Week in Review
Let’s imagine you buy your groceries a different way. Instead of going to the store and picking things off of the shelves and paying for them at checkout imagine this. You don’t pay the store. A third party does. Like it does for everyone else that shops at this store. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Let’s say people pool their money together for purchasing power. And have this third party take that pooled money and use it to get better pricing. Because of the large amounts they will be paying for.
So everyone pays in a monthly amount to their third-party purchaser. Then goes to the store and takes what they want. And at checkout they just sign an invoice to acknowledge they took this stuff. And the store will submit the bill to the third-party purchaser. Of course, there would have to be some rules. Because if everyone pays a flat amount each month you can’t have someone picking up steaks every day when you’re buying hamburger for your kids. So there are limits to what you can buy. Requiring the third party to review every submitted invoice. Requiring a very large staff to review every grocery store purchase to approve and disapprove line items on each and every invoice for payment. To resolve billing and payment errors. And to bill shoppers for any unapproved purchases they made. Even if they didn’t understand that these items weren’t covered.
So, included with that monthly payment there must be an overhead fee. To pay for all those people reviewing those invoices. Those who bill shoppers for unapproved items. Those who pay for the approved purchases. And those who process payments from shoppers. Still, things slip through the cracks. People are getting unapproved purchases through the system. Grocery prices rise. The overhead costs at the third party grow due to new costly regulations. Etc. Such that on occasion the total amount of cash out at the third party exceeds the total of cash in. Requiring them to raise the monthly amount everyone pays.
Sounds a bit more complicated than just going to the store and paying for what you want out of pocket. And more costly in the long run. But if someone else pays the third party for those monthly fees it’s a whole different story. Say as a benefit at work. Because without you having to pay anything it’s just free groceries. At least, to you. And you will demand that your employer pays for more stuff so it’s free to you. Even though it’s not. Because the rising cost of third party grocery purchases will cost your employer. Which will limit your pay. And other benefits. Because in the real world nothing is free. Even if people think that a lot of stuff is free. Or should be free. Like health care (see Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say health plans should cover birth control by Karen Kaplan posted 4/22/2014 on the Los Angeles Times).
Among the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, few are as controversial as the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception. A new survey finds that support for this rule is widespread, with 69% of Americans in favor of the mandate…
Women, African Americans, Latinos and parents living with children under the age of 18 had higher levels of support for mandatory contraception coverage than people in other demographic groups, the survey found…
— 85% of those surveyed supported mandatory coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies.
— 84% supported mandatory coverage for recommended vaccines.
— 82% were in favor of mandatory coverage for diabetes and cholesterol screening tests.
— 77% backed the provision on mandatory coverage for mental health care.
— 75% supported mandatory coverage of dental care, including routine cleanings.
There’s a reason why the United States is a republic and not a democracy. For the Founding Fathers feared a democracy. And wanted responsible people between the people and the treasury. For once people understood they could vote themselves the treasury they would. And things like this would happen. Mob rule. Where the mob demands more and more free stuff while fewer and fewer people pay for that ‘free’ stuff. And people in government anxious to win elections will keep giving the people more ‘free’ stuff that others have to pay for. Until one day you end up with the health care system we have in the United States. All because other people were paying for routine costs people could expect and budget for. Things that if they paid out of pocket for would cost less in the long run. Which would keep insurance what it was supposed to be. Insurance. And not turn it into a massive cost transfer scheme that only allowed the price of health care to soar.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, benefit, bill, contraception, democracy, Founding Fathers, free stuff, health insurance, insurance, invoice, Mob rule, overhead, payment, prices, routine costs, third party
Week in Review
Currently there are no market forces in health care. Which is why health care costs are so high. When buyers and sellers meet they always agree on a price that makes them both feel like winners. Just watch an episode of one of those pawn shop shows. The seller wants a higher price. The buyer wants to pay a lower price. As they move towards each other they arrive at a price that makes them both happy. The seller gets an amount of money he values more than the thing he’s selling. And the buyer is getting something he values more than the money he’s paying for it. Making them both feel like winners.
