Monday, April 18, 2011

Krugman Identifies the "Truth" behind Ryancare

This is funny...
Janitors and Corporate Executives Have the Same Pay Plan

I mean it: both receive a weekly paycheck. So there’s no difference in what they’re offered!

Oh, wait — you mean that the size of the paycheck matters too?

What brings this to mind is the now standard claim that Ryancare would be exactly the same as what members of Congress receive. Ryan:
What we are proposing is a personalized Medicare, a Medicare system that works exactly like the health care I have as a member of Congress and federal employees have.
As Uwe Reinhart points out, while it’s true that both systems would involve having the government provide a voucher that helps pay for private insurance, it kind of matters how big the voucher is. The federal employees benefit plan rises in value in step with private insurance premiums; Ryan wants Medicare vouchers to grow only at the rate of inflation. A bit of a difference.
Bill Gates and I had the same job in the computer industry. Oh wait! He wrangled his monopoly into an $80 billion dollar pile of gold. I managed to work hard enough to save enough to retire with enough to live on if I eat cat food. Funny... even though we had the "same job" I somehow think I got the short end of the stick. But with the Ryan logic this is an illusion. Bill Gates and I are identical twins! We had the same job, so we must be equally wealthy even it doesn't feel that way.


thomas said...


Perhaps you are correct in pointing out that Ryan is delusional ( Marie Antoinette Syndrome), and he doesn't know how much his plan will hurt all Americans. This makes him less the villain and more of a victim of poor education or upbringing and greedy puppeteers.

I think many people suffer from this delusional thinking when thinking of the income levels of different jobs and careers.. I used to hear "pilot" and think big pay.. I hear computer programmer and think big pay.. We have notions in our heads that certain people are comfortable or more comfortable in their positions in life. We don't really want to know how much the guy flying the plane we are on is getting paid. We don't want to face the truth about the standard of living our seniors are enduring and we certainly don't want to actually see how they live and maybe realize that their health could have something to do with their diet they are forced into by below standard income.. We want to believe that they are doing just fine and that they will be able to absorb the added costs to health care with this voucher system.. but, the truth is many will choose not to have insurance in order to buy cat food.

The right wingers need to be woke up from their delusions, but it is probably not going to happen until they have destroyed many more lives and maybe not even then.. Kids will be marveling and pondering this in history class for many generations to come.

RYviewpoint said...


I enjoy your thoughts on this puzzle. You make the important point that viewpoints need to change with time. Yes, 40 years ago pilots were in the top 10% of pay. But in the late 1980s airlines started a two-tier pay scheme which meant that younger pilots got paid a lot less. And the Colgan air crash made clear that salaries these days are terrible. Here's a bit from the Buffalo News about the co-pilot's salary:

Then in January 2008, she took a substantial pay cut to sign on with Colgan. In testimony last week, officials said her salary was just $16,000 a year, but Colgan officials later revealed it exceeded $23,900.

As I think about this issue of the rich and their ignorance, the more I realize that the problem lies with us and our perceptions. Our brains want to categorize and simplify. Truth is, the rich are a varied lot and hard to pin down. There are some some, like Bill Gates' father and Warren Buffett who speak out against low taxes on the ultra rich. Many in the middle are "too busy" with their lives to notice any suffering or to wonder about their role in it, there are those who are "Marie Antoinettes" who just can't conceive of the suffering of the poor, and there are those fanatics on the right who feel they deserve every penny they have squirreled away and fight doggedly for tax cut after tax cut.

I really don't know Ryan, but I assume he is smarter than most and if you are smart you have to know how hard it must be to raise a family on minimum wage. To know this and still advocate tax cuts for the rich while playing tricks that will deny social programs for the poor means you are heartless (or a tool for the very rich). But this is all supposition and hypothesis on my part.

Life is complicated. We only know a small piece of the overall puzzle. We have a tendency to claim to know more than we actually do. We jump at simplistic solutions (I'm as guilty as anyone). But I do know one thing:

The Ryan plan is a disaster for the poor, a bad deal for the middle 80% of America, and a bonanza for the top 1%. It is special interest politics at its very worst because it obscures it real agenda behind a false concern about debts and deficits.

thomas said...


Your last two paragraphs say it all.. I can't add to that.

I think of the con played on us by Reagan: He simply convinced people that they could get more for less. We shop these days for the lowest price on everything including airfares and then wonder (not really) how the pilot is getting paid or why air liners are run till the wings fall off from fatigue or flight controllers are asleep on the job.. All of us want a bargain or to pay less for things we want, but we want to make more money than last year. Walmart advertises falling prices, but doesn't tell you how those falling prices are achieved. We all think money or products grow on trees; I guess or simply want simple solutions.. No tax increases in an ever growing economy and government providing services or protections in an increasingly complicated world. The mark has swallowed the con hook line and sinker.