Just a little bit of fun with the Presidential candidates from their websites:
Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets And Timetables
2012: Return Emissions To 2005 Levels (18 Percent Above 1990 Levels)
2020: Return Emissions To 1990 Levels (15 Percent Below 2005 Levels)
2030: 22 Percent Below 1990 Levels (34 Percent Below 2005 Levels)
2050: 60 Percent Below 1990 Levels (66 Percent Below 2005 Levels)
The Cap And Trade System Would Allow For The Gradual Reduction Of Emissions.
The cap and trade system would encompass electric power, transportation fuels, commercial business, and industrial business – sectors responsible for just below 90 percent of all emissions. Small businesses would be exempt. Initially, participants would be allowed to either make their own GHG reductions or purchase "offsets" – financial instruments representing a reduction, avoidance, or sequestration of greenhouse gas emissions practiced by other activities, such as agriculture – to cover 100 percent of their required reductions. Offsets would only be available through a program dedicated to ensure that all offset GHG emission reductions are real, measured and verifiable. The fraction of GHG emission reductions permitted via offsets would decline over time.
Cap and Trade: Obama supports implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Obama's cap-and-trade system will require all pollution credits to be auctioned. A 100 percent auction ensures that all polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these emission rights away to coal and oil companies. Some of the revenue generated by auctioning allowances will be used to support the development of clean energy, to invest in energy efficiency improvements, and to address transition costs, including helping American workers affected by this economic transition.
The question is: if 'greenhouse gases' are NOT causing 'global warming' then why do we need any 'cap and trade' system?
Both plans seek to 'regulate' such emissions, but the question is why is the federal government the best one to do that? If such emissions are demonstrated not to be linked to any 'global warming' and, indeed, fluctuate independently of global surface temperature, then the entire bureaucracy set up to do such things would have to be dismantled. Now considering that the federal government took a century or so to remove taxation on telephone use to help pay for the Philippine-American War, why would it be expected to be any quicker in getting rid of this bureaucracy?
While both Candidates have 'plans' to 'mandate' technologies, isn't it the marketplace that is best set up to determine economically viable technologies and their use? Who gave these candidates such wisdom of the ages to determine these things?
And for those thinking that Sen. McCain's is any more 'friendly' to small businesses, what he is doing is setting up a huge gap of regulation between small and large businesses and effectively ensuring that NO small business covered under his regulatory system will ever BECOME a large business. Sen. Obama at least wants to wipe out the small businesses instead of having them around by applying it equally to everyone to 'ensure the burden' is spread evenly so that the smaller businesses can't cope with them.
Which is better?
Government ensuring that the large polluters can never be challenged properly or Government ensuring that small businesses get hit the hardest and have a truly nasty uphill slope to climb while larger firms just absorb the cost and pass it along to consumers? Either way the small business sector becomes more limited for those areas covered by regulation.
Both Presidential candidates want larger government intrusion into a market that has ALREADY met ALL commitments that anyone would have wanted from the US out of Kyoto without doing a damned thing. Why regulate it AT ALL? It is outperforming every other Nation on the planet signed on to Kyoto. Strange by not signing on we meet standards, while others that sign on can't meet them through centralized regulation....
- Obama's Plan to Cover Uninsured Americans: Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress. The Obama plan will have the following features:
- Guaranteed eligibility. No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.
- Comprehensive benefits. The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care.
- Affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
- Subsidies. Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.
- Simplified paperwork and reined in health costs.
- Easy enrollment. The new public plan will be simple to enroll in and provide ready access to coverage.
- Portability and choice. Participants in the new public plan and the National Health Insurance Exchange (see below) will be able to move from job to job without changing or jeopardizing their health care coverage.
- Quality and efficiency. Participating insurance companies in the new public program will be required to report data to ensure that standards for quality, health information technology and administration are being met.
- National Health Insurance Exchange: The Obama plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals who wish to purchase a private insurance plan. The Exchange will act as a watchdog group and help reform the private insurance market by creating rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure fairness and to make individual coverage more affordable and accessible. Insurers would have to issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums that will not depend upon health status. The Exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and have the same standards for quality and efficiency. The Exchange would evaluate plans and make the differences among the plans, including cost of services, public.
- Employer Contribution: Employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan. Small employers that meet certain revenue thresholds will be exempt.
- Mandatory Coverage of Children: Obama will require that all children have health care coverage. Obama will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents' plans.
- Expansion Of Medicaid and SCHIP: Obama will expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs and ensure that these programs continue to serve their critical safety net function.
