National minimum wage should be raised


It’s time to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.50 per hour and bring it closer to a living wage.

We’re lucky here in Washington, we have the highest minimum wage in the country ($9.19). It is shameful what many other states pay (usually based on the federal minimum of $7.25.

What family can survive on $7.25 per hour? That’s a mere $15,000 for a whole year of work! (That means both mom and dad have to work two jobs, and meanwhile, who’s watching the kids? Who is making sure they do their homework and go to school? Who makes sure they get decent meals and enough sleep? Who is keeping them out of gangs?)

Raising the minimum wage is not just good for our society, but also for our economy. Economists have shown that raising the minimum wage means families have more money to spend buying restaurant meals, new clothes, even cars. Sure, a higher minimum wage pushes all wages up (and thus business costs go up), but the increase in profits makes up for that. (If you like to look at statistics, go online and check out the Economic Policy Institute’s report, “Increases in minimum wage boost consumer spending.”)

Everyone benefits with a higher minimum wage. Families get out of poverty. Parents spend more time with their children. Business owners get bigger profits.

So, contact Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and tell her it’s long past time for a raise (the federal minimum wage has been frozen since 2007.) Contact Sen. Patty Murray and tell her the minimum wage should be tied to inflation. Then get in touch with Sen. Maria Cantwell and tell her it’s good for the economy.

Finally, if you want to know more about the campaign to raise the federal minimum wage, go to

Annie Capestany

Walla Walla



ImJustSayin says...

"Business owners get bigger profits"

This is what happens when you get an "F" in Economics.

Posted 19 June 2013, 9:14 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Well, my thought on reading that was, "That's what happens when you've never run a successful lemonade stand," but we're both on the same page.

Posted 20 June 2013, 7:12 a.m. Suggest removal

Igor says...

I don't believe that there are any serious economists on either side of the political system that seriously believe that minimum wage laws are a good idea.

Posted 6 July 2013, 7:48 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I know the first thing I do if I ever get a raise is run out and order a Big Mac?

Posted 20 June 2013, 6:08 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

If Mom and Dad work only one job each, they'll earn $30,000 a year (which, by the way, will go up as soon as they demonstrate higher capabilities than minimum-wage entry-level jobs require). Grandma, Grandpa or unemployed auntie Mary can watch the kids when they're not in school. If they shop frugally, pick up some overtime now and then or mow a few lawns on Saturday mornings, live within their means, save conscientiously and don't waste a bunch of money on restaurant meals, they'll live comfortable, financially stable lives, just like my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles all did.

Of course, when naive do-gooders force up the minimum wage beyond what the value of their work is to their employer, especially in a time of high unemployment, one or both are likely to find themselves permanently unemployed. Then the naive do-gooders can wail about the need to raise welfare benefits, Mom and Dad will be home with the kids to model shiftless behavior or teach them how to cook meth for a living, and the only job growth will be among government bureaucrats hired to do more good and supervise everybody.

Posted 20 June 2013, 7:27 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

PearlY - you have such a way with words - I would bet money that your students really enjoy and on top of everything else learn something.

Posted 20 June 2013, 8:32 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Thanks, namvet60, but I'm not a teacher.

Posted 22 June 2013, 10:22 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Oops - sorry - well you still have a way with words.

Posted 24 June 2013, 1:12 p.m. Suggest removal

bj84711 says...

Higher minimum wage actually ends up costing jobs. Small employers will have to cut a position to afford the higher wages. I don't understand how businesses get higher profits. Obviously someone has never tried to run a small business....

Posted 20 June 2013, 10:36 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

The idea of supply and demand, upon which capitalism is based, includes the notion that you can have all the supply you want, but without demand you are in trouble.

As someone who has participated in running a couple of small businesses, I can tell you that I would rather be forced to pay my workers a little more and have a wider customer base, than be allowed to pay lower wages and suffer from a lack of sales.

Employees who make $250,000 per year are able to save and invest much of their income if they choose, but those who make $25,000 spend it all. Give them a raise of $5,000 and they'll spend all of that too. That creates more demand, which is good for business.

