Republican Administrations Are Just As Incompetent as Democratic Administrations: Governor Doug Ducey in AZ

Strong supporters of both political parties maintain a delusion that all government problems are the result of the incompetence of the other political team, rather than the inherent incentive and information problems facing all government efforts.

Republicans, for example, made fun of Obama's competence with the horrendously bad rollout of the Federal Obamacare exchange.  But now, Doug Ducey's Arizona Department of Revenue is having the same problem.

As of this month, the agency is requiring that all multisite businesses (like mine) must file online rather than with pen and paper.  So we logged in today to file our report.  What a disaster!  The only thing I can even compare it to is stories of the early days of the Obamacare exchange.  First, the site is set up so that even a relatively simple return must have data entered across scores of pages.  In basic layout, it  is probably the worst site of any of the ten states we do business in.

But what has really made today a nightmare is that it is taking 5-10 minutes to load each page.  The agency clearly was not ready for the load.  Combined with a site design that requires many many page loads to complete simple tasks, and it makes filing (a 10 minute or so job on paper) a multi-day nightmare.  Four hours into it and I have not completed one location out of 15 or so I need to enter.

When I called the DOR, they basically said I had to suck it up.  I begged them for some sort of simple accommodation -- I have filed by paper for 13 years, why not allow me to file by paper for one more month until they get their act together?  No dice.  They instead suggested that my accounting staff come in at midnight tonight to do the work when the load on their servers would be lower.

If anything, the response from Republican Doug Ducey's office was even more insulting.  They said to me that this change had been announced for months, as if it was my failing to enter the system in a timely manner that was the problem.  According to Ducey's staff, I could have avoided the whole problem by filing my June revenue numbers a few months back, lol.  I patiently explained that June numbers could not be reported until the bank statements had arrived and were reconciled, such that most all returns had to be filed between the 15th and the 20th of the month.  And what is more, if this had been in the works so long, why hadn't the Administration seen fit to do an adequate job of testing the site and preparing for adequate capacity?

The answers from the governor's office were just as absurd and arrogant as any coming out of the Obama Administration about the failures of the exchange.  Which again proves to this libertarian that there is no much real difference between the Coke and Pepsi parties.  The problem is the government -- without the accountability brought by market competition -- trying to do these sorts of things.


  1. J_W_W:

    Yet another example where similar lack of performance by a private company would lead to a government investigation and fines...

  2. Not Sure:

    "They instead suggested that my accounting staff come in at midnight tonight to do the work when the load on their servers would be lower."

    Good thing you're dealing with public servants. Can you even begin to imagine the hell they'd put you through if they thought they were in charge?

  3. mlhouse:

    The problem with government incompetence is not with the overall policy, but with the people who execute those policies.

    And, lets face it, most governemnt employees are Democratic voters. This makes it difficult for Republicans to actually get their policies implemented effectively because they are watered down or ruined by the "civil servents", card holding union members who would rather have Democrats running the show.

    I think the civil service needs to go away for at least two more layers of governemnt if not more. Make the DMV political appointees that represent their party. Maybe that is enough incentive to make it work.

  4. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    I am under no delusion that "government problems are the result of the incompetence of the other political team." Neither party inherently has more capable workers and implementers. I keep thinking that my party will perform better because the media is on the side of the other party, and therefore my party will behave better because they are being more closely watched; however, I continue to be disappointed on that front.
    Rather, I favor my party because it is more likely to support limited government, more likely to defend freedom in America, more likely to understand unintended consequences, and more likely to rely on market incentives. Of course, no party is perfectly aligned with my views, but that is a reality of making decisions on government rather than the market: with government we must make a choice of bundles, rather than pick and choosing from a menu of market options.

  5. herdgadfly:

    Sometimes bending is better than fighting, especially if you have no choice. I once worked for a company with hundreds of malls and shopping centers that changed month-end closing policies because the new Chairman said we would. Instead of 7 work days to close the books, my small accounting department had to get the job done in 4 just work days.

    We solved the problem by working seven days in a row after the month was over - and we took a 4 day weekend the following week.

    I also remember in the old days, when accounting was confined by the month-end workload in the IT department when monthly reports had to be printed, so we solved the problem by starting and finishing work later in the day.

