The Conservative’s Welfare Plan


Let’s face it – welfare just isn’t working.  There is a lot of money being spent, but a lot of it is being wasted, to the point that kids are showing up at school hungry despite all of the food assistance money being sent to their households.  The issue is the same one that is always seen when you try to run something through central planning – those setting up the program don’t have the ability or the time to customize it for every person or region, so they create something that really doesn’t work for everyone.  In addition, the power created through centralization leads to fraud and abuse.  We need a better way to do welfare.

 

Some people are incapable of taking care of themselves and therefore need to be handed food, clothing, shelter, etc….  Others could take care of themselves but choose to game the system instead, taking resources from those who really need help (for example, those who abuse Medicaid to abuse prescription pain medications, making it more difficult for those who need the medications to get treatment) .  Rather than a check in the mail or an Obamaphone, many people really need a firm but caring “no” and perhaps an offer of something like a job or job training to get them back on track and being productive (and happier in the long run).  Some parents are struggling and sacrificing for their children and just need a little help to make ends meet, but others just ignore the children and spend all of the money on themselves.  Others have addictions, where giving them money just helps buy the next shot of heroin or fifth of whiskey.  A centralized program, with an army of government workers who quickly have any desire to change the system beaten out of them, gives you what we have:  fraud, waste, abuse, and a lot of hoops for those who really need help to jump through.

              

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The Conservative’s welfare program would rely on free-enterprise.   There would be a plethora of well-funded local groups that provide food, shelter, job training, and other assistance to those in need.  Because they were local, they could learn who really needs help and what kind of help is needed, be it a sandwich or a connection to a next job.  These groups would compete for donations by showing the good works they were doing.  Those who were effective at meeting needs would grow and receive more donations.  Those who were wasteful and ineffective would go out-of-business.  People could decide what was needed and direct their donations there.  If something got over-funded, to the point people for the charity were building palatial offices, people would donate somewhere else.

The issue with going to such a system is converting from what we have now.  Because people are already having a good portion of their tax dollars, on the order of 50%, going to welfare, it would be difficult for them to give additional money to charities (although a lot of them do).  It is also difficult to eliminate existing programs in order to cut taxes to allow for more private giving because there are always tragic cases for those that want to keep the power in Washington to parade in front of the cameras.  Luckily, there is a simple solution, and it would require very little effort.


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Here’s the plan:

Allow individuals to deduct their contributions to charities that provide services that replace government programs (food, shelter, job training, clothing, health care, etc…) directly from their taxes, dollar-for-dollar, up to 10% of their income.  Then, as the needs in different areas are met by private charities, discontinue the government programs, keeping them in place in areas where the needs are not met. 

Here’s why this would work:  

Right now, individuals are taxed, their money taken to Washington.  Washington bureaucrats making high six-figure incomes then hire an army of civil servants making high five-figure incomes to disperse the money they collect to programs such as food stamps and section-8 housing/HUD.  A lot of the money collected is lost in the process, plus the money is not distributed efficiently, resulting in bad results and/or an enormous cost.

By allowing individuals to give the money directly, which they would do if given the choice of giving it to causes they believe in or sending it off to Washington, groups that meet the needs of the poor and disadvantaged would be funded.  Because more money would be available, more groups would be developed and compete for funding by trying to do the most good at the least cost.  By limiting the amount that could be given, there would still be funding for things like Defense and essential government processes.

Advantages:

  • There would be more money available for the needy since there would be less waste.  Wasteful charities would change their ways or go out-of-business as more efficient competitors emerged.
  • People would be helped locally, meaning the charities would be designed to meet their needs, rather than some global need.  We’d see things like families being provided directly with food that met their dietary requirements rather than a check being sent to the home that gets spent on cigarettes and lottery tickets.
  • There would be enough different groups and people working within those groups to determine how to best meet the needs of those around them and actually improve society.  Imagine the minds who create things like the smart phone and FaceBook working on addressing the needs of society!
  • Needs currently not being met would be addressed as individuals looked for new charities to start once the space for things like food and housing became crowded.  Maybe there would be groups who drive people to job interviews or help those who are victims of crime right after they are robbed or assaulted.
  • Taxes could be lowered as needs were addressed more efficiently.
  • Those who are able to take care of themselves would be transitioned into productive members of society with an income, which in turn would further reduce the burden on those currently paying for welfare.  It would also bring pride back to people, which could change futures and neighborhoods.
  • Payers would feel good about their donations rather than feeling bad about needing to pay taxes.  There might be less tax-cheating.