It’s not like this in health care. Because there is a third party between the buyer and seller. Either an insurance company. Or the government. Just like there is a third party between networks’ programming content and the consumer. The cable/satellite/phone company (see Why Your Cable Bill Keeps Going Up by Evan Weiner posted 4/12/2014 on The Daily Beast).
The television networks and the television carriers, whether it’s through cable, satellite or phone lines, carriers seeming are always fighting these days over the cost of programming and what rights’ fees should be. The rights’ fee is what a television carrier pays for a networks programming. The carrier then passes that cost along to consumers and tacks on an additional fee because they too feel the need to be compensated for bringing the program into a home.
The injured party is the subscribers who have little course to affect the talks unless they decide to drop their provider for another, and there is no guarantee switching to another provider will end TV blackouts…
Thanks to the 1984 Cable TV Act, cable subscribers have really no say in what they want for their needs. The cable carrier was allowed to establish tiers of services. The consumer could take a local, basic tier alone or basic and basic extended but would have no choice in what they wanted to buy and were forced to take whatever the multiple system operative wants to give them or they opt out of having cable TV. The same apparently holds true for satellite TV and the phone companies.
Cable/satellite/telephone television is like Obamacare. As consumers can’t keep the programming they liked and wanted to keep. As it is for Obamacare. Where people who had health insurance they liked and wanted to keep could not keep it. Instead, a third party, the government, forced them to buy a tier of health insurance they did not want. Only they do not have the option to opt out of Obamacare. Because buying health insurance is mandatory. Unlike cable/satellite/telephone television. For as much as we may hate our cable/satellite/telephone companies at least we don’t have to buy from them under penalty of law.
Tags: buyer, cable, carriers, consumer, Health Care, health insurance, insurance, networks, Obamacare, programming, rights’ fees, satellite, seller, subscriber, television, third party
Keynesians try to reduce Human Behavior down to Complex and Confusing Math
We hear a lot about introducing market forces into health care. But what does that mean? What exactly are market forces? Are they like magnetic forces? Electric forces? Hydraulic forces? No. Market forces are not forces that conform to the laws of science. Rather, they belong in the realm of the social sciences. That are less science. And more opinion. Where there are a lot of theories. And politicians massage the data to fit their theory. As Mark Twain said, facts don’t lie but liars figure. And politicians figure. A lot.
So there are no hard rules when it comes to the social sciences. Just a lot of theorizing. And a lot of drawing conclusions. Based on the data. And how some massage the data. Something to keep in mind whenever anyone discusses economic numbers. For the accepted school of economics most politicians adhere to is the Keynesian school. The dirty little whore of economics. For there is a whole lot of massaging going on with Keynesians. With the data. Not each other. Politicians love Keynesian economics because this school of economic thought calls for governments to tax, borrow, print and spend. Empowering government. Making government grow. And become more intrusive in our personal lives. All things politicians love. Which is why they massage the economic data. They have to. Because this school of economic thought doesn’t work.
Keynesians make economics very complex. Open a text book and you will find a lot of graphs and formulas. Where they try to reduce human behavior down to math. Very complex and confusing math. And you can’t do that. Humans have free will. They make decisions based on any number of things. One influencing factor more or less could change the way they decide. And there’s no way we can quantify all the variables in our lives. Therefore, there’s no way to reduce human decision-making down to math. Which is what drives market forces. Our decision-making process. That point in time that triggers the free exchange of money for goods and/or services.
When it comes to the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Customers think more in Terms of Quantity than Quality
Consider an all-you-can-eat buffet. And how it changes your decision-making process. But first let’s look at some typical behavior at a normal restaurant. Where you may spend $15 for a 4-course meal and drink. Soup, salad, entrée and dessert. Which you enjoy with a friend. You have pleasant conversation as you enjoy each of your 4 courses. Taking your time. Enjoying each course. Slowly getting full. And satisfied. The portion sizes are just right. Leaving just enough room for dessert. You’re full. But not too full. Comfortable. You’re able to go for an after-dinner walk. Even take in a movie.
