Op-Ed: Let’s Pay Nurses Minimum Wage!!

Op-Ed: Let’s Pay Nurses Minimum Wage!!

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Every morning I wake up and thank God that we still have some Republicans in Congress. Representative John Shadegg (R) from Arizona, is one of those blessings. He has introduced a bill in Congress called the Nursing Reform Act of 2009. The bill calls for increasing work visas for foreign nurses (and their spouses). When passed, it will eliminate the nursing shortage!

This bill is great on so many levels. For one, everyone knows that healthcare is costing us an arm and a leg (pun intended). The biggest causes are obviously nurses and nursing unions. Nurses are way overpaid, but unfortunately the healthcare corporations have not been able to break the nursing unions because of the shortage of nurses. By bringing in lots of foreigners, they can flood the market with labor, break the unions, and get nursing salaries down to where they belong — somewhere around what retail pays. If only there weren’t that law capping the number of foreign nurses we allow in the country… As a side benefit, the bill allows for nurses’ spouses to get unrestricted work visas as well, so it will help bring down salaries in all sorts of other industries as well!

The true brilliance of this bill (thank you Mr. Shadegg!) is in the way it is written. It doesn’t bring them all in at once. It starts out with 50,000 new visas the first year, which is a low enough number that people will “buy it” and the bill can get passed. Supporters of the bill have had to go to great lengths to say that nursing salaries will be unchanged, which of course will be true at first. However, the genius in the bill (evil grin) is that the number of allowable visas automatically goes up 20% per year, so it will be 60,000 visas in year two, 72,000 visas in year three, 86,400 visas by year four, 103,680 by year five, and a whopping 124,416 by year six! The bill states that “According to the Department of Labor, the current national nursing shortage exceeds 126,000.” Therefore, the nursing shortage will be solved in about six short years, and healthcare companies can get back to earning the kind of money they deserve! Incidentally, this is just the approach that was so successful in cutting the salaries earned by information technology workers about 10 years ago. Corporate profits were getting impacted by high IT costs, so our brilliant Congress increased the number of H1-B visas, and companies were able to hire cheap workers from India and other places. Thank you, Congress! Later, many of these foreign workers returned to their homelands and brought the work with them. Now, corporate America doesn’t have to pay high salaries, and they don’t even have to look at the foreigners anymore — they can just write a little check to India. Bravo! Fortunately, information technology salaries have never rebounded to the levels where they were.

But I digress. Back to nursing. Let’s face it, nursing is difficult, degrading work. Nurses sometimes have to wipe feces, for Christ’s sake. We’re Americans and we’re better that that! We can certainly find some Indians, Filipinos, or Chinese to do that work, ridding self-respecting Americans of the need to perform that dirty job. The last 20 years have been a long road, but we’ve come a long way, baby. We’ve rid ourselves of the burden of almost all manufacturing jobs, call center jobs, and as mentioned earlier, many information technology jobs. Fortunately, we Americans don’t need to do those things anymore. This bill is the first step down the same glorious road for healthcare. It was recently reported that in 2009, over 6 million Americans will travel abroad for surgery (http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/27/india.medical.travel/index.html). Once these foreign nurses are fluent in “American-style healthcare,” many can return home to help proliferate cheap healthcare services to those Americans that can afford to fly overseas. Think of the opportunities this will create for the airline industry and the beloved industries that support the airline industry — like jet fuel suppliers and Boeing!

President Obama reportedly wants to solve the nursing shortage by training unemployed Americans for these jobs. As usual, that guy has it all bass-ackwards. First of all, we Americans are too good to be nurses. Second of all, it would be tough to train enough new nurses to break the unions and get nursing wages down to retail wage levels. Only India and China, with their billions of people, are capable of rapidly flooding the market with enough labor. Third, everyone knows that the millions of unemployed Americans are lazy, good-for-nothings that are not smart enough or good enough to be nurses. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be unemployed in the first place, right? Fourth, training Americans to be nurses is expensive. Why, in Mr. Shadegg’s home state of Arizona, the high unemployment rate and falling tax revenue have forced the state funded university (Arizona State), to cut its nursing program by 26% in terms of students accepted into the program (http://nursing.asu.edu/general/deans_welcome.htm). Let’s face it, with unemployment so high, we just can’t afford to train Americans to be nurses. Perhaps if we cut taxes on all of the oppressed wealthy Americans, we could afford to train more nurses…