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So in the end, we would all pay less in taxes, there would be more people working and producing things, which would make society wealthier, people would be seeing their needs met more efficiently and with less red-tape, and we would end the cycle of poverty, bringing pride to individuals.  If this sounds good, forward a link to this post to a friend or your FaceBook page.  Then, write your Congressman and your local newspaper.  We can make society better if we all work together for change.

Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

A Missed Chance to Change American Healthcare History


I’m extremely disappointed that one of our Senators, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), went along with nine other Republicans and all of the Democrats and voted against the straight Affordable Care Act  repeal bill put forth in the Senate the other day.  The repeal would have been phased in over two years, giving plenty of time for people to shift to new health plans (that would become available once the markets were freed to sell insurance plans that people wanted, rather than those mandated by the government) and for Congress to pass free-market measures that would reduce the cost of healthcare such as mandated Health Savings Accounts, transparent pricing,  and portable health insurance, sold to individuals instead of through work.

When I wrote to Senator Alexander about the repeal of the ACA, he said that he would not vote for any bill that caused people to lose access to health insurance.  Yet Obamacare is imploding as we speak, and it is likely that many insurance markets will have no providers, so people will lose coverage.  Others will have only one or two providers, and those ones will charge so much that those who can’t afford standard health insurance won’t be able to afford the Obamacare plans anyway, so people are losing their health insurance even if Congress does nothing.  And even if people have insurance, that doesn’t mean they have access to healthcare through their insurance.  Many people right now need to pay thousands in premiums and thousands for their deductible even with the Obamacare plans, so they end up needing to spend $10,000 or more per year before their insurance covers anything.  How is this helping them?

And what about Senator Alexander’s other constituents?  How can he vote to protect a small subset of the people in Tennessee while forcing the majority to pay for their protection.  I strongly believe that individuals should voluntarily provide for those who they find in need due to circumstances.  Certainly we need to care for the 21-year old who gets brain cancer and needs expensive treatments.  We need to help the young single mother who has a child who need round-the-clock care.

But think about what we’re doing by enacting forced welfare.  We’re telling productive members of society that they must surrender a portion of their income to us to give to someone else, either through taxes or by forcing them to purchase subsidized health insurance on a sliding payment scale, or we will go to their homes and seize their property and/or throw them in jail.  We are taking people’s money by force and giving it to other people, some who truly have no other way, some who simply choose not to produce, and some  who are unable to take care of themselves because they always have made bad choices and continue to do so.

In many ways, forcing everyone to contribute to what is effectively a public healthcare system, which is poorly run, has an inferior product, and is way over-priced as all public systems are (see public schools for another example) is worse than simply having taxes and providing overpriced, poor quality benefits (see Medicaid) to those who qualify for them.  At least with just taxes people can take whatever money is left over and maybe get better healthcare than what is available in the public system.  By forcing people to buy into the public system (which is what you’re doing when the government fully controls the insurance offered and the prices that can be charged, even if private companies are providing the insurance), you take away that ability for all but the very wealthy to find better healthcare since they have no resources left with which to do so.  Note the similarity with public education, where because people are already paying for the public system through property taxes, only the very wealthy are able to afford private schools, even in places where the private schools are far superior.

But what about the people being helped by public welfare programs?  At least it is a good thing for them, right?  Maybe not.  Think about people in your family who could get a full-time job and take care of themselves, but choose not to.  This is different from a family member who loses a job and needs to move in for a couple of months or needs some help with the rent until they get back on their feet.  This is someone who always has an excuse about why they can’t work here or work there.  Often there is someone in your family who is an enabler – a very sweet person who pays for the food, apartment, and lifestyle of the non-working family member.  In doing so, the needy family member never gets a job or makes anything out of their life.

