01 March 2010

Hometown Buffett

Warren Buffett is a jerk. Today he calls health care "a tapeworm eating at our economic body". As if he knows what he is talking about. Fact is, health care is one of the few sectors of the economy which is growing, which is to say: providing new jobs. What Buffett and his ilk assume is that any economic activity which *he* decides is not a potential source of personal profit is, ipso facto, a waste of economic resources.

Well, lets look at the basic question: what activities are unproductive. For the sake of argument, I'll define "unproductive" as any activity which 1) doesn't provide a good or service *directly* to specific citizens and 2) does provide income to any citizen. The result of such unproductive activities is inflation, since income goes to labor and capital, but no saleable good or service is placed into the market; what goods and services are produced by capital and labor are bid up in price due to the excess cash. Health care does provide a service directly to citizens. Oops.

By such a definition (one that I'd wager is difficult to refute), financial services, defense expenditures, and space exploration all qualify as unproductive. Some, such as defense expenditures, we as a society accept as being needful anyway. But these are still not productive, from a strict economic point of view. It should not come as any surprise that China spends vastly less on such activities. It works for them.

What Buffett is doing is channeling the Inner Social Darwinist of the aristocrat, let them eat dirt. In particular, only the rich deserve good health. The rest of the industrialized world manages to provide public health at a fraction of the cost, but no matter.

Recall that the *things* Americans want to have are largely made not by Americans, these days. The Buffett's of the world have de-industrialized the economy, and now have the gall to complain about the only growing sector of the economy, and one which actually makes life better for the populace; Wall Street Banksters have never done that.

Warren, you're a jerk.

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