Election Reflections November 10, 2020 Each of our three editors provides today his individual short reflections on the election just concluded. We welcome readers to offer their own reflections about the election. One Comment Nicholas Ritchie The nation is fortunate to have ridden itself of a charlatan. We probably can’t ever expect Trump to concede. That would require him to give up his disgruntled victim card that will continue to give him credibility among his sycophants. You might hope that at least he’d allow the transition to start but it seems that Trump supported by the majority of the Republican party is never going to acknowledge that they were beaten and that Biden is the legitimate president. The attempts at proving fraud in the court have been pathetic yet it would seem that 70% of Republicans choose to believe the election was stolen rather than accept reality. Biden now has to walk into this mess in which the Republican party has already started to sabotage his presidency. Of all the candidates the Democrats could have chosen, they chose the mildest, the most centrist and the least confrontational. But the Republicans have misrepresented him from day one as the tip of the far-left spear. America wants centrist solutions and Biden is about a good a choice as any. And this country has really problems that need to be addressed. * First, the economy will be further decimated if we don’t get a handle on the coronavirus. Waiting until January will be too late. (Prediction 500,000 cases per day before Christmas unless we make some really radical changes in direction.) * Second, we need to focus our economic recovery efforts on those most hurt by the pandemic. As with the 2008 crash, almost all the economic burden has fallen on the poorest, those least able to afford it. We should institute a short-term tax on those who have benefited, or at least not been economically harmed by the pandemic, to balance the burden. I’d be happy to pay. (Sadly, a non-starter because of the “no new taxes pledge”.) * Third, we need to reward work – not just for the wealth but for everyone. We need to be able to guarantee that anyone who works full time is capable of paying for a roof, food, health-care, a decent education and childcare. Even during the Trump adminstration, Democrats efforts to provide a living wage had started to raise wages amongst the poorest. We got to stop indirectly subsidizing companies that pay sub-living wages with the earned income credit. If your company can’t pay a living wage, maybe it isn’t economically viable. We’ve also got to stop providing incentives for companies to send jobs abroad. * Fourth, we need to stop burdening the future generations with our debts. We need to either make significant cuts to the most expensive parts of the Federal budget or we need to increase taxes. Doing otherwise is infantile. Climate change is also a burden we are imposing on future generations. Pretending it doesn’t exist is not credible. How about a revenue neutral carbon tax? * Fifth, our health-care system is a disaster. It costs twice as much per capita as better run systems. The average outcomes are terrible. Rich people are harmed by getting too much care. Poor people are bankrupted or go without. Median lifespans in the US are shameful particularly among the poor but also among the wealthy. It is bad for the economy when workers won’t move jobs or start businesses because they are afraid of losing health-care. Health-care for all need not be a right but it is a practical necessity for a well running economy. Romneycare/Obamacare was probably the most free-market solution for health care. A public option would force private companies to offer comprehensive care at a decent price. The German model could also work. Sadly, Republicans don’t have any tools in its toolbox to address these problems. * Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. Our children shouldn’t pay our bills. It isn’t clear they even help the economy either. Our best growth was during periods of high marginal rates. Our deficit will require higher taxes on those who can afford it the most. * Free markets are the best way we know to organize almost all aspects of an economy. However, there are known flaws like externalities and instabilities that mean that society must impose some thoughtful regulation. (Adam Smith understood this.) The legitimacy of free markets is self-destructing as the rewards go to fewer and fewer people. Alternatives like nationalism and socialism become more appealing as capitalism benefits fewer and fewer. The best weapon against socialism is a more thoughtful capitalism. The simplest solution, least burdened with unintended consequences, is simply to impose realistic minimum wages. Earned income credits just reward poorly run businesses. We need to place the cost of pollution on the polluter – carbon taxes are a good start. Sadly, I don’t expect that America is mature enough to address its problems. I wish the old-school, fiscally and societally responsible Republican (last typified by GHW Bush) would return. At least you could have a honest conversation with them. They acknowledge reality rather than created lies and conspiracies. November 14, 2020 Reply Add a CommentThe editors welcome thoughtful commentary on articles published in this journal. These will be reviewed for relevance and cogency, and those accepted will be published. Rejoinders and follow-on comments are also welcome, as long as they add to and extend an enlightening discussion of the original topic. 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