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Number 47

SAFE

Secure America's Future Economy

 

Fall 2007

 

 

       SAFE Blog Hits Nail on Head        Pete DuPont's NCPA, A Safe Ally
      We're Heading for Baltimore        Remove Government from Health Care
       News Release Issued After Community Day        Two Extremes

 

 

SAFE BLOG HITS NAIL ON HEAD

      Bill Whipple

 

     In newsletter 46, after hearing a lot about blogs at the National Taxpayers Conference, we said “SAFE should consider a blog on its Website.”

     Three months later, with great support from SAFE’s Webmaster, Charles Kaszytski, we are posting blog entries on a weekly basis.  Subjects thus far have included healthcare finance, global warming, and the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.

     OK, the Internet can be irksome, but the new technology has stunning capabilities and we need to embrace it.  To this end, I would urge readers of this newsletter to check out the blog page of the Website.  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm

     Here are some pluses to look for:  (1) updated content is apparent since blog entries are posted in reverse chronological order (this encourages repeat visits to our site); (2) you can use the links provided to instantly access the underlying sources (providing what might be described as a guided tour of the Internet); (3) if you want to share a blog entry with family, friends, etc., just send them a link to the blog page and the entry date.  A sample blog entry (ex. embedded links) follows:

    

07/13/07:  Wake-up Tour; some questions for political candidates.

     The Concord Coalition, Heritage Foundation, Brookings Institution, and U.S. Comptroller David Walker have been touring America to make a point.  Our federal government is headed for a fiscal crisis; senior “entitlement” payments (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) will soar as the baby boomers retire, and no one knows how to pay the tab.

     The next forum is in Nashville, Tennessee on July 16.  There will be 11 more around the country (Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, etc.) during the remainder of 2007.

     If this sounds familiar, it should; the Wake-Up Tour came to Wilmington, Delaware last year.  Attendance was skimpy, but those at the forum were impressed.  This fiscal problem is real, they learned, and corrective action is urgently needed. See reports of the [Wilmington] News Journal (“Budge binge is big enough to choke on”) and our own SAFE newsletter (“Concord Coalition tells it like it is”).

     The Wake-Up Tour provides an “ah, hah” moment for many people, such as a 25-year-old college student who walked out of a June 2007 forum in Tampa, Florida shaking his head.  “I knew there was a problem,” Joseph Farrell was quoted, but “I didn’t realize there was no solution in sight.  My taxes are going to be huge.”

     Participants in the Wake-Up Tour are not aiming to sell a solution to the fiscal crisis.  Rather, their intent is to stir up so much interest and concern that political candidates in 2008 will feel impelled to answer – really answer, not duck and parry – some pointed questions about it.

     How can the fiscal crisis be averted?  Stay tuned; we will tackle this question in future entries.

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WE’RE HEADING FOR BALTIMORE

 

     SAFE Board of Directors will go to the Wake-Up Tour’s Baltimore forum, October 29.  We’ll show up using our special SAFE shirts to show our support and, we hope, make a splash.

     We’re doing this, because the Wake-Up Tour, described in our 7/13 blog included in the previous article, needs to be taken seriously.  We expect to enjoy the trip and hope to add something to the richly delivered publicity for the Wake-Up Tour.

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED AFTER COMMUNITY DAY

 

September 24, 2007

 

SAFE Announces Results of a Survey on Fiscal Policy conducted on 9/16/07 at Newark Community Day.

 

     After being reminded that the government is spending/promising beyond its means, survey participants were asked to choose between two solutions – shrink the government (to reduce spending) or raise taxes.  They voted for shrinking the government by a 4-to-1 margin.  For details, see our recap of survey results in the next column.

     The support for shrinking government may well erode when it comes to deciding which programs should go (see the SAFE Website for our ideas).  Still, the survey results are too decisive to dismiss; they are also in harmony with the results of surveys we have conducted in previous years.  http://s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm  (9/24/07 entry)

     At the risk of over-generalizing, we believe that established workers (30-59 age bracket), constituting the backbone of the U.S. economy, are skeptical about the proliferation of government programs.  Although they are paying for these programs, they see relatively little benefit from them. Sooner or later, they figure, the government’s finances will come crashing down like a house of cards (financial experts, such as U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, agree), and they are not up for a big tax increase to delay the day of reckoning.

     We have shared these findings with Delaware’s representatives in Congress and requested their thoughts on the current fiscal situation.  Hopefully, there will be some tangible results.

     Contacts:

     Bill Whipple (302) 464-2688

     Bill Morris (302) 475-1277

 

Recap of Survey Results

 

     At Newark Community Day on September 16, SAFE invited attendees to express a preference between two basic approaches to averting a fiscal meltdown.  Here is how the question was framed:

 

      EXPERTS AGREE THE GOVERNMENT IS SPENDING/PROMISING BEYOND ITS MEANS; THEY DISAGREE AS TO THE SOLUTION.

      WHICH OF THESE STATEMENTS COMES CLOSEST TO REFLECTING YOUR VIEW?

(A)               IT IS TIME TO SHRINK THE GOVERNMENT, NOT RAISE TAXES.

(B)                THE GOVERNMENT IS FINE, TAXES SHOULD BE RAISED.

 

     121 people participated in the survey.  Of them, 79% checked option A and 21% checked option B.

     The split by gender was 53% female/47% male.  Female participants indicated an 81%/19% preference for option A; male participants chose Option A by a 77%/23% margin.

