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Another reason for smaller government. :-)

Decided to pull this into a new thread. As you are one of the very few semi-reasonable conservatives we encounter at TMF (most are practically foaming at the mouth), I wanted to probe this further.

How do we make it "smaller"? Please be relatively specific. I don't expect precise head-count cuts, etc. But just saying "eliminating waste" isn't helpful. Do we cut air traffic control? Do we reduce the Navy by x-number of ships? Do we shutter the SEC or the EPA or the FDA (or all of them)?

Let's really talk about this and analyze it.

I will start by saying I think government needs to be BIGGER. I don't say that lightly, nor to be antagonistic. Government is the ONLY thing that can protect the people from corporations (see, for example, the recent example of GM in Brazil...Brazilians clearly need more government to protect them!). Without government to create and enforce regulations we are at the mercy of various corporate (and even private but powerful) interests. Factor into this the enormity and complexity of modern society, and the myriad of things that entails that the Founders never dreamed of (telecommunications, air travel, amazingly deadly weaponry, factory farming and ranching, pharmaceuticals, cyber-space, etc, etc, etc), government MUST be bigger to be sure the People are not victimized. Nothing and no one else can accomplish that. And that, of course, costs money.

Your turn.

1poorguy
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No. of Recommendations: 18
Well, we cut funding to the FDA...and now we have toxic Chinese honey making it into food supply.

Then, we cut funding for the IRS and they can't afford enough people to process 'iffy' 501c applications. (Actually heard a senator say, if they are short on staff hire contractors. Nearly spit out my coffee.)

Oh, and we cut funding to FEMA and that has gone SO WELL.

What else, we cut funding to many many investigative groups in the US so enforcement of anything is down across the board. What would they investigate...how about rail cars full of ammonia???

We took all that money and are paying for boats the navy doesn't want, we are paying for planes the air force doesn't want, we are paying for, what, EIGHTEEN different forms of camo so that each and every force/unit/arm of defense can have their own custom outfits!!!

GAH...they say, can't cut the military lose jobs. How about all the jobs lost by cutting the stuff the right doesn't want like regulation enforcement and safety?!?!
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How do we make it "smaller"? Please be relatively specific.

Hmmm. Now there's a big topic. I will look into some specifics, but as a starting framework we could compare 1990 and today. There has been a 20% increase in population (250 to 300 million) but federal government spending has swollen from $1.3 to $3.7 trillion, a 185% increase.

What if we just put the size of government back to where it was then and make trims and adjustments?

A couple of programs that have come up before: Planned Parenthood and Sesame Street. I'm a fan of both abortion and Big Bird, but neither should be on the Federal dole. A multi-year HHS study has shown that Head Start is ineffective (this we find out after decades and billions of dollars).

On a smaller scale, why should the Feds be regulating magician's rabbits? Why should raisin farmers be required to turn over a large portion of their crop every year to the USDA (a case going to the Supreme Court)?

On a larger scale, all ag subsidies should be phased out. The Education department should be eliminated. Education works fine at a local and state level. The only federal education programs should be in the military.

More later.

DB2
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Planned parenthood actually provides free/low cost health care to women who really really need it. If you are going to eliminate it, why not all free/subsidized health care for poor? Then they can just die off.

Can you please look at the variety of 'innovations' to education and tell me which ones actually make Americans better able to compete in the world? Privatization seems to be working like you'd expect commercialism to work...lowest possible service for highest possible profit. Voucher systems are being set up to include religious supported education. Learning that dinosaurs are only 6000yrs old is going to make so many good scientists in the future.

If you leave education up to the states...and let's say Detroit goes bankrupt...does that mean every kid in Detroit gets a budget education? How about the Missouri system? You know, the one that had to be taken over because it was failing national standards...if no national standards then what would make that educational process change??
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(Sorry, I am combative today and probably shouldn't be posting. Having issues not related to you all. Sigh.)
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The Education department should be eliminated. Education works fine at a local and state level. The only federal education programs should be in the military.

No more GI Bill?

How about ending all subsidies to all faith based orgs and schools?

You want to fund military schools but not medical schools and schools that train people to work in departments like the CDC, FBI, CIA, FAA?

People who fail the pre-military physical are SOL wrt college?


Can you see Somalia from your house, Bob?
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Some more thoughts while driving this afternoon:

Cut Fannie and Freddie. The mortgage market would work without the Feds; some say it would be better. Get a mortgage from your community bank or Chase. None of this reselling stuff.

Social Security payments be part of the safety net; their should be a cut-off based on income/net worth. Given our longer lifespans, the eligibility age for SS and Medicare should increase every few years.

No 'nationalized' health care. If people can't afford medical insurance than they should be eligible for vouchers to pay for it.

No energy subsidies - not for fossil fuels or alternative. Federal monies for R&D only.

DB2
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The Education department should be eliminated. Education works fine at a local and state level. The only federal education programs should be in the military.
---
No more GI Bill?


That would be a part of the military, a voucher program run by DoD or the VA.

How about ending all subsidies to all faith based orgs and schools?

Definitely.

People who fail the pre-military physical are SOL wrt college?

No, it's just that the Feds aren't involved. If you're bright enough, get a scholarship. If you're not that bright, save up and/or get a loan from a bank and go to a state university. We seem to have done OK without a DoEd up until 1980.

DB2
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No. of Recommendations: 46
Dr Bob,

I hate scrolly posts, but here you go...

Public broadcasting costs roughly $225 million per year. Public television gets $169M of that $225M. That's just a hair over 1% of 1% of the federal budget. It's not even a rounding error.

Planned Parenthood takes in approximately $550M in federal money in 2012. This one almost reaches 1.5% of 1% of total federal outlays. Of course, that money is forbidden by federal law from use in performing abortions. They used that money to provide STD screening and treatment to 4,500,000 people and to do cancer screening and prevention for another 1,300,000 people. Your 2 suggested cuts haven't reached $1B out of a $3.8T budget.

I don't disagree about agricultural subsidies - As the market has shifted from production by thousands of family farmers with no pricing power to production by a concentration of large agribusiness, the need for rationale for subsidies has become obsolete. In 2012, agricultural subsidies totalled in the neighborhood of $14B. That's 0.37% of the total federal budget.

So if we total all those cuts so far we get just under 2/3 of 1% of the federal budget. It's chicken feed (no pun intended).

About 50% of the $121B we spent on education went to fund university research, food for poor kids, special education need, and job retraining to combat unemployment. Maybe there's room to tinker at the margins with education, but eliminating the department? probably not a good idea.

Why don't we look at defense? We spent $952B on defense in 2012. That's 23% of overall federal spending. It's 52% of federal discretionary spending. Maybe that's the place to look for cuts? Like when the Army says it doesn't want any more M1 tanks, maybe we don't force them to buy more. Stuff like that.

Maybe we don't need 8300 tanks, 18,500 armored vehicles, 15,000 airplanes, and the men to operate them to ensure our national security in a post cold war world. Maybe that force mix is wrong and a new, more affordable one, would allow us to ensure our security at a much more affordable cost.

You could cut social security, but it wouldn't do much either. SS took in $805B in 2012 and only spent $736B, so monkeying with the program isn't going to do much especially now that the FICA tax rate has returned to normal.

That leaves Medicare. That's a sizeable expenditure and there has to be a way to cut it down. The trick is finding a way to do it that won't mean a death sentence when a poor person gets sick.

Anyway, my point is that it's easy to talk about making government smaller. It's much much harder to find a program where the cost so dramatically ourweighs the benefits that we can cut the spending as a no brainer and make anything more than a miniscule impact on total federal spending.

Steve
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It's much much harder to find a program where the cost so dramatically ourweighs the benefits that we can cut the spending as a no brainer and make anything more than a miniscule impact on total federal spending.

Yes, and it's a bit depressing that the government has gotten so large that even $15 billion is chicken feed.

I've made the point numerous times on the board that there are painful decisions ahead. Everything is going to be squeezed big time by medical costs of the aged (even after cutting the DoD in half).

That said, nobody has responded to the 185% growth in Fed spending while population has only grown 20% (and defense spending was a larger proportion back in 1990).

DB2
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I've made the point numerous times on the board that there are painful decisions ahead. Everything is going to be squeezed big time by medical costs of the aged (even after cutting the DoD in half).

That said, nobody has responded to the 185% growth in Fed spending while population has only grown 20% (and defense spending was a larger proportion back in 1990).

-------

Do your figures allow for inflation?

AM
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That said, nobody has responded to the 185% growth in Fed spending while population has only grown 20% (and defense spending was a larger proportion back in 1990).

Well, where did it go? What is it being spent on? Let's look at those portions and see what is up.
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sorry

IMO you're doing good

(>:
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Given our longer lifespans, the eligibility age for SS and Medicare should increase every few years.

How old are you?

6, don't mind me asking
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That said, nobody has responded to the 185% growth in Fed spending while population has only grown 20% (and defense spending was a larger proportion back in 1990).

I'll take a shot:

Cumulative inflation from 1990 to 2013 is 80.75%, so the $1,150 in FY90 expense is more like $1,997T in 2013 dollars.

