OPINION – When the Presidential debates begin in a couple of weeks, you can count on two issues receiving front-and-center attention: jobs and health care.
There will be a lot of squawking and finger pointing and, as we have seen already, out-and-out lies, but neither side will offer a solution.
We’ll be told it will take time, to be patient during the job recovery. We will be told how health care is too expensive and Obamacare must be repealed because we will bankrupt the United States if we take care of everybody’s health needs.
The truth of the matter is there are two things that could be done to bring most of the jobs back to these shores and a way to cut health care expenditures by $26 billion, if Congress really is interested in doing something to benefit the men, women, and children of this land.
Two simple pieces of legislation would do the trick, if only our elected leaders had the guts to do what is right instead of lining their own pockets.
In the realm of jobs, Congress need only pass a bill that taxes each company that sends jobs offshore in the amount of what a year’s salary and benefits would cost to keep the job here. In other words, if your employer is paying you $40,000 in salary and benefits and your job is shipped overseas, the company that stole your job from you and sent it offshore would be required to pay an annual tax of $40,000. A company would think twice before sending its call centers, graphic arts work, and other jobs to India, China, or wherever else these corporate greed monsters can undercut the hard-working men and women of the United States.
I’ve heard it argued, even by Southern Utah business leaders who ship jobs overseas, that doing so is an attempt to keep their doors open, which is utter nonsense.
Keeping people working spurs the economy and while it may take a little time to reap larger profits, keeping the money circulating, rather than cutting jobs, is the key to fiscal viability. Kicking loyal employees to the curb so the corporate machine can replace them with vendors in India stalls the local economy, which feeds upon itself. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the parallel between long-term, widespread unemployment and the foreclosure rates.
But, that won’t happen because the captains of commerce long ago decided that it was far more important to feed the stockholders than the people who labor in their shops. Because they receive company stock for bonuses or are offered stock options as an enticement to be good company men, these guys would lay off their mother on Mother’s Day to improve the revenue stream. I would bet you the hard-earned nickels and dimes I make that when a company president/CEO talks about doing what’s best for the company they are really saying what’s best for the stockholders, who have become more important than the workers. Don’t believe me? Check out their annual report statements and look at the dividends paid, then compare that with your latest raise.
But, Congress will not take that bold step.
The expense of health care can also be dramatically decreased with one little piece of legislation.
All it would take is for Congress to pass a law that would ban the advertising and marketing of prescription drugs.
Big Pharma spends approximately $26 billion annually, according to the drugwatch.com website, in marketing and advertising. The bulk of that money — about $20 billion — is spent in direct marketing campaigns aimed at doctors. About $4 billion goes to consumer advertising and another $2 billion is spent by the drug manufacturers for medical seminars and training opportunities.
Why won’t Congress do anything about this egregiously lopsided set of numbers? Because Big Pharma spends about $188 million annually on lobbyists and dumps about $14 million a year into campaign funds to ensure that its friends are reelected.
Over the years, I have brought both of these proposals before members of the House and Senate.
“No … you don’t understand,” one former senator told me. “The only way we can drop health care costs is to eliminate Social Security and institute tort reform.”
Another said: “It will never happen.”
A third, with connections to the health care industry, went silent and hid behind a nervous grin.
Gutless wonders, one and all.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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