If you want to get something done, ask a busy person — or, job lock is a good thing for innovation

obama-doctor-needleObamacare is the gift that just keeps giving . . . if you want to prove to Americans that Leftism works only on paper and, even then, only if you lie about the numbers.  We’ve already had proven that you can’t keep your insurance, you can’t keep your doctor, you can’t keep your hospital, and you can’t keep your money.  The past weeks have also revealed that you can’t keep your job.

The Democrats have tried to spin this last point by saying that people will be freed of the drudgery of work and suddenly have time to innovate.  In fact, according to studies of people who were given that time to innovate (start businesses, invent things, etc.), the sudden time freedom made no difference:

More importantly, a thorough review of the available literature done by the RAND Corporation in 2010 concluded “On net, there appears to be little consensus in this literature on the existence or magnitude of the effect of health insurance on business creation.” To be sure, the same RAND report provides a new empirical analysis suggesting “that “entrepreneurship lock” for men is just over 1 percentage point relative to an annual base business creation rate of 3 percent.” But one way or the other, all these various studies represent efforts to infer the number of “entrepreneur-locked” individuals in the U.S.

Far more convincing is evidence of what happens after the introduction of universal or near-universal health coverage. For example, our OECD competitors all have had national health systems for decades.  Yet Edward Prescott, co-winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics, has observed that “entrepreneurship is much lower in Europe.” If universal health coverage truly had a demonstrable impact on individual willingness to take risks, this disparity seems counterintuitive. Admittedly, there are many other factors such as tax and regulatory policy that might affect these cross-national comparisons. So the most convincing evidence comes from the first empirical study ever to explore the actual impact of the a shift to universal coverage on entrepreneurship. This study of the Massachusetts health reform (“Romneycare” after which Obamacare was purportedly modeled) found the following:

The author finds significant and persistent suppression of new organization formation when controlling for organization size, sector and owner gender, and limited evidence of geographic displacement of firms across the New Hampshire border. While theory suggests mandatory insurance should reduce insurance costs and improve worker productivity, the author finds that the regulation has no significant impact on worker productivity and limited evidence of increases in insurance costs, and estimates the expected cost in terms of lost employment, sales to the local economy and tax revenue to in the majority of cases exceed the benefit.

Judging by my own life, this data doesn’t surprise me at all.  When vistas of free time open before me, I don’t innovate, I become inert.  More significantly, my brain slows down.  While I, as a busy person, can get 10 chores done in a day, as an un-busy person, I’m lucky if I get 2 or 3 chores done.  My flywheel has stopped spinning and I find it difficult to marshal the energy needed to overcome the inertia and get that flywheel spinning again.  It’s entirely true that, if you want to get something done, you should ask a busy person.

Moreover, if you want to build a better mousetrap, you should probably ask a busy person about that too.  It’s the busy person who has an incentive to simplify tasks.  It’s a busy person who engages with the world in a way that sows and fertilizes ideas in his mind.  It’s also a busy person who dreams of leisure and takes affirmative steps to create sufficient wealth to bring that leisure time about.  Enforced leisure lacks all of those incentives.  After all, if enforced leisure went hand in hand with creativity and innovation, Europe’s once-thriving cradle to crave welfare states would have resulted in the most dynamic economies in history, rather than in economic basket cases.

It’s true that there have always been people who, because of their great wealth, were able to indulge their passions in ways that benefit the world.  Reading about these people, though, one senses that they were so driven that, no matter their station in life, they would have affected the world around them.  Florence Nightingale, for example, had a calling that would actually have been easier for her to pursue if she hadn’t come from a fabulously wealthy, upper-class family.  Most inventions, though, come from busy people trying to figure out a better way (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Rockefeller) or from people who were in a line of work that let their brain float freely to another line (Albert Einstein).

This is a sort of random, ill-thought-out post.  I’m confident in my core idea, but I’m not expressing it as well as I ought — probably because of the stultification of being couch-bound for so many days now.  Please chime in to support or oppose my ragged thoughts.

My favorite comment on Democrat spin celebrating the new joblessness under Obamacare

Unemployment LineOver at JustOneMinute, Tom Maguire explains just how weak the Democrat spin is when it comes to celebrating the end of “job lock.”  It’s a great post, but as quite often happens over at my blog, the real brilliance appears in the reader comments.  From Ignatz:

I believe the Republican idea was to decouple insurance from employment not decouple the employee from employment.

Why do I like that?  Because it sums up in one sentence what it took me an entire post to write.

