Health Care Expenditures vs Income

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A Fiscal Conservative Opines: Where is all the excess?

By: Larry Walker, Jr.

I am once again attempting to overlay data upon data from different sources, not being certain whether any of them are accurate, yet they are all so called ‘reputable’. There are some who will look at the table, above, and think that health care expenditures are out of control. I look at it and my take is that the lack of growth in real incomes is the problem.

In fact, health care expenditures have been on the decline since 2003. Granted I was not able to find the rate of change for 2009, even if there was no increase, health care expenditures have grown faster than incomes, the consumer price index, and GDP. This doesn’t tell me that there is necessarily a problem with health care expenditures. What it tells me … is that there is a problem with the economy.

Over the past ten years, consumer prices have risen by 25% while incomes have only risen by 9%. Does this mean that prices are out of control? Not to me. To me it means that our incomes are not keeping pace with inflation.

GDP is growing slower than prices. GDP is only growing at an average of 1.9% per year. For the past decade, GDP grew by 19% while prices grew by 25%. So again, is the problem with prices, or with GDP?

Let’s be real. Unless prices rise, incomes will not. How can a business provide raises for employees every year unless the business is also raising its prices? One way would be to keep prices static and to increase productivity, which generally means doing more with less employees. Everyone expects to get a cost of living increase each year, however, in order to receive one, your employer must generally raise its prices in line with the consumer price index. Yet, if that was reality, then incomes would be rising as fast as inflation. Yet, prices have risen nearly three times as fast as incomes. So where is all the excess?

My suspicion is that the problem lies more in the area of manufacturing, international trade, unionization, and the growth of government. We don’t make things anymore in America, we have become a service economy. Most of the products that we buy are imported from other countries. Unions are constantly demanding higher wages and better benefits. The number of government employees is growing as is their pay and benefits. The end result is that our Federal and State governments are going broke, jobs are being lost to emerging market economies, and the incomes of non-governmental and non-union employees are going down.

So the question is how do we improve the growth prospects for our economy? The answer lies in finding ways to increase exports and decrease imports, to lower income taxes and reduce the size of government, and to remove the restraints currently being imposed upon the free market. Our economy doesn’t need more controls, but rather less.

You say rising health care costs are at the center of all of our problems. I say, you’re focusing on the wrong statistic. If a man or woman has no way to earn their livelihood, then what good is a government run health care program. You will have your health care, but you will live in poverty. You will be taxed, but you will lack the wherewithal to pay your taxes. The poor will remain poor. The middle class will cease to exist. The government will continue to spend more than it can tax until even it falls by the wayside.

You cannot fix a problem, until you have identified one. So where is all the excess?

If the price of say automobiles rises, yet most of the autos are purchased from Japan, then there’s your answer. Sure, some jobs were provided in America, but the excess (also known as profit) has left the country.

If the price of health insurance has risen, yet most of the insurance is purchased from domestic providers, then where is all the excess? The answer is in a broken governmental system. The government (federal and state) spends nearly twice as much on health care as does the private sector. The government gets its revenue by taxing those who are viable and paying for the health services of those who are not. The government pays less for services than does the private sector which in turn, means prices will rise for everyone to compensate for the shortfall created by government providers. Thus, prices rise, but incomes do not.

A major reason why incomes are not rising is because the cost of income taxes, social security taxes, and medicare taxes are set to rise every year. It’s not that the rates have necessarily changed, but that the income ceilings have. So you work hard to make more than the social security cap, but by the time you reach that goal, the government has raised the bar (or removed it completely). This is not a progressive tax system, it’s a progressive annual tax increase. It’s a system designed to keep our economy in chains.

So where is all the excess? One need only look at our national debt. If there were excess, the United States Federal government would not be $13 trillion in debt. So there is no excess.

The problem lies not in price controls but rather in wealth creation. Wealth is not created through price controls. In fact, wealth is restrained by controlling prices. If prices did not rise, then neither would wealth. Yet, when wealth is not rising along with prices there is a breach.

