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Another Reckless Tax/Spending Bill





jmi256
I just don't understand where Obama thinks people are going to come up with the money to pay for these increases in spending and therefore taxes. The US population is about 308 million, but out of those there are only about 138 million who actually pay taxes. Therefore, this new tax bill represents almost $8,000 in additional taxes per taxpayer. If you believe Obama's campaign promise that taxes won't go up for 95% of taxpayers and that only those who make over $200,000 will see increased taxes, that means almost $160,000 in additional taxes per taxpayer or small business. That just doesn’t sound fair to me. Every single lawmaker who voted for this bill deserves to get voted out, regardless of what party they are in.

Quote:
Obama signs $1.1 trillion spending bill into law

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has signed into law a $1.1 trillion bill that increases the budgets in many areas of the government by about 10 percent, including health, law enforcement and veterans' programs.

Obama signed the bill privately at the White House on Wednesday after receiving the bill from Congress on Sunday.

The bill lumps together six of the 12 annual appropriations bills for the 2010 budget year that began Oct. 1.

Most Republicans opposed the bill, citing runaway federal spending. They also pointed to an estimated $3.9 billion for more than 5,000 local projects sought by lawmakers from both parties.

Democrats said the spending would help the economy recover from the recession.

Source = http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091216/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_spending_bill
ocalhoun
Well, who would expect them to actually reconsider their 'spend your way out of financial trouble' plan?

They'll keep at it until they are voted out, or the economy completely crashes to the point there there is no money.
deanhills
jmi256 wrote:
I just don't understand where Obama thinks people are going to come up with the money to pay for these increases in spending and therefore taxes. The US population is about 308 million, but out of those there are only about 138 million who actually pay taxes. Therefore, this new tax bill represents almost $8,000 in additional taxes per taxpayer. If you believe Obama's campaign promise that taxes won't go up for 95% of taxpayers and that only those who make over $200,000 will see increased taxes, that means almost $160,000 in additional taxes per taxpayer or small business. That just doesn’t sound fair to me. Every single lawmaker who voted for this bill deserves to get voted out, regardless of what party they are in.
Well said. And totally agreed. What I can't understand is why there has been so little reported about the budget in the press vs for example the health care legislation debacle. Are people actually becoming enured to this kind of spending, and somehow think it can go on for ever?
Stubru Freak
It's not like the USA has a big government. When taxes increase to pay for e.g. healthcare, that means healthcare costs will decrease for the people (by a lot). Private insurers want to make a profit, while the government can't make profit by definition. Plus it's a lot fairer, because rich people pay for poor people that need expensive treatment, instead of letting them die.
jmi256
Stubru Freak wrote:
It's not like the USA has a big government. When taxes increase to pay for e.g. healthcare, that means healthcare costs will decrease for the people (by a lot). Private insurers want to make a profit, while the government can't make profit by definition. Plus it's a lot fairer, because rich people pay for poor people that need expensive treatment, instead of letting them die.

The US federal government is pretty big in my opinion and has managed to intrude in almost every aspect of our lives. Want to go to college or send you kids to college? Get ready to deal with the fed, as they have a ‘policy’ for that. Want to save your own money for retirement? The fed has a ‘policy’ for that. Want to start or invest in a business, or even expand your business? The fed has a ‘policy’ for that. Want to buy a car? The fed has a ‘policy’ for that. It can go on and on. And with each and every policy and program the federal government implements, waste, inefficiency and mismanagement creep in. This isn't just about government-run healthcare, which has fooled some into believing that spending more taxpayer money will somehow magically cause less to be spent on it overall in the future. There isn’t a single thing in the bill that I’ve seen that will bring overall costs down, but will only increase overall costs. What you are talking about above is just distributing the increased costs at the expense of one group to benefit another. If that’s what the Democrats have in mind, fine then let the citizens debate that point. But at least have the guts to be honest about it instead of all the scare tactics they have been using up to date. If you’re looking for charity, which I have no problem with, at least call it what it is.

The Democrats' government-run healthcare bill, is a different separate bill from the spending bill cited in the OP. The 1.1 trillion bill above doesn’t even include the increased taxes we’ll see if the government-run healthcare bill passes.
Stubru Freak
jmi256 wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
It's not like the USA has a big government. When taxes increase to pay for e.g. healthcare, that means healthcare costs will decrease for the people (by a lot). Private insurers want to make a profit, while the government can't make profit by definition. Plus it's a lot fairer, because rich people pay for poor people that need expensive treatment, instead of letting them die.

