Don’t blame capitalism for problems created by corrupt politicians

Contrary to the letter from Mary McBee, printed in The Des Moines Register on 1/15/2020, free market capitalism and respect for honestly earned private property have done more than anything in all of history to lift billions of people out of poverty. Yes, there have been and will be abuses by businesses as long as governments can give preferential treatment to favored groups. We must be forever vigilent in our work to stop those abuses. Capitalism is not the problem. Crony capitalism and corrupt, immoral politicians are the problems.

Bad policy to ban non-disclosure agreements.

I disagree with the recent essay asking presidential candidates to publicly support the prohibition of non-disclosure agreements, particularly in cases of sexual harassment..  (See link below.)
 
Most non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that are signed at the time of hiring require non-disclosure of things like customer lists, costs, trade secrets, etc. It is completely appropriate that employers require such an agreement as a condition of hiring.
 
NDAs signed in return for a cash settlement or severance payment are usually paid to avoid the risks associated with potential lawsuits, including loss of money, time and reputation. Employees who are offered such NDAs have complete power to not sign. But if they don’t come to an agreement, they also don’t get the associated payment. They are then free to tell their story to the public and pursue legal action against the employer.
Surely some employees, including victims of sexual harassment, prefer that NDAs and the related settlements remain available as a way to resolve disputes. If NDAs are prohibited, it is likely that settlements will not be offered. Then, the only guaranteed winners will be the attorneys.

Right-to-work laws need a change.

Laws and regulations should not require a person to join a union in order to work for a unionized employer, including the government.  But for privately owned businesses, the owners should be able to work exclusively with a union, and require employees to join the union, if that is what the owners want.  Most if not all right-to-work laws do not give owners that right.  Those laws should be changed.

No end to subsidies for favored industries?

The $1 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel producers just passed the U.S. House and appears likely to become law.  The credit, which expired at the end of 2017, will be extended retroactively 2 years and forward for 3 years through 2022.  This tax credit started in 2005.  How long must the welfare continue?  Biodiesel producers are no different than most other businesses and industries in that they become dependent on subsidies and lobby heavily to prevent the subsidy from ever ending.  We need to pass laws that phase out all forms of energy subsidies, as well as subsidies given to other favored industries.  We need free-market capitalism, not crony capitalism.

Link to related Register report:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2019/12/17/spending-bill-includes-long-sought-biodiesel-tax-credit-renewal/2677476001/

Don’t add long-term care coverage under Medicare

Contrary to the Register Editorial on 12/1/2019, we should not add long-term care as a new benefit under Medicare.  (See link below to The Register’s Editorial urging Medicare coverage of long-term care.)  If we want to solve problems using the force of government, we should do the minimum needed to solve the problem.  In this case, the problem is making sure that people receive medically necessary long-term care, not making sure that money is left to people’s heirs.
We currently have a pretty good situation: Many people voluntarily purchase private long-term care insurance.  Many others who could afford insurance choose to take a risk and not buy it.  Taxpayer-funded Medicaid covers the cost of long-term care for those who are unable to pay.  For those in the middle – not on Medicaid, but who would struggle to pay for private long-term care insurance – Medicaid already goes a long way to help them qualify for long-term care coverage.   For example, if one spouse of a married couple needs long-term care, the other spouse gets to keep a house and a car and some income, even though Medicaid pays for the long-term care of the first spouse.
The best long-term, sustainable solutions to our problems is to give voluntary, free choice to people and then expect them to be responsible for their decisions.  To the extent that we allow our government to force everyone into one-size-fits-all welfare programs, there will be ongoing, unsustainable frustrations, disagreements, and dependency problems.

Intentions do matter. Zero-tolerance political correctness lead to mistakes.

It is a sad commentary on how far we’ve gone with political correctness that a person with good intentions cannot make a mistake without losing his job.  Professor Jon Bolen of Simpson College appears to have had only the best of intentions.  He spoke the unspeakable N-word when giving an example of how the word the R-word, redskin, can be hurtful to indigenous people, especially when used as part of the name of a professional football team in Washington.  He made a sincere apology and agreed that he should have simply used the term “N-word” instead of the actual word that it stands for.  He should simply be forgiven.  But this is what happens when a zero-tolerance policy or attitude is adopted. We are not teaching our children well. Humans make mistakes. Intentions do make a difference. I hope that there is a groundswell of support for professor John Bolen.

Link to article in The Des Moines Register:

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2019/11/16/simpson-college-students-demand-action-after-professor-uses-slur/4205805002/

Drug Prohibition causes the associated violence

Under our current regime of drug prohibition in the U.S., it is true that American drug users support the violent drug cartels in Mexico.  If we ended the drug wars, and instead legalized and regulated peaceful drug use, and treated addiction under a medical model, the violence associated with the illicit drug trade would mostly go away.  When CVS opens a drug store across the street from Walgreens, they don’t get into a gun battle.  When a drug store is robbed, they call the police instead of sending out a gang to get revenge. It is the government policy of prohibition that causes the violence associated with the illicit drug trade.  Our drug wars will be endless until prohibition is ended.

Link to related Wall Street Journal opinion:  https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-cartelization-of-mexico-11572999461