Category Archives: Broken in the USA

guns & gas

Polarization and solutions

Polarization and solutions

Not long ago I posted my thoughts on polarization. Since then I have had the opportunity to discuss my view with others and also receive some interesting feedback.

One of my friends tends to agree with my position and is taking steps to implement a remedy. His view is that if persons with opposing viewpoints first can agree to have “civil” discussion on issues then we can begin to make progress toward a solution. If we are willing to take this first step then reaching a common ground is possible.

This gentleman is putting his money behind this idea. He has been working with and contributing financially to a university in support of a trial program. The idea is to take a controversial topic and invite students with opposing viewpoints to discuss potential solutions through a series of meets. He reports that the results have been encouraging. Exit interviews have revealed that the majority have come out of the meetings with a revised point of view and appreciation for the opposing position. He also reports that several common ground suggestions for resolution have been proposed.

I started thinking about this in my own life experience. I have another friend who I always considered holding political views quite far apart from mine. However, as I grew to know him better we were able to have quite civil discussions on numerous topics. While we will probably never agree on specific “income security” programs, we do agree that all should involve some degree of “contribution” (in the form of work or community service) and should have effective violator safeguards with penalties. We agree that SS disability is does not contain these safeguards and is out of control. Despite my position being a bit to left of my friend in many respects I was surprised to learn that I was more conservative on fiscal matters. We could agree on the need to reduce deficit spending and that spending on both healthcare and advanced education is out of control. However, we were not in agreement on the priority that should be assigned to these issues. Regardless, if asked, we could easily agree to common ground solutions to many of our issues.

The bottom line is that we, as tax payers, need to elect representatives that are solution oriented. I consider the trend to polarization to be anti-patriotic. It should be considered criminal. Senators, congressmen & the press that facilitate polarization should not be supported. The coming election is your chance to display your patriotism. Buck the trend of voting the party line. Vote for a person that is willing to work through solutions with all parties.

We need more immigrants from Norway

We need more immigrants from Norway

Some of the info in this posting is taken from the link below:
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/01/12/577673191/trump-wishes-we-had-more-immigrants-from-norway-turns-out-we-once-did
In the January meeting in which President Trump complained about “having all these people from shithole countries come here” — and singled out Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as examples — he also added that, “we should have more people from Norway.”
In fact, there was a time when we did!

From 1870 to 1910 a quarter of Norway’s working-age population emigrated, mostly to the United States. You read that right — one-fourth of its workers left the country.

Back then Norway was quite poor. Wages were less than a third of what they were in the United States. And the wave of emigration out of the country quickly benefited those who remained. That’s because it reduced the supply of workers in Norway, so those left behind could demand higher wages. And this helped narrow Norway’s wage gap with the U.S. by 25 percent over that same 40-year period, putting Norway on the path toward its status today as one of world’s most prosperous nations.

Those are the findings of a paper published in European Review of Economic History back in 1997 by two economists. It’s considered a seminal work because the authors — Alan Taylor of the University of California Davis and Jeffrey Williamson — then of Harvard University, now professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison — combed through paper archives to piece together the first truly comprehensive picture of wage differentials across European countries and the United States during that time.

“They were the pioneers really — the first to do that,” says Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development, a D.C. thinktank, who specializes on the role of migration in reducing poverty.

What is keeping Norwegians from applying for the American dream today?

Well, the following chart may at least be a partial explanation:

HDI rank Country Human Development Index (HDI) Value Life expectancy at birth (years) 2014 Expected years of schooling (years) 2014 Gross national income (GNI) per capital (2011 PPP $) 2014
1 Norway 0.944 81.6 17.5 64,992
2 Australia 0.935 82.4 20.2 42,261
3 Switzerland 0.93 83 15.8 56,431
4 Denmark 0.923 80.2 18.7 44,025
5 Netherlands 0.922 81.6 17.9 45,435
6 Germany 0.916 80.9 16.5 43,919
7 Ireland 0.916 80.9 18.6 39,568
8 United States 0.915 79.1 16.5 52,947
9 Canada 0.913 82 15.9 42,155
10 New Zealand 0.913 81.8 19.2 32,689

Upstream vs. Downstream – Healthcare

Upstream vs. DownstreamHealthcare

One other glaring example of attempting to solve a problem by focusing downstream is healthcare. Within this issue are two significant factors: 1. The occurrence of ailments requiring treatment and 2. The cost of treatment.

Occurrence: Looking at the reasons that people seek treatment for ailments one significant factor is the condition of a person’s immune system. There is considerable evidence that folks with strong immune systems require far less treatment than those persons that have impaired systems. In general, obese & overweight and individuals who smoke have much weaker immune systems than the rest of the population. Currently, in the U.S., 34% of the population are obese and 2/3rds are overweight. These rates are 3 to 4 times that of most European countries. The solution to this issue is relatively simple; regular rigorous exercise, a sensible diet and smoking cessation. There is no magic here and billions are spent every year to educate folks on this. Despite this spending the obesity and overweight rates continue to rise. (fortunately, progress has been made on the % that smoke). One suggestion that would reverse this trend is to initiate a process whereby the users of the healthcare system bear costs in relation to usage. Currently tax payers with healthy immune systems pay a heavy tax subsidy to support the remainder of the population.

Cost of treatment: In the past I have posted numerous reviews on this issue and I would encourage readers to look back at these if you missed them. In summary: The per capita costs to our tax payers for healthcare runs 3 – 10 times that of most European countries. The areas that contribute to this massive burden on the tax payer are: a) The frequency of occurrence as explained above b) the excessive per day cost of a hospital stay c) Cost in US of RX drugs d) Physician charges e) Insurance overhead & profits f) legal costs associated with ineffective RX & malpractice.

The solution to the cost issue is again very simple, but change will require efforts that are contrary to the interests of very powerful industries that control legislative decisions. When you think about this situation we are being “taxed” at a very high rate by our elected representatives. The industries that control our healthcare system are achieving excessively high revenues and profits at the expense of the tax paying consumer. In my view this represents massive corruption at the very highest levels.