If you want to fix our infrastructure see the unseen – opinion

Written by D.P Trot for the Telegraph.

With the President creating a Commission on infrastructure and both parties nominally supporting greater infrastructure it is perhaps worth looking at whether we need more federally-run infrastructure in the first place or whether a new approach is needed.

The most obvious argument for reform and against more federally-run infrastructure is its cost. As Tracy Gordon of the Urban‐​Brookings Tax Policy Center  found “Put bluntly: the costs of US infrastructure are too damn high.” According to her estimates, “the United States is home to the “four most pricey per kilometre rail and majority‐​tunnel projects in the world”.  Yet that estimate is not truly indicative of the true cost of federal and more broadly government infrastructure failures.

The best example of this sort of failure is the TSA. Ever since Congress chose to create the agency in the wake of 9/11, our security has arguably deteriorated. There is plenty of statistical evidence that stringent and invasive screening procedures do very little to increase public safety, with one study reporting that TSA failed to report up 95% of all drugs, weapons and other prohibited items.  Yet another good example is how the initial costs of training and putting together TSA’s initial force were estimated to be around $100 million, yet the final cost was multiple times that.

Previous Congressional inquiries recognised these shortcomings with one report stating that the TSA is “costly, counterintuitive, and poorly executed”  and slamming the agency for an “enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy”. Sadly the same can be said for many other similar federal endeavours. Sclerotic bureaucracy has long haunted “human infrastructure” projects with large swathes of the newly amalgamated HHS department being the prime example of this. The Department of Education with its lofty goals of promoting student achievement and ensuring equal access has achieved the exact opposite of its goals. Programs like Common core have been resounding failures,  federal student aid even more so.

Ever since the introduction of federal education subsidies tuition costs have sharply risen. Now for every dollar spent on federal aid for higher education, prices increased by 65 cents. If the supposed crisis was a fire, then throwing taxpayer dollars at higher education in hopes of driving down tuition costs is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

Another good example of this federal dysfunction are student loans.  Student loans have contributed substantially to rising tuition costs and have high default rates. Overall close to a fifth of all borrowers have defaulted on their student loans. Specific programs like PLUS not only suffer from high default rates and have been found to expose poorer students of colour and their families to disproportionate financial risks. 

Analyses by the left-leaning New America think tank found that there are very substantial racial disparities baked into PLUS. low-income African-American families, in particular, are borrowing PLUS at much higher rates than their white counterparts. outcomes are equally problematic, the PLUS program actually leaves Black borrowers worse off financially as 12 years after entering college, a median black borrowers still owe more than the original amount initially borrowed.

Not only does federal involvement increase tuition costs, exacerbate racial inequalities, but the entire student loan program may end up losing the taxpayer money..  The federal student loan programs may have had a noble goal of “making college education possible”, but ultimately it was their efforts that ended up doing the exact opposite, exploding tuition costs and trapping millions of people under mountains of debt. Ironically the law that started it all the 1958 National Defence of Education Act was aimed to counter the USSR’s perceived edge in education has driven many young people to detest the very system it was supposed to preserve.

In the same vein, most federally-backed rail and mass transit projects also face similar hurdles. Amtrak for one continues to lose both ridership and hundreds of millions for the American taxpayer. To put this into perspective out of the 44 lines Amtrak operated 41 lost the taxpayer money. For every passenger serviced amtrak on average loses $32 and that is excluding losses from the food services and other hidden costs like the $1 billion COVID relief fund Amtrak received in 2020. It is worth noting that even after receiving these funds Amtrak leadership still lobbied for a larger bailout from the federal government.

The same can also be said for most mass transit projects. Mass Transit ridership in most cities has been on the decline since the mid-2010s, despitebillions in federal subsidies. This decline is particularly apparent in the areas that are supposed to benefit from mass transit the most. Cities like Los Angeles have seen their ridership fall by over a quarter. Even where a city could conceivably benefit from mass transit, the federal government still incentivises costly and inefficient solutions like light rail over more flexible and cheaper systems like busses.

Yet picking winners and losers in this fashion had yet another more devastating consequence. In the early 20th century most mass transit systems like streetcars and buses were privately owned and operated. Where there was a genuine need for public transport systems, developers and utility companies stepped in and provided public transport. Then came the New Deal Era and mass government intervention. The federal goverment started allocating increasingly generous sums to inefficient and increasingly corrupt public transport agencies, which resulted in most transit systems being ran by Washington diktat and funded via lavish subsidies. In fact mass transit is the most subsidized mode of transportation.

The erosion of private-sector competition combined with top-down management has resulted in mass transit becoming inefficient and reliant on subsidies,  creating the system we know and hate today.

In all of these cases, the federal “cure” ended up being worse than the perceived “disease”. Tens of billions of dollars were thrown at either poorly understood or relatively minor problems, exacerbating existing problems and creating a vicious cycle of sorts. A successful private system is replaced by an inefficient federally ran or subsidized alternative. Then when the federal solution inevitably starts to fail lawmakers instead of owning up to their mistakes call for even more spending or “oversight” to try and counter the perceived failure, inevitably making the problem worse. This failure isn’t confined to just traditional infrastructure, in the healthcare sector federal preferences and policies have created a broken system, only for that system to be used to justify a federal takeover of the healthcare sector.

This is indicative of a much larger problem with the federal government itself.  The goverment is by design terribly inefficient and prone to corruption it is. On a grander scale, the federal government is held down by political realities and its massive bureaucracy. Too often are decisions made on the basis of not merit or economic efficiency, but rather political expediency. Bureaucracy constitutes another major problem with federal intervention. When FEMA stepped in to fund fire stations in Texas, the project ended up being delayed by over a year, due to a number of unnecessary regulatory and impact reviews. Thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars ended up being wasted, due to arbitrary federal requirements.

