What if cheeseburgers were like healthcare?

in informationwar •  last month

What would happen if we treated cheeseburgers like we treat other things in our society? What if cheeseburgers were subsidized the same way we subsidize healthcare, section 8 housing or education?

Let's imagine that in order to fight "hunger" the politicians created a voucher program so that the poor could have a cheeseburger. C'mon, can't a poor kid get a cheeseburger?

Let's say that the value of the voucher was $10, it could be redeemed at any burger joint for a $10 burger. Would any burger joint ever charge less than $10 for a burger?

No, of course not, it would be stupid to do so. So the minimum cost for everyone else for a burger would be $10 or whatever the voucher was worth. This is called a price floor.

But wait a minute, would you want a $10 burger? Remember the $10 burger will be designed to be the cheapest possible burger that meets whatever minimum burger standards that the government sets and that you will have to wait in line with the voucher people to get a $10 burger. If you want a good burger or you want some bacon on that you are going to have to pay much more. If you want to avoid the line and the sketchy voucher people then you will have to pay much more.

But wait a minute, what happens next? Well next everyone will complain about how shitty the voucher burgers are and how long the lines are. Then of course the only solution the burger companies and their politicians can offer is to raise the burger standards but then they will have to also raise the voucher value, then they can provide better burgers they say.

But wait a minute, what if the burger companies and their paid protestors with their "fight for $15" signs convince the public and politicians to raise the burger voucher to a $15 dollar value? Well then to get a good burger you are going to have to spend even more than that!


source

And who can afford $15 for a cheeseburger? Gosh, isn't the only solution to expand who is eligible to receive burger vouchers for "free" burgers?

With a more or less free market for cheeseburgers anyone can have as many burgers as they want, cheeseburgers can be bought for a dollar, can anyone reasonably deny that all of the things I described would occur if a burger voucher program was established? Of course it would be crazy to create such a program and lead to out of control price hikes and unsustainable burger markets and terrible burgers and service. Yet that is exactly how we approach many things in our society, we subsidize education and healthcare and housing exactly in the same fashion as the hypothetical burger voucher and we have the exact same consequences.

People react to this in two ways. Either they say, "very clever of course you are right" or "this is stupid" what no one has ever done is be able to disprove my theory. Am I wrong?

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We have the same thing here where sec 8 drives the rental housing market, or at least it use to before gentrification. In essence though you could save that sec 8 drives the gentrification market because in order to keep from having to rent to low income renters they have to keep their prices considerably higher then what sec 8 will pay. Back quite a few years ago I wrote a editorial in the press after a story ran that sec 8 was complaining that landlords didn't want to rent to them because they'd have to keep their properties up. The fact is though is that city certification which is required is a higher standard then what sec 8 requires. The problem I told them was they often take women and children in crisis centers/homeless shelters and put them at the top of the list. A lot of these women in crisis centers are there because of domestic violence, and as much as we don't want to say it it's true that a woman often will go back to her abuser several times before (and if ever) decides to finally leave them. Landlords aren't privy to kicked in doors, broken windows and holes in the walls. Women in homeless centers their children are often subjected to conditions that if you are a homeowner living next to them don't want that same kind of influence upon their own kids. Then there was the fact that sec 8 also paid the same amount for everyone regardless of how many people lived there. So a single person or a person with one child could rent a more expensive three bedroom, then the landlord expecting to be renting to one or two people find out the tenant then rents out that additional bedroom. A single individual should be allowed one bedroom, it would save money and allow for better use of the funds to others that needed it then to let someone undermine sec8 and use it for additional income. After that letter sec 8 changed the rules here, single person could get a one bedroom, a mother with two kids could get a two bedroom if the children were of the same sex or if a child had disability that kept them from sharing a room. The whole thing was crazy trying to put all that stuff off on landlords when sec 8 had so many faults of their own, it was bad enough that it wasn't until the implementation of sec 8 did rents start sky rocketing through the roof. There's the crowd to who will tell landlords I can get you more then you want, I've always been pretty reasonable and have had that line played on me several times by sec 8. I'd rather ask a reasonable price I know people can afford, I am positive it is one reason I've been so profitable as a landlord. I'd also rather take a couple hundred less and not have to put thousands into damages by accepting a couple hundred more when they get done with it.

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In essence though you could save that sec 8 drives the gentrification market because in order to keep from having to rent to low income renters they have to keep their prices considerably higher then what sec 8 will pay.

Exactly! And of course no one would ever charge less than what section 8 will pay which is usually a premium.

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First, doctors went and petitioned the govern-cement to impose licensing for doctors, because doctors were bidding the price down too much.

Next, a snake oil salesman took over those licensing institutions and taught snake oil medicine.

And finally, the pharmaceutical industry found it better to treat illnesses instead of curing them.

So, at last we get to what you discuss. Where govern-cement has decided certain burgers should cost 10¢ and other burgers should cost $15. The real doctors lose out if they only do what is really necessary, not even making their costs. But the fake doctors can keep people on pills for life

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if people paid out of pocket at the hospital a Tylenol wouldn't cost $50 there.

Can you order said cheeseburger with an Obama phone? I feel like that would be a game changer in all 57 states.

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I liked this a lot!

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Thank you! It is something I have been thinking about for a while.

15$ wage would only compare to a 15$ voucher if the burger flipper only sells one burger per hour.

Quite unlikely.

