Changes People Seek by Politics and Government Can Be Helped by Free Markets
We Know the Big Issues
The case can be made that a good portion of the American public agrees on what we want as a nation, although we may have some differences on the details. This is the case even this far from the election. For example, most Americans want some version of the following:
- Sensible gun policies. Break the growing randomness of deadly violence in public places. The vast majority want universal background checks and some form of registration. We want elimination of military based weapons , bump stocks, and large capacity magazines.
- Meaningful climate change engagement. Start with cutting all the subsidies for carbon-based energy; invest in renewables.
- Access to medical care for anyone who needs it, without having your family go broke as a result.
- Relief from student debt, which exceeds credit card debt, shackling generations
How could market dynamics help with these goals?
Let’s Start with Access to Medical Care
There is no doubt that a version of Medicare for All would provide better care. It would do so at lower costs and less administration. But people have doubts. So, even though a dual system would have inefficiencies and imbalances, let it be so.
Ensure people see clearly that Medicare’s overhead is 2%, while insurance is 18-22%. AND you never know for sure what insurance covers. AND providers spend ungodly amounts of time and resources dealing with insurance variables. AND you still have premiums and copays.
All that goes away with Medicare. Yes, we all likely would pay slightly higher taxes. These taxes would be offset many times over by dropping premiums and copays. We would have better coverage and less hassle. People will figure it out. Before long, most of the health insurance market will dry up and companies will get out of the business. The market will make the correction.
How About Climate Change?
Once we have an intelligent White House and Congress, we make some changes. We stop subsidizing carbon energy by current tax breaks and other sweetheart deals. Alternative energy is already cheaper on a straight market comparison in most markets. Stress that government at all levels is going to renewables with a passion.
Continue social pressure on investors to thin carbon energy stocks from 401Ks. Energy companies will have the reality that continuing to drill for oil, etc. is a losing hand. They would speed up the switch from being oil companies to being energy companies. This would happen faster than many could imagine. They will get into the renewables business in a big way.
Here is one more easy market-based option in energy. There are today more people in renewable energy in California than working in coal nationally. Digging for coal remains hard, dangerous work. Compensation for black lung and related illnesses is expensive to pay out and is still not enough for the victims.
Not everyone would take the offer but try this. Go to every coal worker and tell them that we now know things we did not before. We now know coal is a deadly substance. We are going to stop using it.
It is not their fault what is happening. Therefore, effective immediately, everyone who signs up gets a new deal. Free job retraining. Major investments and tax breaks go to companies that hire these people. For a transition period (10 years?) between jobs guarantee wages 30% more than their highest wage working for coal. Index those wages and pensions annually. Yes, any pensions are covered. Walk away from coal now and start a new, better life. Coal companies would dry up in short order.
Ideas for Gun Violence?
If you feel the need, as a collector or for some other oddly compelling reason to own an AR-15 (for example), we will not confiscate them. But giving you the option of owning them entails a social cost by their very existence.
So, all must be registered (with a fee). All must have a large “risk of misuse” insurance policy, to the tune of several hundred dollars a year. A weapon may be turned in at any time for a generous compensation. It may not be sold or gifted. When the owner passes away, the government becomes the weapon owner, again for generous compensation.
Match this with a ban on new sales. Continue social pressure for no guns or ammunition in investment portfolios except for military and law enforcement. Put large taxes on ammunition and ammunition making equipment. The combined economic forces will help drain our weapons swamp to manageable levels.
Lastly, Student Loan Debt
Mayor Pete has this one exactly right. We should not write off everyone’s debt, certainly not those who can afford it. But give a couple of years of service, drawn from a long list of help we need, and all or most of that debt can be forgiven.
Invest yourself in America and America will invest in you. Simple, fair, and a win-win for everyone. A marketplace solution in the best sense.
Use All Our Tools
By all means, let us pursue governmental and social solutions. But let’s use the marketplace and natural human proclivities do some of the heavy lifting for us, shall we?
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