That is not to say that we should forego infrastructure entirely. There are plenty of tried and true ways to replace our current failing model through robust public-private and private solutions. We can absolutely fix our current system we just need to see the unseen.

We know what what divides us,but where can we find a consensus? – opinion

US: Whistleblower claims White House attempted cover-up
Written by D. P. Trot for the Telegraph

One of the constants of our system of governance is the prevalence of the divided goverment. It is rather difficult for one party or even a coalition to hold a lasting trifecta, particularly following the Consolidation and sweeping reforms like the introduction of list seats, the near-total eradication of gerrymandering and the Consolidation of States which has since made most Senate races far more competitive. Yet a trifecta is not a guarantee of legislative success as most legislation can be easily blocked by a filibuster or simply vetoed by a President. In truth, it is extremely difficult for a single party or grouping to control the federal government, let alone get substantial legislation and reforms passed through both chambers of Congress and signed off by the President.

The Senate, in particular, has long been the burial ground of many major pieces of legislation such as the abolition of the Electoral College and the Republican-led efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Many pundits and politicians on all sides of the political spectrum including former President Trump and progressives like Elizabeth Warren have been quick to pin this perceived political “gridlock” or dysfunction on the Senate’s structure, calling for major reforms such as the abolition of the filibuster or the reformation of the filibuster into a “talking filibuster”. Yet many would argue rather than a bug that this is a unique and ultimately beneficial feature of our system. Historically a divided government always necessitates compromise. In the words of the founding fathers, the Senate was to be a “cooling saucer”, a place that helped moderate radical legislation passed by the popularly-elected House of Representatives and slow it down, fostering compromise and bipartisanship.

This need for compromise and bipartisanship is especially true in the context of the most recent Congress, which at the time of writing this article has a 7-3 Democratic supermajority in the Senate and the House is controlled by a Republican-Green coalition by a substantial 23-14 margin. The White House also sees a return to Republican hands as former Senate Minority Leader Adith_MUSG and former Senator from Fremont RMSteve are sworn into their respective posts.

With all that being said it may be worth looking at what the 119th Congress and the 47th POTUS could achieve together and, which issues Congress could likely compromise on.

The first order of business for any Congress is to elect its leadership. Here it should come as no surprise that the respective groupings will elect their respective leadership on party-line votes, with former Governor Of Superior CitizenBarnes becoming Senate Majority Leader and Liberty Republican IthinkthereforeIflam being the favourite for the Speaker of the House. Where things may get trickier are with cabinet confirmations. To say that the current Administration doesn’t see eye to eye with progressively-minded Democratic Senate would be an understatement, if recent press activity is anything to go by. Whether cooler heads prevail and we have a functional cabinet remains to be seen.

Should they prevail it may also be possible to address the long-standing issue of immigration reform. The president has long been an advocate for immigration reform, authoring legislation like the S.19 Southern Border Immigration Reform and Overhaul Act and has recently issued a moratorium on the deportation of certain aliens. Should the President and the Senate Democrats find common ground it is plausible that we may see S.19 reintroduced and consequently passed in this session of Congress in an early victory for the administration and all 3 parties in Congress. 

When considering the dynamics at play in the most recent Congress it is first worth looking at the internal makeup of the parties in question. While the Democrats may have taken a far more unified front the same cannot be said for the Green-GOP coalitions, both of which are more internally diverse with the Republicans being predominantly split between the party’s more traditionally-minded Conservative wing and the fledgling libertarian wing. The same observation can be made for the Green’s federal and various state-level parties being host to both mainstream moderate and progressive elements and a more esoteric Christian-democratic wing spearheaded by the former Superior Assembly Speaker PGF3.

While it is difficult to predict the exact outcomes of every upcoming vote it is not unreasonable to assume that more Liberty-minded Republicans may be inclined to support many Democratic and Green civil libertarian and social liberal positions, with the progressive-liberal alliance being able to perhaps decriminalize marijuana or help rein in the worst excesses of the surveillance state. Equally some degree of justice reform could be on the table assuming that enough Liberty-leaning Republicans in the House are willing to work with their progressive peers to bring such efforts to fruition. It is also reasonable to assume that the progressive members of the Green party in the House and the Senate could work with the Democrats to deliver on progressive priorities like universal healthcare, the Green New Deal and a higher minimum wage.

Similarly, the moderates may also band together, perhaps under the banner of the Problem Solver Caucus to push for moderate solutions to pressing issues such as infrastructure, climate change and healthcare policy.

 One area, which arguably may see relatively little progress this term is gun control as the Republicans and their Democratic counterparts have perhaps drifted too far apart to push for a consensus solution that would garner broad support in the House. and have the backing of the President.

 Of all these legislative priorities however foreign policy may perhaps be the greatest unknown. At a surface level, it may appear as if the newly sworn-in Congress may have somewhat of a pacifist bend with the Democrats being reluctant to take a more active stance in foreign affairs and the Liberty Republicans being in principle solidly committed to non-interventionism. However, there remain a few dark horses such as Atlantic’s Junior Senator Cody5200 who despite being a Liberty Republican has endorsed a number of interventionist policies, endorsing S.17 Standing against Chinese Aggression Act and calling for greater military spending. It’s also difficult to predict how some of the more moderate members of Congress would vote on any foreign policy-related legislation.  

However the executive also plays a major role in our foreign policy and the new President /u/Adith_MUSG and his administration is committed to maintaining an active foreign policy outlook so, barring any major Congressional action with regards to the President’s foreign policy prerogatives it’s likely that this term will see the continuation of the past Administration’s interventionist approach to foreign policy.

In the same vein, it is also difficult to tell whether and how a potential federal shutdown could be averted. On paper, it appears as if it may be impossible to deliver a fiscally responsible budget deal that pleases everyone in the heavily polarized and ideologically fractured federal government. The progressive and libertarian wings of both parties have vastly different goals with regards to the budget and there is only so much that can be achieved with the current budget without resorting to politically inconvenient measures such as further tax raises, deficit spending or cuts to spending either to relatively popular programs or to national defence. All of these options are likely to face stiff opposition from both their detractors on Capitol Hill and the American electorate at large.

