Higher health care costs = lower wages

Seems like Ezra Klein has been waging a lonely campaign to make this very important point.  This week, he got an Op-Ed on the matter.  You really should read it.  Here's the crux:

The reason is not that people haven't heard grim warnings about the
future. It's because they don't understand what's going on in the
present. In 2009, the average
employer-sponsored health-care plan cost a bit less than $13,500. But
virtually no one cut a check for $13,500. Employers generally pay more
than 70 percent of their employees' health-care costs. To employees,
that seems like a good deal, particularly given how fast costs are
growing. A "benefit," as it's called.

But health-care coverage is not a benefit. It's a wage deduction.
When premium costs go up, wages go down. When premium costs go down,
wages go up. Yet workers don't know that. In fact, the information is
hidden from them. That means that cost control seems like all pain and
no gain, which makes it virtually impossible for Congress to pass. It's
like asking someone to diet when they don't realize it will help them
lose weight.

One simple suggestion is to simply have employers list their expenses on behalf of your health care on your paycheck.  Great, simple idea.  Unfortunately, even this modest idea has been stymied.  I certainly know that NCSU spends a ton on my health care and I'd love it if they spent less for a more cost-effective plan and I saw some more salary.  But, of course, most people don't know that and the system works to hide the fact from them.

Save the government money

Not going to end the budget deficit this way, but it is good to see the Obama administration working towards more cost savings and efficiency where they can find them.  Go here and vote on the best idea to save the government some money. 


Al Gore v. Sarah Palin

 Well, not directly, but loved this bit from Gore in a recent interview in Slate.

And again, we're putting 90 million tons of it into the air today
and we'll put a little more of that up there tomorrow. The physical
relationship between CO2 molecules and the atmosphere and
the trapping of heat is as well-established as gravity, for God's
sakes. It's not some mystery. One hundred and fifty years ago this
year, John Tyndall discovered CO2 traps heat, and that was
the same year the first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania. The oil
industry has outpaced the building of a public consensus of the
implications of climate science.

But the basic facts are
incontrovertible. What do they think happens when we put 90 million
tons up there every day? Is there some magic wand they can wave on it
and presto!—physics is overturned and carbon dioxide doesn't trap heat
anymore? And when we see all these things happening on the Earth
itself, what in the hell do they think is causing it? The scientists
have long held that the evidence in their considered word is
"unequivocal," which has been endorsed by every national academy of
science in every major country in the entire world.

If the people
that believed the moon landing was staged on a movie lot had access to
unlimited money from large carbon polluters or some other special
interest who wanted to confuse people into thinking that the moon
landing didn't take place, I'm sure we'd have a robust debate about it
right now.

Exactly right, on all scores.  Speaking of people who would be inclined to argue for a fake moon landing, the Washington Post, seemingly seeking to ever further undermine the credibility of its opinion pages, has taken to that sharp-minded policy expert, Sarah Palin, for her thoughts on climate change.  Don't waste your time reading them.  Instead, be glad that the Post at least has Joel Achenbach on-line to mock them:

When I want an astute analysis of climate change, or of any complex
scientific topic, including the search for the Higgs boson, the mystery
of human consciousness, and the Protein Folding Problem, I turn to America's most trusted scientific expert, Sarah Palin.

Ms. Palin lives in the Arctic. She can see the North Pole. She has
field-dressed moose on Denali glaciers. What she knows is that there's
still a lot of snow out there. There's ice all over the place. Frankly
it's way too cold. Warm things up a bit and Alaska might actually be
habitable! And those polar bears are dangerous predators for whom
extinction can come only too soon…

Climate, weather — it's all the same. Just because Arctic sea ice
has been in wholesale retreat and ships now make the Northwest Passage
doesn't mean that's anything but a warm spell.

Tomorrow: Palin solves the mystery of Gamma Ray Bursts



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