Wednesday, March 20, 2013

China's rise: harming our interests?

On Sunday, an article from Yahoo! asserted that China has replaced Britain in the world's top five arms exporters. With coverage from Reuters, China has become the world's fifth-largest arms exporter... its highest ranking since the Cold War, with Pakistan the main recipient. It is no question that China is a rising economic powerhouse, owning much of the U.S debt, but many argue that China's economic rise harms the United States' interests.

 Peter Navarro of UC Irvine cites three reasons for lower prices of manufacturing in China: cheaper labor, an undervalued currency, and export subsidies from the chinese government. Each can be attributed to China’s rise because the rise allows China to tap into cheap labor with better infrastructure, provides the government with enough power to manipulate its currency and enough money to subsidize exports. Cheaper manufacturing in China actually has several empirically proven benefits to the U.S, economically. First, it lowers the cost of living. According to data from the US census bureau and Christian Broda of the University of Chicago, Chinese imports have decreased the price index of goods by over 3 percent since 2000.
Based on data from the Bureau of Labor statistics, this saves the average American household 1,491 dollars per year.Broda finds that chinese imports disproportionately effect poorer Americans and have directly led to a decrease in inflation relative to wealthy people of 6 percent.This lower cost of living allows Americans to better sustain themselves, promoting their interests.

Furthermore, China's rise has stimulated American job growth. According to the San Francisco federal reserve, 55% of the retail revenue of Chinese made goods actually goes to pay for services in the united states, creating American jobs. In comparison, only 36% of revenues from non-Chinese imports go to Americans. Thus, Chinese imports stimulate the economy more than other countries imports. Trade Partnership Worldwide furthers, “Eight U.S. jobs owe their existence to imports from China for every one that is “lost.” They explain that U.S. jobs are added to support the increased amount of products, transportation of those products, and profits from those products. Derek Scissors of the  Heritage Foundation in 2012 explains The difference between the final price of goods to American consumers and the much lower value of those goods when they first entered U.S. territory is the .... value added by American labor during this process”

While we blame the Chinese for many of our problems (maybe unfairly?), China is actually benefiting our recovering economy. Why do we tend to blame our problems on other countries, despite their efforts to help us stay afloat? Please share your thoughts below.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sequestration and Defense Cuts

With talks of sequestrate cuts looming, many people are criticizing governmental cuts despite growing tensions with a frustrated and nuclear-threatening North Korea. For those of you who still are unaware of the federal budget cuts, CNN explains clearly that sequestration is in fact, "a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts to government agencies, totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The cuts would be split 50-50 between defense and domestic discretionary spending...It's all part of attempts to get a handle on the growth of the U.S. national debt, which exploded upward when the 2007 recession hit and now stands at more than $16 trillion." The sequester has been coming for nearly a year, yet many people still fear cuts within our defense department. People also think that taxes should be raised before we cut certain programs, yet we have room to make some spending cuts!

I personally think our defense spending is outrageous and that cuts need to be made. Every year the United States wastes billions of dollars on military and defense spending raising our national debt ceiling. In 2010 U.S Department of Defense spent roughly $690 billion. This amounts to more than 40% of the world’s defense spending.  Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma contends in a working paper that there is over $70 billion in defense spending that can be cut without any impact on our defense or national security. A study from the Stimson Center, along with a panel of four military generals, which targeted the inefficiency in defense spending, also concluded that the Pentagon could absorb as much $550 billion in spending cuts over the next ten years. It is mind boggling to think how much money and resources are wasted by the defense department. The Pentagon currently administrates over 1,000 military bases in the world, calling for significant reassessment in the need for such bases. Foreign Policy in Focus reports that “more than half a century after World War II and the Korean War, we still have 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea.” The Institute for Policy Studies puts the savings from overseas base closures as high as $184 billion over 10 years. Not only would these cuts bring home many of our troops but, these cuts would help lower our nation’s debt ceiling, without threatening the security of our nation.  According to the New Republic, “Since 2001, military and security expenditures have soared 119%.  The U.S. defense budget is now about the same as military spending in all other countries combined.”  There are clear cuts in defense spending that could reduce our deficit without harming the American people or national security which should be prioritized before any sort of tax increase.

