Imagine...

Per Nancy Pelosi:

"Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance."

Yeah, its a world where only the suckers work hard and try to be productive.

  • Paavo

    That's Finland or Sweden or almost any European country. The lead singer of my favourite band said this explicitly in an interview when he was 18. You can be a free artist, because the state will care for you. 

  • This must be why the US doesn't have any artists, photographers or writers of note.

  • Jim Collins

    What's left unsaid by Pelosi is that the people who get to be the artists, photographers and writers are the ones who's work she likes. The rest of us have to work to ensure that there are enough tax dollars to pay for her fantasy.

  • Rick Caird

    Of course, Pelosi meant to add we would only be concerned with "good" art. Bad artists would still have to work. I wonder how she will choose.

  • gn

    It's just so sad that so many kids have dreams of being ballerinas or astronauts or artists or park rangers and then have to take jobs making things or doing boring math stuff to earn enough to live. Someone ought to do something about that.

  • Well, it's good to know that she and Karl Marx have the same vision for society. The goal of communism was to free man from the hardships of making banal life decisions so people could move to self fulfillment with art and all kinds of leisure pursuits without worrying about reality. Maybe Pelosi got a hold of Marx's old drugs.

  • me

    Time to insert a bit of a countercomment in this thread - having plenty of experience with this kind of socialist culture (healthinsurance state-covered for poor folks), the effect is not at all what Pelosi imagines (but it is also not like the knee-jerk reaction Coyote had ;).

    In most of Europe, choosing to be an artists will not imperil your health insurance, and you won't starve or have to live on a park-bench. That said, you'll be markedly more poor than pretty much anyone with a paying job. It merely elevates art from being a catastrophic choice to a very, very uncomfortable one.

    As a result, you get a whole lot of people who're being very pretentious about their being out of work... and you get a whole lot of really good and cheap art by people who will probably never be compensated fairly for their work. Then again - society pays for their general well-being, and they contribute to the well-being of society.

    My point is that it's not a terrible idea, it's just a different kind of deal than we have here in the states; different trade-off, different benefits.

    The really big consequence is a different one: The effect that the belief that you're never entirely out for yourself but that the state will take care of you (not very well, granted) in the worst of cases creates a very different societal attitude, one more geared towards creativity and reflection. Obviously, there's a price to pay for that, but it's pretty much a lifestyle choice on the nation level. One direct consequence: people spend a whole lot more time on education and socializing (which again puts a premium on being educated, where here it's often enough to be able to pass for about 15 minutes of chit-chat).

    Now, the expected counterargument here is that the US is pretty creative in and all by itself - very true; spend some time in Europe to see the difference in level, though, and keep in mind that for a number of sectors (I have first-hand experience with biotech and computer startups, large software corporations and, oddly, movie and TV studios), the vast majority of the creative staff wasn't born or grew up in the US.

    Which pretty much proves that societally positive effects count for very little once individuals smarten up to the fact that they possess marketable skills and are free to move to countries with better monetization 😉

  • Russ R.

    I see Pelosi's point, but come to a completely different conclusion.

    I completely agree with her that a person should not have to pay a financial penalty to buy health insurance if he/she is not a typical payroll employee.

    The underlying problem is that health insurance as an employer-provided benefit receives a tax deduction, while health insurance as an individual purchase does not.

    My conclusion would be to end the tax disparity, and let people choose and pay for the individual coverage they want/need without being impacted by tax cost distortions.

  • me

    Time to insert a bit of a countercomment in this thread - having plenty of experience with this kind of socialist culture (healthinsurance state-covered for poor folks), the effect is not at all what Pelosi imagines (but it is also not like the knee-jerk reaction Coyote had ;).

    In most of Europe, choosing to be an artists will not imperil your health insurance, and you won't starve or have to live on a parkbench. That said, you'll be markedly more poor than pretty much anyone with a paying job. It merely elevates art from being a catastrophic choice to a very, very uncomfortable one.

    As a result, you get a whole lot of people who're being very pretentious about their being out of work... and you get a whole lot of really good and cheap art by people who will probably never be compensated fairly for their work. Then again - society pays for their general well-being, and they contribute to the well-being of society.

    My point is that it's not a terrible idea, it's just a different kind of deal than we have here in the States; different trade-off, different benefits.

    The effect that the belief that you're never entirely out for yourself but that the state will take care of you (not very well, granted) in the worst of cases creates a very different societal attitude, one more geared towards creativity and reflection. Obviously, there's a price to pay for that, but it's pretty much a lifestyle choice on the nation level.

    Now, the expected counterargument here is that the US is pretty creative in and all by itself - very true; spend some time in Europe to see the difference in level, though, and keep in mind that for a number of sectors (I have first-hand experience with biotech and computer startups, large software corporations and, oddly, movie and TV studios), the vast majority of the creative staff wasn't born or grew up in the US.

    Which pretty much proves that societally positive effects count for very little once individuals smarten up to the fact that they possess marketable skills and are free to move to countries with better monetization opportunities. 😉

    PS: @Russ R - spot on, that was *my* knee jerk reaction as well 🙂

  • MJ

    Russ,

    That's the way I read it too.

  • Ron H.

    Actually, we already have that world. That artist or photographer or writer CAN have health insurance; It's just that they will have to pay for it themselves.

    I agree with Russ on eliminating the tax disparity, and would add the following to his last sentence above.

