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Archive for November 17th, 2012

I periodically compare moronic decisions and policies by governments in the United States and United Kingdom. You can peruse some jaw-dropping examples by clicking this link.

To show that politicians and bureaucrats don’t have a monopoly on stupidity, I’ve also shared a pair of examples that expose foolishness in the private sector.

“Won’t anyone take free money?”

I think the contest has been pretty even to date, but now we have an entry from the United Kingdom that may be hard to beat. The government created a new boondoggle program, but managed to make it so convoluted that no households have signed up for the handouts.

This is astounding. How incompetent does a government have to be that it can’t even give away money? Here are some laughable excerpts from the Telegraph.

The Green Deal encourages homeowners to take out a loan to make their house more energy-efficient. …households have had since October 1 to have their home assessed for the scheme prior to its launch. However Greg Barker, the climate change minister, has admitted that “no assessments have yet been lodged” on the Government’s official register by homeowners. Luciana Berger, the shadow climate change minister, described the Green Deal as a “shambles” and said its launch is “lying in tatters”. The Coalition hopes that owners of up to 14 million draughty homes will sign up to the scheme. …In an effort to kick-start interest, DECC last month announced a £125 million ‘cashback’ scheme, offering homes up to £1,000 if they sign up as ‘early adopters’. Ms Berger said that homeowners are being put off by the Deal’s complicated finance arrangements.

Not only did the giveaway fail to attract any household beneficiaries, only one firm out of 10,000 signed up to be “accredited Green Deal” participants.

As well as lack of interest from homeowners, building companies are also shying away from getting involved. According to the Federation of Master Builders, the UK’s biggest building trade body, only one firm from its 10,000-strong membership has signed up to become an accredited Green Deal installer.

Again, this is remarkable. When a government is too incompetent to give away other people’s money, you know that’s special.

Sadly, this is the exception rather than the rule. The burden of government spending is excessive in the United Kingdom, in part because of the faux budget cuts of David Cameron’s CINO regime.

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When I travel, particularly overseas, I run into a lot of people who are totally confused about the American healthcare system.

For all intents and purposes, they think the United States relies on the free market and that government (at least in the pre-Obamacare era) was largely absent.

So they are baffled when I tell them that nearly one-half of all health expenditures in America are directly financed by taxpayers  and that the supposedly private part of our healthcare system is massively distorted by government interference and intervention.

When explaining how government has screwed up private health insurance, I talk about third-party payer and  how genuinely private insurance works for home ownership and automobiles. And I cite examples of genuine free markets for cosmetic surgery and even (regardless of your views) abortion.

But from now on, I think I will simply tell people to watch this superb video from Reason TV.

This shows how a true free market operates. Efficiency and low prices are the norm, and consumers get a good deal.

My only quibble is that the video doesn’t explain how government policies – such as the healthcare exclusion in the tax code – should be blamed for the grotesque waste, inefficiency, and featherbedding in most parts of the medical industry.

But that’s a minor gripe. You should share this post with any and all fuzzy-headed friends and colleagues and tell them this is how smoothly the market would work if the government simply would get out of the way.

And if they want another example, here’s a report from North Carolina on free-market healthcare in action.

If we want this kind of system to be the rule rather than the exception, we need to scrap the healthcare exclusion in the tax code as part of a switch to a simple and fair flat tax. That will help bring some rationality to the health insurance market and address the part of the third-party payer crisis caused by indirect government intervention.

Then we also should reform Medicaid and Medicare to help address the part of the third-party payer crisis caused by the direct government intervention.

P.S. As this poster cleverly illustrates (and as Ronald Reagan correctly warned in the second video of this post), government is the problem, not the solution.

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