Although my wife and I were enjoying a rare vacation, I recently braved local obscenity laws to stream the latest “lesson” from Beck U. on my computer, only to be subjected to yet another right-wing screed in Randian economic theory by David Buckner, the psychology professor turned economic “expert.”
Sadly, the local authorities did not burst into my hotel room to arrest me.
My real punishment was listening to Mr. Buckner rail against government-run health care, government regulations, and, oddly, minimum wage increases. Apparently, it’s really evil that the government insists workers are paid a “livable wage” because it will force fast food restaurants out of business, making it harder for Buckner to buy Big Macs at a decent price – or something like that. And looking at Mr. Buckner, I believe he is an expert on Big Macs.
The same cannot be said for his grasp of economic theory, although I was impressed that he managed to complete the entire “lesson” without fainting. Using visual aids that can charitably be described as an homage to 90s-era clip art, Buckner outlined his three main points.
1. “Profits are proof of a good deal.”
2. “Governments transfer wealth. They do not create wealth.”
3. “Governments foster black markets.”
Buckner first launched into an anecdote in which he described haranguing one of his Canadian relatives into finally agreeing that the Canadian health care system was a socialist nightmare in which looters get a free lunch on the backs of taxpayers who may never use the health care system. Apparently, these taxpayers are people who are somehow impervious to illness, disease, and death.
Here’s a clip:
Forget the fact that Canada’s single payer health care system:
– spends two-thirds less on administrative costs than in the U.S.
– spends 10 percent of its GDP on health care to insure 100 percent of its citizens, compared to almost 16 percent of GDP in the U.S. to leave tens of millions still uninsured (Source: World Health Organization Statistics 2009).
– has lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancy rates than the U.S.
Of course, Canadians are taxed a hell of a lot more, right? Well, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.
But since I’m an American, I’d rather fork over almost $7000 a year in health insurance premiums for a policy with no doctor visit co-pays and an out-of-pocket deductible of $4000 before paying a dime more in taxes. After all, “profits are proof of a good deal.” It works for the health insurance companies, where the profits of the 10 largest publicly traded companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007. I’m just glad I could contribute.
But I do agree with Buckner that governments transfer wealth. Just look at the wealth that was transferred to the rich in this country over the last ten years. I have my own visual aid.
What’s more, Laura Bassett of The Huffington Post reports that a recent study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) showed…
…that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest parts of the population in 2007 was the highest it’s been in 80 years, while the share of income going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level ever.
The CBPP report attributes the widening of this gap partly to Bush Administration tax cuts, which primarily benefited the wealthy.
Of course, that wasn’t really Buckner’s point. He was pissed off that his tax dollars would ever go to any of those DFH looters, but I guess a redistribution of wealth back up the food chain is okey-dokey with him.
And I do agree that some government regulations foster black markets. Here’s another visual aid to illustrate my point.
I am frightened, however, for Buckner and his fellow junk-food junkies. If Congress ever raises the minimum wage again, Buckner may have to go underground in order to satisfy his Big Mac Attack.
He may even have to import them from (shudder) Canada!