Mike Kueber's Blog

March 20, 2012

The battle of the sexes

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:54 am
Tags: , ,

According to a spate of recent articles and books, the battle of the sexes is about over, and the fairer sex has won.  The latest such article is the cover story on this week’s Time magazine – titled “The Richer Sex,” and subtitled, “Women are overtaking men as America’s breadwinners.  Why that’s good for everyone.”    

According to the article, this battle result is essentially a fait accompli, almost like the notion that whites will become a minority in America sometime during this century.  Both notions are based on demographics that show surging minority populations amongst the young just as women are now surging in college attendance – 60% of all college students and a majority of those who earn doctorate and graduate degrees. 

Unfortunately, the article fails to examine why women are heading to college while men are not.  Instead it chooses to examine how women and men will deal with this power shift, and then attempts to ameliorate any male concern by unpersuasively suggesting that “if people come to think differently about money and power and gender roles, that everyone could come out ahead?”  

The article also warns that women should not assume victory and that there still remains work to do – “Some academics and women’s rights advocates talk about a stalled revolution and warn that a premature declaration of victory will reduce pressure on workplaces to improve pay and working conditions.”

An example of this ongoing effort appeared in the NY Times today, with an article that discussed a little known fact about ObamaCare – i.e., ObamaCare prohibits health insurers from charging women more for an insurance policy.    Of course, the Times frames this issue as, “Gender Gap persists in the cost of health insurance.”  This sounds like one of those ante-diluvium policies (like laws against sodomy) that needs to be extirpated.  Only if you read in the fine print of the article do you learn that insurers “charged women more than men because claims showed that women ages 19 to 55 tended to use more health care services. They are more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription drugs and to have certain chronic illnesses.”  And that doesn’t even include maternity costs.

The federal government already prohibits employers from charging female employees more for health insurance than they charge male employees.  ObamaCare takes this mandate to the next level and requires all private health insurers not only to charge men and women the same, but also to include maternity coverage in this one-size-fits-all plan.

Once you start down the road to requiring that businesses charge a “fair” amount to everyone, where do you stop?  Should life-insurance premiums consider whether a person is male/female or overweight?  Should car-insurance premiums consider whether the driver is 16-years old or 61-years old?  According to the Times article:

  • [ObamaCare] forbids insurers to consider many factors historically used in setting rates. Starting in 2014, insurers cannot charge higher rates to sick people, and they can vary rates based on age and tobacco use to only a limited degree.

I recently watched the new movie, Atlas Shrugged, and the foundering of America in that movie looked a lot like ObamaCare, with its emphasis on removing the free market from the process and substituting the judgment of “fairness” as decreed by Washington bureaucrats.  That is why the election of 2012 is so important.  It will be a referendum on whether Americans are prepared to go further down the road to socialism.



  1. Socialism? Really?

    Socialism is “state ownership of the means of production.” Obamacare is insurance regulation, coupled with subsidies for the poor.

    Obamacare does not “remove the free market from the process” of health insurance, but rather bolsters it, with increased accountability, transparency, and competition.

    I’m really disappointed that you are repeating Republican political talking points without seeming to understand them.

    Comment by Anonymoose — March 21, 2012 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  2. Anonymoose,I think your definition of socialism is antiquated. A better definition is an economy with the means of production primarily controlled by the government instead of the owners of the capital. ObamaCare essentially takes over health insurance by declaring, among other things, what must be covered (e.g., preventive care without deductibles, dependents up to age 26, mental-health treatment, and maternity care) and what can be charged (e.g., women can’t be charged more than men, limits on age-based and smoking-based ratings). That is not letting the free-market operate.

    ObamaCare should focus on universal, bare-bones coverage instead of ensuring that everyone gets a Cadillac plan.

    Comment by Mike Kueber — March 21, 2012 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

    • Socialism is a word with a meaning. The meaning is not antiquated, because it describes a political system that still exists, and has an associated ideology and adherents.

      Calling Obama, or Obamacare, “socialist” is just partisan name-calling. You can go ahead and do it if you want, but have no illusions that its an honest or straightforward description of liberal policies. Its just a kudgel, and is as meaningful as if I started calling Paul Ryan’s budget plan “fascist.”

      The trope that Obamacare “takes over” health insurance is specious. It is the most “free market” health care program in the developed world, and you had best understand it as a free-marketish alternative to genuinely socialist nationalized health care. And one of the ways that it is supporting a genuine free market is by making it possible to compare health insurance policies by standardizing their base offerings.

      The US currently has one of the poorest standards of medical care in the developed world, and at the absolute highest cost. The purpose of Obamacare is both to improve the average standard of care, and to expand access to necessary health care to those that need it (even pregnant women and the mentally ill). And there are significant mechanisms in the bill to help control the rate of medical inflation.

      It is our medical system that is the real root cause of our fiscal situation: if you were magically able to end the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, and freeze medical costs, the US would be in fiscal balance for the indefinite future. If you think that the four items you listed constitute “Cadillac” health care, then I think you should re-think your position a bit. The purpose of “insurance” is risk pooling; and the PPACA has put certain boundaries on what sorts of “risks” can be excluded from the pool. I personally have no problem with men and women statutorily paying the same rate, or that people up to age 26 can still be considered medical dependents (this seems to pretty accurately mirror the reality of peoples’ lives right now). But if you do–and it’s a reasonable position–you can write your congressperson to change those laws.

      But the socialism trope is really just a tribal badge of the movement conservatives. If you wish to communicate to people outside your tribe, I would suggest that you use meaningful language.

      Comment by Anonymoose — March 22, 2012 @ 12:59 am | Reply

      • i dont think you can substantiate this statement “The US currently has one of the poorest standards of medical care in the developed world, and at the absolute highest cost.”

        the medical system would not be the root cause of our fiscal situation if the government didn’t provide health care supported by tax subsidization.


        Comment by Q — March 24, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

      • I agree that the standard of care in America is generally exemplary.

        Comment by Mike Kueber — March 25, 2012 @ 3:08 am

  3. in retrospect i don’t think the root cause of our problems is health care:
    – the global war on terror has cost a lot
    – our federal government does not know what it means to control expenses
    – we have promised too many people, too much, and they contributed too little (much of this is subsidized health care)
    – tax revenue has dropped with a lower GDP


    Comment by Q — March 25, 2012 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

    • As the Republicans are wont to say about the energy problem – “all of the above.” All of the things that you mentioned are problems and each should be addressed. There is no magic bullet, but instead there should be continual improvement. (Does that sound like a consultant strategy?)

      Comment by Mike Kueber — March 25, 2012 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

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