Sunday, October 21, 2007

Political Dream

I will be visiting Federal Tax Court in November. For the year 2004, the IRS decided that all the dependents that I listed should not count. Why? Who knows. The IRS has not seen fit to share their reasons.

So of course, I dreamed about my "closing arguments" which in best Hollywood fashion, would lead to the shocking embarassment of the Government Attorney. Well, this was my dream. I know in fact that the government attorney, as well as the judge know that the system is broken, and don't care. They know that they really want to get a nice fast settlement, or a conviction (or judgement) that doesn't look too bad on their records if against all odds I find a way to appeal. They will cheat as necessary to get it. The Government lawyer is probably the son in law of the Federal Tax Court Judge. I will probably be screwed to the tune of 10,000 dollars. There is no way around it, other than to pay 20,000 to a government certified lawyer, and have the appearance of being able to appeal.

It is interesting. The one place where the Government has the most control over the inmates is in prison. No pesky "rights", no need to give the serfs any freedom in return for a bit of productivity. Of course there is a book on how the Mexican Mafia has used the prison system as the basis for a nationwide system of intimidation. Government certified lawyers are a key link in this system bringing in drugs and information from the outside, and taking out orders to gang members and straphangers. The Government is completely unable to keep control of this limited artificial environment.

A close second to the violence of the Prison system is the Indian Reservation system, also under rather more than usual Government Control.

So based on these failures, some would have us turn our lives over to the Government.

My friend Marty got a letter from the Veterans Administration telling him he had an appointment with a doctor. Marty has to drive some 70 miles to get to his doctor's appointment. Included in the letter is a letter to another veteran who lives about 100 miles away, telling him of his appointment. This fellow has to drive 170 miles to his doctor's appointment.

It took Marty over 6 months after his operation before the VA decided that being slit from his guggle to his zatch (expression from "13 Clocks"!) meant that he was not capable of working, and hence "DISABLED".

Marty is supposed to get his dental care from the VA. Alas, the only VA dental service is in Sacramento, about 365 miles away.

So based on the model of VA as an efficient provider of health care services, some would have us turn all health care over to the Government.

Where Have I Been?">
> your own visited country map

But in truth, a Man lives in his mind, not in a Place.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Poison is in the Dose

One of the confusing things about life is this: A behavior which works once, doesn't work the next time. It would be nice if there were good behaviors, and bad behaviors. As a parent, one could reward the good, punish the bad, and ignore the in between. Fortunately, life is not that simple.

A behavior (say, going to the bathroom) is appropriate if you go, say 4 times a day. It is not appropriate if you go 10,000 times a day. The poison is in the dose.

There is, contrary to the protestations of my Libertarian (capital L) friends, nothing wrong with a group of people forming a representative government, and then deciding to fund that government by contributions. If the government (a monopoly over use of force, over a certain geographical area) uses force to make sure all pay their fair share, that can be either good or bad. The fair share would be determined by the people, as represented by their government. Still, the government would not be a good government if it took too much of the people's money, as most government spending is less efficient than the spending of the people for themselves. Still government spending can be effective for some small specialties where the 'good' produced is widely agreed to be necessary, and is also understood to not be for the small benefit of any particular person. For example, national defense is a diffuse good, necessary, but not terribly easy to fund by private contributions.

On the other hand, health care, entertainment, and religous satisfaction are the most personal 'goods that can be imagined. Government spending is not appropriate, and attempts to fund personal goods with public funds lead to horrid inefficiencies, amazing levels of corruption, and even flight of citizens from the wasteful goods which are produced. For example, a major product of the vaunted Canadian health care program is your position on the waiting list. Since 90% of Canada's population are within 2 hours of the US border, Canadians with any money available will chose to get heath care from the US doctors. They can also seek care from Canadian doctors who also practice in the US to avoid some of the regulation and limitations provided by the Canadian system. Both Canadian health care providers and Canadian patients will willingly do without the 'list position value' provided by the Canadian system. US health care is highly regulated, by the national Medicare system which sets prices, insurance companies which limit the procedures for which they will pay, and by the market, which limits the health insurance price that employers are willing to pay. Why do Canadians come south to get health care under US rules, rather than US citizens flocking north to take up their places on the Canadian waiting lists? The poison is in the dose.

In general, if the dose is too high, the right answer is to cut the dose. It is odd to have to say it, but when a problem is caused by government intervention, the solution will not be more government intervention. Rather, a better result will be found by cutting government regulation, taxes, and reducing prosecution priority. Why? The poison is in the dose.