Posted 21 June 2013, 12:41 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Wow - all I can say is incredible!

Posted 21 June 2013, 12:46 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

Yes, finally you admit to it! All you can say is incredible!

Posted 27 June 2013, 2:18 p.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

Who pays for that $5000 raise? In your world, you go to the money tree and pick some Ben Franklins off. In the real world, the cost gets passed to the consumer who for the most part, will not continue shopping at your business because they can no longer afford your higher prices. Lost business leads to lost jobs and in the worst case scenario, a shut down business.

Posted 21 June 2013, 4:57 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

If the $5,000 extra you paid the worker was pulled out from under a mattress, then you're right. But that is rarely the case. Usually it is obtained by

1) cutting expenses, i.e., spending, elsewhere (laying off a worker, putting of a new capital purchase and thereby cutting demand for the workers who would have built that car or computer), in which case the net effect on demand is zero, or,

2) cutting the business owner's income (profits) which in the case of small businesses means the owner has less to spend on his/her own family or has less to invest in growing the business and hiring new workers, or in the case of larger companies means they have less to invest in growth or less to distribute to their shareholders so the shareholders have less to spend. In that case, the immediate effect on demand may be somewhat less, but the long term effect is greater, or

3) saving/investment is, as you noted, reduced, meaning there is less capital available for businesses to use to get started (and hire workers) or grow (and hire workers) or weather downturns (and retain workers). Unless those $250,000 earners are saving their money under their mattresses. (Which, unfortunately, in the current political climate may well be the safest place for it to be. ) In this case, also, effect on demand is somewhat less in the short run but higher in the long run.

Besides, you're forgetting that an extra $5,000 going to a $250,000 earner is going to transfer at least $2,500 directly to the government, and it seems they have the magical ability to spend considerably more than they take in.

Demand is only good for business if it can be satisfied profitably. The country is littered with the bones of businesses that were not able to do that. Why? Well, Hillary Clinton once said she couldn't "go out and save every undercapitalized entrepreneur." Notice that word - undercapitalized? THAT's the result of those $250,000 earners not being able to save and invest - undercapitalized businessses that fail. Unemployed workers from those businesses. Lower demand.

Posted 21 June 2013, 7:11 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Gentlemen, you are focusing on the negative or costly part of the equation, but that's only half of it. If *most* businesses pay their employees higher wages, then *most* employees have more money to spend. (It obviously doesn't work if you are the only business paying higher wages.) Families making under $60,000-$70,000 per year tend to spend virtually all the money they earn. So if they get raises, they will spend that money too. This means businesses will have more customers with more money to spend. Hence, their sales increase and they become more profitable.

This really isn't a difficult or surprising idea. A larger middle class creates greater demand. Greater demand is good for business. Less demand (i.e. more poor people) is not good for business.

I was in sales in 2009 when the recession really hit my business hard. I talked to my customers. I surveyed them. I know firsthand what happens when people have less money to spend. Sales go down. Businesses lose money. This isn't rocket science. Unless you are the CEO of a large corporation, whose income has grown [127 times faster][1] than his employees over the past 30 years, the decline of the middle class is a terrible trend for businesses.

A rising tide lifts all boats - including yachts.


Posted 21 June 2013, 8:11 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

If a larger middle class creates greater demand, and we can move people into the middle class by raising the minimum wage, why stop at $9 or $10 an hour? That won't move anyone into the middle class. Why not raise it to $25 or $35? The entire country would be lifted into the middle class, wouldn't it?

The reason even the most progressive Democratic economists don't propose that is because they KNOW that the detrimental effects of raising the minimum wage beyond productivity gains will be impossible to hide at that level but they also know that at the lower level, the increased unemployment and damage to the business sector will be far easier to conceal or to blame on other factors.

