Monday, February 10, 2014

Working For A Living

Josh Marshall reflects on the nearly unanimous Republican reaction to the CBO report on Obamacare.  Essentially they’re saying that not having to keep a job just to keep your health insurance is a temptation to the lazy side of life and becoming a taker instead of a maker.

Obamacare doesn’t create a disincentive to work. To be more precise it removes one incentive to work. And no, this is no mere semantic difference. One incentive that keeps some people either in their current job or in the labor market in general is the risk of themselves or their family facing a catastrophic health care situation without insurance.

One might note that abolishing slavery also removed a powerful incentive to work, namely whippings, torture, various deprivations and in some cases death. We could also incentive people to work by threatening them with the loss of their children if they did not hold full time jobs. But in a capitalist economy, the primary incentive to work is supposed to be money, not the risk of being prevented from purchasing a life saving commodity. Even the more mundane deprivation of health insurance is not so much an incentive to work as a sort of torture or extortion.

It’s also important to note that this is not principally about working to get money to buy insurance. It’s needing to operate in a health care insurance system in which the ability to purchase insurance is not only tightly tied to employment in general but in many cases to particular jobs if you have some condition or genetic tendency that makes no one else want to hire/insure you.

I also thought that one of the great goals of the Republicans was to create a country where anyone could strike out on their own and create a small business and make something of themselves: to become a Job Creator.  You can’t do that if you’re stuck working at a job whose only benefit is not being driven to bankruptcy if you get sick.

Most of all, Obamacare gives workers the freedom to choose what they want to do with their lives.  I thought that was the acme of delight in the GOP world (well, as long as it doesn’t include the freedom to marry whomever you love regardless of genitalia, and a woman’s choice to make decisions about her own body, but you know what they mean).

However, that is no longer the goal since that blah guy came along.