Category Archives: Politics

Points of Confusion in Pennsylvania School Property Tax Reform Efforts

For especially the past two years an urgency to do something about severe problems with the exploding amount of the school property tax in some Pennsylvania school districts has been a hot topic among an array of grassroots organizations and affected individuals.  Early on, intense grassroots support focused on HB76/SB76 (aka HB1776/SB1776 in the previous legislative session), a plan to totally eliminate the school property tax, and shift all school funding to the state by increasing the sales tax from 6% to 7%, covering more goods and services, and increasing the personal income tax 41% from 3.07% to 4.34%, as the only answer to the problem.  This was happening as other states are looking for ways to eliminate their income taxes to enhance their attractiveness and fortunes.  Confusion.

No matter the outcome, HB/SB76 will be remembered by the tireless efforts of primarily one citizen, Mr David Baldinger, a person with the salesmanship of PT Barnum and the lure of a pied piper of populism.  A well organized website, extensive email list, and countless visits to group meetings to sell his concept bore fruit in bicameral, bipartisan, simultaneous introduction of legislation in our state capitol for two straight sessions.  Claims are that over 80 grassroots and other organizations now stand behind the idea of total elimination of the school property tax, that is forcing some out of their homes or making it very difficult to sell properties in select areas.  “We never truly own our homes” is an often mentioned phrase as well as HB/SB76 “were not bills written in Harrisburg”, and are the “people’s legislation” are all frequently heard at rallies.

For someone like myself, perceived flaws in total school property tax elimination and the shift of all school funding to the state revealed something ugly and disturbing in the conservative grassroots movement.  Zealotry could trump discussion and debate.  Members of most tea party and 912 groups were expected to be lock step supporters.  Mr Baldinger had whipped a frenzy among the ranks that left no room for dissention.  When I challenged my own affiliated group to debate internally at a meeting, and even offered to lead the discussion, I was ignored.  Alternatives, which I’m prepared to put on the table, could not be considered. There was never room on the agenda for that.  School property tax elimination had become a religion, with David Baldinger its reverend, and most grassroots organization members his fiercely loyal congregation.

Those times I did attempt to raise objections with members of supporting groups, I found others who listened, a few who agreed with me quietly, but have also been yelled at, and stomped away from.  I’ve heard that one very conservative individual was even threatened for not toeing the school tax elimination line.  Inside the capitol legislators have described Mr Baldinger to me as a mean spirited bully.

I see objecting legislators not as agents of large special interests out to get and destroy his bill, as Baldinger would assert, but concerned elected officials who share many of my perceived flaws. Neither Baldinger nor his zealous supporters ever seem to ask or wonder why none of the preeminent conservative professional policy organizations in the state, Americans for Prosperity, the Commonwealth Foundation, or Empower PA, among others, have ever taken more than a neutral position in their support of the  school property tax elimination effort.  Confusion.

As an alternative to HB/SB 76 Rep Seth Grove introduced HB1189, that would give individual school districts more taxing options to replace or even eliminate the hated school property tax locally.  Similar bills have passed in prior years but have never proved successful.  David Baldinger offered an analysis of Rep Grove’s bill on his website, shamelessly calling it “simply another fraud being perpetrated on Pennsylvania taxpayers”, a “useless diversion” and a “worthless fraud”.  Rep Grove was a RINO enemy of the people who had to go!  Usually it’s the political right that derides the left for demonization and vilification of their opposition.  More confusion.

Constituent members of the same local 912 group that seems to not want to debate the merits of 76, as I requested, and whose meetings are held in Rep Grove’s district, attended a town hall held by him December 12.  One member attempted to ambush the legislator with statements he has made compared to what was on or had been removed from his online presence.  I heard few questions to or discussion of the merits of any particulars of his legislation, mostly emotional attacks and attempts to corner the legislator.  The focus had become personal.

Demands were presented to support 76 as the people’s bill, which I heard as an expectation of legislators to act, at least on this legislation, as proxies for direct democracy, which ordinarily the conservative grassroots condemns in favor of a representative republic.  More confusion.

Another 912 constituent member announced to Rep Grove that he would be a primary challenger in 2014.  He tried to entice Grove to come debate property tax elimination at a meeting he will be holding in January along with David Baldinger.  Grove said he would not attend what he characterized as the challenger’s campaign event.

