Sunday, November 27, 2011

Will Healthcare Deform Survive the Supreme Court?

The healthcare reform deform bill that was signed into law in 2010 and whose most controversial aspect, the so-called "individual mandate", will be phased in starting in 2014, is now being taken to the Supreme Court after an appeals court recently struck down the mandate.  And much more is at stake than just this particular law.  Regardless of which way they rule, a landmark precedent will be set that will influence future court decisions, rightly or wrongly.

We at the TSAP believe that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and must be struck down.  There are several reasons why such a mandate is wrong on principle.  Not least of which is that forcing people to buy an overpriced, defective product from a private company year after year under penalty of law is about as constitutional as a poll tax.  But what about the rest of the 2400 page law?

Many folks, especially those in the insurance industry, are terrified that getting rid of the mandate but leaving the rest of the law intact would create an unsustainable death spiral where people will wait until they get sick to buy insurance (due to the another provision that requires community rating and guaranteed issue, i.e. everyone pays the same and no one can be turned down), making costs skyrocket out of control.  While it would most likely hit the insurance industry's bottom line quite hard, the fear is really quite exaggerated.  For example, while Massachusetts currently has an individual mandate along with community rating and guaranteed issue, New York does the same but without the individual mandate, and yet the latter actually has lower premiums than the former.  Granted, both states have ridiculously high rates, but individual mandates don't appear to make rates any lower or make the system any more successful.   And New York's insurance industry is hardly in a death spiral.

The best solution, of course, is a single-payer system similar to Canada's.  An excellent plan can be found here, for example.  But will Congress have the intestinal fortitude to finally stand up to the greedy insurance industry and its deep-pocketed lobbyists, who will do everything they can to fight it?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Americans are Still Having Fewer Kids in 2010

We have already noted the latest news from the 2010 Census that shows that, across the board, Americans are having fewer children than they did ten years prior.  It turns out that the drop in births has been even greater, mainly as a result of the Second Great Depression (yes, that's what it really is for everyone but the top 1%).  The total fertility rate has dropped from 2.1 children per woman in 2006 to 1.9 in 2010, the lowest it has been in about two decades.  While some folks may view that as something to fear, we at the True Spirit of America Party consider this to be good news.  And it couldn't come soon enough.

We have already noted in the past that overpopulation is NOT a myth--it is (or soon will be) a reality that we need to deal with, or it will deal with us in ways we probably won't like.  It is the elephant in the Volkswagen than no one wants to talk about, but ignoring it will not make it go away.  The latest projections show that if current demographic trends continue, the world's population (which is already  7 billion and counting) will grow to a whopping 9.3 billion (or possibly even as high as 10.6 billion) by 2050.   From 2050 to 2100, the population would either decline to 6.2 billion or continue growing to 15.8 billion, depending on only a relatively small difference in the world's total fertility rate.  It truly boggles the mind how the Earth can sustain 9 billion people, let alone nearly 16 billion, when several credible sources say that we have already exceeded the planet's long-term carrying capacity many years ago.  Let that sink in for a minute or two.

In 2008, the USA alone was predicted to grow to as high as 438 million people by 2050.  Most of that growth would be due to immigration, but a significant chunk would be due to fertility, including the historically higher fertility of immigrants.  Though with current reductions in fertility and slowing of immigration (both likely due to the severe recession), if persistent, would reduce that forecast number significantly, even the lowest projections predict a sizeable increase in the population to over 350 million by then nonetheless.  And despite being only 5% of the world's population, we consume 25% of the world's natural resources, so any further increase in the number of Americans has much more of an impact than the same number increase in, say, a typical Third or Fourth World country.  But ultimately, there is no country that can realistically keep growing and growing forever without adverse consequences.  And even if we manage to cut our per-capita consumption in half, allowing the population to subsequently double will completely negate any progress made, despite a reduced standard of living.

Bottom line:  the current trend toward lower fertility (and less immigration) ought to continue, and is good news overall, but we still really need to be careful how many more immigrants we let into our already overpopulated nation of 308 million and counting.  We ignore the elephant in the Volkswagen at our own peril.