Now let’s consider the all-you-can-eat buffet. Where you may pay $20 for unlimited access to the buffet. You’re paying more than for a sit-down service. Why? Because you plan to eat more. You will maximize the value you get for your $20. Which means you’ll probably skip the soup and salad. And start loading your plate with the expensive entrées. You’ll probably go back once or twice. Making sure you get a taste of everything. And a lot of anything that is expensive. Again, to maximize your value. In fact you maximize so much that you become uncomfortably full. Too full to sit through a movie without nodding off. And too full for a walk. All you want to do is go home and nap.
The restaurant sees this from a slightly different perspective. The all-you-can-eat buffet is simple to serve. You mass produce food to load up the buffet so it’s ready at the beginning of the buffet hours. You replace the items people eat most. While the less popular items sit longer in the buffet. Becoming less fresh. Also, the buffet is a good way to get rid of things approaching their ‘serve by’ dates. Saving the freshest food for the made-to-order sit-down service. And putting the older food in the buffet. Because when it comes to the buffet you know customers are thinking more in terms of quantity than quality. The food is good in the buffet. But not as good as the food for the sit-down clientele.
If you Pay Cash at the Pharmacy you are more likely to Ask for the Less Expensive Generic Drugs
These are market forces. People have come together to make voluntary exchanges. The quantity of food available makes some people opt for the more expensive all-you-can-eat buffet. Others may opt for the less expensive but higher quality made-to-order sit down service. For the person who places the greatest value on eating mass quantities of food will choose the buffet. The person who places the greatest value on the dining experience (quality of food, made-to-order, conversation, after-dinner walk or movie, etc.) will choose the sit-down service. If more people are choosing the buffet the owner may extend the buffet hours. If fewer people are choosing the buffet and leave a lot a food to throw away the owner may end the buffet service. These are market forces. Buyer and sellers coming together in the marketplace. Seeing what each has to offer. If they come to a mutual agreement they make an economic exchange. The buyer willingly exchanges his or her money for goods and/or services. The seller willingly accepts an amount of money in exchange for his or her goods and/or services.
The private economy works because it is buyers and sellers meeting and making exchanges they both freely agree to. This is the key of market forces. It’s what makes people with money go to the marketplace. And it’s what makes people bring goods and/or services to the marketplace. Because they will seek each other out and make these exchanges. After which both buyer and seller will come away with something they value more. This is what is missing in health care. Buyer and sellers aren’t meeting to make exchanges. In fact, the buyer and seller do not even meet. Patients never ask for any prices. Because they aren’t paying for anything. Their insurer is. And the medical provider will always provide the most expensive treatment billing guidelines will allow. For that’s who they must please. The people paying them. Not the patient. And they have to charge as much as they can to cover all the things they won’t get paid for. People they treat without insurance who can’t pay. And for the billings the insurers deny.
So this changes the decision making process. For everyone. Introducing a third party into the equation removes market forces. If you pay cash at the pharmacy you are more likely to ask for the less expensive generic drugs. If you get free prescription coverage you will ask for the most expensive name-brand medicine they have. For when you’re not paying price is no object. But when you are paying price is a very important object. Because when it’s our money getting value for our money is very important. So we’ll ask if the name-brand has any more value than the generic. For who would spend more for something that doesn’t give you any more value than something you can get for less?
When it comes to medical tests and procedures patients aren’t going to ask for more than they absolutely need. And doctors aren’t going to prescribe any more than a patient needs. Because they aren’t billing a faceless bureaucrat. They’re billing someone they have a close and personal relationship with. And they sure aren’t going to try and bill someone they have a close and personal relationship with for someone else’s unpaid bill. Not if they want to keep them as a patient. Because a doctor-patient relationship is a long-term relationship. A doctor could lose a lot of business by mistreating a patient to make an extra buck. These are market forces. Which makes the private sector work so well. And why their absence makes the health care system not work so well. Transforming our health care from a moderately priced, high quality, custom, sit-down service to a higher priced, mass-produced, lower quality, all-you-can-eat buffet.
Tags: all-you-can-eat buffet, buyers, close and personal relationship, decision-making, decision-making process, doctor, doctor patient relationship, economic exchange, Economics, exchange, free exchange, generic, generic drugs, goods, Health Care, Keynesian, Keynesian economics, market forces, marketplace, mass produce, maximize value, name-brand, patient, pharmacy, politicians, price, private economy, quality, quantity, sellers, services, sit-down service, third party, voluntary exchanges
Week in Review
Trump is thinking about running as a third party candidate in 2012. Again (see Trump switches voter registration to ‘independent’ by MAGGIE HABERMAN posted 12/23/2011 on Politico).