  6. Agammamon:

    If your organization routinely makes policies its own people can not carry out - then there's a problem with your policies (in addition to any other problems you have).

    If you're making policy that needs to be implemented by angels - and there are no angels around - then there's a problem with that policy.

  7. Agammamon:

    Of course they never considered what would happen if every business took that advice and so the servers sit with minimal load all day and then choke with the influx as all of Arizona's accountants try to log on at 0000.

    Anyone with a shred of intelligence would have rolled it out incrementally over the course of a year or two. Start with newly licensed businesses - start them online only right from the get go - and then phase in the rest as the system becomes more reliable.

  8. Matthew Slyfield:

    If you constantly find yourself needing to think/work outside the box, you are in the wrong box.

  9. herdgadfly:

    Is that like the First Rule of Boxes?

  10. Kurt Droffe:

    What if you just filed it in paper nonetheless? Is there a law that requires you to do it online or is it only an order for the convenience of the agency? As far as I know, it is not as easy for an agency in Germany simply to prescribe how such things have to be done, there must be a provision in the law to change the way, especially in financial and legal matters. And I think the courts would be on your side if you could prove that technically it was quite unfeasable do do how the agency wished.
    Alas, it takes some courage to quarrel with an agency your business depends of. Part of the problem.

  11. Matthew Slyfield:

    No, it's the second rule. The first rule is you don't talk about the box. :)

  12. Ward Chartier:

    Does Jonathan Gruber's little-known second cousin work for the Arizona Department of Revenue?

  13. ano333:

    Come on Warren, the Obamacare website failed for only a week or two. Then, they got it functioning properly and folks were able to use it. The feds even gave us extra time to file for insurance (unlike the Doucy admin in your anecdote).

  14. J Calvert:

    I think you should invite your local state representative to witness the filling process in person. I've found that government bureaucrats are highly responsive to the elected officials that set their budget.

  15. John Say:

    The ObamaCare website was a disaster for months. I doubt even today it works as intended.
    For atleast one month it was so bad it was unusable. But for far, far, far longer the backend functions were total crap and getting things straight was dumped on the insurers.

    I can not think of a private company anywhere ever who has done anything like these and survived.

  16. John Say:

    The problem starts with the overall policy - or the conception that governmment should be involved at all.

    Your democrat republican issue is far broader.

    In almost anything those people who make something work are far far fewer than those who have empowered others to make rules for how it should be done. This is again an important reason for limited government.
    Most of us should never have the power to tell some of us how to do anything.

    Layers is not the problem, it is the power vested in government that is the problem

  17. thesafesurfer:

    Isn't the theme "bureaucratic inefficiency." Didn't Friedman say if you put the government in charge of the Sahara they would run out of sand?

  18. mlhouse:

    IT is different if "it is your own people". That is the basic point of the post. When Republicans have control of the executive at any level, the lower levels of government, the "civil service", are filled with unionized employees that support the opposite political party. Pretty simple point. Not surprised you missed it.

  19. mlhouse:

    Well, while I support "limited government", it is also clear that "limited government" will never happen. So, you can look at the situation the way it really exists or pretend to live in a fantasy world of your imagination.

    And, ONE REASON WHY IT IS HARD TO LIMIT GOVERNMENT, is that when conservatives take control of the executive or legislative branch, they are saddled with "civil servents" who have the exact opposite views. Therefore, creating and executing policy is much more difficult. The same old bureaucracy mans the fort. The same people work at teh DMV treating their customers like crap. ANd try to fire them...........

  20. EricP:

    I work as a developer and software architect for some of the most popular websites in the world (yes pron :)) and this kind of story never fails to anger me. It's not that hard to scale a site to millions of daily users especially when you are dealing with government sized-budgets.

    The funny thing is that just based on what you describe in terms of the how the forms are laid out I could tell them the exact bottle neck and where they went wrong. Unfortunately fixing it will need a rewrite since the problem was architectural and comes from hiring inexperienced developers.

    Any one of the people who sit around me at work could do this kind of
    thing in their sleep and our designers and QA would never allow such an
    unusable mess to pass. This kind of failure is something only the
    government could orchestrate.

  21. John Say:

    When what we have fails - something is going to replace it. That might be limited government - it also might be totalitarianism.

