One thing to remember in the whole health insurance discussion is that back in those days, you went to work for a corporation and you were working for that corporation for the next 30-40 years of your life. So the company had an incentive to keep you healthy, because if you got sick you were less productive. But nowadays companies view workers as disposable, so much so that when the CTO of my (small) employer retired recently, as in, voluntarily decided that he’d had enough of that “work” stuff and it was time to play bocce and build his replica of the Tardis that he’s been designing for the past couple of years (the main thing he’s missing is the inside, the part that makes it go, but that part’s in use by someone else somewhen else right now ), everybody was in shock because *nobody* retires nowadays — *nobody*. They get laid off, then work contracts until they’re dead or no longer can find contracts. They don’t voluntarily leave, unless they’re going to another employer — it just doesn’t work that way!
So anyhow, that’s that. If your employees are disposable, you have no incentive to keep them healthy — you just throw them away and find someone else to use up, or import someone from India or elsewhere if you’ve already used up all your local people. So the whole paradigm of employer-paid health insurance is just a sick joke now, because they don’t care if you get sick and die — they’ll just hire someone else. The only reason they offer it is because of taxes and competitive benefit, and that’s hardly an incentive for them to offer effective health insurance, as in, health insurance that actually will pay for expensive treatments, given that it’s impossible for you the (maybe potential) employee to know ahead of time whether the insurer will actually pay if you get leukemia or will deny deny deny until you’re dead…
Basically what we have here is a new sharecropping system. Here’s how the sharecropping system worked: The oligarchs in the Deep South managed via hook or crook to gain ownership of the vast majority of productive land. Sometimes it was by crook — a common strategy was to burn down the county courthouse with all its recorded deeds, then record their own forged titles in the courthouse to “prove” that they owned land they wanted. And by paying for brutal sheriff’s departments that would kill for pleasure and by buying judges, they managed to enforce these forged deeds at gunpoint. Sometimes it was by simple monopoly power — by cooperating with other oligarchs to interfere with the ability of the little guys to buy seed and fertilizer, gin their cotton, or get their cotton to market, they could bankrupt the little guys and take over their land. Sometimes it was simply a case of economies of scale and redundancy — if a levee breaks and floods a field, that would bankrupt the little guy who owned that field, but if a big guy owned that field he’d shrug and harvest crops from his other fields, the ones that *didn’t* flood. So anyhow, the end result is that the oligarchs ended up owning most of the productive land of the South.
Thing about oligarchs is that they’re lazy. They had all this land, but they certainly didn’t want to (and physically couldn’t) work it all themselves. So instead, they told the disenfranchised hungry landless farmers, “I’ll let you farm on some acres of my land — but I get 75% of the crop.” The farmer either had to swallow his pride and do it, or starve to death. So the planters got rich on crop output produced by others who did the actual work of growing the crop — not because they were more industrious (no, they were uniformly lazy), but because they managed to grab a legal monopoly on the productive assets of the Southern economy and use that to take the wealth produced by the actual workers via threat of starvation.
The top 5% now owns over 75% of the capital assets of America. Think about that. The top 1% by themselves own over 50% of the capital assets of America. This is no different from the Southern sharecropping system, in the end. We who are engineers, factory workers, construction workers, we who create actual real wealth as vs legal bullshit, we’re all sharecroppers, creating wealth for our massa, but getting to keep a dwindling small percentage of what we create. By basically owning the “land” of a modern economy, our modern-day oligarchs have created a system where they don’t have to actually soil their own hands with work — instead, they merely take an increasingly large percentage of what others produce, and if you don’t like it, well, you can just die, already.
Of course, the downside of a sharecropping system is that nobody wants to be a sharecropper. That is a fact which oligarchs don’t like at all, because if the majority owned their own land (i.e. were self-employed using their own resources), they would no longer be available labor to use for sharecropping. But by monopolizing so many of the productive assets of the nation, buying laws transferring wealth from the majority to them, and by importing labor from other countries whenever they can’t find enough sharecroppers willing to work for massa on ye olde plantation, they’ve managed to implement a system that, at least for now, seems fairly stable. It took the twin shocks of the Great Depression and WW2 to disrupt the old sharecropping system. I haven’t the foggiest idea what it will take to disrupt the new one.
– Badtux the Sharecropper Penguin