Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prostitutes and PPOs

It’s amazing what stirs in your mind if you read the Indianapolis Star and the Heritage Foundation website the same week you listen to Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jim Schellinger. For example, questions like, “What do prostitutes and forty million uninsured Americans have in common?”

The Star reported over the weekend that Indianapolis deputy mayor Olgen Williams’ son (who serves as a bailiff at the juvenile court) was cited for soliciting an undercover police trainee. Should I lecture Williams on soliciting? He clearly is not an expert “John,” or he would have been able to sniff out a newbie vice officer. Also, it’s hard to get worked up about a crime that doesn’t even get you arrested. One might rightly ask whether it’s worth spending a single dollar or man-hour for IMPD to train their officers to hand out wrist slaps.

But what I WILL lecture Williams on is being cheap. He only offered $16 for oral sex. If that is the going rate for “working girls,” they need a union. Maybe Streetwalkers Local 69 could get them a better deal through collective bargaining.

Of course, Republican Johns like Williams would hate this. (No word on whether Spitzer's preferred house of ill repute was union). Republicans hate it when employees act in concert to raise wages. They believe it perverts a free market system that would otherwise have an individual employer negotiating with an individual employee. This is why Governor Daniels’ first act as governor was to rescind the executive order signed by Governor Bayh to afford collective bargaining rights to state employees.

But here’s something to think about. The Heritage Foundation is one of (if not THE) nation’s premier conservative think tanks. One of its primary ideas for expanding healthcare affordability and coverage is to allow individuals and small businesses to join “pools” to purchase coverage. This is the Sam’s Club theory of health insurance. If I buy one pair of wool socks, I might normally pay $4. But if I pool my money with 1000 other buyers and we can purchase 1000 pairs together "in bulk," we might pay only $1 per pair. In other words, “pooling” is the means by which many individuals bargain…oh, what’s the word I’m looking for here? I remember! “Collectively.”

If “pooling” is a key to expanding health coverage, why stop with a bunch of self-employed individuals or small businesses? After all, the larger the purchasing unit, the better the prices negotiated for coverage, right? If this is correct, why not create a bargaining unit that ALL uninsured people can buy into? We can call it “America, Inc.” Wait. Wouldn’t that be the same thing as “universal healthcare coverage” that Obama and Hillary are talking about? No, not “socialized medicine.” Neither of their plans has government running the hospitals or employing doctors. They would just have a single payer system, which would presumably get the BEST rate for us all, wouldn’t it?

Even if the foregoing policy specifics could be deemed squishy, isn’t it, nonetheless, strange that having employees bond together to increase wages (or to actually obtain health insurance coverage) corrupts the market, but having those same employees bond together (whether on their own or through small businesses) is lauded. Things that make you go hmmm.



Anonymous said...

Your comparison misses a critical point. The key word in the Heritage Foundation's proposal is "allow." The key word in Clinton's plan is "require."

Once the government requires membership in such a collective, the government makes the rules, either overtly or through the force of its market power. Broad consumer choice - a guiding principle of the Heritage Foundation - is severely restricted or effectively lost.

I agree, however, that the younger Mr. Williams is cheap...either that or he figured there wasn't that much work involved for a man of his stature.

Eclecticvibe said...

I don't believe either Obama or Clinton are for a "Single Payer" health insurance. In fact, I think they both support using private insurance, but requiring that insurance make their coverage available and affordable to all. Nader and the Green Party truly back a "single payer" plan where the government covers all cost, but doctors still operate privately.

Anonymous said...

I believe Clinton's plan requires everyone to buy insurance, Obama's does not. Either way, making health care "available and affordable to all" under their plans will require government subsidies, probably very large government subsidies. As is always the case, when the government pays the bill the government sets the rules.

I don't know about you but my experience with government, or any of its mandated programs, rarely involves a choice of any variety.

Eclecticvibe said...

I don't think lack of choice has been a problem for the many industrialized or even not so industrialized(Cuba) nations that provide healthcare for everyone. Having no choice for health care means not being able to afford or current system, and going without healthcare as millions of Americans do today. I think the Dem's plans both fall short, but I'm willing to sacrifice some choice in health care, to ensure that everyone receives care in the first place. When the choice is your health being managed by a profit-driven HMO or the American Government, I'll take the government any day. BTW, I meant to clarify that Nader is an independent and the Green Party is still choosing their candidate. Not, Nader of the Green Party as of 2000.

Anonymous said...

You missed the point about collective violence, guns, knives, rocks, beatings...all of which have been permitted by squishes. Not to mention, killings, thugs, organized crime, political corruption, intimidation, and corrupt NLRB proceedings. Labor Law is a joke. A bad joke.
Collective health insurance seems to get along without the above.