Some drug price control by Government/Medicare is probably appropriate.

Jessica Hyland is correct that if our government starts regulating drug prices, then the development of new drugs will slow down. (Below is the link to her essay in the Des Moines Register.) Our current government policies have given us more new drugs at higher prices than we are willing to pay for. So maybe getting new drugs more slowly would be a good trade-off for significantly lower drug prices.

Good health might be the most important thing in our lives, but it is not the only thing. The pandemic proved that many people are willing to risk their health in order to do those other things they consider to be important in their lives.

Today, drugs approved by the FDA are required to be covered by Medicare regardless of the price, and whether or not the drug is any better than cheaper existing drugs!  Government granted patents prohibit competition by generic drug makers for 20 years or more!  There is clearly no free market for prescription drugs.  As a libertarian, I would love to see our government get out of the healthcare business altogether, but we don’t live in that world.  Our government has had its thumb on the scales in favor of drug companies for decades, so it is not unreasonable for it to now start regulating drug prices.

Link to Register essay by Jessica Hyland: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2021/05/25/hr-3-prescription-drugs-stifle-health-care-innovation/5240432001/

Don’t make Washington D.C. a new state!

Some Democrats are pushing to make most of Washington DC a State. (Washington DC would be reduced to the Capitol, the White House, the Mall and not much more. The remainder would become a new State.) More people live in Washington DC than in some of our smallest states. They say they do not get fair representation in Congress. If the area were to become a state, it would have two Senators and, I think, one Representative. About 75% of the registered voters in DC are Democrats. 6% are Republican. The rest are other parties or no party. So, it is easy to see why Democrats would like to have it added as a new State.

As you might guess, Republicans have another idea that would get the current citizens of Washington DC the representation that they want. That would be to return the land to the states that it originally came from: Virginia and Maryland. I understand that neither Virginia nor Maryland want the territory returned to them. Both of those states already appear to clearly have a Democrat majority, so it may be that they don’t want the territory returned because they already have control of those states and think it would be best for Democrats for Washington DC to be a new State.

I have a hard time trying to come up with a logical reasons why one alternative is better than another. What would happen if any state wanted to split into two or more states? Would that ever be allowed? Why or why not? For every possible scenario, it seems like what anyone would like to have happen depends on how it would affect the political party that they support. That being said, in this case, I’m in favor of returning the territory to the original states, or doing nothing. Doing nothing might be best because the other alternatives open up a big can or worms.

Paid time off to get vaccines?

This is from a White House Fact Sheet:

“Thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a paid leave tax credit will offset the cost for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees for up to 80 hours (i.e. 10 work days) up to $511 per day of paid sick leave offered between April 1 and September 30, 2021. This tax credit will allow these employers to provide paid leave for employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination and for any time their employees may need to recover from that vaccination at no cost to the employer. ” Here’s the link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/21/fact-sheet-president-biden-to-call-on-all-employers-to-provide-paid-time-off-for-employees-to-get-vaccinated-after-meeting-goal-of-200-million-shots-in-the-first-100-days/

The tax credit can also be taken by self-employed people on their income tax return.

Wait, there is more in the Fact Sheet:

“Building on today’s IRS release and the American Rescue Plan’s provisions, the Administration is committed to expanding paid leave more generally. That’s why the tax credit in the American Rescue Plan will enable employers with fewer than 500 employees to claim up to $17,110 for 14 weeks of paid leave for each impacted employee not only to get vaccinated, but also to take time off if they have COVID-19 symptoms and are going to the doctor; are getting tested for COVID-19; are under quarantine or isolation order by the government or a doctor (or are caring for someone who is); or have to care for a child whose school or child care provider closed, due to COVID-19.”

If a company with less than 500 employees already provides paid family leave will they get the credit? How will they prevent fraud and abuse by small employers and self-employed individuals?

It is hard for be to believe that the President has this power. It just doesn’t seem right. It seems out of control.

FEMA – $9,000 Covid-19 Death Benefit!

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has announced a benefit of up to $9,000 to reimburse funeral expenses for those who died from Covid-19. There is no means test, so people qualify for the benefit regardless of the income or wealth of the deceased or family members. (This same benefit has been available in previous disasters.) FEMA will not reimburse any amounts paid for or reimbursed by pre-planned sources such as funeral insurance, veterans benefits, etc.

Everyone dies eventually. If a person died with no resources and there is no insurance or other benefit available, it can be difficult or impossible for relatives to pay funeral expenses regardless of when or why the person dies. Most states have provisions to pay for a burial if the person died with no resources and no one else volunteers to pay. And relatives cannot be forced to pay for a funeral or burial.

So why should we expect FEMA to pay such a benefit? And even if a benefit is available, why should there be no means testing?

Medicaid home care expansion is not infrastructure!