The US federal government is pretty big in my opinion and has managed to intrude in almost every aspect of our lives. Want to go to college or send you kids to college? Get ready to deal with the fed, as they have a ‘policy’ for that. Want to save your own money for retirement? The fed has a ‘policy’ for that. Want to start or invest in a business, or even expand your business? The fed has a ‘policy’ for that. Want to buy a car? The fed has a ‘policy’ for that. It can go on and on. And with each and every policy and program the federal government implements, waste, inefficiency and mismanagement creep in. This isn't just about government-run healthcare, which has fooled some into believing that spending more taxpayer money will somehow magically cause less to be spent on it overall in the future. There isn’t a single thing in the bill that I’ve seen that will bring overall costs down, but will only increase overall costs. What you are talking about above is just distributing the increased costs at the expense of one group to benefit another. If that’s what the Democrats have in mind, fine then let the citizens debate that point. But at least have the guts to be honest about it instead of all the scare tactics they have been using up to date. If you’re looking for charity, which I have no problem with, at least call it what it is.

The Democrats' government-run healthcare bill, is a different separate bill from the spending bill cited in the OP. The 1.1 trillion bill above doesn’t even include the increased taxes we’ll see if the government-run healthcare bill passes.


Compared to the rest of the world, that's still not a lot. The fact is that the government does a lot of things better. Yes, it's not always efficient, but at least it's fair.
Compare it to the telephone network here in Belgium. When it was government-owned, it took over a month to install a phone. Now that it's a private company, you get a phone immediately, but the (inflation-adjusted) prices are two to three times higher. Also, when your phone doesn't work, you still have to pay for it or risk a lawsuit.
jmi256
Stubru Freak wrote:
Compared to the rest of the world, that's still not a lot.

Quite honestly, that’s their problem. I wouldn’t want to bring the US down just because it’s worse in the rest of the world. The rest of the world should fight for their freedoms, not call for the US to give up its freedoms so that we’re all the same. One of the things that makes the US such a great country is the freedoms we enjoy that the rest of the world does not enjoy, including the freedom from too much government intrusion. Recently, however, it seems that is slipping away and we are being pulled down to the level of the “rest of the world.” Now this may seem very ‘US-centric’ and cocky, but I’ve lived in many countries in the world and have traveled extensively (not as much as I would like, though), and I have failed to find a country as ‘good’ as the US.


Stubru Freak wrote:
The fact is that the government does a lot of things better. Yes, it's not always efficient, but at least it's fair.

I have to disagree “that the government does a lot of things better”. The experience here in the US would seem to counter that premise. I’m not as familiar with other countries’ issues as I am with the US’s, but I’m sure examples of mismanaged government-run bureaucracies can be found everywhere. And what do you define as “fair”?

Stubru Freak wrote:
Compare it to the telephone network here in Belgium. When it was government-owned, it took over a month to install a phone. Now that it's a private company, you get a phone immediately, but the (inflation-adjusted) prices are two to three times higher. Also, when your phone doesn't work, you still have to pay for it or risk a lawsuit.

Then you should demand that the private company increase quality or decrease prices. Stop your service until they do so. Do business with a competitor that does provide better service at lower rates. Or start a competitive business that can do it better. But if you value the service enough that you’re willing to pay more for faster service, I don’t see a problem with that. Only in a competitive environment is the consumer able to make demands via their wallets.
Stubru Freak
jmi256 wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
Compared to the rest of the world, that's still not a lot.

Quite honestly, that’s their problem. I wouldn’t want to bring the US down just because it’s worse in the rest of the world. The rest of the world should fight for their freedoms, not call for the US to give up its freedoms so that we’re all the same. One of the things that makes the US such a great country is the freedoms we enjoy that the rest of the world does not enjoy, including the freedom from too much government intrusion. Recently, however, it seems that is slipping away and we are being pulled down to the level of the “rest of the world.” Now this may seem very ‘US-centric’ and cocky, but I’ve lived in many countries in the world and have traveled extensively (not as much as I would like, though), and I have failed to find a country as ‘good’ as the US.


Stubru Freak wrote:
The fact is that the government does a lot of things better. Yes, it's not always efficient, but at least it's fair.

