How do the GOP spin doctors, including the one in the White House, get by with peddling outright lies? Or, as Trump calls it, "fake news."
Are we actually the world’s most overtaxed nation? Do we really have the world’s highest crime rate, and largely by illegal immigrants? Admittedly the most expensive, is our health care really the world’s best as we are told?
Actually, how do we really compare to other developed countries on taxes, minimum wage rates, income equality and the cost and quality of health care?
Conservatives admit that our health care costs are by far the world’s highest, almost twice as high as France, the next highest nation. But they also claim we get the world’s best care for these high dollars. But do we?
Certainly not if universal coverage, life expectancy, infant mortality, universal availability and providers’ response are considered. According to World Health Organization figures the quality of American health care was ranked 36th, just below Costa Rica. Conservatives, naturally, attack the WHO as an incompetent propaganda tool of the U.N.
We should also note that our fee-for-service health care costs are some of the world’s few open to free-market competition, a proven failed method of controlling health care quality and costs. Today over 30% of American health insurance companies’ revenues, the world’s highest, are spent on advertising, legal fees, lobbying and denying patient claims. Administrative costs for government medical providers such as Medicare and the VA are only a tiny fraction of that amount. And the exorbitant costs of American health care insurance are another subject for another time.
Are we really overtaxed as Trump claims? As a percentage of national income (GDP) there are only two developed nations that pay lower taxes than Americans, Mexico and Chile. Anybody want to move there? The Scandinavian nations pay the highest taxes. Denmark, consistently ranked number one on the world happiness scale, pays almost 50% of GDP in taxes. Northern European countries such as Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg rank next with tax rates in the low forties and high thirties. We pay 26%. And no other democratic nation with a free-market economy is constantly pushing for tax reductions as we are. Europeans admit their taxes are high, but when what they get for them is considered they apparently think their high taxes are worth it. And in these parliamentary democracies legislative change is easier than in Washington. They can easily repeal any law at any time.
The U.S. minimum wage rate falls far below most other industrialized countries. Compared to our current $7.25 per hour Denmark’s ($21) is three times ours, Australia’s is $15.81, Germany’s $11 and France’s $12.35. In these countries a person with a low-skilled job can still earn a living wage. But doesn’t a higher minimum wage rate cause job losses? That hasn’t been the case in states that have raised the minimum wage such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. In fact, the long-term effects of higher minimum wages can do just the opposite. Higher wages reduces costly employee turnovers, retraining costs, etc. and helps to grow the overall economy by putting more money in consumers’ pockets. This leads to increased spending, more job creation, etc, etc.
George W. Bush’s 2003 "tax relief" cuts favoring wealthier Americans were followed by some of the slowest economic expansion in decades and job growth was actually negative some Bush years. Conversely, Clinton’s more equitable cuts accompanied by tax hikes on those in the highest marginal brackets produced many years of sustained economic, stock market and job growth. But in the present political climate we can forget a higher minimum wage rate any time soon. And anyway, didn’t the blue-collar vote help elect Donald Trump?
George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.