Obamacare

Obamacare, Work Killer

|

Whitehouse.gov

Obamacare isn't a job killer, at least not according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). But it is a work killer.

That might sound like a meaningless distinction, but there is a difference. Obamacare, according to the CBO, isn't going to cause employers to terminate millions of jobs. But it is projected to cause millions of people—about 2 million in 2017, and 2.5 million by 2024—to quit working, or work fewer hours than they otherwise would have.

The White House has declard that this is a good thing. Thanks to Obamacare, the administration said in a statement last week, "individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time rather than working into their elderly years or choosing to spend more time with their families." People will "no longer be trapped in a job" just to get coverage. Obamacare will allow people to "pursue their dreams."

What might that look like in practice? The bulk of the reduction in the labor force isn't expected to occur until 2017, but with the help of Families USA, a health care advocacy group that supports Obamacare, The Washington Post has already found of two people who have quit working because the law: a 56 year-old Indiana woman who left a payroll administration job when her duties changed and now babysits her granddaughter full time, and a 44 year-old Texas man who quit an $88,000 job in order "to help his nephew, a cancer survivor, start a social media and video-gaming site for other teens with the disease." It's an unpaid position.

Does these examples make the case for Obamacare or against it? Here are two people who, absent the existence of the law, would be productive workers contributing to the economy. Thanks to Obamacare, however, they are not. 

Something like that is expected on a larger scale, although the impact won't be distributed evenly across the income spectrum.

That's because the effect is expected to be concentrated not amongst the office-dwelling upper-middle class, but down the rungs of the income ladder, within the cohort of relatively low-wage, working-class Americans who are already less attached to the labor force. (This is why the CBO projects that even though labor force participation will be two points lower than it otherwise would have been, total compensation will only be reduced by one point.)

The reason the effect is largest amongst the bottom of the income spectrum is that the law's insurance subsidies grow as one makes less money. Sliding-scale subsidies reduce marginal returns to work, because earning more money has the simultaneous effect of reducing the value of the subsidy. (Medicaid, for those at the very bottom of the income scale, has also been shown to discourage work.) It's basically a tax on work at the lower end of the income spectrum.

As the CBO explains, "Subsidies that help lower-income people purchase an expensive product like health insurance must be relatively large to encourage a significant proportion of eligible people to enroll. If those subsidies are phased out with rising income in order to limit their total costs, the phaseout effectively raises people's marginal tax rates (the tax rates applying to their last dollar of income), thus discouraging work."

The simplest way of saying it is that Obamacare makes it less painful to not work, especially for those who already don't make much money. The result is that over the next decade, millions of people will either work less or not at all. In economic terms, it's the same effect as much of the transfer spending contained in the big fiscal stimulus package passed during President Obama's first year in office.

Supporters of Obamacare have pointed out that this is true of all means-tested welfare programs, including some of the conservative health reform proposals that tie financial assistance to income levels.

That's true, but it doesn't mean that we should simply sigh and move on. Government transfer programs can be revamped and remodeled with work in mind. In 2006, when Bill Clinton revisited the welfare reform he'd passed a as president decade earlier, he declared it a successbecause it encouraged more than a million people to take up work, and to move beyond government assistance.

And yet there is a real tension between work and welfare, a balance between employment and aid. That balance has tipped toward the latter in recent years, as various parts of the safety net have expanded to catch those people harmed by the recession. In the process, as high unemployment has persisted and millions have dropped out of the market for work entirely, pushing the labor force participation down to its lowest point since the 1970s, the political conversation has naturally turned to the question of how to create jobs. So far, we've found frustratingly few good answers. Which suggests that policymakers concerned about joblessness might want to consider looking more closely at finding ways to encourage work—or at the very least, to minimize the ways in which discourage it. 

NEXT: Shikha Dalmia Discusses Detroit and Immigration on Coffee & Markets

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Here are two people who, absent the existence of the law, would be productive workers contributing to the economy.

    Who gives a fuck? They aren’t worker bees who need to “contribute to the economy”. The more relevant question is why exactly have they decided that working after Obamacare isn’t worth it?

        1. I friggin’ love that. Thanks to Warty for introducing it to me.

          1. Warty?!? You ungrateful wretch.

            1. Warty. Warty, confirm or deny.

    1. And just as importantly, why is it that their employers are not replacing them with new workers? If I quite my job tomorrow my employer would hire someone else to replace me. If he didn’t, my job is eliminated just as if they had declared me excess and laid me off.

      The root of the lie the various court media people are telling is claiming that me quitting and not being replaced is somehow different than my employer laying me off.

      1. Remember, John, the people they most lie to is themselves.

        1. No, no, “reality-based community.” Fuck, that’s still the most insane thing that’s ever been a thing. Unless Hitler ran around talking about his love for the Jews or something.

          1. He kind of did. He ran around claiming that he was only deporting the Jews and solving the Jewish problem by separating them from the Germans, something that was good for both sides. And both the fascists and communists claimed to be acting for all that was right and just while killing millions.

            That is why these people are so scary. Their language and thinking is just as stark raving mad as the worst killers of the 20th Century.

            1. Okay, so it’s the second most insane thing.

        2. Yes. Difficult to imagine what lying to yourself like that does to your brain.

      2. And just as importantly, why is it that their employers are not replacing them with new workers?

        Because robots cost less than workers because of the increased minimum wage and other regulations.

        In the future, there will only be a couple workers in a fast food joint. You will order your meal on a touchscreen (like an ATM). Your food will be prepared by a machine (possible made by Momentum Machines) that cooks your food exactly as your ordered. It will then pop out of a window where you pick it up, take it to a table, and eat it.

        The humans will be there to supervise the machine and reload them.

        The root of the lie the various court media people are telling is claiming that me quitting and not being replaced is somehow different than my employer laying me off.

        The workers who quit won’t be added to U3, so it won’t count as an increase in unemployment thus saving Obamacare from the accusation that it increases unemployment.

      3. You’re not getting this at all, are you?

        1. What exactly are we supposed to be getting?

    2. Who gives a fuck? They aren’t worker bees who need to “contribute to the economy”.

      this is absolutely correct. Except what we have here is a situation where our government is essentially paying people to not work. This, in my opinion is the biggest danger to any nation’s economy.

      1. It’s been paying old people not to work for decades, and we seem to have survived.

        1. Paying people who are at the end of their most productive period does minimal damage when compared with paying people who are in the most productive segment of their lives to not work. The former just ends up being a simple expense to government coffers, the latter eats at a societies ability to function.

          Or was Greece something that just happened to other people?

          1. In addition, Social Security was supposed to be a simple limited Ponzi scheme. You put money into it at the bottom, and pull money out when you get to the top, and in theory, you start pulling money out of it late enough to not pull out more than you put in, leaving social security “solvent”. We all know what social security became.

          2. If the only reason people are working is to get the health insurance benefit, then how productive are they really being? (Even if it were any of your business.)

            1. If the only reason people are working is to get the health insurance benefit, then how productive are they really being?

              You’ll get no disagreement from me here, although I would think that people working– even if only for a healthcare benefit does add to the economy, even if it is a negative for the personal well-being of the person doing the working. However, that being said, I agree we should de-couple health insurance from employment. I suspect your and my view on how to achieve that are a chasm apart.

              (Even if it were any of your business.)

              Why people work, where people work, and for how much is absolutely none of my business, nor is it any business of Uncle Sam’s.

            2. If the only reason people are working is to get paid, then how productive are they really being?

              Health insurance benefits are not fundamentally different than any other remuneration.

            3. There ARE NO people who are ONLY working to get the health insurance. They are working because they can’t PAY FOR the health insurance without a job.
              They could BUY private health insurance on the individual market, they just weren’t getting the subsidies before.
              You work to PAY FOR THINGS. Including healthcare. if you’re not working because you’re getting a subsidy, you’re doing so because someone else is paying for your shit. Even though, you could, and WOULD, work for it if you weren’t getting a subsidy.

              That, right there, is a “free rider”.

              1. So you’re just bitching about the subsidy, not the increase in freedom it allows for. So… whatever.

                1. The subsidy is a reduction in someone else’s freedom.

                  The freedom to purchase a health insurance plan that doesn’t cover maternity. The freedom to purchase a plan that is priced according to your actual risk. The freedom to pay out of pocket. The freedom to spend your own money as you see fit, instead of being forced to give it to someone else – so they don’t have to work – even though they COULD and WOULD work for it, if they didn’t have a gun to your head.

                  We’re talking about ABLE BODIED ADULTS. Not disabled people here.

                  Abled bodied adults who are fully capable of working and making enough money to buy their own damn insurance. But you think they shouldn’t have to, because someone else, someone younger and healthier or richer than them can be forced to do it instead.

