The Definitive Solution to Healthcare

So we are again in the midst of a nasty and personal debate about healthcare, accusations of nefarious motives are flying yet again. The right is accusing the left of class warfare, the left is accusing the right of murderous intent. Yet neither side is actually proposing a solution that will do what the American people want.

What do the American people want? That is a difficult question, because most people are not listening to anyone with even the slightest variance from what they want. I think we can agree, if we calm down just a little, that most people want these three things:
-Affordable healthcare that doesn’t jeopardize our life’s work.
-Equitable access for everyone.
-Benefits that fit our needs.

Not that hard, right? As it turns out, maybe impossible. Why? Because giving us this will be difficult politically, and doesn’t serve the interests of our political and chattering classes. So even though I know we will never get what we are asking for, I feel it only fair that I present an outline for my plan, a plan I believe would deliver on the promises made by our politicos. So here goes.

First we must truly reform the insurance industry, this means restructuring the products offered. We need to standardize insurance products, people should know what they are buying or at least be able to know. So we should establish three classes of insurance, Primary Care, Major Medical, and Catastrophic. Primary Care would handle your normal office visits, this would be available in three tiers. The first tier would only cover preventative and office visits to your primary physician, the second would add family care and visits immediate care facilities, and the third would add coverage of most outpatient procedures as well as mental health. Major medical would provide care for chronic and expensive medical conditions. Catastrophic would cover costs that accumulate above a certain level. People would be able buy plans that bundled all three classes or any combination of them. Part of this reform would have to be adding a requirement that the patient be copied on all correspondences between his doctors and the insurance providers that directly relate to them. People should know what is going on behind the scenes, there is no good reason we should not be a party these important decision making conversations. These reforms would make the patient an integral part of their own care, and allow us to know what is covered by the insurance products we purchase. No more surprises. (As a tip of the hat to liberals, I would also keep the contraception mandate for all insurance products, also because of my rather militant opposition to abortion, I like the idea of everyone that doesn’t want to get pregnant using contraception.)

I would establish a national standard for Mutual Insurance. Mutual insurance is a form of nonprofit insurance where unused funds are returned to participants. Qualifying Mutual plans would be able to be sold nationally, this would drive competition. It could also be a way to lead insurance to eventually migrate to nonprofit as an industry.

Next I would establish a national HSA (Health Savings Account) program, everyone would be granted a durable HSA. You could put pretax money into the account and pay your medical bills from the account. I would require employers to match the first one and half percent of your income if they provided access to group policies. If an employer did not provide access to insurance, they would be required to provide a higher matching contribution. People would be able to use the HSA funds to buy insurance. Younger people that contributed would build a pool of funds to cover them as they grew older. If you decided to withdraw funds for some reason you would pay the highest personal income tax rate as a penalty. These accounts would have survivorship to spouses and disabled children. They could also be willed to immediate family, but the highest personal tax rate would have to be paid, and the funds would have to be transferred to another HSA. The withdrawal penalties would go into the federal subsidy program, along with all funds not passed onto a family member upon death.

I would leave Medicaid in place to cover the disabled and poor or uncovered children.

The federal subsidy program would be funded from Medicare, which would require raising the Medicare tax. However the only way to not shift the cost of the subsidy program to the middle class is to fund it from a flat tax on all income. We simply can’t take these programs that are all of our responsibilities and think someone else should pay. I will let the politicos argue about income levels.

At age 50, I would allow people to receive their Catastrophic insurance through Medicare. When you reached age 55, you could start buying your Major Medical care from Medicare. At age 60 everyone could buy Medicare through a means tested program.

There, you love this, right? It is highly doubtful that all of you do, however, I think this plan would accomplish what most people want done, and isn’t that what democracy is all about?

Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?

