Scott Wedel

Scott Wedel 1 day, 19 hours ago on Dennis Brust: Government control of health care

The "Tragedy of the Commons" is not a guide of driving an economic system to collapse. It describes what happens under the capitalist system when failing to put a cost on a community resource. That the capitalist system rewards those that overgraze the community's common field and gives a competitive disadvantage to those responsible users that do not overgraze. The common grazing area analogy would also apply to industrial labor (as there were more potential workers than jobs), clean water, breathable air and so on.

Where Marx believed that argued against capitalism, most Western countries saw that as creating a need for regulations so that the commons were not free to use or abuse. Thus, countries enacted workplace standards so that it wasn't acceptable that a coal miner didn't die on average every day and so on.

The trouble with Venequela is not socialism per se. Communist Cuba without oil revenues has outlasted a decade of socialism in Venezuela. Germany would presumably also be described as "socialist" and they are doing quite well.

What plagues Venezuela is corruption across the board from tens of billions of oil revenues going missing, to government at all levels able to issue decrees to seize businesses of whatever size with no legal justification. Last week I was reading the story of a Venezuelan small manufacturer that was being threatened to be shut down because his bathrooms didn't have toilet paper as that is in very short supply. So when he had been getting some toilet paper then employees were taking extra to use at home. So then on the black market he acquired enough toilet paper and then the authorities seized the toilet paper, threatened to seize the factory and labelled him as a hoarder of toilet paper. Owner was ready to give up, but turns out local authorities just wanted to shake him down for a few thousand dollars.

That Venezuela has long had serious issues with corruption and this government has made it far worse by using corruption to reward allies and punish opponents.

I don't see any evidence that socialist countries are inherently any less corrupt that "free market" dictatorships. There has also been any number of failed free market dictatorships. What matters far more than political ideology is whether the rule of law and the judiciary have the power to investigate and prosecute corruption.

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Scott Wedel 1 day, 22 hours ago on Harnessing the sun

"The regional economy relies on the coal industry. It employs hundreds of people, but there are no jobs at the solar garden."

That is a misleading comparison. The article also describes how the coal power plant generates over 2,000 times more electricity than the 4 acre solar system. If there was a 9,000 acre solar array then it would also have hundreds of workers as on that scale there is always something needed maintenance or repairs. There would also be a control room keeping the grid informed of present and expected power levels.

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Scott Wedel 1 day, 22 hours ago on Dennis Brust: Government control of health care

BTW, we have the equivalent of death panels today buried in insurance companies that decide what are covered treatments.

Every country has some version of that at some level within their healthcare system deciding what they can afford to treat.

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Scott Wedel 1 day, 22 hours ago on Dennis Brust: Government control of health care

You are going to argue that we are not a "representative democracy"? I just double checked that definition and there seems no question that we are a representative democracy. We are also a "Constitutional Republic" because out representative democracy is based upon a constitution. Not every country has a constitution. Venezuela has a constitution so they are also a "Constitutional Republic".

And there are racists that want to deny medical coverage to those that are not white. Some stupid proposal doesn't mean it is what much of the population believes. And it is inescapable that if US government were to nationalize or seize hospitals and healthcare companies then it must follow the laws and pay for it.

The large issue with the healthcare industry is not whether they generate profits, but what is the appropriate level of regulation. Healthcare and life saving drugs are not discretionary purchases. And yet we give companies patents and thus exclusive rights to sell life saving drugs at whatever price they choose. A life saving liver treatment is priced to be comparable to the cost of a live transplant and is thus expected to result in billions in profits for the drug maker. Other countries balk at that amount of profit margin and instead negotiate with the drug maker to bring the price down to a reasonable profit.

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Scott Wedel 1 day, 23 hours ago on Dennis Brust: Government control of health care

In Denmark I can offend you all day and night by calling you an ignorant jerk as many times phrased as many ways as I would desire. Where they draw the line differently than the US is that racist and blasphemy speech is not allowed because they have decided that too easily leads to violence.

USA has drawn an interesting line in that we don't prohibit hate speech, but we do recognize "fighting words" as being illegal. Denmark has decided that racist and blasphemy speech are fighting words.

