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Tag Archives: care

Today I happened on a great article by Scott Patrick Humphrey. It discusses the connections between big business and the US government, undeniable after reading the article.

Mr. Humphrey has obviously done some research and supports his arguments well. Another myth he dispels is that public employment is responsible for draining public funds and creating public debt.

According to the Current Population Survey-IPUMS by the Economic Policy Institute, the average compensation, including salary and benefits, by education level in the United States breaks down like this: if you have a high school education, in the private sector you make $50,596, in the public sector, $53,880. That is a difference of $3,284 in favor of public workers; a number that seems modest at best. If you have a bachelor’s degree you will garner $91,256 in the private sector and $68,290 in the public sector; a difference of $22, 966 in favor of private sector workers. With a professional degree the private sector worker gets $192,977, while the public sector equivalent gets $121,192, a difference of $71,785. There goes that idea. Yet while we fiddle and fight amongst ourselves, the game is afoot and we’re in the hole from the get-go. When is it enough? But ya know what? “… on average, 54 percent of state and local public sector workers hold at least a four-year degree compared to 35 percent of full-time private sector workers” (Jeffrey H. Keefe, Debunking the Myth of the Overcompensated Public Employee).

Another issue is the disappearance of pensions and health care.

But here are many of the facts that the tea-baggers have never seen, because facts are found in books. Let’s start with pensions: in 1988, 63 percent of workers in large private sector firms participated in defined benefit pension plans; last year it was 30 percent; pensions are disappearing. (BLS, National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the US for firms with more than 100 employees – retirement benefits)

Fewer firms are offering retiree health care benefits. Among firms that had 200 or more employees in 1988, 66 percent offered retirement health care; last year it was 28 percent. Apparently even if you work your whole life with a company, there is no guarantee you will be able to have care during the stage of life when you will need it most. (Kaiser Family Foundation; Employer Health Benefits 2010 Annual Survey)

This–of course–is another way to transfer income away from the middle class to the rich.


Crystal_Perfume_BottleThe headlines out of the US are dominated by health care reform and the Obama/Gates story, and I am no longer interested in either bit. But I did find an funny story out of my long-ago hometown of Ft. Worth. Perfume puts 34 people in the hospital. I have smelled bad perfume before, and it does get deadly when overused.

This story turns out to really be about “contagious fear.” There was a dizzy salesperson, an announcement made on the building’s PA system, and people started feeling ill. Sorry, but that is so weak. I have no sympathy for these people and no respect.

Come to think of it, maybe this is why Americans are so afraid of socialized medical care. The hospitals might get swamped.

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housecallToday’s Yahoo Opinion page introduces two articles arguing about the degree of government involvement in private industry–New Bill Ends Government-Run Companies and The private health industry’s time is up. The first decries the US government’s control of over 500 companies and makes some good points about the inability of public companies to run efficiently and competitively.

The second article argues that the profit motive has left US medical services far behind much of the developed world, largely because health insurance is too expensive for much of the population. Included are some statistics, bizarre for the richest country on the planet–

  • 18,000 people die each year of preventable illness
  • The World Health Organization says the U. S. ranks 37th in terms of health system performance
  • The U.S. is far behind many countries in rates of infant mortality, life expectancy, and preventable deaths

But is the solution to socialize the system? It may be, but I wonder if the profit motive has pushed the medical industry into  a noncompetitive system that might be restored to a working, efficient market. I remember one of Lewis Thomas’ essays where he recalled a very different medical industry of the early 20th century. It was affordable and competitive, and a doctor’s care was available because of need, not ability to pay.

Sure the technology is much better now, but I suspect the real culprits are the insurance companies and the AMA, effectively managing to set monopoly prices for medical care.

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