Idiotic Governance: How Our Political Discourse Hurts Our Economy

Idiotic Governance: How Our Political Discourse Hurts Our Economy

Good morning Hank, it’s Tuesday Don’t vlog while biking. We got canals too. So Hank, the great nation of Canada recently decided to discontinue it’s penny. because it doesn’t facilitate commerce and also it costs 1.5 Canadian cents to make a penny. But Hank, here in America we’re keeping our pennies and that makes sense because our pennies also don’t facilitate commerce and they cost 2.1 cents to make! God I hate pennies! Now Hank, I’ll admit that the pennies are a relatively minor inefficiency, but today I want to talk about three much more dramatic and important examples of how our terrible political discourse is leading to awful policy making. But first I’m going to ride over to the park Okay so, first the Federal Aviation Administration, which is responsible for air traffic control, and safety inspections and that kinda thing. The FAA is mostly funded by at tax on airplane tickets, which like most frequent fliers, I am happy to pay because my favourite kind of air traffic is controlled air traffic, and my favourite kind of landing is not crash. But the last five years have seen 23 short-term extensions of this tax, mostly because Congress has been fighting about unions, because fighting over unions helps them raise money. Each of these short-term extensions hurts the economy, because if you’re building, say, a new air traffic control tower, it’s much cheaper to do it with a long-term contract than with a gajillion short-term contracts. Same reason your phone is cheaper if you sign a two-year contract vs a one-year contract. Right, so that’s a terribly inefficient way of doing business, but it’s not the crazy thing. The crazy thing is that, over the summer, Congress completely let the FAA’s funding lapse. So they couldn’t collect that tax on every ticket. Now you’re probably thinking, “this wasn’t so bad! After all, the money just went into the hands of the people who were buying the tickets!” No, it didn’t! It went into the hands of the airline because they raised their prices, the exact amount of the tax. I am a giant squid of anger! Oh look, it’s a plane. The only reason you’re safe is because of the FAA, it needs our funding! Anyway, Congress finally passed a long-term budget in February, but by then, this whole brouhaha probably cost us a billion dollars. Example two: the highway bill. So we’ve been doing the same thing, of these hugely inefficient short-term extensions, when it comes to our highway funding. But interestingly, in this case, no one’s fighting about unions. So even though everyone agrees that long-term funding deals are cheaper and more efficient, we can’t pass any long-term funding deals because they involve big numbers. Many Republicans backed by the Tea Party don’t want to vote for any long-term bill, because it would involve a big number and they are opposed to big government spending. And so there’s a huge political liability in voting for, say, a 250 billion dollar highway bill, so instead, we’re going to vote for ten 30 billion dollar highway bills. Right so, at this point a lot of conservative Nerdfighters probably think that I’m like this big pinko Communist; I’m not. Issue three: Medicare, a fantastic and very popular government program in which we give medics air. No, wait, we give healthcare to old people. So everyone agrees that Medicare is totally unsustainable. By 2020, Medicare could account for 5% of our gross domestic product, which is just insane. And Republicans have proposed some interesting reform ideas for Medicare, but Democrats refuse to entertain them, because of course, that would mean hurting our seniors by cutting Medicare, and those very same seniors tend to vote for Democrats. And it makes sense, because we all know that spending more money to take care of our seniors leads to healthier, happier seniors. And we all want that, because when they’re not happy they’re very cranky. So it makes sense not to reform Medicare, except it doesn’t because, insanely, the states that spend the least per Medicare patient get the best healthcare outcomes. This is largely for boring reasons like preventative medicine and washing your hands and not leaving scalpels inside of people, but it works. So we could totally use this data to reform Medicare and control costs, but instead we won’t. We’ll just keep disagreeing with each other for the sake of disagreeing, because yelling at each other is worth more political points than sensible compromise. And our government will continue to inhibit economic growth while also minting pennies! God, I hate pennies. Alright, I try to end videos on a happy note, so here’s a turtle. I’ll see you on Friday.


  1. The Green Party may advocate for changes that I'm in favor of, but it still has the fundamental problems of the Democrats and Republicans. It's based too much on rhetoric and generalizations. Nerdfighteria is one of the few parts of the world where I feel that I can truly respect the way that people decide to do things. It's not about rhetoric or generalizations. It's about reality and the struggle to understand and improve it. It's the only thing that I think may not be corrupted by politics.

  2. John, maybe soon, you can run for President in amercia, and if I lived there, I would vote for you. Heck, I would even vote for you if you took over Russia and made it a Nazi state

  3. Good news past John… nothing has changed and it is even more annoying, oh wait…. I meant bad news past John

  4. The road issue sounds familiar: Anyone else familiar with how, especially in rural areas, you don't get a new layer of tarmac on your road, so much as a lot of small patches of tarmac?

  5. While I enjoyed the video, I have to disagree with you on one very important point: pennies are the most awesome coins in American currency!  Why?  Because pennies refuse to conform.  How many American coins do you know that have a copper coating?  How many with a president who just won't face the same way as everyone else?  Everything about the penny is made to stand out and say, "Hey!  I'm different from everyone else, and I am okay with that!"  Besides, pennies are the closest thing to magic we have.  Whether it's pennies being thrown into fountains to get a wish, the luck inherent in finding a penny face up or tails up, or the song "Pennies from Heaven," there's something mystical about this wonderful coin.  And, of course, it's the only American coin that is also a woman's name, and as a happily heterosexual male, I have no problem with that.  For me, then, the extra 1.1 cents are totally worth the outcome.