Like you, I've had some experiences in business. In particular, I'm very familiar with the details of one large family restaurant (in another state) that was staffed with about 70 FTE. It survived two recessions (actually, in that state, one could have qualified as a depression). What killed it was the raising of the state minimum wage combined with a change in the rules for handling tips, such that they could no longer be counted toward the minimum wage, combined with increases in the state's rates for unemployment insurance (surprise! the higher minimum wage increased the unemployment rate) combined with a state requirement that the employees' health insurance plan provide better (and therefore more expensive) coverage. The employees cheered each of these changes, right up until the place closed its doors. The building was converted to another use, and five employees replaced the previous 70. But, hey, those five were paid better and had better health insurance and moved that much closer to the middle class! Great deal!

Of course, the other 65, who included several work-release felons, at least two developmentally delayed individuals, and a significant number of low-education, low-skill folks, languished on unemployment for a while and later, for some, welfare, some of them NEVER finding other steady work in the twenty years since then, some losing their homes, some having to move away from the town they'd grown up in to find other work.

What might seem like a rising tide to some, might be a tsunami for others.

Businesses do need demand, but if they are allowed to build up capital and are able to adjust their expenses when demand temporarily drops (and no matter how hard government tries, it has about as much chance of repealing business cycles as it has of repealing gravity) , a lot more of them would be able to ride it out. Their employees might not be in the middle class, but they'd be in the working class, instead of the underclass.

Posted 22 June 2013, 10:17 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

PearlY, you are quite articulate and you make a good case for your side. I have not worked in the restaurant industry, so I will have to defer to your experience there. In my business, with 15 or so employees during the recession, the reason we took a hit had far more to do with a frightened and rapidly shrinking middle class than with our labor costs. We could have paid more in labor if our sales had continued to rise as they had in the years leading up to 2009.

However, if new tax and new tip laws caused your labor costs to double (?), then that's another issue. Most businesses can't take a sudden jolt of that magnitude. That's why no rational people are proposing raising the minimum wage suddenly to $25-$35 per hour, as you mention above.

Posted 22 June 2013, 2:37 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

I wouldn't say double, but margins in the restaurant industry are typically slim, so sometimes even a 10% or 20% increase in a major component of costs can send a business into terminal decline.

It is less obvious when businesses die a slow death than when they are dealt a "sudden jolt," but as I noted, that only serves to hide the cause from the general public, not mitigate the long-term effects. The reason nobody proposes raising the minimum wage to $25-$35 an hour is not because politicians don't want businesses to die, but because it would hurt the politicians for the murders to be traceable back to them. A slow death by gradual increases gains a politician the votes of the ignorant, and doesn't leave fingerprints. Just as the employees of the restaurant I mentioned cheered each dosage of poison as it was administered, and never understood that the loss of their jobs and in some cases the ruin of their lives was caused by the policies they had cheered.

Posted 23 June 2013, 11:53 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

PearlY, even if we don't agree on much, for what it's worth, I am impressed with your writing.

Posted 24 June 2013, 4:09 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Well, thank you, but I'd rather impress you with my logic and wisdom!

Posted 24 June 2013, 6:22 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

[This short article][1] from "The Week" acknowledges your concerns and then explains my point.


Posted 21 June 2013, 9:40 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Actually typical liberal way of thinking that has the US Government deficit at over $17 Trillion dollars. Please just write the government a check and then we can raise the minimum wage.

Posted 22 June 2013, 1:37 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Namvet, I'm not sure you quite know under whose administrations our national debt has grown over the past 30 years and for what reasons. This [link][1] followed by this [link][2] might help.


Posted 22 June 2013, 2:24 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

fatherof5, sometimes the bills of one Administration don't come due until a much later one. The one President who stands on a Mt. Everest of debt is Franklin Roosevelt, who created programs the full bills for which have just started coming due in the last two decades (Social Security, a variety of farm and urban programs, and the general idea that it is the federal government's responsibility to provide people their livings). Next in line would be Lyndon Johnson (Medicare, Medicaid, HUD and other federal welfare programs).

In the same way, sometimes the benefits of one Administration's acts don't take full effect until a later one. It took years over many administrations, Democrat and Republican, to bring the Cold War to a resolution that destroyed Soviet Communism without also destroying us. If it was expensive to fight the Iraq War, imagine how much more so it would have been if we still had to be on a Cold War footing with the Soviet Union, and Iraq and Afghanistan had become proxy wars with the USSR.

