The Affordable Care Act and starvation

So, Human Resources sent everyone at my workplace a summary of benefits for the 2014 year, and long story short, they are slightly reduced benefits at a more than doubled cost. In fact, a friend of mine calculated that a typical hourly worker would be paying 22.98% of his take-home in health insurance alone, for the minimal family coverage. We’re not an unskilled bunch, either. If we had minimum-wage employees on this plan, they would practically be laboring for compensation only in the form of high-deductable health insurance. Of course accusations are flying in every direction, but “Thanks, Obama” has just become a much more popular phrase than it recently was. As to the opposite claim, that this is the work of greedy insurance corporations, let me just say that in 2013 they were at least as greedy as they are today, but in 2013, you’d laugh at an insurer asking such premiums; in 2014 the government is standing behind him with a truncheon, making sure that you don’t laugh.

I really wonder how many people are going through this right now, whether this is or is not a national moment of realization that it’s all gone wrong; that (as shocking and unforseeable it was!) forcing people to buy a product has raised its price. If so, this may also be the moment to realize that those obstructionist Tea Party representatives in Congress who looked such fools for risking shutdown and default to avoid this outcome, were 100% right. If the working public in general has gotten the same deal I have, then what has been imposed on us through this law amounts to far more than the closure of some national parks or even the end of irresponsible government borrowing. This is a regressive national pay cut, crushing the workman and cornering him into…Oh yes, the best part. “Don’t worry!” Shouts the Socialist. “You can get welfare!”

It’s not meant to be welfare, or to be noticeably welfare, or to be mentioned in quite those terms…or perhaps it is merely meant to remove the stigma of welfare itself. To normalize the dependence of the previously independent, to help the generations forget what it ever was to make one’s own way. The Progressives, it seems, realize that the greatest obstacle to their servile agenda has always been “No thanks, I’m fine.” Or perhaps, “I don’t need your damn charity, asshole.” They have taken it to heart that men will accept control as the price of survival or security; only they have been compelled to endure (from time to time) that the government does not have a monopoly on these things. The tree with its own roots under it, the dog living by his own teeth, and the man with his hands on his work instead of held out for benevolent aid; these things the Progressive must hate. That which needs him not is not subject to his rule; so self-reliance must be broken and replaced with dependency. The American people must forget that it is no harder to save 6% of one’s income than have it confiscated, to be returned later in inflated dollars. The myth must be fed that begging for aid is the stamp not of the abnormal poverty we hoped to end, but of the normal, common servility with which Obama hopes to bless us. If men refuse to accept control because they could achieve survival and security without it, the Progressive course seems obvious: to tax me another 10 or 20 or 25%, until at last, crushed with debt and broken with hunger, I appear before their officials to accept their control in exchange for rescue. That smirk of, “See, you do need me! I am important! I am as God before you, bestowing life, giving and taking away!” has crossed more than one Liberal face within my view, and it is the most hated in all politics. If I could only capture a snapshot of that arrogance, I would have the exact article to hold up whenever someone asks “What unites the Conservative movement?” It is hate. The Liberals have that right. It is hate for a Pride from the blackest depths of Hell; the Pride that lived in the heart of Louis XIV and taught him that the populace had all their life through him. The Pride that must not see others as sufficient to themselves, that cannot endure not to be needed, that sees the laborer standing on his own feet, and, insulted by his indifference, seeks to make a law to break him to his knees.

Forgive this indulgence.