    But I hope we do not have to go through failure to get change.
    Regardless, those are our choices, continuing as we are will lead to failure.

    I am thoroughly open to less radical ways to move towards limited govenrment.
    Though I will note that they is usually more risk and more likelyhood of things going wrong in half measures.

    Yes, when conservatives gain control they face obstacles.

    But one of those obstacles is that they are not themselves truly committed to limited government.

    With majorities in the house and the senate the GOP was unable to defund ExIm.
    If we can not terminate such a bastion of stupid crony capitalism that truly benefits no one,
    how can we expect to cut elsewhere ?

    There are myriads of obstacles - but the biggest is conservatives themself.

    Conservatives abandonded the sequester - to be able to increase defense spending.
    I support strong defense - it is a legitimate function of government.
    But we would spend half what we currently spend on defense and still outspend the top ten other nations in the world combined.

  22. mlhouse:

    THe biggest obstacle is not the conservatives themselves but the political enviroment. Conservatives lose the media game and while they could play the game better the mass media is almost totally biased against them.

    SO, while hard core people will never understand, I don't think the Republican leadership did as poor of a job as claimed. They did not have all of the cards. They played the cards they had, some of them average and some poorly. But they were never going to win "the Sequestor" battle. Nor on immigration. ANyone who thought that when the GOP took the Senate that ObamaCare was going to be overturned was just totally mistaken from the start. Obama was going to VETO every bill that changed or repeal.

    Only by electing a solid majority in the Congress AND controlling the WHite House will most of these exective actions be changed.

    AS far as defense spending, I agree with you but I also favor significant reductions in defense spending. We need to commit to a goal of a 3% GDP level of defense spending within the next decade and then reduce that to 1.5% of GDP over the next 5 decades. THe one thing I do not agree to is reducing defense spending with morons like Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton controllign the decisions though.

  23. John Say:

    Nor interested in apologists.

    The truth is few conservatives are truly interested in limited government.

    Why are many neo-cons looking to support Clinton ?
    Limited government is no important to them.

    I am far more interested in increasing the number of representatives and senators that prize individual liberty, then in which party controls.

    There is little difference in the outcome regardless of party.

    Look at history - Nixon was more progressive than LBJ.
    Carter is responsible for almost all deregulation that has ever occured.
    Clinton was fairly fiscally conservative.
    GW and Obama were both progressive and nearly indistinguishable.

    Sarb-Ox is one of the most costly destructive regulations in US history.
    Medicare D is accelerating the destruction of medicare and social security.
    NCLB has expanded the federal governments role in state education.
    We are still in the mideast, we are still at war - any war will do.
    We are still killing innocents with drones. We are still torturing.
    Guantanamo is still open.
    We are if anything less respected by foreign governments.

    Frankly it is hard to tell Bush and Obama apart

  24. John Say:

    The media did not force republicans to trade the sequester for defense spending.

    The media did not force republicans to re-authorize ExIm.

  25. mlhouse:

    IT is really easy to tell them apart except your head is in the ground. The political reality is that what you want, and maybe what I want, is not a political reality. Name one candidate that has campaigned on your platform? Even the most conservative candidates want to talk about bringing federal money to support the local water treatment plant or local airfield. They do this because voters expect it, even in the most conservative districts.

    To run with a campaign platform of "I will not do anything for the district" will lose in a landslide.

  26. John Say:

    Exactly my platform - no. we do not ever get candidates that match any of us as individuals perfectly.

    No voters do NOT expect it. What portion of the electorate - even the local electorate cares about money for a local treatment plant or airfield ? Particularly if there are no problems with those consuming the public interest.

    A decade ago my congressmen was noted for never bringing home the bacon - and he was re-elected year after year after year. And our community did not suffer. I beleive Mercatus did a recent study of West Virginia, that demonstrated that federal money had actually been destructive to the state.

    What is true is a tiny portion of the electorate will vote based on those things.
    And congress critters fear close elections.

    But no a campaign of "I will rigorously stand for cutting federal spending - even locally" will not lose in a landslide - and increasingly it is likely to win. And that is where my effort is - not republican control of everything. But more people - regardless of party (though there are few libertarain democrats) who want less government and more individual liberty.

