Sunday, November 25, 2007

Establishment loves insurance companies -- ask the New York Times (and vote for Obama to stop it)

The problem with too many elected Democrats is that they start acting as if they are part of the establishment instead of shaking it up to make life better for most people.

This New York Times editorial titled "The High Cost of Health Care" is a great example of establishment thinking that infects way too many D.C. Dems.

The topic is timely: why do we spend so much money on health care industries and end up with a poor infant mortality rates, 50 million of us without any insurance coverage and more medical bankruptcies than any other form of financially destroying Americans?

The obvious answer is because of the parasitic insurance industry. They add no value. They just make health care more expensive by profiting from taking our premiums and rationing out care. They also drive doctors, hospitals and other providers crazy by drowning them in ridiculous paperwork and inflate the cost of care by paying for all those commercials and downtown skyscrapers.

But that's too irresponsible for the establishment. The establishment likes insurance companies. You're either a pitchfork-wielding populist of a dreamy out-of-touch liberal in their eyes for pointing out the cost-driving waste of the insurance industry.

Here's how the Times puts it:

Single Payer. Deep in their hearts, many liberals yearn for a single-payer
system, sometimes called Medicare-for-all, that would have the federal
government pay for all care and dictate prices. Such a system would let the
government offset the price-setting strength of the medical and pharmaceutical
industries, eliminate much of the waste due to a multiplicity of private
insurance plans, and greatly cut administrative costs.
But a single-payer system is no panacea for the cost problem — witness
Medicare’s own cost troubles — and the approach has limited political support.
Private insurers could presumably eliminate some of the waste through uniform
billing and payment procedures.

So rich! Only those romantic liberals with their yearning hearts want to cut out the middlemen entirely. Nothing pragmatic or responsible about that -- instead, with limited political support, it's a rather silly idea that remains buried deep inside, like world peace.

The easier way to read the paragraph is simply to say: we love insurance companies. We want to keep them in the center of how we finance health care because.....well, we won't address that point directly, since there isn't any compelling reason to structure the financing of health care around for-profit middleman industries.

One of the reasons why I support Senator Barack Obama is because he is not swayed by that establishment thinking. I think he is a very shrewd operator and believes that it's in our national interest to minimize the role of insurance companies in the financing of health care. The national Republican Party has fully embraced the insurance industry as part of their corporate-evangelical coalition, and always looks to expand the profits and reach of the industry (which comes directly at the expense of all of us). The trouble is when Democrats try to look responsible or centrist and accept the Republican strategy of embracing the establishment as part of the solution to our problems. That's the problem with Senator Hillary Clinton (at least, that has been her problem -- way too corporate).

Beware the establishment Democratic elected official. They are too quick to sell us out.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What if we had the 1979 distribution of income today?

Today's Wall Street Journal has a great line from former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. I'll quote the Journal's Capital column on page A2.

If the distribution of income in the U.S. today were the same as it was in 1979, and the U.S. had enjoyed the same growth, the bottom 80 percent would have about $670 billion more, or about $8000 per family a year. The top 1 percent would have about $670 billion less, or about $500,000 a family.


The obvious remedy to this problem of a poor distribution of wealth is to increase taxes on the top 1 percent of families by about $500,000 (don't worry, they won't miss it and they can afford it) and cut taxes on the bottom 8 percent by $8,000 per year.