- Flexibility for State Plans: Due to federal inaction, some states have taken the lead in health care reform. The Obama plan builds on these efforts and does not replace what states are doing. States can continue to experiment, provided they meet the minimum standards of the national plan.
John McCain Will Reform Health Care Making It Easier For Individuals And Families To Obtain Insurance. An important part of his plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people's needs, lower prices, and portability. Families should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines.
John McCain Will Reform The Tax Code To Offer More Choices Beyond Employer-Based Health Insurance Coverage. While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit - effectively cash - of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider. Those obtaining innovative insurance that costs less than the credit can deposit the remainder in expanded Health Savings Accounts.
John McCain Proposes Making Insurance More Portable. Americans need insurance that follows them from job to job. They want insurance that is still there if they retire early and does not change if they take a few years off to raise the kids.
John McCain Will Encourage And Expand The Benefits Of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) For Families. When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions and often decide against unnecessary options. Health Savings Accounts take an important step in the direction of putting families in charge of what they pay for.
John McCain Proposes A Number Of Initiatives That Can Lower Health Care Costs. If we act today, we can lower health care costs for families through common-sense initiatives. Within a decade, health spending will comprise twenty percent of our economy. This is taking an increasing toll on America's families and small businesses. Even Senators Clinton and Obama recognize the pressure skyrocketing health costs place on small business when they exempt small businesses from their employer mandate plans.
CHEAPER DRUGS: Lowering Drug Prices. John McCain will look to bring greater competition to our drug markets through safe re-importation of drugs and faster introduction of generic drugs.
CHRONIC DISEASE: Providing Quality, Cheaper Care For Chronic Disease. Chronic conditions account for three-quarters of the nation's annual health care bill. By emphasizing prevention, early intervention, healthy habits, new treatment models, new public health infrastructure and the use of information technology, we can reduce health care costs. We should dedicate more federal research to caring and curing chronic disease.
COORDINATED CARE: Promoting Coordinated Care. Coordinated care - with providers collaborating to produce the best health care - offers better outcomes at lower cost. We should pay a single bill for high-quality disease care which will make every single provider accountable and responsive to the patients' needs.
GREATER ACCESS AND CONVENIENCE: Expanding Access To Health Care. Families place a high value on quickly getting simple care. Government should promote greater access through walk-in clinics in retail outlets.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Greater Use Of Information Technology To Reduce Costs. We should promote the rapid deployment of 21st century information systems and technology that allows doctors to practice across state lines.
MEDICAID AND MEDICARE: Reforming The Payment System To Cut Costs. We must reform the payment systems in Medicaid and Medicare to compensate providers for diagnosis, prevention and care coordination. Medicaid and Medicare should not pay for preventable medical errors or mismanagement.
SMOKING: Promoting The Availability Of Smoking Cessation Programs. Most smokers would love to quit but find it hard to do so. Working with business and insurance companies to promote availability, we can improve lives and reduce chronic disease through smoking cessation programs.
STATE FLEXIBILITY: Encouraging States To Lower Costs. States should have the flexibility to experiment with alternative forms of access, coordinated payments per episode covered under Medicaid, use of private insurance in Medicaid, alternative insurance policies and different licensing schemes for providers.
TORT REFORM: Passing Medical Liability Reform. We must pass medical liability reform that eliminates lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to safety protocols. Every patient should have access to legal remedies in cases of bad medical practice but that should not be an invitation to endless, frivolous lawsuits.
TRANSPARENCY: Bringing Transparency To Health Care Costs. We must make public more information on treatment options and doctor records, and require transparency regarding medical outcomes, quality of care, costs and prices. We must also facilitate the development of national standards for measuring and recording treatments and outcomes.
Yes, I am greatly abbreviating these monster proposals.
Both plans are set upon subsidizing health insurance. I have some bad news for the Senators, but when you subsidize a good or service it gets used uneconomically thus driving up the overall cost or lowering the overall availability or BOTH. This is a central understanding of healthcare as practiced since the start of WWII and is a direct consequence of the 'New Deal' requiring individuals to *retire* just as labor was desperately needed in factories. As John Stossel points out on 21 SEP 2007:
America's health-care problem is not that some people lack insurance, it is that 250 million Americans do have it.
You have to understand something right from the start. We Americans got hooked on health insurance because the government did the insurance companies a favor during World War II. Wartime wage controls prohibited cash raises, so employers started giving noncash benefits like health insurance to attract workers. The tax code helped this along by treating employer-based health insurance more favorably than coverage you buy yourself. And state governments have made things worse by mandating coverage many people would never buy for themselves.