    As to candidates I could be happy with.
    Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rand Paul all come immediately to mind.
    But if we go beyond recent candidates to with those who have not run for president or who did so in the past the numbers become enormous - and include some actual presidents.

    Almost all deregulation ever accomplished in the US was during the carter administration.
    The most significant tax reform and the greatest reduction in non-defense spending was Reagan.
    Even Bill Clinton - though no hero, was still far better than any presidents Since Coolidge except Carter and Reagan.

    AS to weather what I want is politically possible.

    I think it is. This particular election has been about our vast anger with washington.
    Trump won the republican nod - not because of his platform or policies - but because he was a brash unrepentent outsider. Sanders nearly upset clinton for nearly the same reasons.

    Further can you name a single Republican presidential candidate that was not arguing for most of the things I want ?

    What Republican was not for limited government ?
    What Republican was not for a noninterventionist foreign policy ?
    What Republican was not for cutting taxes and spending and simplifying our tax system ?

    The "political reality" problem has nothing to do with what the electorate wants, and little to do with what our politicians promise. It has to do with what they actually do.

    So one of my other criteria is character. While all politicians lie - they do not all lie the same or as much.

  27. mlhouse:

    Ron Paul is insane. And Rand Paul and Gary Johnson don't campaign on the limited governemnt you want. No one does.

    Republicans are "for limited government" but our political system the term limited is a relative one.

  28. John Say:

    Why is Ron Paul insane ? He is just a relatively ordinary run of the mill libertarian who for the most part actually speaks his mind.

    And Yes, Johnson and Rand Paul campaign for limited government.
    Rand had a budget to reduce total government cost to $1T at the start of his term

    What I want is to actually reduce the size of government - the faster the better, but actually reducing would be a start.
    Even the sequester was not a real reduction. All Republicans even talk about is reducing tghe rate of growth.

    Define limited government however you want - if you can not kill ExIm the entire discussion is pointless.
    Some republicans are for limited government - not all. Probably not most really.

    Nothing is absolute. that does not preclude things from being false.
    I do not care how you define limited government - if you can not define it - you are not for it.

    But I will give you a definition.

    Government is force.
    Limited government is that government that only acts where force is necescary - all else we can manage for ourselves or in voluntary private cooperation with others.

  29. mlhouse:

    Well, Rand supports something. I do to. At the start of the year I wanted to give everyone a free unicorn. About as realistic as a $1 T total government budget. The political support for such a proposal is, well, Rand Paul. The sad truth is that more than 50% of the eligible voters support much HIGHER government budgets come hell nor high water.

    AS far as Ron Paul being insane, a lot of his economic ideas are pure crack pot. Abolish the Federal Reserve. Gold Standards. Imaginary budgets.

    So, reducing the size to the governemnt is about slowing the rate of growth. It is hard enough to get that done.

  30. John Say:

    What part of a $1T total federal budget is "unrealistic".

    I beleive an economist conducted an experiment with his class several years ago.

    he asked them to construct their own federal budget from scratch.

    They could do it in teams or as individuals using whatever criteria they wanted.

    Few were able to spend more than $1T.

    The federal government do not actually do very much.
    Most of what it does is either unneeded or way too expensive.

    The department of education did not exist when I was in High School - nor the EPA,
    Department of energy does nothing of consequence besides manage nukes - which should be returned to the military.

    If we determine that we are not going to intervene in the affairs of other countries.
    If we decide that free trade means exactly that - government should stay out,
    If we recognize that our foreign aide has been incredibly destructive,
    There is very little left for the state department to do.

    The treasury mostly borrow money and collects taxes.
    If we do not have to borrow money and if we have a simple flat tax - all of which would be trivial with a $1T federal government - we need very little treasury and no IRS.

    If we scrap federal regulations - nearly all of which are unnecescary and unconstittutional - we have very little need for a justice department, and little need for the FBI.

    The federal government is constitutionally barred from owning the vast amounts of land it does within the states. Our founders reuired the federal government to divest itself of landholdings when a teritory became a state - more of the constitution we have ignored.
    Turn over most federal lands to the states and you can do away with the department of the interior.

    Even there - we have already discovered that private businesses that must bid for the priviledge can run our parks providing far better service to citizens improving the parks, and providing the federal govenrment with money in return.

