Of all the arguments against a universal health care system, such as Medicare for All, surely the stupidest one is the concern over the fact that some people might lose their jobs.
When have politicians in America ever given a shit about eliminating working-class jobs?
The only time that I can think of is when the profits of some wealthy special interest group are being threatened.
Let me repeat: when have we expressed concern over the elimination of working class jobs in the modern era, in the media or elsewhere? Nowhere, for as long as I can remember.
It’s just never happened. Why now?
Where where these concerns over jobs when the industrial Midwest, where I live, started bleeding jobs, and continued bleeding jobs for over forty years? Where were they then?
No, when industrial workers and people who wear hard-hats to work and carry lunch pails lost their jobs in the Heartland, the answer from politicians and the media was just to suck it up and deal with it. It was to let them fall back on their own resources. It was to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
Their answer at every turn was every clichéd variant of “let them eat cake”: more education, retraining, the “service economy,” and more recently, the “gig economy” (“drive for Uber…”)
They just didn’t care. During the forty years of jobs losses that decimated entire communities and reduced large swaths of the country to the living standards that rivaled those of developing countries for squalor, the politicians and the punditocracy just didn’t give a rat’s ass. They told us that those people deserved it. That they were stupid and racist. That they should have hit the books and studied harder. That they should have moved to New York or San Francisco. That government help would simply “encourage dependency.”
They told us that globalization was just an impersonal force of nature that no one could control, certainly not the politicians from both parties who were helpless in the face of it (even while signing trade deals). Kevin Williamson famously told us that these communities deserved to die. And he wasn’t alone, he was just the most blunt about expressing the belief embraced by the entire Neoliberal professional managerial class.
But NOW they’re just SO CONCERNED that some people might be out of a job if all of us have access to decent health care.
For Christ’s sake!!!
And what’s even more disingenuous is that for years, those of us concerned over job losses due to rapidly advancing automation and outsourcing were lectured by the brain geniuses of economic “science” about the so-called “Lump of Labor” fallacy. We had it thrown in our face at every turn. We were lectured like children by the armchair geniuses who hung out on Internet forums: “Don’t you know about the LuMp oF lAbOr FallAcY, haR Har!” We were told that automation always creates more employment, not less. Anyone who doesn’t believe that, or thinks that circumstances might be different this time, “just doesn’t understand economics” they said. After all, all those agricultural workers eventually found jobs didn’t they?
And now, some of those exact same shills are arguing that we need to keep the most cruel and inefficient health care delivery system in the entire world going because it might cost jobs? Jobs that solely exist because of rampant inefficiency and bloat? That it’s more important to preserve these Bullshit Jobs rather than having an efficient health care system that actually delivers care without bankrupting people? Really? In other words, they are arguing that the Lump of Labor fallacy suddenly becomes true when it comes to preserving health care office jobs, and not for any other part of the economy, apparently.
So we’re supposed to care about workers who owe their jobs to health care bloat after forty years of telling manufacturing workers to go fuck themselves. Sorry, not buying it. The truth is, the Lump of Labor fallacy is just another pseudo-scientific, selectively applied economic bullshit concept used to justify the interests of the powerful and to intellectually bully critics.
Truly, this shows the absolute moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Neoliberalism, and the libertarian bias of economics more generally. It also shows the sheer desperation of the sociopaths who are trying to defend this indefensible and inhumane system that kills people.
The fact that we need to have bloat and inefficiency to ensure that enough people have jobs (if that is, in fact, true) is the most damning indictment of modern American capitalism that I can imagine. If we can’t create enough jobs that really need doing that create actual value for people, then we need to rethink how our entire economic system is put together from the ground up. We need to start reducing working hours and sharing the work. And we need to make a decent standard of living less dependent on the whims of capricious employers whose only goal is to fatten their profits, regardless of the what it does to the living standards of the average person.
If that’s Socialism, then sign me up.
How about this: maybe we should have a fair and efficient government-run universal health-care system AND help those people who have been displaced from jobs. Maybe we can help hurting workers in a way we DIDN’T do for all of those years when we threw manufacturing workers under the bus.
If anybody is still using these arguments, including any media pundits or politicians, you know that they are morally and intellectually bankrupt shills, and you shouldn’t listen to anything they say. That goes especially for the Neoliberal Democratic candidates, many of whom stealthily profit off of the suffering of their fellow Americans.
This post makes much the same point with perhaps a slightly less outraged tone: Our Current Healthcare System Is a Bad Jobs Guarantee (Mike the Mad Biologist). What I favor is replacing the bad jobs guarantee provided by our health care system—one which leads to bankruptcy and premature death—with a good jobs guarantee—one that actually improves the lives of American citizens. And yes, we can afford it.
As I’ve often pointed out, we already have a socialist program that provides education and training to people from blighted rural and urban areas of the country—it’s called the U.S. military. We just have to pretend it’s something else. And don’t forget how many indirect jobs are created by the government military spending gravy train. Without that, the U.S. economy would likely be a wreck. And we already have a de facto UBI as well—we just call it disability benefits and pretend it’s something else.
Maybe we should just stop pretending we have a true “free market” economy (if we ever really did), and just create those programs for real. You know, drop the pretense and quit pretending. Just a thought.