Mike Huckabee: A Simple Government: Book Review. Chapter 7: Leave Your Campsite In Better Shape Than You Found It.We Need To Take Responsibility for The Environment. (The Human Species will survive because we are God’s children. Huckabee.)
HUCKABEE AND PALIN: FIDDLE DE DEE AND FIDDLE DE DUM
In this 24 page chapter Huckabee speaks about the environment. He casts doubt about the existence and causes of Global Warming saying the scientists differ on the cause. (The vast number of scientists agree it is caused by man’s activity.) However he does understand that carbon emissions and other industrial and vehicle emissions are detrimental to human health and that something has to done about it immediately. Thus while recognizing energy from fossil fuels will be around for a long time we can start reducing our reliance on them by switching to green energy whenever possible. One way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels is by conservation. Also we owe it to our descendants to leave the Earth in better condition for them then it was in when we found it.
There is also the other negative associated with fossil fuel dependence. That is much of it comes from countries that don’t subscribe to American values or our way of life and seek to undermine us. This plus the fact we pay billions of dollars to these countries also empowers them to fund schools and charities that benefit terrorists and terrorism.
In order to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels we need to have a coherent strategy that all groups agree on. He gives the example of building wind turbines of the coast of Cape Cod which environmental groups have thwarted by filing lawsuits to prevent their construction. Now we spend more time fighting over green power strategies or even more efficient fossil power strategies than building them.
THE CASE FOR NUCLEAR POWER
This book was written before the nuclear disasters in Fukushima Prefecture Japan. Also it is too soon to determine the extent of the environmental damage caused by this disaster. However Huckabee was aware of Chernobyl and other nuclear accidents and their aftermath in writing this book. Despite this he believes that the use of nuclear power makes sense both economically and from the point of view of safety. The cost of nuclear is about 2 cents per kilowatt hour while coal is about 3 cents and natural gas about 5 cents. On the safety side he believes the 104 plants operating in 31 States are very safe, because they are highly regulated by the Department Of Energy. (I wonder what he thinks now since most of the U.S. plants are thirty or forty years old and built with the design and other technology available when the Fukushima generators were built. He doesn’t discuss the more advanced technology and design now being used in the construction of nuclear generators that ostensibly make them safer than the old style plants.)
He thinks that recycling is also a method of reducing our need to import oil. He cites New York’s plan to burn garbage to generate enough energy for almost 150,000 households. The plants were never built but there are plans to go forward now. Also he states sewage can be recycled and burned to generate power. He says the EPA has estimated if all the sewage available nationwide was burned to create energy it could generate enough electricity for 350,000 households. Also he alleges that the burning of garbage and sewage would create fewer emissions and that it would be like having 500,000 fewer cars on the road.
OFFSHORE DRILLING AND OTHER SOUCES OF ENERGY
Huckabee recognizes that oil will be a large source of energy for the United States for the foreseeable future. He is for fewer restrictions on the places available for oil exploration. Many places off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts are not available for drilling for environmental and political reasons. These barriers to drilling should be relaxed. In the case of the BP Deep Water Horizon blowout and spill : that was caused by lax regulation and BP’s drive to save time and money. The incident was preventable.
However considering the cost of imported oil which includes the maintenance of a Navy to keep the sea lanes open an Army to enforce order so a free market in oil can exist and to protect our National security; drilling at home is no longer an option but it must be done with due respect for the environment and the heritage we will leave our children.
Also we must pursue technology in relation to the clean burning of coal, which we have in abundance,and the development of efficient methods to recover oil and gas from shale; which we also have in abundance. Pursuit of new green technology, carbon capture technology, nuclear technology, recycling and conservation can make us free of foreign oil and position us to be independent as demand for fossil energy, which is limited , rises around the World particularly in Asia and the developing countries. (This chapter considers the options available to us but Huckabee offers no new ideas or policies that will make a sudden dramatic change in the status quo. Also given the inertia and the opposition forces to aspects of green technology or drilling for gas and oil in the United States it will take a great leader to change the status quo. Huckabee also has a firm belief that the Earth was created for our species alone. This belief is based on the Bible and seems to ignore the fact that thousands of species have already come and gone. Thus if we overpopulate the Earth to the point it cannot sustain the Human population, at least as well as the industrialized nations do now, we will not disappear as the dinosaurs and many other species did. Apparently God wants Humans to exist and then die and go to our reward despite Global warming, overpopulation etc.)
