Monday, November 6, 2006

Issues: Healthcare and the Minimum Wage

Two of the major issues each campaign -- and this year is no exception -- are Healthcare and the Minimum Wage.

It seems no one anywhere is happy with either the quality or the cost of healthcare they receive. I've griped about it here several times myself. That doesn't mean I think anyone can do anything about it. Remember the Clinton Healthcare Charade? Then First Lady Hillary Clinton headed up the initiative for her Presidential husband. And what did we really get from it? Nothing but a bunch of mindless doublespeak. What has the current Administration done for healthcare? Medicare prescription reform. As confusing as it may be for seniors, they are paying less for most prescription drugs. But that doesn't much benefit the rest of us.

So what's the issue here? Can any candidate for office actually effect significant changes to healthcare? I think not. The quality of healthcare is driven down by the unaffordability of it. Bring the cost down and the quality will go up. And there are several things driving the cost up.
* It costs our medical professionals tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn their Doctorate.

* The ease with which a patient can file and win a frivolous malpractice lawsuit makes malpractice insurance both necessary and nearly cost prohibitive.

* In order to prevent false claims of malpractice many Doctors will order unnecessary testing and treatment just to be sure, resulting in increased healthcare costs.

* The rigorous testing required for new medications to gain approval inflates the cost of prescription drugs.
There's more of course, but you get the picture.

So how do we improve the quality of healthcare? Reduce the cost. And how do we reduce the cost of healthcare? Control the cost of higher education; reduce the cost of (and need for) malpractice insurance by stopping frivolous lawsuits; make prescription drugs more affordable by introducing foreign competition.
There hasn't been an increase in the Federal minimum wage in several years. Why? Because the majority of Americans earn more than minimum wage. And it doesn't take any special schooling or training to get there. Anyone both able and willing to work can do it.

I'm no great success story. A year after high school I enlisted in the Active Duty Army, where I served for eight years. At the age of twenty-six, six months before leaving the military, I attended a job fair in Wurzburg, Germany. With no skills, experience, or training in retail, sales, or electronics, I secured a position as a Retail Store Manager with a major electronics retailer. Seventeen months later, barely knowing the proper way to operate a washing machine, I accepted a position as an appliance salesperson with another major national retailer. Fifteen months later, with no experience in distribution or delivery, I was promoted to Assistant Home Delivery Manager in a major metropolitan area. Within a year I was promoted twice more: to Customer Service Manager, then to Home Delivery Manager in another major city. To make a long story short, if it's not already too late, I was promoted four more times over the next three years -- once to a multi-unit Loss Prevention position with no related training or experience -- and I have since been hired by four separate companies to run retail store locations for them. I am now considered among the top Managers in my Region and eligible for promotion again.

The bottom line is, I had no special qualifications for most of those positions, but I did possess some of the most important qualifications: the drive, desire, and determination to succeed. I succeeded, and you can, too. Anyone can.

Minimum Wage had a purpose in it's day, but that day is past. I can't remember the last time I had an employee who didn't earn at least 50% above the minimum wage, and that's the low end of the scale. Even McDonald's pays more than minimum wage.
Both of these issues are non-issues. Don't get distracted by them when you vote tomorrow. And don't forget to vote.


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