People are also worried that cutting defense spending would allow terrorism to fluorish and hurt our already deeply rooted fight against global terrorism, while in fact many experts believe defense cuts would benefit our national security. America takes an active role in counterterrorism across the world, however these actions are what causes terrorism.  According to Ivan Eland Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, “All of the examples of terrorist attacks on the United States can be explained as retaliation for U.S. intervention abroad”.  Eland provides 64 specific examples of terrorism caused by directly by American policies. By cutting defense spending as stated in our previous contention, we would reduce intervention globally. According to the national counterterrorism center, this increase in intervention correlates with a 41% increase in terrorist fatalities.  This is the most important point in today’s debate and should be weighed as such.  Because we would be less active abroad, we would see a reduction in terrorist attacks. This is a net good to America because we are not only saving money, and American lives, but we are upholding our national security by reducing terrorism. Do you think cutting our defense spending is a good idea, even with tight military tensions with North Korea, and the Middle East?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Obamacare and a Doctor Shortage

Recently, with discussions over occupations and shortages, it is clear that our nation will need many primary care physicians to sustain a growing, and aging population. Forbes explains clearly, "About four percent of American medical graduates are choosing careers in primary care. As the number of primary care residents grow, this number will probably increase a bit, but I wouldn’t count on it. About eighty percent of the time, primary care residents choose to move on to a subspecialty. The reasons are complex, but not unknowable. PCPs tend to work longer hours and get paid less then their specialist colleagues, but their debt burden isn’t any less. With average medical school debt approaching $200,000 its no wonder doctors reach for higher-paying positions."
In negation to my recent post about the benefits of an individual health mandate, it appears that Obamacare will exacerbate the already growing problem of a doctor shortage in the U.S.       Expanding health insurance universally will overwhelmingly burden the capacity of the health care system. The U.S. would see a shortage of primary care physicians for a few reasons: First, the Annals of Family Medicine explains in December that a health insurance requirement would result in 20 million more primary care visits annually due to increased demand. The number of primary care physicians would not change though, placing stress on the system. Second, the Doctors Company, a physician research firm, notes in a February 2012 study that 43% of doctors are considering moving up their retirements five years early as a result of their dissatisfaction with health care expansion. Moreover, Forbes explains in August that 83% of doctors are considering quitting their jobs entirely. Even if just a fraction do decide to leave the profession, the shortage begins.  Third, the Doctors Company continues that 9 out of 10 physicians would not recommend becoming a part of the health care profession as a result of health car expansion. In fact, some doctors are actively dissuading prospective students from going into the medical field, lowering the number of primary care physicians for the future.

Put all of these situations together, and a primary care physician shortage is imminent. The Association of American Medical Colleges explains in 2010 that an American physicians shortage will be accelerated by five years as a result of health insurance requirements, lacking 63,000 physicians by 2015. This has negative implications: First, the Heartlander Institute explains that increased burdens on doctors will increase wait times, which not only lowers the quality of care provided, but also dissuades patients from even going to the doctor at all. If the purpose of health insurance requirements is to improve health care, it would be doing the opposite. Second, the American College of Physicians conducted a study and found that for every addition primary care physician among 10,000 people, 3.5 deaths were prevented. However, if millions more people are adding to the population while primary care physicians dwindle, we will see a marked increase in American mortality. 

Is it more important to address the issue of the doctor shortages when considering whether or not we should require our citizens with health care, or does the issue of rights/constituionality take precedent? Please comment your thoughts and weigh in your opinion weather you think an individual health mandate would be beneficial/harmful to the United States.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Discrimination and Health Care

With much talk about Obamacare and our changing health laws, many people have questioned the justification of mandated health insurance. Is it right for the Government to tell me how to take care of my body? David Rivkin of the Justice Department explains, “a health insurance requirement would set the precedent that the government can control every single way in which you dispose of your income.” Amanda Read writes in the New York Times, "the government could require everyone to eat particular healthy foods or buy gym memberships using the same justifications as the insurance mandate." However I would argue that an individual health mandate would in fact guarantee Americans more rights.

Currently, hospitals give less care to the uninsured because they are less likely to be compensated, and the uninsured have less access to preventative care. A recent study from Families USA found, "in-hospital mortality rates were 60 percent higher for uninsured than insured children." They went on to say, "uninsured adults are nearly four times less likely than insured adults to get preventive care screenings such as pap smears, mammograms, and prostate exams due to cost."  In fact, Jack Ebeler of the National Academics calculates that uninsured adults 50% more likely to die prematurely from serious conditions such as heart disease or cancer.

Also, currently uninsured individuals are denied health coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition. A recent national survey estimated that in the past three years, 12.6 million tried to purchase health insurance and were in fact denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  Luckily, under the Affordable Care Act (provision of Obamacare), insurers cannot reject individuals or charge them higher premiums based on pre-existing medical conditions.

I think the fact that the new health law takes discrimination out of the equation makes the individual health mandate within Obamacare justified. Remember, before the law 12.6 million Americans couldn't have access to health insurance due to their illnesses, and now the law makes it so they can't legally be excluded. I think this is a big step forward for health care. What do you think? Is it justified for the government to tell my how to spend my money, regardless of the inherent benefits?