I have to disagree “that the government does a lot of things better”. The experience here in the US would seem to counter that premise. I’m not as familiar with other countries’ issues as I am with the US’s, but I’m sure examples of mismanaged government-run bureaucracies can be found everywhere. And what do you define as “fair”?

Stubru Freak wrote:
Compare it to the telephone network here in Belgium. When it was government-owned, it took over a month to install a phone. Now that it's a private company, you get a phone immediately, but the (inflation-adjusted) prices are two to three times higher. Also, when your phone doesn't work, you still have to pay for it or risk a lawsuit.

Then you should demand that the private company increase quality or decrease prices. Stop your service until they do so. Do business with a competitor that does provide better service at lower rates. Or start a competitive business that can do it better. But if you value the service enough that you’re willing to pay more for faster service, I don’t see a problem with that. Only in a competitive environment is the consumer able to make demands via their wallets.


There was no competitor, until very recently. If I stop my service, I don't have a phone. Starting a new service is also a huge investment, that no bank would lend me money for. Only very recently, another company started offering an alternative, that is basically just VoIP.
So now there are two companies, and they both are as unreasonable as the other. For a well-functioning free market, you need at least 5 (big) competitors. The government should try to guarantee that for all essential services, and if it can't, it should provide the service itself.

Less government regulation sounds good in theory, just like a complete government-controlled economy sounded good to the workers that wanted communism, but neither of both work. We need a mixed economy. The government isn't efficient, but at least it does whatever it does in a fair way. Fair is defined as for a reasonable price, with a reasonable service, without abusing its monopoly. That's because we can elect them, and we can't elect the owners of private companies.

Can you imagine a private company building our roads? You would have 2 or 3 different, parallel roads between most cities. The road would cost money to use, and they wouldn't lower their prices, because they know the others would follow immediately, and the result would be loss of profit. But there wouldn't be any road to a small town. Some things are better done by the government.
jmi256
Stubru Freak wrote:
There was no competitor, until very recently. If I stop my service, I don't have a phone.

So you have made a choice as a consumer; the value of having a phone is more to you than value you have to give up (your earned money and your resources, i.e. work/time, it symbolizes). Other may not feel that way and decide to forego having a phone. They may decide to rely solely on a cell phone or share a line with roommates, etc. But how would you feel if the government magically mandated a phone as a ‘right’ and you had to pay even more to subsidize all those who had decided they didn’t want phones or decided they rather spend their resources (i.e. money) on other things? If you want to pay for someone else’s phone as an act of charity, no one is stopping you.


Stubru Freak wrote:
Starting a new service is also a huge investment, that no bank would lend me money for. Only very recently, another company started offering an alternative, that is basically just VoIP.

It’s definitely a costly risk. And whoever takes that risk could possibly lose everything they own. But the person or business who decides to take the risk should then be able to reap the rewards if it’s successful, right? That only seems fair to me.


Stubru Freak wrote:
So now there are two companies, and they both are as unreasonable as the other. For a well-functioning free market, you need at least 5 (big) competitors.

So stop using either. If there is enough consumer demand, a new competitor will emerge that will fulfill that demand, if a demand truly exists.


Stubru Freak wrote:
The government should try to guarantee that for all essential services, and if it can't, it should provide the service itself.

First of all, a phone is not an “essential service.” It’s a luxury that some people feel is important to them. Second of all, the role of federal government (at least here in the US) is not to coddle its citizens from cradle to grave, but rather provide services defined in the Constitution.


Stubru Freak wrote:
Less government regulation sounds good in theory, just like a complete government-controlled economy sounded good to the workers that wanted communism, but neither of both work.

I think you’re trying to say that neither a complete government-controlled system, like communism, nor a complete government-less system would work. I’ve never seen a complete government-less system myself, so I don’t know how it would function. We’ve seen how communism works, and we all know that it definitely fails hard.

Stubru Freak wrote:
We need a mixed economy. The government isn't efficient, but at least it does whatever it does in a fair way. Fair is defined as for a reasonable price, with a reasonable service, without abusing its monopoly. That's because we can elect them, and we can't elect the owners of private companies.

If by “mixed economy” you mean that the government should be responsible for certain things, like defense, courts, etc., I agree with you, and exactly what the government is responsible for is outlined in the Constitution. But it also prohibits the US federal government from then deciding willy-nilly other areas where it is going to usurp control. And people elect owners of private companies every day through their wallets. If people don’t like the way a certain company is run, they don’t buy its products. If enough people are dissatisfied or the company doesn’t change its ways, it is quickly run out of business or the leadership changes. Politicians and bureaucrats live to deflect all the accountability they can.


