Posted by: CJ | November 17, 2010

Unhappiness at the Federal Gov’t

I’m currently a little unhappy at the Federal government. Not exactly for any particular thing it’s done really recently, but because I read a sequence of blog posts about various very large issue groups getting big favors from the Feds.

For those who haven’t heard about it, there’s a theory about democracies that vocal constituencies, even if small, will get lots of attention and goodies in democracies if they aren’t opposed by roughly equally sized and equally vocal constituencies. And I think 4 of the best examples of such vocal constituencies are doctors, farmers, the elderly, and higher education. They get screwed over in a number of ways, but they also get lots of benefits they have no business getting.

Here are the four articles I read that put me in a bad mood.

  1. Brazil isn’t happy with the US subsidizing its cotton growers. They’re unhappy enough about it that they were going to start setting tariffs on other, non-agriculture, goods to force the US producers of those goods to put pressure on the US Federal government to end the subsidies. But ending subsidies is a no go. So instead we’re subsidizing the Brazilian cotton growers to an equal amount.
  2. Kaplan, Inc has some for-profit colleges. It makes lots of money, provided their students can take out Federally subsidized loans to attend. But the colleges don’t seem to be doing the students much good, and most of them can’t manage to pay back their loans. This is happening at a far lower percentage than even other for-profit colleges. The Feds were trying to set some standards in place to make it so Federally subsidized loans couldn’t be used for Kaplan, Inc colleges. But Kaplan, Inc also owns the Washington Post, and the Washington Post editorial page went to bat for Kaplan’s for-profit colleges. Result: nothing is being done about tax payers subsidizing loans to attend poor-performing colleges.
  3. The deficit commission’s preliminary report is total fluff on healthcare. They neither seriously tackle reducing the amount of money healthcare, especially doctors, are getting nor how much money is spent on the elderly through medicare. Because no politician in their right mind wants to cross the AARP or the hospitals.

So I’m not in the best mood about our government’s ability to handle the challenges we’ll be facing over the next 10-20 years.


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