Actual US population rose from 249.6M in 1990 to 315.8M this year. That's growth of 26.5%, not 20%.

That makes the equivalent budget adjusted for both inflation and population growth $2.526T.

Okay, so we're still a long way from $3.73T. What makes up the difference?

Well, baby boomers are starting to retire. That's one factor. Social security in 1990 was $263.1B. Adjusting for inflation, that would be $475.6B in 2013 dollars. The actual social security line in the 2012 budget was $805B. That's $330B extra thanks to a huge bubble of people starting to get older.

If you add the $330B to the inflation+population adjusted total from above, you get $2.856T in adjusted total federal expense.

But real defense spending has grown as well. We spent $350.2B on defense in 1990. Adjusting for inflation, the equivalent defense spending in 2013 would be $632.9B. We actually spent $925.2B in 2013 so that's an extra expenditure of $292.3B.

Add that to our total and we're up to $3.148T in 2013 equivalent expenditure way back in 1990.

The other big area is healthcare. Again, we have a larger population of older people than we had in 1990 and we all know how fast healthcare expenses have grown over the last 20 years.

Medicare was $94.9B in 1990. Adjusting for inflation, that would give you $171.5B. Actual 2013 medicare spending came in at $492.3B. That tacks $320.8B onto the adjusted 1990 total budget bringing it to $3.468T.

It cost a lot more to take care of poor people as well, and there were unfortunately more of those in 2013 than 1990 as well. Total Medicaid expenses in inflation adjusted 1990 dollars came to $76.6B. Total 2013 Medicaid expenditures came in at $333B for a net addition to the 1990 equivalent federal budget of $256.4B and bringing the new total to $3.724T.

We saved about $64B/yr equivalent on interest payments on the debt despite huge debt increases because interest rates tanked. That was offset by our spending $40B more annually (inflation adjusted) on police, judges, and prisons and $10B more on air safety.

$3.724 in equivalent 1990 spending is close enough to $3.73T I think. So what makes up the difference between 1990 and today? The usual culprits - the cost of supporting an aging population, skyrocketing medical costs, and an overzealous commitment to military expenditure.

Steve
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Given our longer lifespans, the eligibility age for SS and Medicare should increase every few years.
---
How old are you?


65 this year. Life expectancy seems to be increasing about one year every two years, i.e., it's 85 now and 40 years ago it was 65 (more or less). I was thinking moving eligibility up one year every four years. I suppose one could have it 'indexed'.

DB2
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So what makes up the difference between 1990 and today? The usual culprits - the cost of supporting an aging population, skyrocketing medical costs, and an overzealous commitment to military expenditure.

As for the military expenditures, in 2013 defense is

866/3685 = 24% of Federal spending
www.usgovernmentspending.com/classic

In 1990 it was

342/1253 = 27%

DB2
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In 1990 it was

342/1253 = 27%


That's deceptive, Bob. And I'm sure you know it. It's a larger percentage of a smaller number. What does that mean? Not much. The poster you're responding to did an outstanding job of showing that real expenditures went UP. And they went up A LOT. That other expenditures also went up more than inflation, giving you that larger total number, doesn't mitigate the increase in defense spending.

I'm not saying (here) whether that increase was justified or not, simply pointing out that your way of presenting the statistic was specious. (And that's twice this week you've made me use that word! Try to be more transparent, like the other poster was.)

1poorguy
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65 this year. Life expectancy seems to be increasing about one year every two years, i.e., it's 85 now and 40 years ago it was 65 (more or less). I was thinking moving eligibility up one year every four years. I suppose one could have it 'indexed'.

ROFL, how did I know that you were collecting yours while advocating for others to have to wait? How did I know???

6
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That's deceptive, Bob. And I'm sure you know it. It's a larger percentage of a smaller number.

It's not deceptive. It's what part of government spending went for the DoD. Since the percentage went down it means other parts of government grew to take a larger slice of the pie. And back when JFK was elected the Defense Department took up 55% of all federal spending (larger slice of a smaller pie, total expenditures being only $97 billion or $770 billion in today's dollars).

DB2
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ROFL, how did I know that you were collecting yours while advocating for others to have to wait?

Actually, I'm not. One earns some 8% a year by waiting. However, if they put in the means testing such as I recommended then I would not qualify, and I'll certainly have to pay taxes on the SS when I collect.

DB2
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How do we make it "smaller"? Please be relatively specific.

Hmmm. Now there's a big topic. I will look into some specifics, but as a starting framework we could compare 1990 and today. There has been a 20% increase in population (250 to 300 million) but federal government spending has swollen from $1.3 to $3.7 trillion, a 185% increase.

Typical Bob dishonest post. Why don't you compare the government spending in constant dollars. How much have prices risen in that 23 years?

Sorry to point out that Bob is dishonest. I know we are all making nice-nice with him as the resident "nice" reactionary.

Count No'Count
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Nice? Have you all contracted a mysterious disease?

Wessex
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Given our longer lifespans, the eligibility age for SS and Medicare should increase every few years.

Might want to rethink that one:

"As of 2008, the average American who makes it to age 65 could expect to live 19.6 years. That's just 6 years longer than in 1939, and less than 2 years longer than in 1979 – and even that number overgeneralizes, because it ignores other factors that affect life expectancy, including gender, race, and income. A Social Security Administration study found income inequality plays a big role in life expectancy. For workers in the top half of the earnings distribution, average life expectancy is 86.5, but for those in the bottom half it's just 81 — a gap of more than 5 years that continues to grow."
http://washingtonpolicywatch.org/2013/03/20/the-social-secur...

Not only that, but the older one gets the harder it is to get a job much less a full-time one.
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Jobs with any physical efforts involved make it very unlikely they can be held past mid or early 60s.. We wear out, knees, hands, eyesight, feet, hips. all of it... Sedentary jobs, maybe, but sedentary work likely has it's own hazards, stress, memory loss, health problems, adds up, runs up insurance costs, as do the physical jobs... Keeping old timers like myself on the job is a stopper, preventing the new kids from moving up. We take away a lot of skills, those new kids eventually catch on, like we did, but there needs to be a turnover.

Private contracting for military services, is just crazy, it takes it off the books, stops the reporting of casualties, breaks the whole system down..

We're stuck with a do nothing Congress, barely working a 110 day YEAR, yet they want the general population to work into their 70s, 80s? Not going to happen, no thinking company will hire seniors with all their foibles...

Thanks to Steve for doing a great job sorting out a lot of the issues...

weco
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As of 2008, the average American who makes it to age 65 could expect to live 19.6 years. That's just 6 years longer than in 1939...

That's unfortunate. Longer average lifespan must be from more people reaching 65.

DB2
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65 this year. Life expectancy seems to be increasing about one year every two years, i.e., it's 85 now and 40 years ago it was 65 (more or less). I was thinking moving eligibility up one year every four years. I suppose one could have it 'indexed'.

Where did you pull those numbers from?

40 years ago the life expectancy for a white male was 71. Today it's 75.7. Not quite five years over 40. BUT WAIT! Even that is a gross overstatement, since that includes the improvement in infant mortality, which is irrelevant to Social Security.

If a child dies at age 1, that reduces the average age of all "life expectancy", but it's wholly meaningless to Social Security, since the baby never joined, never contributed, and never withdrew funds. For practical purposes, that child never existed in the Social Security world. Since most of the improvement in life expectancy has come from decreasing infant mortality, it's more germane to look at life expectancy from age 20, when people typically get jobs and join the work force.

And what do we find? In the past 4@ years it has gone from 79 to 81. Yes, Dr. Bob, you overstated the gain by a factor of 400%, and then used inappropriate figures besides, an error rate of another 300%.
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html

I find this so frequently with Conservatives as they rail about defunding Sesame Street and a few other programs of no meaningful dollar cost, thinking that somehow that is going to fix things and when it doesn't come close they start monkeying with Social Security, using all the wrong assumptions, and never, neve, do they talk about hacking their way through us vastly bloated, sprawling world wide military, where the money is, or taking a radical (and I mean "radical" in the sense that every other first world country on the planet has already embraced) look at health care costs.
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I find this so frequently with Conservatives as they rail about defunding Sesame Street and a few other programs of no meaningful dollar cost, thinking that somehow that is going to fix things and when it doesn't come close ...

I think PBS is one of the best investments this country makes, but I also recall a saying we had when I used to backpack.

"Take care of the ounces and the pounds take care of themselves."

If there is something that is truly a waste of money, then the waste should be removed no matter how small that is. If you only wait until the problem is completely solved to start, you will never solve anything. Having said that, I would start with increased revenue (taxes).
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I think PBS is one of the best investments this country makes, but I also recall a saying we had when I used to backpack.

I like my PBS station and I send them money every year, but that doesn't mean they should be federally subsidized (especially in this cable/satellite era) any more than my local newspaper.

DB2
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Damn capitalism and the military industrial complex which controls this country. Heartless bastards. The solution is more bureaucratic bastards who do things less efficiently and with more corruption.

