American Government (legislative, administrative, and judiciary) have a direct bearing on American Health, both physical and economic. Those systems also have a big impact on corporate profits — sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly.
This page presents a summary. Detailed posts are in the Government Systems category.
The loosening of restrictions on mergers and acquisitions have allowed giant corporations to become even larger and more powerful. And in many cases, the lack of competition has proved detrimental to the consumer. Even the Internet has been under attack.
Laws that were put in place after the Great Depression were taken off the books in the 1990’s, leading directly to the housing bubble and subsequent Economic Bust of 2008. Those laws worked to keep banks safe, and keep them separate from brokerage accounts.
It was clear that the laws had been taken off the books in the late 80’s, when brokerages began to offer checking accounts. It became even more clear in 2008, when it turned out that banks had been buying the “mortgage packages” put together by Wall Street — and had been encouraging the mortgage boom, by ensuring that anyone and everyone was in a house, whether they could afford it or not.
The best and brightest graduates used to go into government, because government paid the best. No more. Chronically underfunded by virtue of a million tax loopholes (as discussed momentarily in Tax Breaks), the government can’t afford to pay competitive salaries, much less the highest salaries. Nor can the government afford to hire even more people, to make up in quantity what it may lack in quality.
That leaves the best and brightest working for Wall Street, giant corporations, and the banks. So government enforcement agencies are both outgunned and outmanned. Agencies like the IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission, meanwhile, are struggling to keep up. In fact, in Perfectly Legal, David Cay Johnston reported that the IRS had stopped the auditing of those with large incomes, because it was proving too difficult. So instead they focused on those making less than $50,000 a year — and wound up giving a refund in 50% of those cases.
As described in Social Security “Reform” is Not Advisable, the plans that are euphemistically (and misleadingly) termed “reform” by Republicans are an exceedingly bad idea. They all require average Americans to “save for their own retirement”. How? By investing in the stock market, of course.
But as described in the corporate systems pages (Conglomerate Corporations), American corporations are already under enormous pressure to optimize for the short term, largely as a result of the 401K and IRA plans that already represent much of America’s retirement investments.
Because those plans are governed by a few “market managers”, rather than by a large contingent of individual investors, and because that “management” effort is largely governed by computers these days, a company’s stock can tank in an instant.
When one manager detects a drop that affects the value of the stock, they can sell off millions of shares, rather than the small number that would be held by an one of the many investors. When that sell off triggers a drop in price, the computerized systems used by all of the other managers immediately sell of their stock.
And remember the number “5” in the Conglomerate Corporation page. There are 5 major investment management firms. It only takes a few sell-offs to tank a company’s stock. And when that goes, along with it goes the favorable rates for the short-term loans they depend on to stay in business.
Moving all of the money the government collects for social security would have the effect of further impoverishing the government. (Little known fact: That system was supposed to be savings system, where the government held on to the money. But as soon as they had it, they immediately loaned it out to other parts of the government — which made it into another form of revenue, in effect.)
In addition, all of the money that is currently going to the government would then go into the stock market. That change would make the brokers very happy. They could buy even bigger yachts with the proceeds.
But with more money in the stock market, the pressure on corporations for short-term profits would be that much greater, with the resulting, inevitable drop in long-term in long-term profits producing even greater economic downturns in the “Boom and Bust” cycle that is the invariable result of a “free” market, absent the stabilizing force of government intervention.
The huge number of loopholes in the American tax code (which is so large that no one fully understands it) means that the America’s real corporate tax rate is already the lowest, of all industrial nations in the world.
That, however, does not stop lobbyists from claiming that America has the highest tax rate in the world (it does — on paper). And it does not stop the politicians who owe the lobbyists a hearing from fighting from even larger tax breaks on their behalf.
Estate Taxes meanwhile, are another sore spot. Republicans call it a “death tax”, and talk about the effects on a small business and a bereaved family. Such situations do occur, unfortunately. But they are relatively rare. Democrats, meanwhile, call it the “billionaire’s tax”, because what the politicians are not saying is that billionaires get to pass on massive inherited wealth to their children — which is the very definition of an aristocracy.
The lack of an entrenched aristocracy, however, was the fuel for the great American engine of progress. Because everyone had an equal opportunity, everyone was motivated to pursue their dreams. But with an aristocracy in place, they hold all the cards. The only way to succeed in such an environment is to be part of that crowd, or to become their pet child.
That aristocracy has already come into existence, unfortunately, and it is acting to secure its hold on power. The only way to counteract their growing influence, in my view, is to enact a Constitutional Amendment for an “Equal Opportunity” Tax.
Taxes could have been used for some time now to offset the damage created by toxins in the American diet. At the very least, then, the health care system would then have the funding to pay for medical costs incurred by problems like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They would also pay for research into the nature of those problems, and how they can be prevented.
