Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let's Provoke a Recession In Healthcare So That We Can Get Out of the Recession!

The New Republic's Noam Scheiber comments on the debate over jumpstarting the economy, which, in this case, means criticizing a Wall Street Journal op-ed by three University of Chicago economists, by Gary Becker, Steven Davis, and Kevin Murphy. Fine. Scheiber is a liberal, and Becker et al. are free-marketeers. So of course they are going to disagree.

But it's interesting that Scheiber, in the course of disagreeing with Becker & Co., so that he can tout his own Obama-friendly neo-Keynesianism, overlooks the obvious big jobs program staring him--and all of us--in the face. What jobs program is that? Healthcare, of course, which is a sixth of the economy and accounts for about 13 million jobs now, and growing fast. Growing fast, unless, of course, the government squelches that growth--which seems to be the Obama administration's goal, a goal that Scheiber eagerly signs on to.

Here's how Scheiber ledes his piece, which is headlined, “Beware the Meme! Would our economy be in better shape if Obama were less ambitious?”:

My favorite moment from last month’s White House jobs summit came when the president asked if Washington had been doing something to discourage hiring. At this point, a man named Fred Lampropoulos, the CEO of a Utah-based medical device manufacturer, chimed in that yes, in fact, it had. “[T]here’s such an aggressive legislative agenda that businesspeople don’t really know what they ought to do,” Mr. Lampropoulos told the president, according to The New York Times. Political uncertainty, he said, “is really what’s holding back the jobs.”

Well, okay. Let’s stipulate that if you make MRI machines, or whatever, and Congress is threatening to pay a lot less for them (via health care reform), you’re probably not rushing out to hire more workers. 

The message seems to be: Let's kibosh the healthcare sector, so that we can get on with the job of growing the economy!   Any more questions?

And yet interestingly enough, it's Scheiber who argues that the government ought to get bigger, overall. In criticizing Becker, Davis, and Murphy, he writes: "They start from the ideological assumption that a bigger role for government is bad." And for his part, Scheiber starts from the ideological assumption that a bigger role for government is good. And he is for Obamacare, in one form or another, as part of that ideological belief. So healthcare "reform" is great, he seems to be saying, as an exercise in social-medical justice, or perhaps as a rationing plan to fight against waste--just don't think of it as a jobs program!


  1. Coincidentally. my wife of 28 years and myself are afflicted with thyroid disease. This declaration to a layman seems a lot more crippling than it really is. Our treatment consists of purchasing and ingesting the Brand pharmaceutical Synthroid, which normalizes this prevalent endocrine syndrome. Trouble is that as in so many cases, the generic equivalent does not cut mustard. Obama has gone on the record as saying that his administration through the health care bill as finalized will eagerly switch "the blue pill with the red pill" in an effort to ration costs. In the mental health field as well, keeping a mind set that brand equals generic is going to be catastrophic.

  2. May I add:
    "If Congress just let hospitals & doctors service the uninsured for tax credits that could only be used to buy medical equipment & give them a tax free loan to pay off the rest of the machines' costs, then we wouldn't need any 1,000 page healthcare bill." And of course the machines would create more jobs (building, servicing & operating) thus lowering unemployment.

    Am I being "Too Simple" or is our Congress "That Stupid?"

    Good article Jim.

    And Jay Adler's pill analogy is true, my wife ran into the same problem when she was switched to a generic. So this healthcare bill could KILL people.

  3. Getting a good job with a Fortune 500 company with decent pay and good benefits was never easy for me even in the go-go years of Peter Lynch and mutual fund madness.You always have to ace the interview and your background has to be like a glass of scotch neat. I do not think that programs and money thrown around is going to help anyone up against 50 people for the same position, whether its labor or office. Working men and women with college degrees do not get laid off easily. I just would like to know how this administration is proposing to put 50% of Detroit back to work.