When we give through private charities, the charity is normally able to do a better job of figuring out who truly needs help and who would be better served with a kick in the pants.  Public programs often give money out blindly, and often even encourage individuals to not work or do anything or the hand-outs would decline.  Get a job, you see your housing allowance cut.  Have another child, see your food stamps payments increase.  If you’re religious, imagine needing to stand before God, having had two good arms, two good legs, and a good brain and having done nothing with the gifts He had given you.  If you’re not, just imagine spending your whole life and doing nothing of value.  How kind is it to encourage others to face that fate?

Contact me at vtsioriginal@yahoo.com, or leave a comment.

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning advice, it gives information on a specific investment strategy and picking stocks. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

Lack of Regulation – How Billionaires are Made.


 Everyone knew that taxicabs cost too much in places like New York City.  There was a need that was not being filled, at least in an economical way that satisfied the people who had the need.  Normally when this is the case in a free enterprise society, people come forward to fix the problem.  They start up new taxi companies.  Perhaps they just put a sign on their cars and start driving around themselves, picking up people and getting them where they need to go.  But this was not happening?  Why?

The reason was over regulation.  In order to drive a cab in NYC, you needed to have a medallion that was issued by the city, which cost over a million dollars.  A reasonable regulator would have seen that the barrier to entry was too high and started issuing a lot more medallions, maybe even for free, but the people who had the medallions worked with the politicians (and probably bribed then through campaign contributions and promises that the taxi company’s workforce would be strongly encouraged to vote for them in the next election) to keep the number of medallions out there too low.

Everyone would say that the reason was for public safety, which is usually a good argument.  After all, you might get robbed or raped if they let just anyone pick you up and drive you around.  Also, you might get hurt in an accident because of a poor driver if just anyone was able to drive a cab.  People from the major companies were background checked and their driving skills quality controlled due to the regulations, you were told.   Of course, in NYC you would usually end up in a cab with a recent Pakistani immigrant who just came into the country and barely speaks the language who cuts people off constantly and stays on the horn the whole ride, so maybe the regulation wasn’t working that well.

              

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Enter Uber and Lyft, by calling themselves “ride sharing” and using a cell phone app to hail drivers in unmarked cars rather than putting a sign on their roof and having people wave them down from the curb, these companies were able to enter the taxicab market.  And the response from all of those people who were being “protected” by the regulations if they used a traditional taxicab?  Did they not use Uber out of fear of being hurt in an accident?  No, they quickly went over to the new service, gladly giving up the major cab companies.  The service was better and cheaper, they would tell you.  And there wasn’t a rash of robberies and rapes despite the lack of a medallion.

As a result, the founders of Uber and Lyft became billionaires very quickly.  Somehow they had found a loophole in the regulations and created a new, high-demand service.  We’ve actually moved to the point that people talk about getting an “Uber” far more often than they talk about getting a cab.  Actually, they didn’t really find a loophole – they just ignored the regulations and since the regulators didn’t know what to do with a taxi service that called themselves a “ride sharing service,” and a company that was called by an app rather than via phone or hailing at the curbside, they were left alone while the regulators discussed what to do long enough to become wildly popular.  Just within the last year or two the taxi companies have started to use the existing regulations and get new regulations passed to attack the ride sharing services and try to get them shut down since they don’t like having the competition.  They are in for a fight, however, since people like Uber and Lyft.

 


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Other internet companies like Google and Amazon took advantage of the lack or regulations to grow into the giants that they are.  Amazon took advantage of the lack of sales tax collections to make their products cheaper than those found in local stores.  Both Google and Amazon took advantage of a free web, but you can bet they’ll be the first ones to support regulations since that will help keep out competition.  You can pay for a bunch of lawyers to file a bunch of paperwork when you make millions of dollars per year, but not when you’re two guys in a garage.


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If you want to become a billionaire, look for places where there is little regulation.  Or better yet, support candidates who will cut regulations (and hold them to it once they’re in office).  Even if you aren’t willing to do the work needed to become a billionaire, or don’t have a great idea needed to propel you there, new businesses create jobs and wealth, where old monopolies tend o reduce jobs as time goes on.  Everyone is better off with less regulation.

Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

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