                  So they can stay home and jerk off in front of the TV instead of getting a job.

                  1. Oh, I forgot, so they can have the “freedom” to stay home and jerk off in front of the TV.

                    1. Why are people feeding the troll?

                    2. Because the troll is in an untenable position and doesn’t yet realize it.

                    3. Why are people feeding the troll?

                      Say what you will about Tony, he’s not a troll. He actually believes what he says.

                    4. That sums up your typical redditor.

                  2. You sacrifice some VERY TRIVIAL freedoms (waah I have to pay in to maternity care) for better freedoms. It’s a tradeoff everyone understands, but you guys seem ridiculously incapable of calculating correctly. All you’re saying is being taxed is among the worst possible harms out there (worse than women not getting maternity care in their insurance), and that’s just stupid.

                    1. The very trivial freedom of what sort of house you can afford to live in, or even if you can afford one at all. Sure Tony.

                      Taxes make a difference in people’s lives.

                  3. You have a common but inaccurate understanding of risk. You simply can’t calculate a reliable risk for an individual. This is part of the reason why individual plans cost more than group plans. Insurance is based on pooling risk across a group, which allows an accurate statistical assessment.

                    Employer-based health insurance also receives a subsidy in the form of not being included in taxable compensation.

                    Living in any current country with a functional government incurs subsidizing activities which you might not chose on your own.

                    See also Rousseau’s distinction between freedom (the state of nature) and liberty (produced by a well-ordered society under a civil magistrate.)

                    1. You can calculate reliably that people with certain medical histories and genes are more likely than others to incurr medical expenses in the future.

                      Thats why you pool LIKE risks. You don’t throw the low risk people into the same pool as the high risk pool as a deliberate ploy to force the low risk people to pay more to subsidize the high risk people.

                    2. You are touching on an area in which I have some professional expertise. You can make an informed judgment about individuals but you can’t calculate a probability that is worth the ink to print it. And even you know that employer-provided insurance does indeed throw all together into one risk pool.

                      If you weren’t so ardent to defend what you think you know, you might learn something.

        2. Holy shit the delusion needed to think that SS is not a disaster

          1. You’re just wrong.

            1. Tony|2.11.14 @ 7:39PM|#
              “You’re just wrong.”

              You’re just a lying asshole

            2. Even its own trustees admit that the program is insolvent. Would you care to offer an argument this evening, or are you falling back on your standbys of gratuitous assertions?

              1. “insolvent” is a misconstrual of the status of SS.

        3. we seem to have survived

          Yeah, Social Security’s outlook is just peachy.

          1. “As you can see, I haven’t pulled the trigger all the way, and you’re still alive. Cogito ergo sum.”

    3. Agreed. I have worked with people who were working full time only because it was the only way they could get affordable insurance. Otherwise they would have spent more of their time on their own small business, or simply spent more time with family, etc. In short, they would have contributed more to the economy if they had not been trapped by our absurd system of health insurance through an employer.

      As we are dealing with the beginning stages of technological unemployment, in which productivity is rising even as the number of workers is shrinking, we might do well to discourage unskilled workers from working long hours – though we may need to find a way to ensure that most people get a chance to earn a living on reduced hours. Of course, one way to increase wages is to decrease the labor supply. Who better to start with than those who prefer to work less and don’t need the money?

      1. By taking money from the people who do work, by force?

        Subsidies aren’t free. They come out of other people’s pockets.

    4. The more relevant question is why exactly have they decided that working after ObamaCare isn’t worth it?

      Because other people are being forced to support them. THAT’S WHY.

      Would YOU work if you knew you could get a free ride on someone else’s back?

  2. Obamacare is the job-killer.
    Obamacare is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

    1. I will bend like a law in the wind.

      1. Laws in the wind
        All we are is laws in the wind.

        –Socrates

        1. Excellent translation, Pro “Theodore” Logan.

          1. Fuck, where is the sequel? Where?

  3. I also declard some statements too

  4. “… in the nature of a command economy would not just guarantee economic failure, but increasing lawlessness, arbitrariness, and tyranny from the government that imposes it as it gets desperate to avoid failure. That cycle appears to be fast-tracked with ObamaCare at Treasury.”

    Employers commanded not to cut back full-time workers because of Obamacare? Am I reading this right?

    I guess Obumbles has pulled out all of the stops and gone full fascist.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201…..decisions/

    1. If true, that’s just fucked up.

      1. I’ve been trying to draw attention to this = the whole point of the ‘attestation’ is not to compel actual compliance and force people’s behavior… its simply to give the admin some kind of claim that *the law isn’t doing exactly what everyone knows its doing* = killing jobs

        “…the mere threat of the employer mandate is causing companies to shed full-time workers in the hope of keeping their staff size below 50 and avoiding the requirement.

        Administration officials dispute that this is happening on any large scale. Further, Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury…”

        The point I’ve made is to the essential meaninglessness of the definition of the term ‘simply’ – they can never prove otherwise, so the incentive is basically ATTEST OR ELSE = aka ‘lie to me’.

        Nothing affirms ‘rule of law’ like laws intended to make liars out of everyone.

    2. Color me skeptical. There’s no way they could keep it secret if there’s an attestation attached to the business’ tax forms. All that’s in the origninal FNC post is the ever popular “Officials say…”

      1. What are you talking about ‘secret’ ?- this is in the Treasury press release =

        http://www.treasury.gov/press-…..ments/Fact Sheet 021014.pdf

        Noted = they DO make it hard to get clarity on the “certification”… but its in the rules linked in the above file

        As summarized in the press conference =

        “‘Officials said businesses will have to attest that they’re not cutting employees just to qualify for the additional delay but noted that businesses are still free to cut their workforces for economic reasons.””

        Which basically means NOTHING. its giving more time to businesses IF they do the Admin a favor and pretend (on paper!) that Obamacare is awesome and not causing job losses.

        What is notable is that this Quid-Pro-Quo has no real basis in law AT ALL. What if the ACA *is* the reason you’re cutting jobs? There’s no legal basis for any action to be taken = they’re just *asking* people to say its NOT.

        1. http://www.treasury.gov/press-…..ments/Fact Sheet 021014.pdf

          and

          http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroo…..e-Care-Act

          1. GOD DAMMIT

            You have to go here and then click on one of the links at the bottom of the page. Apparently the copy + paste isn’t capturing the entire URL.

            1. Fuck me in the goat ass. Today isn’t my day.

              http://www.treasury.gov/press-…..l2290.aspx

    3. We do not have a command economy, nor does Obama promote it. The ACA has socialist elements, but works through the market.

      Also, you don’t know facist from a hill of beans.

  5. And never forget Peter that one of the biggest talking points put out in support of this law back in 2009 was that it was necessary for a recovery in the employment rate since it would make healthcare affordable and US companies more competitive. A lot of your more disgusting colleagues in the media repeatedly made that claim with a straight face.

    Here we are five years later and those same people are telling us work is overrated and the law is great because it means fewer people will be working.

    You wonder why some of us hate your profession so much Peter.

    1. John, the about-faces are many and sundry.

      My favorite about-face is “well, yes, Obamacare will cost everyone more, but people will finally get access to healthcare!”

  6. The White House has declard that this is a good thing. Thanks to Obamacare, the administration said in a statement last week, “individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time rather than working into their elderly years or choosing to spend more time with their families.” People will “no longer be trapped in a job” just to get coverage. Obamacare will allow people to “pursue their dreams.”

    So. Much. Fucking. Stupidity.

    Wealth creation, how does it work?

    1. The key to prosperity is working less.

      Remember, these are the same people who think France has the right idea making it illegal for someone to work more than 36 hours a week. Doing that makes people share the work and employs more people.

      Yeah, they are really that fucking stupid. And they are in charge.

      1. You really do have to wonder. Any person who doesn’t at least ask if decreased labor participation leads to less wealth creation is either really stupid or not at all concerned with wealth and prosperity. I mean, I’m a total amateur in all of this and I can at least see how this might be a bad thing. These people are supposed to be experts!

        1. I’m gonna go with really stupid. If the goal is to steal the fruits of people’s work so that others don’t have to work, how long do they think that’s gonna last?

        2. Yes, I can see from your comments that you are an amateur, and not in the good sense of pursuing something from the love of it.

          People contribute to wealth creation outside of the paid labor force, investing human capital in future productivity. Parents, for example.

          1. And they have every right to do so – at their own expense.

            1. When are you going to quit using the public roads, built by taxes coerced from others?

              1. CHILRUNZ!!!!!

                ROADZZZZZ!!!!

    2. and none of those options listed in the pull quote was possible prior to ACA. No, no one was allowed to quit work for whatever reason; society just expected them to be able to support themselves.