Stubru Freak wrote:
Can you imagine a private company building our roads? You would have 2 or 3 different, parallel roads between most cities. The road would cost money to use, and they wouldn't lower their prices, because they know the others would follow immediately, and the result would be loss of profit. But there wouldn't be any road to a small town. Some things are better done by the government.

Actually, here in the US that’s exactly what happened. Industrious people built roads and charged people to use them. State and local governments also ran them. Many still exist here in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toll_road

But my point isn’t that I’m against all government. I just think each level of government has its appropriate levels of responsibility. For example local governments should run local fire departments, school boards, etc. And the federal government should do the things it has been granted the power to run through the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution do I find anything that says the federal government has the power to control our healthcare. If you find it, let me know.
Stubru Freak
A telephone isn't an essential service, that was just an example to show that the government does some things better. You say I can elect the telephone company using my wallet, but there's an important difference: to vote for politicians, you have to go to the voting booth and vote. To "vote through your wallet", you have to pay a price: you're asking me to give up my phone. Voting shouldn't require paying a price in a democracy.
Also, the government didn't ask anyone to pay for a phone if they didn't want them. They just regulated the telephone network, better than a private owner can.

I know private-built roads exist. But don't you think it's stupid? The government could use toll income to improve the road network for everyone, and lower taxes. If you allow private companies to build the profitable roads, the government is left to do the expensive ones, and taxes increase. Tax money going straight to big companies. The rich getting richer by taxing the poor.

The government has to take care of the well-being of everyone, even the poor. The poor just can't pay for their healthcare. It's the government's job to make sure they don't die. You'll be happy you have universal healthcare if you ever need serious medical aid and are fired from work. I don't know the American constitution, but not letting people die unnecessarily must be in there somewhere (it's in the Belgian constitution which was heavily influenced by the American).

PS: you can't be sure communism will fail. I can imagine it failing, it's quite likely, but there has never been a true Marxist government, ever. I don't see where Karl Marx wrote that the country should, in the long run, be ruled by a dictator.
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
It's not like the USA has a big government. When taxes increase to pay for e.g. healthcare, that means healthcare costs will decrease for the people (by a lot). Private insurers want to make a profit, while the government can't make profit by definition. Plus it's a lot fairer, because rich people pay for poor people that need expensive treatment, instead of letting them die.
I think you must be mirrorring your own healthcare system in Belgium on the USA and expecting something similar in the United States. It is still unknown whether the required medical insurance will be sold by the Government or by the Insurance companies, and if it is the Insurance companies, it will be much different to Belgium or in Canada. In most of the countries with Government Health Insurance Administrations the health care is mostly in Government hands, whereas in the United States it is very firmly in private hands. So to have those savings that you mention happening, there has to be an enormous shift in the provision of healthcare services first. Doctors are not going to accept less pay for what they are doing well. I'm almost certain they would have to have a situation where certain doctors can elect to contract out and charge different prices eventually. The Pharmaceutical companies in the United States will also fight like the dickens to keep their profits. I'm almost certain the physicians in the United States are supporting the health care insurance for all as they must have been assured it will not make any difference to their status quo, which is to charge the prices they are charging right now. Otherwise they would have been agitating like crazy by now.
Stubru Freak
deanhills wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
It's not like the USA has a big government. When taxes increase to pay for e.g. healthcare, that means healthcare costs will decrease for the people (by a lot). Private insurers want to make a profit, while the government can't make profit by definition. Plus it's a lot fairer, because rich people pay for poor people that need expensive treatment, instead of letting them die.
I think you must be mirrorring your own healthcare system in Belgium on the USA and expecting something similar in the United States. It is still unknown whether the required medical insurance will be sold by the Government or by the Insurance companies, and if it is the Insurance companies, it will be much different to Belgium or in Canada. In most of the countries with Government Health Insurance Administrations the health care is mostly in Government hands, whereas in the United States it is very firmly in private hands. So to have those savings that you mention happening, there has to be an enormous shift in the provision of healthcare services first. Doctors are not going to accept less pay for what they are doing well. I'm almost certain they would have to have a situation where certain doctors can elect to contract out and charge different prices eventually. The Pharmaceutical companies in the United States will also fight like the dickens to keep their profits. I'm almost certain the physicians in the United States are supporting the health care insurance for all as they must have been assured it will not make any difference to their status quo, which is to charge the prices they are charging right now. Otherwise they would have been agitating like crazy by now.


