Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Its not the Profit Motive, its greed

I have watched with growing dismay the whole health care debate.

Single Payer wasn't even on the table. It was impossible to think about taking the profit motive out of health care.

The public option was opposed, frequently by people who had taken huge sums in campaign contributions from medical insurance or pharma companies, because it would be unfair to expect private companies to compete with a government chartered non-profit.

Why is it that some seem soo determined to protect the profits of the insurance companies?

Is it because they are motivated by profit to become more responsive and efficient to their customers? Not even close. Motivated by profit they now spend more than 25% of their income on overhead, including huge salaries for top executives and huge staffs who are devoted, not to providing better care, but to denying care, to canceling insurance, to ensure that they only insure those who are very healthy.

Is it because the Insurance industry is doing ANYTHING to constrain costs?? Not even close. Health Insurance rates continue to go up 10% a year when inflation in the rest of the economy is less than 3%.

I have no objection to the profit margin. I have always worked for companies that wanted to make a profit. I have profited my self because they were able to hire me.

But is that what we have here?

Not really

Most insurance markets in this country are dominated by no more than 2 huge companies. And without competition they don't really have to compete. And they don't. So overhead costs to up and executive salaries go up and stock prices go up and the amount of money they actually spends on patient care goes down.

This isn't the profit margin

Its greed, pure and simple.

Its the same level of greed that led major banks to take ridiculous risks with our money. And when they failed horribly and brought the entire country to the brink of disaster, many of them still insisted that they deserved million dollar bonuses.

40 years ago, the average CEO made 40 times as much as their average worker. Now they make 400 times as much.

Wealth and income are now as concentrated in fewer hands than any time since the great depression. Thats not profit motive, thats just greed. When the top 1% of wage earners make more collectively than the bottom 50%, we have left the simple profit motive behind and moved into naked avarice.

The health care reform debate has been an argument between people who want to bring this great country into the company of every other industrialized nation in offering health care to EVERY CITIZEN and those who seem determined to protect the greed, pure naked greed, of the health care and pharmaceutical industries.

Its not about profit, its about greed.

And greed is winning.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let them all expire

At the end of 2010, the disastorous tax cuts proposed by President George Walker Bush are scheduled to expire.

Let them

All of them

Not just the ones affecting people who make more than $250,000.

All of them

No one likes tax increases and I am sure that there would be a huge outcry from many, mostly conservatives, at any hint of a tax increase. But the simple fact is that we need to raise taxes. Though I expect that President Obama will actually continue work of the type that happened under the Clinton administration where the size of government actually shrank, unlike under the President in between. I take the president at his word that he will only propose new spending if he could also propose ways to pay for that spending. Pay as you go is something Democrats got pretty good at under Clinton and can do again.

A return to the tax rates in place during the strongest and most prolonged expansion since the Great Depression seems like it might even lay the foundation for another period of sustained broadly shared growth, unlike the narrowly focused growth in the Bush years that literally only benefited the rich.

Let them all expire.