    3. People called capitalists release wealth when they feel like it or are compelled to do so by a righteous government?

    4. Wealth creation, how does it work?

      Just print money. Voila — more wealth!

    5. Retiring “on time”? If you are retired, how do you pay the deductible? Not everyone has a half million dollars save up. If you won’t need to pay it, why have insurance in the first place?

  7. like retiring on time

    Retire, go fishing then die a year later.

    If you dug ditches or laid rail road yeah you should probably retire from that…but quitting the kind of work most people do in our service economy rally seems like a good way to kill yourself.

  8. That’s because the effect is expected to be concentrated not amongst the office-dwelling upper-middle class, but down the rungs of the income ladder, within the cohort of relatively low-wage, working-class Americans who are already less attached to the labor force. (This is why the CBO projects that even though labor force participation will be two points lower than it otherwise would have been, total compensation will only be reduced by one point.)

    And these people have the gall to get up and bitch about income inequality. Or are they just that unaware?

  9. Look. All it means is that employers are going to cut hours and people are going to get fed up with it and quit altogether. It’s not like they would prefer to have no income. It’s just that their choices will be to either make a part time income and pay high premiums or make no income and have lower premiums. These aren’t great choices here.

    Oh now they have time to spend with their children and start a business. Man, the “they’ll start businesses” line would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    1. They don’t have to work anymore because insurance is so easy to get through the exchanges and the website that they no longer need to work to have insurance.

      That is what they are claiming. If it were not so tragic, it would be funny. You are right about that.

      1. You can have insurance. You just won’t be able to afforce to use it.

  10. Does these examples make the case for Obamacare or against it?

    how about neither. These folks could have made the same damn decision prior to O-care. They still have to pay for everything they would have had to pay for before. Unless I have missed something outside of the subsidies which, if so, makes me wonder just how big those are.

    1. The biggest thing is that it has traditionally been very difficult for some people to get insurance as an individual, due to our system which ties health insurance to employment. The same person who might be able to pay $500 insurance premiums through work might not be able to afford $1500 per month as an individual.

      I have indeed known people who cut back work on their own small business (where they made more money) to work for a big business because of the benefits, chief of which is health insurance.

      1. Not if they don’t have a job, they wouldn’t.

        But now, they can not have a job, and someone else will pay the $1500.

        It’s certainly the case that if you have health problems, you may benefit from working for a larger company where you can get group insurance, and it will be cheaper than on the individual market. But does this mean it’s *unfair* that if you are self-employed you have to pay the cost of your own risks?

  11. Apparently no one read my link.

    They said Obamacare would not cause full timers to be laid off. Employers are starting to do just that, so the Treasury Dept is having employers swear that they arent/wont do so. See? Obamacare isnt killing jobs.

    If the economy isnt responding the way they want it to, they can just command it to.

    1. I have read that. And when the businesses just shut down, I guess that will prove why capitalism is a failure.

      1. I am sure they will be commanded not to shut down.

        1. “I am sure they will be commanded not to shut down.”

          Oh, NO! They will be commanded to say they shut down because of market failures, since O-care is ‘market-based’.

    2. “They said Obamacare would not cause full timers to be laid off. Employers are starting to do just that, so the Treasury Dept is having vaguely threatening employers to swear that they arent/wont do so.”

      The fact is that the ‘attestation’ threat/demand has no force of law *at all* – as even if it weren’t true, there is no statute compelling employers to maintain X/Y ratio of full time/part time employees…

      The incentive is to “go along to get along” to sign said certification, so the Admin can claim ‘no adverse effects’….

      its so fucking slimy its jaw-dropping. I think only 5% of people seem to fully grok what this thing is about.

  12. The contortions these people go through to justify this law make MY head hurt. I’m surprised THEY haven’t all died of brain embolisms.

  13. Now folks can retire “on time?” What is “on time.” Medicare cuts in at 65, so no one who retired “on time” (assuming that is 65) was ever hurt by a lack of Obamacare. Now if he means 55 or 62 or some such,
    then why the F*** should I subsidize someone’s desire to live a life of leisure at my expense?

    1. Because you have money and they don’t. And if you don’t have money, or they do, then it’s no big deal because that wasn’t the intended outcome, and we can just slap some exceptions and quick fixes on that right away.

    2. The WaPo piece highlights how awesome it is that a woman gets to retire at 62 because she can get subsidized insurance now.
      Noone mentions how this subsidy money is coming our of the pockets of younger people paying jacked up rates, and middle-class families that make too much for subsidies.

      Your nice early retirement IS ON SOMEONE ELSE’S BACK YOU HAG BITCH.

      1. Such sexism!

        1. I’m a woman, by the way.

          1. So you also use sexist insults. Women are not immune from sexism, you know.

            1. Yeah I’ve noticed that when it comes to radical femisists.

    3. We are already subsidizing employer-based healthcare, and emergency healthcare for the uninsured.

      1. Forcing people to subsidize it even more seems like a poor solution.

        People should pay for their own health care, either by paying for insurance that is priced according to risk, or by paying out of pocket.

        Surely you are aware that the structure of the ACA effectively forces low-risk people to subsidize high-risk people.

  14. Oh, and by the way, Mary Fucking Landrieu is behind her challengers in the polls here. A lot of people are saying she is dead meat come November.

    I hope she gets cancer and gets to watch her replacements victory party on TV from a bed in hospice.

  15. OT:

    Ever wonder what it’s like for that one good cop? You get sent for psych eval or just plain run out of the department. Or 88 cops from 25 different agencies could access your driver’s license info in order to harass you because you gave another cop a ticket for doing 120 mph.

    http://news.msn.com/crime-just…..harassment

    1. The good apples are being kicked out of the bunch.

  16. I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but the image makes it look like Obo is host of a day-time TV quiz show.
    All we need is some overweight woman in a too-tight outfit screaming “I WON, I WON!”

  17. “Obamacare isn’t a job killer, at least not according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”

    Let’s stop right there for a second.

    When they say it isn’t a job killer, are they saying that there will still be more jobs in the future than there are now?

    Or are they saying that there will be just as many jobs in the future as there would have been without ObamaCare?

    Because there are important difference between those two statements.

    P.S. In any event, just because the CBO says something, doesn’t mean it’s true.

    1. It all depends on how “job killer” is defined.

      Socialists see everything from a labor perspective, so a job is only “killed” if it’s not available.

      If someone decides not to work, a job isn’t “killed.”

      Suicide doesn’t count, apparently.

      1. How do socialists feel about the poor?

        Does the CBO elaborate on any of the qualitative aspects of these jobs they’re so sure about?

        If demographics, etc. are going to create more jobs than are lost, with or without ObamaCare–create more than enough jobs to make up for any that are lost because of ObamaCare–what sort of jobs are we talking about that are going to be lost?

        Are the jobs that are lost going to be disproportionately from among those staffed by the lowest paid workers? Are the job prospects of the uneducated, minorities, convicted felons, and the poor going to end up being hurt the worst by ObamaCare?

        The people who are paid the least are the ones whose employment opportunities are most sensitive to cost increases, right? You can’t replace a structural engineer or a physical therapist with a self-service kiosk, but you can replace a cashier at a grocery store or a fast food restaurant with a touch screen.

        You could replace bank tellers with ATMs, easy! That’s what drive up ATMs are all about.

    2. I can’t see how causing 2.5 million workers to drop out of the workforce won’t have a negative economic impact, due to the added drag of taxes to pay for their subsidies.

      1. Understandably, you’re taking a static view of things. It’s easier to conceptualize than a dynamic view, which forecasts how policy will affect the economy in the long run. The CBO is required by Congress to eschew dynamic analysis. Paul Ryan has criticized CBO analysis of his proposals for failing to include dynamic effects.

        Public education is a subsidy – justified on the effects in increasing future productivity and preparing people to participate in democracy.

        Subsidies which allow people to invest their human capital in fostering start-ups or raising children can also be expected to produce future benefits to the economy and pay back the subsidy with interest.

        1. What makes you think people reducing their hours or dropping out of the workforce because they can get a subsidy are going to be fostering startups and raising children?

          There is no such condition in the law.
          You can get a subsidy for dropping out of the workforce and playing video games in your mom’s basement.

          1. I’m just using the same examples as the author. When I’m paid to do a survey, we can determine what percentage are making investments and what percentage are sitting in their mom’s basement. Until then, you are expressing your prejudices.

  18. You have to stretch a lot of basic libertarian principles nearly beyond recognition in order to ride the anti-Obamacare talking points express on this one. As long as we all understand that Republicans wanted to boil this CBO report down to “Obamacare kills jobs” and that they are sorta lying about it.

