Tuesday, May 28, 2013
We are working on "The Other Side of Education" for our next blog post.
As for current events, we see that a book titled "Why We Should Leave the Euro" by economics professor Joao Ferreira do Amaral is a best-seller in Portugal. (Sorry, we are not able to internationalize the spelling of his name correctly.) No wonder it is a best-seller. Experience is not showing that austerity measures are working very well as a way to economic recovery in Portugal.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Tosoc.org sidesteps all the Social Security and Medicare debates because we recommend that everyone's basic needs be taken care of and accounted for. Part of the problem in fact is that these are special programs for favored sub-populations rather than general programs to care for all the people. They are discriminatory by design and therefore are fundamentally broken. That explains why they keep failing and why we have to keep fixing them.
There will be no need for Social Security and Medicare in tosoc.org's vision of the future because everyone will get those benefits anyway. There will be no "work age" or "retirement age" because people will be encouraged and led to do what they can do no matter what their age. It seems likely that mental inactivity and physical inactivity lead to premature aging and death anyway, so we want to discourage the whole concept of retirement in the sense that people become inactive "lotus-eaters" when they retire.
With regard to healthcare alone, we can remove a lot of waste from the system by the use of exclusive currencies. Neither Medicare nor health insurance will be necessary any longer because everyone will be taken care of. By one mechanism or another, everyone will have enough internal money to pay for their healthcare.
In tosoc.org's view, health insurance – any health insurance – is poorly structured. For comparison, auto insurance is about accidents, but health insurance is about certainties. Individuals may or may not have auto accidents, and the accidents may be more or less severe. There is a lot of chance involved.
In contrast, it is certain that the health of every individual will decline over time, ending in death. Therefore "health insurance" is not really insurance, it is an attempt to pre-pay for the certainty of ever poorer health with age. This distorts the healthcare market because pay and fulfillment do not occur at the same time. That is the basic problem with the American healthcare market. Healthcare providers know how much is already "saved up" to pay them, so they have a negotiating advantage at the time of delivery. They charge enough to use up the "savings" and then charge a little more. Thus no matter how much we save for healthcare, we will always have to spend more than we save. This is the reason why healthcare costs keep going up.
Instead tosoc.org wants the people themselves to pay for their healthcare at the time of delivery. They will have enough money because their healthcare will be paid for in an internal currency. Even so, people will be more careful about what they buy when the money comes out of their account. It is money that they might otherwise spend on something else.
Under the tosoc.org system, doctors and hospitals will once again be directly responsible to their patients. Furthermore, they will not have to waste time dealing with insurance bureaucracies.
Another important element is time for the people to take a greater role in managing their own healtcare costs. This is related to what we already suggested in Life on The Other Side, that the people would be given more time to participate in the political process. Regarding healthcare, the people would be given time and help to deal with the healthcare market. The help is as important as the time, because many people will need help to decode their healthcare bills.
Finally, the poor will not have to compete directly with the rich for healthcare because they will be in different markets. The rich can fend for themselves in the external, international markets. Government agents for the internal markets will also buy healthcare resources in the international markets, but in very large quantities and with collective purchasing power. They will be able to provide the most healthcare possible for the internal markets and at the lowest price.
Healthcare providers themselves will have to deal with the restrictions of exclusive currencies. They need to understand that from the start. Let us take the case of doctors, for example. Right now there are government programs to pay for medical educations in return for promises to practice in underserved areas. These programs do not work very well because it is hard to enforce the promises and the doctors are paid in international dollars.
These programs would be easier to enforce if doctors were paid only in an internal currency. Their ability to bypass the system would be reduced because they could not move their internal money into any other market. Exclusive multiple currencies prevents it.
In their favor, however, and somewhat in compensation, doctors would also graduate from medical school without enormous debts. Their educations would be paid for with an internal currency from their own educational funds. Provision for physician training would be part of the mandate of government agent buyers of healthcare resources. Internal-market medical schools would also be built and run, so it should be possible to train more doctors than the current system.
Internal-market hospitals would be funded the same way.
The buying power of almost an entire nation will be able to get much better deals for healthcare goods and services than we poor individuals, each working alone. Those savings will be passed on to us in the translation between the external currency and our internal currencies. The distribution of the internal currencies will be made in a way so that everyone has enough to pay for their own healthcare.