On purely economic grounds, there is reason for real concern, especially if one is an adherent mainstream economics and its demand-driven view. In the broadest terms, Keynes proposed that the Great Depression (not the crash, the subsequent non-recovery is the anomaly in question) was caused by an error about saving. The demand side view is that economic performance has spending for a throttle, and that all saving not immediately invested is a contractionary force. Thus we have our modern banking system, which seeks to route savings swiftly and smoothly into investment, and to multiply the potential investment per unit of savings, so that no dollar sits idle. [I should point out that this is in contrast to the Hayekian proposal that increased savings and reduced spending should encourage investment (through a lower interest rate) but that low or negative savings rates should actually reduce investment, since spending rather than saving expresses a consumer preference for immediate goods over those that we may be able to later produce through investment. The mainstream Keynesians do not treat this as a real dichotomy and propose to maximize both spending and investment at the same time by driving interest rates lower than the savings rate would dictate. This discourages saving without restraining lending and institutional investment. The debate is for another time.] In any case, what we have here are millions of new, large insurance policies being underwritten and new financial obligations being taken on by workers. Disposable income, in the aggregate, is about to take a shocking drop. Spending must be reduced by an amount equivalent to the money absorbed by the new costs. The insurance reserves alone are a massive negative stimulus, a sinking in of funds which cannot be spent, cannot circulate. It is a deflationary force of tremendous power, forced upon us by a federal government whose left hand does not know who its right is doing. The Federal Reserve prints billions and hands it all to banks; the Congress makes a law to remove billions from the pockets of workers and spenders into vast illiquid funds. And anyone who objects to either asinine policy is to be regarded as a panderer to the billionaires.

Twenty-three percent of my income. Plus income tax. Plus state income tax. Plus Social Security. Plus other mandatories. It’s amazing that what is actually visible on my paycheck still leaves room for a budget deficit, but it does. I’m on the light end of the tax scale; what is taxed from people who can afford new cars and will one day retire is radically more. And what is taxed away in visible taxes is dwarfed by what is funded through monetized debt, a tax paid in the form of devaluation of the currency. People object to this criticism (for who could criticize funding things by simply running the printing press!) with the observation that inflation is nonexistent today; and they invite a dozen responses. First of course, the measures of inflation are readily open to criticism; even switching back to an earlier methodology shows scary high levels of inflation. Then again, if we consider that the institutions closest to the spigots of monetary policy (that is, basically a subset of too-big-to-fail banks with access to the Open Market Transactions window) will be the first to bid up the prices of things they consume, the current high state of the stock market will be seen as the leading edge of a wave of inflation. And of course the price of food, gas, and housing is way up, so shut up. But even if you ignore all these factors, the monetary policy that sought to counteract the deflation expected after the bursting of the housing bubble absolutely is an inflationary effect; it is inflation intended to counter deflation. This is not neutral, however, from the point of view of someone who actively restrained spending during the boom years in order to save money. Such a saver should have enjoyed massive benefits from deflation; for instance, overbuilt housing should have come into the reach of everyone with a conservative portfolio. The credit crunch should have given an advantage to those who saved their pennies over those who were granted vast loans. Instead, public policy has openly given price support to such assets, keeping prices high even as the public has been impoverished. And it has desperately shovelled billions into banks, for the purpose of restoring the position of the sort of investor who relies on loans, not savings. The benefits of thrift have thus been actively and deliberately destroyed, and this is a confiscation. The hidden confiscations are as large as can be hidden, the open confiscations (taxes and monopolized insurance) are as large as will be tolerated. And yet still there is a deficit. The billionaires who conspire to deprive me of the government’s help are my allies, if only because the government’s “help” consists entirely of such blatant and tangible harm. Even the welfare they have rebranded and offered to me as “premium assistance,” is a laughable partial offset to what has been taken. If a man steals your lunch, then gives back a morsel large enough to ward off starvation, is he your benefactor?

I’d quality control this if I thought anyone read it, but if anyone did read it I’d be making more hay of the prediction that a massive decline in consumer spending is set to hit on January 1, 2014, with all its attendant consequences. It will be a setback for the Federal Reserve. It will begin a decline in employment. And it will be another excuse for Progressives to shout for more power, as the dignity and independence of millions more are extinguished under their last law, they will insist that this is excellent grounds to impose their next on whatever families are left still supporting themselves.

If you have a job or a business watch out: They’re going to help the shit out of you.


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