  6. Instead of railing against the penny, make a video about how the govt has debased our currency (including pennies), thereby destroying its value.  Hint: it should feature Greenspan & Bernanke with a guest appearance by Keynes.

  7. I agree on the whole our gov. doesnt work correctly thing and at some points i just wish no matter what side or party we can make a smart decision for the betterment of our country

  8. Why isn't anyone responding to my provocative comments? Look at the baby, who do you think it is? Yes, it's Hitler. Such a cute baby.

  9. interesting how somebody can be so passionate about their subject matter, and also present it in an absorb-able way. awesome videos.

  10. I honestly feel like if we had a dictator thing would move much quicker and be much simpler. Now before you kill me and call me a Nazi, let me explain.
    The #1 reason that congress moves slowly is because you have a ton of people that all have to do very important things that all have vastly defferant opinions. Because of this, decisions have to be funneled through person after person so that by the time even the slightest thing get's done, it's probably been at least six months. With one single person who had total control over everything that happened, things would happen much quicker. But the downside would be that in order to be absolutely 100% sure that the dictator would not secretly be a corrupt evil person, the elections would have to be much longer. It would also be a good idea to make dictators only able to run for a term lasting two years and could not run for re-election. And one final thing: If enough government officials suspected that the dictator was becoming corrupt or was corrupt, they could have the entire nation vote on whether or not to impeach him. And MAYBE we could have the dictator executed or sentenced to life in prison with parole to show future dictators we were completely serious about corruption.

  11. Okay, i agree pennies are useless considering we can't use them in most situations.

    However i was thinking, if it takes 2.1 cents to make one, then wouldn't the penny have pretry much paid for itself after 3 uses?

  12. Ah, but disabled folks have Medicare too–something people never seem to think about. Anywho, if the Republicans could get rid of Medicare, they would. They don't care what happens to the health of the disabled OR the elderly! If old people and disabled people died from lack of healthcare, it wouldn't be a problem for THEM. 

  13. This video is the source of my Favorite John Green Quote: (Congress) "We'll just keep disagreeing with each other for the sake of disagreeing because yelling at each other is worth more political points than sensible compromise."

  14. kill pennies, medicare, welfare,  subsidized farming, the IRS, NSA, EPA, maybe eventually the CIA, and privatize as many markets as possible to create a far more prosperous economy than the one we have now (also if we get rid of welfare the poor won't just straight up die, private charities would still exist, for the few who live off the program they will be forced to get a job and use all their willpower to find a job, those who don't survive off it would then of course not need it but also would not be leaching off the system and as well might even work more to increase their own income, as well as this, only 15% of money going to welfare gets to the poor, the other 85% goes who knows where, as for subsidised farming look up why it is dangerous, penies john here has briliantly gone over as well as medicare, the NSA and CIA are dangerous to the well being of US citizens, just look at their track record, and the IRS has the marxist income tax, whoo, quite a large section to be within some parentheses)

  15. so if it wasn't for the FAA's safety standards, airlines would have no vested interest in preventing their planes from crashing? to think that the only way we can be kept 'safe' is from government regulators is is pretty naive.

  16. Now my political idealogy is more right than left but i would personally rather be on safe airplanes than dead in a burning plane on the ground. possibly a good idea 😛

  17. what does john mean at around 0:50 when he says that congress is only creating shorter term contracts because they are fighting with unions, and unions make them money? what unions is he referring to and why does fighting with them make them money?

  18. Amen brother! (Although, lurking in the details, is funder fancies and the re-election perplex. That is, once elected, congress people, especially reps, have to work on being reelected even before they start their first term.)

  19. To be clear on one thing, John, when the republican party (especially the teabaggers) talk about medicare they aren't talking about making it more efficient. They're talking about taking an axe to its funding, in order to hand the proceeds to their rich donor friends.

  20. I get the hoziz. axis as it is obviously dollars. But the understand the chart, I need to know what the (11-51) means on the vertical axis. labeling any chart should be automatic for all nerdfighters.

  21. "Because Yelling at each other is worth more political points than sensible compromise." –John Green, 2012
    This pretty much sums up American politics, 2016 edition.

  22. How ironic, the conservative agenda wants to prevent inefficient and big government spending for the sake of the people, but ultimately negatively effect the lives of people and the funding of government programs.

  23. I believe its all about the bipartisan body you guys have. Not having any voice other than the two "opposite" (yeah right) sides, who argue against each other just for the sake of it, has been, is and will ruin your nation. And whose fault is it? not the public for not voting a third party, its not their fault the system that keeps this mess going on exists, its the Electoral College.

  24. *2018 sobbing over healthcare*

    Hey 2018 American Nerdfighters: Be a voter this year!

    PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE AND TURN UP FOR THE 2018 MIDTERMS IN NOVEMBER. Your vote matters, ESPECIALLY at the local and state level. Vote for the changes locally that you wish to see at the federal level. Here's how to get started:


    Be a voter this year!

  25. OK, wha? Old people have voted rather heavily Republican for 50+ years. Only this last midterm have we seen just the women sway left. Why do they? Well, social reasons, but also to protect their investments, (vs. like, raising minimum wage). Seniors don't vote for Medicare. Their kids do. If voting from their wallets, Seniors vote for higher returns, greater immediate US monetary wealth, business profits. ViHart did a really good one on this, but here:

  26. In the context of a divided public, a do-nothing congress is evidence of a well-tuned democracy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *