Thursday, September 07, 2006


Interesting Articles At American Prospect

The online version of American Prospect has consistently offered concise and thoughtful pieces about business, government and the middle class. In the last few days, several articles have appeared that I would like to recommend.

"Another Year, Another Wage Loss", by Robert Kuttner, decries the erosion of middle class earnings while corporate heads and their gilded minions only get richer and richer. The median income has dropped for the fifth straight year, and that for persons under 65 has dropped 5.4 percent since 2000. Even though the economy has grown, all the rewards have gone to top earners and corporate profits, and less than ever to the average worker. A recent public opinion survey revealed that, "The public thinks that workers were better off a generation ago on every key dimension of worker life...wages, benefits, retirement plans, on-the-job stress, the loyalty they are shown by employers". And this is no mere perception. Statistics bear it out. Productivity has jumped 33.5 percent in the last ten years, while real wages have declined since 2000. Corporate health coverage has dropped from 69 percent in 1979 to 56 percent in 2004, while the share of interest, dividends and capital gains among the richest one percent rose from 37.8 percent to 57.5 percent in the same period. That's one out of a hundred owning more than half of everything. Ownership society, my ass. Ownership oligarchy is more like it. Kuttner, who sits on the board of the Economy Policy Institute, wonders why the middle class is taking all this lying down. The unbridled selfishness of the rich and powerful absolutely controls Congress, while the rest of us sit back and do nothing. Kuttner reminds us that all the government programs that have helped the average American - such as Social Security, Medicare, the GI bill, etc. - did not happen on their own. Voters made them happen by electing the officials who believed in their cause.

In "Don't Look Back", even Matthew Yglesias - who has friends at the Cato Institute (which is sort of like having a buddy in the Nazi party) - argues that universal health insurance is a "good idea", even if it was introduced by the "liberals".

Meanwhile, in "The Cost of High Costs", Maggie Mahar ridicules the notion that the American healthcare industry should cast itself as an engine of profit when the point of healthcare to begin with is to preserve and improve human life. "The healthcare industry has become addicted to revenue growth - and it's crowding out the things we care about," says Alan Sagar of the B.U. School of Public Health. We spend 16 percent of the GDP on healthcare, and only 4.7 percent on grade school education - a gain of only 1 percent since 1970, even though there are 13 percent more children in the United States. Despite the vast expenditure on healthcare, the United States ranks a pitiful 31st in longevity worldwide, and 40th in the prevention of early childhood mortality.

Much of healthcare expenditure arises from excessive prices for drugs, materials and procedures that cost far less in other nations, and expensive procedures continue to be promoted and performed even while low-cost therapies yield far more reliable benefits - at least in the case of cardiac medicine.

Turn to the articles at the links below, and read them in detail. Then visit American Prospect as often as you can, and you will get a better picture of what's happening in our nation than the bloviating neocon apologists at the National Review and Tech Central Station can provide.

"Another Year, Another Wage Loss" from American Prospect
"Don't Look Back" from American Prospect
"The Cost of High Costs" from American Prospect

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