Monthly Archives: November 2016

Dean Baker recommends we import doctors to lower the cost of medical care.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research. 

He has published an article titled “Why don’t we have free trade for highly paid professionals in the U.S.?” on the PBS Newshour blog, “Making Sen$e.” 

He argues that the cost of medical care could be lowered by opening our borders to doctors from abroad. For reason of restraint of trade, argues Baker, we pay our doctors twice what we need to. 

The United States has supported cross border movement of goods and capital. (NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, 1994, is case and point. Prior to Donald Trump’s election to the office of President, other multi-lateral trade agreements were pending. Trump says his administration will negotiate trade deals on a bilateral basis.) To open the borders to the free flow of labor, as has happened in Europe, is another matter. Doctors from the Netherlands and truck drivers from Mexico can enter and work in the U.S. if they obtain the correct visas and licensing, but admission is based on an individual’s application, not on a country of origin.

Traditional healers from Lassa, Nigeria

Traditional healers from Lassa. Globalization = Homogenization. Are we ready for one worldwide medical bureaucracy?

 On November 15, 2016 the Ford Motor Company announced that it is moving a small car factory from Michigan to Mexico. It will be importing other cars from India. 

Why do we not import workers instead of cars? And what is a fair wage?  US auto workers hired before 2007 earn between $28 and $32 an hour. Those hired since make between $16 and $20.  And, Mexican auto workers make from $1 to $4 an hour.

It is hard to overstate the complexity of this problem. In a forthcoming posting I will look into the matter of medical licensing in Colorado. Medical care in Colorado is too expensive (as it is elsewhere in the U.S.) 

Distributists seek local solutions, ones cut with surgical precision.

As a distributist, I  hope that any eventual exchange is made medical board to medical board, and not trade representative to trade representative. Medicine is local.  It is good that Dean Baker has raised the issue, but a race to the bottom wage-wise is not a solution.  There are many other things that can be done. 

Larimer vs. Weld on energy

The Christian Science Monitor has published an article, “Why climate change divides us” that highlights differences in climate change politics and beliefs found in two Colorado counties: Weld and Larimer.  In sum: Weld County is a conservative community with an economy strongly linked to petrochemical production.  Larimer County is critical of the way its neighbor earns its living.

I live in Larimer County but have earned a living driving fracking water to and from fracking sites in Weld County, including Wells Ranch (an area of intense fracking that is referenced in the article.) 

This is to say, I have a dog in the fight. 

In the coming months, I will seek out Distributist ideas that might bridge the divide explained in the article. I do believe that the climate is changing and that at least a portion of that change is anthropogenic. 

I also think that some of the best paying jobs to be found in Northern Colorado are in the oil field. When I left the field, in 2014, oil was over $100/barrel, now it’s about $45. So there are fewer of those good jobs there, although in a market economy, it is only logical to expect demand for petrochemicals to grow as price falls. Perhaps production is moving to places with lower costs of extraction… Saudi Arabia, for instance. 

buckeye road power plant

Buckeye Road Power Plant – North of Fort Collins

As for Larimer… I think it is and will be a good laboratory for social solutions. In 2014, coal provided 74.2% of the electrical energy to Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont (Boulder County), and Estes Park. 

Climate change is a dog’s breakfast.  I recommend the Monitor article.