    Or maybe I missed something in Libertarianism 101 about how freedom and using economic forces to make people work when they don’t really want to mesh together somehow. Talk about the dignity of work if you want, or whether people ought to be judged by society based on their contribution to GDP, but don’t call it freedom.

    1. You’re right. True freedom is forcing other people to pay for your healthcare.

      1. Yup. Because being taxed isn’t an abridgement of freedom, unless you can’t afford it.

        1. Maybe someone else can explain to me what this is supposed to mean.

          1. You’re suggesting that entering a health insurance pool (forcing others to pay for your healthcare) is an abridgement of freedom. I’m suggesting that it’s not, that it’s just insurance. And it works pretty much the same way when it’s done by government.

            1. I was suggesting no such thing. I was suggesting that freedom does not consist of forcing taxpayers to give you subsidies so that you don’t have to support yourself.

              1. Oh, well at least we’re in agreement that a universal social insurance model would be best.

                But I still disagree. Taxing a person is not a meaningful abridgement of his freedom, while providing access to healthcare to someone is a significant increase in her freedom. Net freedom increase. Plus the taxpayer might probably have had to pay for her healthcare needs at some point anyway, just through increased insurance premiums or what not.

                1. Tony|2.11.14 @ 6:00PM|#
                  …”Taxing a person is not a meaningful abridgement of his freedom,”…

                  Yes, holding a gun to someone’s head is in no way an abridgement of their freedom.
                  You did just post that, didn’t you?

                2. Where have I read this before?

                  Tax everyone 100% and there is no loss of freedom. Let the state dole out all of the fruits of the nation’s labor as it deems fit and there is an increase in freedom. It’s win-win!

                  I remember now. You just put a modern spin on, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” and “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

                  1. AB1979|2.11.14 @ 6:19PM|#
                    “Where have I read this before?”
                    When and if he gets around to defending that horseshit, the claim is that if you’re cooperative, it’s not theft.
                    And AFAIK, he can type that without breaking into laughter.

                    1. It just boggles the mind that someone could write that sentence without realizing that no matter how much they approve of taxation, that it still constitutes the government exerting majority rights over an individual’s labor or capital.

                      I thought the lefties were against that kind of abuse.

                    2. Democracy (majority rule subject to constraints) has produced more liberty and economic growth than any other form of government.

                      Where there is no government regulation, we find bad market and little liberty. Instead, your liberty is constrained by tribal elders or warlords.

                      Move to Somalia if you want little government regulation.

                    3. Move to Somalia if you want little government regulation.

                      Hey look everybody, a moron!

                    4. Unable to respond to the substance, Redmanfms resorts to trite insult.

                    5. Move to Somalia if you want little government regulation.

                      CHILRUNZ!!
                      ROADZZZ!!!
                      SOMALIA!!

                  2. If you’re dismissing the argument by erecting a red communist straw man, then you are losing the argument.

                    I didn’t say there is no such thing as a confiscatory, or counterproductive, or freedom-destroying tax rate.

                    I just said that freedom involves things other than not being taxed and governed.

                    1. According to Tony, freedom involves not working and living on the dole, even if you are a healthy able bodied adult.

                    2. Sounds pretty free to me. Not necessarily something to encourage, but definitely free.

                    3. Not for the people who have to pay for it.

                    4. Tony|2.11.14 @ 7:35PM|#
                      “If you’re dismissing the argument by erecting a red communist straw man, then you are losing the argument.”

                      Since I’m not, that means YOU’RE losing the argument.

                    5. I’m not erecting a strawman at all, you said taxation is not an abridgement of freedom with no qualifiers and that the state providing a good or service provides an increase in freedom, again without qualification. Taken to it’s logical conclusion, that equals exactly the political-economic philosophy of Marxism.

                      Even if you don’t believe that is the be-all, end-all solution and that there are “confiscatory” rates, who gets to decide those rates? The majority? Where are my minority rights? Why are we not measuring disparate impact with tax rates by class, or race for that matter since that’s a perennial liberal favorite.

                      You want someone to tell you what to do and what to earn, by all means, find someone to do that. But don’t impose your fear and need for a master on me.

                3. You make me very, very sad

                  1. (sorry, @Tony)

                    1. No, I make me very, very sad too.

          2. Adam330|2.11.14 @ 5:43PM|#
            “Maybe someone else can explain to me what this is supposed to mean.”

            It means Tony lies always and everywhere.

      2. You’re right. True freedom is forcing other people to pay for your healthcare.

        My favorite one is:

        True freedom is making your ass go into the office every day so I can be an Artiste.

    2. Talk about the dignity of work if you want, or whether people ought to be judged by society based on their contribution to GDP, but don’t call it freedom.

      You are absolutely 100% correct. Why then, does the left repeatedly use ‘loss of worker productivity’ to justify so many intrusions of government into our lives?

      1. The left allows itself various and sundry measures to inform its policy choices. To liberals, freedom from government isn’t the only measure of human well-being.

        1. Translation: We have no principles so we can just make shit up regardless of whether it conflicts with the other shit we’ve made up.

          1. Welcome to pragmatism, the only philosophy that’s ever worked to better people, because that is its sole function.

            1. Making shit up to support whatever cockamamie shit you are currently pushing under the guise that it “betters people” isn’t pragmatism you dishonest piece of shit.

              Nor does it better people. People going on the dole doesn’t better them.

            2. It’s called “corruption” , not “pragmatism”, Tony.

              Doing whatever works to redirect money to your team is corruption. It’s not justice or fairness. It’s just greed dressed up in altruistic drag.

              1. HazelMeade|2.11.14 @ 7:51PM|#
                “It’s called “corruption” ,”

                Until it becomes totalitarianism and people die by the millions.

                1. Until it becomes totalitarianism and people die by the millions.

                  Eggs…omelettes etc… we’re building a better tomorrow here. Great leaps forward and all that.

                  /progressive.

              2. Jumped the shark!

        2. To liberals, freedom is letting someone else subsidize your freedom. Now all of these Americans are free from work and free from paying for substantial benefits.

          Tony’s right, net increase in freedom!

          Except for all of you wage slaves trying to rise above a subsistence-level existence.

          1. To liberals, freedom is forcing someone else to subsidize you.

            Which isn’t really freedom at all. It’s just pure will to power. It’s just using guns to take.

            1. Which isn’t really freedom at all. It’s just pure will to power. It’s just using guns to take.

              Which, according to our communist friend on the The Independents is the only justified use of guns.

      2. Please cite your sources for “Why then, does the left repeatedly use ‘loss of worker productivity’ to justify so many intrusions of government into our lives?”

        It is a very confused statement.

    3. The dignity of work – isn’t that a Marxist notion anyway?!

      Holy cognitive dissonance

      1. It’s awesome to not work. Everyone should do it. If they can manage it without robbing other people to pay their living expenses.

        I hope some day we all live in a robot utopia where nobody has to work.

        Until then, I expect people who don’t want to work to earn enough money to retire on their own, instead of on someone else’s dime.

      2. Simply put, no.

        Adam Smith was also concerned about the dignity of work, and Christianity in general.

    4. Wow, you really are fucked in the head Tony.

      “missed something in Libertarianism 101 about how freedom and using economic forces to make people work when they don’t really want to mesh together somehow.”

      You miss the part where “economic forces” are the result of, like, reality, and not because someone else refuses to give you money so you don’t need to work.

      1. This specific phenomenon has to do with employer-tied insurance, a relic of the evil FDR days. It’s not an economic force coming from the on-again off-again (depending on the argument) free market in this country. It was subsidizing health insurance before via tax benefits through the employer, now it’s also subsidizing direct access to more people than it used to. The only reason the phenomenon of job lock exists is because of market distortions that make employer-provided insurance more valuable than private options.

        1. No, it isn’t.
          This isn’t about “job lock”.

          You aren’t dropping out of the workforce or reducing your hours when you switch employers.

          That’s a red herring that your side trotted out to distract attention from what the CBO really said.

          If you want to “subsidize” health insurance via “tax benefits”, as was done for employers, you add an tax deduction for individual insurance policies, and that’s it.

          Community rating and guaranteed issue are not tax subsidies.

        2. Please explain how these “market distortions” came about. Oh yes, you said it was the “FDR days”, a result of governmental policies. So in other words, we need the government to put into place many more market controls in order to fix the consequences of the policies that screwed up the market, policies the government put into place in the first place. Seriously, do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?

          1. Less so than “There is such a world in which a government-free market can exist and it would be the best possible world.”

            1. Markets without government regulation (property rights, contract enforcement, reliable money, fraud protection) are insecure, unreliable, risky, and do little to promote economic growth.

