Saturday, October 19, 2013

Robert Reich Proposes Thinning the Heard

Arguing against Obama's proposed means-testing for Medicare as an appeasement (aka compromise) to the GOP, Robert Reich says: "The real problem is the rising costs of healthcare, coupled with the aging of the post-war boomers. The best way to deal with the former [is] a single-payer system. The best way to deal with the aging of the American population is to allow more young immigrants into America." Some people might call this thinning the herd --- or demographic dilution (If he's going to speak like that, why not recommend Soylent Green?).

I agree with Reich on many things, such as "Medicare for All". But an exception would be his often stated desire for importing more workers into an already over-saturated labor market. That would not only stagnate or oppress wages further (with less demand for more labor), but would further contribute to higher unemployment. By using the broader measure of U-6 to gauge unemployment, there are already 6 unemployed Americans for every one job opening. Mister Reich proposes we have 8 unemployed people for every job opening.

Reich correctly points out another way that Obama plans to appease the GOP on the budget: Obama has put on the table a way to reduce future Social Security payments by altering the way cost-of-living adjustments are made by using the chained-CPI, which assumes that when prices rise, people will economize by switching to cheaper alternatives (like switching from people food to pet food). Seniors already spend a disproportionate share of their income on prescription drugs, home healthcare and medical devices --- the prices of which have been rising faster than inflation. (Besides, Social Security isn't responsible for our budget deficits. Quite the opposite: For years its surpluses have been used to fund everything else the government does.)

Here Robert Reich also makes a good point: "The President has been too eager to accept the argument that the major economic problem facing the nation is large budget deficits, when in point of fact, the deficit has been shrinking as a share of the national economy. The only reason it's expected to increase in future years is, again, rising healthcare costs."

Another notable economist, Dean Baker, agrees and blames the media for spreading the false message on the budget deficit:

"They have spread incredible nonsense about the deficit and spending problems facing the country, causing most of the public to be completely confused on these issues. Contrary to the widely repeated stories of out-of-control deficits and spending, deficits have plunged in the last four years [and] falling for the rest of the decade. In other words, the story of out-of-control debts and deficits is just plain wrong. Less polite people would call it a lie, but it stands at the center of the public debate because the media consider it rude to point out a truth that would embarrass so many important politicians."

That's why, just like Paul Craig Roberts suggests, I wish we could break up the media conglomerates and reestablish an independent press.

Here Robert Reich is dead on: "Our real economic problem continues to be a dearth of good jobs along with widening inequality. Cutting the budget deficit may make both worse, by reducing total demand for goods and services and eliminating programs that lower-income Americans depend on."

No comments:

Post a Comment