At one point in the meeting, Rep Grove explained how HB76 was dead.  Because it had been defeated as an attempted amendment to his own HB1189 on October 1, rules of the legislature prevent it from reconsideration by the House, either as an amendment or a stand alone bill for the remainder of the session ending 2014.  Only by being substantially changed to something distinctly different could 76 be afforded further consideration, according to Rep Grove.  When I called Rep Grove’s office Dec 16, they restated this position, even if the Senate chooses to pass SB76.

Here comes the real confusion.  In spite of what happened in the House, Baldinger’s organization, with help from the Pa Association of Realtors and others, are pushing forward with efforts to have SB76 reported out of committee and have it approved by a floor vote in the state Senate.

Monday, December 16, according to, Citizens Against Property Taxes of Luzerne County (CAPTAX) held a public meeting featuring speaker Chuck Liedike, campaign manager of Real Reform 76, a pro SB76 project of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors.  A claim was made that 26, or one more than half, the magic number of senators needed, have now signed as co-sponsors of the legislation.  Victory, they say, could be right around the corner.

At this point I only know one thing.  Either those forging ahead are delusional and ignorant of rules that would prohibit House concurrence on Senate passage of  SB76 or the information put forth by Rep Seth Grove is inaccurate and misleading.  I guess we shall see.

Note: This post shared to WatchdogWire-Pennsylvania 12/23/13

Can Obamacare’s “Barrycades” to Insurance Freedom be Crossed?


Gettysburg Battlefield Aug 13 2013

Not so unlike the fences, signs and traffic cones used to unnecessarily block Americans from their open space national treasures during the recent Federal Government shutdown, similar “Barrycades” to healthcare and insurance freedom are limiting Americans’ ability to freely enter into contracts on terms they decide are right for them.  As the millions having their health insurance policies cancelled are learning, there is currently not an option to simply pay the tax, if necessary, and even forgo the subsidy for those willing, in order to keep a health insurance policy they may have owned for years.

While the freedom to contract, as provided in Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution may seem clear to many, who likely consider it one of our foundational rights, it has endured a surprisingly rocky history in our courts, and as such, provides no guarantee of support against the impositions of the Affordable Care Act.  In America today, Obamacare is erecting barriers to contract freedom by attempting to restrict terms of health insurance policies to those dictated by powerful government bureaucrats, in total disregard of individual choice or basic considerations of sound personal finance.

Especially hard to understand is that a tax can be paid to legally remain completely uninsured, yet plans not deemed “qualified” are not supported as better than nothing (and in many cases completely adequate) in relieving others of ever having to pick up for those without the resources to fend for themselves.  Wasn’t that the stated goal all along?  Like so much of Obamacare, this makes no sense and can only be about elitist control, a step into socialism Americans used to think only happened elsewhere.

Also, with a growing healthcare freedom movement by doctors to eliminate third party payers entirely, from at least primary care, by the establishment of direct pay cash-only pay-per-use or concierge practice models, other options will be needed for those who choose this interesting, and so far, legal alternative.  The use of still available critical illness insurance, as a proxy for unavailable pure high deductible insurance that would make much more sense in these situations, has been suggested.  Dr. Merrill Matthews, of the Institute for Policy Innovation, in a recent article in Forbes, shows how being wrapped in a cloak of life insurance has allowed the critical illness insurance option to survive, and may be a good choice, if not ideal, for many.

As I wrote in a post last December, the curious Miscellaneous Provisions, Subtitle G, Section 1555 single paragraph in the Affordable Care Act clearly says that issuers of health insurance are not required to participate under the act, nor can fines or penalties be imposed for choosing to not participate.  When this is combined with the option for states to regulate insurance, as has been tradition under authority of the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, questions arise as to what states may still be able to do.

Even under Obamacare currently, states may add to the essential minimum benefit requirements of insurance needed to “qualify”.  So states are still involved in their health insurance regulation, if only to a much reduced degree.  A question is how far that authority goes the other way.  Could a state right now, in answer to the current mess of cancellations along with a failed exchange website, exploit the crisis to require the suspension and reversal of all policy cancellations within its borders until the exchanges are fixed?  Could they allow and even require companies that want to sell health insurance in their state to offer the choice of non qualifying plans along side or in place of (Section 1555) Obamacare compliant plans, sold off the exchange, now and in the future?  Could states take charge of the situation to the point that, if Obamacare cannot be eliminated, there could remain legal alternative insurance options apart from Obamacare, even if the federal tax would be due and subsidies not available?

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has made an attempt to settle this question at the Federal level, at least for currently existing plans, with the introduction of what he calls the “If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep it Act“.  Current political reality makes actual passage unlikely, of course, returning to the possibility that states could act on their own.

