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9-26-17     Would You Pay For Another’s Health Insurance?

Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.    9-17

Instead of going through the gyrations of the Affordable Care Act, it would have been simpler to ask the rest of us to just pay for health insurance for the uninsured.  Would you pay $50 a month or $100 a month for that?  Remember that to some undisclosed degree, you are paying for it anyway through your taxes (for the subsidies for lower income insured) and through the increased hospital prices you pay through taxes and insurance that cover free care at the hospital.  Let’s take a gander at the figures.


U.S. population 350,000,000

proportion of uninsured  11.4% (40,000,000)

types of uninsured–        33% single (13,200,000),
                              32% couples (6,400,000 couples, 12,800,000 persons),                                35% families of 4 (14,000,000 persons, 3,500,000

proportion of taxpayers     65% (227,500,000 persons) (versus 35% who pay no taxes)

health insurance for couples costs twice the cost of insurance for one person

health insurance for a family of 4 costs 3 times that for one person

 health insurance for one person $650/mo. (7800/yr.)

 couples pay twice as much taxes as singles

families of 4 pay three times as much taxes as singles

proportion of taxpaying units (single, couple, family of 4) is same as proportion of units in the uninsured (75,075,000 singles, 36,400,000 couples or 72,800,000 persons, 19,906,250 families of 4 or 79,625,000 persons)


health insurance units for uninsured     13,200,000 + 2 X 6,400,000 + 3 X 3,500,000 = 13,200,000 + 12,800,000 + 10,500,000 = 36,500,000 units

 36,500,000 units at $7800 per unit = $284,700,000,000 = total cost to taxpayers

taxpayer units–    75,075,000 + 2 X  36,400,000 + 3 X 19,906,250 =                                 75,075,000 + 72,800,000 + 59,718,750 = 207,593,750

 cost per unit of insurance      284,700,000,000 / 207,593,750 = 1371.43

 cost for a single person to support health insurance for 40,000,000 uninsured    $1371.43/yr. ($114.29/mo.)

cost for each member of a couple to support…..                   $1371.43/yr.                                               ($1742.86/couple/yr.)   ($228.57/couple/mo.)    

cost for each family of 4 to support health insurance for 40,000,000 uninsured   $4114.29/yr. ($342.86/mo.)                                                           

check:  1371.43 X 75,075,000 + 2742.86  X 36,400,000 + 4114.29  X 19,906,250 = 284,700,296,550

            (the difference between this and $284,700,000,000 above is due
to rounding of the per
year insurance cost numbers)


Clearly, as with any complex calculation, the result depends totally on the assumptions made, and the assumptions here are not as good as possible with big computers and better data.  The $7800 for one year of insurance may be low, for example.  To compare, though, if we simply divided the total cost of insurance for the uninsured by the total population, it would be $813.43/yr. ($67.79/mo.),

 and if we divided the total cost of insurance for the uninsured by the total taxpayer population (227,500,000) (not correcting for a slightly lower cost to families for insurance) ,it would be

$1251.43/yr. ($104.29/mo.).

 These figures would be slightly lower if we factored in the amount of taxes that are paid by the uninsured.  (The population of uninsured and the population of taxpayers overlap to some extent.) 


These figures, even though approximations, give us a basis for checking out within ourselves how badly we want to pay for the uninsured.  I would guess that most taxpayers could afford this, if they wanted to, and the question is whether they (we) want to.  Let’s not fool ourselves about the choice we have, either, since taxpayers and those who pay for health insurance and medical costs are already paying for a certain amount of healthcare for the uninsured.  (I am unable to estimate that total cost, but it is made up of (1) taxes that pay for Medicaid and for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and (2) increased physician and hospital costs we pay to make up for free care given.)  Don’t fool yourself by thinking that the government has its own money to spend on this; the government only has your money and mine.



9-20-15   Endless War In Syria?     Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.

The recent spate of pictures of crowds of Syrian refugees trying to get to northern Europe has focused attention on a humanitarian crisis, but there seems to be no added discussion of the reasons why the war in Syria that has prompted this emigration continues.  Naturally countries will usually avoid interfering in civil wars, in order to protect their own future internal wars from outside interference, but is this a sustainable policy in this day and age?  By and large, American citizens don’t even know why the war is being fought.

This terrible situation highlights a great deficit of the human species–that human beings assume and preserve the right to kill other human beings if they perceive it to be “necessary” or in their best interest.  The right of self-defense must be preserved for individuals, but human firepower and wealth have increased now to the point that countries can kill themselves, so to speak when combatants would prefer to kill their fellow citizens than to figure out a compromise.  I suggest that the community of nations has some responsibility in this age of available transportation and economic interdependence to control interminable internal wars.

No one wishes to deprive groups from all opportunity to achieve their just ends through violence (!), but a war that kills or displaces half of a country’s population is unacceptable as a human enterprise.

Foreign armies (or U.N. forces) could separate and disarm the two sides, and forced mediation would aim for a workable settlement.  if either side refuses to settle, the settlement would be imposed and policed until it seemed stable.  (Perhaps the same thing should be considered for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?)  There could be some troop losses for intervening forces, but in most cases neither side would be as motivated to kill intervening forces as they are to kill each other.

