Recently, president-elect Barack Obama outlined his “21st Century New Deal“. Here are his 5 points, and our rebuttal:
ENERGY: “[W]e will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”
FiveBoxes’ says: How about closing old federal government buildings and selling them? Do what Corporate America does when the budget is tight and downsize. Certainly there are unproductive employees, wasteful departments, and superfluous agencies that can be cut from the federal budget, thus saving the taxpayers more billions a year than upgrading energy-inefficient federal buildings. The federal employees that would then be unemployed can look for work in the Corporate American companies that bought the former federal buildings, and now need to staff them. The only net loss will be in visits to the websites the former federal employees will no longer have time to visit, since they have to actually start working for a living.
ROADS AND BRIDGES: “[W]e will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.”
FiveBoxes’ says: States and cities have already been investing in infrastructure. Mr. Obama makes it seem like there hasn’t been road, highway, or bridge improvements anywhere in this nation in 50 years. This is simply false. And federalizing these infrastructure projects is not just a waste of taxpayer dollars, it is an invasion of states’ rights. The federal highway system was developed by President Eisenhower as a national security measure: in the event of a nuclear war with the USSR, we needed to be able to move troops and supplies wherever needed, and be able to do it rapidly. The economic boom created by the highway system was a by-product, not a purpose. Federal and state tax dollars — including about 40 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes — are already being used by the states and cities to maintain and improve the highway system. Mr. Obama’s “initiative” is nothing more than political fluff.
SCHOOLS: “[M]y economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.”
FiveBoxes’ says: The best thing the federal government can do to the school system in America is to butt out of it. That goes for No Child Left Behind as well as computers and insulation. The public should not be taxed for schools, and instead be forced to write a check every year (or once a month) for their child’s (or their children’s) education. Being forced to write a check for several thousand dollars would help keep parents more involved in their child’s education, from studying and doing homework, to the quality of the teachers, to the quality of the buildings, to the computers and textbooks used. Parents should be able to choose whatever school they wanted their children to go to, period. Good schools will flourish, bad schools will close. Time and again it has been proven that the quality ofa child’s education is not in direct relation or proportion to the amount of money spent per student, nor the quality of the building, nor the age of the computers in the classroom.
BROADBAND: “As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m president – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”
FiveBoxes’ says: Private industry has installed over 30 million miles of high-speed data lines since 2006. They’ve done this because 1) there is a demand for it where they installed it, and 2) there is money to be made at it. The areas where there is a demand for high-speed internet get it installed; the areas where demand is low don’t. Cattle ranchers in Omaha and corn farmers in Iowa have little need for watching YouTube videos, and neither do their children. While some see the lack of broadband in rural areas as a bad thing, they forget that first, most schools have broadband of some sort. Second, the overwhelming majority of the children growing up in the rural United States grow up to take over the family farms that continue to feed this nation, and other nations around the world. They have neither the time, nor the interest, nor the need for broadband. They have work that needs to be done, and skills that need to be learned. Mr. Obama’s internet plan is reminiscent of Amtrack: provide services that few people want and no one asks for, at tax-subsidized prices no one wants to pay for, and provide them at an annual loss of millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS: “In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”
FiveBoxes’ says: First, No less than five private-industry companies — including Google, Microsoft, and AOL’s founder — have already started efforts to do this. And since they are private companies, that means that not only will the best solution in terms of features and security win out, it also means that no taxpayer dollars are used. Second, the privacy concerns regarding the security of making these records electronic are numerous and very, very fearful. Third, the federal government should not be in the position of mandating that ordinary citizens put sensitive, personal, private information into massive government-run databases. These databases can then be used against the people at a future date to deny government-run medical services to people who are deemed “unworthy” of medical care due to pre-existing conditions, past behavior, diet, lack of exercise, age, family history of disease, or any of a number of factors. This would happen to “conserve” medical resources for those “worthy” of the expense. Don’t think it can happen? It already is over in the socialist healthcare nightmare of England.
Beware politicians bearing candy made of taxpayer dollars: it won’t rot your teeth, but it’ll certainly rot away your liberties.