Two German Policy Ideas For The 2020 Field

As of almost the end of February, it looks like over 30 Democrats are in the presidential race or are at least considering it. As the candidates put together their platforms, every one is in some fashion or another talking about health care, climate change, income inequality, and of course terrible management and crazy positions of the current White House resident.

As the race proceeds, Democratic candidates will be honing their positions to put more “meat on the bones.” Over the next few weeks/months, I hope to give some suggestions as to what I think might be a few good ideas. Here, I will offer input into two that have been talked about.


The first is healthcare. Positions run the gamut from wanting to fix Obamacare over to Medicare for all.  A few days ago, Jamie Daw, professor of health policy at Columbia, wrote a piece in the New York Times that I think should be examined closely by our candidates.

Much of the discussion of America’s healthcare issues reference Canada as an excellent model to follow. The professor says a much better model is what Germany has done. She states that their “model ensures that all citizens have access to affordable healthcare, but it also incorporates age old American values of choice and private competition in health insurance.”

Under the German model, citizens have access to over 1,000 non-profit companies called “sickness funds.” The system is funded by progressive taxation and is similar to our Medicare/Medicaid programs. Overall costs of healthcare are substantially less in Germany then here and out of pocket costs are limited to 2% or less of household income.

While I doubt any system is totally perfect, I would urge candidates to look carefully at the German healthcare model as it might prove less onerous to those in opposition, and at the end of the day, legislation will need consensus if change is to be accomplished.

Employee Say In Board Of Directors

The second issue I think would make better business practices for American corporations is a proposal put forth by Elizabeth Warren. She has a number of positions out already in her campaign, but one that fascinates me is a rule to have employees elect 40% of a company’s Board of Directors.

Interestingly, this practice known as co-determination is a defining feature of the German economy. If it were implemented here, it would give employees greater input into company management and could possibly raise employee wages. I am beginning to think America could learn a lot from Germany.

For more information on Warren’s ideas I would refer to the February issue of the Washington Spectator.

My final suggestion regarding the upcoming election is for Democrat candidates to “keep your cool” and use lots of fact-checkers on your Republican opponents, especially the current White House resident. This next election will be a knock-down event and Trump will do every thing known to man to get under our candidates skin.

Best wishes to everyone on the Democratic side of the aisle.


by Dick Goodson
Posted 2/25/19

3 Comments on "Two German Policy Ideas For The 2020 Field"

  • It is already a very crowded field of announced candidates for the Presidency. The candidates should not propose a “Christmas tree full of ornaments” in meeting with voters. If they propose a program they have to be honest in showing how it would be financed. Medicare for all, free college tuition, and universal pre-kindergarten education all sound like worthy programs but they must be paid for. Getting rid of “waste, fraud and abuse” sounds reasonable, but doesn’t meet the financial lift.
    In this light, the German healthcare model may be a more doable proposal. Putting insurance companies out of business in a Medicare for all proposal will draw fire from many quarters.

  • “Trump will do every thing known to man to get under our candidates skin.” Not just the (not so great) Pretender. Expect this from each and every Republican running for any office, down to city dogcatcher.
    Dem candidates had better develop a thick skin to go with their well-researched factual proposals and rebuttals; they’re going to need it. Especially \i\f when the heat gets even more intense from the SCO, because it’s going to affect more than just the doofus at the top of the ticket.

  • Dick Goodson is right to single out the German system of “co-determination” as a good model for the United States to follow. Sen. Warren’s proposal for an American version, however, deviates so substantively from the German model that it would be virtually ineffective.

    I lived in Germany in the mid-1970s when the legislation to establish Mitbestimmung (Co-determination) was being debated. It was a fierce debate, reminiscent of the American debate over Medicare in the mid-1960s. It both cases, passage of the legislation was predicted to be the end of the capitalist system. But as was the case with the New Deal, they served to prolong the capitalist system. As Mr. Goodson notes, “It is a defining feature of the German economy,” supported by both labor and management.

    The German Co-determination Act of 1976 (Mitbestimmungsgesetz) required that all corporations with at least 2000 employees be governed by a Board of Directors of which half were represent shareholders/management, and half elected representatives of the workers. The workers representatives are to be chosen by the worker’s union (German industry remains heavily unionized). For companies with 500-2000 employees, one-third of the Board must be elected by the workers. The law has worked so well because the concept of co-determination inevitably lead to one of “shared interests,” where labor and capital realized that all parties must benefit from corporate decisions.

    Why do I think Sen. Warren’s proposal comes short? Because for the largest corporations, where co-determination is most essential, Warren proposes that labor only be allocated 40% of the Board seats. 60/40 is not co-determination, it’s a filibuster proof majority. Workers would, in effect, be invited to sit at the table but not be given any muscle to flex.

    Change your proposal, Sen. Warren, and you have a real winner. And Dick Goodson, thank you for calling attention to it.

    David B. Hinton, Ph.D.

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