Market Fix Rests on Bright Ideas
"Texas power rates have increased 56 percent since 2000, and the state's electricity is among the most expensive in the country despite promises prices would go down when the state opened electric power to competition," reports The Houston Chronicle. "Many in the industry say the market is working, particularly for customers willing to shop for the best rates. Two of the state's top three political leaders, House Speaker Tom Craddick and Gov. Rick Perry, share that view."
In "Short-Circuited," Jerry Taylor, Cato senior fellow, and Peter Van Doren, editor of Cato's regulation magazine, write:
"After a pretty good 30-year run, deregulation is on the political ropes. Although loosening the shackles on banking, trucking and airlines delivered lower prices, robust competition and political applause, it hasn't worked for electricity. ... So did free market reformers take deregulation too far? Yes and no. Yes, because they promised rate reductions they had no business promising. No, because deregulation of some parts of the system was offset by more ambitious regulations elsewhere. The end result is even more economically artificial than the one we started with. ... True deregulation involves allowing market actors to run their businesses in whatever manner they like, price what the market will bear, and discover for themselves how best to deliver goods and services without government influencing those decisions with carrots and sticks. The faux deregulation we have in the electricity market unfortunately falls short on most of those counts. And that -- rather than the rate increases -- is the real problem."
And then there was this one, particularly interesting considering the upcoming political discussion on SCHIP:
Democrats See Wedge Issue in Health Bill
"Representative John R. Kuhl Jr. of New York received just his second telephone call ever from his state's Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, last week and was not surprised at the topic: children's health insurance," reports The New York Times. "'He said, 'I am calling you to come over to the dark side,' 'said Mr. Kuhl, who was urged by the governor to drop his opposition to health care legislation and join the effort to override President Bush's veto of the bill. Mr. Kuhl, a Republican who narrowly survived the Democratic sweep of 2006, said he was unlikely to budge. As a result, voters in his district will also be getting calls -- from Democrats and advocacy groups who are planning a telephone, radio, television and even text-message barrage against Republicans over what is shaping up as a defining domestic policy issue of the 2008 campaign."
In "Sink this SCHIP," Michael F. Cannon, director of Cato's health-policy studies and co-author of Healthy Competition: What's Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It, writes:
"SCHIP is senseless. Like its much larger sibling, Medicaid ... both programs force taxpayers to subsidize people who don't need help, discourage low-income families from climbing the economic ladder - and make private insurance more expensive for everyone else. ... All told, SCHIP is a very costly way of helping targeted families obtain health coverage...Some will complain that scrapping SCHIP would leave dependent families in the lurch. As a transitional step, Congress could convert federal Medicaid and SCHIP funding into a smaller, lump-sum payment to each state. That would serve as a halfway point toward eliminating these payments and simultaneously cutting taxes. States that want to maintain their current spending levels could raise the tax revenue themselves."
Whatever your position on the current legislation, I think the whole issue of the Federal government doing this - especially when it's called STATE Children's Health Insurance Plan - just adds more to the bureaucracy, and that's money which could be spent, instead, on direct services.