-------


What a potty mouth for such an insufferably judgmental Christian.

AM
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Count: "Sorry to point out that Bob is dishonest"

Bingo. On the climate board bob was not as crazy as the other deniers, and more intelligent than most. But I found that I wasted too much time figuring out how he was using stats in a sneaky and dishonest way. He never stayed in my peebox because he sometimes cited interesting sources even when he cherry picked stats to mislead me.
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And one other rant while I am at it. Yes, we can spend our time and energy figuring exactly how conservatives are being dishonest, but why should we have to? Why are conservatives so unremittingly dishonest in the first place? How can that ever lead to meaningful discussions of anything?
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GH: 40 years ago the life expectancy for a white male was 71. Today it's 75.7. Not quite five years over 40. BUT WAIT! Even that is a gross overstatement, since that includes the improvement in infant mortality, which is irrelevant to Social Security.

If you order today, we will include a second life expectancy with your order!

Count No'Count
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I like my PBS station and I send them money every year, but that doesn't mean they should be federally subsidized (especially in this cable/satellite era) any more than my local newspaper.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but legal notices are published in your local newspaper, and must be by law so that there is one centralized place where people with interests in such things can find them out. Some of them are paid by government, as when public lands are auctioned or in other instances.

Even when paid by private individuals, the fact that it is legally required makes it a government mandated purchase, and ends up as a "subsidy" to the paper.

Goofy, splitting hairs since 1902

BUT WAIT!
(If you order today, we will include a second life expectancy with your order!
)

Thanks for getting the joke!
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And one other rant while I am at it. Yes, we can spend our time and energy figuring exactly how conservatives are being dishonest, but why should we have to? Why are conservatives so unremittingly dishonest in the first place? How can that ever lead to meaningful discussions of anything?

"Dishonest" is not right, I'd wager. I expect that 80-90% of both sides are saying what they believe is true, but they're misinformed on some issues.

Confirmation bias and groupthink play a much larger role. You just don't hear dissenting arguments, or you don't bother to think through what you've heard to its logical conclusions.

~w
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OK...I get to run to the lab and play with copious amounts of HF. (yea) But I think I can get a reply done before I run off.

The other poster addressed the numbers exceedingly well. So I'll keep this more qualitative.

What if we just put the size of government back to where it was then and make trims and adjustments?

Because things have changed. Society has changed. There are new challenges. There are a lot more older people now that boomers like you are retiring. Let's take this to an extreme to illustrate the point. "Why don't we take it back to the budget from 1800?" Well...lessee...in 1800 there were no airplanes, so no need for an FAA or NTSB. There wasn't much industry yet, things were still mostly agrarian, so no OSHA. Phones, radios, TV, etc? Nope. No need for the FCC. Freeways? For what? Horses don't need freeways. And would FDA have been needed to approve leeches? Probably not. Etc, etc.

We've come a long way since 1800. There's a lot more that government needs to do that ONLY government can do. It's not as dramatic a change since 1990, but there are still a variety of new challenges as society evolves. Genetic patents, rights for gay people, and a host of other things. Government needs to be bigger because it needs to do more. Heck, on NPR this morning they had an analyst on who was saying that we are expecting more from the IRS while cutting their budget, so of course they took short-cuts and we ended up with profiling. And that certainly is plausible (no, I don't want this to turn into an IRS thread...just citing a possible example).

A couple of programs that have come up before: Planned Parenthood and Sesame Street. I'm a fan of both abortion and Big Bird, but neither should be on the Federal dole. A multi-year HHS study has shown that Head Start is ineffective (this we find out after decades and billions of dollars).

If we had single-payer comprehensive coverage we wouldn't need Planned Parenthood. So if we can get the former, then I agree with you. Otherwise Planned Parenthood is the only medical care that literally millions of women ever receive. Sesame Street? You mean the CPB, of course. CPB is vital. It is a source of programming that is not beholden to corporate sponsorship (or at least not for-profit corporate sponsorship). Fox would never produce a program like NOVA, and if they did it would probably question established science instead of explain it.

If Head Start doesn't work, figure out why and fix it. Or toss it if it can't be fixed.

On a smaller scale, why should the Feds be regulating magician's rabbits? Why should raisin farmers be required to turn over a large portion of their crop every year to the USDA (a case going to the Supreme Court)?

I'm not familiar with either, so can't comment. I'm sure there was a reason. The question is whether or not the reason makes sense today.

On a larger scale, all ag subsidies should be phased out.

Absolutely. No argument from me. They once served a purpose, but I believe it is now obsolete.

The Education department should be eliminated. Education works fine at a local and state level.

Ummmmmm...no. Absolutely, completely, totally, couldn't-be-more wrong. I need only point at the Kansas School Board, the Dover School Board, and the Texas School Board. State and local is breathtakingly incompetent, and incredibly easy to stuff with ideologues who have no clue what the hell they're doing (or worse, have an actual evil agenda as was the case with the boards I listed). This leads to pockets of kids (tens or hundreds of thousands of them) who are, for all practical purposes, not getting an education. Why should 1poorkid get a solid education while some kid from Texas learns that Adam rode around on a stegosaurus? That's hardly fair to the Texan kid.

No. This is one area the federal government should get MUCH BIGGER. The responsibility for education should be taken away from local bodies entirely. They have demonstrated a lack of consistency and general incompetence. The feds can impose a single standard that ALL schools must meet, and they can be sure that all schools receive adequate funding even if the school is in a very poor area where the local taxes don't even begin to cover the costs.

More later.

I'm sure I'll read it later. I'm off to try and not die from HF exposure (and then I have a meeting).

1poorguy
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I find this so frequently with Conservatives as they rail about defunding Sesame Street and a few other programs of no meaningful dollar cost, thinking that somehow that is going to fix things and when it doesn't come close they start monkeying with Social Security, using all the wrong assumptions, and never, neve, do they talk about hacking their way through us vastly bloated, sprawling world wide military, where the money is, or taking a radical (and I mean "radical" in the sense that every other first world country on the planet has already embraced) look at health care costs.

The "sad" (can't find a better word) thing is, by this point they know full well that they're lying when they say that ditching Sesame Street and SS will cure the economy. They know it! But they still repeat those same tired lies as talking points. I don't get why. Maybe DrBob will tell me?

6
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What a potty mouth for such an insufferably judgmental Christian.

AM


Please note that CCinOC is on a short hiatus, and who shows up immediately?

6
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DB2: 65 this year. Life expectancy seems to be increasing about one year every two years, i.e., it's 85 now and 40 years ago it was 65 (more or less). I was thinking moving eligibility up one year every four years. I suppose one could have it 'indexed'.

Now here is another stupid little thing, and you really should know better at this point.

What matters is not total life expectancy, but *life expectancy at age 65*. This has been pointed out several times, at least.

That has not increased at anything like the rate you are claiming. The large majority of that increase has come because of diminished childhood mortality. At the time that SS was passed into law, average survival of 65-year olds at age 65 was about 14 years. It's now about 18 years.

For blue-collar workers, it has changed even less.

Recent statistics suggest it has stopped increasing entirely.

----

Now, aside from that, our economy is still depressed. Our workforce participation has declined substantially, and our official unemployment numbers, which are lower, are still far too high.

This is economic *waste*, pure and simple. People who would like to work, but cannot find work. Many have given up. This is decreased GDP, decreased tax base, increased safety-net spending.

It has been irrefutably demonstrated that cutting spending in this situation -- interest rates are zero, unemployment high -- is deflationary, and will harm GDP substantially more than the spendings cut. There is now *no* credible academic support for the proposition that cutting government spending will help the economy. Nor are there any credible case histories showing this.

Conversely, there is credible academic support showing that "multipliers" for government spending are larger than 1. Every $1 spent hiring teachers, for instance, brings something over $1.50 into the economy. (This is both argued solidly in theoretical academic papers and shown conclusively by real-life econometrics.) *AND* it decreases safety-net spending. Even the IMF (not a bastion of liberal economists) has concluded this.

Even the mild improvements in unemployment over the last several months have yielded substantial improvements in the long-term debt prognostications.

Japan, after 20 years in this situation (high unemployment, zero inflation), is just now (over the loud objections of their fiscal debt hawks) reversing course and has started spending. And, surprise, surprise! preliminary indications suggest their economy is improving!

So... why is it that you want to cut spending... now?

rj

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." -- H. L. Mencken
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Decided to pull this into a new thread. As you are one of the very few semi-reasonable conservatives we encounter at TMF (most are practically foaming at the mouth), I wanted to probe this further.

How do we make it "smaller"? Please be relatively specific. I don't expect precise head-count cuts, etc. But just saying "eliminating waste" isn't helpful. Do we cut air traffic control? Do we reduce the Navy by x-number of ships? Do we shutter the SEC or the EPA or the FDA (or all of them)?


Ooooh! Ooh! I want to play!
As a sorta "liberaltarian", I favor smaller government, both fiscally and socially, but with some smart controls.

