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The Political Playground

July 21st, 2010

On July 14th the NAACP passed a resolution condemning the racist elements with in the Tea Party movement. Needless to say that didn?t go over well with the Tea Party or the conservative movement in general.

Now, I’ll be honest, I haven?t read the text of the resolution, but I find it hard to believe that the NAACP was actually condemning the entire Tea Party Movement, and was instead just targeting the racist fringe elements, elements that tend to exist within all most any political movement. Elements that most Tea Party leaders themselves have been trying to remove.

So, on the 19th, Andrew Brietbart dug up some video clips from an NAACP awards dinner in March where Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development gave a speech, edited them to remove any context, and posted them on his site Big Government in an attempt to prove a point. Using editied video to undermine your political opponents has exploded thanks to the advent of the YouTube era.

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Solutions: Powered Schools

There are hundreds of thousands of schools scattered across America and the costs of educating our young people continue to rise every year, forcing higher taxes on all of us either through property tax increases or through state budgeting. When schools are in session, the class rooms use huge amounts of electricity, not to mention the costs of heating and providing water. During the summer months these large buildings and properties often sit largely idle aside from normal maintenance.

So here is my idea:

Install solar and wind power generating capabilities to every school building. Most schools are generally built with large flat roofs. These are great open spaces for the placement of solar panels. The idea of course is to generate as much electricity as possible, and preferably as much as the building would normally use during high usage days. This would make the building electrically self-sufficient during the winter months when class in session. During the summer months when the schools are sitting mostly idle, the power generated by these systems could be sold back to the power grid, generating money for the school districts that can be used for books, computers, etc to help educate our kids.

In the town of Grinnell alone we have 2 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and the high school. That’s 4 buildings in this one town of just under 10,000 people that could be generating power for sale to the grid and improving the financial situation of the town.

The downsides of course is the initial investment. It can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 to retrofit a home for solar power which would obviously have far lower electrical needs in comparison to a school building. That is money that would have to be paid for either through bonding or higher property taxes unless private enterprise were to volunteer and donate the monies, but in the long run there is serious potential for school districts to generate revenue by turning their buildings into power generating stations.

Health Care Math

299px-Caduceus.svg I posted this question in a comment over at The Liberty Papers and as I?ve been sitting here today working I?ve delved into more deeply.

How much money would it take to provide health care to every American every month?

The monthly premium that Seniors pay for Medicare Part B is $95.40 a month. Medicare Part B is highly popular.

US Census Bureau?s Population clock estimates the population of the US at 307,040,414 as of 07/30/09 at 14:45 GMT.

Currently every working adult in America has a percentage of their gross income deducted as Medicare taxes. As of 2009 the rate was 2.9% which is divided evenly at 1.45% between the employee and the employer.

On top of this American?s have the health insurance premiums which can widely vary (about$150 a paycheck where I work.)

Now here is where I get theoretical. Instead of taking out the Medicare taxes or having every American pay an insurance premium, give them back that money and instead charge them $95.40 a month and put every man, woman, and child in America on Medicare Part B. That comes to about $29,291,655,495.60 collected every month in Premiums. Would that be enough money to cover the health care needs of every American in the US every month?

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation probably not. In 2007 the the cost of health care in the US averaged out to about $7,421.00 per person. $95.40 a month only comes out to about $1134.00 a year per person. What usually happens with programs like Medicare however is that the premiums and taxes paid into it are put into a trust fund of some sort. A portion of which is then taken and used to create some sort of interest earning revenue. So, if you take that $29 Billion a month or $351,499,865,947.20 from one year, and take a portion of it and put it into some sort of interest bearing market, would that the combined result be enough to pay for the health care of every American?

One of the biggest conundrums of American politics today is the fact that a significant majority of Americans want government services like Medicare and Medicaid. 62% of Americans want a public health care insurance option of some form, however most simply don?t want to pay for it. It?s that type of thinking that got California into the mess it?s in. But as long as everyone is willing to chip in, pay their fair share, could we make Medicare work for everyone. Seniors like it. Sure it needs reform as well to cut costs. But it does work. And the idea that the quality of care would suffer? I find that unlikely. Most medical research that happens in America today is at least in part funded through loan and grant programs funded by State and Federal government. That is unlikely to change no mater what we do to health care reform.

And just to clarify; this is more of a thought exercise than anything and not necessarily a move I would 100% support or something I expect congress is likely to do.