Economic Update: The System Exposed


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On this week's episode of Economic Update, Prof. Wolff provides updates on Olympic economics, mass transit, productivity truths, labor weakness and political parties, golden parachutes, Tim Cook's thin 'patriotism," PG&E's crimes, the rich vs unions in politics.


Showing 9 comments

  • Marc Hudgens
    commented 2016-08-27 10:32:41 -0400
    I enjoyed especially the discussion of insurance companies. Prof. Wolff discussed the kinds of insurance like fire and whatnot, but there are some nuances specific to the health insurance industry, no small bane to the healthcare industry, that I think are worth exploring.

    It’s becoming clearer to me that the very existence of health insurance companies is what’s jacking up the costs of healthcare. We know that insurance companies are loaded with money and pay a significant portion of a patient’s healthcare costs to the doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc. Many have become bandits thanks to the ACA. By comparison only, we patients pay a small amount. Thus doctors, hospitals, pharmacies et al have a secondary but much larger revenue source to tap into, and therefore exploit that for their own profitable ends by upping their fees in what’s really a money grab. If an insurance company agrees to pay more than a provider would otherwise charge, the provider increases his prices. And while the insurance companies are more than capable of paying their share, the fact is that healthcare costs are so obscene that even the relatively “small” amount a patient pays is unaffordable. Anyone who’s had a sudden and major health crisis knows this. The resulting bills to the patient are increasingly staggering.

    The main reason this phenomenon has become clearer to me isn’t because of wild theory on my part; I’ve had an ENT and a chiropractor tell me this. My chiropractor even told me flatly, “if BlueCross BlueShield or whoever agrees to pay me more than I’d normally charge, you bet I’m charging more.” So I don’t espouse to this belief carelessly. Would the theoretical elimination of insurance companies drive down healthcare costs? If this phenomenon is true, and I’ve had two providers confirm that it is, then it stands to reason the costs would eventually drop. But you’d also have to fight doctors/hospitals/pharmacies because they’re incredibly complicit in this. It’s not like they, unlike patients, are getting shafted in this.

    IMO this phenomenon also explains the outrageous costs of college and university education. Institutions, like medical providers, have a secondary and much larger revenue source to tap into other than the student/parent; the student loan corporations. University administrators know that these loan corps have far more money at their disposal than the student/parent and exploit that to their ends, which largely end up in bloated salaries and incomes for university brass. No university president is worth eight figures. Professors are still stiffed with lack of quality pay and teaching materials, teacher assistants even more so, and students/parents are stiffed with a massive monthly bill soon after graduating. Same phenomenon, different industry.
  • Merabi Bauzhadze
    commented 2016-08-27 10:18:13 -0400
  • Merabi Bauzhadze
    commented 2016-08-27 10:18:03 -0400
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  • Allen Piening
    commented 2016-08-26 21:05:34 -0400
    We both know that the economy since 2008 is a house of cards. Having read and understood Thom Hartmann’s book, The Crash of 2016, I am wondering what you think will be the straw that will bring down the cards. We seem to be teetering on the brink. I think that the “1%” will do anything to keep it going until after the start of a Clinton presidency. How long can it be kept from crashing? What will the crash look like?
  • Chris Johnson
    commented 2016-08-25 17:20:04 -0400
    Hello Mr. Wolff,

    You are very good at laying out the problem(s) and I agree wholeheartedly. I have to ask though, what can we…as individuals…do about it?. Neither Clinton (as far as I’m concerned we’d be getting Billy for at least 4 more years…No longer Billary, but now HillBilly…haha. This is in NO WAY to imply chauvinism. I’m sure she had PLENTY of influence on him after Monica left the scene) nor Trump are good choices as you have pointed out. What do we do? My mom used to say, “Just hold your nose and pick one.” Sounds like that’s what we have…

    I would suggest firing congress and imposing term limits on them. There should be no such thing as a “career politician”. The founding fathers must be turning in their graves over this. To me, “career politician” is an oxymoron. Emphasis on “…moron”.

    So…what can we do…without a violent revolution? Besides, the government has all the guns and “big business” is now controlling the government. Ouch.

  • Richard Townsend
    commented 2016-08-23 11:50:54 -0400
    Many Social Security supporters are blaming the reduction in benefits on an ongoing policy of denying SS Recipient’s any Cost of Living adjustments. Cost of Living increases are expensive when the total costs are considered but the average increase for individual recipients is probably not going to pay for an additional trip to the grocery store. What’s your take on this issue ?
  • Larena Jensoni
    commented 2016-08-21 23:26:39 -0400
    I sent a proposal to you approximately a week ago, regarding setting up an ongoing video/discussion group on how to set up our own worker owned coops at local libraries and asked your opinion. I got an immediate computer generated note back, blah, blah, blah, but I don’t find any response from YOU yet. Did you get my email/note/…?
  • Manda Heron
    commented 2016-08-21 15:46:40 -0400
    Dear Richard Wolff & Co,
    As to the discussion on Social Security, which I never get tired of, more is better- please please remember that it is not only the EMPLOYEE who contributes from every pay check to their Social Security fund (aka-the payroll tax) but the EMPLOYER too contributes in an equal amount. And if it was a Coop I would assume the coop would pay as the employer does.
  • Alan Lewis
    commented 2016-08-21 12:09:13 -0400
    Thanks, Dr Wolff, for all that you are doing.

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