While there are certainly many unknowns it is clear that there are issues where real progress can be made in the coming in the coming weeks and months. Yet what is also certain is that it will be interesting to see how Congressional leaders try to square this circle to make that progress…

“Make America a better, freer place.”- A sitdown with Adith_MUSG

Ro Khanna Interview: The Internet Bill of Rights | GQ
John Kramer with the TG interviews Senator Adith

Backdated to 07/23/2021

As the race for the White House is heating up I’ve sat down with /u/Adith_MUSG to talk policy. Among the issues discussed were foreign policy, the economy and Adith’s plans to unite and revitalise the Republican Party.

As a more socially conservative candidate, how do you intend to accommodate the growing Libertarian and moderate movements within the traditionally conservative Republican Party?

Well, here’s the objective fact, John. Politicians may be libertarian, but the electorate is still staunchly conservative. We want to fight back in the battles of the culture war: see for example state-mandated critical race theory in schools in Greater Appalachia, and a proposal to do so hidden within the Dixie majority budget as proposed by the Governor, and my opponent, Tripplyons.

We need to fight back against the people bastardizing the struggle for racial parity by claiming that somehow America itself is racist. I regret to say that a significant number of my Libertarian colleagues somehow believe this too. The United States may have had a legacy of racism, with slavery, atrocities against the Native population, with Jim Crow and with other policies. But we’ve figured things out, and the fact remains that any middle-class American today can get where they need to get if they put in work, if they take care of their finances, and if the government stays the hell out their way.

I think that the voters know that. I think that the Libertarians know that as well. We can work together if we acknowledge the reality that the Democrats are actively taking part in the degeneration of society. Being supportive of illicit drugs, removing protections for people from the intentional transmission of AIDS, shoving radical race theories upon literal children, it’s absolutely goddamn disgusting what they’re doing.

We need leadership at the top to fight that. If a libertarian candidate, like my friend DDYT, can do that, then it’s great. But as of now, I believe that my campaign and our movement offers the best counter to the madness.

If polling is to be believed, the Republican Party is lagging behind the Democrats in most states. How do you intend to ensure, as both a presidential candidate and a high-ranking leadership member, that the GOP appeals to a broad section of voters?

What did President Nixon say a while ago? He talked about a “silent majority”. After Donald Trump, I know that a lot of conservatives nationwide are disillusioned. They may believe that the election was stolen, or that there isn’t a future for conservatism in this country.

My campaign has seen unprecedented success with minority groups: that’s a good sign that we’re expanding our coalition. What we need to do now is bring the working-class Trump conservative back on board, and I believe I can do that without resorting to Trumpian tactics. 

As a leader of the Republican Party, I’d say that we should keep doing what we’re doing. We made gains in the midterms in the House, and we made gains in the recent state elections. Slowly but surely, people are waking up. They’re waking up to the reality that Democrat control of this country is a ticket to hell. Their votes reflect this. Look at Dixie, for 

example. The GOP has polled with the largest vote share in the Assembly for two consecutive elections. And nationwide, people are realizing: why are we accepting leftist tyranny as the norm? If we can appeal to people’s desire for freedom from the statist Democrat machine, we can win elections and make America a better, freer place.

The GOP is currently in the minority both in the House and the Senate. As President what actions would you take to change this and should the Democrats continue to have majorities both in the House and Senate how would you get your priorities through? What are some areas where you believe a Compromise with the Democrats can be reached?

Well, obviously I can’t change the makeup of Congress as President! Chuckles. Nah, I do believe that Congress stands a solid chance of flipping, in both chambers. People are tired, tired of the House Democrats crippling our law enforcement and hurting our national defence. Look at China: they exploited the underfunding of our armed forces to practically invade our territorial waters.

I worked extensively with President Ninja on our response to them, and I continue to work with the President on this. I am seeing firsthand that the destruction of our armed forces has terrible repercussions.

If Congress refused to play ball would you lean on executive action to get things done?

Look, ideally, things need to get through Congress. I believe in the separation of powers, and I know that going through Congress is the best way to get things done. But the fact remains that if the Democrats continue to use Congress as a boot to step on the neck of working-class Americans, I will need to intervene. An impressive regulatory state has been created by Congress over the years, but with a few Executive Orders, it is possible to utilize this regulatory power to deregulate. If Congress doesn’t “play ball” I fully intend to do this.

Hypothetically let’s travel across the Atlantic. What is your message to the European leaders? If elected how do you expect your leadership to change our approach to European policy? Would you stick with the current administration’s approach and focus on Asia or would you re-focus our foreign policy on Europe?

First of all, I’d like to say that the Sino-centric policies of this Administration have been fantastic. The Chinese Communist Party is the world’s next great evil, and we must stop them from harming millions before it is too late. 

That being said, I’d like to work more extensively with NATO to counter Russian aggression. We can cooperate even more, especially on Arctic policy. Let’s repair the damage to our greatest alliance that President Trump dealt, and let’s move forward as one bloc, defending democracy worldwide. 

NATO has stood by us in our time of need: let’s reciprocate the favor. Let’s bring Ukraine to NATO. And specifically within NATO, let’s improve our relationships with the Visegrad Alliance nations. America can and should be a force for good worldwide, and that includes defending democracies in Europe.

If you somehow became President but could enact one policy, what would that be?

God, this is hard. [Chuckles.] I would probably want to reduce taxes across the board, and, if I can cheat on this question, I’d also want to restore the Defense budget to 700 billion USD. We need to divest from the welfare state and focus on allowing the free market to work its wonders. I think that would be my priority.