Competition also pushed companies to offer ever-more attractive policies, such as first-dollar coverage for routine ailments like ear infections and colds, and coverage for things that are not even illnesses, like pregnancy. We came to expect insurance to cover everything.
What is not accounted for in any mention of healthcare 'plans' is the cost of overhead for 'insurance'. Insurance is bought on a provisional basis that you are expecting something to happen to you and the insurer is betting that it will not: it is a wager system in which the one accepting the risk of the gamble, namely the insurer, sets the price on the wager. Healthcare, unfortunately, because it has been subsidized has been over used and abused by the American public, thus distorting the cost of healthcare.
Using government 'mandates' then becomes an effort to shift accountability out of the hands of patients, no matter how 'market oriented' a mandate is, and to meeting 'standards' set by a regulatory body that is appointed, not elected. As Mr. Stossel points out the average doctor utilizes 14% of their income to deal with *paperwork*, and even with most of that being electronic it requires the hiring of non-medical staff to handle insurance 'oversight' and paperwork. What you pay *into* health insurance becomes a fraction of what is paid out: you subtract of insurance company overhead, overhead of that burden on doctors who must change pricing due to it, and the increased cost of 'controls' and 'accountability' by the insurance company against fraud and just keeping track of the records. If you consider that 14% to be a baseline, just on the medical overhead side, then what is the baseline for the insurance company just to manage paperwork? 1% seems unlikely. 5% if it was run extremely well. In fact for most industries the non-work portion of the day for employees is considered at 20% and that is without profit added in.
If the insurance part is 20% and you throw in, say, a generous 12% profit... even 8% to be low... and you add in the cost of increase to doctors to keep track of the paperwork and pass that cost along, just what part of this 'insurance' is actually going to pay for medical expenses? You know, the stuff you use like doctor's visits and purchasing medications? 70% seems relatively fair, in that realm. So, if 15% of your overall budget goes to healthcare via insurance and you get a 70% useful return on that 15% you are actually spending, yes, 10.5% for healthcare. And that of your grandparents who didn't have insurance, back in the day when that was possible? I've read figures as high as 6-8% and as low as 3%.
That cost delta is lost money due to government mandates, regulations, tax subsidies and generally interfering with your health.
Weaning an addict off of their addiction is a slow process, but if you don't do it that addict begins to spend more and more for their addiction and get less and less return. That is the problem of Canada, which has across the country the same number of MRI machines as Philadelphia metro area. A country that is closing hospitals, even though there are sick people needing beds and where, in some towns, if you have an emergency, it will have to wait for a doctor. Or get flown to the US.
That is from a country that is always cited as having well managed government healthcare. A couple of years ago in France the death toll due to sick and elderly in the summer from doctors taking a month of vacation *mandated* by government shows how much worse things can go along that route. If subsidized insurance is so good, then why are the UK and Canada looking to slowly move away from it?
I would move on to education, but let me put forward something that no one likes: local education is not the business of the federal government. That comes from the US Constitution:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
As the 'right to get educated' is not delegated, by the Constitution to the federal government, it is reserved for the States and the people. As it is not a federal responsibility but a wholly local one, and not enumerated in the Constitution it is not to be disparaged nor controlled by the federal government. That exact, same, argument goes for healthcare and 'greenhouse gases' as these are not a power reserved to the federal government. At each point in these things when the government has stepped in the results have been the same: performance has decreased across the market, markets turn into un-economic zones where government determines who can enter and who can't by raising the barrier to entry, and from those the people end up paying more. Lots more.
One of my earliest ideas was on education reform, and it did point out that since the book Why Johnny Can't Read came out, the reading scores across the US have remained absolutely flat:
That from Jerry Pournelle's site. Since 1958, I believe it was, the rate of Poor Johnny's reading has remained, for all the billions upon billions spent by the federal government, dead flat. Notice that the billions spent have not changed that one jot. You want better reading scores? Perhaps more money isn't the answer, as it certainly seems to be not helping when you DO add money in... and what was my cure for that? Ok, here is something that none of the 'change' folks will stomach, which is change away from something that is proven not to work:
If you want reading, writing, mathematical and other basic abilities to improve, you must *not* hand off responsibility to the Federal government for it. That is an abdication of your responsibility to exercise your rights as a citizen in the US. You, the voter, have signed it over to them by not asking for accountability, clear and precise objectives, a rewards system for actually achieving the goals of teaching children to learn *how* to learn. And then the *expert* educational people come in and tell you that they can do so much *more*... if you would just pay them... continually... and not hold them accountable... ever.
To anyone who reads this, and who thinks that the Federal government is the place to put the responsibility for teaching children, go look in the mirror and you will see the source of the problem. For nearly three generations the responsibility for the right of education has been handed over to *experts*, *qualified professionals*, politicians, bureaucrats and the ever loving school board you never voted for because you couldn't get *involved*. Three generations of parents have abdicated their responsibilities for exercising their rights and being held accountable. And then have the temerity to whine... 'But Johnny Can't Read!' Well, that is what you got: a set of institutions devoted to keeping illiteracy alive and at a steady rate.
There *is* an American answer. It is the *only* answer that will work in the long run. Not in one year. Not in five years. But certainly in time. And it will cost you time, precious time of your life... to learn about your children... to shoulder the true responsibilities of raising a child... and to *not* letting the 'Village' do it for you! And for those that feel that there is some collective need to help children from the highest level, I offer you this humble methodology.
- Eliminate the Department of Education at the Federal level
- Establish the goal of meeting the top academic scores in the world and set that as the 100% mark.
- Take 2/3 of the money given to the Department of Education and Block Grant it out to the states. The states may not use this for anything other than education of children for those things being tested.
- Each state will get funds based on that State's overall percentage score to the 100% mark for all of their students.
- No school that refuses children based on race, gender, religion or other otherwise means tests children will be eligible for this money.
- Children may not be instructed in religion with this money and all instruction related to Federal funds must be clearly separated from religious instruction and enrollment may not be held as contingent upon religious instruction.
- Homeschoolers get paid directly the portion allotted to their child based on performance in standardized tests.
What this does is very simple: it removes the question of supporting religion with Federal funds from the equation. If Catholic Schools have a better methodology of teaching those basics needed for excellence in education, they may not require a student attend religious courses to get such schooling. Similarly, if a group of Satanists find a wonderful way to up test scores via teaching methodology, they are not to be barred from it. And at for those that perform *over* the 100% mark, they will get additional Federal funds as that would prove a sound investment for society, no matter how the teaching was done. And the public schools will be forced to *compete* and start to rely upon and lobby those people who can most *help* them: Parents.
It is far too easy to say to a Congressman: 'We are doing so poorly because we do not have enough money'... it is far harder to tell a parent living near that school the exact same thing, and keep that parent's children at your school. You have to offer *solutions* to parents or ask them to *help* in solving the problems. And if a school is falling apart, has students with failing grades, disinterested parents, sky-high property taxes and an apathetic school board... well... why exactly *should* they get more money?
Education cannot be the right of everyone and the responsibility of bureaucrats.
Yes, equal treatment under the law, set real standards, pay for performance and block grant the money. Public Schools *compete* against Private Schools, and money is given out to those who teach well via international standardized tests that everyone likes to point to. If you can teach children well, you should damned well get paid well FOR THAT. And if you CAN'T, then why should you get paid well AT ALL?
Would you pay to get your car repaired like we pay for education? No? Why not? Don't like lowest common denominator car repairs with subsidies going to those who don't repair cars well? Mind you, this is just the next generation of the Nation we are talking about, not like they will make life and death decisions based on poor schooling paid for by lackluster voters who can't be bothered to care about the future anymore...
So, if the federal government isn't a good steward of education, where else has it proven to be less than able?
Consider the problem of what the domestic, small producer oil companies faced in the 1990's when profits were low, supply plentiful and there was a problem of keeping our own, internal, oil production solvent as seen by Steve Layton, President and CEO of Equinox Oil Company, part of the Independent Petroleum Association of America in testimony given to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural resources in 1999:
Today’s hearing is intended to examine the current state of the petroleum industry. I must say at the outset that I have never seen the domestic petroleum industry facing a more complicated and potentially devastating set of problems than it now does. The industry has faced a low oil price crisis for the past year, but today’s problems are very different and far more threatening than the ones that began the problem.
A year ago, the price crisis was started by a combination of events – the collapse of Asian economies, a warmer than normal winter in the northern hemisphere, and ultimately a market share fight between Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The events created a surplus of oil in the international market and prices fell. The production most at risk was marginal oil wells in the United States – wells that produce about 20 percent of America’s domestic production, an amount equivalent to our imports from Saudi Arabia. And, I might add the wells from which I make my living.
