May 26, 2011 9 Comments
What do they mean by “working”?
They mean this: 18-26 year olds are going on their parents’ employer-provided health plans as ‘dependents’. You know, as the law forces insurers to allow.
This is a very strange and, I hasten to add, economically ignorant of what it means for something to be “working”. First of all I was unaware that the sole purpose of Obamacare was to increase the number of 18-26 year olds being on their parents’ health plans, that this was somehow a huge problem, or certainly that this was the metric by which Obamacare’s success would be measured. But even aside from that, there is no sign of any cost-benefit analysis anywhere in the thinking of this “economist”. Using such criteria, any law that forces everyone to do X is “working” as long as the number of people who do X increases. But I’m entitled to ask: so what?
Suppose there were a law forcing all employers to give all their full-time employees state-of-the-art $25k jacuzzis. What would happen?
First, some employers wouldn’t, and/or would simply cut back their work force. Some employers would probably switch a bunch of employees over to ‘contract’ workers. There would be a new wave of outsourcing. Meanwhile, at least some employers of higher-salaried folks would probably just bite the bullet and go ahead and purchase jacuzzis for their employees (and, in return, recoup some or all of it from salaries).
But, disregarding all of the other effects, it is clear that jacuzzi ownership would go up, at least a little, and so I can only assume that Mark Thoma, brilliant economist, would write on his brilliant blog the “Economist’s View” that the law is “working”.
Left unconsidered in such a conclusion, of course, are questions such as: Was trying to forcibly increase jacuzzi ownership a good idea? What are the costs and side effects of having done so? Is it actually worth those costs? You know, important questions. Cost-benefit considerations. Stuff like that. Stuff that an economist might actually be interested in.
Silly me. Mark Thoma is not an economist. At least, he evidently doesn’t play one on his misnomered blog.