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Sunday, September 25, 2016

It’s Time For Conservatives To Talk About Inequality

WASHINGTON — It’s good that conservatives are finally taking seriously the problems of inequality and declining upward mobility. It’s unfortunate that they often evade the ways in which structural changes in the economy, combined with conservative policies, have made matters worse.

Occupy Wall Street, whatever its future, will always merit praise for placing inequality at the center of our politics. The biggest sign of the Occupiers’ success: Conservatives once stubbornly insisted that inequality wasn’t a problem because the United States was the land of opportunity and upward mobility. Now they are facing the fact that we are by no means the most socially mobile country in the world.

Reports from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and others show that social mobility is greater elsewhere, notably in Denmark, Australia, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden and Germany.

What do these countries have in common? Not to put too fine a point on it, all have national policies that are, in right-wing parlance, more “socialist” or (to be precise) social democratic than ours. They guarantee their citizens health insurance. They have stronger union movements and more generous welfare states. They tend to keep higher education more affordable. In most cases, especially Germany’s, they have robust apprenticeship and job training programs. They levy higher taxes.

  • montanabill

    Absolutely bogus. The people in countries mentioned DO NOT have greater upward mobility. It is extremely hard for them to start a business. It is extremely difficult to expand an existing business. Mr. Dionne is once again pontificating on subject about which he knows nothing.

    • Have YOU lived in each one of these countries mentioned by Mr. Dionne? Have You started BUSINESSES in each one?

      More importantly, have you tried to start a business in THIS country? One can become a terrorist much more easily than become an honest merchant in the United States. More cheaply, too.

      • Don’t worry… liberals, progressives and the occcupiers will see to it that a small business man has no chance.

        The main selfish position of the liberals and the ilk is…punish success and reward failure. I can only assume that they like that idea because they themselves are absolute failures. In the long run…you will get what you reward.

        In the current Obamacrap health care our actual statistical likely hood of using the system is irrelevant…and it’s all based on how much you can be milked for by the system to cover the cost of those who selfishly refuse to earn their own way.

        And those being saddled with the cost are called selfish? Irresponsible? Evil?

        • Dave_dido

          I resent your comment, Sanorio. I have been working since Iwas 14 yrs. old. In fact I quit playing baseball at 14 so that I could work in the summer and after school. I am now 60. When I got married at age 34 I started working 2 jobs and have worked 2 jobs ever since. When I was raising a family I paid $500/month for health insurance with a $2500 deductible, so not much was ever covered. At the time, $500/month was 20% of my income.When I got divorced I had to drop my health insurance because I couldn’t afford it. When I did get back on my feet financially I couldn’t get health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, arthritis in the right hip. Now I walk with a limp. Everyone says, “Go get a new hip, the hospital will just pass the cost on.” But I don’t want to pass the cost on to someone else. What I want is affordable insurance, or at least , fairly priced medical bills. Three months ago I was in emergency, passing a kidney stone. I was there for 3 hrs. and my bill was $5,000, including an MRI that cost $3800. A health insurer would get billed less than $1000 for that same MRI.
          So when you call me selfish and irresponsible, you don’t know a thing about me.
          I am grateful to the people in Congress and President Obama for sticking their necks out to try to help me. The Affordable Care Act is not a panacea, but it is a start.Our system is broken and it needs repair.
          I don’t want a handout, I don’t want you to pay for my insurance. I want a fair system.
          Walk a mile in my shoes before you start calling names.

          • This policy forces people into a system that will not improve health care…or reduce cost. IIRC…the policy right now is a family of four that makes less than $88,000 per year gets subsidized insurance. Who pays for that subsidy? And why should they? This demand of subsidies is selfish.

            It has always been a lie that you cannot get insurance with a preexisting condition. You have to pay more for that insurance…as rightly you should…but you can get it.

            In the end…this bunch of nonsense will do nothing to ‘reign in’ the cost of health care.

            You are forcing those who do not want insurance to get it….to get in bed with the very industry which you just bad mouthed in your post above….I have never understood that logic. You want a fair system….let everyone start paying their own way. The more involved insurance and/or the government gets…the more screwy the pricing becomes. Another way to put this is…the more disassociated the people become from actual cost…the more the cost will run out of control.

            You can (at least in my area)…settle on emergency room visits for significantly less than the initial bill…but it takes a little leg work. About 40% off seems to be the norm if you push it. I don’t know why it would be different there.

            I had a policy that I let go. It had a $10,000 deductible. It was meant as a catastrophic backup. I was in constant violation of the terms in that it wanted me to have the doctors offices submit all bills to it during the year…and then they would then bill me for the doctors visits. I found it far cheaper to pay cash for each visit…and not run it through the policy at all. The final straw came last year. I needed a procedure that was going to be charged to the insurance company for $22,800. I would have paid my deductible of $10,000 on that one operation. I paid cash for a top rated surgeon and surgery center. My out of pocket was just under $5200. What I just did will become pretty much impossible under the proposed legislation. Guess you guys don’t want proof that there are better. cheaper alternatives to your crack pot nonsense.

            The government is no better than the insurance companies. At least with the insurance companies I can choose no if they don’t have a product I want. Can’t do that with the government.