    "My conclusion would be to end the tax disparity, and let people choose and pay for the individual coverage they want/need without being impacted by tax cost distortions." or to buy no health insurance if they so choose.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Heard this vacuous statement last week.

    She then goes on to say “Entrepreneurs won’t have to choose between taking a chance and opening up a business” or something similar.

    Is this woman completely brain-dead? Well, yes. Slapping a 17% tax on small businesses is not the best way to encourage entrepreneurship I can think of, and adding yet another catastrophically large entitlement to our already crushing debt load in the middle of a fragile recovery from a very severe recession is about the dumbest thing anyone in the history of life, the universe, and everything has ever tried to do.

    Other than that, sounds like a great idea…

  • Matthew Brown

    There's a kernel of right in this; the mess that current regulations and practices and whatnot give us makes it very hard for sole proprietors of any business to get affordable healthcare options. There are lots of people who would be insane to ever work for anything other than a large corporation or the government; only by doing so, in our system, can they get affordable healthcare. These are generally people who have health problems, of course, or a high risk of developing them.

    This has a powerful disincentive effect on entrepreneurship, and is an extreme net negative of the way that the current system works.

    It's not just about the tax disparity, though that's a part of it. It's also about the risk pooling, and in general the way the whole system is set up to favor big business over small.

    Having identified a problem, though, doesn't mean that any proposed solution is the right one, and the current one is likely not to be it.

    It's worth keeping in mind that the current US healthcare system is far away from a free-market one in many ways. It is so warped by regulation that it is hard to envisage what a totally free-market system would be like, or whether it would be better.

    Part of the problem, of course, is that people have already reached their accommodation with healthcare cost and risk, within the parameters available -- thus, insurance mandates and the like are largely, in the short term, imposing costs on people and businesses for healthcare that those people have already decided against taking up. For whatever variety of reason they have. Therefore, they're charging people for what they quite possibly don't want and/or don't need.

    This is partly because those who want or need better health insurance have already voted with their feet and found places (jobs, or whatever) that provide it. Who's left? People who don't think they need better heathcare OR people who can't afford better healthcare or get a better job. The former group won't be thankful; the latter group would be thankful if it was free or nearly so, but since they're already too poor to afford it anyway, making them pay what they can't afford isn't going to be popular.

    Changing the way healthcare is done in the US will require a serious amount of pain and dislocation, even if the end results, five, ten or twenty years down the road are better. Sensible policy realizes this. Sensible policy would include these costs in its calculations and be up-front about it. Sensible policy would try and convince everyone that the tradeoffs and pain are worth it, rather than pretend they don't exist. Sensible policy would probably not impose this kind of thing in recessionary times; do it in a boom, not a bust, take the hit when money's being made.

  • IgotBupkis

    .

    The really amazing thing is that it wasn't the most brain-dead amazingly *stupid* thing she said last week, by a long shot.

    I nominate this gem, courtesy of Carl @ No Oil For Pacifists:

    [W]e have to pass the [healthcare reform] bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.

    Got that? "You have to pass it so you can find out what's in it."

    That septic tank? We need you to take the lid off to find out what's in it.

    That unearthed coffin? We need you to open it to find out what's in it.

    .

    I have a great idea how to use this reasoning...

    That 10 ton weight on a cable, Nancy? We need you to go stand under it so you can tell us what the bottom looks like.

    .

  • me

    @IgotBupkis

    Very true - this has been a feature of american politics for a while that never ceases to amaze me. Makes me wonder when legislation actually happens, with huge unwieldly laws seemingly materializing out of thin air in their final form right before the vote. Mindboggling.

  • Dale

    I have really been feeling like one of those hard working suckers the last 14 months or so...

  • epobirs

    It is very difficult to understand how that woman's mind works. Further, how such a dingbat got to one of the highest offices in the nation. Something is seriously wrong when such a silly person is elevated so high.

    Want to be a photographer? Buy a camera and take pictures. That is all there is to it. Expecting to be paid by the government or anyone else is nit reasonable. Taking up photography doesn't mean you have any talent for it. What happens when you have a serious disease or injury doesn't have any bearing on it. After all, a more pressing concern for the would-be professional artist is merely eating regularly. Is Nancy hinting she wants to put a sizable portion of the population on full subsistence welfare and also buy these people art supplies to keep them out of trouble?

    Does Nancy think that is what was missing from the disastrous Great Society programs? Free art supplies and gear for people in the ghettos?

    Most people know the difference between having a hobby and aspiring to be a professional artist. My brother recently spent close to a thousand bucks on a very nice Nikon model and some accessories. He goes out on his motorcycle on weekend to find interesting things to photograph. He has no illusions about getting paid for this. He isn't quitting his job unless something better comes up in the same field. That is how genuine, functional people pursue their artistic hobbies.

    Does it suck that highly talented people are often faced with insurmountable medical expenses? You bet. I have several friend who are very well known writers. They've done well in taking care of their medical coverage but they know many other writers, who despite being long and widely published, are just one serious injury or condition away away from fiscal disaster, especially as they age. You can be a big name genre writer and barely scrape by as middle class if you don't have other work.

    But I don't see the problem as a lack of government control over health care. Just the opposite. Every graph I've seen shows the cost of health care to individual not employed by large companies appearing to skyrocket in direct relation to increase government intervention. The further the purchase of medical care gets from a retail relationship, the out of control the costs.

  • Ron H.

    For those of you who love Queen Nancy as much as I do, here's the guy to support

    http://www.johndennis2010.com/