Cathy, or Cat as she likes to be called, left this comment a while ago:
Hey Preston, have you looked into living somewhere else? I don’t mean that in a rude way. I mean, have you looked into the countries of the world and found one that is not entirely ruled by corruption and bankers? One that’s a bit more your style?
I feel another way we can create change is to vote with our feet and take our value with us. If you have enough money to invest or have needed skills, most countries in the world will be happy to accept you.
Norway was a great experience for me because it taught me that you can have a fiscally conservative yet socially liberal government. Norway not only wasn’t in debt, it had money to spare. Taxes were high, costs were high, but I felt like I was part of something much bigger than myself. Most people I knew there didn’t feel outrage about paying those taxes because the government generally did good things for the people with the money. There was a bit of corruption, there were scandals sometimes, but on the whole it was a great place and I often wish I could return.
France taught me that it is possible to have an engaged society that debates everything. I had many long lunches with friends, questioning life, politics, philosophy… everything. France has its problems, to be sure. They are different problems than the USA faces, in many regards. It was eye-opening to realize that countries could have their problems yet still function on a basic level. That you could move somewhere and trade one set of problems for another set of problems that was more to your liking. A doctor paid me a house call — a house call! — after I had been ill for a week with strep throat. Sometimes the bus drivers or the metro drivers would go on strike and make it really hard to get the laundry done but… house calls!
The luckiest thing that ever happened to me, I think, was that I had to have emergency abdominal surgery the week before I came back to the USA. The cost was minimal. Once I came back to the USA, no health insurer would accept me because of “pre-existing conditions”. Had I come down with peritonitis just a week later, I would have been on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in emergency care despite the fact that I was financially able to pay $500 a month or some other ungodly amount for free-market health insurance.
I think some of the more “socialist” countries in Europe have struck a nice balance (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Holland). Some haven’t (UK, France, Germany, etc).
Maybe there’s a place in the world where you would feel such a nice balance has been struck?
PS: The reason my name changed to “Cat” is because many European languages have no sound for “th”. Rather than become “Kat-ee” or “Kaz-ee” I decided that almost anyone could pronounce “Cat”.
OK Cat, if that’s what you’d like to be called. 🙂 To answer your question, no I haven’t considered living some place else. There are three main reasons for that:
- My daughter lives here and she needs a father.
- I really do love this country and I feel it needs people like me in the crisis that it is going through. The “common people” are going to be blindsided by this and are going to be looking for answers and I’d like to provide them some.
- This is going to be a worldwide depression. There are few safe places to go. Macroeconomic theory and policy has permeated virtually every government on the face of the planet, so almost every government is going to be making the same mistakes. The advantage of being in the United States is that this country was the birthplace of the free-market economy. If it can’t take root again here, then I can’t see it doing well anywhere else.
In regards to your experiences in Europe, I appreciate you sharing them here. Socialism tends to do best in countries that have a high amount of natural resources per capita. It also needs for its citizenry to be rather homogeneous because in Socialist countries the government has a lot of power of its citizenry. If the government and the citizenry agree on what is “best” then the the two can live in harmony. If, on the other hand, the citizenry is diverse, then there is no consensus on what is “best” and the government will tend to take actions that are only pleasing to a few select groups.
The United States has embraced virtually all tenants of Socialism. As former Presidential Candidate of the Socialist Party of the United States Norman Thomas said, “”The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.” I find it hard to identify anyway that we are not a Socialist nation, outside of the field of medicine as you pointed out.
The field of medicine is touchy. There’s aren’t a whole lot of easy answers. But, prompted by Cat’s comment, I visited the Libertarian website and viewed their official position on Healthcare. Here’s what they had to say:
Making Healthcare Safe and Affordable
As recently as the 1960s, low-cost health insurance was available to virtually everyone in America – including people with existing medical problems. Doctors made house calls. A hospital stay cost only a few days’ pay. Charity hospitals were available to take care of families who could not afford to pay for healthcare.
Since then the federal government has increasingly intervened through Medicare, Medicaid, the HMO Act and tens of thousands of regulations on doctors, hospitals and health-insurance companies.
Today, more than 50 percent of all healthcare dollars are spent by the government.
Health insurance costs are skyrocketing. Government health programs are heading for bankruptcy. Politicians continue to pile on the regulations.
The Libertarian Party knows the only healthcare reforms that will make a realdifference are those that draw on the strength of the free market.
The Libertarian Party will work towards the following:
1. Establish Medical Saving Accounts.
Under this program, you could deposit tax-free money into a Medical Savings Account (MSA). Whenever you need the money to pay medical bills, you will be able to withdraw it. For individuals without an MSA, the Libertarian Party will work to make all healthcare expenditures 100 percent tax deductible.
2. Deregulate the healthcare industry.
We should repeal all government policies that increase health costs and decrease the availability of medical services. For example, every state has laws that mandate coverage of specific disabilities and diseases. These laws reduce consumer choice and increase the cost of health insurance. By making insurance more expensive, mandated benefits increase the number of uninsured American workers.
3. Remove barriers to safe, affordable medicines.
We should replace harmful government agencies like the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with more agile, free-market alternatives. The mission of the FDA is to protect us from unsafe medicines. In fact, the FDA has driven up healthcare costs and deprived millions of Americans of much-needed treatments. For example, during a 10-year delay in approving Propanolol Propranolol (a heart medication for treating angina and hypertension), approximately 100,000 people died who could have been treated with this lifesaving drug. Bureaucratic roadblocks kill sick Americans.
I have long maintained that the FDA is just another example of a government “watchdog” organization that has been taken over by the companies it was supposed to be regulating. There have been a number of drugs that were approved by the FDA that had to be recalled because they killed people. Eliminating the FDA would be an excellent step towards lowering the tax burden.
I will discuss healthcare at greater length in a future blog.