(A case could also be made that Truman's choices in fighting the Korean War and Kennedy/Johnson's choices in fighting the Vietnam War needlessly protracted and vastly increased the cost of those conflicts, but even with the benefit of hindsight, I'm not sure anybody can accurately pinpoint their errors and the effects of them, so in fairness, all we can say is "who knows?" )

The long-term fiscal ill health of the U.S. was sealed by the mid-1970s.

Posted 23 June 2013, 11:43 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

It is true that administrations do not happen in a vacuum. Democrats have argued (correctly) that most of the recent debt accumulation under Obama was due to tax and spending policies and economic developments he inherited, and that annual deficits have been cut significantly. Government spending growth under Obama is the smallest it has been in 50 years. However, one can't look at the Reagan and Bush II administrations without knowing pretty conclusively that their huge spending increases - without compensatory taxation to pay for it - was responsible for the jumps in the debt during their administrations.

You can't blame Carter for Reagan's spending sprees any more than you can blame Clinton for Bush's decision to cut taxes while simultaneously launching two wars. I mean, seriously, you might celebrate that our 1980s military build-up was responsible for the ending of the cold war, but the fact remains that we never paid for it. (As for FDR, it is worth noting he had a depression AND WW II to pay for...and that SS isn't figured into the national debt.) The national debt was coming down until Reagan's eight years in office.

Posted 24 June 2013, 12:13 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

I believe you are confusing tax rates with tax revenues. Although Reagan cut tax RATES, tax REVENUES more than doubled between 1980 and 1989 (and doubled again by 2000 under basically the same tax laws). Moreover, they did that while inflation went from almost 14% a year down to 4% a year AND while growth resumed after the 1982 recession at a healthy clip. There was only one year in Reagan's presidency when tax revenues dipped from a steady upward trend and that was 1982, due to the recession.

Of course, it doesn't matter how much you increase your revenues, if you increase your spending faster, debt will grow. With Reagan wanting to defense-spend the USSR into the grave (which he did) and the Democrats in Congress and in control of the House resisting cuts and wanting to increase domestic spending, the obvious 'compromise' was to give each side a good chunk of what it wanted.

The national debt was NOT coming down before Reagan's term. The federal government ran deficits every year of the 1970s and (going from memory) all but one year of the 1960s also.

It is really disingenuous to brag that in the last five years Obama has slowed the rate of growth in government spending. That starts the measurement yardstick at the 2008-2009 budget year, as if that was a normal year for government spending, instead of what should have been a one-of-a-kind year, what with TARP (most of it since repaid) AND the stimulus package AND the recession AND the second year of the Surge. If my normal spending is $50,000 a year, but in one year I have to pay for my daughter's fancy wedding, my own treatment for cancer and my house burning down uninsured, it's nothing to be proud of that five years later I'm still spending MORE than that year, albeit only a little more.

Posted 24 June 2013, 8:04 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

One more point: In the first four years of his administration, in spite of coming into office with a recession and the tax revenue drop attributable to the bursting of the bubble the year before, then sustaining the economic shock and the expenses of 9/11, Homeland Security implementation, the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war, and implementing the much-maligned Bush tax cuts, Bush increased the debt by $2.13 trillion. Horrible. But.

In the first four years of Obama's administration, coming into office with a recession but also an already budgeted TARP and stimulus package to deal with it, Obama increased the debt by $4.16 trillion. And we have yet to experience the sticker-shock of Obamacare on the federal budget (although many of us are experiencing it personally in our insurance premiums).

Posted 24 June 2013, 8:24 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

fatherof5 - I'm not speaking in terms of Democrat to Republican - I'm speaking in terms of Liberal versus Conservative. Of course, there are liberal and conservatives on both sides of the aisle. The majority of debt that the country has accrued has been initiated by the liberals on both sides. It has the country headed in a downhill run and the hill is very steep. The problem is that the higher the taxes go the higher the spending goes.

Posted 24 June 2013, 6:27 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

You mean liberals like Reagan, Bush II, and the liberal Republican congress from 2000-2006 that set the tax and spending policies that - in combination with the recession - caused the debt to soar? You mean those liberals?

Or do you mean conservatives like Clinton, who worked with a Republican congress to balance the budget, or conservatives like Obama, who has slowed government spending growth over the past five years to 50-year lows?

Conservative has not historically equalled a balanced budget. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary.

Posted 24 June 2013, 12:21 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I'm actually sorry I said anything because looking through your hour glass would put a sane man in jeopardy. I will just leave at that and exclaim "Totally incredible". You don't mind if I laugh after I complete this post?

Posted 24 June 2013, 1:18 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Namvet, facts are facts. I don't know what you mean by "conservative" and "liberal" except that it appears you mean everything bad is liberal and everything good is conservative. That's what it sounds like. But the historical record is what it is. Show me some credible stats that prove Obama is not bringing down the deficit or that Reagan and Bush did not explode the debt. I'm not sure what you are laughing at, but I don't mind. It is what it is.

Posted 24 June 2013, 4:05 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

I pay off my credit cards each month and the companies raise my credit limit. It doesn't matter because I won't charge more than I can pay off in a month, regardless.

But if I were joined at the hip to a spendaholic, I'd let the cards max out. In spite of the lower credit score, the fees and the interest, my partner's spending would at least be capped at the credit limit.

In effect, that's what both Reagan and Bush II were trying to do, in my opinion. They were trying cap spending by debts and deficits beyond which Democrats would fear to go.

We can have 48 programs in 18 agencies to deal with a single social problem, but every single one of them is sacrosanct and has its own lobby. The IRS can issue unverified refunds in 2011 of almost $87 million dollars to a dozen addresses used by hundreds of illegal immigrants as their 'home addresses,' and we see TV ads nightly for blatantly fraudulent drug and supply services paid by Medicare, but just try to cut a penny from any of those programs and Nancy Pelosi will accuse you of taking food out of the mouths of poor children (whose obesity rates are soaring, requiring 15 more new programs).

I asked you once what you thought was a reasonable cap on how much of the economy should be controlled by the government, and you'd never thought about it. You seem like an intelligent and reasonable person, but that alone told me your perspective was 180 degrees from mine.

When I look at gov't spending, I see the productivity and creativity of individuals harnessed to the will of others. It's an assault on their freedom. In a society, a certain amount of that must be expected, but how much?

Well, I've thought about it. I could give you the details but they're are irrelevant because, brushing up against 50% as we are now, we're so far above what I consider acceptable that quibbling about whether it should be 10% or 20% is pointless.

Others look at gov't spending this way:

Hey, does it sound like a good idea to help people buy more energy efficient cars? Let's do it. Are wind turbines cool? Subsidize them! Isn't college great? Every kid should go! Is anybody poor? That sucks! Let's fix it.

Aren't the people who come across our borders nice folks? Sure, mostly, so why not pay for their schooling, health care, etc.? Are there 48 different ideas for how to deal with violence against women or pre-kindergarten learning or alcoholism or PTSD or STEM education or diversity training? Let's fund them all and offer grants for even more ideas!

Don't poor old people need a safety net? Of course they do, but let's not embarrass them by treating them as charity cases, let's cover EVERYBODY through Social Security and Medicare. Oh, is "fraud, waste and abuse" rampant in those programs? Let's expand them and add Obamacare! Oops, did we run out of money? Let's boost the debt ceiling and harvest more from the money tree.

Posted 24 June 2013, 9:47 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Thank you PearlY - The concept of thought as to conservative and liberal is astounding. fatherof5 definitely has a concept that I haven't read about yet and know I never will.

Posted 25 June 2013, 6:28 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

namvet60, I'm quite familiar with fatherof5's way of thinking. I have good friends who think the same way, and for that matter, so did I at a much younger age. The fact that I disagree with him doesn't make him stupid or crazy though, and I appreciate his willingness to engage in reasoned debate.