The problem with H.R. 18 – opinion

Border Patrol Agent Family Network Offers Support Through Job's Stresses,  Sacrifices – Homeland Security Today

Written by D.P Trot for the Model Telegraph

When H.R. 18, was first read in the House of Representatives the bill piqued my curiosity as one of the relatively few bipartisan attempts at addressing the immigration crisis. However, there is a number of issues with the bill that may have the opposite effect – unwillingly intensifying the immigration crisis and diluting precious resources that could have been to much better use.

At the core of HR 18 are two funds that provide incentives for citizens and Border Patrol agents with additional funding allotted per each successful deportation or apprehension. This by design creates a perverse incentive for ICE and CBP agents to actively seek out and arrest migrants (whether they be legal or illegal) with very little regard for the nuances of a particular case or even the welfare of the apprehended themselves. Yet the bill goes further by paying civilians to snitch on their neighbours without any semblance of probable cause. Not only would this be wholly ineffective at actually tackling illegal immigration as we can’t reasonably expect uninformed civilians to make reliable determinations with regards to someone’s immigration status, but it would further inflame racial tensions in our communities and create an atmosphere of paranoia at a time where the exact opposite is needed to fix the border crisis.

 Now combine this atmosphere of snitching with a system where agents are actively paid for hunting down and deporting as many immigrants as humanely possible with little to no consideration of national security and civil rights interests and you can see the problem.

Yet even putting aside the stark civil rights implications of incentivising snitching trigger-happy immigration enforcement there is a very clear practical downside to this bill that anyone who believes in secure borders rejects this bill out of hand. HR 18 incentivises apprehensions and deportation with no regard as to the threat posed by the individuals being detained. Therefore it is highly likely that when faced with the choice of receiving the same relatively small payout for apprehending or deporting an MS-13 member or a migrant overstaying their visa, an agent will simply go for the “low-hanging fruit” first.

This is further compounded by ICE’s ever-shrinking resources, our immigration system has a finite capacity to detain and process individuals, yet HR 18 would actively incentivise more apprehensions regardless of whether the individuals being detained need to or should be apprehended in the first place. In other words, HR 18 would put an even greater burden on both immigration enforcement and our immigration courts while offering no tangible benefit. This coupled with the massive immigration court backlog could result in hundreds if not thousands of non-violent offenders being needlessly arrested, diluting increasingly scarce resources that could have been otherwise used to tackle real cross-border threats to national security.

However, even if you disagree with everything I’ve just said, consider this – the bill only pays the agent who has carried out the apprehension without rewarding the thousands of other DHS and DOJ employees involved in the deportation process , undermining even its own goal of rewarding deportations.

 Even putting aside the issue of illegal immigration in the present, H.R. 18 is could easily it could be weaponised against the states by a Democratic federal government. H.R. 18 specifically creates provisions to “reclaim” border areas, that is to bar state agents from entering these zones, to give the federal government dominion over these lands. What this ignores however is that there are legitimate reasons for state police or National Guard units to operate this close to the border. It is theoretically possible that this law could be used to gut border enforcement in an (M: not-so) hypothetical scenario where the Federal government, whether through sheer incompetence or deliberate action fails to enforce our immigration laws. In that case, it would be perfectly reasonable if not necessary for the states to take up the mantle of immigration enforcement, either directly like Arizona tried to back in 2010 or indirectly through the application of state trespass laws Sure, pre-emption of immigration law is nothing novel as the Supreme Court ruled back in 2010 when it struck parts of the aforementioned SB 1070, but at least under the status quo it is in principle possible for the states themselves to try and protect themselves indirectly through smuggling and trespass laws..H.R. 18 however well-intentioned it may be would make such enforcement actions impossible, giving the federal government carte blanche to open our borders with no recourse for the states themselves. 

Moreover, since the bill does not specifically ban state-employed LEOs from, but issues a blanket ban on agents employed by the state this could be interpreted as banning most if not all state employees including even those who have nothing to do with immigration effectively making them ungovernable.

This is further compounded by the author not defining the border zone resulting in a fairly problematic legal ambiguity as to which border this bill ought to apply to, opening the door to the ban being extended to the coastal areas which technically do fall under what’s known as external boundaries. Of course, the definition adopted by H.R. 18 only refers to a 5-mile zone rather than a 100-mile zone, but the bill itself is silent on which “borders” would actually fall under the state agent ban. Realistically these provisions should probably only affect the Southwest land border as it would make little sense to apply these policies to other boundaries.

It is also worth noting that ICE heavily relies on local and state law enforcement for its operations, so excluding them would even further dilute scarce DHS resources , brnging into question the cost-effectiveness of this bill.

Moreover, the bill allocates close to $11 billion within the first year of its operation. For comparison, the entire Customs and Border protection operations budget is $11 billion, while ICE only received a billion in operational funding. This is before we even consider the sorry state of the immigration courts and detention facilities both of which require substantial investment if they are to handle the ever-growing 1.2 million backlog of cases. Even the 2006 Secure Fence Act and the infamous border wall project could probably cost far less than this Act, both in the long and short run. There are much better and cost-effective ways to spend over $11 billion on immigration enforcement. That is not to say however that HR 18 is complete without merit, there is a case to be made for improving agents’ pay, especially in the light of historically low morale in the DHS, but that is only a part of the equation, not the whole solution to the border crisis.

When it comes to fixing our healthcare regulatory reform is our best bet – opinion

Aldous Huxley Foresaw America's Pill-Popping Addiction with Eerie Accuracy  ‹ Literary Hub

Written by D. P. Throt for the Telegraph.

One of the biggest problems facing US consumers is drug prices. According to the RAND Corporation drugs in the United States cost around 2.56 times more than they do elsewhere in the world and this is just an average value. Brand named drugs on the other hand is around 3.44 times pricier here than they are in the rest of the developed world. Prescription drugs make up a fifth of the costs associated with healthcare and hence drug prices are one of the roadblocks on the road to achieving cheaper and truly universal healthcare. One of the least controversial ways to at least partly reduce this problem and consequently the costs would be to repeal the current ban on reimportation of drugs into the United States so that we could at least partly deal with the mounting costs of prescription.

