Friday, May 22, 2009


15% of today's GDP goes to health care.

15% of overall income shifted from the bottom 90 percentile of earners to the top 1 percentile of earners between 1973 and today.

Anybody see a possible connection between the pressure of health expenses and the uniquely distorted (mostly because uniquely ignored) American labor market?
Does culture or genetic behavioral programming influence us the most? Actually the two can powerfully reinforce each other in a loop that can be nearly impossible to break -- for male "hunters" at least. I have found males to unbendingly unable to accept new pathways on more than one old issue.

I see males as so programmed to "check in" with what everybody else is thinking before they allow themselves to decide their what their own agenda will be that they will permanently freeze out what would be the most obvious practical approach in purely abstract terms. Prime example: the inability of America's progressive economic elite to pick up on the easy solution -- that could be even more easily sold -- to America's uniquely low labor pay: sector-wide labor agreements (I'm not the least bit kidding about any of this) -- American supermarket and airline workers would kill for legislated sector-wide agreements.

But males are programmed so heavily -- this was an all important survival mode -- to integrate their thoughts with everyone else in the group -- this is not the time for new ideas: the wild pig is getting away! -- that they are impervious to the most practical abstract innovations. When they are alone in the library at one in the morning they are still on the "hunt."

Meantime 20-25% of America's workforce is earning less than the minimum wage...
...of 1968! Meantime top one percentile income averaged $1.2 million in 2006 according to CBO* -- while our intellectual males (unconsciously) chase ever receding wild pigs.
20 years out average income should be 140% of today's by normal expectations. 26.7% of 140% equals 37%. 140% minus 37% leaves 103% in my eighth grade math to spend on everything else. Compares favorably with 85% today (100% minus 15% for health costs) to spend on everything else.

Almost 20% more income to spend on everything else -- along with 20 more years progress in medical care -- and who knows what amazing everything else (adjusted for inflation -- tech advance not usually reflected in inflation numbers -- no realistic way to measure it): sounds like a great time to be alive and amazingly healthy to me.

Want something to worry about? Imagine if 25% of the American workforce (not the typical OECD economy's workforce -- not them) were earning less than the minimum wage (with the income curve pretty flat most of the way to the top)...
...of 1968! That was the state of affairs as of a couple of years ago when the fed minimum was $5.50/hr (in today's money) compared to LBJ's $10/hr.

This impacts medical care too because the people who have all the money the rest of us did not get (CBO reports top one percentile households averaged $1.2 million in income in 2006*) don't have any more hearts and livers to fix even if they have the money to throw at fixing them -- and the rest of us may not be able to support the taxes to pay for adequate national insurance because we make less all the time.

The warped out of shape American labor market -- that is what to worry about.


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