Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Congratulations, Stacey!

I was delighted to learn that my friend Stacey McGuire was promoted to Principal of Westfield High School, by a vote of the School Board. Noblesville Daily Times story.

Stacey really loves her work, so it's a fine reward for her. I can't think of anything more grinding than being the assisant Principal. Congrats!
Latest From Libertarian Writers Bureau

I'm not big on lording over the corriculum at the public schools. However, if I had to, I would insist that Economics would be taught beginning at sixth grade. So much awful public policy would fail to gain momentum and become law if only the average person had a rudimentary grasp of economics.

Here, Eric Schansberg reminds the reader that cause and effect, and supply and demand, lie at the root of all human interaction; and that public policy more often causes monopoly than anything else.

Keeping out new hospitals won't cure health-care ills

More competition, not less, would be best remedy for consumers, employees

In recent months, there has been considerable discussion about moratoriums on building hospitals in Southern Indiana. In Clark, Floyd, and Harrison counties, local government officials have been listening to the competing interests of existing county-run hospitals and those who would like to enter the market for hospital services.

On the surface, it's difficult to imagine why one would want to prevent a hospital from opening. A hospital is not a porn shop or a toxic-waste dump. Building and operating a hospital is not much of a zoning issue; one could seemingly find a suitable place to allow a hospital to operate somewhere within a county.

The best explanation is a common one in the intersection between economics and politics: no supplier enjoys competition for the goods or services they sell -- and they may find government a cooperative ally in restricting their competition.Unfortunately, restricting competition is only in the interest of the provider who wishes to maintain or extend monopoly power. Consumers and society will not benefit from having fewer options and less competition in a market.

Because the general public is intuitively aware that restricting competition is not a good thing, the producers and their politicians must tell "good stories" -- rationales to explain why less of a good thing is supposedly better.

In Harrison County, they're worried about "sky-rocketing health-care costs." But how would a lower supply and less competition keep costs down?

They've also expressed concern that another facility will "undermine the health, welfare and economic well-being of county residents." But how would more health-care options be a detriment to county residents?

Even health-care employees would benefit with more employment alternatives. The best of the good stories is that a moratorium would "prevent unfair competition."

Private-sector hospitals are accused of "cherry-picking" and "skimming profits" by avoiding less-profitable patients, in particular the indigent and those in prison.

Doubtless, this is true to an extent and some cause for concern. But a more direct way to deal with this issue is to directly subsidize the care of those who cannot pay -- wherever they receive their care -- rather than setting up an arbitrary monopoly.

Moreover, proponents of the moratoriums fail to mention that county-run facilities have lower tax burdens. A truly level playing field would also eliminate such subsidies. In a sense, it is comforting to see politicians be so consistent. Most of them work to foster the monopoly power of government-run schools and the post office. Many of them vote for tariffs and quotas to restrict competitors in product markets. So why should the market for hospital care be any different?

Likewise, the business community proclaims its love for the free market. But its love is often fickle, wanting competitive markets for the inputs they purchase and open access to foreign markets, but clamoring for restrictions on competitors in the particular domestic markets where they sell product. Perhaps the most ironic thing in the discussion about hospitals: County hospitals are fighting to maintain their local turf while seeming to ignore the far larger market.

Hospitals in Southern Indiana already face their most significant competition from hospitals across the river in Louisville. What difference would it make to have a few more facilities in Floyd, Clark, and Harrison counties? Despite all of the competition in Jefferson County, Louisville has a robust market for hospital services.

Moratoriums on hospitals are not exactly what the doctor ordered.

D. Eric Schansberg
Professor of Economics, Indiana University Southeast
Adjunct Fellow, Indiana Policy Review

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Convention Draws Near!

I'm very excited for the upcoming state convention of the Libertarian Party of Indiana. Stepping aside from the role of State Secretary, while not especially daunting, is a bit of a relief in that I need to fully concentrate on the campaign for Secretary of State.

That's what really has me excited. The most committed party members always attend the off-year conventions, and there is a great deal of effort involved for many, as the off-year conventions are held in either the northern- or southern-most parts of the state. This year, it's Clarksville. Members coming from Allen County, or LaPorte, or Lake will be driving some five or six hours each way, which is an eternity in Indiana travel terms. People at this convention are the ones I really want to talk and strategize with, and to impress.

If you haven't registered yet, by all means hop to it! The festivities begin Friday night, and the business meeting will be conducted on Saturday. Go to for details. I will host a hospitality suite, complete with a Texas Hold 'Em tournament Friday and Saturday nights.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bobby Orr For Commissioner!

It's still incredible to me that the NHL lost an entire season over a labor dispute. Any other year, I would be getting my fill of NHL Playoff hockey- easily the most intense, compelling playoffs of any sport- with two games a night throughout April and early May. Alas.

I have no sympathy for either side. The owners are full of complaints that players salaries are too high. Well? Who agrees to the contracts? The players were unwilling to play for a million or so each in the NHL, but were happy enough to play in Europe or in the minor leagues for a fraction of the pay. Well? Is it about the salaries or isn't it?

Worse, the representatives for both sides are engaged in a pointless standoff. ESPN ran a poll, and the majority of respondents said they didn't miss the NHL a bit. That should have scared both sides straight to the table to regain their relevance in the sporting world.

Bobby Orr has it right. His comments were carried by ESPN:
Bobby Orr wants NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players' association executive director Bob Goodenow to "get out of the way" if they can't solve the impasse that led to the cancellation of the NHL's season.

"Our sport is in danger of becoming irrelevant unless both sides immediately put an end to this nonsense," the Boston Bruins great wrote in a column for the Sunday Eagle-Tribune.

Orr, 57, said he initially resisted the urge to comment on the labor dispute because he believed the two sides would resolve their differences for the good of the game. But he said he no longer believes either side is interested in getting a fair deal done.

Thanks, Bobby Orr, for giving both sides the kick in the rear they deserve and need. I'd love it if more NHL legends spoke out in this way.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Hamilton County's Liberal Republicans At It Again

The Republican Governor can't figure out how to get private business to build a stadium, so he goes for a tax package that would include taxing restaurants in Hamilton County and other counties, even though the new stadium would be in Marion County.

Are the Republican leaders in Hamilton County principled tax fighters, or are they the Governor's lap dogs? Quoth the Sunday Star:
John Hiatt, president of the Hamilton County Council, said he was encouraged by Peterson's decision to relinquish control. Hiatt believes the council will raise the tax.

"When we met with the governor, we pretty much told him we'd raise the tax," Hiatt said. "We may have some objections, but most of us on the council feel like this may be the right thing to do."

Enough is enough. He will have his objections. Mark your calendars. The next meeting of the Hamilton County Council is schedule for 7pm on Wednesday, May 4, in the newer Judicial Center's Commissioners Court Room.

Be ready to ask the all-Republican Council why it is so eager to raise taxes. Ask them why they would burden one group of citizens (restaurant owners) so that they can reward another group of citizens (football players and team owners).