Thursday, January 16, 2014

Corruption

Here's Ezra Klein again:
You often hear people say that the reason the United States doesn't have a single-payer health-care system is that special interests have a hammerlock on Congress. But in the course of reporting out my article on what liberals miss about single payer, Princeton's Uwe Reinhardt, a single-payer supporter, made an interesting variant of this argument: The reason the United States shouldn't have a single-payer system, he said, is that it's too captured by special interests to manage one well.

"I have not advocated the single payer model here," he said, "because our government is too corrupt. Medicare is a large insurance company whose board of directors (Ways and Means and Senate Finance) accept payments from vendors to the company. In the private market, that would get you into trouble."

The key to a single-payer system is that the government sets prices. Usually, it empowers boards of independent experts who set those prices low. Reinhardt's argument is that in the United States, health industry interests have so much sway over Congress that the prices would end up being set by health-care interests.

"When you go to Taiwan or Canada," Reinhardt said, "the kind of lobbying we have here is illegal there. You can’t pay money to influence the party the same way. Therefore the bureaucrats who run these systems are pretty much insulated from these pressures. Here you have basically a board of directors in the House Ways and Means Committee that gets money from lobbyists both at the regulatory writing stage and during normal operations. And they can call an administrator and demand they stop something from happening."
Is the U.S. too corrupt for single-payer health care? (WaPo) Yeah, probably.

This is actually a very common (and legitimate) complaint that I hear whenever I point out that other countries manage to provide these things for their citizens. But at least it get to the root of the problem - corruption. That is the heart of the problem, not lack of money or resources. We've been here before - prior to the Depression.

The question is, what can be done? Is it hopeless? Do we rebuild after a collapse? Is secession the way to go? I wish I knew.

And speaking of how routing public services through the "private sector" inevitably leads to corruption, this story has everything, taxpayer money, Jesus, and Florida real estate:
A husband and wife running a private Milwaukee voucher school that abruptly closed last month — after accepting a total of more than $2.3 million in taxpayer money — now live in a gated community in Florida by the beach, records show. Records show Taron and Rodney Monroe started a new private Christian school this year in Daytona Beach. While the school in Milwaukee was running on fumes, they were telling Florida friends they had experience getting government grants for religious schools. Now the Monroes, who lost their five-bedroom house in West Bend to foreclosure, have disappeared.

"I haven't seen them since before Thanksgiving," said Bill Vigue, a pastor with a Christian radio show who worshipped with the Monroes in Florida.

In one online document, Vigue was listed as a board member of the school. But when contacted Wednesday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he said he had never agreed to be on any board of the school. Still, he defended the Monroes as honest people committed to teaching.

"They're not charlatans or con people who were trying to get government money to live high on the hog," Vigue said. "They were doing their best to provide a good education for children."

Vigue said he met the Monroes when they and their three children came to Florida about a year ago to take care of one of their moms, he said. "I knew he had a school in Wisconsin and that he wanted to start a school here," Vigue said. "They said they had experience getting government grants for Christian schools."

He said the Monroes seemed to take turns traveling to Wisconsin to check on the Milwaukee school. Wisconsin records show the administration of the school switched from Taron Monroe to Dominic Robinson in October. Vigue said Rodney Monroe was "a real good preacher," but that he and his wife were struggling with the new Florida school, which had only eight or nine children in 2013-'14, including some or all of the Monroes' own children.

LifeSkills Academy in Milwaukee also had troubles.

Save for one child who met the state benchmark one year in reading, no students could read or do math proficiently in 2011 or 2012, according to the most recent state test score results. Before closing, the school collected more than $200,000 in taxpayer money this academic year. The school will not get its final two voucher payments from the state, according to the state.

In Milwaukee's voucher program, qualifying private schools receive an annual taxpayer-financed subsidy of up to $6,442 per child. Nearly 26,000 children in Milwaukee participate in the program.
Leaders of closed Milwaukee voucher school are now in Florida (JSOnline) America - land of the scam. See also: Quelle Surprise! New Report Shows How Outsourcing State and Local Government Services is About Looting (Naked Capitalism)

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