Friday, February 7, 2014

Job Lock? Tell me about it...

When the Congressional Budget Office released its latest assessment of the impact of Obamacare on the economy this week, we discovered that nearly 2.5 million jobs will be lost because people have been “liberated” from something called job lock. Apparently, this is a condition afflicting many Americans who have been holding on to their jobs for one reason and one reason only, so they wouldn’t lose their health insurance. Now that Obamacare has broken the bond between employment and health insurance, and provided tax-payer subsidies to pay the premiums, millions of Americans will now be freed from their jobs, freed to pursue their dreams, perhaps to write poetry as Nancy Pelosi predicted many months ago.

So, job lock enters the lexicon, defined as a horrible dream killing condition that heartlessly requires people to work for a living. Thanks to Obamacare, we can now tell our bosses to take a hike, secure in the knowledge that our neighbor’s taxes will pay our health insurance premiums. This is what passes for liberation in 2013 America.

Well, I should point out that some of us have been suffering from job lock for years, and it has had precious little to do with health insurance. Below is a partial list of the many factors that have had me locked to my job for 31 years now:

My wife

My mortgage

My pesky kids and their education

My desire for nice vacations

My fondness for fine dining

My selfish insistence on driving a Cadillac CTS

My pending retirement

Now, before any of you start plastering my Facebook wall with accusations of insensitivity, let me say that I’m sure for some of the 2.5 million people in the CBO report, Obamacare has indeed allowed them to quit a job they may have only kept for purposes of having health insurance, and for them that is a good and happy thing. I can and have made the argument in the past that coupling health insurance with employment was a policy mistake made after World War II that has hidden the true cost of coverage from ordinary Americans and therefore distorted the market for it. But to hear every Democratic politician greeting the news that there will be 2.5 million LESS people working as magically transformative news has been rather disgusting. Yes, in an era that has seen record numbers of people simply stop looking for work and at a time when only 62% of able bodied adults are participating in the work force, we celebrate the news of even more?

I can’t wait for the New York Times headline the next time some big American business announces a mass layoff…Microsoft Liberates 5,000 Job Locked Workers!