In addition, such taxes would tend to reduce the occurrence of those problems, by making the foods that cause them more expensive. But such a move would of course reduce corporate profits, so lobbyists are against it.
Even more importantly, like taxes on cigarettes, it is almost certain that the public — once alerted to the issues — would call on government to act on its behalf, and eliminate those toxins, all of which would further reduce corporate profits.
- What’s Wrong with American Foods?
- Taxing Bad Foods is Good for People
- Taxing Bad Foods is Good for the Environment
- American Health
In the 1970’s, when the entire U.S. economy was held hostage to an oil embargo, it didn’t take a genius to realize that reliance on oil was not a good thing. And for a while there, fuel-efficient vehicles were all the rage.
But as soon the embargo ended, big gas-guzzling, environment-polluting, and highly-profitable vehicles were all the rage again, abetted by auto industry who paid Madison Avenue to help sell them to the American public.
Had government begun inching up taxes on oil and gasoline every year, a little at a time, the trend towards energy efficiency would have begun much sooner. Green-energy alternatives would have become financially viable that much sooner, as well.
With such taxes in place then, we might not now be facing the threat of a potentially disastrous, civilization-ending threat of climate change.
Much of the best research that could be done on behalf of the American government would produce zero profit for corporations, or even reduce those profits.
Corporations, naturally, don’t invest in such things. It’s not that they trying to have a negative impact on American health, it’s just that they have no incentive to make it their primary concern.
A corporation, therefore, acts like an unfeeling, uncaring universe, in which physical laws act to your benefit or detriment, without regard to the outcome. In the case of corporations, they act to produce profit — for the very good reason that they can’t afford to do otherwise. As mentioned in the corporate-systems pages, Conglomerate Corporations, short-term optimizations and continuous growth are forced, for any corporation that wants to survive.
Corporations therefore invest in things that make a profit. Sometimes that works to your advantage. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s nothing personal. It’s the law.
- Skin conditions like rosacea are mystery. The causes are not understood. Fundamental research that might identify the cause does not produce a profit. So no one is doing it. There has been much research, however, into creams that will control rosacea. Such creams represent a cash cow that is good for the lifetime of the patient.
- Fundamental research that might wind up identifying the cause of cancer is not being done. For breast cancer, for example, my personal suspicion is that fatty tissue that makes up the breast is damaged by the trans fats in partially hydrogenated oils, possibly in conjunction with the “artificial sugars” (aka poisons) found in so many “diet sodas”. Such research could only serve to get profitable ingredients outlawed (as they should be), and would reduce the profits that drug companies currently make. Again, it’s not that they prevent that research, it’s just that there is zero incentive for them to do it.
- The cancer research that is being done is, naturally, for drugs that might act to counteract the effects of a harmful diet, coupled with environmental toxins — and do so profitably, of course. Meanwhile, people across the country wear pink ribbons, take long walks, and raise money to “cure cancer” — most of which goes either to pay for drug-company research (so they’re not even paying for it themselves!) or which goes to provide support for cancer victims, and to pay for their expensive “health care” (disease care, in reality).
- Another personal suspicion of mine is that the pink-ribbon organization and its cousins are, in fact, supported by those very same giant corporations! For a small investment, the corporation allows people to feel like they are helping, they set up an enterprise that will provide ongoing income for the organizers, and generate additional money for the research that will earn them even greater profits, without addressing the fundamental cause. (Which we know to be either nutritional, or environmental, or both, because no other country in the world has anything like American rates of cancer.
As written up in Why You WANT Socialized Medicine and The Unsung Benefits of Universal Health Care, a single-payer health care system is most valuable for the way it acts to prevent health problems. As a result, you’re much less likely to need the health-care system and, when you do, you’ll find that the system is not overwhelmed by millions of others who also need it.
Such a system motivates prevention because, in sense, we all become “our brother’s keeper”. We all pay when someone gets sick so, gee, let’s help them avoid getting sick! With a system like that, government is motivated to implement health-promoting taxes discussed above, and to provide the homeless with shelter.
In other words, Universal Health Care gives someone in the system an incentive to prevent the problems, because that same someone (the government) is paying for the much more expensive costs of fixing them, once they occur.
That incentive that does not currently exist anywhere in the American systems of health, government, politics, or corporations. So it would be enormously beneficial for the average American, who know longer be paying those exorbitant costs out of his or her own pocket.
However, while the costs of fixing the problems would certainly go to the corporations who already collect those revenues, the government would in a position to negotiate the costs down. Such negotiations would reduce profits. Preventative measures, as they took effect, would further reduce profits — so it is no wonder that giant corporations are opposed to such actions.Government-paid health care = NEGOTIATED costs. AND it REDUCES PROFITS with PREVENTION. Click To Tweet