Posted 26 June 2013, 5:57 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

You are exactly right - nothing stupid about fatherof5 but just some of the incredible thoughts throw a person off stride. My younger relatives drive me insane with some of there actions and thoughts on values and moral judgments. But then the younger generation has grown up in a more liberal based agenda world than what I was so, I guess the learning curve is on both ends. Having aged into a conservative, I like to spend my earned money rather than have someone else think they can do it better. But, I guess life will go on - I hope!

Posted 28 June 2013, 10:05 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

PearlY, you are more difficult to respond to than others, which is a complement to you. We are getting into the weeds a bit, which could require an even lengthier response than this one. So, rather than go there, let's look at this from 30,000 feet.

If we picture a spectrum from 1-100, where 1 = no government intervention (i.e. pure libertarianism) and 100 = total government intervention (i.e. pure socialism), I'm thinking you are about a 10 and I am about a 25. I am guessing you would preserve limited safety net protections, plus military, fire, police and maybe public schools (?), but that's about it. You'd have a flat income tax and no capital gains taxes. Your theory is that life is what you make it; life isn't always fair; opportunities are optimised for the most people when the government is limited.

My theory is that your theory is largely correct - with a few exceptions. Without a collective (i.e. government) effort, I do not believe the market will appropriately regulate corporate pollution, fraud and abuse, so regulations are needed (see USDA, FDA, EPA, etc.). Without a progressive tax system and political regulations, the powerful will inevitably and exponentially increase their dominance over the less powerful. (I think we see this happening now.) Without "smart" safety net programs, like "welfare to work," and programs like social security and medicare, too many of us are vulnerable to the whims of "outrageous fortune" and, but for the grace of God, could each find ourselves homeless or otherwise in desperate need.

Two more points: Obamacare and Reagan.

To me, our historic way of conducting healthcare in this country is astoundingly horrific. Nearly double the costs of other countries with overall significantly worse results. 40 million people without health insurance and millions more vulnerable to losing healthcare if they lost their jobs or developed serious conditions. We KNOW that system is wildly expensive and was getting worse. If you received inexpensive healthcare, would you suddenly say, "You know what, I have health insurance now so I have no incentive to work or make my life better?" Of course not. You would be FREED to pursue loftier ambitions.

So far, Obamacare is lowering health premiums in California and has slowed the growth of health costs. And it has expanded health services to millions. The free market did not.

Finally, liberals and conservatives both tend to look back to Reagan as a paradigm shifter. For me, I don't know how one can look at the economic trends over the past 30 years (after his union busting, deregulation, and trickle down economics implementation) and conclude anything other than we are in much worse economic shape now than we were then. A few people have made billions. Most are working harder for less. We're heading in the wrong direction.

That's why I'm about a 25 on that spectrum. We've moved too far away from balance.

Posted 25 June 2013, 8:38 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I wish we had the time and space to discuss these huge topics more thoroughly, but I'll have to settle for a few points:

I agree that there is a spectrum, but I would put us more at 25 for me and somewhere between 65 and 75 for you.

This country has socialized about 60% of youth (education, health care, subsidized housing and food, subsidized day care, recreation, support enforcement, etc.) and my guess is you don't think that's enough. It's socialized about 60% of old age (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disability, government pensions above those related to market-based compensaton) and again, you probably don't think that's enough.

With the forthcoming destruction of the private health care market which is the intended and inevitable outcome under Obamacare, we will soon have socialized 90% of health care at all age levels.

We've socialized major portions of our energy, transportation and communications systems, and even made a dent in socializing the arts, entertainment and recreation.

We've socialized about 55% of success and approaching 75-80% of failure when it comes to employment, entrepreneurship, innovation, and again, I'm confident you don't think that's enough (although you may well object to some of the socialized failure when it comes to business, until we got specific about it).

Posted 26 June 2013, 5 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

One argument that has never made any sense to me on the health care situation is that the fact that we spend more money on health care than other countries is supposed to prove our system doesn't work. It makes no sense for two reasons:

One is - so what? We probably spend more money on pet care too. We have physically easier lives than many places, which leads to lengthy chronic diseases of ease, like old age, diabetes, heart disease, joint disease, etc. We have many thousands of miles more of roads and highways and cheaper gas, so we have many more serious accidents and traumatic expensive injuries to young people than they do. We aggressively treat conditions other countries expect people to put up with. We do more than twice as many total knee replacements per 100,000 as the European Union, for example, even though only 14% of our population is over 65, and they have 18%. We try to save children born at far younger periods of gestation. We're different, so why shouldn't our health care costs be different.