And putting that aside, everyone knows (at least everyone who has had a glance at the science) that vouchers are about he worst option for welfare you can get (while cash is best).

It is mostly promoted by "Republicans" who either want the program to fail or who have such a mistrusting world view, the poor sods, that they think everyone on welfare is going to buy booze instead of bread.

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15$ wage would only compare to a 15$ voucher if the burger flipper only sells one burger per hour.

The photo was there primarily as a joke. Did you read the article? Those were protestors protesting to increase the burger voucher to $15.

Anyhow, we could apply this to labor because the minimum wage is another form of price floor. But of course how many burgers the flipper puts out per hour is totally irrelevant to their wage, that's a problem the minimum wage creates, some people's labor doesn't generate $15 an hour so in that case they don't raise the wage to $15 an hour, they eliminate the job. Do you know what percent of Americans actually make minimum wage?

What happens to someone who was making $15 an hour already? say the minimum wage was $10 and they raise it to $15, then that person is making minimum wage and has all the buying power of a minimum wage worker when before they were making 50% more than minimum wage and had 50% more buying power than minimum wage right?

And putting that aside, everyone knows (at least everyone who has had a glance at the science) that vouchers are about he worst option for welfare you can get (while cash is best).

The worst option for whom? Perhaps for taxpayers, which option is the best for the burger industry? Do you think politicians have had a glance at science? Are the lobbyists for the burger industry concerned with "science"?

It is mostly promoted by "Republicans" who either want the program to fail or who have such a mistrusting world view, the poor sods, that they think everyone on welfare is going to buy booze instead of bread.

There are those who do just that though aren't there? They had cash benefits in my state and they were often redeemed at strip clubs, bars, smoke shops and liquor stores. Gosh, how could people betray the public's trust like that? We should have trusted welfare recipients, wasn't being mistrusting of them foolish?

Anyhow can you disprove any part of my actual burger theory?

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right?

Wrong because, you know, like the prices everything else adjusts.

There are those who do just that though aren't there?

Of course. There are also murderer. And multi-millionaires "evading" taxes.

But if you "trust" welfare recievers or not, cash is the most effective way.
And trusting them - and I mean realy trusting them, not just saying it and let them hang in the air - results in more of the behavior you trust in. Basic human motivation thingy.

if you give people a chance, even if 90% fai, you still have 10% more sucessful than without that chance.

Anyhow can you disprove any part of my actual burger theory?

Yes, the moment I said nobody is going to subsidize with 5 times the amount it actually costs now.

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Wrong because, you know, like the prices everything else adjusts.

I'm confused, you say "wrong" but that was my point exactly. The minimum wage worker who went from $10 to $15 an hour still has the same buying power of minimum wage but now all the people who were making $15 an hour and continue to make that much all have the buying power of minimum wage. Think for a minute, what would happen to your lifestyle and buying power if the minimum wage was set at what you make now?

You are not suggesting that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would somehow cause those making $15 already to get raises right? Because that's not how it works, the people making $15 keep making $15. What "adjusts" as a result is the value of a dollar, it becomes less for everyone.

They tried trusting them, then newspapers investigated and found out how widespread the resulting abuse was. Here is a hint: responsible people are not on welfare. It's not a program for responsible people. Basic human motivation thingy and welfare works like this:
If I can make $450 a week on welfare but only $400 a week working then I will never ever get a job, take the $450 away and that $400 looks pretty good.

Yes, the moment I said nobody is going to subsidize with 5 times the amount it actually costs now.

Right but then I gave an example of how we pay 50 to 100 times as much for acetaminophen as a result of subsidies.
Here is another, university in your country is free for all right? Here in America we have special government loans and vouchers and private university costs $35,000 a year on average. What do you think the actual cost to provide a year of university education is?

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If you assume the burger joints are private enterprises you are correct, but then if you are trying to provide a free service, why would you have a profit making entity supplying that service; why would government not ony susidize the recipients of the burger, but subsidize private enterprise too. It doesnt work, because its structurally incoherent.
Supply needed services without a profit motive, and it all starts to work well.

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Does the US government own cattle? Corn farms? does the government grow wheat? Does it own operate meat packing plants? Does the government have restaurants in every town?

No, the government is not really capable of such things, the government acquires goods and services by contracting with private enterprises.

The government operates printing presses to make money but did you know that they buy the paper for the money from a private manufacturer?
Without a profit motive who would take the contracts?

Supply needed services without a profit motive, and it all starts to work well.

This is not a service but a product but can you provide an example of that in the US?

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Non-profit does not automatically mean government provided, there are mutual societies, public benefit corporations etc. But even if the government does provide burgers, healthcare and schooling, what relevance does the supply chain have? So the buns come from a private bakery, the mark-up on the assembled burger is still zero and a government has significantly higher purchasing power than any individual restaurant chain.

Why limit the conversation to the US, that seems like you are saying just because US culture has not managed public services properly, that it's an impossibility, but why would that be the case?

Also a product like a burger, becomes a part of a service provision if it is offered as a benefit, playing semantics with products/services does not prove a point. Schools supply books, hospitals bandages etc.

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Textbooks are a great example of something that is overpriced because of government subsidies. The kids who use the books don't pay for them, if they did then they wouldn't cost so much. A textbook like a school uses usually cost like $80 or more, if everyone bought them themselves and there was a free market for textbooks they would be priced more along the line of things like notebooks and pencils which are incredibly cheap.

My example is about the US, if you have a great example from another country I would be interested but it may not apply here.