No “gut” involved at all. First of all, when I use the term “zero price” I refer to the point on the demand curve where price=0. In some cases the demand function will be asymptotic approaching p=0. In some cases not. If we remove co-pays we can think of that as setting the marginal price of healthcare at p=0. p=0 is a special case or boundary condition. If the copay was non-zero that would be off the boundary condition. Im not clear why a 1c or $1 copay would really disincentivize more people than it would persuade to not be wasteful of resources. But that is the nature of the discussion. In the UK, some things - like prescriptions - do involve charges unless you are in a special means-tested category. I dont see why that kind of thing would be so bad in the US. Even after the UK has defunded its healthcare system its still way better for ordinary people than the US system.
In the following - where there is invective it is not directed at you but at economics.
Disagree completely. The broad thrust of neclassical economics is just peddling neoliberal thinking. There are other branches of economics - its not obvious to me why neoclassical economics is so popular when it has explained pretty close to nothing that has happened over the last 40 years. Take for example the dot.com crash - nope no prediction. Or the banking collapse in 2008 - absolutely nothing, no one operating in the conventional paradigm say it coming. In the conventional neoclassical paradigm the whole thing shouldn’t have happened. Indeed there is not even a viable theory of money in the standard neoclassical model. As we say in the UK its just a load of bollox which has two really useful characteristics
It justifies then status quo.
It explains that rich people are rich because they have contributed more (justifying the status quo).
You dont require economics to define inequality - thats some trivial arithmetic or mathematics. Corrado Gini of the eponymous coefficient wasnt an economist but a statistician and sociologist - no need to define a whole new subject. Its true that the study of economics is, at least in part, the study of inequality. However whats striking to me is how its also the way the agenda gets set and the rationalization for policies which created much of the inequality in the first place.
David Ricardo is my favorite example of economics as nothing more than advocacy. Ricardo argument against the corn laws was entirely in service of the new industrialists. I like the way he constructed his argument but it clear that the argument for free trade came after the development of a substantial class of people who would benefit from free trade. The joy of the Ricardo example is economics as advocacy has clearly been going on a long time.
So lets look at the neoclassicals like that fucktard Samuelson or Dornbush etc. Name any you want pretty much. These guys told us about the primacy of money supply which was the justification for the first wave of mass unemployment in the 70s. They also told us (in micro) about the importance of aligning incentives which is what justified the use of options as a means of rewarding CEOs and other C-suite thieves. Before their pernicious writing, CEOs might earn 5-10 times what the average employees earned. Now its 300x.
Do you really think companies are better managed today?
Keynes said that “practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”. You could take this as proof of the efficacy of economics as a discipline. I take it the other way - its proof that there is no absolute truth in economics - just rhetoric which is used to serve some slimeball’s interests, and usually the rich cos they are the guys with the money. These arguments come in and out of fashion and are simply mercenary - deployed to achieve a goal.
There is a case for studying economics - which is that regardless of whether we study the subject there will still be governments and they will conduct their policies. So we might as well understand what views have been held about various policies down the ages. However to think there is an absolute truth to be derived from the study of economics is I think obviously wrong. The best case I can construct is you get to highlight the fraud and cupidity of those claiming they are working for the public good. “Trickle down” my arse, for example.
As for needing economics to define rich or poor, I just cant accept that argument. I dont think I would trust economists with that kind of question. They have already disqualified themselves by being so useless for so long. I would leave it to pure mathematicians or just laymen.
Forgive the length.