Two, and this is, in a way, a corollary on One, is that maybe we CAN spend more money on health care because we spend less money on something else than those other countries are forced to. If they're spending less on health care (and also far less on defense) but are mostly in worse economic health than we are, where exactly ARE they spending their money?

Having visited in Europe and South/Central America quite a bit, it seemed to me they spent more on housing of poorer quality in Europe, food (albeit often of higher quality), and lastly, but mostly, they spend more on government (and/or corruption in the case of Central/South America). Wherever it is that they're spending their money, though, why is it inherently better for them to spend it on those things than on health care? And why do we not get credit for NOT having to spend our money on whatever they do and therefore being able to spend it on health care?

Posted 26 June 2013, 5:44 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

The short answer is that it is not bad in and of itself that we spend more per person on healthcare than other countries. The problem is that we spend way more and still get overall worse outcomes while also covering far fewer people (percentage wise). More money for better outcomes is one thing. More money for worse outcomes is another. Except for a couple of very specific areas, our overall outcomes are not that good compared to other countries.

Posted 28 June 2013, 5:55 a.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

Fatherof5, and in the US, more money for fraud, waste and abuse. Unregulated Medcare is fertile ground for unscrupulous physicians to bilk the goverment out of billions. Corruption from for-profit hospitals, nursing homes, pharmaceuticals and private insurances is worst than in Central America. Moreover, obesity (now declared a disease in USA), which is not as serious in other countries, in this country it cost the government a fat fortune.

Even communist Cuba has 100%medical coverage for its citizens. They even dole pro-bono medical services to many African and Latin American countries.

Incidentally, and going back to the topic at hand, how about equal wages for women? Other industrialized countries are ahead of us on this one! Do we need Hilary in the White House for it to happen?

Posted 28 June 2013, 12:15 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

I have two problems with the idea that we have "worse outcomes."

First, I've read a lot of the comparisons, and they completely fail to account for obvious variables, including demographic, environmental and cultural, only a very few of which I mentioned above, that can dramatically skew any comparison. That's not surprising, since most of these comparisons are expressly political in purpose. Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

In fact, it actually isn't true that we have "worse" outcomes if you measure outcomes that really relate to health care. Measuring, for instance, how many people die from lung cancer may conflate things like smoking habits or air pollution or cultural willingness to go to the doctor, which aren't really 'health care', with things like timeliness of diagnosis after first contact and survival rates after treatment.

Second, a lot of variables are never measured at all. Among these are convenience, pain, uncertainty and temporary disability. Surely there is some value to being able to get in to see a doctor at your convenience, getting tests run promptly, getting treatment expeditiously. If I need knee replacement, it's because my knee HURTS. Getting it in two months is a lot better than getting it in 18 months, but my pain and disability for that extra 16 months is unlikely to be measured in the comparisons.

Posted 28 June 2013, 2:03 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Okay, so you and I will dispute seeming 'facts' all day long. What isn't really disputable is that our system pre-Obamacare resulted in 30-40 million people without health coverage. Surely you can acknowledge that is very bad, while we still pay so much more on average per person. Ask a Canadian or most Europeans if they would like to switch to our system and they would say you are nuts.

Posted 28 June 2013, 6:49 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Well, yes, I can dispute that there were really 30-40 million without health "coverage." There were that many without health insurance, but a) about half qualified for Medicaid but had just not bothered to apply, and if they didn't want health care, why should they apply before they needed it? b) about 15% had household incomes high enough (over $60,000 a year, IIRC) that they could have obtained some coverage if they chose, or may have elected, wisely or not, to self-insure. c) about 12 million people are in the country illegally, 60% of them from Mexico, which DOES have universal coverage, so health care was available to them in their own country, and d) everybody in the country has access to emergency care, whether they can afford it or not, and to a variety of free basic preventive care services.