Mike Huckabee: A Simple Government: Book Review. Chapter 6: If You Don’t Hear The School Bell Ring Class Never Starts. We Need An Education System That Values All Students. ( Huckabee: In education the states should do the dancing and the federal government would supply the music.)
Again in this chapter Huckabee explains how he would fix the American education system in just 14 pages. First he notes that about one third of students never finish high school. High school dropouts have a bleak future. They have the highest rates of drug addiction, the highest rates of involvement with the criminal law system, the highest divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure rates and just about any other social malady you can name.
He notes that the United States spends the highest rate per pupil in the World. However, since approximately 1979 the percentage of all pupils finishing high school is declining. The percentage of students failing to finish high school is worse for Hispanics and still worse for Blacks.
Huckabee blames the education system for this condition. He attributes teacher unions, which have obtained seniority security for its members and pay increases unrelated to student achievement as being at fault. Merit pay is often related to additional courses or degrees the teacher has acquired and not to the academic scores of the pupils for which he or she is responsible. He notes that when there is a cut back in teachers it is not the worst teachers that are laid off but the last hired. This perpetuates a system that only benefits teachers with seniority and not the children they teach. Thus the teachers have no incentive to excel at teaching and the result has been a higher dropout rate and students on average doing more poorly on achievement tests. (Huckabee, like all politicians, fails to mention that between 1900 and 2001 the high school graduation rate in raw numbers went from 95000 to 2,800200 per year in 2001. The highest year for high school graduates was in 1975 with 3,133,000. The rate has been declining since then although the population is increasing. Also Huckabee doesn’t distinguish between native born Americans and those that immigrate to this country after first attending a different educational system in a different language. Also he doesn’t mention that college graduates between 1900 and 2001 increased from 26,410 to 1209000 per year. However much of this is explained by the fact more females received a college education. This rate is not declining but there are bumps in the road. Also he fails to explain why parochial schools have a lower dropout rate especially for Hispanics and Blacks. )
Huckabee would solve the high school dropout problem by eliminating seniority for teachers and basing pay increases on merit primarily based on student achievement scores. (This is an idea worth exploring however there should be seniority and layoff protections for teachers; after all most teachers don’t choose the students they are assigned. Many students come into a new grade unprepared by the preceding grade. Who should take the blame for that? The last teacher or the preceding teachers. Also it is assumed that all students have the same capacity to learn all subjects equally and are interested in learning. Who should take responsibility for low achieving students for lack of ability or interest? Obliviously to lay all fault at the teacher’s door is not fair. However one would think that the board of education and teachers unions would have worked these problems out long ago but they haven’t. They seem to be like General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union fighting to cut up the spoils thinking they had a monopoly while the car buyers went elsewhere. This might be a part of the problem. Thus we have politicians entering the education system.)
Huckabee believes public schools will be the main source of education for Americans as it has been for the last two hundred years or so. Charter schools have been successful in a few places but many have failed to better public schools. He believes the correct thing is to improve public school education mainly by eliminating seniority and awarding merit pay. (He doesn’t say how he would safe guard teacher security if they could be penalized pay wise or by dismissal every time a new principle was hired or a new board of education was elected. Highly educated people have other opportunities and may not wish to be subject to drastic change every time the political winds change or someone comes into power with a new idea he or she wants to try out.)
He would give the student more choice in their courses and preparation for life after school. (Students in high school already have this degree of choice. In grade school one must first be proficient in reading, writing and arithmetic to make these choices in the first place.) Finally he would make courses in the arts and music available as they as they offer a choice for students to follow career paths they may be more adept at. (While all students should be exposed to Art and Music only a small percentage are qualified to follow a career in that direction. Those that do can go to a performing arts high school and those inclined to teach those subjects can major in them in college.)