I see no evidence that the Danes believe they have less political freedom than the US. They could look at their number of political parties and the relative ease of forming a political party as showing that they have greater political freedom. The US makes it far harder for an individual or new political party to be on the ballot.

Also, Western European countries that some might call "socialist" are not centrally planned. Different countries have different standards for starting businesses, business regulations and so on, but they are not "centrally planned".

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Scott Wedel 2 days ago on Dennis Brust: Government control of health care

So then you are arguing that Venezuela proves that democracy or specifically that representative democracy is doomed to fail within 60 years of being established in a country?

Just as the free market can utilize individual's selfish intent to have a profit company to benefit society by providing better goods and services at lower prices, a democracy has a similar virtuous cycle. The public benefits far more from a stable government with a functioning economy than from looting the government. That is why Gates and Buffett are not complaining so bitterly about taxes because they know that government failing is far more of a threat to their wealth than taxes.

I think that Venezuela demonstrates that it is disastrous for a country to have a weak judicial system that cannot stop elected officials issuing decrees seizing property and businesses. That a weak judicial system undermines a country also explains Putin's Russia and other countries. While some complain whether ACA is constitutional as a tax, it did not attempt to do anything like seizing ownership of hospitals, pharma companies and so on which would have had far larger economic impacts.

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Scott Wedel 2 days ago on Dennis Brust: Government control of health care

The car insurance model does not work because people are not cars. You have a damaged car then you can get another car. If you have a damaged body then that cannot simply be replaced. Also, a car is not absolutely essential. A person can live in a city without a car. A person with bad health often cannot work.

Nor is people helping out and providing charity any sort of a solution. Someone gets cancer and whether or not that person gets treated depends upon if there are sufficient charitable contributions?

Society benefits overall if it provides decent healthcare for everyone. A person that is helped to recover can return to the workforce. A society needs to decide what are reasonably cost effective treatments. That is arguably death panels, but because a person able to return to work, parenting and so on then early death also has significant societal costs. Thus, universal health programs in developed countries are willing to spend over $100,000 to save a life.

In terms of any discussion, bringing up Venezuela automatically instantly discredits any point attempting to be made. The country is massively mismanaged with extensive corruption. Since it is the one abject basket case out of numerous countries with representative democracies, oil based economies and whatever attribute someone wishes to assign to it then it is obviously not what is with representative democracy and so on. It is only an example of what happens with massive mismanagement and extensive corruption.

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Scott Wedel 2 days, 10 hours ago on Harnessing the sun

“That hillside is only going to produce so much (coal),”

No, the intended word was "electricity". A hillside of solar collectors does not produce "coal".

An electric company subsidizing solar PV installs is lower income rate payers subsidizing wealthy people installing solar PV. Maybe YVEA has too long been a collective so that idea has not had support.

The more effective option for solar PV should be utility scale installs which elsewhere came in at $1.54 per watt for 2015.

http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/us-solar-system-prices-fell-17-in-2015--finds-gtm_100023743/

So economy of scale means it comes in at less than half the cost of residential. If YVEA is going to pay for solar PV then they should own it and they should get the electricity. They could sell "green electricity" at a slightly higher rate as other utilities do to those customers that want it. If enough customers want that then it pays for installing more solar.

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Scott Wedel 2 days, 16 hours ago on City releases excessive force lawsuit settlement agreements

David,

Good point that City Attorney had been allowed to cease working for city council and was instead working for city staff.

Hinsvark was told to use Suiter for professional development. He had no power as "coach" to tell her to do anything. There is no indication that Gary Suiter advised Hinsvark to do any of the things she did that were unpopular or caused conflicts with city council. Gary Suiter in his actions as city manager is clearly doing things differently than Hinsvark. That Gary and Police Chief Cory show up and seem to enjoy interacting with the public at Scott Ford's coffee meetings never happened with Hinsvark or Rae.

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Scott Wedel 2 days, 17 hours ago on City releases excessive force lawsuit settlement agreements

Fred,

We had police administration that was inept. We had city manager that was inept. We had a city council that didn't know how to do a job review of a city manager (sitting in a semi circle and saying they mostly like her was good enough for all but Macys and Ford).

Note that all of that incompetence was protected by executive sessions. Lawsuits were discussed in executive session. City manager performance was discussed in executive session. Police Chief's performance is a city manager, not city council, issue according to city charter.

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