Foolishness

James Capretta and Lanhee Chen of American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution, respectively, have a piece in a recent Wall Street Journal edition that talks about how to “nudge” uninsured Americans into getting health coverage plans.  It’s impressive in its…foolishness…(I’m being polite).

Congress can help these Americans and many others get insurance by enrolling them in no-premium, no-obligation plans from which they could withdraw if they wanted to.

No. Not only no, Hell no. No squared. We’ve enough Big Government intruding into our private lives, arrogantly presuming to make our private decisions for us, without adding this to the steaming pile.

Free Markets

President Donald Trump revived his tough talk on the North American Free Trade Agreement Tuesday, warning Canada it must stop protecting its dairy farmers from US competition.

Canada’s trade policy, after all, manages dairy production through a quota system (which is anathema in itself to a free market, but that’s mostly a Canadian domestic problem), and it seriously impedes foreign competition with tariffs designed for the task.

Circularly, Canada controls dairy prices by matching them to “average” production costs, and then controls production by setting allowed quotas.  With prices thus under government control, Canada sets tariffs to achieve prices for imports of foreign dairy products that aren’t competitive.

The False Premise of a Madboy

Harry Kazianis, writing in The Week Monday, portrayed northern Korea’s weekend military parading not as sabre rattling but as a demonstration of the fruits of development driven by military necessity.

Kim Jong Un—the leader of a nation that has an economy smaller than Ethiopia—knows all too well he has no way to match the United States, South Korea, and Japan ship for ship, plane for plane in a symmetrical sense. The only way he can hope to deter his enemies is to build the ultimate game-changer: nuclear weapons paired with missiles that can strike all the way across the globe.

Spending Our Tax Dollars

The table below is constructed from the table and data provided by Laura Saunders in her piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.  It shows how $100 in our tax monies paid to the Federal government were spent on a range of government purposes.

Item 2016
Social Security $23.61
Medicare $15.26
National defense $15.24
Medicaid $9.55
Interest $6.25
Other spending $4.94
Veterans $4.58
Civilian federal retirement $2.57
Transportation $2.39
Refundable credits* $2.21
Education $2.08
Food stamps $1.89

Shrinking the Federal Government

…is more than just reducing spending; although that’s a major component of the necessary shrinkage.  Shrinking also must include reducing the physical size of the government, reducing its payroll.  To that end, the moves by President Donald Trump and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will prove valuable if Congress will cooperate.

Social Security Trust Fund Investing in the Stock Market

The Wall Street Journal held one of its aperiodic debates last Sunday, this time on whether the Social Security Trust Fund should be allowed to invest in stocks.  One debater argued that such investing would reduce the need for dependence on benefit cuts or tax increases; the other claimed that government should stay out of the market.

It’s certainly true that investing in the stock market could produce better returns than the Trust Fund’s current requirement to invest wholly in (unmarketable) Federal debt instruments.

Democrats and Tax Reform

They’re plainly not interested in real tax reform, and so they’ll move to block all attempts to achieve reform that would benefit all Americans and so our economy.  This is illustrated by Senator Ben Cardin’s (D, MD) position on the matter.

Tax reform’s got to be responsible and it’s got to be progressive[.]

Pick one; these are mutually exclusive goals.  Punishing particular Democrat-disfavored groups of Americans for their success is the height of irresponsibility in a taxing venue.

Obamacare

As The Wall Street Journal rightly pointed out, regarding the failed Obamacare repeal and replacement effort and the failing renewed discussions between the House Republican Conference and the Freedom Caucus of No,

The fury…suggests that some Freedom Caucus opposition is more cynical than sincere. Do its members want to appear to negotiate in good faith but insist on changes that centrists can’t accept, so they can then accuse centrists of killing the reform revival?

And

…perhaps there’s still hope for health-care reform. But first Republicans have to decide if they can accept progress that is short of perfection. If they can’t, then they’ll blow their best, and maybe only, shot at repealing and replacing a failing entitlement.

Trade Barriers

Since the meeting between PRC President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump is a matter of concern these days, and the trade negotiations that are part of that meeting also are a matter of concern, herewith a concern of my own.

Maybe this is the right time for the two leaders to cut a deal to slash Chinese trade barriers.

The three biggest PRC trade barriers are these:

  • the PRC’s demand for government backdoors into American foundational software used by companies wanting to do business in the PRC

Robot Employment Acts

That’s what Andy Puzder, the ex-CEO of CKE Restaurants, calls minimum wage laws.

In a survey released last month, the publication Nation’s Restaurant News asked 319 restaurant operators to name their biggest challenge for 2017. Nearly a quarter of them, 24%, said rising minimum wages.

And so we get:

McDonald’s said last November that it would install self-order kiosks in all 14,000 of its US restaurants. Wendy’s announced in February it would add kiosks at about 1,000 locations to “appeal to younger customers and reduce labor costs.”