One of those I respect most in the Obamacare debate, Michael F Cannon, at Cato Institute, told me the Supremacy Clause would make my suggested state actions illegal, however one of the attorneys on a panel event I attended at Cato was less dismissive of my suggestion of what states could possibly do.  Adding further speculation is the answer I got from when I questioned them about a month ago.  Their first contact representative, told me they expect to see some states “go rogue” and attempt to offer non Obamacare compliant choices in the future.

As with the shutdown “Barrycades”, when free citizens defiantly crossed the lines and prevailed, will there arise states that tell the Federal Government they have gone too far and we the people have had enough?

Note: This post shared to WatchdogWire-Pennsylvania

REINS Revolution as Ransom for Budget Resolution?


Herd mentality on issues is not something unique to the political Left or the political Right, but in either case populist tendencies can be downright dangerous, leading to unintended consequences.  No matter how good an idea seems at the outset, it is always good to ask what could go wrong.  Zealotry interferes with this basic question and places pressure on those who may doubt the wisdom of an idea, risking indignation from those they consider allies,  to remain silent.  Principled people will resist this temptation to go along to get along, making known their objections, explaining why, then letting the chips fall where they may.

We currently see herd movement on the Conservative side, with the attempt to defund Obamacare by making it ransom for cooperation in passage of a continuing budget resolution in order to keep the Federal government functioning past September 30.  Looking around, there appears to be unanimity among the grassroots on this issue.  Freedom Works, Heritage Action, Tea Party Patriots are all on board, being led by Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee among others.  Ads on Hannity and Rush and the Blaze are all promoting defund.  A rally at the capitol has been planned for September 10 and busloads of protestors will be making the trek.  “Exempt America from Obamacare” is the cry.  Yet there are a small handful of dissenters, myself among them, warning of the potential foolishness of this approach.

Jennifer Stefano, head of the Pennsylvania chapter of Americans for Prosperity, minced no words in her August 9 op-ed for the Patriot-News and  She boldly said that those “pushing the ‘defund Obamacare or shut down the government’ fight are wrong.  One hundred and ten percent wrong” and to conservatives, “your government shutdown approach has got to stop.”

Following that, on August 14 Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute, and one of the foremost opponents of Obamacare and defenders of market based healthcare reform solutions, published an op-ed in National Review Online.  Wasting not a second, his title read, “Obamacare’s Shutdown Shock-Jocks  Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have a plan-to make Obamacare permanent.”

Neither Stefano nor Roy suggest anything that might confound the atrocity of Obamacare is a bad idea.  Both do suggest, however, that tying defunding to the budget resolution has the potential to backfire big time.  They both point to polls showing little public support for shutting down the government.  Supporters try to say that it would be Democrats and Obama shutting down the government, not them.  Obama and the Left, of course, along with a complicit media, will rail against the Republicans and Conservatives in particular.  With the current political realities, a festering shutdown deadlock in the face of unfavorable polls would be  the likely outcome.  The implications of this would then likely carry a price, perhaps a heavy one, going into 2014.

So back to political leverage in connection with allowing the federal government to continue operating past the end of September: There is one thing on which conservatives could only win.  Tie any budget cooperation to passage of the REINS Act.  The what?  Exactly!  Use it as ransom for cooperation.  There are no illusions REINS would actually pass, and backing away short of a government shutdown would be necessary, but after weeks in the spotlight, everyone who pays even a small amount of attention to politics would have a good understanding of a brilliant concept, of which too many conservatives are still unaware.  That alone could be a huge victory.

Briefly, the REINS Act would put limits on an out of control trend toward legislation by regulation (or regulation as legislation), whereby departments and agencies can make things up as they go, despite the economic impact on those who must comply.  Under REINS any regulation with implementation impacts greater than $100million (including Obamacare) would require the consent (and accountability) of Congress.  This puts REINS in a very special class of ideas that seek to step away from an overly powerful central government, rather than stepping further into it!  In that respect it is a revolutionary tool of disengagement from bloated central authority.  Promoting such a concept, showcasing the REINS Act, would define and position the GOP going into 2014 as the party of limited central government in a way that may force a discussion the Left would rather not have or expect.  Contrast this approach with the risks of tying defunding Obamacare to the continuing resolution, especially when defund or delay can still be pursued (and should be) via general orders apart from any budget resolution.