Opponents of this bill will probably say that John Shadegg has sold out to the healthcare industry. I say, phooey! They will probably point out that In the campaign finance cycle for 2008, he received over $244,000 from the healthcare sector, over $168,000 of which was from healthcare political action committees (http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/industries.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00006425). That may be true, but Mr. Shadegg is a patriot! He would NEVER let campaign contributions influence the legislation he introduces or sway his vote in any way.

My only criticism of the bill is that it doesn’t go far enough. Perhaps it’s not too late. I would urge Mr. Shadegg to expand this legislation so that we bring in an additional 50,000 foreign doctors, 50,000 foreign dentists, 50,000 foreign lawyers, 50,000 foreign engineers, and 310 learned people for “government positions” (254 to take the Democratic congressional seats and 56 to take the Democratic Senate seats, ha ha ha!!!!!). Clearly, overpaid nurses are not the only problem we face as Americans. My fellow Americans, we must remember, what’s good for American corporations is good for America. We’ve come a long way, but there are still some high paying jobs that are held by Americans. With the help of patriots like Mr. Shadegg, we can fix that!

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116 Comments on "Op-Ed: Let’s Pay Nurses Minimum Wage!!"


Guest
Chris
Apr 5, 2009

You have links in this article for everything but the Nursing Reform Act of 2009. I checked Shadegg’s site and Googled the phrase and can’t find anything. Can you please provide a link to the legislation or a news source that covered it?

Guest
Grant
Apr 5, 2009

I think this is an April Fool’s joke that missed its deadline by four days.

Guest
Apr 5, 2009

This is not an April Fool’s joke. The bill is HR1001, titled “To create a new nonimmigrant visa category for registered nurses, and for other purposes”. It can be found on the Library of Congress’ Thomas site:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d111:6:./temp/~bduCff::|/bss/|

Guest
Apr 5, 2009

While I agree that nursing wages are inflated, I highly doubt that reducing their pay to minimum wage would help the nursing crises. Who in their right mind would go through all the training, endure wiping up feces, and shoulder the emotional burden dying patients all for 7.50 an hour?
Opening the doors to more foreign nurses sounds like a great way to cut short term costs and temporarily boost their ranks. However, over the long term, such a proposal would worsen the nursing shortage.

Guest

Brava! But there is an much cheaper way. Instead of bringing so many low-wage immigrants over here, you can just set up phone centers in Bangalore and have people get their medical care through VOIP:
“Press 1 if you have a pain in your head. Press 2 if you’re feverish. Press 3 if you feel nauseated….”

Guest
Peg
Apr 5, 2009

Actual title: Nursing Relief Act of 2009. Read it here: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1001/show

Guest
dan weberg
Apr 5, 2009

Do any of you even know what nurses deal with on a day to day basis, or the care level that is provided from the different training levels. This letter is not only sorely off the mark, but it is short sighted republican B.S. cut nurses salaries and die in the hospital. I am all for healthcare reform, but you can’t refute the evidence that nursing care is the number one determinant for better outcomes in hospitals. So you can cut the schools, and cut the wages and you can all die in the hospital hoping that your overworked physician comes in and finds the small bleed developing in your stomach from the fact that the medication tech has not gotten to your protonix. Or when your mother is dying in the hospital I hope chatting with the 18 year old GED qualified bathing tech will comfort you in your time of need and explain why the 18 tubes emerging from her are needed. I also feel sorry for the physicians who will be forced to actually sit in hospitals for 12 hours shifts because they are getting their asses sued off from the wrongful deaths left and right. I also wonder what your ED will look like when under-trained and experienced EMTs are your only hope during a heart attack.
This article is not only a joke, but written by an poor angry soul with not insight into what heatlhcare really is, and no idea how to fix it. Maybe you should look at the over paid physicians, or the over priced supplies, or the needless waste of hospital spending and start working on solutions to save lives, not take them.