Donald Trump, who recently pulled out of moderating a Newsmax-sponsored GOP debate that only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would commit to, has switched his voter registration to “independent,” a source confirms…
Trump has not been a lifelong Republican, and in some ways his move mirrors the path that Mike Bloomberg took — Democrat to Republican to independent.
It is not uncommon for someone to be a Democrat in college and change to Republican after starting a career and family. Responsibilities in life will do that to you. And it’s not uncommon for a grownup to change either. Ronald Reagan did. Who was a Democrat in Hollywood because most actors were. But experience made him conservative. And he became a Republican.
But to switch from Democrat to Republican to Independent is a bit strange. To go from ‘I think the answer to all our problems is more government in our lives’ to ‘government isn’t the answer to our problems; government is the problem’ to ‘I really don’t have an opinion on the size of government’ doesn’t say much for your core philosophical beliefs. It says instead I’m trying to be who I think people will vote for.
Trump may run as a third party candidate. For he doesn’t believe the current field of Republicans can defeat Obama. Of course, splitting the anti-Obama vote won’t help matters. And if he runs as an Independent that’s exactly what he will do. Because a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the opposition. At least, based on history.
Tags: Democrat, Donald Trump, independent, Obama, Republican, third party, third party candidate, Trump
Representative Government changed Government to Serve the People instead of the Other Way Around
Politics can be confusing. And dirty. Which tends to put most people off. Many only get involved during big elections. And even then voter turnout can be low. In addition to the confusion and dirt there’s a feeling of apathy. Nothing ever changes. And they feel that it really doesn’t matter if they vote or not. So many don’t.
They feel that it doesn’t matter who you send to Washington. Because once there even the honest become corrupt. Republican. Or Democrat. They’re both the same. Rich and powerful. Joining other rich and powerful. In their little games. So this feeling of apathy is understandable.
But politics matter. Because it is and always has been a power struggle. And understanding the essence of this power struggle is important. For throughout time this struggle has been between competing oppressors who wanted to establish minority rule over the masses. So the few could live comfortably at their expense of the many. And it was like this for a long, long time. Until representative government. When government began to serve people. Instead of the other way around.
Third Party Candidates often Rise up from Voter Apathy and Anger
Of the two major political parties, one is for the growth of government. And one is for limiting the growth of government. One is for higher taxes. One is for lower taxes. One is for higher regulation of the free market. And one is for rolling back excessive regulation. One is for transferring wealth from the private sector to the public sector. And one is for leaving wealth where the wealth creators created it. In the private sector. One party serves those within the party (by growing government). And one party serves the people (by limiting government). Disagree? If so I’m guessing you still know which party we’re talking about. Even if you do disagree.
So there is a difference between the two major parties. Sometimes it’s hard to see because of the game of politics. Winning elections. And many believe the way to win elections is by buying votes. And both political parties do this. Spend a lot of taxpayer money on projects for their home district to make their constituents happy. Grateful. And, hopefully, in a ‘return the favor’ frame of mind at election time. But to get pork for your district you often have to let others get pork for their districts. A little you vote for my pork and I’ll vote for your pork. Which puts a lot of people off when it comes to voting. Gives them the feeling that all politicians are the same. And leads to all that apathy. Setting the field for third party candidates.
So what is a third party candidate? They are many things. But one thing they are not is this. Winners. Because they don’t win elections. Third party candidates often rise up from that voter apathy. And anger. Fed up with their party, they split and form a third party. Thinking they know how best to beat the opposition candidate. Because they know what single issue will carry the election. Or so they think. But all they do is help the opposition candidate they so loathe to victory. By splitting the vote against the opposition candidate. Because they don’t think. They feel. And let their passion for a singular issue overcome rational thought.
The Majority of Voters Vote to either Expand or Limit the Role of Government in our Lives
And then you have the fringe ideologies so far out of mainstream thought that they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning a national election. Such as the Green Party. The Reform Party. The Libertarian Party. The Socialist Party USA. The International Socialist Organization. The Socialist Labor Party of America. The Socialist Workers Party. The Communist Party USA. The People’s Front of Judea. The Judean People’s Front. The Judean Popular People’s Front. And, of course, the Popular Front of Judea. Splitter!