There are many questions in this life that you know the answers to, but that are still difficult to answer. “Have you stopped beating your wife?” This is an example of one such question, it is phrased in a way¬†that makes almost all answers assign false guilt to the answering party, that is the whole point of the question. So when people ask these types of questions we struggle to answer, because we know it is a trap. The answer is simple, but because we are trying to cover our butts, we fall into the trap. That is exactly the reason the question is asked is the first place. The real issue here is that the question assumes a false premise to be true, you can’t really answer it. You must instead address the false premise the question is based on. “I have never beaten my wife.” Seems to be too simple of an answer, but it isn’t. Simple and direct is the only way to answer these questions.
There are two such questions I wanted to address today, one political and one religious.
“If God is good, why does He let suffering continue in our world?”
This question is one that has tripped up more than a few Christians. We can’t deny that there is suffering in the world, and we can’t deny that God could end it. So we are left stammering, even though we all know the answer, or at least should. God has provided the USA the ability to produce more food that we can consume, so much so that we pay farmers to not plant crops, in order to prevent the market from collapsing. We buy up more of the surpluses to feed our own hungry and to create a reserve to cushion bad crop years. In essence we have taken the approach that by limiting the supply we can insure that people can afford to produce. Meanwhile people around the world go hungry. There are hundreds of ministry efforts to teach people in these famine ravaged areas to grow their own food, with some success. However that success is limited by the climates of the areas where the farming is being conducted. We have also had some, mostly government, efforts to drop food and seed in these areas, with little effect. Why? Because the governments and militaries in the regions take the food and leave the people hungry. So here we sit in the land of plenty, lamenting the plight of people in the land of famine, as though God is what is preventing us from stepping up and ending hunger around the world.

So, what is the answer? “God isn’t allowing the suffering to continue, We are.”
“How do we provide people with a living wage?”
This is a fairly recent priority on the left, and it is a more complex question than most realize. Why? Because it tugs at the conservative tendency to think work should be rewarded, while hiding its true implications. In short, it is a trick. What is the trick? This question implies that everyone works, and that all of those people work in a way that should result in earnings that will support a family. That is a lie. The idea behind a ‘Universal Basic Income’ (UBI) is that everyone regardless of what they do, or don’t do, should be provided with enough money to live on, and live comfortably. The false premise of this question is that it is possible to do in our current economic or governmental system, or even that we should. In order to even attempt to provide a UBI, we would first have to ditch the free market. We would also have to turn control of both the means and method of production to the government. Otherwise no amount of money provided to the populace could prevent the reality of that income being inflated away. The government would be required to control both pay and price in some fashion, this is generally known as communism, or at least socialism. Neither of these forms of government or economic planning has ever worked. The reason they don’t work is simple, people do not generally work for the love of work, they work for the love of reward. IF people didn’t need to work to have their needs met, few would work. This leads to needing to force people to work, and when people are forced to work by authoritarian means, they do poor quality work. The human spirit cannot thrive under this kind of pressure. In our system we force people to work to reach a level of comfort that they are content with.
So, what is the answer? “We cannot provide people a guaranteed living wage, they have to earn it.”
So, when you are asked a question by someone seeking to undermine your point of view, first make sure the premise of the question is true, if it isn’t, address the premise.

Politics in 3D

Normally people think of politics as a left and right phenomenon, which works well with our ADD culture, however this is not even close to the reality of the world. Some people add a little complexity to it by adding a vertical representation, like politicalcompass.org. This is still far too simplistic.

Here is my personal view of the political spectrum.

I think there are three axes, which I will outline below;

First is the left/right axis, with left being Liberal and right being Conservative.
Second is the vertical axis, with up being Authoritarian and down being Libertarian.
Thirdly is the near/far axis, with near being Progressive and far being Traditionalist.

Above you see a simple drawing of what I am talking about. You will notice I used circles around the axes, this is because as you get to the extreme on any axis it becomes impossible to claim adherence to other thought patterns. For example, as you become more and more Authoritarian, you can’t really be liberal or conservative, because your authoritarian nature won’t allow you to see perspectives that might mitigate the need for authority. So, you can’t really be at the far end of any two outlooks, for an extreme law and order conservative to also claim to be an extreme libertarian is simply a case of someone lying to themselves.

Often in discussions about politics people lump Liberal and Progressive together, and Traditionalist and Conservative together for several reasons, but primarily it is due to rhetoric. When Republicans defeated Kerry in 2004, it was thought that one of the reasons was that he was branded a Liberal, which was accurate, and they felt that Liberalism wouldn’t sell in the US. So, they proceeded to try to rebrand themselves as Progressives, and in trying to combat the Religious Right, they started equating Conservative with Traditionalist. This has been largely successful, at least until Trump came on the scene. However this is complete hogwash, Traditional and Conservative are two entirely different things, as are Liberal and Progressive.