Doctors really aren't paid that bad here. Most of the health care is in private hands, and just paid for by the government. The only thing the government decides is how much they want to pay for certain treatments. Most doctors charge a small, fixed amount above what the government pays, and that's more than enough to have a very good income. Some doctors charge more, but very few people want to go to them, because the normal healthcare system has a very good reputation. Asking more gives you a bad "pseudo-expert" reputation instead of a good one.
The only problem are indeed the pharmaceutical companies. They're constantly lobbying to get a good price for their products, which does increase government spendings. But it's really not as expensive as a lot of Americans think it will be.
ocalhoun
Stubru Freak wrote:

There was no competitor, until very recently. If I stop my service, I don't have a phone.

Therein lies the problem.

A privately owned system always works the best if there is competition.
When there is a monopoly, things get worse and more expensive.
(Which is why the government's role in the private economy should be limited to encouraging competition, both by breaking up monopolies and by making choices clearer and/or more available to consumers.)

(Even worse is a government-enforced monopoly... A government-ordained monopoly is even worse than government-run industry. While a government-industry is ultimately accountable to the people, a government-enforced monopoly isn't restricted by forces of competition or politics... Allowing them to get away with nearly anything.)
Stubru Freak
ocalhoun wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:

There was no competitor, until very recently. If I stop my service, I don't have a phone.

Therein lies the problem.

A privately owned system always works the best if there is competition.
When there is a monopoly, things get worse and more expensive.
(Which is why the government's role in the private economy should be limited to encouraging competition, both by breaking up monopolies and by making choices clearer and/or more available to consumers.)

(Even worse is a government-enforced monopoly... A government-ordained monopoly is even worse than government-run industry. While a government-industry is ultimately accountable to the people, a government-enforced monopoly isn't restricted by forces of competition or politics... Allowing them to get away with nearly anything.)


Of course that's the problem! There was no competition, because nobody had the money to start a new telephone company (until the internet allowed VoIP). I know this doesn't apply to the US, but Belgium is a small country and in a lot of fields there just isn't room for serious competition. So would you rather have a government-run (but not enforced) monopoly, or a privately run monopoly? (Imagining you live in Belgium, I'm just trying to show that the government sometimes isn't that bad.)
ocalhoun
Stubru Freak wrote:
but Belgium is a small country and in a lot of fields there just isn't room for serious competition.

So, you need international competition.
Would there be a problem with allowing a French or German company to compete to provide service in Belgium?
(Besides the respective governments' tax incomes, of course. Which shouldn't get in the way if the governments are really for the people, not for themselves.)
Stubru Freak
ocalhoun wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
but Belgium is a small country and in a lot of fields there just isn't room for serious competition.

So, you need international competition.
Would there be a problem with allowing a French or German company to compete to provide service in Belgium?
(Besides the respective governments' tax incomes, of course. Which shouldn't get in the way if the governments are really for the people, not for themselves.)


French or German companies could start a telephone service here. Our biggest electricity company is actually French. But for telephones it didn't happen. Probably because they would reasonably be expected to cover all of Belgium, and that would be a big investment in a little market.
ocalhoun
Stubru Freak wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
but Belgium is a small country and in a lot of fields there just isn't room for serious competition.

So, you need international competition.
Would there be a problem with allowing a French or German company to compete to provide service in Belgium?
(Besides the respective governments' tax incomes, of course. Which shouldn't get in the way if the governments are really for the people, not for themselves.)


French or German companies could start a telephone service here. Our biggest electricity company is actually French. But for telephones it didn't happen. Probably because they would reasonably be expected to cover all of Belgium, and that would be a big investment in a little market.

Perhaps, though a small area with a relatively densely packed population is very profitable material for a telecom company.

My point is, if a monopoly exists in any given industry, it should be a 'national crisis' until a way is found to reintroduce competition, which could involve breaking up the monopoly into smaller parts, or introducing outside competition. A government mandate or takeover of the monopoly does the exact opposite, though, it makes sure that competition remains absent.

In the case of your example, the transition from a government monopoly to private industry probably should have been handled more carefully, to avoid the creation of a private monopoly in the first place.
Stubru Freak
ocalhoun wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
but Belgium is a small country and in a lot of fields there just isn't room for serious competition.

