Barack Obama editorial in the NY Times is another part of cranking up the left wing scream machine in effort to counter the detrimental effect townhall protesters have had on the Democrat’s health care grab. It is mostly appeals to emotion and the repeating of discredited talking points (to include the “AARP supports this” nonsense). But these lines especially caught my attention:
We are bound to disagree, but let’s disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.
They totally contradict this line within the same editorial:
I hear more and more stories like these every single day, and it is why we are acting so urgently to pass health-insurance reform this year.
This is a familiar Obama tactic. Give lip service through high sounding rhetoric about “serious debate”, but in reality be focused on “urgently pass[ing] health insurance this year” and avoiding debate. It is supposed to fool you into thinking he’s committed to debate while in reality he’s trying to push this legislation through as quickly as possible.
Serious debates are not time sensitive – they go on until the debate is settled to everyone’s satisfaction. That is not at all Obama or the Democrat’s intent.
That takes us to the most disingenuous line in the op/ed:
In the end, this isn’t about politics.
That, of course, is nonsense on stilts. In the end, this is all about politics and that point is demonstrated by the rush to pass the legislation.
If, as Obama asserts, this is about “people’s lives and livelihoods” and also a “complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate”, then you have to ask – what’s the rush? Don’t “complicated and critical issues” deserve close scrutiny and extended debate?
On the other hand, if he actually believes it is about “people’s lives and livelihoods” and we must rush to accommodate the people, why does the bulk of the proposed legislation not kick in until 2013? If it’s not about politics, why is the implementation date one year after a second term would start? How does that start date support the rhetoric about the “urgency” of the matter?
In reality, there is no final bill and there has been no real debate anyone can point too in Congress. In fact it has taken the people going to townhall meetings and passionately expressing their displeasure to start the debate.
The “not about politics” is more of the glib Obama nonsense that people are beginning to see through. This is all politics – because he and the Democrats know that if they actually have a “serious debate”, this most likely wouldn’t pass. The rush to pass it is specifically to avoid that debate, gloss over the details and get it into law while Obama still has some political capital.
That effort, as we’ve seen through the polls, is in serious trouble now and Democrats can deny that or try to wave it away until the cows come home – but that won’t change anything.
However, and again despite Barack Obama’s rhetoric to the contrary (“But let’s make sure that we talk with one another, and not over one another.“), this op/ed is an attempt to talk over the opposition, not with it. And it is beginning of an attempt by the left to ramp up an effort to talk over the townhall protesters and lessen their obvious impact which has been negative for the administration. Again, if you don’t believe that, simply read where Obama contradicts his high sounding rhetoric by doing precisely what he condemns:
In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain.
Obviously, at least according to Obama, you can’t have a valid argument against his political health care prescription, but must instead be a “cynic” or “naysayer” trying to “exploit fear” for “political gain”.
And, of course, we all know Obama and the Democrats would never do that, don’t we?
For new readers, “QandO” is short for “Questions and Observations”.
- “Scientific proof” that Islam is the “correct religion” thanks to an electron- microscope. Yes, “molecules took beautiful shapes everytime they are exposed to air vibrations from reading the holy Quran or saying the word islam or the muslim call to prayer.” But is there scientific consensus?
- Apparently Hamas and al-Qaeda are fighting it out for the Gaza strip. 13 dead and 100 injured. Only al-Qaeda would declare Hamas as being “too liberal”. So how will the San Francisco anti-Israel protesters protest this? My guess is that somehow Bush will be the blame. Also note how hard the report tip-toes around identifying the Hamas opponents as al-Qaeda
- 60 Brooklyn New York seniors gave Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner an ear-full, with one of them calling him a crook who was trying to bankrupt the country. Weiner’s response? “You have a lot of good talking points”. Yeah, my guess is her “talking points” were in reaction to his talking points. You have to hope the Dems keep handling all of their constituent protesters in such an appallingly ham-fisted manner. Hard to turn old folks in a deep blue district into racist red-necks though, isn’t it?