I remember researching this thoroughly around 2008, and reaching the conclusion that there probably were about 3-4 million lawful residents who did not qualify for Medicaid but lacked the financial wherewithal or insurance to obtain needed health care. Now that's not nothing, and for those people it's a serious problem, but it's nowhere near the problem it's been made out to be.

And while most Canadians and Europeans would say they prefer their SYSTEM, their PERSONAL satisfaction with their own health care servicess is far below that of Americans, and in f act matches the level of satisfaction of UNINSURED Americans with their own health care.

As for whether they'd think I was nuts, it depends on whether they were actively in the market for health care. The Canadian branch of my family has been coming to the States for medical care for three decades for any serious or seriously annoying conditions. They would say you are nuts.

Posted 28 June 2013, 7:44 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Here's one pre-ACA Gallup study of satisfaction by country that concludes: "...people in Canada and Great Britain are significantly more satisfied with availability of affordable healthcare than their American counterparts are." Here's the URL:

Posted 28 June 2013, 8:10 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Most people have a generally dim view of lawyers, but really like their own, if they have one. Most people feel our current education system is doing a poor job overall, but really like their own local school.

Do you really think either Canadians at large or Americans at large have any accurate idea of how "affordable" their health care is? Even if both knew exactly how much they themselves spend (which would be uncommon) I doubt the average Canadian has any idea exactly how much of his or her tax burden is used to pay for health care.

But ask them something they DO know, and you get this (from the study I cited below:

50% of insured Americans are VERY satisfied with their ability to see top-quality specialists if they need one, compared to only 17% of Canadians, barely better than uninsured Americans at 14%.
55% of insured Americans are VERY satisfied with their ability to get emergency medical care, compared to 26% of Canadians and 20% of uninsured Americans.
42% of insured Americans are VERY satisfied with their ability to get the latest, most sophisticated medical treatments, compared to 16% of Canadians and 11% of uninsured Americans.

Posted 29 June 2013, 12:12 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

What's the difference between a fact and a 'fact'?

Posted 28 June 2013, 7:47 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Two of these: ' '


Posted 28 June 2013, 7:51 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Actually, I wrote 'fact' because sometimes what one assumes to be true or factual, in discussions like these, ends up not being accepted as fact. Hence, a fact is more like a 'fact.' That's what I meant, anyway.

Does it feel like we're conversing in a narrowing hallway?

Posted 28 June 2013, 9:39 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Yes, it's getting a little claustrophobic.

Here's a reference on American vs. Canadian satisfaction with their health care (as of ~ 2006)

Posted 29 June 2013, 12:02 p.m. Suggest removal

harris says...

Raising minimum wage is a cause of inflation. The price of all goods and services will go up and also some employers will not be able to afford to pay the higher rate so there will be less entry level jobs. The consequence of razing the minimum wage will hurt more people than it helps. Entry levil jobs should not be living wage jobs. The USSR tried having a socialist economy and went broke. The USA will go broke with a socialist economic system as well.

Posted 25 June 2013, 2:18 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

There are two fairly big private Walla Walla enterprises that are doing very well, thank you very much! They have been paying their staff 10-15% above minimum wage for years. Their staff are producing incredibly well due to loyalty to nice owners who care about them. The retention rate is almost 100%. Other greedy similar industries are long gone. One wonders why!

Posted 25 June 2013, 2:46 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Hold on there, harris, no one is proposing anything close to a USSR-style socialistic economic system. That's a very LONG way away from what we're talking about. It sounds like one of your arguments is that higher wages are bad for America because of inflation. We should therefore strive to keep wages low.

That is the opposite direction I would like to see our nation go.

Posted 25 June 2013, 7:55 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

No, I have to disagree with you there. Raising minimum wages, without raising the total supply of money, does not increase inflation. (Of course, doing it that way also doesn't do much to stimulate overall demand for any significant period of time.)

It DOES reduce employment among the least employable: Youth and marginal employees.

Posted 26 June 2013, 6:02 p.m. Suggest removal

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