So, you need international competition.
Would there be a problem with allowing a French or German company to compete to provide service in Belgium?
(Besides the respective governments' tax incomes, of course. Which shouldn't get in the way if the governments are really for the people, not for themselves.)


French or German companies could start a telephone service here. Our biggest electricity company is actually French. But for telephones it didn't happen. Probably because they would reasonably be expected to cover all of Belgium, and that would be a big investment in a little market.

Perhaps, though a small area with a relatively densely packed population is very profitable material for a telecom company.

My point is, if a monopoly exists in any given industry, it should be a 'national crisis' until a way is found to reintroduce competition, which could involve breaking up the monopoly into smaller parts, or introducing outside competition. A government mandate or takeover of the monopoly does the exact opposite, though, it makes sure that competition remains absent.

In the case of your example, the transition from a government monopoly to private industry probably should have been handled more carefully, to avoid the creation of a private monopoly in the first place.


Yes, that's probably the case, though I don't really see how it should've been handled. I'm not saying it couldn't function in private hands, I'm just saying it worked fine when the government controlled it. I don't really see why you would want to privatise a sector the government is running perfectly fine. You can always vote for a privatisation once it goes wrong.
ocalhoun
Stubru Freak wrote:
I don't really see why you would want to privatise a sector the government is running perfectly fine.

Two reasons:

1: 'Good Enough' is the enemy of 'Better'... Were you not mentioning earlier how the government service took over a month to install a line? The government monopoly had slow service, and the private monopoly has high prices, but with a functioning competition system, you'd have good reason to hope for fast service and low prices.

2: Conflict of interest / abuse of power. The more involvement the government has in your life, the more potential there is for abuse of that power. For example, it would be much easier for the government to quietly tap government-run phone lines as opposed to private-industry phone lines. Of course, private phone lines can still be tapped, but it requires the help of a third party, instead of only government action.
Stubru Freak
ocalhoun wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
I don't really see why you would want to privatise a sector the government is running perfectly fine.

Two reasons:

1: 'Good Enough' is the enemy of 'Better'... Were you not mentioning earlier how the government service took over a month to install a line? The government monopoly had slow service, and the private monopoly has high prices, but with a functioning competition system, you'd have good reason to hope for fast service and low prices.


It got privatised because it didn't work properly. But for example our public transportation. It's working perfectly fine, with a government company that chooses to hire private companies to drive buses, or drive them themselves, depending on what is cheaper. You could hope for a competitive system to work better, but I seriously doubt it, looking at examples in other countries. So why would I want it?

Quote:
2: Conflict of interest / abuse of power. The more involvement the government has in your life, the more potential there is for abuse of that power. For example, it would be much easier for the government to quietly tap government-run phone lines as opposed to private-industry phone lines. Of course, private phone lines can still be tapped, but it requires the help of a third party, instead of only government action.


I doubt the government could get away with something like that. It's not like we live in a dictatorship here. Wink
ocalhoun
Stubru Freak wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
I don't really see why you would want to privatise a sector the government is running perfectly fine.

Two reasons:

1: 'Good Enough' is the enemy of 'Better'... Were you not mentioning earlier how the government service took over a month to install a line? The government monopoly had slow service, and the private monopoly has high prices, but with a functioning competition system, you'd have good reason to hope for fast service and low prices.


It got privatised because it didn't work properly. But for example our public transportation. It's working perfectly fine, with a government company that chooses to hire private companies to drive buses, or drive them themselves, depending on what is cheaper. You could hope for a competitive system to work better, but I seriously doubt it, looking at examples in other countries. So why would I want it?

Now, the transportation system example is different, for two main reasons:
1: Not really room for competition: One provider is usually more than enough for all the traffic.
2: Can be viewed as a public service to be accomplished with or without profit.

Though, the fact that private companies can get bus contracts does introduce competition into the system, which is a good thing. Even if the government buses have a slight advantage over private contractors, the competition between the two can still keep them service-oriented.
Quote:

Quote:
2: Conflict of interest / abuse of power. The more involvement the government has in your life, the more potential there is for abuse of that power. For example, it would be much easier for the government to quietly tap government-run phone lines as opposed to private-industry phone lines. Of course, private phone lines can still be tapped, but it requires the help of a third party, instead of only government action.


I doubt the government could get away with something like that. It's not like we live in a dictatorship here. Wink

Yet... Giving the government more power is an excellent way to work towards a dictatorship though. And democracies can be almost as brutal as dictatorships when they want to be.