This is why we see the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, also known as ObamaCare) as doomed to failure from the start. (Note that we could only explain this after an introduction to our idea of The Other Side of Healthcare.) The provisions of the ACA will fail because they are chained by the single U.S. currency. The single currency makes the ACA a servant of the rich, not the poor, with new taxes that will make us poorer. Without collective purchasing power to get the best prices and without currency separation to pass the discounts on to the poor, the result will ultimately be less healthcare for the poor and ongoing exposure to business cycle extortion. The ACA sets up one giant hostage-taking organization (i.e., holding our healthcare hostage) that will be used to squeeze ever more money out of the government and the poor to the benefit of the rich.
It is time we understood that the concept of health insurance is fundamentally flawed. It distorts the healthcare market and encourages healthcare cost inflation. Instead we need multiple exclusive currencies and markets so that healthcare can be purchased in bulk for the many and the savings passed on to the poor through the distribution of internal currencies. Wasteful healthcare bureaucracies will no longer be needed. Those personnel can be transferred to new bureaucracies for large-scale healthcare purchasing and for helping the poor keep from being cheated on their healtcare bills (patient advocacy).
Doctors and hospitals will be directly responsible to their patients because those are the ones who will pay them. They will also be able to spend more time on healthcare because they will no longer serve giant bureaucracies.
This cannot happen without multiple exclusive currencies and markets because under one currency, the poor will always be competing directly with the rich for healthcare. It is time to "level the playing field" and make the rich compete against the collective poor.
The way capitalism should be.
Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.
Copyright © 2013 TheOtherSideOfCapitalism
Saturday, May 11, 2013
The first step on the way to The Other Side is to recognize that we are not wealthy. Americans buy into the idea that we are rich. We delude ourselves. The nation is rich. We are poor (most of us).
We are poor because we cannot defend our wealth. Each financial crisis shows how easy it is to take our wealth from us. Also, the decline of the fortunes of the middle class shows that the system is becoming more and more unbalanced.
Perhaps most Americans will find this concept difficult because they have bought into the mythology of wealthy Americans instead of understanding that we have a wealthy America and mostly poor Americans. It has become a matter of pride.
Another part of the problem is that so far, we are obviously wealthy compared to citizens of poverty-stricken states. Many of us look down our noses at impoverished people around the world and the pleas for charity. Some of us tell ourselves how great we are compared to them. Others just feel lucky.
However, the real meaning of it is that the American dream has failed miserably. After World War II, the American economy was something like 50% of the world economy. Most Americans naturally expected that the benefits of freedom, democracy, and capitalism would quickly spread around the world. They expected that the world would become more like America. Also, most Americans expected that they and their children would continue to gain wealth and leisure.
Instead America is becoming more like the rest of the world. Today the American economy is something like 25% of the world economy. Most of the nations that were poverty-stricken in 1945 are still poverty-stricken. The rich nations got richer and most of the poor nations went nowhere. Also, employees are expected to do more work for the same amount of pay. See The 24/7 Worker on tosoc.org. Economic downturns are so great for rich people that perhaps they want to keep the economy turned down. Most Americans have had to trade leisure for work in order to maintain their incomes.
As a side-effect, Americans have less time to participate in politics. We are slowly being disenfranchised because the more we work, the less time we have to learn about political candidates and political processes. It is hard for some of us to find time to vote at all, much less know anything about who we are voting for.
The results are elections like the 2012 presidential election. The pundits knew from the beginning that Mitt Romney would be the Republican candidate because he had pre-positioned his political organizations in all fifty states. It gave him a tremendous advantage. No other candidate was wealthy enough to do that, so to a great extent, Mr Romney bought the Republican nomination.
The idea is that life on The Other Side would be quite different. Political participation would be encouraged. More important, most everyone would have more time and resources to make their choices. That is because most workers would be in national labor union organizations, and political participation by the workers would be one of the goals of those organizations.
The national labor unions would also make sure that everyone has a job. In return for our economic security, we all need to participate in the markets. Jobs will look different, however, because now the issue is not so much production, but matching buyers and sellers. These are both jobs, in a sense, and each person will have two jobs. One as an individual buyer and the other as an individual seller.
Second, as said above, life on The Other Side would be economically secure. Most everyone would participate in one internal market or another. National buyers would buy everything needed in the internal markets. As collective buyers rather than individuals, they would have the clout to get the best deals from both the internal and external markets.
Also, since the rich would use a different currency than the rest of us, comparisons of wealth in money terms would become meaningless. It would be easier to work on the gap between the rich and the poor if we were not tied to a single currency.
Third, there would be national sellers of goods and services. As collective rather than individual sellers, they would have the clout to get the best prices possible for our labor and the things we produce in the internal and external markets. They would contract with our labor unions to provide labor that they can sell.
