The State of the Onion

Last evening, rather than Downton Abby, many Americans watched the President give his State of the Union speech.  The speech contained a few memorable lines including a preacher’s plea for strengthening gun controls.  But if one listened for a reasoned and rationale argument for government action, you were in the wrong place.  Last night’s speech was more like a State of the Onion speech where fact lay beneath layers of onion peels.

Medicare and Medicaid.  Over half the current deficit is due to Medicare and Medicaid expenditures that exceed the wage roll taxes the government collects.  One might be quick to conclude we need only increase taxes, or if you oppose taxes, need only cut benefits in order to eliminate the Medicare/Medicaid piece of the deficit.

Hmmm.  Keep peeling.

The US health care delivery system assigns insurance cost based upon “pool” risk.  Younger and more healthy people present less risk to insurers and therefore receive lower rates.  And…  You are catching on, older people and those unemployed represent greater risk and accordingly cost more to insure.  Medicare and Medicaid must cover the more risky (health care cost-wise) and more costly Americans.

Hmmm.   Peel again.

The entire US health care delivery system is the most expensive in the world.  Our system in comparison to other modern countries, is on average twice as expensive per capita, does not cover everyone, and delivers health outcomes that are mediocre.

The fight over Medicare and Medicaid is simply the wrong fight.  The real issue is buried, it’s our overall health care system.

Here is another example.

Jobs, the Middle Class and the Minimum Wage. If we think back to a time when “things were good”, we are probably talking about the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  America’s industries were strong, unions and their members prospered, and optimism prevailed.  No surprise that today things don’t feel the same because things are not the same.

Hmmm. So what?

The world has become much more competitive.  Goods and services can be produced around the world at the highest quality standards and offered based upon the local prevailing wage.  For jobs to remain in the US, the goods or services must be in total cheaper to produce here than in a foreign country.  So government officials can talk all they want about “growing jobs” but unless the net cost to produce an athletic shoe, or a toaster, or suit, or a car is equal to or less, jobs will continue to migrate away from the US.  This is how it has always been.  In the past, however, there were competitive reason to prefer US manufacture.  Times have changed.

So is all lost?   Let’s peel.

Less expensive energy, a highly educated and skilled work force, and an efficient and effective infrastructure could tilt the balance in favor of repatriating jobs, creating new ones, and not losing the new ones that come along.

What about guns?

Guns.  The president spoke about taking bold action to prevent (or lessen) the number of senseless violent acts involving guns.  He held up the Sandy Hook Elementary School as a rallying point.  But would any of his proposals changed that outcome?

The sad truth is no.  Our 2nd Amendment allows Americans to own fire arms.  Sandy Hook could have been prevented only if all fire arms were confiscated.  That’s not going to happen and probably should not happen even if it could.

So let’s do nothing?

At the same time, it makes no sense to have some gun purchasers checked against a national register and others not.  It makes little sense that sportsmen or gun hobbyists need high capacity magazine clips.  It is highly questionable why military style weapons should be in anyones hands other than law enforcement authorities.  The 2nd Amendment speaks to the right to bear arms at a time when muskets were the norm.  Which fire arms meet the test of reasonableness in today’s society is a legitimate question.

What else matters?

Mental health, gang violence, and domestic violence are three factors which underscore the risks our country has taken with free and easy access to fire arms.  While the best answer is not clear, doing nothing is clearly wrong and will be followed by more of the same.  Enacting the President’s proposals will not prevent all misuse of fire arms.

The open question is would the President’s proposals be a step in the right direction, and if not, why not?

Beneath the great questions the State of the Union spoke to, after removing several layers, there is a call for thoughtful analysis and comprehensive solutions.  Do you think anyone heard that message?

Peeling away one layer is not the answer either, but it is certainly better than doing nothing, but not by much.

The President gave us some “one layer” ideas.  Marco Rubio, the Republican response speaker, spoke to a lot of doing nothing.  What are reasonable people to think?


Explore posts in the same categories: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Politics, Republican Party

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2 Comments on “The State of the Onion”

  1. FLPatriot Says:

    When comparing it to an onion I thought you meant because it stunk and made me cry.

    The “truth” you say is under those layers is nothing more than campaign rhetoric. He means little of what he said and will accomplish the rest in a way that is not a long term benefit for the country.

    Oh well, 5 down and 3 to go, I only hope we survive until 2016.

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