1. The high costs of cartel healthcare, a.k.a. Sickcare in the U.S. Corporate America and small business share one millstone: the absurdly high costs of healthcare in the U.S., which have been pushed onto the employers more as a historical accident than out of rational policy.
Here is a report worth studying: UNDERSTANDING U.S. HEALTH CARE SPENDING: 5 percent of the population is responsible for almost 50 percent of all healthcare spending. At the other end, half of the population accounts for just 3 percent of spending.
That 8% of "extra" money our nation squanders on paperwork, fraud, profiteering, needless procedures, useless drugs, $250,000 spent on the last few months of very ill patients' lives and all the rest of the insane sickcare system comes to $1.25 trillion. That is a "tax" on the economy which is paid mostly by employers, the self-employed and taxpayers via the monumental waste in Medicare and Medicaid.
2. Politicos and employees don't understand small business. How many politicos started a business from scratch and are still running a small business of 25 or fewer employees? Basically none. How many employees understand what it feels like to be skating close to the edge of emotional and financial collapse, month after month?
Employees wonder why their pay isn't rising, but the employer's compensation costs have been steadily climbing for decades thanks to sickcare and other systemic costs. As I have often said here: you'd have to be literally insane to hire anyone in this economy unless that employee will pull in so much new business that the costs are justified. Unfortunately, that is a rare circumstance.
Out-of-touch politicos think that trimming the employer's share of FICA (Social Security) 2% is going to make a measurable difference in a 100% labor overhead (i.e. you hire a worker at $2,000 per month and the overhead costs $2,000 per month)--what a joke. Great, my overhead per employee dropped to 98% from 100% while my sickcare insurance leaps by 10% a year.
5. The "flexible, free-lance/ independent contractor" model of employment which has been lauded for the past decade as the key to America's rising productivity has some serious downsides--and I should know, as I've been a free-lancer for 20 years.
The basic "innovation" here is to offload that 100% overhead expense onto the employee via paying them more as an independent contractor or free-lancer. But that model has numerous structural weaknesses.
-- I.C.s (independent contractor) don't qualify for unemployment, so when they lose steady work there is no backup income. There is no 6 or 9 months' grace period where the free-lancer can work on Plan B--they're relying on savings the moment they cash their last paycheck.
-- We free-lancers pay our own taxes quarterly. Once your income drops then it's dangerously tempting to short-change that next quarterly payment or skip it entirely. Yes, you will owe less because you're making less money, but those with formal jobs don't realize we all pay 15% FICA (self-employed Social Security) on every dollar earned. Toss in state and Federal income taxes and even supposedly low rates (15% Federal, etc.) quickly add up to 35% or more. That means big tax payments, and big tax problems if you fall behind.
-- Free-lancers' income can drop sharply but that won't be reflected in any employment statistic; it will only show up in declining tax revenues.
-- Laying off I.C.s and free-lancers is the low-hanging fruit for enterprises cutting back. Based on what I've read and heard, most of these initial "easy" cuts to head count have already been made. So the next wave of lay-offs will be formal employees.