- Zomblog does a terrific retrospective of the Bush/Hitler meme during the last 8 years that exposes the faux-outrage of both the media and the left for what it is. It’s a rather interesting reminder of how casual and how widespread it was. Just as interesting is the amnesia that both the media and left are seemingly suffering right now.
- Funny stuff. Exurban League has found the “new and improved” lefty bumper sticker and Tom Bevan has another example of a vicious and racist anti-Obama poster.
- Lefties are up in arms with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey after he came out in a WSJ editorial against Obama’s health care reform. You see, Mackey’s company self-insures and provides its own health care coverage. And it works. Mackey tops it off by saying we should be moving toward “less government control and more individual empowerment”. Liberals are enraged and boycotting, believing Mackey is biting the hand that fed him. I guess the entrepreneurial capitalist won out over the sniveling collectivist. He knows what got him where he is and it wasn’t government. Me? I’ve never shopped at Whole Foods, but I’m going to now.
- In all of this health care stuff, let’s not forget about cap-and-trade. The Heritage Foundation has a new analysis out. If the bill is passed and signed into law as is, look for a 58% increase in gas prices, a 90% increase in electricity prices, and a $3000 per family increase in goods and services. At a national level, we’ll see a loss of 9.4 trillion in aggregate GDP between 2012 and 2035 as well as a loss of 2.5 million jobs by 2035. Other than that, it’s a peachy keen bit of legislation.
- And for our “bad salesman tip” of the week – remember when you’re trying to sell government health care as an alternative to private health care, alway invoke UPS and FedEx as the good example and the USPS as the screwed up example. Heh … sometimes you just have to know when to shut up.
- Congressman Bart Stupak, D-MI validates the contention that most of the Democrats put party over country. Stupak told Detroit News columnist Frank Beckmann that protests weren’t going to deter him from voting yes on health care. He said, “We’re not going to allow a small, vocal minority to dissuade us (from) our goal.” IOW, “screw you folks, I’m just going through the motions in these townhalls, Nancy Pelosi has my vote”
What a load of crap:
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) claims that President Obama told him “he’s willing to be a one-term president if that’s what it takes to get health care and energy reform,” reports Radio Iowa.
Said Boswell: “The president (said), ‘I’m not going to kick the can down the road.‘ And he said that and I said, ‘Well, that’s something I’m kind of used to from southern Iowa, you know. I know about kicking the can down the road.’ And he said, ‘No, if it makes me a one-term president, I’m going to, we’re going to take it on because the country is in need of us taking this on.’ I respected that very much.”
But in the case of each issue when does it all actually take effect?
Oh, somewhere around 2013.
This is just shameless BS.
Michael Shermer has a very interesting post over at the HuffPo, surprisingly. It’s entitled “The Case For Libertarianism”. His thesis is that there actually are agreements in moral principle between conservatives and liberals and those agreements should be exploited to put a system together that would be mostly satisfying to both sides. Read his explanation as to how he arrives at that conclusion – it’s interesting.
But the list below is what he concludes would do the job. Surprisingly, or actually unsurprisingly since I gave you the title of his piece, it’s libertarian at base. Here’s his ideas of the limited governmental functions that would, or should, if they actually believe in their avowed moral principles, satisfy both sides (and libertarians as well):
1. The rule of law.
2. Property rights.
3. Economic stability through a secure and trustworthy banking and monetary system.
4. A reliable infrastructure and the freedom to move about the country.
5. Freedom of speech and the press.
6. Freedom of association.
7. Mass education.
8. Protection of civil liberties.
9. A robust military for protection of our liberties from attacks by other states.
10. A potent police force for protection of our freedoms from attacks by other people within the state.
11. A viable legislative system for establishing fair and just laws.
12. An effective judicial system for the equitable enforcement of those fair and just laws.
For the most part, his list is ok, but, being a libertarian, I disagree with one of them outright and disagree with the wording of a couple of others.
The one I outright disagree with is “mass education”. No. Not under the auspices of government. We’ve seen how that works – it doesn’t. Let’s not continue something that is obviously beyond the government’s capability.
10 – A military robust enough for protection of our liberties ….
11 – A police force potent enough ….
