Libertarian Populism

Libertarian Populism seems like a good idea with great potential. Considering the problems Niall Ferguson describes and the ongoing economic stagnation, its worth a shot.

Technocracy as discussed, is a top-down regime. It relies on experts. This Virginia Postrel editorial remains a good start to understanding technocracy.

The primary problem I have with Big Business is when it teams with Big Government to create a Big Ass that sits on me and smothers me. We get fewer choices for everything personal and economic, more government regulations, higher taxes, and more moralizing. One of the most pernicious effects of government regulations is that business gets blamed for these regulations, when in fact the senior employees of these firms are simply carrying out the orders from above, above being the politicians who make the rules. It is only the fault of business people to the extent they team with government/politicians to make these rules for their own benefit, either to stifle competition or to curry favor with a special interest. This is rent-seeking and it only occurs with government cooperation.

A major problem with health care is that government has been involved since the 1940’s with various regulations and programs. Conservatives and Republicans have praised the US “health care system as the greatest in the world”. They don’t know how clueless they sound. For something to be great it has to meet stringent criteria, whatever that something is. A health care system that provides abundant products and services but is too expensive, overpriced, and is available through employment or government programs like in the US is not great. It stinks. A great US industry is discretionary retail, meaning stuff we buy as consumers because we like them, not because we need them. Clothing is a necessity but after some point, 50 pairs of shoes becomes a choice. Yet, we have so many choices of shoes, shirts, pants, dresses, underwear, jeans, etc at a wide range of prices. Everybody can pretty much find what they want online or at a physical, brick-and-mortar store. Now that is great.

Speaking of health care, Dan Mitchell has a post about Dr. Michael Ciampi, a medical doctor in the state of Maine who stopped accepting all forms of health insurance. Dr. Ciampi “can offer discounts to patients struggling with their medical bills. He can make house calls. . . . providing them a service that they value, they can pay me, and we cut the insurance out as the middleman and cut out a lot of the expense. . . . I’ve been able to cut my prices in half because my overhead will be so much less,” he said. Before, Ciampi charged $160 for an office visit with an existing patient facing one or more complicated health problems. Now, he charges $75. Patients with an earache or strep throat can spend $300 at their local hospital emergency room, or promptly get an appointment at his office and pay $50.”

Now that’s bottom-up change I can embrace. Big Government have teamed with Big Medical — hospitals, insurance companies, pharma, AMA — to maintain the status quo. Health insurance is way over-priced, we should be able to buy insurance with the same kind of choices and price-points as the consumer discretionary industry I described above.

Both parties and so-called liberals and conservatives are to blame for the government dysfunction and economic stagnation.