Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

The high cost of college, as expressed by student debt, and the high cost of health care are dominant themes in the discussions running up to the 2020 election. The proposed solutions of taxing the “fat cats” is wrong-headed and upside down.

The desired result can be accomplished quickly and thoroughly with little effort and likely within a couple of months if we collectively have the will. We don’t need to wait for an election.

It can be done with ways and means embraced by the Democrats in other venues. Can we agree that the problem in both education and healthcare is the growing gap between payers’ means and providers’ wants? In the past, the cost of higher education was more within reach of the users of these services, what has happened is that the gap between the two has grown. Same way with health care – the gap between the charges and the ability to pay has grown.

Have you seen any proposed solutions that abate these problems? I haven’t. At best, the proposed solutions fix the problem in the short term, and down the road the respective gaps continue to grow. Abatement comes when we break the back of the growing gap trends and do a stepwise adjustment of the current conditions to pull them back in line with the past norms. No one has proposed a solution like this.

Yet, the Democrats are masters at a solution I am sure will work. And so is Greta Thunberg (or her handler’s, I am skeptical she is driving the narrative she spouts). Look at what she has done. Little Greta has started a flight shaming movement. It is so effective it is bringing the airlines of the world to their knees.

IATA (the International Air Transport Association) has launched a major media campaign to get people back in the skies and off the trains. In barely a month, Thunberg has brought them to their aforesaid knees, with the flight shaming movement growing in momentum across Europe (while how Greta got home to Sweden from the U.N. meeting in New York remains a mystery).

So, for education and healthcare, it seems reasonable that the payers call a strike, or boycott if you prefer. The Democrats are masters at this.

How does it work? Users of the education system refuse to pay bills from universities in August and September and December and January until the fees go down. Hit 'em in the gut. Run them out of money or at least make them draw on their reserves.

Same way with health care. Call a monthlong strike, refusing to engage the health system in any elective procedures until the price comes down. A month ought to do it. And if not, extend it.

It is upside down for users to pay more for services than they are willing to pay. How did we get into a position where such silly transactions were acceptable? They are not in any other areas of our lives. If, for instance, car prices get too high, will some politician propose a tax to help pay for cars? Of course not.

Further, why should we punish “fat cats” by forcing them to pay for these services through special taxes? After all, they became “fat cats” by persuading us to buy products and services voluntarily (iPhones, Amazon merchandise, Google services, Microsoft software).

These people got rich by persuading us to buy their services and products, not by pushing us into some sort of must have forced purchase as have the universities and medical systems. Use strikes and boycotts to right the ship and get things back to normal.

Classically, prices are determined by “arm’s length negotiations.” The education and medical industries have turned this long tradition on its head and convinced us their prices are somehow correct and we just have to pay them. Not so. It can stop as soon as we, through solidarity of actions, demand a change. I’ll bet we can drive the cost of health care to 5% of GDP. The reason this has not happened so far is there is no incentive for the providers to do so.

Come on Democrats, show us how to run an effective strike against these shakedowns in which we have willingly and foolishly participated. What is keeping you from doing this? Do you have too many friends in high places in the educational and medical industries?

Next on the docket – real “hate speech” is that speech which professors and educational leaders spew decrying the fantastic checks and balances of the long-serving and marvelous machine that is the U.S. Constitution. When I get enough energy, I’ll tackle that.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at jthompson@taii.com.