As for the banking system – yes, the point is valid and yes, I know that we’re pretty much stuck with what we have right now because it is a global system, but, given the last few months, I’m not at all sure it is the system I want in the future because I’m not at all sure it is either stable or secure. But that’s a topic for another time.
Last, but not least, yes, I understand that many infrastructure projects become reality because the people see their benefit and empower the government to use the power of taxation to fund them. My problem, of course, is how easily that power gets abused. Yes, I’d like a “reliable infrastructure”. But I’d also want strict controls over the government entities in charge of that. Again a topic for another time.
Notice, given the list, that he’s not talking about a large government. In fact, he’s talking about a “night watchman” type. One that would be pretty much limited to preventing the use of force or fraud by bad actors.
As much as I’d love to believe his conclusion that this would satisfy both conservatives and liberals, the last 40 years have a tendency to disabuse me of that notion.
You know I’ve watched the Southern Poverty Law Center’s rise over the years as the self-proclaimed expert on “extremist hate groups”. But what I’ve also deduced over those years, mostly by observing when and what we hear from them, is it is primarily an organization that sees the “right-wing” as the primary threat to America.
They’d most likely deny that and point to their “Hate Groups Map” and its inclusion of black separatist organizations, but they even put a caveat on their inclusion of them:
Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms. White groups espousing beliefs similar to Black Separatists would be considered clearly racist. The same criterion should be applied to all groups regardless of their color.
Other than a mention of what the organization is, i.e. Nation of Islam or New Black Panther party, and a short description of their beliefs, you’ll not find much on the SPLC’s website about what would be considered “leftist extremist” hate groups.
And you’ll find nothing in their legal docket where they’ve ever taken one of these groups on in court. One would think the voter intimidation by two New Black Panthers in Philadelphia that occurred in the last presidential election would be right in their sweet spot, but there is no indication whatsoever that such activity even caught their attention.
So it stands to reason that the SPLC loves it when a Democratic administration comes into being because it naturally plays into their primary focus and that elevates their importance (because gullible media outlets will naturally buy into what they’re selling) and we see the “rise of the right-wing militias” nonsense begin again.
Today’s featured gullible media outlet is ABC News, which breathlessly repeats, er, reports that, yup, those right-wing militias, they’re rising again:
Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.
Any guess as to what “experts” they’re talking about?
And you have to love the examples ABC News uses to transition into tarring the right as a bunch of racists:
The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading “Death to Obama” and “Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids” outside a town hall meeting this week. And in New Hampshire, another man stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his gun on full display.
Los Angeles police officers apprehended a man Thursday after a standoff with him inside a red Volkswagen Bug car in Westwood, CA – the latest disturbing case even though officials said the man had mental problems.
Ya think? Tell me, thinking back, did John Hinckley represented the “extremist left” when he shot Ronald Reagan? I don’t believe that question was ever raised by the SPLC at the time.
We have a guy legally carrying a gun (although admittedly doing so at an inappropriate time and at an inappropriate place) and one sign among thousands which is inappropriate all included with one mentally whacked individual in CA and we’re ready to conclude that right-wing hate-mongers – violent right-wing hate-mongers (or “evil-mongers” if you’re a Harry Reid fan) – are on the rise.
There’s another bit of “mongering” going on here – fearmongering.
“I don’t think these are simply people who are mentally ill or off their rocker,” Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told ABC News of those behind the threats. “In a very real sense they represent a genuine reaction, a genuine backlash against Obama.”
Notice the substance of the SPLC’s accusation. He’s speaking of townhall protesters in general and essentially saying while the three in question may actually include one real a whack job, they represent the true feelings of the protesters – this is all about Obama.
And the inference of making it “all about Obama”? Say it with me now – he’s a black man. And that, dear reader, makes it all about racism.
If you don’t believe that’s what they’re suggesting, you might want to read their website. From the short description of their “special report” on “The Return of the Militias”:
After virtually disappearing from public view a decade ago, the antigovernment militia movement is surging across the country – fueled by fears of a black president, the changing demographics of the country and fringe conspiracy theories increasingly spread by mainstream figures.
Anyone remember why the militia movement began back then? Well it had nothing to do with a “black president” and everything to do with what appeared to be a expansion of government to include another health care grab.
