March 23rd, 2009

met, notme

The economy is made up of real people

It turns out that unemployment is not funemployment for most people. For every percent increase in unemployment, 47,000 people die [1]. This is very very bad. This means that the increase from the 2006 low of 4.6 percent[2] to the current rate of 8.1 percent [3] our economy has killed more than 150,000 people. And the most optimistic economists are hopeful that the high water mark for unemployment will be "only" 10 percent, bringing the eventual total to just under 250,000 in the best case scenario.

Also way up? Domestic abuse![4] "Creative destruction" is easy to say and easy to advocate for ("just do nothing! the economy will balance itself!"), but let's be clear that we need a much better safety net if we want to avoid just sitting by while 100,000+ more of our fellow citizens die. Which brings me back to a deal that I think should be made more explicit:
They get a bailout, we get health care.
In exchange for bailouts and regulatory capture, we all get single-payer health care and high quality social services (including, but not limited to battered women's shelters). Seems fair to me. Also, if we could throw in massive infrastructure investment, I would appreciate it. Health care and healthy infrastructure would do a lot towards bringing us into the 21st century as a first-world nation. Also, as mentioned, it would save tens of thousands of American lives.

I'd also like to point out that 100,000 is not a small number of people. It's 10% of the Rwandan genocide, it's two years worth of American car fatalities, it's thirty 9/11 attacks, and it's the entire population of Berkeley, CA. It is not outside the realm of possibility that AIG has killed more people than Osama Bin Laden.


Just so this post is not a total downer, I'd like to point out a funny socialist surprise that I got from David Brin, which is that, thanks to pension funds and health care obligations, the workers already own the means of production. I wonder if anything will change?