Okay, the Judean stuff is from a scene in the classic movie Monty Python’s Life of Brian. But it illustrates as well as belabors the point. Third party candidates are destined for failure. Because there’re too many of them. And they don’t differentiate themselves enough to make significant numbers of people leave either of the main two parties. At least they haven’t yet. And probably never will. Though, surprisingly, Ross Perot came closer than most to winning a presidential election. But he and his Reform Party soon faded to political oblivion. Which was far less surprising.
You see, the majority of voters don’t base their vote on these fringe, single issues. Or extreme ideologies. Instead they vote to either expand the role of government in our lives. Or vote to limit the role of government in our lives. For more of a nanny state. Or less of a nanny state. For a Democrat. Or a Republican. It’s that easy. And with the large amount of voter apathy and anger that’s enough politics in their lives. Either the Democrat bum if you want more free stuff. Or the Republican bum if you are optimistic but expect to be disappointed later. When you see your limited government candidate expand government, albeit smaller than what the Democrat candidate would have done.
Tags: anger, apathy, Big Government, bum, confusing, corrupt, Democrat, dirty, elections, extreme ideologies, free market, growth of government, ideologies, nanny state, political parties, politics, pork, power struggle, private sector, regulation, representative government, Republican, rich and powerful, role of government in our lives, single issues, taxes, third party, third party candidate, two major parties, voter, voter apathy, wealth
SLAVERY WAS ALWAYS a complicated issue. Many of the Founding Fathers saw the contradiction with the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence. And there were the economic costs. George Washington wanted to transition to paid laborers as the generations of slaves he inherited were consuming an ever growing share of his harvest. (You only pay paid-laborers; you didn’t have to house and feed them and their families.) He had whole families that included babies and the elderly long past their working prime. People would buy slaves in their working prime but wouldn’t take their parents and grandparents, too. He didn’t want to break up the families. And he couldn’t free them. Someone had to take care of those who could no longer work. So he would. Even after death. He freed his slaves in his will and directed his heirs to train and help them so they could integrate into the workforce. (Not every slave-owner, though, was as caring as Washington).
So Washington, John Adams and some of the other Founding Fathers saw slavery as an institution that would eventually wither and die. They saw it as immoral. As well as an inefficient economic system. It would just have to die out one day. So they tabled the discussion to get the southern states to join the union. But they did put an end date on the slave trade. Twenty years should be enough time they thought. And in those 20 years, the South would figure out what to do with the slaves they had. Because no one in the north could figure that one out. Who would compensate the slave owners for their emancipated ‘property’? And there were no biracial societies at that time. No one could imagine that a formerly enslaved majority will become peaceful neighbors with their former minority masters. Especially in the South.
But the cotton gin changed all of that. The one thing that slave labor was good for was big single-crop plantations. And there was none better than King Cotton. Separating the seed from the cotton was the one bottleneck in the cotton industry. Ely Whitney changed that in 1791. Cotton production exploded. As did slavery. The southern economy changed. As did the political debate. The southern economy was a cotton economy. And cotton needed slaves. The South, therefore, needed slavery.
CARVED OUT OF the new Louisiana Territory were territories that would organize into states and request admittance into the union. But would they be free or slave? The first test was resolved with the Missouri Compromise (1820). Henry Clay (the Great Compromiser) kept the peace. Saved the union. For awhile. The compromise forbade slavery north of Missouri’s southern border (approximately the 36th parallel) in the Louisiana Territory (except in Missouri, of course). Martin Van Buren saw this as a temporary fix at best. Any further discussion on the slavery issue could lead to secession. Or war. So he created the modern Democratic Party with but one goal. To get power and to keep power. With power he could control what they debated. And, once he had power, they wouldn’t debate slavery again.