From the first article in the “special report”, two things to note. One, it’s all anonymous “reports”:
Authorities around the country are reporting a worrying uptick in Patriot activities and propaganda. “This is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years,” says one. “All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”
Frankly this is akin to National Enquirer reporting and shades of the recent DHS “intelligence” report.
Two, it is all about Obama being a “black man’.
A key difference this time is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man. That, coupled with high levels of non-white immigration and a decline in the percentage of whites overall in America, has helped to racialize the Patriot movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by race hate.
Nothing to support this at all, simply an assertion that fits the agenda of those writing the “special report”. Who is spreading fear now?
The second “report” of the SLPC’s “special report” by Larry Keller:
One big difference from the militia movement of the 1990s is that the face of the federal government — the enemy that almost all parts of the extreme right see as the primary threat to freedom — is now black. And the fact that the president is an African American has injected a strong racial element into even those parts of the radical right, like the militias, that in the past were not primarily motivated by race hate. Contributing to the racial animus have been fears on the far right about the consequences of Latino immigration.
Sound familiar? Yup, it doesn’t take a literary critic to understand that Larry wrote not only his own screed, but the first unattributed screed as well. So essentially, what we have to this point is Larry Keller’s opinion, unsourced and undocumented, as to what is going on.
What’s pitiful is in the 4 paragraphs leading up to the paragraph above, he gives not one scintilla of support for the premise he lays out there – it’s all about Obama because he’s black. The people he’s talking about haven’t been mentioned in any news reports as being attendees at a single townhall protest that I’ve seen. But that doesn’t stop him from inferring that they’re the primary movers in this protest movement
Apparently, about half way through, he had a momentary attack of conscience and takes a swipe at some factual objectivity:
It’s not 1996 all over again, or 1997 or 1998. Although there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November, it has not reached the level of criminal violence, attempted terrorist attacks and white-hot language that marked the militia movement at its peak.
Again, he makes an unsupported assertion (“… there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents since Obama’s election in November” – really? Where?), but admits this is nothing like the supposed golden age of militias in the ’90s (which led to what? Not much of anything.).
And you have to love this:
At the Jacksonville, Fla., July tea party, some protesters carried signs that compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.
Gasp! I’ll bet Keller was all over the “Bush/Hitler” comparisons for the last 8 years, wasn’t he? Uh, no. But to help him in his research, should he read this, I’ve googled it for him.
The last of the “special reports” is by David Holthouse. It’s all about “Camp Vigilance”, a Minute Man community in San Diego. You’re left with the impression that this boiling, seething, ready-to-explode community has arisen rather recently and is representative of the growing threat. You’re certainly left to assume it has arisen since the recent presidential election. And you’re also left to extrapolate this one place as typical of all those now protesting (why is never clear).
It was, however, established in 2006, well within the Bush administration and, apparently, despite Mr. Holthouse’s attempt to make this new and fresh, it seems it’s the same collection of whack jobs that have been out there pushing conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and global bankers since I’ve been alive. It should also be noted that up to now, they’ve apparently done nothing at Camp Vigilance to bring law enforcement down on them.
The point of all this is the left, with the media’s obvious help, is bound and determined to turn this political disagreement into something about race and hate.
“I think the president has, in effect, triggered fears amongst fairly large numbers of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country, that the battle is lost,” Potok told ABC News. “The nation that their Christian white forefathers created has somehow been taken from them.”
Yup – without “fairly large numbers of white people” available to blame this twisted message on, Potok and SPLC are out of a job, aren’t they?
Oh, and thanks, ABC – great job of fearmongering there.
Michael Moore has a post on his blog from someone named John Gray entitled, “A Day In The Life Of Joe Middle-Class Republican” in which Gray attempts to make the point that all good things we enjoy in life flow from government and liberals. It begins like this:
Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.
