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

Don’t ban vaping!

It was like a breath of fresh air to read in The Des Moines Register that our Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, used logic in concluding that banning vaping by adults in Iowa would be a mistake.  (See link to Register article below.)   It does appear clear that almost all of recently rreported deaths and severe illnesses were the result of vaping black market products that contain THC, not nicotine.
While it may be true that no amount of vaped nicotine has been proven safe, we do know that vaping popular legal nicotine products has been going on for years without the type of health problems that have been reported recently.  We also know that nicotine vape products do not contain the tars and other substances in cigarettes that are known to cause cancer.
It’s reasonable to think that vaping nicotine is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, and that going from smoking cigarettes to vaping can be a good step towards quiting a nicotine habit altogether.  But, prohibition of vaping would only worsen the health problems, just like with opioids, where people who purchase their drugs on the street have no idea of the strength or purity of the products they are buying.

Senate should approve Steven Menashi for Court of Appeals

I disagree with Daniel Cotter’s essay i The Des Moines Register urging our U.S. Senators to reject Steven Menashi’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals.  (See link below to Register “Your Turn” essay.)    What I’ve learned by watching Steven Menashi’s Senate testamony and reading his writings makes me think he would be a very good appellate judge.
The fact that the two Democratic Senators from his home state of New York don’t support him should be considered irrelevant, regardless of precedent.  The Senate “blue slip” tradition which permitted a Senator from the home state of the nominee to veto the nomination, is the remnant of a good-ol’-boy’s-club attitude that should be discarded.
His opponents take his comments out of context and make them appear to have the opposite meaning of his actual position.  For example, nine years ago he wrote that it was okay for Israel, a democratic country, to have an official state sanctioned dominant religion.  The Left says this means he is a white supremacist.  No, he is simply a defender of Israel’s right to exist, and of the right of the people of that nation to decide how they will be self-ruled. He testified before the Senate that the United States is not a country that is based on a single religious or ethnic tradition.  He also testified that he values our, “…country’s tradition of tolerance and equality before the law…”
So, I ask Senators Grassley and Ernst to support the nomination of Steven Menashi to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Our federal legislators should oppose reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank

I urge our elected federal representatives to oppose the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.  (The Ex-Im Bank provides taxpayer guarantees to U.S. companies that export and sell products to international customers.  Authorization is set to expire on 9/30.)  This has been and continues to be a quintessential example of crony capitalism.  If a U.S. exporter has customers who find it difficult to find financing, the seller can always guarantee a loan and get a security position to get the asset back in a worst case.  If they still cannot get financing, the seller could provide direct financing.  In any case, our government should not guarantee such loan private companies.

I’m sure that small and large Iowa export companies are heavily lobbying for reauthorize the Bank.  I hope our representatives resist the pressure and vote against this bad policy where taxpayers are asked to take the risk and private companies reap the profits.