A page-one story in today’s New York Times says that the high cost of health insurance—estimated at about 00 per worker—is keeping companies from adding new workers even as their business picks up.
Now logically, you’d think that big business would be responding to this crisis the way it usually responds to a crisis—by demanding that the government pick up the tab. In fact, that’s exactly what governments in Canada and most of Europe and Japan have done. They have socialized health care, removing that cost entirely from employers.
Why doesn’t that happen here? Big business got the government to socialize the costs of hazardous waste clean-up. It got government to socialize the cost of transporting raw materials and finished products through the railroads and highway network. As big companies abandon their pension plans, leaving people to survive after retirement on their meager Social Security checks, it’s even socializing the pension program. So why the resistance to socializing health care?
In large part, I think it’s pure ideology. Socializing transportation made sense to the corporate elite because it’s basically a matter of government doing something that directly helps them and boosts profits. Socializing hazardous waste clean-up made sense because having to pay for their misdeeds themselves could bankrupt many companies. But socializing healthcare would be getting the government to do something that primarily would directly benefit the people, and only indirectly benefit companies.
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