A recent study by Kansas Hospital Association economists indicates that the health care industry provided 290,000 jobs in Kansas in 2006. To put this in some perspective, the Kansas workforce is currently 1.8 million. Hence, the health care industry is responsible for 16% of Kansas employment. It stands to reason that universal health care would vastly increase the need for employees in hospitals, clinics, as well as all the other institutions and businesses providing health care services.
Jobs generated from government programs and funding is the only answer to what has become an intractable unemployment problem. Job losses in manufacturing and the service sector are due to globalization and cheaper foreign labor markets. Democrats as well as the Republicans refuse to tell the public the truth about the structural nature of the current unemployment problem.
As just one example amongst many, consider IBM, a company founded and grown in the United States into a conglomerate with revenues of $25 billion and 380,000 employees. Over the past few years, IBM has reduced its U.S. employees to 115,000 and has set aside $400,000,000 in severance benefits for the purpose of further reductions. Where are IBM jobs going? Mostly to India.
Having sold its laptop business to China, IBM is out of the hardware business and is building its current business around services and software. This international conglomerate recently purchased SPSS, a successful, very profitable software company, spun out of an American university. Having worked with this software from its early days, I am quite familiar with the company and have visited its Chicago headquarters on many occasions.
A large number of highly educated programmers, statisticians, and other technical personnel occupy several floors of a sky scraper on the Miracle Mile. It is likely that these jobs will be lost to a cheaper labor market. If that happens, U.S. citizens should be outraged. The University of Kansas, Kansas State University, and practically every other major U.S. public university, each spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on SPSS software each year. U.S. taxpayers will be subsidizing jobs located in a foreign country.
In spite of all the political rhetoric about tax cuts, bank loans, getting the economy moving again, and bla, bla, bla, the capitalist, free market economy will not pick up the slack in employment. Jobs are leaving the U.S. and will not be coming back. Much needed government programs are the answer.
Right wing attacks on health care reform and the inability of Democrats to fight for and sell their legislative proposals constitute a tragedy. Not only will sick people continue to be denied access to health care, a massive number of jobs will not materialize.