    The department of agriculture has been a disaster since it was formed FDR thought tractors caused the great depression. There is this lunatic idea that eastern college elites taught stupid farmers things like contour plowing.

    The federal govenrment has a very limited role in commerce - we do not need a department of commerce.

    The federal government has no role in labor. The government legitimately is required to assure that neither workers nor owners (such an artificial distinction) use force against each other.
    Beyond that they may do as they please. That is what a level playing field means.

    Health and Human Services are no part of the role of the federal govenrment
    nor is housing and urban development,

    Even the name "homeland security" gives me the creeps.
    There is a legitimate government role thwarting those who would do harm to us.
    but frankly that should not be a very expensive proposition.

    Transportation security is the responsibility of the transportation industry.

    The major cost of government is entitlements.
    Those should have been made private long ago.
    Every nation with a fully private social safety net has done dramatically better than those that do not.
    Clinton and Gingrich were moving towards that when the legislature got caught up in impeachment.

  31. mlhouse:

    "What part of a $1T total federal budget is "unrealistic"."

    The part were you need to get 218 votes in the House and 51 votes in the Senate and the signature of the White House.

    AS far as spending $1 Trillion, the experiments are worthless.

    Medicare spending alone is more than $600 billion. Social Security payments were $845 billion. Lets call this $1.5 trillion and I havent even started yet.

    Defense spending is another $600 billion. $2.1 Trillion.

    Medicaid is $500 billion. $2.6 trillion.

    Veterans Administration is $182 billion..... round to $2.8 trillion.

    Federal housing costs: $190 billon..... round to $ 3 trillion.

    Food Stamps: $100 billion....

    Interest on the Federal Debt: $229 billion......We are at $3.3 trillion with other programs like transportation, "science", agriculture, and other spending another $500 bill.

    I understand that the average person in an economic experiment does not have a clue as to what dollar amounts are being spent.

    And the fact is, there is no political consensus for anything you say. A strong president could make most of these programs more efficient, find overlaping programs, and cut some really inefficient things on the far margin (most of which are just rounding errors in a $3.8 trillion budget).

    One trillion.....right.

  32. John Say:

    Either the votes will come - slowly, or we will go bankrupt.

    I have no doubt you can add the existing budgets to get enormous numbers.
    Though I would note that not all that long ago - every one of these cost less - far less.

    And I can not think of an instance in which more is being done.

    Why must medicare cost $600B ?
    Prior to its inception, the government spent $0. Seniors had to spend their own money and the cost for senior healthcare was relatively low.

    When you make something free to people - they consume more of it.
    That is precisely what has happened with Medicare.
    When medicare was passed it was not projected to cost a fraction of what it did.

    Because those who created the program presumed that all that would chage was who paid for senior care, and that economies of scale would actually reduce costs.

    Not only did it not work that way but medicare is responsible for somewhere between 1/3 and all of the increased cost of medical care to the rest of us since Medicare went into effect.

    Social Security was never supposed to cost more than 2% of income.
    It is now almost 14 - and that is not enough.

    Worse still the government removes nearly $1T from the economy each year for SS and delivers ZERO new value added for that.

    If we were investing $1T/year growth would be off the charts.
    A tiny few other nations have run fully private retirement funds and the results have been beyond belief.

    Why has the government got anything at all to do with housing ?

    Do we not have enough Cabrini Greens ? Can you really point to anything of value that has come from "federal housing" ?

    As I noted before - we could cut defense in half - and still have the strongest military in the world.

    Actually the average person has far more economic sense than the average congressmen.

    The average person grasps that we do not need to spend .25 of every $ of value we produce on government.

    The ordinary person beleives that about 50% of government spending is waste - a remarkably accurate number - Robert Barro the Ideas Respec #4 ranked economist in the world and the acknowledged expert in government spending multipliers has collected data from nearly the whole world and accross the past 40+ years, and it is all publicly available.
    He has found that the US federal spending multiplier is between .35-.45 - that is 55-65 cents of every dollar spent is wasted.

    Why ? Because the vast majority of what government does it throw money at problems
    Money is a small part of fixing any problem. It is insufficient, and more money does not make things work better.

  33. mlhouse:

    Why does Medicare cost $600B? Because people live longer lives. WHy doesn't it cost less? Because there is not a political consensus to reduce it.

