Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Healh Plans and Politics

It was to be expected, I guess, that Hillary Clinton would be the first of the many candidates for President to propose a national health plan. Now all the other candidates are falling all over themselves to announce their plans.

In her plan, Clinton places great emphasis on government control and management, too much so for conservatives. She cites Medicare as a good example of how well government can manage a medical plan. Of course, she doesn't mention the fact that Medicare is administered by private sector companies. She would also force businesses to provide health care insurance for their employees and allow them certain tax credits to cover their costs. She doesn't mention any incentives for non-profit organizations that provide health insurance for their employees.
Plans proposed by other Democrat candidates are essentially variations of the Clinton plan. GOP candidate proposals place more emphasis on keeping health care in the private sector. Their plans call for special tax credits and tax deductions to help the poor pay for private health insurance.
None of the plans proposed so far mention health care for illegal aliens. Hospital emergency rooms in our area have been turned into clinics by these folks which means the costs are passed on either to the taxpayers or in the form of higher premiums paid by holders of private insurance policies or a combination of both.

Inevitably, the issue boils down to one of single payer (read socialized medicine) healthcare v. privatization. Single payer proponents cite what they see as successful government programs in other countries around the world such as England and Canada. Such programs do seem to work okay for run-of-the-mill health problems, but seem to flounder when it comes to complicated medical procedures. The latter frequently lead to long waiting times leading many patients to seek treatment here in the USA.

I shy away from any healthcare program that proposes to put government in charge because it means creating more costly bureauracy. That is not to say improvements can't be made in our current system. For one thing, we need to put a cap on malpractice awards which would lower insurance premiums paid by physicians and other providers and ultimately result in lower consumer costs. We need to get back to requiring physical education for children in our schools and wean them off junk foods. We need to stress physical fitness throughout our population perhaps by providing meaningful incentives in the form of reduced health insurance premiums.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fortune 500 CEO Compensation

A recent article on dealt with this controversal subject at considerable length. It was noted that the average Fortune 500 company CEO's compensation in 2006 was $10.8 million or 364 times the average worker whose pay was $29,544 for the year. Most comments on the article expressed little concern with the compensation gap, noting that decisions made by the CEOs create profits from which dividends are paid to stockholders; wages, salaries and benefits are paid to employees, etc.; and the corporation's image is enhanced in the eyes of Wall Street analysts promoting the corporation's stock in the marketplace. I don't see it quite that way.

The current and growing compensation gap in private industry gives the free enterprise and capitalistic systems a bad name. I have always been a proponent of free enterprise and it will continue so, but I wish the CEOs would understand that the growing gap in compensation does little to encourage employee loyalty and trust. To the contrary, it destroys it. CEOs should stop and look closely at their organizations and see just who among their subordinates is working to produce the profit results of the corporation they work for. If they do they will have to conclude that there are many people down the line who are doing the job, not those in the boardroom. It's a lot like a major military campaign. Generals do the planning but it's the grunts down in the squads, platoons and companies who are doing the fighting and dying for their country.