     Half of the participants were in the 30-59 age bracket (83% for Option A); 30% were under 30 (74% for Option A); 20% were 60 or older (Also 74% for Option A).

     Several people declined to participate in the survey on grounds that they did not agree with either of the choices being offered.  Illustrative comments:  it is not as simple as that, we need to fix the government vs. shrinking it, let’s just tax the wealthy, etc.

     The questions as worded suggest a stark choice, and SAFE stands by them.  The rapidly growing fiscal gap as the baby boomers retire will be far too big to close with a bit of belt tightening and some modest tax increases.  In our opinion the choices will boil down to shrinking the government dramatically or raising taxes to unprecedented levels (probably tanking the economy in the process).

     From the survey results, it appears that many people are coming to similar conclusions.  Isn’t it time that our political leaders got in step?

 

                                                                                * * * * * * *

 

      Survey participants were invited to register for a $100 prize drawing.  SAFE is pleased to announce the lucky winner:  Dawn Samis of Bear, Delaware.

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PETE DUPONT’S NCPA, A SAFE ALLY

       (Bill Morris)

 

     Okay, this heading is meant to get your attention, especially if you are a Delawarean.

     We’ll get to Pete shortly.  The National Center for Policy Analysis was founded in 1983 by John Goodman, author of “Patient Power:  Solving America’s Health Care Crisis.”  This book is “credited with playing a pivotal role” in defeating the Clinton health care proposal.  Goodman is called “Father of Health Savings Accounts”.  He has imposing credentials which are outlined on http://www.ncpa.org  Click on “about us”, “board of directors” and either Goodman or DuPont.

     John Goodman is President and CEO.  Pete DuPont, who came on board later, is Chairman of the Board.  Some non-Delawareans may not remember that Pete was a U.S. Representative and a Governor of Delaware.  He ran for President but was defeated in the primary by George H. W. Bush. According to Delaware reporter, Celia Cohen, Bush had a stronger organization.  My personal opinion:  Pete would have been an excellent President. He balanced the Delaware budget each of his eight years, leaving the state in excellent condition.

     So What?  And why all this about NCPA?  This will become clear.  Along with Cato Institute, NCPA provides excellent public policy studies that can help and inspire the SAFE effort toward a better future.  As a very very minor contributor to NCPA, I receive information including the NCPA “Executive Alert Extra”.  It is a very easy to read four pager – about half pictures and half summaries of their activities.  A cartoon in the September/October issue shows Michael Moore running from a hypodermic labeled “Facts”.  The accompanying summary in the Executive Alert refers to their website which balances horror stories in the movie SICKO with horror stores from countries with single payer health plans.

     On a different subject, NCPA sent me two copies of their new publication, “A Global Warming Primer”.  It contains 37 charts and graphs and a list of references for each.  I liked it so much that I called (972) 386-6272 to order more copies.

     Their website is titled NCPA – A LEADER IN PROMOTING PRIVATE ALTERNATIVES TO GOVERNMENT REGULATION & CONTROL.  This is an accurate description.  I will not attempt to tell you all the areas they have covered and are covering.

     It appears that NCPA is very good at getting the attention of members of the federal government and influencing them.  It also appears that they are good at getting the contributions required to do their work.  I am certainly glad they are doing what they are doing.

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REMOVE GOVERNMENT  FROM HEALTH CARE

 

     You can’t do just one thing.  During World War II, the federal government instituted wage controls.  Employers were desperate to get workers, but couldn’t pay them more.  So, they were allowed to provide health care benefits as a cost of business.  Because of human nature, when something is subsidized, we use more of it.  This was the beginning of the health care crisis.

     The problem is illustrated by a RAND study comparing patients with first dollar coverage to those who paid a large deductible.  The first dollar coverage patients consumed 43 percent more health care, but the two groups had indistinguishable health outcomes.  This is from a Cato Institute September/October Policy Report article.  The Cato article is titled “Hazards of the Individual Health Care Mandate”.

     The above article refers to the Massachusetts law that requires individuals to purchase health insurance.  Quoting the article, “The individual mandate will do little, if anything to solve the problem of ‘free riders’ whose health expenses are paid for by the rest of us.  The mandate will do nothing to decrease the actual cost of health services.  Worst of all, the mandate will create a set of political incentives that will likely drive up the cost of health insurance while impeding the adoption of more effective reforms.”

     The above quotation is worth re-reading.  So is the first paragraph which reminds us how we got into this mess.

     Health savings accounts are a much better solution.  The best solution is to get the government out of health care.  A long term hope for health care is for individuals to monitor their own health as described in newsletter 45.  That approach would take into account individual differences.  Because of individual differences, a pill can be a godsend for most patients, ineffective for some and harmful for a very few.

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TWO EXTREMES

 

     The TV History Channel shows programs titled “Mega-Disasters.  One example is a big comet slamming into the Earth.  That could wipe out most of us humans, but the probability is very very very low.  However, it is worth the cost of having a few dozen people out of six billion keeping a watch and trying to figure out how to prevent or decrease the damage.

     On the other extreme (high probability – survivable damage) is the damage caused by big government.  It is almost a certainty that failure to rein in big government will result in a financial crisis when the baby boomers retire.  It seems reasonable that, while enjoying our lives, we work with the few million other Americans advocating for a smaller government.

 

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