Bad governance, bad policy: Governor’s assault on the unemployed

Dave Swenson: Treating the unemployed as if they were social pariahs is not the path to economic recovery.

When a bogus meme gets a head of steam, watch out!

Conservative circles decided last summer that the economy wasn’t growing because of lucrative, federally-funded unemployment benefits. It was clear to those with this view that eliminating extra unemployment benefits would shock all of those over-compensated idlers into finding work.

And so it was that about half of the states, Iowa included, declined extended and emergency federal benefits for their unemployed beginning in June of 2021. A boom in job growth, they were convinced, would soon follow.

It didn’t.

Continue Reading...

What if Iowa’s COVID-19 response had been among nation's best?

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson compares Iowa’s per capita COVID-19 case rates and death rates to the numbers for neighboring states, the national average, and the best-performing state (Vermont). -promoted by Laura Belin

It is good that Iowans are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations apace. Iowa now ranks in the top half of states for having administered one dose, as gauged by percentage of population, and in the top third of the states for having administered a second.

No matter how well the state performs on vaccinations in the next few months, though, it will never excuse Iowa’s abysmal record over the past year in caring for its residents.

Iowa ranks seventh worst among the states in its incidence of coronavirus cases per capita, and 17th worst in its death rate. In short, Iowa’s political leadership, its perceived commercial imperatives, and its citizens unarguably came up short when compared with the rest of the U.S.

Continue Reading...

Health care according to our needs: Time to consider it a human right

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson: Of three possible approaches to health policy, only Medicare for All “reduces the damage that the existing system causes and remedies the cumulative policy failures of the past 70 years.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Health care delivery in the U.S. is a market failure and a governmental failure.

The private sector cannot adequately supply all that is demanded because many of those seeking health care cannot pay for what they need. Government systems, while attentive to the needs of the elderly, disabled, poor, and many veterans, nonetheless fail to cover all who require health care, because policies and funding are inadequate.

As a consequence, too little health care is delivered. And too little health care is socially destructive.

Continue Reading...

Our biggest ethanol problem? There’s too much of it

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson challenges the conventional wisdom on a hot political topic. -promoted by Laura Belin

The sky is falling and Midwest rural economies are in danger of collapse. So say the nation’s ethanol producers, corn farmers, and like-minded politicians.

Their collective fingers are pointing at the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s granting of 31 waivers to U.S. refineries lowering the amount of biofuels they are required to blend into the petro-fuels they distribute. The waivers, the stakeholders claim, are the cause of a string of biorefinery closings and idlings.

Working through this, however, does not lead one to necessarily conclude that the infamous 31 waivers are the chief culprits.

Continue Reading...

Memo to presidential candidates: Rural Iowa is more than farm sector economics

ISU economist Dave Swenson: Iowa’s rural needs are more complicated, persistent, and acute than the current fortunes of the farm sector. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa currently hosts a horde of Democratic presidential candidates, but from what I can tell thus far, few have any meaningful experiences or insights dealing with rural areas or rural issues.

Historically, visiting candidates paid obligatory lip service to farm sector concerns – ethanol, commodity prices, and regulatory restrictions as examples — and assumed or pretended that took care of most rural issues.

But rural economies are more diverse than most suppose.

Continue Reading...

A 2 percent solution to a nonexistent problem

ISU economist Dave Swenson exposes how a Republican property tax bill relies on flawed assumptions and would make the “important job of governing harder” for cities and counties. -promoted by Laura Belin

It is a common canard among the anti-property taxers that city and county governments, those closest to the electorate, are gouging unsuspecting taxpayers. It is their rallying lament, and it requires no substantiation, just confident assertion.

As is frequently the case with made-up woes like this, Iowa House Republicans have a solution. The remedy is House Study Bill 165, a bill to place limits on city and county government property tax growth.

Continue Reading...
View More...