(L35) The United States: Healthcare and Antitrust

1.) What are some of the factors that have contributed to rising health-care costs in the United States?

The birth of the rise in health care costs can be pinpointed in WWII. It was during this time that businesses were desperate to attract labor, but they couldn’t raise wages because the government had frozen the price. So, to compensate for this, businesses began to offer employer-supplied medical insurance; it was not considered a wage increase and thus, could not be taxed. After the war, labor unions demanded employer financed medical insurance be a continuous part of their contracts. This forced the hand of nonunion businesses to also provide health insurance in hopes of avoiding unionization. The result of all of this was that medical care was barely paid for out of pocket by Americans, which in turn caused people to care much less about price comparing. Since the client was not the one paying, (their employer was), health care suppliers then developed an incentive to offer high cost treatments. Ultimately, this created an ongoing price increase in the healthcare business.

2.) How is the actual history of antitrust different from what the average person probably thinks it is?

Antitrust is generally presented to the public as program that would help people pay ‘fair’ prices, and favor consumers. In reality however, the antitrust acts (Sherman Antitrust Act, 1980 and Federal Trade Commission Act, 1914) did the opposite of favoring consumers, and created a history of attacking successful and efficient businesses. One example of this would be the US vs. American Tobacco, in which this ness had merged with other smaller companies, (but not created a monopoly); American Tobacco was able to raise product output all the while lowering prices. There was still easy entry into the tobacco industry for competitors, and no consumers were being harmed whatsoever. However the US government decided to step in to punish and limit them by law, for favoring consumers.


World War II Across The Globe (L135)

From the readings and lectures, in what sense did World War II become more “global” during its first two or two-and-a-half years?

World War II began in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland. Having divided it, and most of the rest of eastern Europe, the Germans then decided to  move into western Europe. Blitzkrieg, or “lightning war” is what they called it. As Hitler ravenously attacked the west, he gained control of northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, half of Poland, a chunk of Lithuania, and a piece of Czechoslovakia.
In 1940 Italy got involved and declared war on France, happily taking a piece that was next to Italy. (Mussolini had found himself sympathizing with Hitler in the 30s.) Then, from August to November of 1940, the Battle of Britain raged. The Germans attempted to bomb the British into submission (even though they had agreed not to assemble an air-force in the Versailles Treaty). In April of 1941 there was made a Soviet – Japanese Non-Aggression Pact, so when the Germans attacked the Soviets a few months later in June, it really marked the beginning of brutal war. 3,000 miles of fronts, and millions of troops; Operation Barbarossa was the largest military campaign in history.
December 7th, 1941, FDR dangled the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, after having cut off trade with Japan. Both of these being considered acts of aggression, FDR was not in a position to have to fire the first shot (as he hoped he would not have to be).  December 11th, Germany declared war on the United States.
Things turned tumultuous quickly, and many parts of the world were drawn into war in just the first two years. Global war became contagious, and death was the price.