To win FDA approval for a new drug, a company spends around 15 years on certification and invest 2-3 billion in research and development costs before the drug or therapy reaches the American consumer. The FDA approval process makes it incredibly difficult to approve a drug, let alone to bring it to market resulting in substantial R&D costs that are then offloaded onto the consumer.

These costs are further exacerbated by a stark lack of competition within the healthcare markets. Flaws in our drug patent laws allow many drugs that were discovered decades ago to stay under patent for decades to come This also is tied into another problem, some drug makers have been repackaging and introducing incremental improvements into their products. These changes are then patented and used to effectively patent certain drugs indefinitely and since there are substantial costs associated with the litigation of such meritless patents many companies simply find it unprofitable to try and bring new drugs to the market. This is such an issue that a study found that drug prices for the 12 most grossing drugs increased by 68% with some of the worst offenders seeing their prices spiked by over 100%, due to a lack of competition caused by these artificial monopolies.

These flaws have allowed drugmakers like AbbVie to choke off competition, costing consumers reliant on these drugs thousands of dollars every year.

All of this results in pharmaceutical and insurance companies being all but discouraged from innovating and incentivised if not forced to offload these costs onto US consumers resulting in significantly higher drug prices. There are also other very significant opportunity costs associated with the status quo such as a lack of innovation as well as substantial costs to the US taxpayer through healthcare mandates, taxes and skyrocketing insurance premiums that chip away at Americans’ disposable incomes.

There are several ways we could address this regulatory issue. For one we could look into liberalising our system in line with countries such as Japan where it takes just weeks to get an investigational drug approved.

 Alternatively, we could strip the FDA of its certification authority and allowing individuals and healthcare providers to freely use any drugs they desire while treating shoddy drugs as either consumer protection issues or by shifting certification into the private sector entirely. The latter approach has already been piloted under the so-called right to try laws, which have allowed the terminally ill access to experimental treatments and therapies not yet approved by the FDA.

This way we could remove one of the most substantial bottlenecks present in our system. Some would argue that such a laissez-faire approach could endanger lives, but the FDA’s cautious approach already puts lives at risk as the administration has a strong incentive to take an incredibly precautionary approach to most drugs as the regulator can be punished for any deaths that occurred caused by the drug after certification (type I error). Yet similar penalties do not exist for type II errors, that is deaths incurred as a result of the FDA failing to approve or certify efficacious drugs that could, if deployed, save millions of lives. 

Another fairly easy and inoffensive reform that could be pursued would be to allow competition across state lines. Currently, the bulk of regulatory costs faced by insurers come from the states themselves and thus by allowing consumers to purchase coverage from outside their home states would allow us to not only shatter the mono and oligopolies that have formed in many states but also create powerful incentives for state legislatures to remove unnecessary mandates and regulations that impose unnecessary costs on American consumers.

A final and most crucial piece of regulatory reform is addressing the ever-growing shortage of doctors and other healthcare providers in the United States. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. As our population grows and Americans live longer lives this number is set to grow even further. Yet at the same time of the roughly 18 thousand students who applied 1,155 did not find a suitable residency program. This so-called residency bottleneck has been the topic of many debates and articles in the public eye. Yet what very few people realise is the amount of control the government currently has over the number of physicians. Take CMS, which provides payments to hospitals to hire their residents. This coupled with other restrictions have resulted in the Federal Government being able to effectively centrally plan the number of physicians and the COVID pandemic has shown us the federal goverment cannot respond to the shortage due to political gridlock. To eliminate this bottleneck we ought to take the government out of the equation by removing these subsidies and shift most aspects of licensing and certification into the private sector so that market forces can address the shortage.

Skilled immigration is another crucial part of the equation. Currently, it is very difficult for doctors outside of the United States to practice medicine due to a number of restrictions imposed by a host of institutions. Most of these regulations offer very little in the way of quality and have been put in place as a result of extensive lobbying efforts by interest groups to prevent foreign competition. By removing these restrictions we could incentivise equally-skilled doctors to come to the US and practice here, thus increasing the supply of physicians and forcing American physicians and other healthcare providers to become more competitive.

Another reform that could easily be implemented would be for the federal goverment to compel states to recognise medical licenses issued in other states. This would have a twofold effect. First, it would make it easier for doctors to cross state lines and provide both in-person services and practice telemedicine while creating pressure to liberalise licensing and indirectly increase the number of residents.

Of course one could argue that by removing all of these barriers to entry and making it substantially easier for someone to practice medicine we could be opening the door to lower quality of care and more malpractice however studies have found that roughly a third of all doctors who made 10 or more malpractice payments were disciplined by their state board. It’s also worth noting that hospitals and other healthcare would continue to rely on certification. The only major difference would be that these standards would come solely from the private sector itself.

All of these regulatory reforms could help chip away at the $330 billion burdens that healthcare regulation places on the American consumers with little to no effect on the American taxpayer and could result in billions of dollars in net savings and increased tax revenue for both the states and the Federal government.

We need to talk about big agriculture – [op-ed]

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Written by D. P. Throt for the Telegraph

 One of the most contentious aspects of U.S. trade and domestic policies is the multitude of subsidies and other forms of direct and indirect assistance the United States provides to its farmers.  A recent bill proposal by /u/Darthholo, a Fremont Democrat has revived that discussion, proposing the creation of a national commission that would ostensibly promote the interests of American agriculture. In truth, they advocate nothing less than the total cartelization of the American farm sector, a controversial move unseen since the days of the New Deal.

Perhaps the most controversial of these proposals is the proposal to allow the Agricultural Trade and Development Commission to negotiate its own trade agreements.