A severe limiting factor in US politics is our two party system, we tend to think of the Democrats as being Liberal and the Republicans as being Conservative. While the Republican party is more conservative than the Democratic party, they are really coalitions. The Democrats have largely built a coalition of identity groups, and those that sympathize with their concerns, while the Republicans have built a coalition of business interests and religious voters. Libertarians largely vote Republican because restrained government sounds more liberty oriented than the social justice regime put forth by the Democrats. These coalitions are not made up of ideologically consistent voters. For example, opposition to same sex marriage and laws banning it are often staples of Republican politics, but promoting laws restricting personal behavior is in no way conservative, it is the definition of Liberalism.

Getting back to the point, no one is 100% liberal or conservative, and the dictionary definitions are just wrong, mainly because they are written by ‘liberals’ and meant to promote liberalism. Why? because they can. Liberals dominate university faculties, because liberals tend to be people that live in the world of idealism, by that I mean they see the world as they want it to be, and often reject the realities of the world around them. On the other hand conservatives see the world around them and tend to assume the entire world works the way their community does, rejecting the truth that idealism is an important driver for society. I am a conservative and as such I prefer to look at people as they really are, and use terms in ways that describe reality. So to understand what a 3D view of the political spectrum means you need to understand the words as they apply to real people, not ideals.

So, lets look at the terms:

Liberal/Conservative; The difference here is primarily about the role of government in relation to society. Liberals tend to think that government has a responsibility to control society, while conservative tend to think society should control government. One way this plays out is in fiscal decisions. Conservatives think that government’s primary role is one of protector, this leads them to support spending on Defense and law enforcement. Liberals see government as way to mold society, which leads them to be more tolerant of entitlement spending and social justice initiatives. Any functioning society needs both, the question is how much.

Authoritarian/Libertarian; The difference here is primarily about where power resides. Authoritarians want the government to dictate to the individual how they will live and conduct themselves, Libertarians want the government to have no say in how an individual lives. Libertarians will oppose almost any social law, they want society to punish bad behavior, and mostly don’t see the need for laws like the Civil Rights Act. Authoritarians want the government to impose their own ideas of how others should live upon them, and they generally will support any law that forces others to conform to their own way of thinking. Government is inherently authoritarian.

Progressive/Traditionalist; Progressives want change, they don’t like the way things are, or simply think things could be better. Traditionalists like the status quo, or find comfort in knowing how things work, and traditions provide that comfort. Most people like some traditions while wanting others to change, the real issue is what do you want changed, and what do you think is working just fine like it is. The more religious you are the more traditional you will tend to be, this is because religions are based on what the people before you have learned and established.

So you might be wondering where I stand in all this, I am a fiscal conservative, social libertarian, and policy progressive. Right now you are screaming “SYBIL” in your head, let me explain. I think society can only be healthy economically with about a 20% tax rate against GDP (Gross Domestic Product), so government needs to operate within that constraint. Piling up debt against future generations is unfair and ultimately destructive. Hence the fiscal conservatism. I am a strong believer in individual freedom, and people should be able to make their own personal choices in regards to social constructs. I don’t believe the government should be imposing anyone’s views of morality on others, unless what you are doing directly harms someone else, you should be able to do it. Marry who you want, associate with who you like, be a complete jerk if you want, it is on you. So, social libertarian. Lastly, policy progressive. I believe that government policy should foster and promote progress, but not impose it on society. Sometimes this means spending on green initiatives, for example, other times it means the government getting out of the way.

So there you have it ‘Politics in 3D’, I am well aware this is not a conventional view, but it is mine.

Introducing RINO

Hello, I am RINO.

I am starting this blog to publish my thoughts about the topics of the day. I have long posted in comment sections on articles but have found that there are two major issues with this. First, you don’t really want to write full thoughts in comment sections and this often leads to people filling in the missing information with the worst possible interpretation. For example, if you say you don’t think we should allow murderers to walk the streets, someone will invariably assume you mean all people who have ever stepped on a bug. Second, there are always some people who want pick a fight and before you know it you are discussing your parentage when all you really wanted to say was that you agreed with the author.

It is my hope to avoid both of those pitfalls here, I am hoping to have meaningful, civil conversations with people I agree and disagree with alike.

I plan to write both independent thoughts and rebuttals to media stories, I do not frequent far laft or far right media outlets and have no plans to start now. So, while I will be writing rebutals they will not be rebuttals to stories on sites like Breitbart or Mother Jones.

Look for more coming soon.