Just because you trust the government you have now doesn't mean the government will remain trustworthy. Power corrupts, after all.
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
Doctors really aren't paid that bad here.
What does not being paid bad mean? As in the United States, as far as I can see the motive is to get very wealthy. Your really well to do specialists charge very high fees, publicize by word of mouth or get interviewed in the media, write books and make millions. I know there are some specialists in Belgium who are internationally acclaimed, but do they make those millions as well?
Stubru Freak
deanhills wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
Doctors really aren't paid that bad here.
What does not being paid bad mean? As in the United States, as far as I can see the motive is to get very wealthy. Your really well to do specialists charge very high fees, publicize by word of mouth or get interviewed in the media, write books and make millions. I know there are some specialists in Belgium who are internationally acclaimed, but do they make those millions as well?


I'm not sure. Probably the "TV doctors" do make millions. But most just have a very decent income (like 5000-6000 dollar/month).
deanhills
Stubru Freak wrote:
But most just have a very decent income (like 5000-6000 dollar/month).
Wow, that is very little for a doctor. Perhaps someone from the US could verify, and this of course would vary according to what the doctor is doing, but I would imagine for above average to make at least 100,000 US a year, and those who are surgeons or really specialists in demand much more.
jmi256
Stubru Freak wrote:
I don't really see why you would want to privatise a sector the government is running perfectly fine.

Stubru Freak wrote:
It got privatised because it didn't work properly.

Stubru Freak wrote:
I'm not saying it couldn't function in private hands, I'm just saying it worked fine when the government controlled it.


I’m a bit confused. Are you saying it did or didn’t work well when the government controlled it? BTW, I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to Belgium telcos, but it appears there is only land-line network there, Belgacom (I think you’re saying the issue is getting access to the landline network). You then have access to several carriers, but they all have to use the Belgacom-controlled network. I recall a similar situation here in the US with internet access a few years ago, but that’s another story.:
Quote:

Land Lines
There are several telephone companies in Belgium, but to be connected to the land line network, an initial subscription must be taken with Belgacom the national Belgian telephone company.

Source = http://belgium.angloinfo.com/countries/belgium/telecoms.asp
Belgacom in turn is controlled by the Belgian government:
Quote:

The Belgacom Group (Euronext: BELG), composed of Belgacom NV/SA and its main subsidiaries Proximus (Belgacom Mobile), Telindus (Belgacom ICT), Belgacom International Carrier Services, Skynet, Tango, and Scarlet, is the largest telecommunications company in Belgium[2]. It is primarily state owned, with 53.3% + 1 share.

Source = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgacom

So in reality, you still have a government-controlled system.
Stubru Freak
Yes, doctors used to earn more. But still, 6000 dollars is really decent, especially since everyone wants to be a doctor, so there's not exactly a high demand compared to the supply.

jmi256 wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
I don't really see why you would want to privatise a sector the government is running perfectly fine.

Stubru Freak wrote:
It got privatised because it didn't work properly.

Stubru Freak wrote:
I'm not saying it couldn't function in private hands, I'm just saying it worked fine when the government controlled it.


I’m a bit confused. Are you saying it did or didn’t work well when the government controlled it? BTW, I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to Belgium telcos, but it appears there is only land-line network there, Belgacom (I think you’re saying the issue is getting access to the landline network). You then have access to several carriers, but they all have to use the Belgacom-controlled network. I recall a similar situation here in the US with internet access a few years ago, but that’s another story.:
Quote:

Land Lines
There are several telephone companies in Belgium, but to be connected to the land line network, an initial subscription must be taken with Belgacom the national Belgian telephone company.

Source = http://belgium.angloinfo.com/countries/belgium/telecoms.asp
Belgacom in turn is controlled by the Belgian government:
Quote:

The Belgacom Group (Euronext: BELG), composed of Belgacom NV/SA and its main subsidiaries Proximus (Belgacom Mobile), Telindus (Belgacom ICT), Belgacom International Carrier Services, Skynet, Tango, and Scarlet, is the largest telecommunications company in Belgium[2]. It is primarily state owned, with 53.3% + 1 share.

Source = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgacom

So in reality, you still have a government-controlled system.


