Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's good for the goose...

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has begun yet another campaign. This time his target is the credit card industry. He has alleged, and the industry has admitted, that creditors are increasing rates and fees on credit worthy customers. The credit companies have alleged they are raising these rates and fees to help offset the risk incurred by less credit worthy borrowers and to recoup losses faced after increases in defaults during the down economy. Blumenthal alleges that it is not fair for the credit worthy borrowers to have to face additional burdens to help credit card companies deal with the problems of less credit worthy customers.

But isn't that exactly what the progressive tax system used by the United States does? The whole justification for taxing the rich at rates that are grossly disproportionate to the poor is that they can afford the burden. The House certainly thinks so, the healthcare bill that passed the House imposes new taxes on the super rich to help buy insurance for those who don't have it. And even here in Connecticut there was a move recently made by Democrats, including our favorite former candidate for Mayor Tim O'Brien, to make our income taxes far more progressive so that the more wealthy would be stuck with a higher tax bill.

If it is fair for the government to disproportionately rely on the more successful and more economically stable citizens to fund all of its social programs then it should be just as fair for a corporation to do the same. Perhaps after he is finished posturing as the champion of the common man Attorney General Blumenthal can take some time to explain to the voters who are about to pay the bill for the healthcare overhaul why we should be so glad that now our 18% interest rate on our credit card is back down to 12.5%.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

NOMD the friend of NIMBY

The CEA recently sent around a petition asking the membership to oppose the healthcare reform that has now just barely cleared the Senate. Why the sudden opposition from an organization whose agende, to be generous, is fairly liberal? It is pretty clear if you read what they are saying at www.cea.org. Teachers are opposed to the excise tax that is present in the Senate version of the bill. Why? Because the health care policies of teachers would fall under the definition of "Cadillac" plans and be subject to heavy taxation which would mean more money out of the teachers' pockets. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind any group opposing the current healthcare legislation that will, in my opinion, severely cripple our nation. But the selective opposition of the CEA speaks to a much bigger problem with liberal groups as a whole.

Why are the CEA and other groups lining up now to oppose the Senate bill when they were quite content to allow the House version of the bill to pass? It isn't over the lack of a public option, but merely over the fact that they will be expected to pick up a large portion of the tab. The House version of the bill generates much of it's revenue by adding to the tax burden of the 'super wealthy' while the Senate actually would expect a large majority of Americans to help pay for the new costs of healthcare. It is similar to the notion that has stalled the expansion of nuclear power and killed projects like the Long Island Sound Natural Gas Terminal. The notion of "Not in my backyard" or NIMBY has a vicious friend called "Not on my dime" or NOMD. I will admit that NOMD does not have quite same ring as NIMBY, but is very alluring.

Some people would argue that people who oppose the Health Care overhaul all suffer from NOMD, but that is an oversimplification of the matter. My opposition comes from several factors, even setting the cost aside I have gross reservations as to whether the proposed changes will even work. I believe that there are several smaller steps the government could take to gradually take to reform the healthcare system. Even on a more fundamental level I do not feel the government has the right, let alone the duty, to force healthcare on everyone  nor should people be given a free ride in yet another area of life.

In the end NOMD, like NIMBY, reveals peoples true concerns and beliefs. It is easy for people of a liberal agenda to proselytize about the plight of the down-trodden. It is easy to talk about how we need healthcare reform and how we need a public option, and how the government should provide us with yet another service that the public sector is capable of providing. Yet when it comes time to pick up the check those same people always bicker over who should pick up the tab. Clearly these things are only important as long as we can get someone else to pay for them.