              1. Guess who likes to abrograte property rights whenever they need some more cash?

                1. Property rights are established by law, and can be amended by law.

  19. You seem to think you can only be productive if you get paid.

    1. I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more productive when I’m expecting a check than when I know I won’t get any cash for my effort.

    2. Generally you are more productive if being productive is a *condition* of getting paid.

      There is no such condition in the ACA. You get your subsidy whether you’re at home picking your nose or raising children.

  20. Let’s assume that the CBO is right in that Obamacare shifts the skill supply curve to the left – people dropping out of the labor market, theoretically one of two things will happen – companies will produce less output to adjust, or they will pay their existing workers more. Upon closer examination of the CBO report, the former is what will happen, where wages will not rise. This will slow GDP growth, and slow economic expansion. I encourage going to page 117 of the report (123 of the PDF) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/defau…..ok2014.pdf – it states that overall compensation (in aggregate) will drop by 1% every year through 2024. This tells me that companies are not looking to continue grow output at the same pace. In short, I agree with Peter.

    Putting a Libertarian hat on, is this considered freedom? On one hand I can see the social freedom aspect (not needing the man to have basic needs addressed) but on the other, you have a government overreaching to mess with market forces, and the result is economic contraction.

    1. …”On one hand I can see the social freedom aspect (not needing the man to have basic needs addressed)”…

      You just changed ‘the man’ from your employer to the gov’t; ‘the man’ is still involved, but now he’s paying you with stolen money.

      1. True. I take a price for my labor vs. someone else’s money through a thieving middle man.

    2. It’s not “freedom” to the people who are being forced to buy overpriced insurance so that you can drop out of the workforce and pursue your dream of smoking weed and making pottery.

      1. P.S. I can see the argument but I disagree with it completely.

        1. ^to my original post. Servo and HM, I agree with you 100%, which is why I donated to..gulp…Scott Brown, hoping he defeats it. Neither that nor SCOTUS proved useful. F Roberts.

  21. What about the people who are being forced to subsidize other people’s insurance premiums?

    What about THEIR freedom?

    Since when is “freedom” about taking other people’s money against their will so you can do whatever you want?

    1. Since some people had enough excess money not contributing to their meaningful freedom while others’ lack of money meant lacking even basic freedoms. “Against their will” is beside the point. You live in any size community and you don’t get to do everything you want. We go against the will of lots of people for good reason. Like murderers. And tax evaders.

      1. Like murderers. And tax evaders.

        One of these things is not like the other. Like not even remotely close.

        So you’ve gone from “not taxing is giving” to “not taxing is murder.”

        1. They’re both crimes and both for good reason.

      2. So not paying for someone else’s healthcare is just like being a murderer?

      3. I farted while reading this.

      4. Just repeal the 13th and 14th amendments. Slavery is for the greater good after all.

      5. “Since some people had enough excess money not contributing to their meaningful freedom while others’ lack of money meant lacking even basic freedoms. ”

        OK, this has to be a parody. Nobody is this evil.

        1. OK, this has to be a parody. Nobody is this evil.

          That’s what I was thinkig.
          We need to go back to questioning whether this is Actual Tony or Satire/Fake Tony.
          Because at least most of his nonsense has the faint whiff of plausibility.
          But this is just goofy

      6. Tony|2.11.14 @ 7:30PM|#
        “Since some people had enough excess money not contributing to their meaningful freedom”

        WIH does this mean? Is it some form of English known only to lefty assholes?

      7. Please explain which meaningful freedoms I am eligible to enjoy in your world, Tony.

        1. All the few you want plus innumerably more minus the alleged freedom not to be taxed to pay for things you don’t like, which has never existed anyway.

        2. The rich man and the poor man are both forbidden to sleep under a bridge.

    2. We’re already subsidizing tax-free employer-provided healthcare.

      Also, the military-industrial complex, the privatized-prison complex, the oil and coal companies, corporate farmers, etc., etc., etc.

      The only way out is to move to a desert island.

  22. a 56 year-old Indiana woman who left a payroll administration job when her duties changed and now babysits her granddaughter full time, and a 44 year-old Texas man who quit an $88,000 job in order “to help his nephew, a cancer survivor, start a social media and video-gaming site for other teens with the disease.” It’s an unpaid position.

    …Here are two people who, absent the existence of the law, would be productive workers contributing to the economy.

    That’s a low blow. You’re saying babysitting and helping start a site online for cancer patients are not productive, not contributing to the economy.

    The best you can say is that, like practically all redistributionist programs, this one discourages division of labor by making money-denominated work more expensive than DIY or volunteer work, and that the economy would be better off having specialists work at what they make the most money at and hiring other specialists with that money to do those other things. You can’t correctly say those other things are worthless, and it’s mean to say so.

    1. What your missing here is that the 44 year old Texas man was formerly producing something other people actually wanted, that they were willing to pay for.

      And now he’s producing something that quite possibly will be a complete waste of resources. Because he’s getting paid to do what he feels like, and not something other people find useful.

      Price signals, what are they?

      1. Not something normal people consider the most important motivation in their lives?

        1. Since when do you get the right to force other people to pay for your stuff because YOU don’t feel that price signals should be important in your life?

          1. Since my policy ideas win people elections. Since when do you get the right to force people to submit to the outcomes of a laissez-faire market none of them wants?

            1. Because it is moral and just.

              Just because everyone wants to vote themselves money from the public treasury, or from other people’s pockets, doesn’t mean that it is RIGHT for them to do so.

              1. Except to pay for police and courts, right?

        2. Not something normal people consider the most important motivation in their lives?

          Adults (you know, “normal people”) don’t expect others to subsidize their dreams.

          1. Probably because they don’t usually refer to medical care as a dream.

            1. We’re talking about them quitting work so they can live on the dole and pursue their dream of shooting heroin every day.

              Nice try, Tony.

        3. So you live you life completely oblivious to the prices of things around you. Explains your utter lack of basic understanding of economics.

          1. Actually I do, but I budget so that I can. Again, your problem is not a lack of understanding of basic economics. It’s that your understanding refuses to extend to non-basic economics.

            1. If you budget you are responding to price signals.

              Does your budget include “free shit that other people are going to be forced to give me”, or did you lose your unemployment benefits?

        4. Tony|2.11.14 @ 7:31PM|#
          “Not something normal people consider the most important motivation in their lives?”

          This from the asshole who’s happy taking money at gunpoint.

          1. So you think anarchy is the best possible system. Defend.

            1. Clearly the alternative to people robbing each other at gunpoint is … anarchy.

              Silly me, I thought it was something like the rule of law with basic things like property rights.

              1. Which are free…?

      2. You’re saying volunteer work is a drain on the economy. But people do volunteer work even in the absence of redistributionist programs, and even though they wind up doing work at which they have a comparative disadvantage. So there’s a satisfaction component you’re not accounting for.

        The fact that their switch is attributable (correctly or incorrectly) to the marginal effect of Obamacare, you can make an a priori argument that there’s a dead weight loss of some unknown amount. But you can’t correctly infer that their entire enterprise helping cancer patients is a loss.

        1. The fact that they are doing so while extracting productive capacity in the form of subsidies does make this a loss to the economy as a whole. The fact that the economy wasn’t willing to value the volunteer work tells you that.

          Now you can debate some other value for the volunteer work, but from a purely economic perspective it’s a loser.

          1. I think you have too narrow an idea of what “economic” means. To me it covers any means of trying to fulfill people’s desires.

            All you did was restate what I wrote above, i.e. that you can argue a priori that the subsidy produces an overall loss. But you certainly can’t say the value of the resulting volunteer work is 0, as the original piece and Hazel Meade’s comment imply. If the Texas man had kept working at his previous job, and used the money he made there to hire specialists to create & operate the Web site for cancer patients, would that be more productive, or would it just be easier for you to measure because you could count the money that changed hands between the Texas man and his hired help?

            1. In which situation does more net work get done?

              Isn’t it more efficient for the Texas man to work at the job that he is most efficient at, and then spend the excess money to hire a person who is efficient at creating web pages?

              This is the whole point of the division of labor, specialization, and trade, isn’t it?

              1. Sure, which is why we should always hire other people to take care of and educate our kids. Come to think of it, we should also make like Cyrano de Bergerac and hire specialists to woo our mates. Mates? What am I saying? Prostitution would be much cheaper.

                1. You realize there are paid match-makers in China, right?
                  It’s a thing.

                2. Robert|2.11.14 @ 8:33PM|#
                  “Sure, which is why we should always hire other people to take care of and educate our kids. Come to think of it, we should also make like Cyrano de Bergerac and hire specialists to woo our mates. Mates? What am I saying? Prostitution would be much cheaper.”

                  You’re confusing what an individual chooses to do with the effects of government policy.

