In Massachusetts, the government is all in a dither about the health-care crisis supposedly gripping the state. And two of the leading Democrats, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House (both houses over 84% Democratic) have apparently worked out a deal: any employer with ten or more employees will have to offer them some form of coverage, or pay $295/year per employee that would go towards public health care.
Setting aside the notion that the moneys would, indeed, be used for such a purpose (I don’t think the Massachusetts legislature has EVER respected an “earmarking” of funds, instead just tossing it into the general fund and spending it on whatever tickles their fancies), I think this could have a tremendous boost to the economy.
Well, the economies of neighboring states, especially us here in New Hampshire.
Once this new plan takes effect (and I have every confidence it will, as there seems to be no idea too stupid for a Massachusetts Democrat to insist upon), any small business will have a tremendous incentive to NOT expand, at least not past the magic threshold of 9 employees. Those which have just over that many will be sorely tempted to cut back on their staffing to escape the law.
And any company that is too big for that possibility will certainly have to consider a hiring freeze, or moving out of the state entirely.
Now, I’ve had jobs without health insurance, and with. I definitely prefer having insurance, even when it’s incredibly obtuse. But there’s a reason why it’s called a “benefit:” Employers don’t have to offer it by law; they have been pushed into it by their need for good employees, and it’s a great incentive. (I know a LOT of people who stick with jobs they would like to quit, but put up with it because of their insurance.)
Most jobs these days do offer some form of medical coverage. The main exceptions are the lowest jobs, the ones requiring the least skills and discipline and talents. Traditionally, these were reserved for the newest members of the workforce and the least able. The notion was that the newbies would work their way out of those jobs, earning experience and developing skills to move upward, while the least able would at least have a modicum of self-support.
This is exactly the socioeconomic phenomenon going on with Wal-Mart. People decry the low wages and poor benefits, but don’t take into account the fact that the average entry level job at Wal-Mart is, indeed, utterly disposable. It requires almost no skills or training. On the other hand, Wal-Mart tends to heavily promote from within, giving more pay and benefits — along with more responsibilities — as employees prove their dedication and value to the company. And those who compare a Wal-Mart job with other jobs are missing a critical point — a lot of Wal-Mart employees simply couldn’t GET those jobs.
So as Massachusetts prepares to shoot its economy in the foot, I look forward to the benefits we in New Hampshire will gain. And I find myself feeling just a little sorry for the folks of Massachusetts, about to get boned over again by the officials they keep re-electing.