All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
And so on. Gil Guillory answers Gray’s assertions in a comment at the Mises blog:
Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He makes it with a machine he could not possibly have made himself. He does not know where it was made, or how it works, and may not care. He does not know the people that planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, roasted, packaged, freighted, warehoused, distributed, marketed, or retailed his coffee, and may not care. The company that insures the manufacturer of the coffee machine required that it meet certain safety guidelines, as established by the private insurance-company-funded Underwriters Laboratory. Joe has seen the UL mark, but is not really sure what it’s for or how it protects him. He doesn’t clearly understand why greedy businessmen might be interested in a safe product. All of this was made possible by libertarians who fought for and won the legal right to free trade.
He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water which he bought from Ozarka, because the local government monopoly of water supply bears the comforting designation of “accepted” and also tastes funny.
Sam Bostap also answers the post:
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with bottled water because he knows that the municipal water system supplies water that occasionally has e coli and other natural organisms that will make him ill–after all his mother died from drinking water that was polluted by sewage after a heavy rain. Joe tried to sue, but was told that the city had sovereign immunity from such suits as a result of state law. If the water he pours from the bottle he bought at Safeway is polluted, he knows he can sue the manufacturer and collect big, so he feels pretty sure that it’s clean.
Joe grinds his coffee beans carefully because they’re very expensive as a result of the U.S. government-enforced international coffee cartel that exists to protect the jobs of coffee importers–heavy campaign contributers to Congress. He’s also careful about how much sugar he puts in his coffee because it costs seven times the world price of sugar as a result of the U.S. government imposed import restrictions on sugar to protect the domestic sugar beet and sugar cane industry.
I don’t think you’d have to guess very hard to know who I think wins this little battle of the Joes. But I don’t think all the bases have been covered in the two parodies of Gray’s original post.
Your additions to the reasons for Joe’s quality of life are solicited.
At least in Venezuela. Apparently the game of golf is the latest thing under assault in the socialist paradise Hugo Chavez is fashioning:
After a brief tirade against the sport by the president on national television last month, pro-Chávez officials have moved in recent weeks to shut down two of the country’s best-known golf courses, in Maracay, a city of military garrisons near here, and in the coastal city of Caraballeda.
“Let’s leave this clear,” Mr. Chávez said during a live broadcast of his Sunday television program. “Golf is a bourgeois sport,” he said, repeating the word “bourgeois” as if he were swallowing castor oil. Then he went on, mocking the use of golf carts as a practice illustrating the sport’s laziness.
Meanwhile, the rubber-stamp National Assembly passed a bill that will broaden the state’s control of what is taught in schools:
The bill would order schools to base curricula on what it calls “the Bolivarian Doctrine” — a vague reference to ideals espoused by 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar, such as national self-determination and Latin American unity.
Or, more simply said – socialism. Unsurprisingly, it has generated protests a colleges and universities – not that Chavez cares.
Meanwhile, as the economy continues to tank, Chavez is using the dictator’s normal first choice to divert attention from economic problems – claiming there is an external threat.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday raised tensions with Colombia over a U.S. troop plan, accusing his neighbor of sending an army patrol over their Orinoco River border and ending a Colombian gasoline subsidy.
Chavez made his remarks on the eve of a regional summit in Ecuador, where the persistent Washington critic will try to fuel opposition to a Colombian plan to allow U.S. troops more access to seven of its military bases.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch U.S. ally, says the troop plan is necessary to fight drug traffickers. But Chavez claims a greater U.S. presence in the region is a direct threat to him and risks sparking war in South America.
Where have we seen all of his before? And how predictable is this as well?
Poor Venezuela – they’ve got a tiger by the tail and they’re in for an awful ride. They’ve allowed this goon Chavez to manipulate the democratic process into autocratic rule and he’s now developed into not just a threat to the freedom and liberty of his own citizens, but a threat to other nations.
Anyone can see this isn’t going to end well. I feel for the people of Venezuela.
The Senate Finance Committee, which is drafting its version of health care legislation, will not include the “end of life counseling” provision found in the House bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. “We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”
You see, these provisions being written into law won’t be implemented by our lawmakers, but instead by the bureaucracies the law establishes. Yes, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats will interpret and implement the law and you, dear drone, are expected to bow to their interpretation and implementation. That’s reality.
Of course that’s the case not only with that particular provision but with the entire legislation being proposed. It is going to be a government bureaucracy that decides what this all means and how it should be implemented.
