Healthcare for all

I am so tired of watching this nation argue we can’t afford to have health insurance for everyone. This despite the fact that every western democracy somehow manages to do so, and does so while spending vastly less per capita than we do. For all that we spend we also get less with worse figures for key metrics such as infant mortality.

I also hear how we can’t possibly afford to give people a living wage. So here’s a basic lesson in economics. A real economist will probably laugh at me, but I’ll try anyway.

Money? What’s money. Money is an agreed upon fictional marker that we’ve all agreed represents a certain value. The value traditionally came from direct productive work either as a service such as repairing a roof or curing a patient, or an act of creation like throwing a pot or building a barrel. Money was an early invention because it becomes inconvenient to trade chickens for barrels and then chickens for wood to build the barrels and then chickens for trees to saw the wood.

The funny thing about money is that it can be used over and over again. Say you go get your car repaired and it cost $500. The mechanic goes and buys parts for $300 and pays a worker $200, the worker buys groceries for $200 and the parts supplier buys more parts for $150 and pays an employee the other $150. That original $500 does $1500 worth of purchases. It might end up in taxes or a bank where it no longer does anything productive, but a good part probably cycles around.

Intrinsic value: We think things like gold and diamonds have intrinsic value based on their rarity, but that’s problematic. You’ve probably heard people complain about not being on the gold standard. The problem is that gold varies in value depending on supply and if tomorrow someone found a huge rich vein of gold ore, the value of gold would plummet and so would all money holdings based on gold. Diamonds are worse, but that’s a history lesson.

A figure called the gross domestic product (GDP) is calculated and represents all productive work done in the nation. These days that figure is roughly 19 trillion dollars. That is 19,000,000,000,000 dollars. That means all services provided plus all goods produced whether consumed at home or abroad. The current US population is 320 million people or 321,000,000 people. If you divide those people into the GDP you get (hold on to your seats) a per capital value of 59 thousand dollars.  That is per man, woman and child. A family of three then has a value of the GDP of 168 thousand dollars.

That means the overall productivity of the people and factories in the US is 59 thousand per person. The problem is that nowhere near 321 million people are working and the median income is around $50 thousand.

I’ll leave you with two questions. Who do you think has that money, and do you think some of it should be shared so everyone can be covered by health insurance, which I’m guessing would cost (order of magnitude) 700 billion since we are primarily talking about children and adults. I base that on medicare, which deals with older people who are expensive to cover costing around 500 billion. Remember also that doing this would eliminate medicaid which we spend billions on currently.

Food for thought I hope. Write your congress person and senator.


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