During the 1844 presidential campaign, the annexation of the Republic of Texas was an issue. The secretary of state, Daniel Webster, opposed it. It would expand slavery and likely give the Senate two new democratic senators. Which was what John C. Calhoun wanted. He succeeded Webster as secretary of state. The new northern Whigs were antislavery. The southern Whigs were pro-cotton. The Whig presidential candidate in 1844 was Henry Clay (the Great Compromiser). He wasn’t for it or against it. Neither was Martin Van Buren, the Democrat frontrunner. They wished to compromise and avoid this hot issue all together.
Well, Clay wasn’t ‘anti’ enough for the antislavery Whigs. So they left and formed the Liberty Party and nominated James. G. Birney as their candidate. Meanwhile, the Democrats weren’t all that happy with Van Buren. Enter James Knox Polk. He didn’t vacillate. He pledged to annex Texas. And the Oregon territory. The Democrats nominated him and said goodbye to Van Buren.
The Whig and Liberty parties shared the northern antislavery votes, no doubt costing Clay the election. A fait accompli, President Tyler signed off on the annexation of Texas before Polk took the oath of office.
BUT ALL WAS not well. Those sectional differences continued to simmer just below the boiling point. The Fugitive Slave Law now made the ‘southern’ problem a northern one, too. Federal law now required that they help return this southern ‘property’. It got ugly. And costly. Harriet Ward Beecher’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin only inflamed the abolitionist fires in the North. And then Stephen Douglas saw a proposed transcontinental railroad that could take him to the Whitehouse.
The railroad would go through the unorganized Nebraskan territory (the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase). As Washington discussed organizing this territory, the South noted that all of this territory was above 36th parallel. Thus, any state organized would be, by the terms of the Missouri Compromise, free. With no state below the 36th parallel added, the balance of power would tip to the North. The South objected. Douglas assuaged them. With the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Which replaced the Missouri Compromise (the 36th parallel) with popular sovereignty. And Kansas bled.
The idea of popular sovereignty said that the people of the new organized state would determine if they were free or slave. So the free and slave people raced to populate the territory. It was a mini civil war. A precursor of what was to come. It split up the Whig and Democratic parties. Southern Whigs and Northern Democrats quit their parties. The Whig Party would wither and die. The new Republican Party would rise from the Whig’s ashes. They would address the cause, not the symptoms. And at the heart of all the sectional divides was the issue of slavery itself. It had to be addressed. As Abraham Lincoln would say in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
ZACHARY TAYLOR CHOSE Whig Millard Fillmore as his vice president to appeal to northern Whigs. When Taylor died some 2 years into his first term, Fillmore became president. His support of the Compromise of 1850 (admit California as a free state, settle Texas border, grant territorial status to New Mexico, end the slave trade in the District of Columbia and beef up the Fugitive Slave Law) alienated him from the Whig base.
In the 1856 presidential contest, the Republicans nominated John C. Frémont. The Democrats nominated James Buchanan. And Millard Fillmore (compromiser and one time Whig) ran on the American Party ticket. There was talk of secession should Frémont win. It was a 3-way race. Buchanan battled with the ‘compromiser’ in the South. And with the ‘abolitionist’ in the North. The race was close. Buchanan won with only 45% of the vote. But Frémont lost by only 2 states. He had won all but 5 of the free states. Had Fillmore not run, it is unlikely that these free states would have voted for the slavery candidate. So Fillmore no doubt denied Frémont the election.
AMERICA’S ORIGINAL TRUST buster, Teddy Roosevelt (TR), said he wouldn’t run for reelection. And he didn’t. He picked Howard Taft as his ‘successor’. TR was a progressive frontier man. He had that smile. This made him a popular and formidable candidate. Taft just wasn’t as much of a TR as TR was. So some asked TR to run again. Against his own, hand-picked ‘successor’. Which he did.
Taft won the Republican Nomination, though. Undeterred (and having a really big ego), TR formed a third party, the Progressive Party. He moved to the left of Taft. So far left that it made Woodward Wilson, the Democrat candidate, look moderate.
The 1912 presidential election turned into a 3-man race. Between 3 progressives. Taft ‘busted’ more trusts than did TR. But he just wasn’t TR. Woodward Wilson was probably the most progressive and idealist of the three. But in the mix, he looked like the sensible candidate. Roosevelt beat Taft. But Wilson beat Roosevelt. Wilson won with only 45% of the vote. And gave us the income tax and the Federal Reserve System. Big Government had come.
