Sunday, May 3, 2015

Don't drop the hammer

Old NFO commented on an earlier post regarding "The Affordable Care Act", aka, Obamacare:

Reality is hitting home for a LOT of folks now. Costs are just one of the issues... The cut in hours and pay is the REAL bottom line impact, and that is spreading across the country. When you add in the $15/hr push, it's going to get ugly, IMHO.

The reference is to the fact that Obamacare kicks in after a worker clocks more than 28 hours a week.  That was one of the "gifts" of Obamacare, to lower the definition of full-time work from 32.1 hours to 28.1 hours.

Assuming a cost of $12,000 per year, going from 27.9 hours per week to 28.1 hours per week adds an additional $8.50 per hour to the cost of employing that person.

Dirac Delta

In numerical simulations, system responses are sometimes characterized by stimulating the system with a "Dirac Delta" function.  Basically, the Dirac Delta is a hammer blow.  It is a pulse with energy "1.0" and an infinitely sharp delivery.  The only dynamics that will not be lit up are the ones that have a node at the point of excitation.

Step functions are similar to half of a Dirac Delta.   The magic is in their infinite sharpeness.

Flipping benefits ON at a single trigger-point is a step function.  THAT is the cause of the noise and pain in the employment market.  The answer is to not drop the hammer onto the deck.  The answer is to gently lay the hammer onto a rubber mat.

A better idea

I hate the idea of this legislation.  It is akin to making home owners in South Dakota buy hurricane and earthquake insurance.

But people are hurting.

The proposal is to ramp the benefits. 

The crudest way would be to "step" the benefits in, say, quarters.  An example would be where the employer picks up 25% of the health insurance when the employee works between 10-and-20 hours/week, 50% when the employee works between 20-and-30 hours/week, 75%: 30-to-40 hours/week, and 100% when the employee works over 40 hours a week.

But why be crude?  Everybody has a computer.  Even businesses can afford them.  The percentage split between the individual and the employer can be calculated right down to the tenth of an hour. 

If increasing employment rolls is a political major consideration then the "pro-rated share" for hours over 40/week can be tossed into a kitty to subsidize the unemployed.  That removes the incentive for employers to work individuals in excess of 40hrs/week to avoid picking up additional workers who would incur that pro-rated share.

Then, the employer becomes supremely indifferent to the dance over that tenth-of-an-hour at 28 hours/week.  They will work their best employees as much as possible but have minimal incentive to grind them into the ground.  They would lose the fetish of flushing employees out of the building just shy of 28 hours.


  1. Interesting approach, and that would conceivably work, except in union controlled areas. They don't want to pay ANYTHING for their cadillac obamacare...

    1. Unions will negotiate their own +++ contracts. Federal law defines the floor.

      By my figuring, the easiest way to implement this proposal would be to give every employee an Health Savings Account (HSA) and roll about 25 cents into it for every tenth-of-an-hour worked into it.

      Effectively, it ends up being a $2.50/hour increase in the minimum wage.

      Owners of the HSAs then have the obligation to purchase the best insurance policy they can with the funding in the HSA.

      Businessmen who hire many part-time workers are not exploiting a "loop-hole". They are exercising their fiduciary responsibility to maximize return on the "owner's" investment. The problem is not the specific values in the law. The problem is in the structure of the law.

      Attempts to give a certain constituency a "gift" produces a backlash from the constituents who must actually pay for that "gift".

      If a red-neck from Eaton Rapids can figure this out, then one must conclude that those passing this law never intended for it to be successful.

      Those of us who are conservatives better have a viable end-game.

    2. Well said sir. And again a perfectly sensible answer! Too bad it'll never fly...

    3. Well said sir. And again a perfectly sensible answer! Too bad it'll never fly...

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