How is a Commission made up of special interest groups supposed to fairly negotiate our trade agreements on behalf of the United States government? Particularly when the US already has a Trade Representative to handle such matters.

It’s also worth noting that most trade agreements cover like NAFTA and the USMCA cover far more than just agricultural exports and since this commission’s exclusive mandate is to promote the interests of the agricultural sector by maximising the revenue of said sector they would have every incentive to pursue one-sided deals that favour agricultural interests over the best interests of the remaining 99% of the US economy. It makes no sense to prioritise an increasingly small minority of stakeholders over businesses and industries that employ many times as many workers as the agricultural sector and make up the vast majority of our revenue.

It also makes no sense to have the commission or more accurately cartel negotiate its trade deals separately from the United States as a goverment-sanctioned entity. Not only would such a move undermine our credibility on the world stage and cause trade retaliation unseen since the days of the trade war with China, but the new agricultural cartel would lose the bargaining power of the rest of the US economy.

Giving the agricultural lobby these powers simply don’t make sense as not only would it result in American farmers losing bargaining power, but it would also cause resentment and give our competitors an excuse to set up similar bodies and discriminate against American exports at a time when the US should strive to maintain its position as a world leader in free trade.

Cartelising agriculture would also kill innovation and competition as there would be little if any incentive to improve as most if not all American farmers would have no other option, but to join the Commission would simply piggyback off its bargaining power and hike their prices to maximise profit. To make matters worse he the US already imposes substantial tariffs and other forms of state aid that all, but lock out the foreign competition so not only would the agricultural sector be free to provide an inferior product at inflated prices, but there would be very little that American consumers and businesses reliant on these goods could do about it.

Putting aside, the clear impracticalities of HR 32 in terms of hindering trade and competition there is also a far more problematic side to this bill that anyone committed to the principles of free-market and internationalism ought to reject the proposal out of hand.

As per the text of the Act, the Commission is empowered to impose binding quotas upon all of its members ostensibly to artificially manipulate the crop supply, allow it to drive out foreign competition only to then hike prices for not just foreign, but also domestic consumers. This would be particularly unfair towards consumers both at home and abroad as they would find themselves paying substantially more for the same goods., resulting in a wealth transfer from the to the large farming conglomerates at a time when largest farms already receive 85% of all USDA subsidies and farmers on average earn more than most Americans.

All of that brings me to a simple point. Why should the agricultural sector get special treatment at all? 

No one can deny that farming carries with it substantial risks, but so do most industries such as aviation, hospitality and high-tech industries. All three of these sectors are exposed to the same if not far greater risks than agriculture and yet they have managed to thrive without the Feds stacking the deck in their favour. Yet many continue to argue that mass intervention is needed to keep our agriculture afloat and competitive internationally.

There is plenty of evidence from New Zealand that this is not the case and that scrapping agricultural subsidies can improve the agricultural sector. In the 1970s and early 1980s, New Zealand was one of the most regulated and tightly controlled economies on the planet. This was also a time of crisis for the New Zealand economy as the country had lost its export market in Britain and faced rising oil prices. This was accompanied by goverment policies that shielded most industries from being exposed to foreign competition. In 1984 the country elected a majority Labour government, which oversaw a radical transition away towards a hands-off free-market agricultural policy.

Yet instead of the agricultural sector collapsing and the country plunging itself into famine as many lobbying groups would have one believe the agricultural sector simply became more productive and efficient. Total factor productivity growth in agriculture averaged 1.8% a year from 1972-84. Jumping to 4% per year between 1985 and 1998. Productivity growth in New Zealand’s agriculture sector outpaced that of the country itself. Land prices fell allowing younger Kiwis to become farmers and nowadays New Zealand’s agricultural sector manages to compete with our own highly subsidised and overregulated agriculture sector. New Zealand’s free-market experiment made farming more environmentally sustainable as farmers were incentivised to shift towards more cost-efficient less-polluting farming techniques and reduced their use of polluting fertilizers and improved water quality. Moreover, the policies of the Fourth Labour goverment allowed New Zealand’s agriculture sector to specialise and to move production to areas in which it had a comparative advantage in benefitting not only the farmers themselves but also consumers all around the world.

Compare this to the US model where roughly 40% of all farm income comes from government handouts and which needlessly incentivises the usage of environmentally damaging and cost-ineffective fertilisers and pesticides. Subsidisation has also resulted in the overproduction of crops, destruction of areas of natural beauty and a massive upward transfer of wealth away from American workers and productive businesses to a small minority of large agricultural conglomerates including some of the richest people in the country.

With many calling on Congress to address the historical inequalities and the New Zealand experience showing that American farmers can stand on their own two feet without the crutch of big government, Congress would do well to stop propping up Big Agriculture instead of embracing it as H.R. 32 proposes.

A Cursory Glance at Polls

Musicians to Be Exempt From California 'Gig Economy' Assembly Bill 5 -  Variety

M: written by /u/ch33mazrer all mods go to them.

With state elections coming soon, the nation is on edge. The state elections, arguably moreso than any federal election, will shape the lives of the American people and how they live every aspect of their lives. The first set of polls for this election have been published, and they reveal a lot about the politics of our nation today. 

While polls vary from state to state, one principle holds true throughout: The Democratic Party will, if the currently released polls hold true, gain ground or maintain ground in every single state assembly, will likely hold the Sierra Governorship, and will potentially claim the Governor spot in the state of Atlantic, defeating the only Republican governor nationwide. 

Most notable this election cycle is the state of Sierra, a traditionally Democrat area, even before the merger of 50 states into 5. The GOP has an incredibly small margin in the state assembly of 31%, a stunningly low amount for a major party, and it is only 11% higher than the Green Party’s 20%. Democrats are, as expected leading the race with 49% of the Assembly. The gubernatorial race for the state is also panning out as expected, with Democrat darthholo leading 58 to 42 against Republican, as well as Presidential candidate RMSteve.