                  1. You’re confusing what an individual chooses to do with the effects of government policy.

                    It’s not me who’s confusing those things, it’s the blog writer and the comments above in this thread that have done so.

            2. No, you have a too generous idea of what economic means. The value of something is what a free market is willing to pay. If no one is willing to pay you for your work, then the economic value of that work is zero.

              I didn’t restate what you wrote, I corrected it. You want to have some touchy-feely definition of value. Fine. Just don’t claim that that definition in any way describes the economics of the activity.

              But you certainly can’t say the value of the resulting volunteer work is 0, as the original piece and Hazel Meade’s comment imply.

              I don’t say that the value of the volunteer work is zero. The market says that the economic value of the volunteer work is zero, or more specifically is worth less than the non-volunteer work they were engaged in. The fact that this offends your sensibilities and is “mean” is irrelevant.

              1. All value is subjective, i.e. in someone’s head. Our choices (including spending money) reveal our preferences, but they cannot better than bracket our values, and in cases where no transaction occurs, there is no way to do even that. When people do things for no obvious payment, that doesn’t mean their value is 0! If there were only 1 person in the world, and therefore no transactions could occur, would that mean that world was value-free? Or valueless?

                1. Well, you sorta understand the market. Value is in everyone’s collective heads. It is what a market will pay for what you are offering. It doesn’t matter what any single individual or even N-1 individuals think it is worth. It is worth whatever the highest discoverable price of the entire set of N individuals will pay.

                  No transaction occurs in these anecdotes because no one is willing to pay for the activity voluntarily. I am sure that Grandma and the Texan would be happy to collect a check for their work if someone offered it to them.

                  When people only do something because someone else pays their way, then the value is less than or equal to the subsidy else they would have already done it! Damn you’re thick. The fact that coercion is required to secure that subsidy, and that they were unable to find someone -anyone- to pay them for their work means that the value is zero. It doesn’t matter what they think their work is worth. It matters what others are willing to trade them for it.

                  If there were only one person in the world then: a) there could be no transaction because there is only one party and so no market, and b) if we allow that one person to transact with himself, then the value would be what he decides it is since he is the entire market. Pro tip: There’s more than 1 person in the world.

              2. “The value of something is what a free market is willing to pay.”

                Confuses value with price. Yes, this is the conclusion of classical economics, but it is disputed. Is child-rearing only valuable when you pay someone to do it?

        2. It’s a reduction in their productivity, and very likely a misallocation of resources.

          Price signals direct people to do things that other people genuinely want and need.

          If the volunteer work is so productive, how come it is unpaid?

          It’s *possible* that the social media site might turn out to be a success. If they make a shit ton of money doing it, are they going to pay back the subsidies?

          1. If the volunteer work is so productive, how come it is unpaid?

            And if it’s unpaid, why do people do the work? Obviously there’s value involved which is not money.

            Presumably the Web site is to be a charitable benefit for cancer patients, not a money maker. Are you saying people don’t derive benefit from being charitable to the sick?

            1. I’m sure it has personal value to himself.

              But if the value was great enough to offset the cost of the subsidy, why was he not willing to do it BEFORE he got subsidized health insurance?

              1. Because he considered himself $10 ahead (putting a dollar value on his satisfaction in the calculation) the other way before the subsidy, and $10 ahead this way with the subsidy. So the subsidy cost the economy a maximum of $20, not the entire difference between his previous salary and 0. You can claim only the marginal effect (which is unknown, I just made it $20, because some people are that close to tipping one way or the other), not the whole damn thing! If you try to claim the whole damn thing as the loss, you’re saying helping cancer patients is a worthless endeavor, which makes you look heartless, even cruel.

                Just say people are changing their minds to adjust to Obamacare, and don’t inquire as to the actual changes in their lives, because you have no way to evaluate those changes that doesn’t make you look like either a know-it-all or an asshole.

                1. The difference is that the market isn’t determining the value; he is through a distortion. The value to the economy is the aggregate production. He may value his volunteer work at $10 just as I may value my work at $1million. IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER. What matters is what the market will pay for that work, and in the case of his volunteerism that answer is, um, zero.

                  Repeat after me: it’s the market, stupid. I don’t really give a damn how hurt your feelings are or how many of your precious snowflakes are melting in the hot furnace of economic reality, and I certainly don’t give a shit if you think I’m an asshole for not wanting to subsidize your life.

                  To make that equation easier for you, I value my subsidy to him at $30 which makes it a net loser.

                  1. N.A. Skippy, if I pay someone $100 to blow up the Empire St. Bldg., that doesn’t make blowing up the Empire St. Bldg. worth a positive $100 to the economy!

                    1. Seriously? That is your argument? Somehow equating destruction with productive economic activity in your bizarre little universe is an argument?

                      OK, let’s try again. If you have a banana and you decide it’s worth $1million but everyone else says it’s worth $1, what is the banana worth? Here’s a hint: Sesame Street can figure this one out.

                2. Where is anyone saying the value of those things is exactly $0?

            2. You’re not going to win this argument, or get any sympathy at all, by weighing the activities people are switching to or from and saying they’re getting less productive. Obamacare or some other program might just as easily provide a marginal push to get someone to quit doing volunteer work for cancer patients and take a paying job, and you’d be a fool to say then that the distortion had made people less productive, because the volunteer work was more valuable, based on an examination of the jobs themselves.

              The best you can say is that Obamacare is causing people to change their plans regarding work, and not try to be an econometrician and figure out by the result whether it’s an increase or decrease in productivity. You’d be better off not examining those results at all, and just explaining the theory. Let the administration or Congressional backer play the fool by trying to convince people the changes are for the better; you don’t have to rebut a thing, and getting down in the econometric muck with them will only add to the noise and make you look like blowhards as well.

              1. You’re probably right that the pure economic argument isn’t going to convince the masses.

                What will convince them is the stark fact that people are “pursuing their dreams” on other people’s backs. If the subsidy came out of thin air that would be one thing. But it isn’t. It’s coming out of someone else’s pocket, and the idea that someone else has the opportunity to retire early and do volunteer work only sounds nice until you realize that you’re paying for their early retirement.

                But the more educated people, the ones who understand economics. They too will realize that paying people so they don’t have to do something that other people are telling them (with price signals!) are needed and wanted, is going to result in a misallocation of resources and a net economic drag on the economy.

                The Democrat will lose this argument with both camps.

              2. “Obamacare or some other program might just as easily provide a marginal push to get someone to quit doing volunteer work for cancer patients and take a paying job, and you’d be a fool to say then that the distortion had made people less productive, because the volunteer work was more valuable, based on an examination of the jobs themselves.”

                Nope.
                That by definition, is a market distortion. By definition, it removes the free flow of information (price signals), so, by definition, it is less efficient than the alternative.
                You are also losing in the following manner:
                Any free trade between two parties increases the wealth of mankind; they both got something more highly valued than they gave.
                Any time taxes are involved, there is a dead loss to the wealth of mankind. At least one party got less than they gave and the other (tax collector) didn’t get value either. Whatever those taxes are used for has to overcome that initial loss, and given the ‘broken window’ condition of government works, it never approaches breaking even.

                1. By definition, it removes the free flow of information (price signals), so, by definition, it is less efficient than the alternative.

                  Not by definition, for then all you’d be asserting would be a tautology. Not by definition, but by axiom or postulate derived from model, and you need to convince people of the model separately, which shouldn’t be as hard to do in this case as in many.

                  You should not do as the writer of this blog or the person the writer quoted did, i.e. like Proxmire hold up the specific thing that gov’t “made these people do” and denigrate it. Remember how he used to give awards for silly spending items, which frequently were research grants, which he would describe in the goofiest, often distortive manner? Then you’re hanging your argument on the value of some trifle. Anything that has you saying, these people shouldn’t be helping cancer patients or taking care of kids, they should be working in some office for money, makes it look like the only reason to oppose Obamacare is to have more people polishing your monocles and lighting your cigars with paper ripped out of poor children’s schoolbooks.

                  1. Not by definition, for then all you’d be asserting would be a tautology. Not by definition, but by axiom or postulate derived from model, and you need to convince people of the model separately, which shouldn’t be as hard to do in this case as in many.

                    Free markets are precisely that: free. As in without coercion or manipulation or distortion. How do markets function? Price signals. So yes, by definition, market distortions break the price signal. Your pedantry is annoying.

                    You should not do as the writer of this blog or the person the writer quoted did…

                    So your argument is to not use emotional arguments and anecdotes but yet you claim that using the cold logic of economics is also wrong. So which is it: logic or emotion?

