Health care and other services have no need for finance
Obama health care advisor Ezekiel Emanuel’s article today in the Wall Street Journal is an excellent example of how the discourse of finance so easily trumps the real world. Fearing that health insurance premiums will be too high if not enough healthy young people sign up for Obamacare, he calls for a marketing campaign to get the youngsters to sign up and pay up.
While I suppose this could make sense in the warped regime of finance, it’s quite twisted in the realm of the real. Real health care resources, after all, are available and they’re standing by eager to provide their services. In fact, the Journal had an article the other day showing there’s actually an oversupply of nurses. So, given this availability in the real world, why do we need to worry about finance? Why do we need to take money away from the average person in order to have a health care industry?
We need to look at this within the broader context of a thoroughly abused population that’s seen its median income as a share of total national income drop an incredible 40% since the 1970’s. This is robbery, pure and simple; and it’s become a stable fixture of our world given the neoliberal dynamics of ever intensified global labor competition and ever advancing labor saving technologies. Few things in life are more certain: left to themselves, incomes and general living standards will continue to decline. Unions helped retard the power dynamics inherent in capitalism during the first seven decades of the 20th century but they’re now gone. Collective democratic action is the only remaining recourse.
I think the most effective immediate means to improve general prosperity is to fund via direct monetary creation those programs that benefit everyone. This would include health care, retirement, and other public services. Providing these for free would be far more effective at achieving a just society than the assorted road, airport, and infrastructure projects funded by debt that are so adored by the center-left but would do little for median incomes. Not that we shouldn’t also do some of those projects as well, but I think we need to first begin to correct the robbery of living standards that’s occurred for decades now.
It’s highly doubtful that direct monetary creation would be inflationary given humanity’s enormous productive capacity. Perhaps some of the oligopolistic firms would seek to increase their profit margins in the face of higher purchasing power, but the straightforward solution is price regulation, the obvious requirement for any monopoly-like industry.
Finance isn’t the solution, it’s the problem and basic programs that serve everyone shouldn’t be financed. They shouldn’t be because, in a world of vast productivity, they don’t have a cost. Only in the strange world of orthodox finance is a cost created, as if by magic. The global problem is a lack of employment and purchasing power and not remotely one of real costs needing financing.
The average person won’t see an improvement until the entire foundation of orthodox finance collapses.