Monday, February 1, 2010

Uh, About That Raise You Want...

I stumbled across the following post while doing my morning blog reviews. It's written in a style that leans toward the condescending, which, given the topic (health care reform) and the current mood in many quarters (populist anger), seems highly appropriate. I wanted to share it for three reasons: (1) I mostly agree, (2) I love well-deserved condescension and (3) the writer saved me a lot of work.


(posted on Craigslist, Chicago, January 28, 2010 by anonymous)

WHY you keep getting screwed--MR. (Tea Party Patriot):

Hey you. You there in the Glenn Beck T-shirt headed off to the Tea Party Patriot rally.

Stop shouting for a moment, please, I want to explain to you why you're so very angry.

You should be angry. You're getting screwed.

I think you know that. But you don't seem to know that it doesn't have to be that way. You can stop it. You can stop it easily because the system that's screwing you over can only keep screwing you over if you keep demanding that it do so.

So stop demanding that. Stop helping the system screw you over.

Look, you can go back to yelling at me in a minute, but just read this first.

1. Get out your pay stub.

Or, if you have direct deposit -- you really should get direct deposit, it saves a lot of time and money (I point this out because, honestly, I'm trying to help you here, even though you don't make that easy Mr. Angry Screamy Guy) -- then take out that little paper receipt they give you when your pay gets directly deposited.

2. Notice that your net pay is lower than your gross pay. This is because some of your wages are withheld every pay period.

3. Notice that only some of this money that was withheld went to pay taxes. (I know, I know -- yeearrrgh! me hates taxes! -- but just try to stick with me for just a second here.)

4. Notice that some of the money that was withheld didn't go to taxes, but to your health insurance company.

5. Now go get a pay stub from last year around this time, from January of 2009.

6. Notice that the amount of your pay withheld for taxes in your current paycheck is less than the amount that was withheld a year ago.

That's because of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, which included more than $200 billion in tax cuts, including the one you're holding right there in your hand, the tax cut that's now staring you in the face. Republicans all voted against that tax cut. And then they told you to get angry about the stimulus plan. They didn't explain, however, why you were supposed to get angry about getting a tax cut. Why would you be? Wouldn't it make more sense to get angry at the people who voted against that Obama tax cut?

But taxes aren't the really important thing here. The really important thing starts with the next point.

7. Notice that the amount of your pay withheld to pay for your health insurance is more than it was last year.

8. Notice that the amount of your pay withheld to pay for your health insurance is a lot more than it was last year.

I won't ask you to dig up old paychecks from 2008 and 2007, but this has been going on for a long time. Every year, the amount of your paycheck withheld to pay for your health insurance goes up. A lot.

9. Notice the one figure there on your two pay stubs that hasn't changed: Your wage. The raise you didn't get this year went to pay for that big increase in the cost of your health insurance.

10. Here's where I need you to start doing a better job of putting two and two together. If you didn't get a raise last year because the cost of your health insurance went up by a lot, and the cost of your health insurance is going to go up by a lot again this year, what do you think that means for any chance you might have of getting a raise this year?

11. Did you figure it out? That's right. The increasing cost of health insurance means you won't get a raise this year. Or next year. Or the year after that. The increasing cost of health insurance means you will never get a raise again.

That's what I meant when I said you really should be angry. That's what I meant when I said you're getting screwed.

OK, we're almost done. Just a few more points, I promise.

12. The only hope you have of ever seeing another pay raise is if Congress passes health care reform. Without health care reform, the increasing cost of your health insurance will swallow this year's raise. And next year's raise. And pretty soon it won't stop with just your raise. Without health care reform, the increasing cost of your health insurance will start making your pay go down.

13. I wish I could tell you that this was just a worst-case scenario, that this was only something that might, maybe happen, but that wouldn't be true. Without health care reform, this is what will happen. We know this because this is what is happening now. It has been happening for the past 10 years. In 2008, employers spent on average 25 percent more per employee than they did in 2001, but wages on average did not increase during those years. The price of milk went up. The price of gas went up. But wages did not. All of the money that would have gone to higher wages went to pay the higher and higher and higher cost of health insurance. And unless Congress passes health care reform, that will not change.

Well, it will change in the sense that it will keep getting worse, but it won't get better. Unless the problem gets fixed, the problem won't be fixed. That's kind of what "problem" and "fixed" mean.

14. Sadly for any chance you have of ever seeing a raise again, it looks like Congress may not pass health care reform. It looks like they won't do that because they're scared of angry voters who are demanding that they oppose health care reform, angry voters who demand that Congress not do anything that would keep the cost of health insurance from going up and up and up. Angry voters like you.