    Again, while all of your limited government ideas sound great, the fact is the majority of the country believes we do not have enought governmetn. If they actually showed up to vote we would be in trouble.

    So, I think the best approach is to try for marginal reform. SLow the growth of Medicare so taht 10 years from now it only costs $850 billion instead of $1 trillion. Try to find some free market solutions that will offer better care for those that can make the choices at equal or slightly less cost. Try to find some incentives in the system to increase quality and/or cost, and make some tweaks to medical costs that have limited cost-benefit, such as a lot of end of life care.

    Maybe by following those lines we can reduce the $850 to $800 billion. WIth respect to Medicare itself, get over the demographic hump and maybe even those costs will go down.

    But the problem is if we follow YOUR political advice we will have the $1 trillion Medicare costs with the poorly delivered medical service because you CANNOT create an electoral majority with your ideas. THey are policital losers.

    TO see this look to the 2012 election. While some blame Romney, and sure he made some mistakes, he was a decent, intelligent, and conservative man. Many conservatives railed against him because they believe he lost because he wasn't "conservative" enough. The problem with this argument is pretty easy to see. If the 2012 election would have been the 1912 election, Mitt Romney would have won in a landslide. He carried 57% of the white, married, male vote. The problem is that he only carried 51% of the white, married, female vote. If he carries the wives of the demographically Republican households with the same margin he carried the husbands, he defeats Barrack Obama.

    But the differential is caused by the conservative message. Females, even members of what income wise should be a GOP voteing household, see the Republican/conservative message as too harsh, to unfair, and downright mean. YOur message just drives more of these women into voting for the Democratic candidate.

    THe message is, unless you want the WORSE outcome you need to shoot for the attainable outcome, not the pie in the sky, wannabee, unicorn outcome that you and many people similar to you talk about. Limited government is a fine theory. AS is federalism. As is many of the reforms you and I both advocate. But the policital reality is that they are losers and most likely will be for some generations.

  34. John Say:

    Most of the past improvement in life expectance came BEFORE 1968.
    There are myriads of reasons medicare costs to much. Nearly all of which apply to any instance in which government spends money for something.

    But medicare is worse because it runs afoul of the laws of supply and demand.
    If you make the cost to a person of something zero, you will substantially increase consumption.
    Consumption of medical services by seniors has atleast tripled since Medicare.
    If you radically increase demand - you increase the price - in this instance the price to government.

    Because you have decoupled price from demand and supply there will be no natural adjustment to correct.

  35. John Say:

    The majority of the people beleive we have too much government - way too much government.
    But we have mangled the system that was given us by or forefathers such that all the incentives are for creating even more.

    Whether state local or federal, there is little incentive to reduce and every incentive to expand..

    And if we eliminate medicare we will save the cost of medicare to the federal government, we will radically reduce demand for medical services, and the price of medical services - FOR EVERYONE will have to decline until demand is restored.

  36. John Say:

    You seem to beleive that pure democracy is moral, or that it is superior to other forms of government,
    It is not.

    The tryanny of the majority is no less tryanny than that of a fascist or communist.

    The problem with YOUR political advice is that is MUST end in failure. We can not continue to give people for free - what is not free to give.
    The politics are irrelevant -YOUR approach is economically unsustainable, and economics actually trumps politics - ask the USSR.

  37. John Say:

    Romney ran a lousy campaign. He was and remains a Milquetoast.
    He could not beat a weak president with a poor economy. He is the Republican version of John Kerry.

    Reality is the politics you think are the impediment to my approach are unsustainable.

    If you are correct - this nation will end in failure quite soon.
    If you are not the only workable alternative is something close to my approach.

  38. mlhouse:

    I dont think the data necessarily supports your claims:

    Regardless, the fact is that changing the rate of life expectency is not a simple linear relationship. TO change the life expectency from 47.3 in 1900 to about 68 in 1950 was relatively easy. Anti-biotics and vaccines eliminated most of the infectious diseases that killed most Americans. These mostly public health practices were relatively cheap to implement. But to change the life expectancy from 68 to 78 was a much different proposition, involved more difficult and expensive medical procedures and practices.

    AS far as Medicare, it aint going away. The candidate that proposes anything other than minor reforms to Medicare will have just one word associated to them: Loser.

