“Bending the curve” may only lengthen the time we are suffering.

I don’t doubt the good intentions of our government leaders, including elected officials and public health regulators, as they tighten restrictions on our freedom of movement..  We are “bending the curve” and easing the pressure on our health care system.  But unless an effective anti-virus drug is found and administered to everyone very quickly, bending the curve will only delay the time before most of us will become infected, and will lengthen the time that we all suffer emotionally and economically.
Why is our response to this situation so dramatically different than our response to the flu or automobile accidents?  Both the flu and auto accidents kill tens of thousands of Americans each year and are preventable.  We could dramatically reduce those deaths if we used the same extreme measures that we are using against COVID-19.  But what is the point of living if we have to stay away from our family and friends?  For a few weeks, fine.  For several months or more, not acceptable.  Life has risks.  We need to balance the costs and the benefits of our efforts.  Soon, we need to once again let people decide for themselves how much risk they are willing to take.

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.

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.

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.

We don’t need a new mandatory federal government entitlement program.

Our population is aging and we all want to stay in our own homes as long as possible.  We definitely do have an increasing demand for in-home caregivers.  But I urge our Presidential candidates and our elected federal representatives to not support the mandatory Universal Family Care proposal as described  by Al-jen Poo in her recently published essay.  (See link below to the “Your Turn” essay by Al-jen Poo published in The Des Moines Register on 9/19/2109)
We do not need, and should not create, a new federal government sponsored, taxpayer funded entitlement program!   Such a scheme would make us even more dependent on our government.  Caregiving for family members at home should be left to family, friends and voluntary charitable efforts. This is part of being a family and accepting responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones.  Yes it is a burden, but it is one that we should accept.
LInk to Register “Your Turn” essay:

 

Economic Impact of Des Moines’ Water Trails project is not believable.

To the editor,

Please consider the following for inclusion in your letters section, or as a “Your Turn” essay:
It is exciting to think about the River Trails white water park that is proposed for the downtown portions of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers.  It would be a nice addition to the amenities that help keep and attract people and businesses to the Des Moines area.
But I don’t believe the results of the economic impact study that was done by Johnson Consulting for Capital Crossroads.  As reported in The Des Moines Register, the study estimates that the Water Trails project will generate $104 million of Total Direct Spending at restaurants, hotels, stores, and equipment rentals during its first five years of operation.  (See link to Register article below.)
For example, the report assumes that there will be 78,068 paying active participants of the River and Adventure Park features during the first full year of operation – spending about $78 each on food, beverage, and equipment rental.  If we assume  the recreational and related opportunities are open 365 days per year, it means that an average of over 200 people would use the facilities every day.  That doesn’t seem reasonable to me.
In addition to the 78,068 active participants, the report assumes the project will attract an additional 80,000 non-active visitors, plus 15,404 more visitors from the Iowa Events Center, for a total of 173,472 visitors who will contribute to the total economic impact of the project during the first year – spending about $100 each that they otherwise would not have spent..  (The estimated number of users increases about 6-7% per year after the first year.)
The projections include the assumption that 60,000 of the visitors will stay overnight during the first year.  That equals an average of 164 overnight visitors every day who would not have otherwise stayed overnight if there weren’t a River Trails recreation project.  The report includes other unrealistic estimates.
It is probably impossible to calculate the economic benefit of any new attraction that is added on top of all of those that already exist in our metropolitan area.  I suppose it is expected that an economic impact study be conducted before spending $117 million on a recreational project like this.  The consultants do make proper disclaimers and disclosures in their report to notify readers of how estimates were made, and that actual results may be significantly different.
It is important that we not fool ourselves into thinking that we can accurately quantify the future economic impact of such a project.  My gut feeling is that the indirect benefits of the River Trails project might greatly exceed the costs, but that the directly measurable economic benefits will not.

Congress has the power to prohibit states from giving special incentives to specific businesses.

The Des Moines Register recently published an editorial that showed how out-of control Iowa and other states are in giving incentives to businesses to locate in their state.  To help reverse this situation, Congress should exercise its Constitutional power to “…regulate commerce… among the several states…” and should limit states’ ability to bribe companies to locate in their state.  States should be prohibited from giving custom incentives to specific businesses to locate in their state.  They should only be allowed to use schemes that provide uniform incentives to all companies that locate their business or otherwise create new jobs in that state.

Link to Register editorial:  https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/11/20/amazon-apple-corporate-iowa-workers-education-environment-bribing-business-workforce-jobs-money-tax/2061418002/