Health care costs and taxes are intertwined

    So, Harley-Davison Inc. wants out? After a $22 million tax hit last year, can we blame them? They are not alone, and what else can we expect?

    High health care costs, high union labor costs, and corporate taxes have all played a role in Wisconsin’s job losses, and only controlling these will put Wisconsin back in a competitive jobs position.

    Indeed high labor costs play a role, and our union members must look at these realistically. Did they ask for too much, and get what they asked for? Are more reasonable wages better than no jobs at all?

    Yes, workers must compete with foreign labor, and the CEOs do not. They can send overseas everybody’s job but their own. That they are legally protected behind a sweetheart board of directors is a matter for our politicians, but as long as the Pols get a piece of the action, I expect no governance.

    These are always sensitive questions when we see CEOs and executives getting $10 million in salaries, bonuses and stock options they don’t deserve. But theirs is a race to the top, and zero American labor costs can help them get there. Of course, they work for conflicted boards of directors, and shareholders have no say in how their company is run.

    So live with it.

    There are two issues Wisconsin politicians must address:

    • Business taxes: They are passed on to the consumer anyway, so those businesses that do not outsource and instead employ Wisconsin workers should pay zero taxes, or at least get a subsidy for every Wisconsin worker hired.
    • Health care: Businesses should get behind a Wisconsin single-payer health care bill that will supplant the federal reform bill. ObamaCare is terribly lacking, and we can do better… for our people and our businesses.

    Forget about help from your business association. They have a number of members who are either health insurers or commissioned brokers. and they certainly do not want to lose those members. And some, like the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) arrange or sell health insurance to their members and like the revenue stream. Both are opposite to the best interests of the remaining members, though some associations will justify their positions by ideologically lambasting “big government.”


    Business leaders must strike out on their own when battling the health care issue. We have outgrown the need for the middle-man insurance industry, just as we have other obsolete commodities (home land lines, first class mail services, etc.). And even business co-ops to reduce costs, when – if done right – we could totally eliminate them from the business expense.

    So who would pay for this new health care system?

    If we are smart, the same people who are paying today: the taxpayers. Or through a surcharge on criminal fines, as they do in Arizona to fund their elections. We are already paying through higher consumer prices and lost jobs, but if we paid through our infrastructure, we’d save more than enough dollars to extend health care to 100 percent of our citizens.


    Jack Lohman is a retired business owner from Colgate, Wisconsin, and author of "Politicians – Owned and Operated by Corporate America." He is the publisher of

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