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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Attacking Health Care, Medicare, Social Security: Class Warfare Waged by the Wealthy

Dean Baker reiterates two of his key ideas in this critique of a recent article full of poor analysis of the economy, published in a major newspaper.  First, the high cost of health care is the major cause of the deficit and a major contributor to economic problems for most Americans.  Second, the political struggle over who gets the most financial benefits from government economic policies is not a philosophical debate--it is a political war waged by lobbyists trying to allow a very small group of citizens to keep more of their wealth at the cost of the rest of us.  It is not philosophical.  It is class warfare waged by the wealthy.

It is also worth noting that, at least in the U.S. case, the projected long-term budget problem is due to our broken health care system. If our per person health care costs were comparable to those in any other country then we would be looking at long-term budget surpluses, not deficits.

While the health care industry is incredibly powerful in the United States, making cost reductions difficult, it is in principle possible to open the sector to trade, which would allow people in the United States to take advantage of the more efficient health care systems in other countries. Unfortunately the NYT and most other major media are such hardcore protectionists when it comes to the health care industry, they do not allow the topic of freer trade in health care to even be discussed.

Finally, this piece tell us that at its core this debate is about philosophy:

“Everywhere, though, the debate is about much more than just partisan advantage or the next election. It is a philosophical debate.”

The only evidence for this assertion is a quote from Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. There is nothing obvious philosophical about this debate. The issue is whether we are going to cut benefits like Social Security and Medicare that the overwhelming majority of the working population depends upon now or expects to in the future. The protection of these programs is supported by large majorities of every demographic and ideological group. Even large majorities of self-identified conservatives and Tea Party supporters are opposed to cuts in these programs in poll after poll.

Of course paying for the programs will require some amount of additional tax revenue (presumably mostly from upper income taxpayers) and also restructuring of the health care system in ways that will hurt the incomes of insurers, drug companies, medical instrument manufacturers, and doctors. These powerful interest groups will fight the effort to reduce their incomes in any way they can.

Since they are a small minority of the population it is understandable that they would want to confuse matters by turning this into a debate over philosophy. However there is nothing obviously philosophical about whether we should pay more than necessary for prescription drugs and medical equipment so that some people can get very rich.


Michelle said...

This is classic. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Unfortunately it is the rich who can afford to hire lobbyist to fight on their behalf. The poor don't have too much of a voice.
The other issue is that Congress (those voting on the issues) does not have to worry about insurance and other social programs. The tax payers pay for Congress' insurance, gym membership and $16.00 muffins. The tax payers need to start marching to Washington and having Congress' benefits eliminated; then maybe Congress can listen to the lonely poor voices.

Roosevelt Ethridge said...

Definelty this is a authentic example of contemporary captilalism. The controversy of health care and the beneficiaries of services from caring for the sick. It's an amazing topic when considering we promote healthy living but mass market and promote fast food and living lifestyles that promote fast living. However, this type of living over a period of time will produce sicknesses. Therefore in lue of the blog, I am concerned about the long term investments made for big paydays.Moreover, this only leaving the one percenters with financial stability to handle the flamming wages of health care and insurance.

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