Now, we have experienced a year of low oil prices – historically low prices that threaten the very heart of U.S. oil production. Domestic oil production is divided into three general areas – the onshore lower 48 states, offshore, and Alaska. The onshore lower 48 states account for about 60 percent of total domestic oil production. The Energy Information Agency has released a recent report that over 60 percent of this onshore lower 48 production comes from independents, a percentage that has increased by ten percent over the past ten years. It reflects an irreversible trend. Major oil companies are leaving the onshore lower 48 states. Particularly since 1986 when the last price crisis occurred, major oil companies have turned their attention away from the onshore lower 48 states shutting in or selling off their production. They have concluded that these wells do not produce the volumes they need to meet the return on capital that they seek. Majors now operate in the United States primarily in the offshore and Alaska, but more and more they are seeking their new production overseas.
In fact, we would submit that Iraq now controls world oil prices. We would submit that the current U.N. sanctions program has failed on two counts. First, it has failed in its primary mission to provide humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. Second, it has handed Saddam Hussein the victory he lost in the Gulf War. He invaded Kuwait to control oil prices; now he does and he is penalizing his enemies.
First, world oil prices are essentially set by the last barrel sold. A year ago, Iraq exported about 700,000 barrels/day. In December 1998, it exported about 2.3 million barrels/day. By March it will have another 500,000 barrels/day of capacity on line. Iraq was the only OPEC country to boost its oil revenue in 1998. As other OPEC countries have reduced production to stabilize oil prices, Iraq has become the swing producer of world oil. The swing producer sets the price.
Second, Saddam’s objectives differ from other oil producers. He wanted higher oil prices when he invaded Kuwait – money he needed to build his military forces. Now, he can’t spend money to buy arms. But, he can – by keeping oil prices low – punish his enemies, first by reducing the income to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, and others; second, by driving critical U.S. production to be shutdown and plugged forever.
Third, looking purely at demand and productive capacity, today’s surpluses should not drive prices to their historic depths. We estimate that worldwide production capacity currently exceeds demand by about 4 percent.
Nobody cared about the lack of support for oil producers when the cost of gasoline was low, and yet the small producers saw what was happening and reported on it to the US Senate: market manipulation happening during a price war between Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
The problem with the 'plans' of the candidates is that they are NOT POLICY: they are legislative views towards a branch of government that does NOT create legislation. Each of these candidates is depending on getting legislation PASSED by Congress when they BOTH sit in the very institution that does that. And as their plans have a high degree of accord, why don't they work NOW to get them passed?
Could it be that the plans of both are *losers* and can't get a majority to agree with them? That no amount of 'bipartisanship' can get them even *started* in Congress?
If these two cannot show Leadership in the very place that starts legislation, then why should a change of venue to an office that doesn't start these things *help*? Yes, some Presidents do get a 'honeymoon' period, which lasts far less than a year, these days, and my guess is the next President, no matter *who* is elected, will not even get a few weeks.... to get started a legislative process they have had YEARS to address.
I am supposed to find a difference between these two non-performers?
If the difference is between Big Government and Bigger Government, just how can I choose for someone that will, actually, represent my beliefs and ideals for how government is supposed to be run from the Executive branch and actually get a Smaller Government? Because they are not running to be Super-Duper Senator or Uber-Legislator, although that is what their 'plans' imply, but for running to be Head of the Federal Government, Head of State, Commander in Chief and Final Pardoner. And none of those things are looking at Education, Healthcare or even energy production. That power isn't given to the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches.
And if you try to cite some emanating penumbra' from the Preamble, may I suggest that I read the Preamble damned differently and don't see one jot or tittle handed to government there?
They both want to take more from me, you and all of our fellow citizens in the way of rights and responsibilities. I am supposed to like or even admire that in either candidate? Vote for one? Which one is it that is running to be President?
If these two suckers can't even figure out what a policy *is*, then why should I seek to entrust either with the highest office in the land? One is less worse? Less worse than *what*, praytell? The other? They aren't even running for the job of President but as Super Legislator as they don't understand the difference between the two. Even worse is that neither can do their present job in a way to secure liberty, not remove it.
As a responsible voter trying to safeguard my Nation and my liberty, and ensure that both of those get passed along undiminished to those that follow me, then voting for a candidate who promises to diminish my liberty is a non-starter. And they are *both* doing that in different areas and promising us the same old nostrums of some lovely government that actually can figure things out, with all proof for multiple decades and, indeed, a century or so, pointing out that the federal government is the worst place to put faith for doing anything with the powers not handed to it by the Constitution. Unfortunately we have been doing so for a long time, and the last time this country faced a government that felt it could dictate to the people what the people should do, there was a Revolution.
'Government mandated free market' is an oxymoron, in case it has escaped anyone's attention.
And yet that sort of comment can be upheld as being a great idea, profound even, if either of these individuals speak it.
The more I look at these two candidates the more I am disgusted by them.