Guest
Apr 5, 2009

Splendid post!
I’ll see your minimum wage and raise you!
http://hootsbuddy.blogspot.com/2009/04/minimum-wage-as-economic-stimulus-part.html
Seriously, after working in and around health care during seven years of post-retirement, it is my observation that the industry would crash and burn without its many immigrant workers. That bit about “…we Americans are too good to be nurses” may not be too far off the mark. Most of the world has cultural values aimed at taking care of others, especially the elderly, that we seem to have left behind in a rush to care only for ourselves. To many of us have a blame-the-victim mentality, whether it be aimed at those with low-paying jobs, poor health or limited education.
(But hey, we sure keep up with afternoon TV and sports like no place else on earth!)

Guest
g
Apr 5, 2009

I became an RN in 1977 & have been working full time since then. Today I make $26.26/hour. Please please tell me where the nurses are “overpaid” so I can move there! Quick.

Guest
js
Apr 5, 2009

Perhaps our problem is not an under-supply of nurses but rather an over-supply of patients–and who better to help with that than nurses?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/us/03nurse.html?ref=us

Guest
Apr 5, 2009

js
In the South we call that “tacky.”

Guest
Nate
Apr 5, 2009

hehe Dan; “but it is short sighted republican B.S.”
look up the word sarcasm. This was written by a far left progressive who thinks to highly of their comedic skill. Nice job attacking the right for left side projection though!

Guest
Nate
Apr 5, 2009

There is a much simpler solution to this without offering any visas. Your worried about finding people to wipe ass and care for others for minimum wage, I can do you better.
Pass a law outlawing illegal nannies in CA, NY, NJ, and other liberal bastions of arrogance, I know it seems strange to outlaw something that is already illegal but when it comes to raising their kids and their gardens liberals love them illegals. These nannies already have the experience wiping ass and caring for the spoiled entitlement class, the uninsured should be an improvement for them. And a large number of them already make less then minimum wage so we could save even more money.
There is also a huge gain on the other side, unlike liberals, especially those appointed to office, most corporations actually pay their payroll taxes. Instead of hundreds of thousands of illegal nannies making less then minimum wage and having no taxes paid we will have nurses contributing to care and the tax base. This is win win for everyone except the liberal elite who will actually have to deal with their entitled brats now.

Guest
bev M.D.
Apr 5, 2009

This post seems to come from outer space, but it does raise a point – why aren’t more nurses trained in this country? The nursing organizations’ standard answer is that there are not enough nursing instructors. Why are there not enough nursing instructors? Supposedly because a master’s or PhD is required to instruct, and nurses with these degrees can make much more $$ elsewhere (like in hospital administration).
I cannot vouch for the validity of these arguments, but I do not believe there is a shortage of American applicants for nursing school.
My own experience is that foreign nurses have been with us since my days in medical school in the 70’s, when many were recruited from Vietnam. So I am not sure whether there has been a nursing school instructor shortage for the last 40 years, or what. Perhaps Congress needs to investigate this before a knee-jerk reaction to import more foreign nurses – especially with our current jobless rate.

Guest
Brandy
Apr 5, 2009

As a senior year nursing student, I would like you to tell me where you are getting the idea that nurses are overpaid?? I’m going to be graduating 80k in debt for all of the education I have gone through to become a RN and I think you are off your rocker if you want nurses to be paid retail wages, which require very little knowledge about anything. Also, nurses do more than wipe feces. Sometimes, in some areas of nursing, it’s required to help someone out in need but there are many other things that nurses do that aren’t “degrading”. How about we take money away from the 10 million dollar a year salary of an overpaid athlete that can throw a basketball in a hoop or a NFL football player and put that towards healthcare costs?… Those are overpaid careers… not nursing… your comments are crazy and make anyone that’s a republican look bad if thats their mindset on the matter. Also, don’t you think foreign countries need their own nurses? Stop being so ethnocentric and think about the whole picture.