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.

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/

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.

Trump did not win the election. The election was not stolen!

People who believe the election was stolen from Trump should not be “canceled” or otherwise censored or shut down. The correct response to false speech is more true speech. A public, transparent investigation into election irregularities, by Congress or otherwise, should not be shouted down, and those calling for an investigation should not be attacked.

To the extent that people are censored by any means, it will likely only confirm for them, and those who agree with them, that they were correct. Censorship doesn’t change minds. Instead, it may well drive those who are censored into their own underground echo-chamber where they may become more radicalized. It is better to try to engage them in a debate, as calmly and rationally as possible, with good evidence presented to debunk false evidence.

With that in mind, I recently listened to most of a 3-hour audio podcast by David C. Smalley where he debunked, point by point, an 18-minute viral video that claimed the election was stolen. Below are links to both the 18-minute YouTube video that “proves” the election was stolen and the 3-hour audio podcast that debunks the video. I recommend that your first watch at least the first 5+ minutes of the video. Then listen to at least the first half-hour of the audio podcast. Watch and listen to more if you are so inclined. Then, if you agree that the election was not stolen, consider forwarding a link to this blog to others, especially to anyone who still believes that the election was stolen.

Link to 18 minute YouTube video viewed by 1.5 million people which details “evidence” that the election was stolen from Trump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXtGItm1bvQ&t=11s

Link to David C. Smalley audio podcast where he debunks popular claims of those who believe the election was stolen: https://www.spreaker.com/user/smalleyandhyso/509-conspiracies

Money grab by States in anti-trust suit against Google.

As reported in The Des Moines Register, Iowa has joined 37 other states in an anti-trust suit against Google for discriminating against other search engines. (See link below.)

The purpose of anti-trust action against any company should be the protection of consumers, not the protection of competing businesses.  If consumers are not harmed, which is the case here, then anti-trust action should not be taken.  I have a strong feeling that the State governments joined this lawsuit in order to share in the billions of dollars of penalties or settlement – a money grab from a deep pocket.

Why should Google be forced to list links to other search engines in the results of their Google searches?  Why shouldn’t Google be allowed to pay smart phone makers to make Google the default search engine – which helps to reduce the cost of cell phones?  Where is the harm to consumers?  In fact, Googles actions arguably help consumers.

Link to Register report: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2020/12/17/google-antitrust-lawsuit-iowa-joins-case-with-38-states-over-internet-search-and-advertising/3939064001/

Supreme Court correct to protect religion

Contrary to the letter from Donnabelle Richtsmeier, our Supreme Court was correct to overturn New York’s restriction on the size of religious gatherings.  (See copy of letter below.)

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”     The 14th Amendment reads in part, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…”  So, states cannot violate our federal constitutional rights.

No exception is made to allow our governments to violate our constitutional rights because of a pandemic. If that were true, what limit would there be on our government’s response to a pandemic?

The statement in the preamble of the Constitution, “promote the general welfare“ does not grant any specific power to our government.  If we gave our government the power to do anything that would promote the general welfare, there would be no limit on our government.  Our Constitution establishes a government with limited, enumerated powers. Restricting the exercise of religion is strictly prohibited.

Donnabelle Richtsmeier’s letter to the Des Moines Register:

I was astonished to learn that the Supreme Court ruled against the lower courts and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions that included limits on religious gatherings in places of worship. The justices certainly did not take into account current scientific evidence and advice from public health authorities that such measures could help stop the spread of the virus.

The Supreme Court is no longer a bipartisan group of judges whose job it is to interpret the Constitution in a fair and just way. It is a group bent on promoting their own philosophies and politics. In their ruling, they forgot the phrase in the preamble to the Constitution that states “promote the general welfare.” Certainly, efforts to protect citizens from COVID-19 is promoting the general welfare of the citizens of not only New York but the entire United States.

The framers of the Constitution wanted to guarantee religious freedom giving citizens the right to worship in ways suited to them, free from harassment or harm. The Supreme Court really took this out of context. Limiting the size of religious gatherings during this severe pandemic is in no way an attack on the freedom of religion. It is a way to protect the health of citizens and to save lives. The justices must put aside their individual prejudices and become a bipartisan group working together to uphold the Constitution in order to “form a more perfect union.” If they can’t do this, maybe it is time for some changes.

— Donnabelle Richtsmeier, Des Moines