Sunday :: May 21, 2006

The Race To The Bottom Is Working - "That’s unsettled."

by pessimist

Despite all of the denials to the contrary, there has been an insidious method to the madness of offshoring jobs and allowing immigrants to cross our borders to take American jobs at Third World wages. The whole idea was to take away any and all career options for American males - all but the military, that is.

The sad part is, it's working:

Nothing offered him the financial security of his military job — especially the generous health coverage for his wife and three small children. And so, 29 years old and with no other place to turn, [Staff Sgt. Matthew] Kruger spent his first full day of freedom at a military processing center, signing up for four more years.
"The Army has a saying: We enlist soldiers, we reenlist families,"
said Master Sgt. David Best, a career counselor in charge of retention at Ft. Lewis.
"We had nothing. We were scared," [wife] Maggie said recently, struggling to keep their rambunctious children entertained in a pizza parlor outside the Ft. Lewis military base. "We suddenly realized there was no way to take the kids to the doctor or dentist for any little reason, as we had been used to."

And just where does that leave the rest of us?

I am boggled at times by how dependent Americans have become on externally-controlled "benefits" which, as they lose yet another piece, they cling to all the more tenaciously. Are people not keeping track of just how little they have left? Our wages are stagnant, ...

Wage growth may be a more important indicator than new-job totals, however, because it shows that demand for workers is up. Economics may teach that growth ultimately benefits everyone, but that's a hard sell to people facing stagnant wages and deteriorating health and pension benefits. Among other things, this has added fuel to popular fear of foreigners. Immigration, outsourcing, free-trade deals with Latin America - when you don't think you're getting ahead, it all can feel like unfair competition.

The last recession ended in November 2001, yet the growth we've seen since then hasn't extended to the paychecks of many ordinary folks.

Real earnings adjusted for inflation have actually fallen slightly, as pay increases have lagged behind inflation.

... affordable health care benefits face mountainous special interest obstacles ...

The idea is that by joining together to buy insurance, small businesses would have more bargaining power and could negotiate better prices while lowering administrative costs.

Sounds simple enough.

But more than 200 groups opposed the legislation - plus most of the country's attorneys general and insurance commissioners.

The opposition included groups representing people with various diseases, ranging from diabetes to Tourette syndrome, and groups representing medical specialties ranging from pediatrics to geriatric psychiatry. It included groups representing podiatrists and chiropractors and religious groups such as the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and B'nai B'rith International. It included the AARP and unions and insurance companies.

It was a long list.

... while 46 million are having to do without it altogether ...

Of the 46 million uninsured people in the United States,
eight in 10 are workers or their family members.

... And this doesn't count the retirees without medical coverage:

[T]he cost of health insurance is not likely to ease. A typical married couple ages 65 and older will spend about $13,000 per year on out-of-pocket healthcare costs in 2020, predict Johnson and Rudy Penner of the Urban Institute. Health costs like this will consume 29 percent of after-tax income, the researchers say, which Johnson calls a conservative estimate.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) blasted Republicans for not having a health proposal:

"The fact is, there are 46 million uninsured Americans today, an increase of 6 million over the last five years. The President's continued insistence on Health Savings Accounts as a remedy for America's health care crisis shows that Republicans have no plan to help the uninsured. But at least President Bush is raising the issue; House Republicans are ignoring it," Hoyer said, arguing that health savings accounts will drive up the price of traditional group insurance and "discourage American families from seeking important preventative care."

Maybe they should just die off and make room for the New World Order's Immigrant Servant Class.

But fear not! The State of Massachusetts has a plan!

Massachusetts took a huge step when it became the first state to require all its residents to buy health insurance. The legislation, which goes into effect by July 1, 2007, treats health insurance like car insurance, making it an individual responsibility and penalizing those who can afford to buy coverage and don't.

A new agency called "Connector" is being created to set premiums and co-payments and work with insurance companies to provide low-cost policies. The venture is a gamble to see if making health coverage nearly universal will relieve the growing pressure on hospitals to provide medical care for patients without insurance. About 515,000 of the state's 550,000 uninsured would be covered.

Massachusetts would shift the $1 billion it uses to reimburse hospitals for free
care into subsidizing insurance for people who can't afford it. Additional money
would be raised by charging businesses that do not provide health coverage $295
a year for each employee.

I guess the rest of the nation gets to follow Sgt. Kruger into the Crusade For Crude if they want medical coverage:

But the Massachusetts plan won't work everywhere, its architects explain. For example, in a state like Texas where a quarter of the adults are without health insurance and the state has a weak safety net, there isn't enough cushion in the system, and the cost of expanding coverage would be prohibitive.

It all comes down to money, doesn't it? As we age, we are going to see a whole lot less of it coming our way:

These days, a pension is far from being an "automatic" benefit in the employment world. According to U.S. News & World Report last year:
"Corporate America, which boasted more than 112,000 pension plans in 1985,
has since terminated about 80,000 of them.

As a result, the share of working Americans earning a pension has dropped from more than 35 percent in 1980 to less than 20 percent today. That decline may even accelerate, as companies say it is no longer in their interest to reward longevity on the job with an old-age stipend."

I guess retirees get to die off and decrease the excess elderly population.

But you know what? The minority claims that we of the majority are the ones whon are out of step. It begins at the very top:

NBC White House correspondent David Gregory interviewed President Bush this morning on the Today Show and asked him why so many people disapprove of the job he’s doing. Bush brushed aside the public’s concern about his policies and insisted that nearly 70 percent of Americans are simply “unsettled”. [Watch it]
GREGORY: But they’re not just unsettled sir. They disapprove of the job you’re doing.

BUSH: That’s unsettled.
Let's see - few good jobs, lowering wages, decreasing benefits, retirement about completely destroyed, higher prices for everything - and 70% of us have nothing to complain about?????

I think it's about time majority rule returned to America. We should provide the PNAC neo-confidence (wo)men with no jobs, no wage, no benefits, no retirement, and an M-16 to Conquer Crude for Christ. Especially George!

Then we'll see who's unsettled!

"I wish I could say it was the great Army life, but it was the financial stability," Sgt. Michael Anthony Barnes said. "The Army takes you away from your family, but it keeps your family safe."

Family Values, anyone?

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