Sunday, March 7, 2010

They Need to Learn Some Math


I've just seen another group of "middle class" types protesting health-care because of fear that this "socialism" is going to result in taking their "hard earned money" and giving it to "lazy, undeserving" people.

They really have to learn more about averages. Because, chances are, these "middle class" people who are complaining about the government "taking their money"...would actually be on the receiving end of any such scheme, if they'd be affected at all (and probably they wouldn't, these things tend to affect the very rich and very poor most).

Because income distribution is heavily skewed towards the very rich. About 6.4% of households take in a third of the income in the United States. The median household income is only around $50,000, but the mean household income is significantly higher, almost up to $70,000. By definition, 50% of people make below median income. But almost 70% of people make below the mean income.

Any "income redistribution" scheme through taxes usually affects only above-mean incomes. This is especially true when it is the Left doing the redistribution. The flow is from higher to lower. But, above-mean incomes are not actually 50% of all people in the United States, because of how the very rich incomes skew the average. Above-mean incomes are, actually, had by only 30% of Americans, and that gap is growing.

Meaning that about 70% would benefit from health-care or any such income redistributing scheme, 70% would be on the receiving end in the final calculation.

And yet, opposing welfare and health-care and all that...has become a Populist cause?!?!? Clearly, they're being used. This issue (like almost all of politics in the US today) has been spun into one of ideology and identity politics, when it really shouldn't be, when it is really just a pragmatic question.

This also says something about class-identity and perceptions in the United States. It means that all those "middle class" types apparently think that they have above-average incomes, and that there is some vast pool of undeserving poor beneath them who will take their money. The fact is, they may have median-level incomes, but many of them do not have mean-level incomes, because of how the rich skew the mean in the higher direction. So as I've said, they'd actually be on the receiving end from any flow of income from above-average to below-average.

In their ignorant arrogance, they're apparently imagining themselves as better-off than they really are, perhaps because they can't stand the thought that, as an economic class, they are actually below-average, when they like so much to think of themselves as the "normal" ones.

But they don't realize that their identity-perceptions are wrong, and the rich conservative types don't seem to have any problem manipulating their populist base into passionately working against their own best interest. So, in some ways, I have to feel like they'll get what they deserve if they succeed in blocking health-care (which I don't think they will; I just hope the abortion language is strict). It's not going to hurt the rich if health-care doesn't pass; so the conservative populist types are only shooting themselves in the foot by working against it.

[Of course, as I plan to write about in my upcoming post on World Systems theory and Wallerstein, "middle class" is an inaccurate label for describing even median-income Americans as, under capitalist bourgeoisism, everyone (in the core countries, at least) is "middle class," the middle class makes itself the "universal class"...the difference is between "upper" and "lower" middle class.]


Mark of the Vineyard said...

If health care does get passed in the US, hopefully one would want Americans to learn from Europe and Canada's mistakes. We have quite our fare share of proplems with it, with people flocking to the hospital emergency room over as simple a thing as a cold...

Kelly said...

A lot of the opposition to expanding the State role in health care in the US is probably anti-bureaucratism as much as anything else.

In general, the larger your bureaucracy, the more complex your rules, the more cracks there are for people to fall through.

And a State-run bureaucracy squeezes out all the other small organizations who would have been able to cover off the oddball cases that fall through the bureaucratic cracks.

Remember: Not wanting the *State* to do something does not equate to not wanting the thing done at all.

Google "mutualism" for lots of good reading on the subject of the non-State public sector.

A Sinner said...

But the United States ISNT trying to "run healthcare" like in Europe, Canada, etc.

It's just trying to provide Insurance for cheaper!!!

By all accounts, "the system" of medicine would still be privatized, the government will just be providing people with the money to access that system.

Social Credit would have a lot to say about this. It is not that there is an Absolute Shortage of medical services in the US, it is a question of distribution of the means of exchange to access it only.

Kelly said...

Yes, but what looks like "just trying to provide insurance for cheaper" to *YOU* looks a heckuvalot like a big complicated system that is going to squeeze out all the other players and leave you with a one-size-fits-none system for which no alternatives will be tolerated.

After all, that is what we have in Canada----it started as just giant insurance scheme that everyone is part of, but now the net result is that it is becoming really, really, hard to get a family doctor in Canada. Amongst the many reasons for this is that the government limited the number of seats in medical schools to contain costs. So we have long wait times for procedures and a doctor shortage. (Note that dentists are not so regulated, and there is no trouble finding a dentist.)

There is a real problem with access to care in the US, but there are very real disadvantages to the system Obama wants, too.

A Sinner said...

Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. If we get to it.

I certainly wouldn't sink something like this over possible hypotheticals.

I don't see the US trying to limit the number of seats at medical schools. I can't say for sure that won't happen someday, but if it does it will not follow necessarily from this system.

It doesn't even look like the final plan will necessarily even have a "public option".

For all the details, ultimately it's just going to help people buy insurance who can't afford it.

Everyone gets medical care in the US already, remember, when they really need it. They just have to go into debt to get it. But it still happens.

Emergency rooms don't turn people down. We don't generally have many people dying because of lack of medical care. Instead, we have tons of people messing up their whole life financially because of lack of MONEY when they get sick. But the services are still enough, it's not an absolute shortage.

As Social Credit says, if the demand and the product exists...what is physically possible should simply be made financially possible. And isn't it better to insure these people so they can get preventative services rather than have them go into huge debt when a real emergency happens?

I don't like the fact that the government is going to get the money through taxing and borrowing, when they could just declare a Dividend.

But this isn't about controlling doctors, nor even about rationing or re-allocating services. The services exist, and people ALREADY use them. They just end up going into bankruptcy to do it. Needlessly.

Kelly said...

A Sinner said: "Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. If we get to it. I certainly wouldn't sink something like this over possible hypotheticals."

It's hardly hypothetical---it's inherent in the concept of an insurance plan that the insurer will want to contain costs. Car insurance companies do it by increasing premiums for high-risk drivers or simply refusing to insure them.

But the Government can't refuse to insure someone if they are running the system under the premise of "access for all."

So the only ways to contain health care costs in an aging and sickening population are (1) rationing access via wait times, hoping that the most expensive (i.e. sickest) people will die on the waiting list; and (2) keeping the salaries of the health care workers down (as they do in Canada with salary caps for doctors).

The only reasonable alternative is the third alternative---where the Church runs the health care system, with many or most of the employees being sisters living on a vow of poverty (contains salaries) is not going to be touched with a 40 foot pole.

A Sinner said...

I just have a feeling it will turn out fine.

There is no need to ration care. People already get it, they just go into debt to do it.

Indirectly, the government will just, effectively, eliminate that debt, which is a fiction on paper anyway, for 30 million more people. It's really not the huge deal people are making it out to be.

Somehow, the firemen and policemen workout fine with everyone guaranteed their services. And they ARE run directly by the local government. The doctors under the current plan would still be private, even, so even less bureaucracy.