The second state with a gubernatorial position open this cycle is the state of Atlantic, the only state with a Republican Governor. The incumbent, Atlantic Governor and Republican Mr. Fire, is tied with Democratic challenger Samd1ggitydog, each holding 45% of the vote. The green party candidate for the position, Senator Nazbol909, holds 10% of the vote at the time of the latest polls. The most notable candidate in this race is likely Senator Nazbol, who moved to Atlantic in order to run for the governorship. How her candidacy will affect the race in the upcoming days is unknown. However, if polls hold, it is safe to say that the victorious candidate will remain from either the Democratic or Republican parties.

All in all, this election cycle, much like the recent federal elections, is shaping up to be a good one for the Democrats. The only hope for Republicans seems to be to hold onto the Governorship in Atlantic, with a small but still notable chance for the governorship of Sierra, and to gain enough ground to prevent a supermajority in any state Assembly. However, this is only the first set of polls, and a lot can change between now and Election Day.

The invisible billionaires won’t pay for a Green New Deal, but you certainly will – opinion

U.S. House Financial Services Committee

Written by John Kramer for the Telegraph

As the Democratic primaries heat up, the progressive candidates focus on the one thing that has worked for them almost every time. since the age of the Great Depression allowed them to become successful – economic gpopulism, the old mantra of taxing the rich. Rhetoric aside, however. Could the Democrats actually roll out a Green new deal, universal healthcare and a slew of other spending pledges without raising taxes on the average Americans?

The short answer is no. The long answer is more complicated than the Democrats tell you. Most fact-checkers and experts can’t agree on any particular cost estimate for the Green New Deal. In fact, costing the GND is nigh impossible because it is in itself a non-binding motion that lacks substance. A series of vague and non-descript goals simply cannot be evaluated in the same way as Republican Tax Plans or other spending commitments outlined by Democrats in previous electoral cycles. Most back of the envelope estimates however put the cost as anywhere in between 6693 trillion dollars over 10 years or 9.3 trillion per year with Medicare 4 working out to be roughly 30-40 trillion of the entire 93 trillion package. To put into perspective the Social Security system currently pays out over 1 trillion dollars in benefits. The GND including universal healthcare would cost over 9 times that every year current federal expenditures notwithstanding.

When looking at these figures it is also worth appreciating what a Green New Deal would do the value of work itself. The text of the resolution calls for economic security to be provided to all individuals who are unable and unwilling to work. Statistics show that roughly a fifth of all American workers are passionate about their work and that over half of all workers dislike their jobs. It is impossible to accurately forecast how many of these people would leave the workforce if given the chance, but it is probably fair to assume that at least serveral million of them would simply abandon ship. The costs of providing them with “economic security” would be enormous.

Paying for such a fiscal bombshell is shaping up to be quite a challenge, which is why even advocates of the plan like Bernie Sanders proposed tax increases on everyone, not just the top 1% both in 2016 and during the 2020 Democratic Primaries. Under the 2020 Sanders plan, every single American would be slapped with a 4% surcharge on their income alongside a hefty increase in the payroll tax and corporate taxes all of which would eat away at the paychecks of every single American worker irrespective of their earnings. So much for taxing the rich and economic populism. Of course, these plans would be wholly insufficient to fund universal healthcare let alone all of the GND initiatives.

 When the Wallstreet Journal looked at how universal healthcare would actually be funded they found that the supposed Warren plan to finance it had more fudge in it than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. 

When the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget had examined the issue of Medicare 4 all they found out the only truly viable “ways” to fund Medicare 4 all is to impose a 42%  Value Added Tax, a 25% income surtax or impose a 32% payroll tax alongside existing income tax structures. As they also point out funding Medicare 4 all, let alone a Green new Deal through taxing the rich alone is simply not feasible as there

“is not enough annual income available among higher earners to finance the full cost of Medicare for All. On a static basis, even increasing the top two income tax rates (applying to individuals making over $207,000 per year and couples making over $414,000 per year) to 100 per cent would not raise $30 trillion over a decade. In reality, a tax increase that large would actually lose revenue because it would institute marginal tax rates above 100 percent when other taxes are incorporated – effectively requiring people to pay rather than be paid to work, earn business income, or sell capital assets. “ 


Of course, you could argue as both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have that a wealth tax, could offset the costs of this new spending. However, even if such a plan were to fund the Green New Deal it would come with many drawbacks of its own. Analyses vary, but according to the Tax Foundation, a wealth tax alone would shrink our GDP by as much as 0.43%, discourage investment and over double the trade deficit. They also find that a wealth tax would actually decrease revenue from income and payroll tax by as much $192 billion per annum offsetting many of the revenue gains from a wealth tax. Bluntly put, a wealth tax would be long-term pain for short-term gain. All of that pain would raise a paltry 2.7 trillion compared to the 66-93 trillion price tag for the GND mobilization.

There you have it folks it is simply impossible for us to fund Medicare 4 all let alone a Green New Deal through taxing the rich alone, but even if we were to accept all the questionable assumptions (including litigation outcomes , new job growth and a few other even more optimistic assumptions) made by the Saunders campaign and assumed that his tax plan is flawless we’d finance barely over a half of the estimated GND costs and that doesn’t include other harder to estimate costs like increased labour costs due to a hiked minimum wage , and cost overruns, the latter of which are all but guaranteed to happen to a federal project of such size.

Of course one could argue that not all of the costs of this new spending would have to be financed through taxation but through relatively cheap borrowing and job growth spurred by additional spending. Yet running perpetually large deficits in the trillions of dollars would saddle us with unmanageable (even by US standards) amounts of debt that would hang over future generations like a debt albatross with no end in sight. At some point in the future we’d find ourselves forced to balance the books , putting us right back at square one in terms of funding this spending.

