I haven't written here for what seems (and probably has been) years. Welcome back. Thank you.
I drifted away from politics because it felt so much like a predictable world. President Bush would mangle a phrase; the Legacy Media would devote five minutes at the opening of the evening news to it. President Obama would mangle a phrase; the opening bit on the evening news would be a cute story abut puppies. When I read political blogs, everything would be two standard deviations from the norm. Simply put - I lost interest.
I haven't lost that internal narrative, but I enjoy writing. So, here goes ...
Gas prices have about tripled since Obama took office. Long-term unemployment is in utterly uncharted depths (how come the democrats aren't screaming "jobless recovery" as they did under W?). The notion of "free" healthcare on top of a staggering debt is somehow palatable to liberals. Now we are told by HHS Secretary Sebelius that passing immigration reform is good because it will increase the numbers enrolled in Obamacare. Who's paying for the adjective "free"?
Our country did not come to our place in the world economy through socialism, through a spreading of capital to anyone capable of raising their hand. We got here through a system that rewarded innovation. Sometimes innovation required hard work and other times it was being at the right place at the right time. Rewards didn't always come. But for folks that contributed little or nothing - and largely by choice - the rewards never came. That's been changing since Johnson's Great Society.
We learned recently that welfare pays more than minimum wage in most states. That status influences behavior. Why work "from the bottom up" when it's just as easy to claim that the system is rigged against you anyway, so just grab welfare? McD's uniforms look stupid, anyway.
But the real erosion in our economy, and therefore our future, is the response of businesses to Obamacare. If a company has to pay for coverage - for anything - they are going to put their shareholders and private owners first by paying the least amount possible. Folks that were previously full time are now seeing less than 30 hours a week. A requirement to pay for employees is not a requirement to pay for the whole family, so off they go.
It's a dynamic we've always known. Reagan wanted to jump start the economy, so he made ALL interest deductible, including credit-card interest. Although personal debt soared, personal incomes rose as the economy expanded. Cut the capital-gains tax, and people get flush with cash as they sell off their appreciated stocks. Increase that tax, and stock transactions slow.
Businesses on a large scale and individuals on a small scale (meaning transaction size) respond every time to anything that hits their coffers. If a coffee from Starbucks went up 20%, their revenue would not go up that same amount! Some people would buy less. Only the wasteful would buy more.
So the folks that were getting by on 40 hours a week now have a hole to fill. Do both spouses have to work? That means daycare. Does one person find a job to fill in the remaining 10 hours? Not going to happen. Ten-hour jobs are non-skilled therefore pay less. The workweek just expanded to 50+ hours to make up the difference.
How are docs going to respond? I've encountered plenty through the years that refuse Medicaid/care patients because the reimbursements were too low. That's only going to get worse. One-sixth of the economy is being reshaped in fundamental ways. Isn't it great? I still recall the YouTube video from 2008 when a woman in Philadelphia said that she was voting for Obama because then he's pay her mortgage and she wouldn't have to. I wonder how that worked out for her.
The problem with Obamacare is the sheer size of the change. It will ripple everywhere in our economy and therefore that of the world. Economies are meant to be tweaked - not bludgeoned. Trillion-dollar deficits and unending quantitative easing (a cute label for false money being shoved into the economy) will result, as Adam Smith and countless others taught us, in inflation.
So you're cut to 30 hours a week and have figured out a way to somehow pay your bills - well, the cost of food, rent, gas, and clothes just went up 10%. Hey, but at least you can see a doctor if you get sick. How awesome is that?