Taking a Bad Idea and Expanding It

The cost of healthcare in America has been distorted by the irrational coupling of health insurance to employment. And now, Professor Jeremy Wiesen of the New York University Business School, author of an op-ed in today’s Projo, has an even worse idea — he wants to couple your home mortgage to your employment!
Professor Wiesen is wrong to characterize this as some sort of “free-market” idea. Markets require choices, but the mechanism he suggests for implementing his home mortgage plan…

Congress can help this employer initiative by not taxing the benefit to employees,
…is the same mechanism which has played a major role in creating a system where the only choice people have is to take-or-leave an insurance plan from one company selected by their employer, effectively destroying the free-market for healthcare.
Professor Wiesen suggests that…
Unlike the government’s public-private “partnership” and many other proposals now put forth, employer involvement would have both immediate impact and be a long-term solution, and would be implemented through an infrastructure already in place — companies’ human-resources department.
But it is only big companies with big HR departments that could reasonably take something like this on, which would bring the existing division in the healthcare market between people who work for big companies and people who work for small companies/for themselves to the home mortgage market. That doesn’t seem like a positive development.
And do we really want a system where, for instance, teachers in Tiverton might go on strike demanding that the town provide them better interest rates on their home loans? Under Professor Wiesen’s plan, that scenario would be no more bizarre than teachers striking against the town demanding lower prices for their healthcare.
Please don’t tell me that that there are lots of people out there who think this is a sensible suggestion.

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