Between Authoritarianism and Human Capital

The biggest challenge facing free societies today is our lack of belief in them. I am seeing too many self-inflicted wounds, most of all the recent democratically derived decisions in the United Kingdom and the United States.

.. It’s interesting to see that the countries that are doing fine, such as Canada, are those which in their cultural DNA never pushed that hard on libertarian ideals in the first place (though I would argue that Canada is implicitly fairly libertarian).

.. global authoritarianism is probably poisoning our political climate more than many people realize.

.. what is the most important reason for optimism about a free society?

I think it is talent and human capital. Today there is more mobilized talent than ever before, by a wide order of magnitude. More people are protected from the ravages of malnutrition and severe childhood diseases, more people get educated, and more learn from the internet. Furthermore, there is more opportunity for that talent. Say it is 1970 and you are a potential math or science genius born in India. What is the chance you can bring your talents to fruition?

.. I fear that libertarians have their own version of the Progressive myth. Progressives often believe that ever-growing tolerance and health insurance coverage are the future, if only bad Republicans could be defeated in political battle.

.. many of the dangers come ..  a kind of old-style authoritarianism, souped up by the clever use of social media.

.. That war, using that word in the broadest sense possible, will be between today’s amazing accumulated stock of human capital — and the emotional momentum behind authoritarianism, which is encouraged by the political fraying that stems from underlying fears of disruption.

The House GOP Leadership’s Health Care Bill Is ObamaCare-Lite — Or Worse

The ObamaCare regulations it retains are already causing insurance markets to collapse. It would allow that collapse to continue, and even accelerate the collapse. Republicans would then own whatever damage ObamaCare causes, such as when the law leaves seriously ill patients with no coverage at all. Congress would have to revisit ObamaCare again and again to address problems they failed to fix the first time around. ObamaCare would consume the rest of Congress’ and President Trump’s agenda. Delaying or dooming other priorities like tax reform, infrastructure spending, and Gorsuch. The fallout could dog Republicans all the way into 2018 and 2020, when it could lead to a Democratic wave election like the one we saw in 2008. Only then, Democrats won’t have ObamaCare on their mind but single-payer.

.. It is likely that the number of states participating, and the number of people enrolled in the Medicaid expansion will be higher after “repeal” than before.

.. Currently, Congress matches states’ spending on their Medicaid programs. When a state spends $1 on its program, Congress contributes between $1 and $3. This creates a pay-for-dependence incentive. It encourages states to expand both enrollment and benefits far beyond what they would if states bore the full marginal cost.

.. Just as ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion creates incentives for states to expand their programs to able-bodied adults, while reducing access to care for the aged, blind, disabled, children, and pregnant women, the House leadership bill would create (or preserve) an incentive to expand enrollment to less vulnerable populations while cutting benefits for more vulnerable populations.

.. ObamaCare’s community-rating price controls literally penalize insurers who offer quality coverage to patients with expensive conditions, creating a race to the bottom in insurance quality.

.. The leadership bill would modify ObamaCare’s community-rating price controls by expanding the age-rating bands (from 3:1 to 5:1) and allowing insurers to charge enrollees who wait until they are sick to purchase coverage an extra 30 percent (but only for one year).

.. ObamaCare would continue to make it easier for people to wait until they are sick to purchase coverage, and the law would continue to penalize high-quality coverage for the sick.

.. Though they sound like tax cuts, ObamaCare’s tax credits are actually 94 percent government outlays and only 6 percent tax reduction.

.. This means that if the House bill ever makes its way to President Trump’s desk, it could subsidize abortion even more than ObamaCare does.

.. Conservatives deny any similarities between an individual mandate and a tax credit for health insurance. But consider the following. ObamaCare’s individual mandate penalty for single adults is $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. Suppose that instead, Congress had simply enacted a tax with those features, and then come back and provided an equivalent tax credit for anyone who purchases health insurance. The end result would be identical to ObamaCare’s individual mandate. But which would it be, a tax credit or a mandate?

.. The parts of the country that stood the most to gain from ObamaCare swung the most to President Trump.

.. Making health care better, more affordable, and more secure requires first repealing all of ObamaCare’s regulations, mandates, subsidies, and taxes. Next, Congress should block-grant the Medicaid program, giving each state a fixed sum of money that does not change from year to year, combined with full flexibility to target those funds to the truly needy. (If states want to cover less-needy populations, like able-bodied adults, they can pay 100 percent of the marginal cost of that coverage.)

.. Large HSAs would be a larger effective tax cut than the Reagan and Bush tax cuts combined, adding $13,000 to the wages of a typical worker with family coverage. Large HSAs would drive down prices by making consumers cost-conscious at every margin, and would reduce the problem of preexisting conditions by freeing consumers to buy portable coverage that stays with them between jobs.

How One Family’s Deep Pockets Helped Reshape Donald Trump’s Campaign

New York investor Robert Mercer, has carved an idiosyncratic path through conservative politics, spending tens of millions of dollars to outflank his own party’s consultant class and unnerve its established powers. His fortune has financed think tanks and insurgent candidates, super PACs and media watchdogs, lobbying groups and grass-roots organizations.

.. Kellyanne Conway, is a veteran Republican pollster who previously oversaw a super PAC financed by the Mercers.

.. Mr. Mercer reportedly invested $10 million in Breitbart several years ago

.. Mr. Trump is also relying on Cambridge Analytica, a voter data firm backed by Mr. Mercer

.. A Mercer-backed super PAC supporting Mr. Trump is now being shepherded by David Bossie, a conservative activist whose own projects have been funded in part by the Mercers’ family foundation, according to tax documents.

.. Mr. Mercer, 70, a mathematician and competitive poker player who spent his early career at I.B.M., joined Renaissance in the 1990s and rose to become the co-chief executive, earning hundreds of millions of dollars along the way. Today, he and his wife, Diana, live on a sprawling estate on Long Island’s North Shore where

.. They have given to libertarian organizations, such as the Cato Institute, and political organizations like the Club for Growth

.. Mercers were deeply involved in the Republican nominating battle this year

.. During the early phase of the campaign, Mr. Mercer donated $13 million to a super PAC supporting Mr. Cruz.

.. They were helped in part, according to a person who asked for anonymity to describe the family’s thinking, by Mr. Trump’s growing emphasis on traditional conservative ideas, such as tax cuts.

.. the family broke with Mr. Cruz in highly public fashion after his speech at the Republican convention, when the Texas senator refused to endorse Mr. Trump