Uh-oh, Jeff Wennberg, head of the right-wing Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, has found himself some statistics. And they’ve led him to a really creative conclusion:
Vermont is in trouble because we’re too generous to the elderly and the poor.
That’s the grim takeaway from his latest opinion piece, posted on VTDigger.
The stats in question show a population shift among young adults; Vermont suffered a net loss of educated people and a net gain of those with less than a high school diploma. The numbers come from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Well, actually, they’re not really statistics; they’re estimates. And they date from the years 2005 to 2007 — according to Wennberg, “the most recent period available.”
I don’t necessarily accept these statistics as the final word on Vermont demographics, but just for the time being, let’s play along with Jeff. The shift, according to his chosen statistics:
Vermont suffered an estimated net loss of 704 people between the ages of 22 and 39. Among those with a high school degree and some college the loss was 44 individuals. But within this same age group Vermont suffered a net loss of 1,044 people with associate’s degrees or above. Over the same period Vermont imported a net 498 22- to 39-year-olds with less than a high school diploma.
To put it another way, smart people move out, dumb people move in. And why is this, pray tell, Mr. Wennberg?
The first culprit is Vermont’s insistence on “community rating,” which bars health insurance providers from charging different rates to different age groups. See, by Jeff’s calculus, young people with good jobs are so weighed-down by the burden of subsidizing Grandpa’s health care that they flee the state. And if we only adopted VHCF’s free-market approach to health care, we’d stop losing young people.
Ignoring all other factors, such as greater opportunities elsewhere for many professions. And ignoring the moral and ethical dimension of letting insurance companies charge ultra-high premiums to senior citizens.
Also ignoring the other problems with ending “community rating,” like discouraging employers from hiring older workers and imposing ultra-high premiums on businesses in riskier fields, such as logging or granite carving or road contracting or manufacturing.
But that’s not the most outrageous thing in Wennberg’s piece. That would be his assertion that Vermont’s antipoverty programs are too generous, drawing poor people to our state like a hot pie on a windowsill:
Young families with children who rely on public assistance for health care, housing or basic subsistence would be hard pressed to find a more attractive state.
Great. Let’s impose Wennberg’s Galtian regime. Let’s get rid of those whiny old people and those poverty-ridden parasites, and watch Vermont thrive.
And feel your soul wither.