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.