To start, I'd cut total defense spending* by ~50%, phasing this in at a rate of a few %/year. A strong economy is the best defense, and excess military spending saps our economic strength. To compensate for a weaker military, we need to do a few things:
1) Push our allies to step it up. Australia, Japan, and NATO, you need to pull more weight.
2) Start a strong, unending push for human rights around the world. The happier, more informed, and free-er other countries are, the less interested in going to war they are, and the less need we have for a strong military.
3) Continue to devote ourselves to free trade. No one wants to go to war with your trading partners; it hurts your economy and your citizens' standard of living.

More:

Regulation. Loosen FDA regulations on drugs. New medicines should have to only perform as well as old ones, not better. This opens up the market for more competition.
End the War on Drugs. If we need to make some drugs illegal, make the scheduling be data-based, using something like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_t...

Civil Rights. Repeal the Patriot Act; bolster privacy for citizens. And tighten what is considered a "combatant", so that the government has less room to run roughshod over civil rights.

Subsidies. Repeal the subsidies. Subsidies for agriculture, green and not-so-green energy, employer-provided health insurance, etc., etc. Get rid of them all.

Education. Give states more control over K-12 education. Bonus $$ if they conduct studies figure out what actually works and what doesn't. More or less, let states act like testing grounds for new ideas about education.
Repeal government subsidies for student loan providers, and also make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy. I think the private market will do a better job of figuring out who merits a school loan than the fed'l gov't, and government protection of lenders just inflates the market. Have you seen the size of the student loan market these days?

By removing the loss protection and making student loans dischargeable, you incentivize lenders to lend wisely. And if they don't, the student would have a way out, unlike now. Yeah, bankruptcy isn't pretty, but our economy would look a helluva lot better without these huge student loan burdens that basically creates more wage slaves.

Health . Phase out Medicare Part D. Switch from Obamacare (employer mandate for health insurance) to an individual health insurance mandate, but keep all the rules that stop insurers from dropping you on a dime. Because of EMTALA, we need a mandate, sure, but I think we can do better than the system we've got.

Retirement / SS. Slowly raise the official retirement age until the future projections for Social Security stabilize.
Make SSDI more like an actual insurance program. Your insurance rate depends on your job, education level, etc., and make it less like a welfare program. Put some actuaries in charge, and if payouts for a given area spike, rates can increase, too. (I'm open to ideas here, though.)

Immigration. Basically: open the borders. If it helps the Republicans get the stick out of their ass, we can say "No disability, welfare, etc., until you've paid into the system for X years".


Where I want bigger government:

- If you're going to create a regulatory agency and give them responsibility, for the love of God, give them enough money to do their jobs. The SEC and IRS are badly underfunded, and giving them more money will result in more revenues for the federal government.
- Greatly expand funding of basic research in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- Expand funding of Planned Parenthood. Heck, I'd give out free contraception, including IUDs. There's almost nothing as unhealthy for society as an unplanned, unwanted child.

~w
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I will look into some specifics, but as a starting framework we could compare 1990 and today. There has been a 20% increase in population (250 to 300 million) but federal government spending has swollen from $1.3 to $3.7 trillion, a 185% increase.

But "population" is the wrong yardstick. Population barely budged between 1938 and 1942, but government spending increased wildly. OK, that's an obvious, if silly example since December 7, 1941 happened in between, but the yardstick should be "What do we ask government to do, and can we afford it?"

Population has tripled since 1920, but nobody I know thinks we ought to have three times as many cops with billy clubs standing on streetcorners. Nowadays they need cars and SWAT teams and helicopters and computers and lots more. A tripling of the 1920 budget wouldn't get you close. Nor would it give you an FBI or other security forces that didn't even exist back then.

No, a better yardstick would be "percent of GDP", although that is not perfect either, obviously. But when we make a collective decision that airplane security should not be left to the cheapest screeners an airline can find, but to people trained in security (and security theater, admittedly), then that's a cost we must absorb somewhere. (We did before, invisibly, in ticket prices, but as 9/11 demonstrated it isn't only airline passengers who pay the price of poor security.)

And back to your original data: since 1990 federal government spending has "swollen" from $1.3T to $3.7T, (I make that a 285% increase.) In that same time, GDP has "swollen" from $5.75T to $15T, a 260% increase. IOW, Federal Spending has increased slightly more than GDP - and during that time we have instituted a large security force in the TSA and fought two wars with pallets-full of $100 bills, Haliburton contractors at 10x the cost of soldiers, and, oh yes, suffered more hurricane and tornado damage than at any previous time in our history, not to mention a housing collapse and the propping up of the banking sector and several private sector manufacturers employing millions of people.

What if we just put the size of government back to where it was then and make trims and adjustments?

We have. We can do more. Some of those costs in today's $15T will go away, some already have. A few will get worse.

GDP. Not "population." Big difference.

Planned Parenthood and Sesame Street. I'm a fan of both abortion and Big Bird, but neither should be on the Federal dole.

Planned Parenthood does no abortions using government money. Full stop.
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Japan, after 20 years in this situation (high unemployment, zero inflation), is just now (over the loud objections of their fiscal debt hawks) reversing course and has started spending. And, surprise, surprise! preliminary indications suggest their economy is improving!

Japan's unemployment really hasn't been that bad. Over the last 20 years, the worst it's been is 5.5%, and the average has been about 4-4.5%.
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/japan/unemployment-rate

At the same time, while Japan's GDP growth has been low, the standards of living for consumers have still been rising. The difference has come from the state and corporations, mostly. It really hasn't been that bad over there.


It has been irrefutably demonstrated that cutting spending in this situation -- interest rates are zero, unemployment high -- is deflationary, and will harm GDP substantially more than the spendings cut. There is now *no* credible academic support for the proposition that cutting government spending will help the economy. Nor are there any credible case histories showing this.

Well, GDP isn't really a great measure of standard of living or wealth. We could spend billions of dollars paying people to build houses and tear them down again, and it would add to GDP, but it wouldn't materially improve our country. (Heh, that sounds kinda familiar..)

But, still, the root point is mostly valid: People are out of work, and not able to find jobs. Why is that?

The labor market works by supply and demand and price, like everything else. Right now, for some professions, the supply or price is still too high, so prices "should" fall to the point where the markets clear; to where demand and supply meet up again. There's a huge body of economic research on why markets don't clear as quickly under deflation, and I think there are things we can do to help that, like letting people clear student loans in bankruptcy, or not letting banks price bad assets however they like.

Overall message: we certainly have to strike a balance in cutting wasteful gov't spending during deflationary times. Still, wasteful spending is wasteful spending, even if it inflates GDP, so we should still ultimately be looking to phase it out.

~w
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@Windchasers - nothing crazy or even that I really disagree with, except for SS and one other thing:

Give states more control over K-12 education.

So Louisiana can turn all of their schools into churches? We can't give states more control AND expect to build a strong economy long-term. Sadly, states are too prone to evangelical influence.

6
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I find this so frequently with Conservatives as they rail about defunding Sesame Street and a few other programs of no meaningful dollar cost, thinking that somehow that is going to fix things and when it doesn't come close they start monkeying with Social Security, using all the wrong assumptions, and never, neve, do they talk about hacking their way through us vastly bloated, sprawling world wide military, where the money is, or taking a radical (and I mean "radical" in the sense that every other first world country on the planet has already embraced) look at health care costs.

Or taxing the 1% at rates commensurate with the revoltingly unjust proportion of the country's wealth they control.

We don't need to cut government services (except perhaps the military) in any serious way. We need to make the bloodsuckers who have been profiting for the past three decades off the reduced wages and benefits of the majority of Americans pay for the services needed by the majority of Americans in direct proportion to the share of the economy the bloodsuckers have grasped in their greedy, blood-stained claws.

Vampire bats. No. Sorry. That's an insult to vampire bats.

And they castigate the poor for feeling "entitled." The gall. To suggest that human beings really ARE entitled to decent food, shelter, education and health care, even if employers too greedy to pay a living wage need to foot the damned bill. It's an outrage! How dare a poor mother suggest that someone other than she herself should be responsible for seeing to it that her child have sufficient food, or that her elderly mother shouldn't have to eat cat food to survive.

I'm so positively repelled by the conservative meme that the more the rich have, the greater the "opportunities" they will provide to the rest of society. It has been proven, over and over and over again, ad nauseum, that the more you give the rich, the more they grasp for -- and that they will never be content until they have everything -- if even then.

When you have billions of dollars and gripe about having to pay taxes at the same rate as someone making $35K a year, you are a sociopath. It's that simple.

SLL
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The Education department should be eliminated. Education works fine at a local and state level.
---
Ummmmmm...no. Absolutely, completely, totally, couldn't-be-more wrong....This is one area the federal government should get MUCH BIGGER.


And here we have to agree to disagree (obviously). At the local level education is more responsive to local needs -- let's add an exposure to Korean at the junior high level or rotate it from year to year with Spanish and French). Adjust the lunch menu for local tastes. Whatever. In addition, the community gets more involved. The school principal is hired, not appointed by some administrator in Washington, DC.

Education at the local and state level also provides more diversity, a built-in laboratory for different approaches. School districts X and Y can try voucher programs or staggered year-round schooling without having to navigate the Federal bureaucracy.

With local variations unhappy parents (there will always be some who are unhappy) can be accommodated. If you don't like city or state X, then you can move. How would you like your schools run by George Bush for eight years? :-)

DB2
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@Windchasers - nothing crazy or even that I really disagree with, except for SS and one other thing:

Give states more control over K-12 education.

So Louisiana can turn all of their schools into churches? We can't give states more control AND expect to build a strong economy long-term.



Actually.. maybe we can.

First, any religious doctrine in the classroom doesn't fly, by the First Amendment. I'm not looking to change that.

I also think No Child Left Behind has been a big flop. Obviously, we don't want to impose ineffective rules on all the states.

What I want is for states or countries to act as testing grounds for new ways of educating kids. If the federal government is going to be involved in education reform at all, I'd want to see it as helping states in that role: providing grants for reform or testing new ideas. This is pretty much what the Dept of Education is already doing with the Race to the Top program*. Additionally, I'd look to reward successful education reform.

So: Grants for trying new ideas, and rewards for ideas that work.

Part Two: Once we have enough data to strongly show that one method is decisively better than another, we enforce that on the states. This keeps states like Louisiana from staying in the dark ages forever. But, since we waited until these ideas had been solidly tested in some states, it also means we're less likely to end up enforcing stupid rules that don't work.

Think of it as trial runs for programs like No Child Left Behind, instead of enforcing it on every state right out of the gate. Actually, this is not a bad way to handle a lot of federal regulations, really.

~w


* http://www.volokh.com/2010/05/12/how-president-obama-is-brin...
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So Louisiana can turn all of their schools into churches? We can't give states more control AND expect to build a strong economy long-term. Sadly, states are too prone to evangelical influence.

--------


Not to mention regional bigotries.

AM
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First, any religious doctrine in the classroom doesn't fly, by the First Amendment. I'm not looking to change that.

How do you read that? Schools in many places are teaching creationism right now. I'm looking to change that.

What I want is for states or countries to act as testing grounds for new ways of educating kids.

So, let's say a state decided to test out the idea of just letting kids read the bible all day long. You're cool with that? Sounds great for the country.

Once we have enough data to strongly show that one method is decisively better than another, we enforce that on the states.

?So it's just a temporary measure? I'm very confused.

6
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Loosen FDA regulations on drugs. New medicines should have to only perform as well as old ones, not better.

There is no FDA requirement that drugs have to perform "better than" old ones, indeed, drugs are allowed on the market which do exactly that. However because the approval process is long and costly, companies may not find it economical to undertake the process if their drug is only "as good as" what's already available. That is a different thing, however, and changing it would require having the FDA significantly loosen the approval process all around. That might not be what you really want.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnlamattina/2013/05/10/the-fda...

End the War on Drugs. If we need to make some drugs illegal, make the scheduling be data-based, using something like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_t...


Clearly we've screwed the drug thing up, but I don't think making tobacco illegal and ectasy legal is exactly the answer. The theory needs a lot of work.

Subsidies. Repeal the subsidies. Subsidies for agriculture, green and not-so-green energy, employer-provided health insurance, etc., etc. Get rid of them all.

Nuclear power would not be nuclear power without subsidies, both implied and overt. Oil gets a massive subsidy in the form of "armed services", how do you end that? Electricity: Hoover Dam, TVA, Grand Coulee, Niagra Falls and hundreds more. How did those get started without subsidies? Railroads? About half built with subsidies, which created a transit infrastructure that propelled the US into a major economic power.

Green energy is coming, unfortunately the technology is mostly coming from China and other places where the government is providing subsidies. If you want to have your economy play in the future, maybe you need some subsidies in the present to get things going. Where would the internet be without all that initial government research? How about satellite communications? GPS?

Education. Give states more control over K-12 education

And when Mississippi decides to put religious curriculum in public schools, then what? When Louisiana's school boards decide evolution is bunk and the Bible has it right, then what?

By removing the loss protection and making student loans dischargeable, you incentivize lenders to lend wisely.

The reason the Federal Government is in the loan business is because students couldn't get them - unless their parents would secure them. That left 2/3 of the country out of luck for higher education - but we saw what great things can happen when people do get a degree: with the GI Bill in the 1950's. Banks won't loan to people who are risky and who don't have assets. Simple economic fact.

Phase out Medicare Part D. Switch from Obamacare (employer mandate for health insurance) to an individual health insurance mandate, but keep all the rules that stop insurers from dropping you on a dime. Because of EMTALA, we need a mandate, sure, but I think we can do better than the system we've got.

How about just Medicare for everybody? It works for tens of millions of people; it's easy, it eliminates overhead, it's efficient. Oh, the horror: it's a BIG GOVERNMENT program. Then again so is the Interstate Highway System and the Navy, but nobody says we ought to eliminate those.

Retirement / SS. Slowly raise the official retirement age until the future projections for Social Security stabilize.
Make SSDI more like an actual insurance program.


It already is. Everybody pays in, only survivors get paid back out.

Where I want bigger government:

- If you're going to create a regulatory agency and give them responsibility, for the love of God, give them enough money to do their jobs. The SEC and IRS are badly underfunded, and giving them more money will result in more revenues for the federal government.
- Greatly expand funding of basic research in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- Expand funding of Planned Parenthood. Heck, I'd give out free contraception, including IUDs. There's almost nothing as unhealthy for society as an unplanned, unwanted child.


On most of this we agree.
 
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What I want is for states or countries to act as testing grounds for new ways of educating kids.

How are you going to make up for all the kids that go through the failing systems? Who will employ those kids, or gasp pay for their welfare because they cannot contribute to society?

How are you going to pay for all the research to collate all the data. Collect all that data from multiple different filing systems, different coding languages, different reporting requirements. Aggregate all that data from different assumptions, goals, ratings. Who gets to say what works and doesn't work? Do you have some kind of independant peer board that already exists that will make this determination?

How long will this experiment run? Will you test (thalidamide) on a whole generation or will you just segregate out small portions of a group (you'll probably need a control) so that at least some of them have a chance? Or, will you need multiple generations because you have to see how they succeed as adults before you can fully assess, so probably a longer term 60+ years to make sure you track all the systems from birth to death. Which means then you would have about 3 generations of kids who have gone through the 'wrong' systems.

Yeah...this idea makes sense to me. Let's do it.
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And here we have to agree to disagree (obviously).

Not really. That's like saying "we'll have to agree to disagree that gravity is an attractive force". Nope. History has shown my position to be correct, yours to be wrong. Period. QED. There is no "agree to disagree". There is "process this new information and adjust your position to the correct one".

...-- let's add an exposure to Korean at the junior high level or rotate it from year to year with Spanish and French). Adjust the lunch menu for local tastes. Whatever. In addition, the community gets more involved. The school principal is hired, not appointed by some administrator in Washington, DC.

That's all fine. The issues I highlighted were curriculum and funding. If schools want to do more in terms of curriculum, go for it. Add Korean. More power to 'em. As long as they are teaching real science, real history, etc., and are meeting the same standards as schools in CA or LA or NY or MT.

If the local district wants to go to a year-round schedule (when I was a kid it was called "concept 5"), fine. Or a modified year-round (like CUSD does) with only a 6-week summer, OK. Just meet or exceed the standards.

Further, the feds can ensure that even poor districts get fully-funded schools and well-paid teachers. So kids in rural MS have a shot at learning something just like kids in 90210.

I notice how you totally side-stepped my examples because they disprove your position. State and local is too easily corrupted to the detriment of the kids. The three I mentioned were off the top of my head. I'll bet others here could name even more examples.

And I didn't even get into how one local board (e.g. Texas) gets to decide what school books will be printed, and end up affecting the texts for districts around the country as a result. Yeah, let's multiply the damage from one loony (but key) district's board.

1poorguy
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How do you read that? Schools in many places are teaching creationism right now. I'm looking to change that.

O.o. If that's true, I'll be genuinely surprised. I know that many states or teachers are trying to teach creationism, but they keep getting the smackdown from the courts.

Of course, if they are teaching creationism despite it being illegal, then we have an enforcement problem. If that be the case, it'd make sense to address that before adding any new federal rules, as there's no point in coming up with new regulations if the states aren't following them.


So, let's say a state decided to test out the idea of just letting kids read the bible all day long. You're cool with that? Sounds great for the country.

Already illegal, and for good reason.

Look, I don't want to let the states try just anything. Rather, like in engineering or science, it's an iterative process. Try some new things, adopt what works. Then try variations on that, see which works better, and adopt that. Repeat.

Since we already know that teaching creationism as science is bad, ineffective education, there's no need to go back to it.


Once we have enough data to strongly show that one method is decisively better than another, we enforce that on the states.

So it's just a temporary measure? I'm very confused.

The grants and rewards are just temporary - the DoE would award grants to try something new (and your proposal would require approval from the DoE), as well as rewards for discovering a new, better way of educating kids. It's kinda like the science funding model (grants), or like the X Prizes for new technologies (rewards).

At the same time, we'd also employ some federal education standards that we enforce on the states, and we ratchet those up as new data comes to light. For instance: we're seeing a growing body of evidence showing that abstinence-only education is solidly sub-par to other types of sex education. If that evidence continues to firm up, I'd like the federal government to restrict the states' use of abstinence-only sex ed.

To sum up:
1) Try new things.
2) What works, adopt for everyone.
3) Repeat previous steps.

~w
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~w: But, still, the root point is mostly valid: People are out of work, and not able to find jobs. Why is that?

The labor market works by supply and demand and price, like everything else. Right now, for some professions, the supply or price is still too high, so prices "should" fall to the point where the markets clear; to where demand and supply meet up again. There's a huge body of economic research on why markets don't clear as quickly under deflation, and I think there are things we can do to help that, like letting people clear student loans in bankruptcy, or not letting banks price bad assets however they like.


But it doesn't. Wages are sticky, constrained by contracts, and a lot else. What does happen is what's happening now: workers mostly keep the wages they've got, but those out of work wind up either unemployed or take jobs at lower wages.

The other end doesn't work either: although basic macro tells us that raising the minimum wage should decrease employment rates, it doesn't in fact seem to have much effect at the low end. There are a lot of natural experiments in this area (cities that straddle state lines with differing minimum wages), and the results are anything but clear cut.

Finally, during a recession, falling wages are highly deflationary. Deflation is really, really bad for economies. It not only discourages consumption, it discourages investment, and strongly diminishes velocity.

Overall message: we certainly have to strike a balance in cutting wasteful gov't spending during deflationary times. Still, wasteful spending is wasteful spending, even if it inflates GDP, so we should still ultimately be looking to phase it out.

One person's waste is another's benefit.

In this case, it not only benefits the recipient, it benefits the whole economy. Certainly when an economy is in full employment, or even more is overemployed and/or suffering excessive inflation, moving workers from make-work to market-demand work is all to the good. (Even aside from reducing safety-net expenditures.) But when an economy is depressed, providing wages to the poorest workers is among the best uses of government monies: low-wage earners will spend the monies they get (rather than saving them or otherwise removing them from the economy). (Thereby increasing demand, ... and the whole virtuous cycle thing.)

Adam Smith had a lot to say about labor and wages. Even today, large corporations collude to reduce wages and manipulate the labor market. And not just basic labor -- many large hi-tech companies have been sued for collusion re: engineering talent. In general, allowing 'the market' to set wages w/o regulation is a recipe for financial disaster.

rj
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And here we have to agree to disagree (obviously).
---
Not really. That's like saying "we'll have to agree to disagree that gravity is an attractive force". Nope. History has shown my position to be correct, yours to be wrong. Period. QED.


1pg, even if the historical force of dialectical materialism and the entire Supreme Court agreed with you, we would still disagree about the nationalization of education.

DB2
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1pg, even if the historical force of dialectical materialism and the entire Supreme Court agreed with you, we would still disagree about the nationalization of education.

In other words, your mind is closed to new data that disprove your stance(s). That's unfortunate. I cited several examples which illustrate why your ideology is faulty. That makes you an ideologue.

Which is why ideology sucks. It blinds people to reality. And we end up with the mess we have now (thanks mostly to right-wing ideologues at the moment, though I would not discount the possibility that someday left-wing ideologues could "jack" things up too).

1poorguy (not trying to "flame", just drawing the obvious conclusions based on your statements)
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In other words, your mind is closed to new data that disprove your stance(s).

No, it's more that there are positives and negatives on both sides. I've come down on a different side than you. Different weightings, if you will.

DB2
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But the "positives" you mention are not negated by having the feds set (and enforce) standards and distribute funding. And the negatives ARE negated. There are no negatives with my proposal, only positives. It could become negative if (for example) your Korean language program was nixed, but there is no reason it would need to be. In fact, the feds could mandate proficiency in a foreign language to graduate high school. (Not a bad idea.)

That's where your ideology appears to be blinding you on this one.
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BTW, Bob, we've drilled down into education. But we forgot the bigger picture.

Is education, Big Bird, and a few other trifles all you got? Those have all be pretty-well eviscerated already.

Frankly, the two biggest elephants in the room are Medicare (more specifically, medical costs and the inability to negotiate better rates for pharmaceuticals) and defense. Other stuff could help (e.g. maybe we need to kill Head-Start? I am not familiar enough to know, but you brought it up.) But those have to be tackled. They just do. Though that is more a matter of smaller budget, not necessarily smaller government.
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As a sorta "liberaltarian",

I like that!

GSF
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No, it's more that there are positives and negatives on both sides. I've come down on a different side than you. Different weightings, if you will.

...and that's fine.

But why do you feel the need to present BS to support your position?

And, when your BS is clearly identified as such, why not fess up and admit that it's BS?

If you won't admit it's BS, defend the BS.
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What about cutting out foreign aid?

I mean, last week I heard that Obama said we'd throw 100 million to Syria (humanitarian aid) 100 million to Syria.

As if the Syrians shiv a git about us or our ally, Israel.
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What I want is for states or countries to act as testing grounds for new ways of educating kids.
=========
So, let's say a state decided to test out the idea of just letting kids read the bible all day long. You're cool with that? Sounds great for the country.



it's a version of a question that puzzled the founders....

are US a single nation, or a loose alliance of states bent on world domination

if the former, maybe US need federal education 'standards'
if the latter, US sure as hell need a massive military
if somewhere in between maybe US should have civil war to settle it
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Let the market decide! The market will soon drive fraudsters out of business.

http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2013/05/15/ranbaxy-fra...

You'll be happy to know that Ranbaxy, a maker of generic drugs, has now been driven out of business for its shoddy and fraudulent practices, after being banned by the FDA from selling its products in the USA. Or not.

rj
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He can't defend the BS. Because it's BS. I cited at least three examples of why it was BS. He has nothing but ideology, and that's the same as nothing.
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Frankly, the two biggest elephants in the room are Medicare (more specifically, medical costs and the inability to negotiate better rates for pharmaceuticals) and defense. Other stuff could help (e.g. maybe we need to kill Head-Start? I am not familiar enough to know, but you brought it up.) But those have to be tackled.

Sure, and I've posted about that a number of times before, if you remember. For example,

http://boards.fool.com/the-big-issue-looming-over-our-future...

lays out the pain ahead. Even after cutting the DoD in half.

DB2
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But the "positives" you mention are not negated by having the feds set (and enforce) standards and distribute funding. And the negatives ARE negated. There are no negatives with my proposal...

Well, that is an interesting position to take. There are positives, but of course there are negatives. The obvious one is the extra cost of another layer of bureaucracy, this one nationwide. Money is going to harder and harder to come by as the elephant of social entitlement programs expands. Another is reduced flexibility. Have you noticed how difficult it is to get things accomplished in Washington? Thirdly, a lot of people complained about Bush's education policies which were about setting national standards. (How would the good burghers of San Francisco, say, feel about eight years of their school system run by George Bush?) Many community groups are still complaining that Obama is doing more of the same Bush policies. For example:

Our Communities Left Behind
www.scribd.com/doc/35011507/Our-Communities-Left-Behind
Communities for Excellent Public Schools, a new national coalition of community-base organizations composed of parents and student in low-income communities, is entering the debate. For too long, our communities have been the targets of top-down school improvement efforts....
The SIG program strictly limits how states and districts use turnaround funds....Many education experts and advocates have expressed concern over the narrow range of options for school turnaround....Although we wholeheartedly agree with the need for dramatic and meaningful improvements, we believe there are several reasons why the Administration's limited, top-down mandates are both bad policy and bad educational strategy....

Action Now
Action United
Alliance for Quality Education
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
et cetera

DB2
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1pg: He can't defend the BS. Because it's BS. I cited at least three examples of why it was BS. He has nothing but ideology, and that's the same as nothing.

Isn't that the very definition of conservatism? (Sticking with things that work.)

rj
</snark>
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SLL: We don't need to cut government services (except perhaps the military) in any serious way. We need to make the bloodsuckers who have been profiting for the past three decades off the reduced wages and benefits of the majority of Americans pay for the services needed by the majority of Americans in direct proportion to the share of the economy the bloodsuckers have grasped in their greedy, blood-stained claws.

Vampire bats. No. Sorry. That's an insult to vampire bats.


Just for reference, they're vampire squid. Which is an insult to the small vampire squid, since it doesn't feed on blood and it doesn't have a blood funnel.

"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates." -- Matt Taibbi

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american...

"A 2010 Rolling Stone article[13] by Matt Taibbi likened investment bank Goldman Sachs to "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."[13] Although the metaphor was faulty, since vampire squids do not suck blood or have a "blood funnel", it was later used by other critics of Goldman Sachs, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement.[14]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire_squid
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I do recall, DrB. The only way to get a handle on the costs is single-payer. Which was the bit you didn't like last time we discussed this, if memory serves.