Hat tip:  American Thinker

Democrats gloating about the end of “job lock,” hide the reality of “poverty lock” and “job loss”

Unemployment LineWhen the CBO announced that Obamacare was going to have a deleterious impact on jobs over the next few years (as in 2.5 million fewer people in the work force), those opposed to Obamacare not unnaturally glommed on to those numbers as proof that Obamacare is an economic disaster.  After a moment of stunned silence, however, Democrats came roaring back with celebratory paeans to the end of “job lock.” James Taranto helpfully rounded up some good examples, beginning with Paul Krugman:

In his New York Times column today, former Enron adviser Paul Krugman cheers the news that ObamaCare subsidies are expected to have a greater-than-expected disincentive effect on work:

On Wednesday, Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said the obvious: losing your job and choosing to work less aren’t the same thing. If you lose your job, you suffer immense personal and financial hardship. If, on the other hand, you choose to work less and spend more time with your family, “we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.”

And now you know everything you need to know about the latest falsehood in the ever-mendacious campaign against health reform.

Although it was charitable of Krugman to warn readers off the rest of his column, those who heeded his admonition not to read on missed his amusingly worded nod in the general direction of reality: “More subtly, the incentive to work will be somewhat reduced by health insurance subsidies that fall as your income rises.”

Krugman, of course, was not alone.  He was just the most obnoxious voice in the rising Leftist chorus chanting “Hallelujah!  Job lock is over!”  James Taranto again:

E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: “Oh my God, say opponents of the ACA, here is the government encouraging sloth! That’s true only if you wish to take away the choices the law gives that 64-year-old or to those moms and dads looking for more time to care for their children. Many on the right love family values until they are taken seriously enough to involve giving parents/workers more control over their lives.”

Ron Fournier, National Journal: “The GOP has seized on CBO’s conclusion that the equivalent of more than 2 million Americans would use Obamacare subsidies to leave the workforce. No longer tied to jobs merely to cling to health insurance, some people will retire early, work part time, start a business, or spend more time with their families.”

Eric Boehlert, MediaMutters (on Twitter): “CBO: Obamacare will give workers more choices; some workers might chose [sic] to work less to spend more time w/ families….RW condemns as awful?” (Beats us what radiological warfare has to do with anything.)

Salon’s Alex Pareene is so excited, he wants to expand the welfare state even more: “Universal income and healthcare won’t create a Marxist (or even Keynesian) utopia of leisure. . . . But it’d give people the ability to spend more time with their families, to enrich themselves, to get educated, and even to just [futz] around a little more.”

Taranto goes on to note that, before the above spinning began, “leaving to spend more time with the family” was almost invariably a Washington, D.C., euphemism for “been fired” or “about to be arrested/indicted.”

Behind the puff and spin, though, as is often the case with Democrat pronouncements, lurk the lies and misinformation.  Two examples struck me.

First, regarding “job block,” this is a concept that’s been floating around for quite a while now.  Back in 2012, when Nancy Pelosi enthused about becoming a “whatever,” “job lock” referred to situations in which people with preexisting conditions were trapped in terrible jobs because they couldn’t risk leaving their employer-provided insurance policy behind.  Many people, of all political stripes, recognized that this was a problem.  (Republicans suggested fixes such as high risk pools or the ability to buy cheaper coverage across state lines.)

What the Democrats are so excitedly celebrating here is a new type of job lock, one that applies, not to people with preexisting health conditions but, instead, one that applies to people with preexisting low-paying jobs.  Why?  Because thanks to Obamacare, a large cadre of people suddenly cannot afford to move up professionally.  They cannot afford to look for a better paying job.  Heck!  They can’t even afford to get a pay raise.  After all, if they’re one of the unlucky ones, moving up by the wrong dollar will cost them $20,000.00.

Thinking about it, rather than saying that people are “job locked” under Obamacare, it’s more accurate to say that they’re “poverty locked.”  While they can’t move up economically that’s to the $20,000 penalty for doing so, they can move down:  they can take a series of low-paying jobs or, if they really want to, just leave the work force entirely.  After all, that’s already what several million people have done in the Age of Obama.

The other Democrat lie is the implication that this thrilling “no job-lock status quo” can last indefinitely.  In fact, the subsidies that people to have health insurance while holding low-paying jobs or being unemployed come about because other people are generating wealth that the government can take and redistribute.  However, as more and more people find that creating taxable wealth for themselves is a counterproductive proposition (earn a dollar more in pay, pay $20,000 more for insurance), fewer people will be earning the kind of salaries that will fund all the subsidies.  This is the perfect illustration of the Thatcher dictum — i.e., that socialism is wonderful until you run out of other people’s money.

The Democrats can spin the CBO’s prediction as much as they like, but the sorry fact is that it creates poverty-lock or job-loss, and that’s both personally demoralizing and economically unsustainable.  In the end, people will find that they’ve gotten more than they bargained for.  Not only will they be poverty-locked and job-lost, they’ll also be uninsured.