He is in favor of President Obama’s Race To the Top plan whereby federal funds would be given out to states on a completive basis based on state systems that change and improve student scores according to a federal point system. However he believes public education should be the domain of the states. (I guess he means that the states would do the dancing and the federal government would supply the music.)
Mike Huckabee: A Simple Government: Book Review. Chapter 5, Once Humpty Dumpty Falls, its Hard To Put Him Back Together. We Need A Responsible Approach To Heath Care. (The Simple Plan: Eat Healthy and Exercise And All Will Be Well.)
Huckabee mentions his own struggle to maintain his health. Once diagnosed with incipient type II diabetes he was able to shed 110 pounds and ward off the dread disease. He is now in the process of losing the thirty pounds he put back on. He notes that 75% of our health care costs are related to four chronic conditions, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. They are also the most preventable because they are linked to four behavior traits, tobacco use, alcohol use, lack of exercise and poor diet. The four chronic diseases are interrelated. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, which in turn increases your risk of heart disease (as well as kidney disease, stroke, blindness and leg and foot amputations.) By Limiting the intake of saturated and trans fats a diabetic can reduce the risk of heart disease. Presently Approximately one third of Americans born after 2000 will become diabetics mainly because more Americans are overweight.
Your risk of death due to cancer is increased by being overweight by about 20 percent.
One third of Americans are considered obese. This is as an increase since 1960 by a factor of three. Obesity related health care costs were 74 billion in 1998 now they are 147 billion. Obesity is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease because it is related to a large stomach which is related to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Since 1980 the number of obese children has tripled to about 17 per cent.
Thus failure to lead an active life with a low fat diet is causing our health care costs to increase exponentially.
Huckabee believes that Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Healthcare Act) is the wrong way to go because the emphasis should be on the prevention of health care problems by encouraging a healthy life style and diet.
Huckabee is right children in his assertion that should be encouraged to engage in sports and other physical activities, spend less time watching television and in front of computers. Their diet should be carefully monitored to weed out unhealthy foods. Adults should be called upon to do the same for themselves. Many businesses have programs to encourage their employees to lose weight.
Huckabee believes if we could solve childhood and adult obesity it would go a long way to lowering our health care costs. (This may be true but it is not grounds repeal the Health Care Act. Thirty two million people including many children were uninsured before the act and many adults and children were excluded from coverage because of preexisting conditions creating an inability to purchase insurance. These people relied on emergency rooms which the states and the federal government paid for through Medicaid. Now these people will have to buy insurance if they can afford it and if not they will receive a subsidy to buy insurance. They can’t be turned down for preexisting conditions. Thus those that can pay will pay. Those that can’t will receive a subsidy for which we as taxpayers were paying for anyway.
He recognizes that we have a health care problem and his idea of promoting healthy living is a worthy goal. However it will not solve the problem of providing adequate coverage for all people. He points out that when employers or the federal government are paying the bills this leads to patient indifference and allows the medical community to exploit the system for their own profit. This is a valid criticism that needs to be addressed but the solution is not to eliminate the Health Care Act which replaced an outdated, inefficient and expensive private health care system mainly funded by employers and exploited by the medical profession as well as insurers. (Once again Huckabee attacks a major problem in just twelve pages. His points about living healthy are well taken but that alone will not curtail increasing health care costs. Also to stick with the old system will not solve the problems for which it is partly responsible. Medicare fraud is wide spread and the problem of inflated billing is endemic. Guidelines should be passed and enforcement of these guidelines by Justice Department attorneys should be a priority.
Medical providers should be paid by the procedure and not by for every swab or stitch they apply.