Additionally, the Obamacare mess has been speaking badly for itself lately, to the extent that, along with parts that have already been delayed, even Democrats and disenchanted labor unions may find total delay palatable before long.  Avik Roy pointed out, because defund, even if possible, would extend only one year or the length of any budget resolution, it and delay are really the same.

A wonderful description and  history of REINS, followed by examples of federal government excesses that demand it, can be found in Phil Kerpen’s 2011 book Democracy Denied.

Originally introduced in the 112th Congress, REINS has been reintroduced in the current Congress as HR 367.  It passed the House on August 2, 2013 by a 232-183 vote.

State Pension Reform Should Look to the Federal Thrift Savings Plan Model


Many states are currently facing unfunded liabilities to their defined benefit pension programs.  Pennsylvania, in particular is over $40 billion short of its obligations, alone about 1.5 times its entire yearly budget.  Borrowing a concept from the private sector, and favored by Governor Corbett, is a plan to move all new state employees into a defined contribution 401k type program.  While the move to defined contribution makes very good sense, it is important to recognize the problems with this approach and avoid them, doing the best we can for our state employees.

Defined contribution is subject to failure on two fronts.  First are high costs that limit investment returns.  Many plans offer overly expensive investment choices that, because of the high costs, often in the short term and pervasively in the long term, do not match the returns of simple passively managed low cost index funds.  Then to make matters worse, responsibility to select the right mix of investment choices is dumped into the laps of ordinary workers (and some very smart workers also) who know little to nothing about the principles of sound investing, thus becoming their own worst enemy by allowing their emotions to make decisions that put them on a path to very poor results.  The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way and there is a superior model that all can strive to achieve.

The most surprising thing about this defined-contribution-done-right example is the source, that being the Federal Government, of all places!  It’s indeed uncanny and hard to admit the Federal Government doing anything better than the private sector but the Thrift Savings Plan does just that.  The TSP is administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, an independent agency of the Federal Government established in 1986.  It now has over 4.5 million participants with $374billion in assets at the end of 2012.

What sets the TSP apart from most plans offered in the private sector is its strict adherence to low cost and simplicity.  It currently offers only five investment choices plus target date collections of the five funds designed to produce the highest returns for the least amount of risk appropriate.  The target date funds were added in August 2005 to address unprepared employees choosing poor fund mixes and then trading them on emotion to their detriment.  The target date mixes are determined by scientific methods looking at past volatility and returns of the individual asset classes as well as how they tend to move relative to each other, combined with the participant’s individual time horizon.

While private sector 401k plans are dominated by actively managed funds that purport to be run by managers clever enough to beat the market, all TSP funds are passively managed index funds that won’t beat the market but guarantee capturing the generous returns the markets make available over time less very small expenses to do so.  The dirty little secret is that attempts to beat the market most often end up trailing the market, mainly due to the expenses incurred in the pursuit.  Study after study confirms this as presented in the writings of such investment heavyweights as John Bogle, founder of Pennsylvania based Vanguard Funds, who in a 2006 interview for Frontline noted:

“So our legislators and our federal employees get these great benefits through as close to a perfect retirement plan as you can have ……  We don’t do that for our regular citizenry.”

Attempts to require private sector 401k plans to offer even one low cost index fund has been a struggle.  The TSP, using only index funds, offers coverage of five distinct asset classes for an expense drain to the worker that is the lowest anywhereExpenses compound in the negative as returns compound in the positive and can alone result in huge differences in account balances at retirement time.  The actual numbers will seem untrue but they’re not.  While many private 401k plans impose reported expenses to the investor in excess of 1%, or 100 basis points, the TSP reported 2012 expenses across all funds of an amazing 0.027% or 2.7 basis points!  The actively traded fund manager hoping to beat the market must make up this difference just to break even because the expense of trying is passed through.  In addition to reported expenses are those that are hidden but real nonetheless.  A good article at Nerd Wallet lists 28 known potential hidden fees and shows by example how differences in expenses will drastically affect outcomes at retirement.

So when states look at defined contribution there are important choices within that choice that deserve attention.  One approach that should certainly be considered and has yet to be attempted to my knowledge would be for a state to petition the Federal Government for voluntary participation and inclusion of its  employees within the Thrift Savings Plan.  So long as the TSP could accommodate unique matching and vesting criteria for each state’s employees, this expansion of the TSP into state governments should only benefit both states and their workers.  In addition, a smoothly running structure that has been developed over time would save the expense to reinvent it.

