Here is a great editorial rom the Northwestern about jobs.

We NEED a national health plan in America to be able to compete in the world.

Posted July 20, 2004

Editorial: A Canadian wake up call for state, national leaders

Of all of the economic shakeouts of the past 30 years, folks in Oshkosh figured there was always a safe haven in the city’s storied manufacturers. Even while low-skilled manufacturing jobs were heading down south and then offshore, there was a belief that high-skilled jobs were safe from being shipped to places like Mexico and China.

Then came the Canadian wake-up call.

When the parent company of Leach Co. announced that nearly 200 manufacturing jobs were heading north of the border last month, it was a double-stunner. Plant closing stories typically include a reference to jobs moving to a third world locale where workers’ earnings pale in comparison to Oshkosh wages.

Alberta, Canada — Medicine Hat, to be specific — isn’t exactly a third world country. But it is home to a plant of a Federal Signal Corp. subsidiary (Wittke Inc.) where production of Leach vehicles will be shifted by early next year.

Now, you might be scratching your head wondering how Canada managed to land the jobs with roughly the same working conditions and costs as the United States. A special report in Sunday’s Northwestern examined that question and the findings were an eye-opener.

“The company’s choice in relocating there (Medicine Hat) sounds likely to me, to have been driven by health insurance costs,” said Kevin McGee, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

McGee figures keeping workers in Oshkosh instead of Medicine Hat would have cost an additional $4.50 per hour per employee in health insurance costs. Add to that labor expenses, and the cost grows to $10.50 per hour more to keep jobs in Oshkosh in a union plant versus a non-union facility in Canada.

The fact that Canada has a national health plan has not been lost on anyone who has followed the issue of prescription medicine and the substantially lower cost of Canadian drugs that has driven many seniors and governments north of the border looking for relief.

The loss of Leach jobs adds another even more pressing cry for our state and national leadership to tackle exploding healthcare costs which is costing us not only money — but jobs. Elections this fall give us a great opportunity to hear from candidates how they plan to tackle this complex problem.

It is time elected officials acknowledge that health care costs have become the rat in the pantry that needs to be dealt with. The original concern about health care cost centered around two issues. The first being the equitable availability of insurance and health care and the second being the drag on the economy it created as workers had less disposable income. Now the country needs to recognize how rising health care costs are capable to sending good paying manufacturing jobs to Canada.

In Oshkosh and other communities around the nation, health care costs could be the penultimate issues in the 2004 presidential election because the system is not working.

Just ask the employees at Leach.

The final thought: Unchecked health care costs may become biggest threat to U.S. economy