President Biden’s $2+ trillion dollar infrastructure proposal includes $400 billion to expand home care benefits under Medicaid.   Aside from the fact that such spending has nothing to do with infrastructure, it is also not one-time or project-type spending that is typical of infrastructure spending. If this proposal were to pass, what would happen after all the money was spent? Would spending return to its previous level? History has shown that this type of spending would be considered a new entitlement and any effort to reduce the benefit would be considered a benefit cut. All beneficiaries of the benefit would lobby hard to see that the spending is continued. I urge our elected representatives to oppose this proposal and to work hard to see that it does not become law.

We don’t need more farm subsidies!

The Des Moines Register reported that Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, said farmers need a new source of income, and that 90% of farmers don’t make a majority of their income from farming, and that that is a problem.  (See link below.)


It is not the government’s job to find new sources of income for farmers.  The fact that a large percentage of Iowa‘s farmers have other full-time jobs is not a problem that needs fixing. With the current state of farming mechanization, working a small farm is not a full-time job.  We already subsidize farmers by paying 60% of their crop insurance, regardless of size, for doing nothing special or extra.  Paying farmers for “carbon sequestration” sounds a lot like paying them for what they already should be doing.  What we should do is make good farming practices a requirement in order to receive crop insurance or other subsidies.


Link to Register article:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2021/02/27/tom-vilsack-us-agriculture-secretary-iowa-farmers-fight-climate-change-find-new-income-joe-biden/6832688002/

Do police officers in our schools do more harm than good?

Below is a letter I just sent to The Des Moines Register:

To the editor,

Please consider the following for inclusion in your letters section:
 
You reported that a Johnston middle school student brought a BB gun to school.  (“Student found with BB gun at middle school in Johnston”, 2/11/21)  You reported that the school resource officer worked with administrators, “…to secure the student in an isolated area and confiscate the weapon.”, and that, “…the incident is a criminal investigation…”  In a Facebook post, the Police Chief stated they will, “…seek to provide the necessary services to the young persons involved,”
 
This is a good example of over-policing in our schools.  When a police officer is on duty at a school they must become involved, and a mistake by a student becomes a criminal investigation.  In simpler times the Principal or Advisor would take away the BB gun and call the parents in.  The student might be suspended for a few days.  The police and media would not be called.  All students would be reminded about the school policy against bringing a BB gun or any other “weapon” to school.  The kid would never do it again.  Let’s just hope that the police and school administrators handle this situation reasonably with the students involved.
 

Link to Register report: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2021/02/10/summit-middle-school-johnston-police-student-bb-gun-confiscated-weapon/6702371002/

Iowans are doing the right thing – voluntarily.

Below is a letter that I just sent to The Des Moines Register. Odds are they won’t print it. So far, they have been about 100% anti-Governor Reynolds in reporting of her handling the pandemic.

To the editor,

Your report on businesses that are voluntarily continuing to require face masks is reassuring.  (“Some bars, restaurants keeping mask rules”, 2/9/21)  Although your report was only anecdotal, (not a statistically representative sample), 100% of the business on which you reported are continuing to require face masks without a government mandate.  It appears that Governor Reynolds is correct to trust that most Iowans will do the right thing.

Link to Register report: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/entertainment/dining/2021/02/08/iowa-covid-requirements-masks-social-distancing-spacing-required-metro-des-moines-bars-restaurants/4434642001/

Be careful about student loan forgiveness.

Gene Czarnecki makes good points about resisting student loan forgiveness.  (See link below to letter in The Register.)  It seems a little known fact that more people default on loans with balances less than $5,000 than larger balances.  This is likely due to the fact that smaller balances are due from students who did not complete their degrees while larger balances are due from students who completed post-graduate degrees like medicine and law and who have the ability to pay off their loans.  So, if our government does anything to forgive student loans, we should consider forgiving only the first $5,000 rather than larger amounts.

Link to letter:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/readers/2020/11/23/letters-news-media-must-suppress-false-covid-19-beliefs/6346641002/

The battle among the crony capitalists!

I read the report in The Des Moines Register about the questioning of Tom Vilsack by Joni Ernst during the Senate hearings on Vilsack’s nomination for Secretary of Agriculture.  (Vilsack nomination moves to full Senate” 2/3/2021)  President Biden has ordered the development of a plan to convert all federal, state, local and tribal vehicles, including Post Office vehicles, to “clean and zero-emission vehicles.”  Ernst asked Vilsack if he will direct the USDA to buy Tesla trucks that run on electricity or Ford vehicles that run on 85% ethanol.  Vilsack, like a good politician, said it’s not ” an either-or circumstance.”  It will be interesting to see how Vilsack balances the interests of farmers and biofuels producers with the interests of the zero-emissions vehicle and power producers.  One thing is for sure: lobbyists will be in high demand.