In March I proposed this concept to one of the best investment advisors I know on his Saturday radio show, Financial Freedom, on WHP 580 in Harrisburg.  Mr Tim Decker, host of the show, was fully supportive of the idea and the various legislative committees now considering pension reform would do well to seek input from Mr Decker.  Our radio conversation can be heard here.  Jump to 14:00.

Just yesterday morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the largest investment management firm in the world, appeared with Congressman Paul Ryan.  Both were singing the praises of the Federal Thrift Savings Plan, presenting it as the best model for individual retirement accounts.  Significantly this is exactly what George W Bush suggested as the basis for voluntary private Social Security accounts.  Will Pennsylvania and other states make the TSP their model for state employee pension reform?

Note: This story was shared to WatchdogWire-Pennsylvania

How the US Postal Service Could Possibly Save Itself

Just last week the United States Postal Service announced another $1.9 billion loss in just one quarter, with the warning that without substantial changes the losses would continue to mount.  Something has to give.

Retired from the Postal Service, I have some ideas on what needs to be done to save this Constitutionally provided institution, and a new line of clothing, mentioned several months ago, does not even make my list, nor do I think elimination of Saturday delivery alone would be sufficient.   During my career I carried mail, worked inside a large postal plant, and collected data for a year.

It was that year of collecting data that foretold today’s inevitable crisis.  The year was 2000, and at that time as I remember, first class mail was less than half the letter mail volume but more than half total postal revenue.  The problem was that, of that first class mail, somewhere around 70% consisted of bill presentment and payment.  The writing was on the wall.  Much less bill presentment, bill payment volume has evaporated to the internet and will continue even more.  This was one major straw that broke the back of a camel already straining under what the postal service failed to recognize early on, that the business was becoming about the delivery of things rather than information.  Other substantial problems contributed to the current situation, but the loss of quality volume sufficient to sustain delivery to every delivery point six days a week was an inevitable result of new information technology and beyond the post office’s control.  Simply cutting the workforce and utilizing a heavy application of sorting automation, in many ways commendable, could not keep up with the deteriorating situation.

Political considerations put cutting several known sources of waste beyond reach that could have delayed, but only delayed, the current crisis.  One example, but certainly not isolated, happened near where I live.  Two small towns that appear as one are separated only by a railroad track.  Each had its own post office with its own postmaster and staff, and unfortunately still does.  One town outgrew its office.  Since the two towns together are smaller than many single towns, the opportunity was perfect to build one new office large enough to accommodate both.  I’m not sure if this was even suggested, but am confident, if tried, the local congressman would have been besieged with calls from one of these adjacent towns about losing its identity or the hardship of having to travel perhaps a half mile further to reach the new combined office.

Another common well-known waste that politics preserves occurs in suburban neighborhoods that originally had mail delivered to a box attached to the house or through a slot in the front door, rather than a box at the curb.  In such situations the carrier drives to the area, parks and walks to each house, then moves the vehicle to the next area, over and over.  Yet by all appearance such neighborhoods are identical to others where curbside boxes were required from the start, and delivery from the vehicle is several times more efficient.  Private businesses looking at the current postal challenges would quickly change this, but under the political connection no one dares to even try.

Unions are another obstacle to efficient operation in ways other than wages that exceed the skill level.  Removal for poor performance or abuse of leave is extremely  difficult.  The workplace is fractured into crafts, each represented by its own union, so employees of one craft may not touch the equally low skilled work of another.  At one time this could work, simply not today.  One would think when workers at some plants, willing to work many hours of available overtime, can earn in excess of six figures, there would be concessions to overall efficiency and responsibility to secure the remaining jobs of all.

That brings us to today with the postal service looking to cut Saturday delivery to keep itself afloat.  This is attempting to put a band-aid on a gaping wound, and will be difficult to manage as well, as every Monday will follow two non delivery days and will be like the current volume anomaly of Tuesdays after Monday holidays.  Of course there will still be Monday holidays and those Tuesdays will now be after three consecutive non delivery days, what I can only imagine as a volume-overload management nightmare.

With that we get to the only possible solution I can conceive, the immediate move to three-day M-W-F delivery.  While each delivery day volume would increase, it would be more manageable by being more consistent day-to-day.  Such a move would mean adding carriers as some routes would have to be cut slightly (but not nearly by half) to get the job done.  Savings would be attained by cutting the use of delivery vehicles substantially.  The other significant savings would require a major change of workplace rules where carriers not delivering express mail and priority parcels on Tu-Th-Sa would be working in plant preparing mail for delivery, replacing work being done by clerks and mail handlers now, eliminating many of those positions.  Consideration would have to be made to occasionally deliver on Tu-Th-Sa in working around holidays.

