begins, but it is clear than even at conception, "it" is something that has characterics of other living creatures. And every form of life has importance, that is difficult to put a price on. Most would value human life more than other animals, and the further along a pregnancy gets, the more it resembles a human. As such, PL remains commited to laws that outlaw late-term abortions, while still providing choice for early pregnancies. The platform is based on three tenets: * Increased Education -- in schools, one-on-one with doctors, and other resources. * Increased Access and Affordability to Birth Control Options * Increased Government Funding for High-Risk Young Women Posted at 02:31 PM in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0) February 13, 2008 Pigou Club Manifesto Greg Makiw has interesting approach regarding the current "energy crisis." Make it more expensive. The reasoning makes a lot of sense and is right along the PL philosophy of where government intervention is needed. Posted at 01:00 PM in Energy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0) February 12, 2008 The Stimulus Package is a Huge Waste The stimulus package looks to come in around $168 bln this summer. Greg Mankiw's blog had an interesting take, suggesting that the hope that the package will add 50,000 jobs works out to $336,000 per job. A big part of t he groundswell for politicians is it being a political year. In addition, the success of the stimulus package for 2003 also likely has politicians quick to grab for the holster. We would argue that 2003 was very different. Fundamental conditions were in place -- with interest rates at the lowest in history -- but "fear" was holding back act ivity. The 2003 stimulus package effectively provided a much needed kick-start. But now, there are clearly imbalances that need to be unwound. This stimulus package will be a one-off spend, leaving us in the same predicament, with a much worse debt situation. Here is also a link to Economist expectations regarding the impact of the stimulus package, from the Philly Fed. Posted at 09:22 PM in Budget | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) Time to Remove Farm Subsidies One of the best times to make strategic legislative change is when things are good -- specifically, towards smaller government. For example, it would have made a lot of sense to reduce the housing subsidies/tax write-offs that are currently in place when the housing market was booming from 2002-2005. But, with that makret now significantly reversing, that will not occur anytime soon. One area that is still booming is food prices. Now would be a great time to reduce the subsidies on all farm products. Posted at 08:31 PM in Government Pork | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) Dutch Study on Obese A recent Dutch study found that it costs more to provide medical care for healthy people than the obese or smokers, who tend to live shorter lives. This is similar to the idea that smokers subsidize health care for healthy people, because smokers rarely live long enough to get full extent of their benefits. The pure libertarian might say "let them eat twinkies or smoke then," or worse "let's give it to 'em." But, for the PL, the general health of the poplulation is something that really can not be quantified by the market. Some kind of government intervention makes a lot of sense here. In addition, an argument can be made that the cost of smoking or obese goes well beyond just a health care cost issue -- such as smelling smoke or sitting next to the "fat guy" on the plane. We would argue for getting rid of subsides that may be contributing the fattening of America, as well as increased education. Posted at 08:26 PM in Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) Q&A with Author of "The Fattening of America" One of our favorite blogs, Freakonomics, has Q&A with the Author of "The Fattening of America." One of the most interesting parts in the article is that the "...government should revisit past policies that may have inadvertently helped promote the rise in obesity rates. I point not only to our agricultural subsidy policies for farmers, but also to zoning laws that discourage pedestrian transportation, subsidies to employers for providing health insurance, and even the existence of the Medicare program. All of these in some way blunt the incentives to invest in prevention, be it for obesity or other conditions." We, at PL, agree wholeheartly. Posted at 08:15 PM in Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) February 07, 2008 Moral Hazard a Key Problem in Mortgage Crisis The Economist has a great write-up on the role securitization played in the mortgage crisis. Note the idea of "moral hazard" has always been a part of the insurance business. As "insurance" has spread, so to has moral hazard. In a sense, this moral hazard problem is also the crux of the problem with health care. Here is the link to that article: http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10641119&fsrc=RSS Posted at 12:55 PM in Mortgage Crisis | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) January 25, 2008 NY Times Endorses Hillary, McCain The NY Times editorial board have decided that Clinton and McCain are America's best choices for the Democratic and Republican parties. They only news here is Clinton over Obama, with the experience of Clinton appearing to be the deciding factor. The fact the NY Times even selects a Republican nominee is a joke, given its stance on issues. The Republican choice essentially boiled down to, who is the least conservative -- especially on social issues. Posted at 09:19 AM in Elections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) Next ? Archives September 2009 May 2008 April 2008 February 2008 January 2008 Subscribe to this blog's feed

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