Category Archives: Government Issues

the root of the problem

The Electoral College

The Electoral College

The following is taken from an earlier post: “Critics argue that the Electoral College is inherently undemocratic and gives swing states disproportionate influence in electing the President and Vice President. The Electoral College gives a numeric advantage in the election of the president to the smaller states, as the minimum number of electors for the small states is three compared to one for the election of representatives. On the other hand, the winner-take-all method of voting favors the larger states. On four occasions, most recently in 2000, the Electoral College system has resulted in the election of a candidate who did not receive the most popular votes in the election. A number of constitutional amendments have been proposed seeking to alter the Electoral College or replace it with a direct popular vote.”

Currently 18 states control the destiny of elections with 63% of the votes. Money is a significant factor in determining the winner and as a result the most populated states receive the lion’s share of campaign funding. In the last 125 years there have only been two elections where the winner of the EC did not win the popular vote, both Republicans. The most recent example was in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump where he won 56% of the EC, but only 46% of the popular vote. In fact, his opponent secured just under 3 million more  popular votes!

The EC was a practical solution when it was established over 200 years ago. Gathering, counting ballots & combining the results was problematic given the distances involved among the states. The EC just made sense. In the electronic age the problems of distribution no longer exist. It appears to me that there is no valid reason keeping the voters from making the decision on whom is to be President.

Recent polls indicate that over 60% of voters are in favor of abolishing the EC.

Gallup trends show that Republicans were far less supportive than Democrats of abolishing the Electoral College in late 2000, when Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush had lost the popular vote, but was fighting a legal battle to win Florida and therefore the Electoral College. Since then, however, Republicans have gradually become less protective of the Electoral College, to the point that by 2011, a solid majority of Republicans were in favor of abolishing it.

I do wonder why no action is taken to make this change? There are two reasons: 1. It would require a constitutional amendment, which is near impossible. 2. A state can decide to apportion the EC votes in the ratio of the popular votes. This only is effective if all states do this and so far only two states have taken this action: Maine & Nebraska. States resist this as the thinking is that it diminishes the impact of a candidate winning the state and the states influence on the outcome.

Military Spending

Military Spending

The general consensus is that when a Democrat is the president military spending will be reduced and the reverse will occur when a Republican is in office. Obviously, there are may other factors involved. Regardless, the following chart may be a surprise to many folks:

Below from:

It is interesting to note that during the last two years military spending has average almost the same as the eight-year average under President Obama.

Hidden taxes

Hidden taxes

We all aware of obvious of “upfront” taxes like sales, income, real estate, personal property and petrol taxes. What we many of us do not recognize are what I term “hidden” taxes. In a free market economy (a good thing) prices will adjust according to supply and demand and other market factors. In a competitive environment prices will tend to fluctuate. One example of a “hidden tax” is corporate income tax. Initially this appears as a good thing since companies make a lot of money and they should contribute to the running of the government. However, over time, much of this tax will be passed along to the consumer in pricing. So, who is paying the tax?                                                                                                                                                  My favorite “hidden tax” has to do with the cost of healthcare. Your elected representatives refuse to reduce this tax burden on you and this burden is much greater than the money you pay each year in income tax! Our current system for delivering healthcare is 2 ½ times the average of the EU countries and our overall quality of care is inferior.

“According to the IRS, Americans filed more than 150.6 million tax returns in 2015. During that year they also earned $10.17 trillion in adjusted gross income and had a total tax liability of $1.45 trillion. Some quick division means that the average gross income per return was $67,564 while the average federal tax hit was $9,655. That gives the average American family a federal tax rate of 14.3%.

However, the above figures above can be a bit misleading. Many low-income Americans actually have a negative federal tax bill thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you remove those returns from the equation then you are left with 99 million Americans who recorded an average federal tax hit of $14,654.”

The bottom line is that in 2015 the tax burden on families was $1.45 trillion while we spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare. Cutting this cost in half (which is possible) would more than cover our tax bill!

You ask why our costs are so high? There are several prior posts to this blog which detail the specifics, but to summarize it has to do which the many special interests that are profiting from the massive healthcare industry: Insurance administration & profits, obesity, RX companies (manufacturers & distributors), physician compensation, outrageous hospital charges and litigation.

This issue cannot be resolved by tweaking our broken system. We need to have the courage to admit that there are more effective system models out there and we should look at adopting the best features of systems that are effective and also provide a higher level of care. The only obstacle will be the special interests that are profiting for this massive “hidden tax” and their political influence is massive.