Proposed plans are to continue delivering parcels six days a week and I would assume express mail also.  Most offices could do this job with one of every three or four current carriers, leaving the others to work in plant.  Limiting six-day parcel delivery to priority rate parcels would encourage greater use of the higher priority rate.  For letters considered urgent there already is a flat rate express letter option that does not require a time-consuming signature.  Out of the box thinking and a willingness to be flexible with current workplace rules and a decidedly more radical approach is necessary to potentially continue the US Postal Service as a self-sustaining entity in the twenty-first century.

Note: This post shared to WatchdogWire-Pennsylvania

Unsavory Observation in PA Budget Hearings – Let’s Fix This….and More

I must be one of those Wacko Birds.  Sometimes in the middle of the day I watch Pennsylvania’s version of C-SPAN, PCN-TV, carrying the riveting excitement of live committee hearings in our state legislature, but then I watched bowling on B&W TV as a kid.  While watching recent House Appropriations Committee budget hearings I made a rather unsavory observation.  Names have no purpose or importance here, because unsavory emanated from both parties and seemed to be part of the process, just business as usual.

What bothered me were pleas to the committee to reinstate appropriations to non-profit organizations in the private sector and/or increase their funding more than it had been.  This is my money.  While I don’t entirely think it is wrong for government to assist non-profits, especially if it can be demonstrated that the actions of the non-profit save the taxpayer money or have a valued function that is better administered in the private sector, direct assistance through taxation takes not only my money but my choice.  Picking and choosing with other people’s money creates wars for contributions that should exist but not inside the halls of government.

It would be much better and much cleaner if all government assistance to non- profits was based on the School Choice EITC model, an indirect approach to assistance.   This model returns voluntary choice to individuals or corporations or tax paying groups as it should be, by allocating pools of potential assistance that would only be paid as tax credits in return for voluntary contributions competed for in the private sector.  Cleaner still would be if tax credits were less than full reimbursement, say 75% to 85% of the donation amount, leaving a portion squarely on the shoulders of the contributor, as any reimbursement still is other people’s money and this would prove true intent rather than a scheme to merely pass through public funds.  Any non-reimbursed amounts would still be eligible as a deduction on federal returns.

Large highly valued needs, such as education scholarships to attend charter or private schools could stand alone with their own appropriated fund.  Smaller more numerous non-profits could compete from a common pool appropriated for the potential benefit of any.  Strict value and need standards would have to be met to be allowed into the pool of potentials.  Proof of economic benefit to the taxpayer or extreme social need should top the list.  Perhaps legislators should vote individually for non-profit inclusion on common lists among those that pass independent screening.

Of course any such funds, single purpose or multi-purpose, must have caps to protect the taxpayer and otherwise budgeted revenue.  From there it would be first come first served to obtain the available credits.  This restores valuable elements of true charity while eliminating the unsavory sight of legislators publicly begging on behalf of any specific non-profit organization for the money of others perhaps against their will.  It also effectively isolates and quarantines useful efforts, voluntarily embarked upon by people of vision, from the entanglement of government, with its regulations and rules and departments and bureaus and employees and unions and pensions and all ancillary issues it invariably brings with it.

EITC for education has been a great success for helping deserving students avoid failing schools.  Sometimes incentives for desired voluntary efforts could take forms other than tax credits.  Such would be the case with an act like NJ Senate No 2231, that would replace government entanglement in Medicaid by granting immunity from civil malpractice liability in all their practice to physicians and dentists who agree to donate at least 4 hours per week in a non-government free clinic, a wonderful concept that could so attract participation that there would be a shortage of available free clinics.  Since this approach has been predicted to hold potential for both huge savings to the taxpayer and better access to higher quality health care for the poor, the EITC model could then be employed, with a dedicated fund of tax credits limited in size only by attracting enough voluntary contributions for a sufficient number of free clinics, themselves independent of any government ties.  Because of substantial predicted net savings to the state by bypassing Medicaid, extending whatever voluntary credits as necessary to assure every willing physician the needed resources would be entirely warranted.

It’s not hard to see how, in many respects, this approach to getting desired things done is revolutionary and refreshing.  I can’t imagine it would be that hard to address my unsavory observation and not only fix it but head down a new path that would better respect freedom while benefiting us all.