IN THE 1992 presidential campaign, George Herbert Walker Bush (read my lips, no new taxes) ran in a 3-way race between Democrat Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Perot bashed both parties for their high deficits. He was a populist candidate against the status quo. He went on TV with charts and graphs. He called Reaganomics ‘voodoo’ economics. While Bush fought these attacks on his 12 years in the executive office (8 as vice president and on 4 as president), Clinton got by with relative ease on his one big weakness. Character.
Exit polling showed that Perot took voters from both candidates. More people voted that year. But the increase was roughly equal to the Perot vote (who took 19%). If anyone energized the election that year, it wasn’t Clinton. He won with only 43% of the vote. The majority of Americans did not vote for Clinton. Had the focus not been on Reaganomics and the deficit (where Perot took it), Clinton’s character flaws would have been a bigger issue. And if it came down to character, Bush probably would have won. Despite his broken ‘read my lips’ pledge.
HISTORY HAS SHOWN that third party candidates don’t typically win elections. In fact, when a party splinters into two, it usually benefits the common opposition. That thing that is so important to bring a third party into existence is often its own demise. It splits a larger voting bloc into two smaller voting blocs. Guaranteeing the opposition’s victory.
Politics can be idealistic. But not at the expense of pragmatism. When voting for a candidate that cannot in all probability win, it is a wasted vote. If you’re making a ‘statement’ with your vote by voting for a third party candidate, that statement is but one thing. You want to lose.
Tags: abolitionist, Abraham Lincoln, American Party, antislavery, Big Government, Bill Clinton, California, character, Compromise of 1850, cotton, cotton gin, Daniel Webster, Declaration of Independence, deficits, Democratic Party, District of Columbia, Ely Whitney, Federal Reserve System, Founding Fathers, Fugitive Slave Law, George Herbert Walker Bush, George Washington, Harriet Ward Beecher, Henry Clay, Howard Taft, income tax, James Buchanan, James Knox Polk, James. G. Birney, John Adams, John C. Calhoun, John C. Frémont, Kansas, Kansas-Nebraska Act, King Cotton, Liberty Party, Louisiana Purchase, Louisiana Territory, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Missouri Compromise, moderate, Nebraskan territory, New Mexico, North, Oregon, plantations, popular sovereignty, Progressive Party, Read my lips, Reaganomics, Republic of Texas, Republican Party, Ross Perot, sectional differences, slave trade, slave-owner, slavery, slaves, South, Stephen Douglas, Teddy Roosevelt, Texas, third party, TR, transcontinental railroad, Uncle Tom's Cabin, union, voodoo economics, Whigs, Whitehouse, Woodward Wilson, Zachary Taylor
THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES are often election spoilers. Dissatisfied with the direction of their party, they leave that party to form a new party. This, of course, will split the party they left. Some may follow. Most will probably not.
Third party candidates have small followings. They typically have a single issue that pushes them to leave their party. That single issue, though, may not be as important to those they leave behind. And this one issue may be anathema to the opposition. Guaranteeing very few, if any, will follow that candidate into a third party.
The Green Party, for example, is an environmental party. Environmental issues, then, dominate their political agenda. Environmental policies typically do not result in jobs or economic prosperity. They will draw some people from the Democratic Party. But only those with extreme environmental views. They will draw no one from the Republican Party which is more associated with jobs and economic issues than environmental issues. They, then, would have little impact on the party they oppose. But they may have a negative impact on the party that they would have otherwise supported.
And then you have your core voters. They have and always will vote for their party. Populist movements rarely change the way they vote. Populist movements may be single-issue. They may be more of a subset of an existing political party. Or they may be vague on details completely. They may be many things but the paramount thing they are is popular. And they pander to the people that are demanding something. And whatever that is, they say they will give it to them. Populist trends, though, don’t sway core voters.
SO WHO ARE in the two core parties? The liberals? And the conservatives?
Liberals are pseudo-intellectuals who want to tell others how to live. Because they are ‘smarter’ than everyone else. Most have never held a real job. They inherited their money or made it big in Hollywood or in some other entertainment genre (the guilty rich), are college professors, sponged off of government (the self-proclaimed political aristocracy) or are in the mainstream media.
