The Future of Medicare – Two Approaches

medicare wordThe costs of healthcare in the United States is a potent issue in the forthcoming election. Both political parties agree that immediate steps must be taken to reduce the proportion of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) dedicated to healthcare, but approach the problem from vastly different perspectives and, as a consequence, propose equally diverse solutions. In particular, prospective changes in Medicare – the public health insurance program for people age 65 and older – has become a battleground as both parties seek to capture the senior vote.

The financial cost of Medicare alone, distinct from the larger category of general healthcare, is exceeded only by the expenses of Social Security and military spending. Medicare costs were 3.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011, and are projected to grow to 6.2% of GDP by 2085. As President Barack Obama stated in a message to Congress on September 8, 2011, “Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement. And millions more will do so in the future. But with an aging population and rising healthcare costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current seniors, it won’t be there when future retirees need it.”

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Big Government vs. Small Government

american flag on standThe term “big government” stimulates plenty of images and emotions, and they’re generally negative. Words like “bureaucratic,” “inefficient,” “intrusive,” and even “corrupt” are often associated with the term. Economists charge that big government interferes with the mechanisms of free enterprise. Libertarians believe it seeks to control private or personal freedoms guaranteed by the “natural law” eloquently philosophized by John Locke and formalized in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. And politicians claim big government lacks checks and balances on its exercise of power, leading it to represent special interests to the detriment of its citizens.

Small government, on the other hand, is generally believed to lead to a more efficient and flexible system. “Getting government off our backs” or “getting government out of the way” are cries to return to the low-tax, no-regulation beliefs of the American Revolutionary period. The size of government envisioned by the country’s founders sought to cast off tyranny and empower small businessmen and entrepreneurs.

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Is Ethical Finance an Oxymoron?

ethical financeFinance – specifically the voluntary transfer of capital from those who have it to those who need it for the purpose of creating and maintaining a business enterprise which rewards its investors, employees, customers and vendors, and the community at large – is a noble undertaking. Without such a mechanism, human progress would be stagnant, technological advancement erratic, and existing social systems intractable. The willingness of those who dare combined with those willing to accept inordinate, sometimes unknown risks of capital loss, has stimulated enormous benefits for mankind generally, reducing the physical burdens of daily existence, extending life, and inspiring the spirit of adventure. Financial activities are essential, but are they ethical?

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7 Reasons Why the Keystone XL Pipeline Should Be Approved

Keystone .XL PIPELINEDuring the past presidential campaign, the Keystone XL Pipeline became a political football. Since that time, the pipeline’s planned route has been changed to avoid potential harm to the Ogallala Aquifer and is currently awaiting final approval from the State Department.

Many Americans, however, are surprised to learn that the Keystone Pipeline already exists, transporting since 2010 590,000 barrels of “heavy” crude oil a day, 2,148 miles from the oil sands surrounding Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska and subsequently to holding facilities in Patoka and a ConocoPhillips refinery at Wood River, Illinois. The Keystone, owned by TransCanada, is one of many crude oil pipelines currently crossing the border between the United States and Canada, including the Express and Enbridge lines.

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