    That is the polical reality you keep ignoring.

  39. mlhouse:

    And this is the real problem of your approach. It drives the worst possible decisions.

    Lets put it this way. You and your wife are looking to get a pet. Your wife really wants a cat, but would settle for a dog if that is what you wanted. You think having a cat is the worst possible choice, absolutely unsustainable but you would prefer a dog much more than a cat. But, instead of compromising on a dog you INSIST upon getting a rainbow colored unicorn for your pet. YOu always wanted one and dang it you will not have a pet unless it is a unicorn. I hope you like changing litter boxes because you are getting a cat.

    While I agree that the process we have in place is unsustainable, if some fixes to Medicare and Social Security were enacted we can get through the next 2-3 decades and the major demographic wave, and from there the system can be made sustainable. But that is choosing the POSSIBLE choice, not the impossible choice you want.

  40. John Say:

    Life expectancy is a diminishing returns and delayed benefits - and yes the data does support my claim. Including what you linked to.
    The rate of increase in life expectancy since 1968 was small compared to prior.
    Yet far more happened post 1968 to improve live expectance than Medicare.
    Two obvious factors the rate of violent deaths and the rate of traffic deaths bother declined - they alone more than account for the small increase in life expectance since 1968.
    There was no effect from medicare.

    This should not be all that surprising - as numerous studies - including the recent "oregon experiment"
    have shown that insurance has no effect on medical outcomes in the US.

    The effects of health insurance are financial, not medical.
    The insurance companies have been studying this for decades looking for proof that health insurance has a health benefit - and they have found none. If they had it would have made headlines on every newspaper.

  41. John Say:

    You are buying too much into left wing nonsense.
    Anitbiotics were implimented almost entirely privately.

    Governments and left wing nuts like to talk about "public health" - there is no such thing.
    All care, all health is individual.

  42. John Say:

    Life expectancy is no different from myriads of other things - like standard of living.
    Some changes - such as cleanliness, antibiotics, and blood plasma have had dramatic effects.
    Most changes have small effect.
    Thus far the evidence is health insurance has no medical benefit - it does have clear financial benefits.

    A reality you ignore is that we can not pay for these things.

    The left's claim they can do so with increased taxes is nonsense.
    As Obama Cheif Economic Advisor Christina Romer found increasing marginal tax rates does $2 in economic damage for each $1 of tax levied - and at current tax rates increases are unlikely to bring in more revenue. In terms of total taxation the US is likely about the revenue maximizing optimum - i.e. further tax increases will reduce (slightly) tax revenue rather than increase it.
    So there is no way tax out of this.

    We are well into the point on the borrowing curve where further borrowing does substantial economic damage - see Reinhart and Roggoff. So we can not borrow our way out of this. Further the shortfall is gargantuan.

    Medicare and SS have always been a ponzi scheme and all ponzi schemes eventually fail.
    We are not far from that.

    Benefits are going to have to be reduced, and the more benefits are reduced the less that political will that you keep threatening matters.

    We really have only two choices - solve the problem with significant pain now - or much greater pain later.

  43. John Say:

    Medicare costs 600B because it has radically driven up the demand for medical care by seniors - not because people live longer.

    No the majority does not beleive we have too little government - in fact the exact opposite is true.

    The problem - is that solutions that increase government power and have concentrated benefits and diffuse costs are politically nearly impossible to stop - except that is a completely unsustainable model.
    Because as Thatcher noted - eventually you run out of other peoples money.

  44. John Say:

    Compromise is a tool - a means not an end, it is not a value. There is no assurance that any specific compromise will be better that losing for either side.

    You also confuse an unwillingness to compromise principles - if you are prepared to do that then you have no principles.

    I am fully prepared to make compromises to move in the right direction.
    But the laws of economics are immutable. Half measures at best will produce half results.
    Often they actually make things worse - and that is dangerous.

    Further governance is not marraige.
    The social contract is quite limited. We are morally and ethically allowed to use force to restrict the freedom of other under very very limited circumstances.

    My wife and I have a broader contract - called marraige. IT is voluntary, either of us can leave it whenever we wish.

    The left was and remains free to impliment whatever programs they wish - voluntarily - that is outside of government.

