Friday, April 3, 2009

The REAL SOLUTION to paying for Medicare -- and almost everyting else

Missing from this and seemingly from every Medicare cost growth discussion is that medical costs are rising for one reason only: more and better treatments (physicians' incomes have not kept up with average income growth for 40 years).

I once figured that (if average income grows twice as fast as population but medical costs grow five times as fast as average income -- 15% GDP X 2 X 5) that 80 years out medical costs will be 300% of today's GDP but we should have 400% to pay for it with (flying cars and 3DTV should cost the same as today's primitive models -- tech advance not normally counted in inflation figures).

So we will stay ahead of medical costs for the foreseeable future (while 80 years out old people should never die and young people should be leaping tall buildings with a single bound).

The real issue is the same issue that lies at the heart of every American social malady from missing health to inadequate housing to street gangs: an unbalanced labor market leaves most American too poor to afford what they need: 25% of the labor force is earning less than the minimum wage under Lyndon Johnson.

REPEAT!!! 25% OF THE LABOR FORCE IS EARNING LESS THAN THE MINIMUM WAGE UNDER LYNDON JOHNSON ($10/hr adjusted in 1968!). The true poverty rate is probably double the 14.5% official figure (incongruously based on three times the price of an emergency diet: dried beans only please, no canned) -- if you figure $40,000/yr for a w/o medical coverage as the absolute minimum needs line for a family of three (and compare to Census family income stats).

Shift the 15% of overall income that moved mostly into the pockets of the top 1% back to the bottom 90% and we wont have any trouble ponying up a few more percent for Medicare, especially with our income growing -- INSTEAD OF SHRINKING!!! -- 15-20% every decade (along with the economy).

Double the minimum wage (for only 2 1/2% direct inflation) and mandate sector-wide labor agreements (ending Wal-Mart's reign of labor contract tear-up terror) and achieve labor market normalcy overnight -- that easy!

But don't expect out so-called progressive elite to get their much vaunted sensitivities in touch with bottom 50 percentile income folks.

I am going to take the gloves off here: anybody read about the 500 mourners who showed up for the crazy guy who killed 4 Oakland police Sargents? Where can you find the most alienated minorities in our nation? Right in the San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland area -- where the reputedly most liberal white people in the country (definitely the richest) do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for their small number of poor minority folks. I know about San Francisco's near 1968 minimum wage level -- they will vote for it but it will never occur to them left to themselves. When you see Berkeley's $600/wk minimum wage, you may see the tiny beginning of the end of most social maladies in this seemingly do-everything-ass-backwards country -- even a way to pay for Medicare.

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