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40. Re: NY Times on 38 Studios Apr 22, 2013, 16:38 m00t
Certainly cuts should be made, but they should be made not because of the debt or deficit, they should be made because they're just downright wasteful. Bloated military programs that continue for years or decades without any progress, for example. Subsidies to businesses that are reaping record profits (and have been for decades). But we need to spend more in other areas also in order to keep up growth long term. We have to improve our education system and that costs money no matter which way you look at it. Certainly lots of things we're doing now aren't effective, but they don't change by having less money available in the system as a whole. Likewise expanding infrastructure spending saves money and generates revenues in the long term. We need a high-speed transit system that is affordable and efficient. Maintaining the highways is extremely expensive and has a lot of secondary costs that go with it. (real) High speed rail with dedicated right-of-ways would benefit freight and personal transit. It doesn't have to be like Amtrak which is a dying relic. It can be faster, cheaper, and easier, but we have to invest now. And finally we need to fix our power infrastructure. Dependence on oil and coal is crippling us and will be the weight around our neck that sinks us. We need to stop funding them and make sure functional alternatives are in place. Solar (PV and thermal) is viable, even at current efficiencies. (Current technology) Nuclear is safer and ultimately cheaper as a provider for base-loads, but we have to get rid of the NIMBY attitude and approach it rationally, not as a favor to industry pals.

More and better health care reform would have a significant effect as the cost of it is far too high and the ACA doesn't actually deal with that in a meaningful way. The key problem is the insurance companies have every incentive for prices to go up and such make no effort at controlling them. This forces people into a Faustian bargain where they must take insurance to avoid paying the rate-sheet prices but are still being charged 10x - 100x more than the services actually cost to provide. On top of that the insurance industry adds a "moving money around, but mostly into our pocket" tax for facilitating the transaction. A single payer public system would be able to control prices and would cost *substantially* less than both what we're paying now in total as a society AND less than just what we pay into Medicare now. To cover everyone in the country. This means a lot more money to spend on real goods and services instead of invented schemes that add zero value. Providers would compete on service and people would have real, open choices as to who to visit for their care.

But a lot of this doesn't really mean much or have a chance of happening if wages aren't raised to match the increase in productivity over the last 30 - 40 years. For decades wage levels followed closely to productivity increases, and then in the 70's "magically" stopped. Productivity increased greatly but wages stagnated. If wages were closer to what they should be relative to productivity the tax base would increase immensely and we'd almost certainly have a surplus even at current tax and spending levels. But as it is now, the majority of people (in the "developed" world and the US) have less and less money to spend each year which means businesses have fewer customers and are more likely to go out of business. This ultimately shrinks the economy and puts on a path of ruin. When most people have no money to spend on anything but food and shelter, any business that doesn't go directly to that will be unsustainable. When most people start having to choose between food and shelter, I suspect we'll start seeing a lot more riots and violence which does good for no one.

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