Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'll Have the Free Health Insurance, Please

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

Stop the presses! Yesterday's USA Today/Gallup poll revealed that most Americans favor national health care... as long as they don't have to pay for it. Then who should? Employers, for the most part, disregarding that higher costs mean fewer jobs. "All those rich guys" comes in second, a soft drink tax is third. But we already know there's no free Mexican food, remember?

The employer idea comes with the kicker that if employers don't provide health insurance then they have to pay a "fee" to the gummint. For what, exactly? Presumably to reimburse the gummint for providing health care of its own. But doesn't that make the gummint the health insurance provider of first resort? Yes, it does. You're an employer and you have a choice between finding an insurer and negotiating rates and claims and all the rest or just pay that fee and be done with it. That would be a no-brainer for most over-worked employers. Expensive, maybe, but simple.

This only makes sense if you believe that health insurance coverage is the right of everyone in America. If you believe that, then you might also believe that everyone is entitled to own their own home. That's what BarneyF and ChrisD (of the sweetheart loan that you didn't get) have been pushing for a decade and look where that got Fannie and Freddie... and us.

There is a reason this business model doesn't work anywhere. For instance, GM isn't going to give away 2010 Volts to anyone who wants a car because they're in business to make a profit. Remember profits? They're good, not bad. If you want a Volt, save or borrow or do without. Same with health insurance. You're free to get it and you're free to do without and yes, we'll make exceptions for those unable to fend for themselves. The slogan "From each according to his needs, to each according to his ability" has never worked anywhere.

I also lean toward the message in the warning "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until the government provides it for free."

* * * * *

Private jetter Steve Rattner was our car czar. You knew that, didn't you? He quit yesterday after six months of orchestrating an auto industry bailout that may cost American taxpayers $100 bil. Seems as though he's been named in a pay-to-play investment scheme in NY. (Is pay-to-play all they do in NY?) TimmyG spun it that Rattner had "decided to transition back to private life and his family in New York City." OhhhKay! A multi-state, multi-line car dealer put it a different way: "They just did everything wrong." You mean like spending $100 bil -- a half-bil+ a day -- in six months? For nothing? The new czar is a steelworkers union exec. He doesn't know anything about cars either.

* * * * *

Fun facts #1: Goldman Sachs (GS) earned $9.54 bil in 2006 and $11.6 bil in 2007, dipping to $2.04 bil in 2008. In the second quarter of this year (2Q09) they earned $3.44 bil.

Fun fact #2: GS received $60 bil in bailout money, either directly, through loans or funneled from AIG.

Fun fact #3: GS set aside $11. bil for salaries and employee benefits for the first half of this year. That's, um, an $772,854/year average salary, company-wide. Of course the janitors don't get that, just the Ivy Leaguers and Stanfordites who caused the financial meltdown in the first place, so figure ten times that for the upper, say, third at GS. Assuming a 2,200-hour work year, your stim was just over an average hour's pay for all of them, five minutes for the upper third. In return for that, they wrecked the American economy. Can you even remember where your stim went? Can you remember where your country went?

Fun fact #4: Median American family income in 2007 (most recent year reported, half higher and half lower) was $50,233. That's, oh, around ten hours pay for my mythical upper third at GS. You = $23/hour, they = $3,512/hour.

Not-so-fun conclusion: The gap between them and you is insurmountable. They can't see you from where they are, so how can they understand your troubles? Your economy may be in the tank but theirs is just fine, thank you. You got a $400 stimulus payment, remember? They got $60 bil, of which they re-paid $10 bil and think it was payment in full.

Do you really think they're going to mind a soft drink tax? Health care will NOT be paid for by the rich. It will be paid for by you. Problem is, you're not going to get what you're paying for.

Just remember this simple phrase: "Your failure to plan does not create a crisis on my part."

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Thomas Jefferson

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