          • Dave_dido

            Be glad that the $22,800 bill was not $228,000, my friend, or you couldn’t have done what you did. You call your way of dealing with medical bills a “better, cheaper alternative”? Why should I have to negotiate a rate with a provider? Evidently most people are not very good negotiators.Your way has caused close to 1 million bankruptcies due to medical bills in the U.S. in recent years.Why didn’t those folks “negotiate” payments they could afford? Do you think all these bankruptcies are good for society? Should they be happening in the wealthiest country in the world?
            You say that there are policies for people with pre-existing conditions. Have you seen the premiums for those policies? They are unaffordable for most working class people. Once again, wealthy people get access but working poor do not.
            I would also like to address your comments on “subsidies”. The Affordable Care Act does not provide for subsidies. It provides for insurance exchanges which are supposed to offer more competitive rates for the uninsured. The government does not pay for the insurance exchange policies, the policyholder pays for it. Where did you get the idea that there are subsidies involved? Again, I don’t want you or anyone else to subsidize my healthcare. I want a fair system, that’s all.
            Now let’s talk about “everyone paying their own way”.Do you know why Medicare came into existence? It’s because people couldn’t “pay their own way”. Ask anyone over age 65 if they would rather have a government program, Medicare, or if they’d be better off to “pay their own way”. Please go ask a few seniors and see what they tell you. You Obama-haters want to get your country back, you want to go back to the “good old days”. I’m for that- let’s go back to the 1960’s when Americans actually cared about one another and passed legislation that provided Medicare and Medicaid. We’re still the wealthiest country in the world, but you want to make the U.S. like a Third World country that can’t afford to assure its citizens of decent medical care. And please don’t tell me we can’t afford Medicare and Medicaid- all we have to do is stop making war and stop subsidizing the wealthy with tax loopholes and tax breaks that they don’t need. In ten years our national debt would be paid off.
            If you didn’t hate Obama so much you might see that healthcare reform is not “crackpot nonsense”.

      • montanabill

        I have not lived in those countries but have traveled extensively to all but Australia. I also know a number of people who once owned businesses in Europe, closed their businesses and immigrated (legally) to the U.S. to restart their businesses here, very successfully.
        More importantly, I have started several businesses. The most successful was started with a $600 investment and was built into a multi-million dollar nation-wide very successful enterprise. Like Bernie Marcus (founder of Home Depot), I think it would be hard to duplicate because today’s immense pile of regulations didn’t exist 30 years ago.

  • rustacus21

    2 things being learned from this conversation (& by the way, we should all thank Mr. Dionne from the whole of our hearts’ for putting a spotlite on this subject) is that 1): conservatives’ perceptions on Democracy make them inept observers re: conversations on inequality & 2): conservatives perpetuate the “victim” culture among the rich each time the subject of taxation (or paying their FAIR SHARE) is EVER brought up. This conversation is going on nowhere else in media currently (at this level), but the reason is jobs (or the lack thereof, according to ‘theories’ on what supply side economics is ‘suppose’ to deliver) & the deficit – both of which have been hung around the necks of Democrats each time they inherit trillions in irresponsible, inept, incompetence-connected debt for the nation to suffer with. 4 this reason, conservative commentators MUST down-play the whole of any such conversation, since they would have to acknowledge the obvious – that morality is a road best traveled on the straight & narrow – B it Middle Class working families or multi-million/billionaires of a J.P. Morgan, Bain Capital or a Warren Buffett & requires MORE from media (i.e., DELIVERED HERE) & from the citizenry (via voting as if we COMPREHEND policies & implications related to…). Case in point is the gangster resistance to ending tax cuts & implementing hardened, criminally inpenetrable banking/investment market regulations (in ’09), which would have gotten the nations economy immediately in high-gear, but created the recovery that would have reached every business/income demographic – even the very wealthiest Americans – in spite of the deficit. But by listening to conservative doom-sayers yet again, in another Midterm election cycle, Americans imposed suffering upon themselves, yet AGAIN, by voting for conservatives who have proven over & again they are unable to comprehend the full spectrum of components involved in civic governance. Much less during crisis. If conservative voters would stop worrying about the rich – who by the way, did VERY much better over 2001-present w/out any help @all – & about themselves, they could actually SEE the logic in applying DEMOCRACY to economics instead of vice-versa (as in “Citizens United…”) & know it will work for ALL Americans w/out exception. President Bill Clinton already showed how utterly simple & fool-pro0f such policies are – that even some 1 w/the “skills’ of a George W. Bush wouldn’t misapprehend its benefits… even if he’d done a Rip Vanwinkle for 8 years & let the Clinton policies run the country on auto-pilot… a very nice thought indeed…

  • Dave_dido

    Thank you, E.J Dionne, for telling the truth about what is really dragging our country down. Progressives need to stick to this narrative and keep hitting home with it until even the most obtuse 90%er understands.

  • geoelb

    I think the President meant that starting a business is a co-operative effort by the owner, local, state and national governments.These entities put the infastructure in place that are the essential ingredients to runnial a successful business. We need the roads, public utilities, and communications to make it work.

  • 2hheels2

    On an Opinion piece on Fox New they actually said this very fact. There is no way announcers would ever say it. I have heard the argument I built the business by myself. They don’t take in the fact America with the laws and internet and all of the freedom our troops have given us to do great things. Without the freedoms of this country no matter how intelligent or driven the business might have even been able to start to build. God Bless the freedom our troops and Country has given us.