                    1. No, using the cold logic of economics is not wrong, but misusing it as you are is.

                    2. Misusing it how? So far all of your counter arguments amount to “stop being a meanie.”

                  2. Robert, I don’t think you quite got my point. The 44 year old man himself made the decision that the subsidy was worth less than the value of the cancer patient website, because he would only DO the cancer patient website IF someone paid him the subsidy money.

                    Put another way, if that 56 year old mother thought that staying home and taking care of her kids was worth it, she would be willing to do it and pay for her healthcare expenses herself.

                    The fact that both of these people are only willing do to do those things IF THEY GET A SUBSIDY tells you that both of those people think those things AREN’T WORTH DOING if they have to cover the costs involved on their own.

                    1. Now you’re correctly stating the situation marginally. The person would pay 90 cents a pound for bananas but not $1. If you give hir 20 cents/lb. to buy the $1/lb. bananas, s/he’ll do so.

                      The way you & Suderman were stating it before was like the bananas were worthless!

                    2. The person would pay 90 cents a pound for bananas but not $1. If you give hir 20 cents/lb. to buy the $1/lb. bananas, s/he’ll do so.

                      Step away from the meds and breathe. I just told you that everyone else valued the bananas at $1, so the value of the bananas is *drum roll* $1. If no one wants bananas, then they are worth zero even though you think bananas represent the highest metaphysical state of humanity.

                      You want to get all weepy over the fact that the market doesn’t value your precious volunteerism. I get that. I just don’t care. As far as the market is concerned and the economy is concerned it is worthless, or more specifically equal to the value of the subsidy or less, even though neither Suderman nor Hazel actually ever said the precise number of zero.

                      And it is the CBO that is saying that there will be less income and less productivity as a result of this law. Again, I don’t care about your feelings.

                    3. Fine, but the original quoted article itself is biased since it selects examples of people doing something altruistic with their free time.

                      But doing something altruistic with your new “freedom” is not a condition of receiving subsidies.

                      You could be working less so you can spend more time shooting heroin, or raping children.

                      Why is the choice of what people do instead of working even relevant?

                  3. Robert|2.11.14 @ 9:27PM|#
                    “Not by definition, for then all you’d be asserting would be a tautology.”

                    If you are to claim the free flow of information is less efficient than government intrusion, why, yes you could claim that is a tautology.

            3. Robert|2.11.14 @ 8:19PM|#
              …”And if it’s unpaid, why do people do the work? Obviously there’s value involved which is not money.”…

              Yes and no one is begrudging the individual whatever satisfaction is involved, but:
              1) This person is now existing on the unwilling payments of others; what about their right to their possessions?
              2) And again, allowing the individual satisfaction, the law decreases the overall wealth of mankind, since it offers incentives to avoid the highest and best use of skills.
              this

              1. But Suderman wasn’t saying either #1 or #2. Rather, he was saying babysitting your grandchild and helping cancer patients for no money were unproductive, which is manifestly untrue.

                1. Robert|2.11.14 @ 10:04PM|#
                  “But Suderman wasn’t saying either #1 or #2. Rather, he was saying babysitting your grandchild and helping cancer patients for no money were unproductive, which is manifestly untrue.”

                  I’m beginning to think you’re willfully dense.
                  What he is saying is that a *government program* is causing these distortions.
                  No one gives a hoot if you want to sit around an imagine bogus arguments so long as you do it on YOUR DIME.
                  The problem is when I pay you, in which case, I’m going to demand the highest and best use of your time.
                  Is THAT clear?

                  1. Sevo you reduce literally everything to “anarchy is the only moral option.”

                    1. Where exactly in the whole concept of people getting to keep what they earn does the anarchy come in?

                    2. The idea of easily recognizable private property?

                    3. Tony|2.12.14 @ 12:31AM|#
                      “Sevo you reduce literally everything to “anarchy is the only moral option.””

                      Tony, you’re abysmally ignorant, incapable of reading and you lie constantly.
                      Go get screwed with a harvesting implement.

                  2. What he is saying is that a *government program* is causing these distortions.

                    Suderman and the people defending Obamacare both are saying that. But Suderman is saying it’s a bug while the people defending Obamacare are saying it’s a feature. The people defending Obamacare are saying the different things the referenced people are doing are an improvement to he world over their previous choices. Suderman is saying not only that the things they’re doing now is worse, but that they’re actually nonproductive, i.e. doing nothing positive for the world compared to doing absolutely nothing.

                    1. “Suderman is saying not only that the things they’re doing now is worse, but that they’re actually nonproductive, i.e. doing nothing positive for the world compared to doing absolutely nothing.”

                      I see that you’d prefer to argue that Suderman isn’t quite exact enough for you.
                      Is suggest you find someone who gives a crap.

                  3. Servo endorses “from each according to his ability” – i.e., comunism.

          2. So there is no place in your economy for entrepreneurs and risk taking?

            The people who created Amazon, Google, and Facebook were takers, not makers?

            1. Are the people who created Amazon, Google, and Facebook saying they couldn’t have done it without a free healthcare subsidy?

              1. No, my statement did not imply that. Arguing against something I didn’t say is poor form.

            2. J2Hess|2.12.14 @ 3:49AM|#
              “So there is no place in your economy for entrepreneurs and risk taking?”

              Man! That’s some strawman you have there!

              1. No, it is drawing out the implications of a specific statement.

                1. J2Hess|2.12.14 @ 3:49AM|#
                  “So there is no place in your economy for entrepreneurs and risk taking?”

                  THAT is a strawman.
                  No one here is arguing against any sort of entrepreneurship.
                  Is that clear?

                  1. “Here are two people who, absent the existence of the law, would be productive workers contributing to the economy. Thanks to Obamacare, however, they are not. ”

                    The author says entrepreneurship is not economic activity.

                    Others insist that because he isn’t participating in the waged labor market that he must be less productive.

                    If I dispute a strawman, it is because others have put it together.

  23. lol, US POlitics, best politics money can buy lol.

    http://www.GoAnon.tk

  24. The working man’s a sucker.

    – Colangelo

  25. If you’re working additional hours or jobs just for healthcare, then its’ safe to assumes that other areas of your life is covered. You have the income to pay rent, debt, mortgage, etc, and now can step away from the “healthcare job” because the government is now covering that aspect of your life.

    Of course, the vast majority of Americans work to earn their bread, not just healthcare. 90% of Americans will never abandon a job (or work less hours) that pays a 80 thou salary even if you qualify for subsidies by working less.

    If even 25% of Americans just stopped working to pursue individual dreams, who pays for medicare, medicaid, SS, etc? I want to see a liberal state without batting an eye that a nation in which most people have no incentive to work will somehow grow their economy.

    1. …”because the *taxpayers* [are] now covering that aspect of your life.”…

      If the taxpayers are covering my food, I could quit working for that. If they covered my housing, well…
      Who covers that stuff for the taxpayers?

    2. Re: XM,

      Of course, the vast majority of Americans work to earn their bread, not just healthcare.

      The usual cadre of statists will now tell you that people are trapped in their jobs because of healthcare and thus the subsidies come as a great benefit to people’s well-being because now you can stop working so hard. Curiously, they started to say this just 24 hours after the CBO report came out and just 10 hours after the White House criticized the data. You can clearly see the spread of the outbreak from patient zero in the White House, outwards, just by reading Tony’s comments above.

      1. Can you guess what the #1 tax expenditure is? And what do Lefties have to say about tax expenditures?

        Oops.

        p.s. I hate that term tax expenditure for non-refundable tax credits.

    3. To the best of my understanding, if you have to work to earn what you need, that’s an abridgement of freedom.

      According to our progressive friend above, if you have to work to have healthcare… less freedom.

      By conclusion, if you have to work to buy an iPad, less freedom. If you have to work to buy an Escalade, less freedom. If you have to work to put food on your table, less freedom.

      Imagine trying to explain this to someone back in say, a hunter-gatherer society.

      1. Exactly.

        These people have just openly espoused the most retarded and degenerate political argument mouthed openly in modern history, and they don’t even realize it yet.

        I am going to get years of pleasure out of quoting this shit back to them.

    4. A single mother is better off, from a strictly financial point of view, making $29,000 a year than $69,000 a year when you take income taxes and welfare benefits into account.

    5. It’s more like 1%. If it were 25%, we’d have a problem. Isn’t the mathematical reality of the situation crucial to the question of whether it’s worth the tradeoff?

      1. How hard would it be to reduce the subsidies to the point that there wouldn’t be as much of a disincentive?

        But no, that would mean fewer people on the dole, and hence fewer votes for Democrats.

  26. That’s a low blow. You’re saying babysitting and helping start a site online for cancer patients are not productive, not contributing to the economy.

    Yes. That is what he is saying, because it is true, if you analyze this through the law of Comparative Advantage.

    1. “Yes. That is what he is saying, because it is true, if you analyze this through the law of Comparative Advantage.”