Conservatives typically have jobs.
Few people agree with liberals so they have to offer special privileges in exchange for votes and political power. They get the support of the poor because they get the poor dependent on their charity. They get the entertainment elite by stroking their intellectual vanity. They get the various minorities and single-issue groups by throwing a few bones to them (i.e., by buying their votes). They get Big Business with crony capitalism. They get the unions in exchange for anti-business legislation. They get the young by being weak on drugs and morality. They get a lot of women because of their abortion stance. They get the illegal immigration community because they dangle citizenship in front of them while getting as many as they can addicted to welfare (so when they do become citizens they will become good Democrats. Of course, with the majority of illegal immigrants in question being Hispanic, it will be interesting to see how that loyalty will play out. A lot of Hispanics are practicing Catholics. Will they continue to support the party that attacks their religion and religious values? After all, they’re leaving a corrupt nation where only the ruling elite live well. They come here for a better life for themselves and their families. And many work hard for it. With their religious values being a strong part of their lives. Will the liberals tempt them with their welfare state after citizenship? Time will tell).
Many agree with conservatives because they, too, just want to work and provide for their families. And they would like their children’s future to be a good one. (Again, the Hispanic question is interesting. For they have conservative values, too. Amnesty for illegals may be a Faustian bargain, but wouldn’t be ironic if it’s the Democrats who are selling their souls? I mean, this large bloc of Catholics could very well vote for the religious right after citizenship.)
So liberals must appeal to their base during the primary election to get their party’s nomination. Once they have that, they then must start lying about who they really are during the general election. Because their views and opinions are minority views and opinions.
The conservatives just need to be themselves. When Ronald Reagan did just that, he won in a landslide. Twice.
LET’S CRUNCH SOME numbers. Some simple numbers. Let’s say there are only 11 voters. America is a center-right country based on honest polling. So let’s say that 4 voters are conservative and 3 voters are liberals. The 4 in the middle are independents and moderates. So what happens at an election?
If all of the independents and moderates do not vote, conservatives win (4-3).
Liberals cannot win unless some moderates and independents do vote. So liberals must encourage the moderates and independents to vote. And, of course, to vote for them. While making sure their base votes (‘vote early and often’ is their mantra). As well as some criminals. And some dead who haven’t been purged from the election rolls.
Independents and moderates, therefore, determine elections. And the general election is all about getting these votes. Both sides turn down the volume on the ‘extremist’ positions they held during the primaries. Conservatives talk about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle. Liberals campaign as conservatives. (Bill Clinton ran as a new kind of Democrat with some very conservative planks in his platform. When he won, though, he moved so far back to the left that he lost the House and Senate at the midterm elections, proving once again America is a center-right country.)
So back to our little example. If the conservatives get 2 of the 4 independent and moderate votes, they win (6-5). Liberals need 3 of their votes for the same winning margin. Advantage, conservatives.
Now let’s look at a rift in the conservative party. Two leave and form a third party. And take 2 votes with them. For the sake of argument, let’s say these two call themselves the Anti-Abortion Party. It is doubtful that any liberals will leave their party to join them. And it is doubtful that independents and moderates would make overturning a Supreme Court decision a key voting issue. They tend to tack to a centrist course through the prevailing political winds.
So the Anti-Abortion Party candidate will only get 2 votes. This candidate will not win. That leaves only 9 votes in play. Which means getting only 5 votes will win the election (less than a majority of the total 11). All the third party candidate did was to make it easier for the liberals to win. They only need 2 of the 4 of the independent and moderate votes. Conservatives now need 3. The third party took the conservative advantage (only needing 2 additional votes to win) and gave it to the liberals.
THE MORAL OF the story here is that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the opposition. The lesser of two evils may still be evil, but it is still ‘less’ evil. You should never lose sight of that. If a political statement is only going to result in the greater evil, it is better to be more pragmatic than idealistic when voting in a general election.
The energy of a third party or third party-like movements (such as the new Tea Party) should be marshaled during the primary election. To get good candidates who can win general elections. And who will remember that they are the people’s representative, not a member of a privileged, ruling elite.
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