I mean land line indeed. Those "carriers" are mostly theoretic though, most people have a subscription with Belgacom directly. The largest competer (specific to Flanders now) is Telenet, which offers VoIP using a cable modem.
I'm saying it worked quite well, but not perfectly, and that's why they privatised it. It's still mostly government-owned, though it's run as an independent company now, instead of under direct control of the government. It would be hard to completely privatise a company that controls the whole telephone cable network. But the government mostly keeps their hands off Belgacom.
jmi256
Stubru Freak wrote:
Yes, doctors used to earn more. But still, 6000 dollars is really decent, especially since everyone wants to be a doctor, so there's not exactly a high demand compared to the supply.

jmi256 wrote:
Stubru Freak wrote:
I don't really see why you would want to privatise a sector the government is running perfectly fine.

Stubru Freak wrote:
It got privatised because it didn't work properly.

Stubru Freak wrote:
I'm not saying it couldn't function in private hands, I'm just saying it worked fine when the government controlled it.


I’m a bit confused. Are you saying it did or didn’t work well when the government controlled it? BTW, I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to Belgium telcos, but it appears there is only land-line network there, Belgacom (I think you’re saying the issue is getting access to the landline network). You then have access to several carriers, but they all have to use the Belgacom-controlled network. I recall a similar situation here in the US with internet access a few years ago, but that’s another story.:
Quote:

Land Lines
There are several telephone companies in Belgium, but to be connected to the land line network, an initial subscription must be taken with Belgacom the national Belgian telephone company.

Source = http://belgium.angloinfo.com/countries/belgium/telecoms.asp
Belgacom in turn is controlled by the Belgian government:
Quote:

The Belgacom Group (Euronext: BELG), composed of Belgacom NV/SA and its main subsidiaries Proximus (Belgacom Mobile), Telindus (Belgacom ICT), Belgacom International Carrier Services, Skynet, Tango, and Scarlet, is the largest telecommunications company in Belgium[2]. It is primarily state owned, with 53.3% + 1 share.

Source = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgacom

So in reality, you still have a government-controlled system.


I mean land line indeed. Those "carriers" are mostly theoretic though, most people have a subscription with Belgacom directly. The largest competer (specific to Flanders now) is Telenet, which offers VoIP using a cable modem.
I'm saying it worked quite well, but not perfectly, and that's why they privatised it. It's still mostly government-owned, though it's run as an independent company now, instead of under direct control of the government. It would be hard to completely privatise a company that controls the whole telephone cable network. But the government mostly keeps their hands off Belgacom.


I'm not trying to split hairs here, but you originally said it didn't work well and was therefore privatized, and now you're saying that it did work well (but not perfectly) and was therefore privatized? If it was working well, what would cause them to 'privatize' it? It doesn't make sense to me. Regardless of the history, what I'm sensing is a dissatisfaction with the way the service is run now. You're chalking that up to privatization, but in reality it is still government-run and owned. Half of its board is directly appointed by the government (see below). And the other half, if its bylaws follow the same standards as most, is elected by the shareholders. Since the government is by far the largest shareholder (I didn't even see any large-enough minority shareholders mentioned in the financial docs I looked at), their vote basically determines who does or doesn't get on the board. Not exactly what I would call "hands off."

Quote:

Board of Directors

* Théo Dilissen (1) - Chairman of the Board
* Didier Bellens (1) - President and CEO
* Robert Tollet (1) - Director
* Martine Durez (1) - Director
* Michel Moll (1) - Director
* Paul Van de Perre (1) - Director
* Pierre-Alain De Smedt (2) - Director
* Carine Doutrelepont (2) - Director
* Philip Hampton (2) - Director
* George Jacobs (2) - Director
* Oren G. Shaffer (2) - Director
* Lutgart Van den Berghe (2) - Director
* Jo Cornu (2) - Director
* Mimi Lamote (1)- Director
* Guido J.M. Demuynck (2)- Director
* Michèle Sioen (1) - Director

(1) appointed by the Belgian State
(2) independent

Source= http://www.belgacom.com/group/7/Our_management/en/Our-Management-Team.html


I also looked at their financial (I can post if everyone is interested) and saw that the company is run very inefficiently and mishandles a lot of its assets. In fact it ROA is hovering around 1%, which should result in a total management turnover at any respectable private company. So it seems that the inefficiencies and barriers to competition resulting from the government are really what's driving the poor performance and hence customer service and satisfaction.
Stubru Freak
Lol ok, I didn't know that. I guess you're right about that company then. :p Oh and I asked a doctor and they actually earn much more than I assumed. :p I really need to check my data more often.
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