      But that is irrelevant under certain conditions:
      If a person chooses to do so while paying their own way, society has no right to argue with those choices, comparative advantage be damned.
      If, however, the taxpayers are paying that person to indulge themselves, no dice. The taxpayers are now paying the piper and the piper shall play what the taxpayers want.

      1. The key point is that BarryCare will result in less economic activity which means that as a whole we are all the poorer for it. That’s a far cry from the 400k immediate increase in employment and the millions in future employment promised by the Wicked Witch of the West.

        As you point out if that was all done voluntarily, then there’s nothing to do but accept it and maybe “tut, tut” a little. The fact that it is a government intervention causing it is the real problem.

      2. Silly taxpayer, he’s not the one with the gun.

      3. Re:Sevo,

        If a person chooses to do so while paying their own way, society has no right to argue with those choices, comparative advantage be damned.

        I’m not making a rights-based argument or a moral argument. Regardless of the morality of non-renumerated work, the fact is that doing less productive work instead of more productive work will always represent a net loss of capital and wealth to a person in particular and to the whole market in general.

    2. But people do volunteer work even in the absence of gov’t incentives, even though they usually have a comparative disadvantage doing so. The law of revealed preference says they expect to gain from that choice. So you can’t conclude those particular choices are valueless.

      You have no idea what the net net was from these choices anyway. You don’t know if someone else was hired to replace the babysitter or the cancer aid volunteer, and you don’t know whether the babysitter replaced another unpaid babysitter, a paid babysitter, or what.

      Don’t try to “Proxmire” Obamacare. You can complain about the taxes and mandates (just as you could’ve complained about the taxes to fund the items Proxmire decried), but you’ll bury yourself trying to say these people made worse choices for the world.

      1. And their revealed preference says they wouldn’t do the volunteer work unless someone else is footing their health insurance bill.

        Because they didn’t. Until they got an insurance subsidy.

      2. Robert|2.11.14 @ 9:50PM|#
        “But people do volunteer work even in the absence of gov’t incentives, even though they usually have a comparative disadvantage doing so.”

        Read my post above; this is completely irrelevant. It’s like arguing that private sector wages should be subject to control because gov’t workers are.
        One is paid for with stolen money; the other is the result of free trade.

        1. Besides that, what makes you think most of these people are quitting work to go man a soup kitchen anyway?

          They could be doing anything.
          They could be pursuing their dream of a lifetime membership in LOTR online, living in their mom’s basement.

          There’s no regulation in the ACA that you only get subsidies to quit work if you promise to help cancer patients in your free time.

          1. But what about taking care of a WoW character who has virtual cancer?! Oh, the humanity!

            1. Who would win in a fight between an elf with a vorpal colostomy bag and a dwarf with a +4 melanoma?

              1. Easy, the probate orc.

                1. Don’t give Blizzard any ideas.

        2. Except that according to the uber-father of libertarian philosphy Rousseay, it is not stolen money because it is a law according to the General Will of the sovereign people, which increases moral liberty.

      3. You don’t know if someone else was hired to replace the babysitter or the cancer aid volunteer

        That would show up in the employment reports as a “new” high-paying job. There aren’t many of those showing up.

        “worse for the world” is a purely subjective judgement. Worse for the economy is not. If it were better for the economy to have a cancer aid worker than not to have one, someone would already be paid for that job.

      4. Re: Robert,

        But people do volunteer work even in the absence of gov’t incentives

        That doesn’t make voluntary work any more productive. If the person engages in non-remunerated work while at the same time consuming his savings, then the activity is actually economically-destructive; this is completely apart from your own moral view regarding non-remunerated work.

        An activity is said to be productive when a good of lesser value is transformed into one of higher value, even when the good suffers no physical transformation itself – just the effect of transporting water from a place of great availability to one of less makes the water more valuable in its new place than in the old. When two producers trade with each other, they each receive a good of higher value than the good they originally carried to the trade. This increases their level of wealth.

        Producers that are more productive in one activity (meaning that they can add more value to a good) than in others, present a comparative advantage over other producers who are not as productive in that same activity. Taking this in mind, if a person leaves a job that pays $46,000 for one where she gets only zilch, that means that whatever she is creating right now is NOT as valuable as what she was creating before, thus destroying value.

        1. You must feel very worthless spending this time blog commenting for no pay. What they pay me to drive hits is more than fair, but to be honest my day job overpays me for my value by much more. But I’m not gonna tell them that. You may be in it for the pristine clockwork economy of it all; I’m in it for the not starving and the not living under a bridge.

          1. So are all the people you are robbing so that 56 year old woman can retire early and be a stay at home mom.

            They have priorities such as paying their mortgage and maybe once in a while going out to dinner.

          2. Tony|2.12.14 @ 12:47AM|#
            “You must feel very worthless spending this time blog commenting for no pay”

            You must think your constant mendacity is somehow clever, asshole.

  27. Since when is helping create a start-up not being economically active?

    Saying that working at home to help raise a family is not economic activity is conventional wisdom – and wrong.

    Both judgments reflect a prejudice that only earning a wage is economic activity. Both are actually investments of human capital in future growth.

    1. If a mom is economically inactive for a decade to raise their kids and they end up working at a mall somewhere, then it’s a net loss for the economy.

      Plus, there’s nothing the parents can do about crappy schools, changing markets, high tuition costs, and whole lot of other factors that will shape their children’s future.

      Raising kids is a human activity. Good mothers will raise their kids even if they have little chance of making money.

    2. Since when is helping create a start-up not being economically active? This is a good point, since the CBO report is specifically about people reducing their hours or dropping out of the workforce.

      Are you counted as unemployed if you start a startup business? Are you working less?

      If you end up making more money at the startup, you wouldn’t qualify for subsidies anyway, so you wouldn’t be included in that number.

      I am totally in favor of people quitting their jobs starting their own businesses, and then buying their own health insurance.

      But the point of the CBO report is that people will deliberately EARN LESS in order ot get the subsidy.

      If one was running a startup, one would have to intentionally plan to not make enough money to lose your subsidy for that to work. Which would be a pretty wierd way to run a small business.

    3. J2Hess|2.12.14 @ 1:38AM|#
      “Since when is helping create a start-up not being economically active?”

      Since when does starting a company require government subsidies?
      Pretty sure you’re grasping as straws now.

      1. You are all responding to an argument I didn’t make.

        Suderman confuses economic activity with market activity; hence these two individuals are not economically active and the economy loses their contributions.

        I respond that they are economically active and making investments in future productivity.

        That statement implies nothing about whether they need government subsidies while doing so.

        I could address the question of subsidies from a cost-benefit argument – does the return repay the subsidy with interest? I could address it with moral arguments, or sociological arguments. I’m not going to here. That’s another discussion. The point is that the author has a narrow, conventional, and dead wrong understanding of what constitutes economic activity.

        1. “I respond that they are economically active and making investments in future productivity.
          That statement implies nothing about whether they need government subsidies while doing so.”

          Except that they are doing so because of government subsidies.
          So your final comment is not supported by your argument.

          1. In this specific case, yes, these two individuals are taking subsidies.

            But that doesn’t men that Suderman was correct in calling them economically inactive. His statement made two claims – a claim of fact (inactivity), and attribution of a cause (subsidies). I am not disputing the causal claim. I am saying that the claim of fact is wrong.

            If after 3 passes you fail to grasp my argument, well, pay closer attention – or give it up.

  28. And what few jobs remain, Herr Obummer wants for Criminaliens… His new Demorat voting block.

  29. This article is ridiculous! Do you want people to work just to be able to pay for medical care? Businesses having to provide medical insurance programs has been a burden on American businesses and also hides the cost of medical care from employed Americans. We need to keep things simple for businesses – minimize paperwork wherever we can. The only thing they should have to deal with is taxes and declaring who employees are. Require that businesses NOT provide medical plans.

    We hear more people complaining about gas prices than we do about medical costs. Yet we annually spend ~700 billion on oil and ~2.6 TRILLION (2,600 BILLION) on healthcare.

    We should just ban insurance altogether to control so Americans can directly experience medical costs and market forces will drive down medical costs – but having a ‘single-payer’-ish program is a good way to do this also.

  30. I offered my story to Families USA, admitting in advance that I neither support the law & Obama, nor the GOP. Naturally, they weren’t interested in hearing my story and experience with Healthcare.gov site and what I have endured in the process. Clearly, biased reporting of one specific aspect on their part means they do not wish to hear about the millions like myself who are having poor experiences and results from their interaction with Mr. Obama’s namesake law.

  31. freedom is letting someone else subsidize your freedom. Now all of these Americans are free from work and free from paying for substantial benefits.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.