With that in mind a question that any worker supporting the GND, Medicare 4 all or considering voting for a progressive Democrat should be asking themselves is whether they are willing to eat the greatest tax increase since World War 2 and whether they would be able to give up a third or even half of their paycheck in the process.

Of course, we don’t know what sort of plans the Democratic candidates will come up with nor how they will propose to finance them and it would be unfair to try and put words in their mouths. What we can say with absolute certainty however is that irrespective of how the Democrats will package their proposal it won’t be the “the wealthy in their New York estates” paying for it , but it will be every single American with a pulse who will foot the bill…

A Sit Down with AC-3 representative /u/cody5200


By Mike Oxlong for the Telegraph

What do you think about the recent spat between the Senate Minority and the newly-elected House Majority Leader?

Frankly, I think that the Minority Leader has brought up some very good points. The Democrats have proposed many radical, at times contradictory policies and he is completely right to point that out. Here in Atlantic, we have tens of thousands of people incarcerated, many of whom are felons. It is frankly ridiculous to expect my constituents to pay for these people after they have chosen to violate the social contract. The authors of the bill have tried to make the bill more palatable by excluding those who have committed mass murder or sex crimes, but that still opens the door to the American taxpayer being forced to subsidise domestic abusers, former gang members and crooks like Bernie Madoff. The good of people AC-3 will not stand for this and neither will I.  As for allowing ex-felons to vote, this just like the vast majority of issues surrounding elections is a state issue and should be decided at a state level. Personally, I would lean towards giving them that right after they have paid their debt to society.

I dread to think as to how a more “progressive” budget would be according to the Majority leader, given that under the current budget my district is set to become one of  the highest taxed places on earth with combined income tax rates as high as 55% maybe even 60% if we include local taxes for some areas. Not to mention that payroll taxes have also been raised , with the exception of felons who’d actually get a tax cut under the Majority Leader’s proposal.

Thousands if not tens of thousands of my constituents are also set to lose their dependency and elderly tax credits, depriving them of thousands of dollars with the Democrats and the Majority Leader offering no real replacement.  I don’t know what the Majority leader has in mind, but if the current approach is anything to go by, a more “progressive” or more accurately regressive budget will only make things worse for Atlantic. Make no mistake, by any international benchmark, this is a radical budget. I would go as far as to argue that even the socialist People’s Republic of Chinese and Vietnam  have lower burdens of taxations than what the Democrats are trying to achieve.

The Senate minority leader has also been denounced as “Trumpian” by some, with the House Majority leader saying he “represents the kind of belligerent, populist, conspiratorial brand of politics”. As you have endorsed Adith for President, what do you think about this?

I  find it quite disheartening that the Democrats and the Majority Leader instead of criticising Adith on the basis of his policy have resorted to a “Reductio ad Trumpium” by trying to smear Adith as Trumpian. Let me tell you, there is nothing Trumpian nor populist about opposing the Majority Leader’s far-left policies. Policies that taken together would raise taxes for most if not all Americans, defund our law enforcement and the military only to then funnel that money into the pockets of ex-felons.

You have called the budget “regressive”, while the Senate minority leader and several other Republicans, as well as Democrats, have referred to it as progressive, what do you mean?

I will admit though that this is one area where I think the Senate Minority Leader and my fellow Republicans are wrong. In his op-ed piece, he has referred to the budget and many Democratic policies as “progressive,” which at least in economic terms would suggest that those on the lowest income would get a better deal. This is patently untrue. Not only have the Democrats opted to raise the income tax on the poorest Americans, but they have also moved forward with their insane capital gains and dividend tax hikes that, combined with the removal of opportunity tax credits and the rollout of a distortive low-income tax credit, effectively lock working-class Americans into low-paying minimum wage jobs and out of investment opportunities under the threat of losing their massive government handout.

 I would also point out that with the way the budget is written the Capital Gains exemptions such as the one for homeowners may have been accidentally scrapped, hitting everyday people and venture capitalists with a massive tax bill that they may not even know about. There is absolutely nothing progressive about any of this, even if it was written by a self-proclaimed progressive.

Many politicians including several Democratic presidential candidates have called for all student loan debt to be cancelled.  What do you think about it?

I think it’s a classical example of a solution looking for a problem. There is no college debt crisis, sure delinquency rates are above average (in part driving up interest rates for those fiscally responsible enough to pay down their loans on time), but overall most people can pay them off with some minor sacrifices. Most of the students who’d receive relief under student loan forgiveness are those who have either been fiscally irresponsible or who have picked frivolous majors with lower earning potentials. I don’t see why we should ask the taxpayer to pay for these mistakes.

Cancelling  all college debt is a very expensive idea , most estimates put cancelling all student debt at $1.6 trillion or around $1 trillion if all debt up to 50 thousand is to be cancelled. Most proponents also want to make public colleges free so add another $80-100 billion per year to make public colleges free.

This is frankly a boatload of money that is going to have come from somewhere and given that combined state, local and federal income taxes are already at their highest points since the 1980s I can honestly see no way to realistically fund this without increasing the tax burden on the majority of blue-collar Americans already squeezed by the Democrat’s tax and spend policies. Americans who I might add are not college educated and earn significantly less than those who have gone to college. Why should we ask a steelworker in Pennsylvania to pay for the mistakes of a wealthy college student from Berkeley?

And even if we did forgive all student loan debt, the supposed “crisis” will not be over because students who wish to go to more exclusive private schools will take out these very same loans and the cycle will start again. Would the proponents of this bill have us bailing out irresponsible college students out every few decades?

If the Democrats really wanted to prevent students from falling into debt they would take action to ensure that federally-subsidised student loans are only given to those students whose majors have the earning potential to pay for themselves. Alternatively, we could do what should have been done decades ago and get the federal government out of the business of student loans entirely.

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