This may seem confusing because how can our buyers get the best deals from us as producers, and at the same time, our sellers get the best deals from us as consumers? Is it not true that any gains we might have as producers are lost to us as consumers? The answer is that this view is an illusion caused by our simplifying language. After all, if you think about it, that is what we already do now. Each of us is a seller into the same markets that we buy from.
The trick is this. As barbers, we sell lots of haircuts to grocers, but we only need relatively few groceries ourselves. As grocers, we sell lots of groceries to barbers, but we only need a few haircuts ourselves. That is, individuals generally produce more than they consume. The purpose of the market is simply to adjust prices to reflect this underlying truth. In a reasonable market, neither discounts to barbers nor discounts to grocers grow so great as to impoverish either barbers or grocers.
Finally, workers in the U.S. have more in common with workers in other countries than either has in common with the international rich. The idea is that there will actually be closer relations with foreign workers on The Other Side than there is today. The nation is important primarily because the national government has the legal right to implement our proposals in its geographical area. Our national buyers and sellers will not be limited within our national borders, however. The goal is not some kind of national socialism with its attendant evils, but a regulated international capitalism. Their rich people will not be allowed to raid our wealth and our rich people will not be allowed to raid their wealth.
In these short blog posts, it is not possible to explain the entire vision at once, but we hope that you now understand that tosoc.org's vision is actually about greater cooperation among the workers of the world than there is today. To get there, we have to stop the raiding of the wealth of the nations by the international rich. Basic economic security must be seen as a right. After that, the multiple exclusive markets and the national buyers, sellers, and unions come into play. In America, that process can only begin when we stop seeing ourselves as wealthy and as some sort of auxilliaries to the international rich. We need to know that we are poor and that we have to work together to protect ourselves from the rich.
The way capitalism should be.
Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.
Copyright © 2013 TheOtherSideOfCapitalism
Sunday, May 5, 2013
All leaders betray their people in one way or another. This is a simple fact of life that we must keep in mind when we talk about politics. Both history and current events demonstrate this. It is why we should never be starry-eyed about politicians. Doing so is a departure from reality, and reality always returns to us no matter how far we stray. The farther we move away from reality, the more unpleasant reality usually is when it reasserts itself.
Recently we read that some members of the U.S. Congress were talking about exempting themselves and federal employees from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare). That came as a surprise to tosoc.org because we thought that the ACA had already created a three-tier system, with federal politicians and employees enjoying the best healthcare, union members getting second best, and the rest of us getting the leavings. We apologize if we were mistaken. We also want to point out that these misunderstandings happen when "laws" become 2000+ page tomes that nobody actually reads until a decision has to be made.
This illustrates why we believe in the principle that "leaders go first." Politicians and bureaucrats are all too prone to grant themselves exemptions from unpleasant provisions that they want to impose on the rest of us.
It would be best to make them obey their proposed laws first, even before the laws apply to any of the rest of us. Societal leaders should have to lead from the front.
However, since they are the lawmakers and regulators, it is hard see how to use laws and regulations against their will. To align their loyalties with the interests of their people, they would have to agree to limit themselves. At the same time their instincts are about increasing their own power. It seems it would take very unusual circumstances to establish a serious "leaders go first" system using laws and regulations.
It seems more likely that we could arrange an alignment of financial interests.
That is why one of tosoc.org's proposals for multiple exclusive currencies and markets requires politicians and bureaucrats to use and own only an internal currency, or assets denominated in that currency. It is a powerful way to keep them interested in the value of that currency. If they want to be "international," so to speak, let them choose another career path. On the other hand, if they want to lead our nation, then let them link their financial futures with ours.
In this case, politicians and bureaucrats would only have to give up the possibility of abandoning the U.S. for greater wealth elsewhere. Since most of them so far want to stay in the U.S. anyway, it would not be much of a loss.
In return they would gain more stable wealth. Being tied to the international dollar is a problem for them, too.
Finally, it provides them with greater scope to do their own jobs and increases their areas of responsibility. Government implementation of tosoc.org's plans would require a great increase in laws, regulations, personnel, and equipment. It would be a trade off with advantages for both sides, and that is the kind of change that can work.
It would be nice if people in general would act in the general interest rather than their own, but often they will not and do not. It just does not work to try to force them to act against their own interests. Like trusting politicians, that is also a way to lose touch with reality.
Far better to work in everyone's interests, and that is what tosoc.org's proposals are designed to do. There is a lot to be done to create internal currencies and markets, and some of that work is just the thing for the government to carry out. For example, a whole new banking system (the internal one) will have to be created. These are things that politicians and bureaucrats should be happy to get into, and at the same time, they will be helping their own people.