Kinda funny...the hand surgeon we go to (haven't needed surgery yet) is named Dr Bobb. :-)
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The only way to get a handle on the costs is single-payer. Which was the bit you didn't like last time we discussed this, if memory serves.

True, although there's single payer and then there's single payer. Competition and information is another way to reduce costs, such as with lasik eye surgery. IIRC, costs have come down considerably. Provide vouchers to buy insurance for those who afford it (basic safety net). Similarly for Medicare. Require hospitals to publish their health outcome results, a sort of Consumers Report. Let insurance companies compete for my business (or my company's business in most cases).

DB2
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How are you going to make up for all the kids that go through the failing systems?

How do we make up for them now? I'm looking to make a system that has fewer failing kids, not more.


How are you going to pay for all the research to collate all the data.

Grants from DoE, probably. I'm not sure who is funding the studies on things like how well abstinence-only education does, but something like that.


How long will this experiment run?

How long does each experiment need to be significant? Depending on what we're looking at, probably 3-15 years. By the time kindergarteners are mostly through college, I expect you have as much information as you'll ever have. But we may need much less time than that, really.


Will you test (thalidamide) on a whole generation or will you just segregate out small portions of a group (you'll probably need a control) so that at least some of them have a chance?

Isn't testing on a whole generation what we already do? Look at No Child Left Behind. By letting some states or locales dabble with new ways of teaching, we test out ideas before we roll them out to everyone.

If you've got a better idea, I'm all ears. But right now, it seems like our options are:
1) Let the states do whatever they want (yay, creationism in science class!).
2) Let the federal government enforce new rules on the states without bothering to test whether they work (No Child Left Behind).
3) Let the federal government enforce ideas that have been tested and proven to work.

I know which one I'd pick.
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Competition and information is another way to reduce costs, such as with lasik eye surgery.

Doesn't generally work with medical. Lasik is one of the few exceptions to that rule. However, you are generally at the mercy of which hospital your doctor has privileges (i.e. you can't choose your hospital), and if you have an emergency you are probably going to the closest hospital (again, not much choice). If you are incapacitated the ambulance WILL take you to the nearest hospital.

Etc.

It's not the same as shopping for a car. Or a laundry basket. Or a gallon of milk. Or whatever. It's a different reality so the dynamic of 'competition' doesn't really play a big role.

Single-payer would mean that none of that would matter anymore.
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Clearly we've screwed the drug thing up, but I don't think making tobacco illegal and ecstasy legal is exactly the answer. The theory needs a lot of work.

It's not to say that I'd use that chart, since obviously there are other aspects of "harm" besides just physical harm: mental harm, impaired driving, etc. But it's clear that our current drug Schedules are not evidence-based, not even close, and that's the main thing I want to change.

There's no reason that possession of 1g of heroin and 1g of ecstasy should be punished similarly, when there's a lower death rate and fewer health problems from ecstasy than from alcohol. That is just absurd. Not to say I want to make alcohol illegal, either! I just want a rational approach to drug laws.


Oil gets a massive subsidy in the form of "armed services", how do you end that?

Did you see my cuts to the military?

But really, to the extent to which the military subsidizes our oil, we should put a tax on it to pay for that. Let's make the market pay the real, unsubsidized price of oil. And while we're at it, let's put a carbon tax on oil and coal and gas, for global warming.


Electricity: Hoover Dam, TVA, Grand Coulee, Niagra Falls and hundreds more.

Oof. Hydroelectric, while amazingly efficient, has all sorts of environmental and civil rights problems that I can't really address. For instance, over a million people and 1200 villages were displaced to build the Three Gorges Dam, and it also helped drive a few local species to extinction. Yes, it's going to bring a huge amount of electricity to the region, and is a net good for the country as a whole, but.. if I already fear the government overstepping on privacy and human rights, how should I deal with the government overstepping on property rights and environment?

Too hard to answer. Next?


If you want to have your economy play in the future, maybe you need some subsidies in the present to get things going. Where would the internet be without all that initial government research? How about satellite communications? GPS?

I'm all for government research. I want to increase it, and I'd even double our basic research (as % of GDP) from what we spend now. But whereas research works best by being public and open, technology development works best when handled by companies. They're better at bringing products to the market at an affordable cost.

With the Internet, the government laid the groundwork and did the basic research, and private citizens and companies took it live and made it what it is today. That's how it's done. So, I think we'd lose very little if we doubled our research into how to make fundamentally better solar cells, but left the actual production and sales completely up to the market. No picking winners or losers. After all - how much research could our loans to Solyndra have funded?

Hm. And, thinking of Solyndra, I'd wager that the root of the problem is this: whereas research funding is appropriated by peer review, by people who know what ideas are worth exploring and which ones aren't, subsidies and loans are often doled out as political favors. That means more of the money gets shuffled towards unproductive programs. Plus, because of their political aspect, we often get stuck with subsidies long after they should have expired, whereas research funding of a not-great field will taper down after a while.


And when Mississippi decides to put religious curriculum in public schools, then what? When Louisiana's school boards decide evolution is bunk and the Bible has it right, then what?

See my replies to SoFaking. I don't want to give all control to the states, only room to experiment around with some new methods of teaching. (And trust me, creationism-as-science has already been tried and found wanting. It's not new.) As we accumulate good, solid data about what methods work, then we enforce that on the states.


The reason the Federal Government is in the loan business is because students couldn't get them - unless their parents would secure them. That left 2/3 of the country out of luck for higher education - but we saw what great things can happen when people do get a degree: with the GI Bill in the 1950's. Banks won't loan to people who are risky and who don't have assets. Simple economic fact.

First: The financial industry has changed a huge amount in the last 60 years. There is a substantial student loan industry right now, even for loans not backed by the federal government. What was true 60 years ago may not be the case today.

But a more basic point, really: I'm not sure we should be encouraging risky loans. Haven't we had enough trouble with that recently?
Okay, some people might complain about taxpayer money going to unproductive projects, and that's one aspect of it.. but the bigger problem is that by backing the loans, we encourage too many students to go to college, even if they'd be better suited going to a trade school. Plus, this higher demand inflates tuition prices.

To add insult to injury, since these loans are backed by the federal government, obviously we can't let kids get rid of them in bankruptcy, right? 'Cause then the taxpayer would just foot the bill. So, we made them non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

And then look what happens: During boom times, you have millions of kids going to college, many of them for relatively-useless degrees, who would otherwise have gone to trade schools. During bust times, these kids are stuck with the debt they picked up, and that debt acts as a drag on their lives and on the economy for years.

That's really not a good situation.
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Doesn't generally work with medical. Lasik is one of the few exceptions to that rule. However, you are generally at the mercy of which hospital your doctor has privileges (i.e. you can't choose your hospital), and if you have an emergency you are probably going to the closest hospital (again, not much choice). If you are incapacitated the ambulance WILL take you to the nearest hospital.

Oh I'm sorry, you seem to have forgotten that no matter what's actually true, the rightie will always stand firm in his belief that the free market is perfect and fixes everything.

I mean, if you go to a hospital and they let you die, you'll never go back to that hospital again, right?

6
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Oh I'm sorry, you seem to have forgotten that no matter what's actually true, the rightie will always stand firm in his belief that the free market is perfect and fixes everything.

No. I'm observing the rightie in his natural habitat (i.e. a bubble). It's interesting to see the disconnect from reality and his refusal to see it even when laid bare before him. Especially when said rightie clearly isn't stupid (he's not). Perhaps DEG would declare "cognitive dissonance" again. (I would guess.)

I mean, if you go to a hospital and they let you die, you'll never go back to that hospital again, right?

I'm sure that is irrefutably correct. I know I wouldn't. And I'm sure he would agree also.

Plus I'm trying to get specifics out of him. So often they just say "cut waste" and "reform entitlements", but they never actually tell you what waste, nor what about entitlements needs reform. His free-market-medical was predictable, though. And doomed to failure form the get-go.

1poorguy
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Oh I'm sorry, you seem to have forgotten that no matter what's actually true, the rightie will always stand firm in his belief that the free market is perfect and fixes everything.

I mean, if you go to a hospital and they let you die, you'll never go back to that hospital again, right?




Exactly! And we don't need restaurant inspectors, because if you die of food poisoning, you won't go back to that restaurant again!!!!
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Plus I'm trying to get specifics out of him.

Well, you can't say I haven't given any specifics: Planned Parenthood, PBS, Head Start, ag subsidies, the Department of Education, Fannie and Freddie, student loan market, means testing for Social Security, no 'nationalized' health care, no energy subsidies for fossil fuels and alternatives.

Windchasers added others such as the war on drugs, half of defense spending (I wouldn't go that far) et cetera.

DB2
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Well, you can't say I haven't given any specifics:

True. And that is good. Most conservatives don't.

I agree that halving defense spending is probably a bad idea. Unless we are going to return to an isolationist stance (e.g. 1940-41). But we certainly don't need a military that can fight a land war against the Soviets in Europe. That is pretty much done.