This issue (our human penchant to kill each other to get what we want) highlights the destructiveness of human beings, which could be tolerated when power was more limited but in the modern age perhaps simply can’t be tolerated.  The U. S. is encountering a similar issue with its Congress, with an apparent increase in the assumption by politicians and voters that they should be able to get their way without having to compromise.    It is a crucial sociological question as to why human beings seem to be moving in this direction.

Will we eventually have to consider re-education camps for uncompromising politicians and for for those who are most inclined to this killing, or perhaps even brain surgery for some?  Those who are shocked by this possibility should consider whether they would wish to hold onto their own right to kill as many others of their fellow citizens, regardless of the reason, if the end result were the deaths of half of the country’s citizens.  What circumstances (besides becoming enslaved) could justify such a “right”?


5-16-15     Full Employment            Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.

Many ills result from people being unable to find work, chief among them the resulting lack of income and the resulting degradation of self-esteem and self-worth.  For some, inability to find work relates to lack of motivation, over-selectivity regarding jobs, or unwillingness to move to a new location, but for many the main problem is simply the lack of unfilled jobs.

One answer to this problem might be the establishment of organizations whose purpose is to provide work for everyone who is out of work but willing to work.  Every town could have such an organization, which would no doubt be established through government funding, probably at least partially at the federal level.  Jobs might be money-making (stuffing envelopes, janitorial work) and some might be “make-work” which is beneficial to the community but does not generate income (cleaning up highway roadsides, fixing or cleaning government buildings, sweeping streets by hand, building parks or new roads, assisting in jails or hospitals, etc.).  Single mothers could participate, too, with daycare costs covered.  This sort of organization would be a significant boon to the mentally ill and otherwise disabled, who often can do some work but are not able to maintain jobs or compete with “abled” job applicants.

This would make more complete use of the talents of all Americans, since everyone would be working, and some would be thinking about how to “move up the ladder” and gaining the confidence needed to do so.  All clients of these organizations would be paid the same amount, which would be sufficient at 40 hours per week to pay for basic room and board in their region (perhaps set at the “poverty level” or $15 per hour, whichever is less?).  These clients would be transferred to “real” jobs whenever possible, by the job-finder in each organization.  Counselors could persuade some to move to places where there are jobs and help others with basic job attitudes.  Thus, costs for “welfare” programs such as food stamps and unemployment would be reduced.

Governments or other entities that would like to have these workers to augment what they are able to do could put in requests, with specific job descriptions, and town councils could have at least a partial say in determining priorities for the use of the workers in these organizations.

Some would choose not to participate in these jobs and would be on their own as a result.  Those who did participate would benefit from the pay and from the feelings of accomplishment generated by working.  Those who did not do well in assigned jobs could be moved to less demanding jobs, and those who messed up on purpose would be simply “fired.”  Fewer persons would turn to crime as a means of support when without a job.  The part of their pay not covered by actual income from the work would be supported by taxpayers, thus making every citizen somewhat responsible for everyone working, either by working themselves or by financially supporting these work-for-everyone organizations.  When the economy was better, and fewer people participated as clients in these organizations, taxpayers would not pay as much to support these organizations, and when the economy was worse, taxpayers would pay more to support these organizations, thus sharing in the plight of the economy in general.

Existing businesses would not suffer from this arrangement (besides contributing in taxes), because only some of the jobs would be a form of competition for them (e.g., clients cleaning government buildings instead of governments hiring for-profit janitorial services), but since businesses contend that private business is more efficient and creative than government “businesses,” they would no doubt soon find a way to clean the government buildings for less than the tax support for the out-of-work clients cleaning the buildings.  Enterprising private business might even take over providing these job services (similar to what we see now in the privatization of prisons).

This arrangement would be seen as a commitment on the part of society to “share the wealth” in a somewhat less competitive and “dog eat dog” way than our current approach, in which some find jobs and some don’t when there are more potential workers than jobs.


4-29-15      Working Against Our Own Species Survival
It’s a curious thing about human beings that some of our own in-bred characteristics act against the evolution of our own species.  Natural selection selects only for what works–in this case, what reproduces more successfully (which is the origin of many of our war-between-the-sexes factors).  Our compassion and love, on the other hand, are not limited only to those other individuals who have adaptive characteristics.  Thus, parents may wish to preserve the life and reproductive opportunities of children that have genetic characteristics that will (in some small way in each individual instance) make the species less adaptive or prevent “positive” evolution.  ”  Welfare programs may in some ways act in this same manner.  We think that such devotion to preserving life against all odds is a good thing, but, like the overuse of antibiotics, in the long run it makes us less adaptive and may even in the same manner add to our physical vulnerabilities to microbes and viruses.  Because we are motivated more strongly by our needs and emotions than by our thoughts, we are very unlikely to change this behavior.  Perhaps the earth will be rid of us sooner than we think (which underscores that our thoughts do not control our behavior)!