Electing a Republican Senate Won’t Fix What’s Broke
On two key issues – jobs and health care – Americans have a lot to learn from (Northern) Europe.
October 31, 2014
Voter discontent across the United States is very likely to give the GOP control of the Senate, but Americans quickly will become as dis-enamored with a new cast on Capitol Hill.
Most Americans’ paychecks are stagnant and health care and many other things too expensive. And yet, Americans won’t accept what fixing those problems requires – and then pressure politicians to act accordingly.
Managing globalization badly
The United States manages globalization badly. It has opened its markets to cheap imports, while China and other Asian nations maintain high barriers to competitive U.S. exports. Washington has not compelled reciprocity through specific actions to sustain American jobs.
Americans can’t seem to accept that putting everyone to work—and most folks getting higher pay—would more than offset paying a bit extra for a coffee table or cell phone. Hence, Obama and the GOP do no more than talk about these problems.
New technologies make life easier, but have dramatically changed the workplace. Large organizations once employed batteries of white-collar workers.
Train for jobs, not general citizenship virtues
Many were liberal arts college graduates having no great skill in finance or management. Essentially, they were there to faithfully implement the policies, plans and requirements of more senior, skilled decision makers.
In the private sector, computers and software have eliminated many of those jobs, but Americans keep sending about half of graduating high school seniors to college.
Far too many of them get degrees in political science, psychology and the like — and many end up jobless, underemployed and, because of the high cost of college in the Untied States, terribly in debt.
Yet, vast new opportunities for folks with a technical high school diploma or a few additional years of training in information technology, manufacturing and other technical specialties go unfilled.
Colleges need a diet—fewer students and a lot less money for their administrator bureaucrats—and both need to be redirected into a new system of vocational education.
Most young people would spend fewer years in school, get better jobs and have less debt, but parents won’t accept that most children should not go to college and politicians don’t act.
America’s sub-par health care
Health care in America is far from the best in the world. The Germans and Dutch have mandatory insurance systems, pay a third less for medical expenses overall, are healthier and face fewer hassles seeing a doctor. What’s not to like?
In the United States, politics interferes far too much. Republicans keep preaching vouchers and competition, and Obamacare imposes a new IRS-like tyrant into American life.
The voters, meanwhile, are all too willing to believe the ill-reasoning of politicians from one party or the other — and then get frustrated when things don’t get better, only more expensive.
Until voters recognize the inferior quality of American health care and demand that American performance and prices are benchmarked to superior northern-European systems, things are not going to get better.
Americans are correct to demand change, but at all levels the parade of incompetency will continue until Americans reckon with the changes they need to accept.