Jay Severin’s dumb-ass-ity, in his own words

The problem with the “public option” for health care, according to Jay Severin, is that it will kill the private insurance industry. Why? Because if businesses can move their employees to the public option, they can stop providing health insurance and save on premiums. I called him up, because I was a little unclear about his reasoning.

David From Brighton: I’m also a small business owner. I do provide health insurance for all of my employees. [This is true, by the way.] And what — I heard your criticism of the public option and what I don’t understand is, OK, yes, if the public option were available maybe I would say to my employees, “OK, I’m dropping coverage from our plan and you can go get it through the public option,” but at the same time that would free up tens of thousands of dollars for me to put in their paychecks. So wouldn’t it be better for me to give them the choice of how to spend their money? And I imagine that some supplemental insurance market will take place just like it has in Medicare. You know, Medicare is a single-payer system —

Jay Severin: David that’s a lovely concept and I haven’t heard anything quite so lovely since Peter Pan, but I would put it on the same scale. What percentage of private capitalist employers do you think would, when all of a sudden there is, you know, $800,000 freed up next year, or $80 million, depending on the size of the relatively, you know, small or medium business, how many employers are going to say “Hey, I saved $800,000 next year so let me immediately give it away again?”

DFB: Well, isn’t it your argument that they should provide healthcare as means of —

JS: Nope.

DFB: — attracting workers —

JS: [He hung up on me here.] David, my view is that private business can do whatever it wants to do, pretty much whatever it wants to do, and that’s what the founding fathers say, too, and if you don’t provide good health insurance, you won’t attract the top people. Of course, most businesses in America need to attract “people;” they don’t need to attract “top people.” I mean, let’s face it, a lot of the jobs in America require only the repetition of the phrase “Would you like to supersize that?” and so I think that — I think my radio station, I think my radio company, might have problems attracting top people if they did not offer superior healthcare but I don’t think the fast food joints or the, you know, state and county workers would turn their nose up at the job because they weren’t being offered better health insurance. The bottom line here is fairly obvious, which is if you offer the – look, what are we really talking about here is FedEx and UPS and other private companies, if you really provided free service enough so that there’s real competition then FedEx would go out of business. What we are talking about a government agency created sotto voce with the purpose of driving out of business – see, the government, if your real objective is that you have a government single-payer system, the only reason to have this government option is to try and foster those views. So all you’re doing is lubricating the means to an end here. The government agency will offer healthcare for free, quote unquote, and private companies cannot compete with free, so no matter how awful the service is – the free service – people will take the free service and tens of millions of people will be forced to take the free service and private services unable to compete will go out of business and then everyone will rely on government which is exactly what the government is after. Remember: Barack Obama’s goal is not that people be well. Barack Obama’s goal is that government provide and control all the service.

So, to sum up …

  • Employers currently provide good health insurance as a means of attracting good talent.
  • Employers are greedy bastards who keep wages as low as possible. (Apparently in Jay’s world, better health care benefits lure workers but higher salaries do not.)
  • Private companies can’t compete with government services, even when the government services are lousy, because the government’s prices are so low.
  • FedEx and UPS survive because even though the price of the USPS is low, the USPS service is so terrible that people are willing to pay more for private delivery services. (Apparently in Jay’s world, people are much more price-sensitive when their own health is concerned than they are when it comes to package delivery.)

And people listen to and respect this idiot! How can this be?

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