I was asked by a Kerry supporting friend who is deeply worried about what Bush’s victory portends to share as a Republican who is pro-choice my reasons for hope and optimism about his victory and perhaps to allay some of the concerns she expressed. So, here goes:
FDA and Tort Reform. Giving people access to life saving treatments. Treament Choice.
Currently all drugs and treatments are illegal in the US except those explicitly permitted by the FDA. The only drugs and treatments that make it to market are those that can earn enough money to cover both the costs of FDA approval and the risks of being sued by the trial lawyers. Millions of people die every year because the drugs they need don’t make it to market or don’t even get developed in the first place. The fault lies squarely with an FDA and a tort system that is more concerned about protecting people from doctors, drugs, and treatments than it is with protecting people from the diseases that afflict them!
I look forwad to Bush making tort and FDA reform a high priority. Millions of lives are at stake.
Aside: I believe the correct set of reforms will put the pharmaceutical industry on a path to open source drug development similar to what has been achieved in the software world by Linux and Apache. This could mean, for example, a cure for malaria, a disease that kills millions every year!
Aside: This issue illustrates the moral unseriousness of recreational drug rights and abortion rights activists. Both claim to believe in some sort of privacy right of the body against intrusion by the government. The former are upset that the government is depriving them of their fun. The later are upset that the government might concern itself with the protection of unborn life (even when the health of the mother is not at stake!). Neither have gotten particularly exercised about the FDA *depriving people of LIFE SAVING TREATMENTS* nor about the courts punishing people for attempting to do so. Both sets of movement activists should be ashamed!
Aside: I am dissapointed that Bush chose to limit government funding of embryonic stem cell research, but I believe the potential benefits of this marginal funding are DWARFED by the benefits that would accrue from general FDA and tort reform. I would even argue that FDA and tort reform would result in more private money spent on embryonic stem cell research than the government would have ever chosen to spend!
Education Reform and School Choice
Currently the education of America’s children is held hostage to monopoly school systems and teacher’s unions that compete in the political system to spend more money rather than in the market to educate our children better. They are averse to any reforms that hold them accountable for how well children are educated and exert enough control over the Democratic party to prevent any reform coming from that quarter.
I look forward to continued support and funding of the No Child Left Behind Act Bush got passed in his first term and the direct and active promotion of school choice. School choice means that parents may choose the school to which they send their kids without having to be rich enough to pay for a private school or to move to a rich neighborhood where the public school is a defacto private country club.
Aside: Abortion rights activists get upset about the notion that poor pregnant woman having to cross state lines get medical treatment. Yet, they fall silent on the issue of poor single mothers having to do the same to educate their children!
Social Security and Tax Reform: Rewarding Savings, Investment, and Entreprenership. Savings Choice.
Our economy depends on people investing their savings in new businesses. The current social security system takes money that people would otherwise save and invest and uses it to fund government programs. The current social security system is also bankrupt. There is no way it can payout all the benefits it has promised without bankrupting the country.
Bush has promised both to reform social security and to restructure the tax system to reward savings and investment. The result will mean a more new businesses, more new jobs, and more new products and services (and medicines!) to make all our lives better.
Aside: Many Bush opponents express concern about the deficit. What they don’t recognize is that any increase in the deficit and the debt that they attribute to Bush is DWARFED by the government’s $72 TRILLION unfunded Social Security and Medicate liability. If you are going to talk about the deficit without talking about Social Security reform, you are not serious!
Health and Medicaire Reform: Health Choice
People should be allowed to choose the sort of health lifestyle, health insurance, and medical care they want. The current system forces everyone to choose between overly expensive highly regulated insurance policies or punitive taxation of their pay-as-you-go health care choices. The result is a medical care system that leads many to inferior ad hoc care in local hospital emergency rooms. It is a system that rewards health care providers for providing more health procedures rather than for providing good health.
Bush has proposed Medical Savings Accounts that helps individuals save for their routine health care expenses and pay only for catastrophic care insurance. The result will be much more intelligent decisions about both various forms of defensive medicine and lifestyle choices that may substantially decrease routine healthcare costs. In other words, better health for more people at lower prices.
Democracy and Winning the war on terror: Governmental Choice
Bush has already led the liberation of millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq from some of the worst tyrannies in human history. But if we were simply to let these countries lapse back into dictatorship that would be both sad and cruel. Afghanistan has already had its first election and Iraq will have one in January. The existence of democracies in both of these countries was basically unimaginable only four years ago. Now it is expected!
Bush has already said that Iran will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons and the Iranisn mullahs have said they will not be denied nuclear weapons. I predict this confrontation will mean an end to Iran’s dictatorship and its replacement by democracy. My hope is that the result of all of this activity will be democracies from Afghanistan all the way to the Mediteranean. I believe that if we can accomplish this we will be a substanial part of the way to winning the war on terror and reducing the risk that state sponsored terrorism could take the lives of thousands or millions of American lives.
Gay marriage advocates are dissapointed that they did not win approval this year. But, it is not like they had even the possibility of approval of gay marriage rights ever before. The key here is patience. American society is obviously coming to accept homosexuality as normal and will increasingly give gay couples the rights they deserve.
We can, in the short term, attempt to regulate the environment and I support that, but I do not think regulations are effective against abuse and subversion. The best way to protect the environment is to innovate new ideas that save energy and reduce our reliance on natural resources. As Fabio Rojas notes:
If you think that we have too many green house gases, then you have two choices: stop manufacturing or learn to manufacture without as much pollution. Too many environmentalists opt for the first choice, which is bad because so much of the world’s poor look to gain from industry.
The initiatives described above are the best way I can think of get us there.
To me Bush’s victory is about choice, opportunity, invention, and democracy and it is about empowering the people against elites who seek to rule them. It is about creating new life saving drugs and treatments and new life enhancing products and services rather than accepting the status quo as good enough. It is largely about hope rather than fear.