15. Do you see the point here? You are angrily, loudly demanding that Congress make sure that you never, ever get another pay raise as long as you live. Because of you and because of your angry demands, you and your family and your kids are going to have to get by with less this year than last year. And next year you're going to have to get by with even less. And if you keep angrily demanding that no one must ever fix this problem, then, you're going to have to figure out how to get by on less and less every year for the rest of your life.

16. So please, for your own sake, for your family's sake and the sake of your children, stop. Stop demanding that problems not get fixed. Stop demanding that you keep getting screwed. Stay angry -- you should be angry -- but start directing that anger toward the system that's screwing you over and taking money out of your pocket. Start directing that anger toward fixing problems instead of toward making sure they never get fixed. Instead of demanding that Congress oppose health care reform so that you never, ever, get another pay raise, start demanding that they pass health care reform, as soon as possible. Because, until they do, you're just going to keep on getting screwed.

And it's going to be that much worse knowing that you brought this on yourself -- that you demanded it.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. -- I didn't mention this because I'm trying here to be as patient with you as I can, but you might also want to keep in mind that in addition to screwing over yourself and screwing over your family and screwing over your own children by demanding that Congress oppose health care reform so that you will never, ever see another pay raise, by doing that you're also demanding that I never, ever see another pay raise, which means that you're also screwing over me, and my family, and my children. Not to mention the millions of poor and uninsured and uninsureable (sic) people I didn't even mention above because they don't seem to matter at all to you. And for that, let me just say the only appropriate thing that can be said to someone so determined
to do direct, tangible harm to the welfare of my family: F*ck you, you f*cking moron.


Well now; clearly, there is a bit of anger on both sides of this issue as the final sentence indicates. However, the writer did patiently walk the reader through some basic financial facts about a very complex issue, facts that won't ledgibly fit on a T-shirt or homemade poster. And, as many wags have recently noted, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts.

Here's a fact: If you are upset about America's current and projected deficits--and we all should be greatly concerned--you will be apoplectic when you see the results of the Baby Boom aging into the waiting arms of Medicare, a system held captive by the mushrooming Leviathan known as health care cost inflation. Changing the insurance rules, as the current legislation attempts, is but a small step. America needs a lot more selfless thinking and a large dollop of intellectual courage.

Bruce (a.k.a. "Mr. Full of Elitist Crap")

Observoid of the Day: Every new administration has to clean up after the previous party's party.


  1. I think that most people recognize and agree with the need for health care reform. What I have a problem with is this idea of rushing it through while one party has the numbers to pass something. Anything. Health care reform will be arguably one of the most important reformations that our country has seen in a long, long time and it scares the you-know-what out of me to think that we're hastily shoving it through the system so that "our side" can get our way. It's childish and hugely irresponsible, in my opinion. Recent changes in congressional seats may force the democrats to make concessions to satisfy those on the other side of the aisle and that ain't a bad thing. This country is not made up of a bunch of people who think that one way. It's been said that in any good compromise, everybody walks away unhappy.

    I am all for health care reformation, of course. I just see a huge value in going about this in a thoughtful manner. I know, easier said than done when you're talking about Congress, but it's absolutely worth trying to do.

  2. Have to say, very persuasive, I am now fully on board with the complete separation of personal health insurance and employment. Its so logical since they are completely unrelated - exactly what Barack O'bama is propos....wait a minute, the unions aren't down???


  3. Well, that goes without saying.

  4. I am for HealthCare reform. But like Lindsay I say it should be done carefully instead of fast. Most members of Congress and the public did not read the piles of rubbish that both houses tried to pass. Government has never done anything efficiently. With this fact in mind, only a fool would want our government running 1/6 of the economy. Obama's deficit is over three times that of Bush's. The Congressional Budget Office has stated this is UNSUSTAINABLE. The life of the Republic is at stake. I don't like the tone of Glenn Beck or Limbaugh. They may do more harm than good with their polarizing styles. The voting citizens of Massachusetts sent a clear message. They have had state covered healthcare and it is not working. The bleeding heart liberals in Minnesota have found their system is not working either. I learned in Economics Class 30 years ago that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    I hope Congress starts with tort reform which will directly affect healthcare costs, and then move on to the next step. I don't think Democrats will be so happy to support this since one of their largest constituent bases is the trial lawyers.

    Obama has been so misguided and confused over the #1 crisis in the country. That is the economy and jobs. This country's currency has been losing value in the global marketplace. This is partly due to our whole governments' wild spending. This has pushed our tax rates near the highest in the world. This and our high cost of labor continue to make products made in the USA too expensive on the world market. The solution is to cut spending, cut taxes, and enact legitimate immigration policy to recruit cheap labor.