Monday, July 25, 2005

Socialism day on the op-ed page, part 1

Readers who follow Paul Krugman's op-ed column in the New York Times might notice that there is a certain socialist cast to his thinking that sometimes appears. It might have something to do with a reflexive anti-Bush state of mind: if Bush is for more private control over a sector of the economy then the anti-Bushies mush be against more private control. Or maybe Krugman really believes in socialism to some extent and is therefore oblivious to the fact that some of his proposals in his column are ridiculous.

Today's column is, basically, the Krugman case for socialism. He starts by introducing the fact that Toyota has decided to build its new auto plant in Ontario instead of the United States, blames the Right for dumbing down the workforce, and then gets to the real point of his column:
But education is only one reason Toyota chose Ontario. Canada's other big selling point is its national health insurance system, which saves auto manufacturers large sums in benefit payments compared with their costs in the United States.
And there's even better news for Canada:
So what's the impact on taxpayers? In Canada, there's no impact at all: since all Canadians get government-provided health insurance in any case, the additional auto jobs won't increase government spending.
But if government-run health care is such a job-magnet since it saves potential empoyers billions in health care costs, then why stop at government-run health care? Why not have the government pay all wages as well? Just think of all the money that could be saved if corporations world-wide gave up dollar-a-day sweatshop labor for no-cost, skilled workers already cashing their government-provided paychecks. And it wouldn't cost businesses any extra money to hire new workers since everyone is getting paid already! Or why not just have the government give workers everything they need already? Once the average worker receives according to his needs he could just happily work according to his abilities with no worries whatsoever.

We all know that that last idea will, ultimately, leave Canada in the same type of stagnation that afflicted the Soviet Union. So it should be obvious now that, whatever fringe benefits for employment are being generated by the Canadian health care system, there must also be some major structral problems with the Canadian economy. Krugman himself alludes to this point:
I'm sure that some readers will respond to everything I've just said by asking why, if the Canadians are so smart, they aren't richer. But I'll have to leave the issue of America's comparative economic performance for another day.

4 Comments:

Anonymous orion said...

The point of Universal Health Care isn't that the government should handle everything. It's that our health care system is incredibly inefficient. We spend more per capita on health care than countries with government run health care and we have less to show for it. Decent health care in this country is becoming a privilege for the upper class. The rest of the masses can sit in an emergency room and wait. Health insurance costs are crippling businesses in this country, it's making us uncompetitive, more money in an American auto is spent on health care than steel. If we could get our private health care system to work then this wouldn't be an issue. But it's not working, more and more people are losing their insurance. Just try to get insurance if you have your own freelance business, it's a joke. The large companies broker the best deals and the rest of us are left to pick up the tab. If you have a better solution, please let us hear it.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Orion,

I forgot your email address and I can't get my comments to come up on your blog, so send me an email.

Joe

5:49 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous orion said...

Joe,
You must be thinking of a different orion. I don't have a blog. I don't comment very often on blogs, here and there, and rarely on conservative ones. You seem fairly intelligent and rational, so I thought I'd see how you reacted to another viewpoint. I'm not into name calling between partisans, I want the USA to succeed, and I'm willing to consider ideas that work. I don't propose socializing this country, but when something is as massively broken as health care, we need to consider the alternatives. I'd still love to hear your health care ideas.

3:15 AM  

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