Capitalist conservatives misunderstand the liberal desire for things like national health care, free public education, and Social Security protections. What liberals want is these things at a reasonable price.
If it could somehow become reasonable for each of these things to be affordable for working people, there would be no reason to want efficient national plans. But it isn’t reasonable, and there are several explanations for why that is so. Primary among these is the plain and simple fact that private purchase of these goods is far more expensive than collective spending for them. Private plans are more expensive than government plans because private companies must earn profit, so their product costs more. And the free market economy means that vendors can charge whatever they can get away with, which is plenty.
The ultimate in economy of scale is obtained with national plans, with the least individual cost. Health care in our for-profit private capitalist system is literally twice as expensive as the national plans that operate in every single advanced nation except ours, and insure every single person, unlike our non-system. Moreover, the national plans are well liked, and health care under national plans is better than American plans, which fail to provide health care for many millions.
The ultimate in economy of scale
is obtained with national plans.
With these goods costing so much, perhaps the answer would be to increase wages enough that such purchases would be practical. Alas, that’s really a rather stupid idea, to pay enough just so the 200% inflated cost is affordable. Why not just deflate the cost to normal? But capitalist conservatives are strongly against paying wages even above poverty level, and don’t want to pay enough for health care. They are perfectly happy with minimum wage as it stands. After all, they aren’t suffering, and don’t see why wages for others should be improved, since the problems of the poor stem entirely from their failure to work hard enough. Unfortunately, many millions can’t afford health care insurance at all, because it costs about half of what they make in a year, working full time.
Another way the poor fail is by not saving. They simply have no desire to set aside money for their own retirement, whereas capitalist conservatives are much wiser. They save plenty of money for retirement, and in addition can pass on an inheritance of millions to their progeny. The poor, of course, waste their entire minimum wage paycheck.
It’s not just the poor who fiddle away their future, but all of us grasshoppers. The wise among us who earn enough do put away money for retirement, but the need catches most of us by surprise in middle age. We are not stupid, but we lose the benefit of decades of compound interest by not paying attention early enough. Lately, the average American of fifty or sixty has almost no savings and is woefully unprepared for looming retirement because of a half century of stagnant income and the current disaster bequeathed us by Wall Street criminals. But how might it be possible for anyone earning minimum wage to save at all, when even rent of a one-bedroom apartment is beyond their reach everywhere in the US?
And by the way, the median age of people earning minimum wage is not 16. It is 35.
Tom Toro, The New Yorker, June 2015
The biggest mystery is how people on the right can imagine that all those countries that have the great benefit of national plans can be thought of as socialist nightmares. Everything they have is better than what we have. They have good health care and good health; no one ever declares bankruptcy for medical reasons, whereas it’s the most common reason here; their schools are either free or affordable, all the way through graduate school, and many even provide living expenses for college students; all of them provide for a retirement without privation; and all enjoy benefits in their working years like Living Wage, generous mandated paid vacation, free healthcare, paid leave after childbirth, childcare allowances, and numerous other niceties.
How can people on the right imagine
that all those countries that have national plans
be thought of as socialist nightmares?
Everything they have is better.
Ah, but taxes. Taxes! Their taxes are awful, far more than we pay. Isn’t that true?
Not really. Remember that we have millions without health care, millions who can’t afford college or who end up in debt for tens of thousands of dollars, and millions who must depend entirely on inadequate Social Security for retirement when they are no longer able to work. The plain and simple fact is that even the highest tax level in the Socialist Nightmare countries, that of Belgium, is far less than we would pay for the same services if we bought them ourselves. But we can’t afford the same services. Not even close. We don’t even earn enough to get these basic services through inexpensive national plans, let alone individually via our for-profit private enterprise.
Our pay and work laws are mostly determined by capitalist conservatives, who haven’t the slightest need for more money. They are already at the tippy point of the pyramid, up above the all-seeing Masonic eye, and have neither understanding of nor interest in the economics of the rest of us.
After all, anyone who isn’t rich simply isn’t working hard enough. Isn’t that so?