If every American either worked for the government, or received government services, how would the government be able to continue as a going concern? The answer is that it would not. So then part of the solution, which is ingrained in your soul, is that bigger government is not the answer. On the other hand, if everyone worked in the private sector, and if everyone were able to sustain themselves, what would be the role of government? Most likely the role that was intended by our founders. So once again we can conclude that government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.

Message to uncle Sam, “get out of my way, and get off my back.”

End of rant….


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3 thoughts on “Health Care Expenditures vs Income

  1. Draft Larry Walker Jr. to the ‘President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’.

    Three things we agree on:

    1) The “Illusions of Keynesian thinking” it is all Keynesian think.
    2) That Income creation and Wealth are linked and cannot be separated. – But Government largess does that for their favorite sons.
    3) “Citizen Ownership” – 'stewardship' is the common thread and viable solution. –“..get off my back.”


    Binary Economics is a bottom-up approach: All the schools of economics – including the Austrian School – approach economics from a trickle/top down approach.

    What the Democrats and Republicans propagate is one single concept to keep the system afloat, full Employment as titled in: The Full Employment Act of 1946. This top down forever trickle approaches and limits human existence, because of its monolithic nature lacks any common sense for the defense of human dignity.

    We (CESJ-your link) focus on four bottom-up objectives. 1) Full Production, 2) Full Employment 3) Full Ownership, and 4) Full Empowerment, which if followed should lead to a sense of moral responsibility and a sense of higher human dignity, for our self, for our community/country, and our posterity. Citizen Ownership is the key for us -students and practitioners of Louis O. Kelso/Mortimer Adler. Kelso and Kurland are credited for the first ESOP's, with the help of Sen. Russell Long.

    Today we are on a campaign to establish “Citizen Land Cooperatives”-taking unproductive vital services/land by converting same to “Every Citizen an Owner” creating a more self-governance approach by the principle of subsidiarity.

    The Old way of the founders and as Lincoln did with the homesteading principle, and thereby providing a 'dividend wage/income' to every citizen that participates in same through their own CHA account, and not the single wealth control system of Wall Street bankers/market, and thereby fulfilling Kelso's vision of a Binary system. Keeping in mind any problem solving should utilize Kelso’s Two-Factor Theory; of what is important, and what is urgent or first.

    We can define the following terms and we except any challengers to discuss or debate.
    1) What is Money?
    2) What is Property?
    3) What is Profits? – (you articulated above; well done)
    4) What is Justice,..?

    We believe Binary Economics is the most logical and principled form of citizen ownership: for free markets and restoring America’s original Property rights and principles, especially with regards to a corporate shareholder's right to his share of profits in the form of a full dividend payout. Thereby, effectively limiting much of the economic power of the Government and the politicians those profits serve. We think we offer the most effective means for restoring America and the world through a Binary system as outlined in Capital Homesteading.

    Finally we are planning a Rally in Washington D.C. on April 15, 2010 in front of the Federal Reserve Bank. The same time Tea Party people will be at the White House, screaming “Taxed Enough Already”. Our slogan for this years rally is “Every Citizen an Owner; by Capital Homesteading in 2012” Your invited and to speak.. What say you?

    Isn't it time for Economic Democratization?

    * * * *

    “The Roman arena was technically a level playing field. But on one side were the lions with all the weapons, and on the other the Christians with all the blood. That's not a level playing field. That's a slaughter. And so is putting people into the economy without equipping them with capital, while equipping a tiny handful of people with hundreds and thousands of times more than they can use.”
    (Louis O. Kelso, Bill Moyers: A World of Ideas, 1990)

    Freedom without Property is Incomplete – Bishop Fulton J. Sheen


  2. Larry,

    I love your writings.

    Why don't you join with Guy Stevenson and other binary economic patriots after you're free from your professional work on April 15? The Capital Homesteading Coalition is sponsoring two following events to our April 15th “Own the Fed” rally: April 16 (second Social Justice Collaborative)and April 17 (26th anniversary celebration of CESJ.

    We'll miss you at our rally at the Fed on Tax Slavery Day. You would have been a featured speaker.

    Own or Be Owned,
    Norm Kurland


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