Huckabee relates the issue of health care reform to healthy living, a good idea but an untested idea since it is unknown if enough people will participate to make it viable. Fast food, the stress of modern living, advertising, television, computers and new electronic devices seem to promote a sedentary life style. Also Huckabee likes to use the term “socialized medicine” loosely although the Health Care Act is a long way from government ownership of medical facilities and direct employment of medical personnel.
Mike Huckabee: A Simple Government: Book Review. Chapter 4: If You Drain The Lake All the Fish Will Die. (We need a simple and fair tax system. Something smell fishy to You? [Yes, You Huckabee.])
MR. TAX EXPERT
Huckabee in this twelve page chapter addresses the tax system and offers solutions to perceived inequities. Some of those inequities he perceives are Payroll Taxes, Income Tax, Estate Taxes, Corporate Taxes and Capital Gains Taxes. Huckabee himself is not an economist or a specialist in taxation and so he alludes to many foundations and think tanks for authority and support. Most of these foundations and think tanks were established under the present taxation system to avoid Estate Taxes and create a memorial for the deceased as a public benefactor at the expense of the public.
He states that corporate taxes are too high in comparison to other industrialized countries. (Corporations are taxed beginning at 15% and up to 35% on taxable income of $335,000.00 or higher. However it is a well known fact the large corporations often pay no corporate taxes. GE is one example but there are many others. Frequently profits made abroad are sequestered there to avoid U.S. taxes and corporations have sophisticated lawyers and accountants to advise them on how to avoid taxes as do the wealthy.)
Also the wealthy and corporations have lobbyists and politicians to advocate changes in the tax code to benefit their clients. An example of this is the Bush tax cuts which were extended after the 2010 Congressional elections which allowed Republicans, many who were also members of the Tea Party, to control the House of Representatives. Thus at a time we are running large deficits tax breaks have been extended to those whose income is over $250,000.00.
Huckabee’s original field of expertise is in Christian Ministry and it’s obvious that his Christian teaching have not spilled over in to the area of economics and taxation. He would do away with Social Security, Medicare and other social welfare programs administered by the Federal Government that benefit the type of people that compose the members of his church.
He argues the discredited Supply Side economic doctrine that if taxes are lowered particularly on the wealthy ultimately it will generate more taxable income by stimulating the economy. Thus lowering taxes on the wealthy would create jobs for the less wealthy. This argument was put forward by Reagan economist Art Laffer. However in practice it did not turn out to be true. The wealthy have less need to spend or invest their money than the poor or middle class and lowering their taxes had less effect than lowering taxes on the middle class who of necessity do spend the extra income creating jobs
In the case of the Estate Tax which was eliminated by the Bush tax cuts in 2010 this was changed to tax estates over 5 million and in the case of couples 10 million dollars. The top rate is 35%. This falls on less than 2% of estates. In the case of farms and small businesses special provisions apply to them to prevent liquidation to pay taxes. Why Huckabee is against estate taxes is irrational. Lack of taxation only keeps large amounts of the Nation’s wealth in the hands of those who didn’t earn it and frequently don’t use it productively. Thus creating an elite supported by unearned wealth instead of accomplishment.
Repealing the Estate Tax would cost the government approximately 34 billion in revenue.
In this chapter Huckabee declares his support for a plan called the Fair Tax. This a national sales tax that would do away with Corporate taxes, Payroll taxes, Estate Taxes, Income Taxes, Capital Gains taxes etc. Allegedly this would do away with the need for the Internal Revenues Service. One wonders who would collect the tax and make sure it reflected an accurate figure. It sounds like a field day for tax cheats. Economists are split on the efficacy of this system. There allegedly would be a prebate for those living below the poverty line of the amount they would likely pay under this system.
The vast portion of this tax would be paid by the middle class just as they pay the most under the present system. Thus the wealthy who spend less on a percentage basis would untimely benefit. Instead of a “Fair Tax” this in reality would constitute a tax shift away from the wealthy to the middle class and ultimately create a greater divide between rich and poor thus creating politically instability.
At the end of this chapter, Huckabee asks “something smell fishy to you?” Perhaps he just smells himself.