Agree we should end war on drugs. Agree we end subsidies (farmers, oil companies, etc...including military protection for oil company assets). Don't agree about alternatives. Encouraging development of alternatives is a good thing, though I will add the caveat that it needs to be done intelligently. Disagree about PP (without universal single-payer being in place, then I might agree). Disagree about PBS. Disagree about health care (which I can explain why if you don't recall the essays I wrote here a couple years ago). In principle I agree about means-testing SS, but in practice that could reduce it to a "welfare" program (which would be bad...it should be thought of as a pension instead). Disagree about Dept of Education (which, by the way, you are dead-wrong about as opposed to an "agree to disagree" topic like alternative energy subsidies where there may not be a single correct answer). Agree about student loans, but mostly because I don't think anyone who can pass an entrance exam should have to pay for college...education is an investment, not an expense).

What about FDA, SEC, EPA, and some of those? Your only comment about agencies was Education.

1poorguy
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Oh I'm sorry, you seem to have forgotten that no matter what's actually true, the rightie will always stand firm in his belief that the free market is perfect and fixes everything.


The healthcare situation in the US could actually be improved by mandating standardized price disclosure from hospitals (and insurers), which would greatly increase market transparency and promote competition.
Of course the free market doesn't produce that by itself (at least not in the healthcare market) and this would require government regulation.
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Mandating standardized price disclosure from hospitals (and insurers) would greatly increase market transparency and promote competition. Of course the free market doesn't produce that by itself (at least not in the healthcare market) and this would require government regulation.

What free market are you referring to? Health care is dominated by a monopoly called the American Medical Association which profits handsomely by blocking the free market. These are the same guys trying to undermine the Affordable Health Care Act, putting a range of right wing nuttos to good use in aiding and abetting that cause.

But health care isn't the only sector of our economy suffering under the public's delusion of free marketism. Take agriculture, for instance - massively subsidized in order to buy Midwestern votes.

Critics of the practice of providing American-grown grains to international charities say it hurts local farmers by increasing competition. Addressing this problem, the Obama administration is proposing that the government buy some food in developing countries instead of just shipping food produced by American farmers.

But farm bills passed this week by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees reauthorized the food aid program and left it largely intact, in the agriculture budget.

Supporters of the current food aid program, like shippers, agriculture trade groups and some antihunger charities, said they were pleased that the Agriculture Committees kept it in the farm bill. “Our position is that we need to keep the food in food aid,” said Dale Moore of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “What we are wondering is why they need to make this radical change...”

Several antihunger charities, which have long supported major changes to the food aid program, said they were disappointed by the Senate and House farm bills, but not surprised by them.

“We would have liked to have seen more movement on this in the farm bill; I really wouldn’t call what they did reform,” said Blake Selzer, a senior policy advocate with CARE, a group that in 2007 stopped taking food from the government to sell.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/us/politics/congress-answe...

Big business wins again, by undermining the free market with mercantile export subsidies. Poor starving people lose.
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How would the good burghers of San Francisco, say, feel about eight years of their school system run by George Bush?

Sorry...I probably should have been more specific. If we're replacing local boards (or at least augmenting them) at the federal level then we need a federal board. So George Bush (or Obama or whomever) would NOT be running the school system(s). Boards elected at the national level would be. Much harder to slip in a bunch of fundy wackos when they have to get through a national election. Unlike at the local level where we have seen how easy it is to pack a school board with ignorant fools who think the Bible is a science text book.

Secy of Education would have to get into this also (maybe as an unelected board member).

1poorguy
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How would the good burghers of San Francisco, say, feel about eight years of their school system run by George Bush?
---
Sorry...I probably should have been more specific. If we're replacing local boards (or at least augmenting them) at the federal level then we need a federal board. So George Bush (or Obama or whomever) would NOT be running the school system(s).


However, government departments are influenced by those at the top and their appointees. I would guess there was a difference, for example, with the way the EPA functioned under Bush versus Obama, how they interpreted laws, what was enforced, etc.

DB2
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However, government departments are influenced by those at the top and their appointees. I would guess there was a difference, for example, with the way the EPA functioned under Bush versus Obama, how they interpreted laws, what was enforced, etc.

DB2


A very fair point. We'd have that useless NCLB and abstinance only crap everywhere. Oh wait...:)

But if the school board WAS the DoEd, would we have had NCLB? Federal initiatives like that could be done directly instead of originating as bright ideas from the WH.

Seems like there could be some mechanisms to minimize this, like say a board of educated professionals who establish curriculum independent of the WH.

Since nothing can effectively stop the WH from instituting crappy ideas either way, lets ignore that for a sec and see if a national system has any other benefits, like those I laid out in the other post. Specificaly, transportability, no stupid ID debates, and less burden at the local level to determine something they generally are not qualified to make a decision on.

-spookysquid
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However, government departments are influenced by those at the top and their appointees. I would guess there was a difference, for example, with the way the EPA functioned under Bush versus Obama, how they interpreted laws, what was enforced, etc.

DB2



That's interesting.
So far, I haven't seen much difference between Bush and Obama.
It's been one of the greatest disappointments I've experienced in the political area since I began voting.

AM
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DB2: However, government departments are influenced by those at the top and their appointees. I would guess there was a difference, for example, with the way the EPA functioned under Bush versus Obama, how they interpreted laws, what was enforced, etc.

AM: That's interesting.
So far, I haven't seen much difference between Bush and Obama.


Given that presidential appointees often have to be approved by the senate, and the GOP is capable of and inclined to torpedo most of the president's nominations, I don't see the conflict here.

rj
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Given that presidential appointees often have to be approved by the senate, and the GOP is capable of and inclined to torpedo most of the president's nominations, I don't see the conflict here.

rj

----------


Piffle.
There are tons of things Obama could have changed and he's sat on his behind and left Bush's idiocy in place for over 4 years now. And he kisses the Republican's arses every time there is a disagreement. The man was born without a spine. Oh well. First, one without a brain. Now one without a spine. How can we win?

AM
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So far, I haven't seen much difference between Bush and Obama.

Perhaps not. However, as the NYT points out in an editorial this weekend, the tools are there for a government agency (EPA here, DoEd in my hypothetical) to effect change during an administration:

www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/opinion/sunday/climate-warnings-g...
As this page has noted, it is possible to adopt a robust climate strategy based largely on executive actions. The most important of these is to invoke the E.P.A.’s authority under the Clean Air Act to limit pollution from stationary industrial sources, chiefly the power plants that account for almost 40 percent of the country’s carbon emissions. The agency is reworking a proposed rule to limit emissions from new power plants. A more complex but no less necessary task is to devise rules for existing power plants, which cannot be quickly shuttered without endangering the country’s power supply, but which can be made more efficient or phased out over time.

Mr. Obama can also order the E.P.A. to curb the enormous leakage of methane, a potent global warming agent, from gas wells and the pipes that bring natural gas to consumers. This is critical if America’s bountiful supplies of cheap natural gas are to become a cleaner bridge from coal to alternative energy sources like wind and solar power.

He can hasten the development of less-polluting alternatives to older-generation refrigerants and other chemicals. He can order the Energy Department to embark on a major program to improve the efficiency of appliances and commercial and residential buildings, which consume a huge chunk of the country’s energy supply. And he can ramp up investment in basic research.

DB2
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I would guess there was a difference, for example, with the way the EPA functioned under Bush versus Obama, how they interpreted laws, what was enforced, etc.

Dude...EPA is not elected. I said national elections for the board. POTUS and Congress would have minimal influence.

(Is it just me, or was my previous post really not crystal clear?)

Plus everything spookysquid said was dead-on-target (which makes sense since he's a targeteer).
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He can hasten the development of less-polluting alternatives to older-generation refrigerants and other chemicals. He can order the Energy Department to embark on a major program to improve the efficiency of appliances and commercial and residential buildings, which consume a huge chunk of the country’s energy supply. And he can ramp up investment in basic research.

With slash & burn Republicans controlling the House (and purse strings)? I don't see how he could. They are against ALL that sort of thing, as I would expect you are too, DrB. Smaller government, doncha know...
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He can hasten the development of less-polluting alternatives to older-generation refrigerants and other chemicals. He can order the Energy Department to embark on a major program to improve the efficiency of appliances and commercial and residential buildings, which consume a huge chunk of the country’s energy supply. And he can ramp up investment in basic research.
---
With slash & burn Republicans controlling the House (and purse strings)? I don't see how he could. They are against ALL that sort of thing, as I would expect you are too, DrB. Smaller government, doncha know...


Actually, I'm in favor of the R&D. I think that is where the government can play its most useful role. But as for the NYT's approach, I think it would be more an allocation of resources rather than an increase.

DB2
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You're probably right.

BushyCare had helped people without access to health care so much.

Those two new appointees to the the Supreme Court were cut from the Roberts/Alito/Thomas/Scalia (RATS) bolt of cloth.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren emerged fully born from the head of Barney Franks.

PF
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An interesting retrospective from May 27, 2003, which seems to have proven true:

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2013/05/vin...

"The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum." So wrote the normally staid Financial Times, traditionally the voice of solid British business opinion, when surveying last week's [US] tax bill.

rj
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