    Whatever you seek to use government to accomplish you must justify that government is the only means to do so. You may not use force otherwise, and if you do not need force - you do not need government

  45. John Say:

    The shortfall on SS and Medicare is more than 1/3.
    You claim that is driven by demographics and life expectancy improvements.
    Mostly not true - but even if it were, that merely proves SS and Medicare are an unsustainable ponzi scheme.

    Many of the "fixes" proposed are good ideas - they might have even been sufficient a couple of decades ago. They are far too little too late today.
    Regardless, they are now the IMPOSSIBLE choice.
    We are likely to do them, and they will push out catastrophic failure a few years.
    But they will not avoid it.

    These programs are already costing over 10% of GDP and rising, and they actually reduce our standard of living.

    In multiple ways SS as an example impoverishes us.
    The money collected is not invested, it actually reduces total investment and economic growth.
    Further it creates a disincentive to produce, it directly impedes the transfer ofo our gains to the next generation.

    We are poorer because of SS.

  46. John Say:

    As to the "major demographic wave"
    Our population is still growing.
    Birth's exceede deaths.
    Births every year for several decades have exceeded the peak births during the baby boom.

    There is a small bubble moving through the system - but it is far smaller than claimed

    The primary problem is not the baby boom bubble it is that the SS model is an unsustainable ponzi scheme.

  47. mlhouse:

    WRONG. ABSOLUTELY WRONG. There are some health choices that are not up to the individual for society to function. Vaccination, sanitation, and proper management of infectious diseases are just three aspects of public health. The value to the individual is you cannot be free if others are allowed to go about with infectious diseases or handle their wastes in a way it contaminates your life.

    The cost benefits are obvious.

  48. mlhouse:

    Enjoy your cat.

  49. John Say:

    There is no such thing as public health - there is only individual health.
    Of course sanitation is important - and it has always started and ended with the individual.

    We often accomplish things as groups - voluntary groups of people chosing to work together.

    You may not use force against another for your own benefit, for some purported benefit of some hypothetical collective group.

    You keep making bold assertions as if they are true.

    Those who are not vaccinated are not disease ridden.
    There is no reason to fear the unvaccinated.

    You may not when you are infected - spread that disease to others.
    But we do not need a public health system to bar that.

    Even today a substantial portion of americans receive there water from wells on their own property and handle their waste through septic systems on their own property - there are far far less instances of harm both in incidents and in total harm arrising from these than that public health system you talk about.

    I am not poisoning my children or neighbors - but the public system in Flint (and many many other places is).

    I am perfectly free without a public waste and water system - though that is increasingly hard to do - because even though the greatest number and the worst instances of harm arrise from those Public systems you think are all there is - government hates competition.

    BTW I have no problem with individuals gathering in voluntary groups and doing whatever they wish, and imposing whatever rules on those who are part of the group.
    But government is not a voluntary group.

    You seem to think that the way things are in your personal community is the only way they can be.
    We have accomplished all of what you beleive government must accomplish without government in myriads of places and at nearly every place at some other time - effectively.

    There are things you may not do - you may not poison your neighbors water as an example.
    Government may sanction you for doing so.
    But there is no need for government to tell you how you must dispose of your waste - merely that you can not actually harm others to do so.

    There is a vast difference between "thou shalt not kill" and you can not kill colonel pickering in the dining room with a vase.

    While the cost benefits are not obvious - they are also irrelevant.

    It would be cheaper for us to euthanize older people - but we do not do that.
    You may not infringe on the liberties of others purely to reduce costs.

  50. John Say:

    It is interesting and telling that you beleive that if I do not structure my relationships in the way you prefer, that you can accurately predict the outcome.

    That is called hubris. Or the fatal conceipt, or the pretense of knowledge.

    I beleive Penn Gillette once explained why he was a libertarain.

    He said something like
    I am one of the smartest people I know and I am not capable of running everyone else's lives.
    If I can't I can not think of who could possibly.

    Yet you want to fight over whether Trump or Clinton should run my life.
    Get a clue - neither. My life is my business. It becomes that of society as a whole under three circumstances:

    I use force or fraud against others.
    I fail to live up to my agreements.
    I cause others actual harm and fail to make them whole.

    That loosely corresponds to
    Criminal law
    Contracts law
    torts law.

    And that is the limits of government.