Now, Grassley sort of tries to make that point but still exempt what he’s working on from it:
“The bill passed by the House committees is so poorly cobbled together that it will have all kinds of unintended consequences, including making taxpayers fund healthcare subsidies for illegal immigrants,” Grassley said. The veteran Iowa lawmaker said the end-of-life provision in those bills would pay physicians to “advise patients about end-of-life care and rate physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care.
“Maybe others can defend a bill like the Pelosi bill that leaves major issues open to interpretation, but I can’t,” Grassley added.
The charge, of course, is that the House bill is loaded with poorly written legislation open to bureaucratic interpretation which will have many unintended and negative consequences. The implication is that Grassley and crew are carefully cobbling their version together to make clear how everything must the interpreted and implemented thereby avoiding all the negative and unintended consequences found in the House bill.
To which I say, “nonsense”. We’re talking about an attempt to take over a very complex system that goes far beyond “insurance” reform. Anyone who believes that Grassley and the Senate Finance Committee’s version will avoid negative unintended consequences needs a reality check badly. Certainly it may be marginally better than the monstrosity the House is touting, but it is still an overt government power grab that will have dire consequences down the line.
What’s even more disturbing, of course, is the fact that you have a senior Republican involved in doing this, meaning of course that he has swallowed the premise that the Democrats have offered, i.e. that the solution involves more government, not less.
And, of course, that’s exactly the opposite of what Republicans, philosophically at least, are supposed to stand for. Dale has outlined the direction Republicans and those who believe in liberty and free markets should be demanding we go.
Is there a workable model out there that Republicans should be offering? You bet there is. Dale talked about it, and so has John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods:
* Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
* Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
* Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
* Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
* Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
* Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
* Enact Medicare reform.
* Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
It may not be the total free market answer most libertarians would like to see, but it is a far better approach than what Democrats and Republicans out there are offering now.
Here’s the bottom line, as stated by Mackey:
Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.
The solution is to make them responsible by giving them that responsibility, not having government further usurp it and make decisions for them. The most fundamental aspect of freedom and liberty is individual responsibility. The system we have now, as well as the one that is being proposed, works against that fundamental requirement and thereby lessens both our freedom and our liberty.
That’s what people protesting these proposed laws are finally realizing. This isn’t just about health care – its about our freedom.
We need to face a few facts about health care reform. Our current system of health care funding is broken. It’s not broken because we have a free market in health care. It’s broken because we don’t.
Spending in the US health care system is essentially out of control. The US spends almost 16% of GDP on health care. Canada, our nearest neighbor, spends a bit more than 10%. In western Europe, the figure is generally between 7% and 9% of GDP. It’s something I addressed in my book a few years ago:
Why is spending so much higher in the US, with its supposedly free-market system? Why is it, with all that spending, that regular medical coverage doesn’t exist for 40 million Americans, when, in the rest of the industrialized world, there is 100% health coverage?
Something is deeply wrong with the financing of the US health-care system.
Part of the problem is that we really don’t have a free market in health care. Individuals, by and large, don’t buy health care policies. Health insurance is employer-provided. In effect, however, this is underwritten by the US government by making health care premiums deductible for businesses, which results in billions of dollars in lost tax revenues. And then, of course, you have to throw in the $300 billion or so that the state and federal governments spend outright to provide health care. And, of course, once you hit 65, you’re on the government’s health care gravy train, because you’ve got your Medicare, which also covers prescription drugs, now.
Why do we spend too much for health care in the US? The Heartland Institute, a public policy think-tank, has listed several reasons:
1) Government subsidies to health care increases demand by artificially lowering costs.
2) Favorable tax treatment of employer-provided health care has the same effect.
3) Lower-income people without health care must rely on emergency room health care delivery at substantially higher cost.
4) Health care buyers and sellers meet in a “market” that is heavily regulated by the government.
5) State governments increase health care costs by mandating benefit coverages.
6) State governments artificially reduce the supply of health care by requiring Certificates of Need before health care providers can expand services.
7) States interfere with the creation and operation of PPOs by fixing prices or the range of services they can offer.
So, really, we have what is, in many ways, the worst of both worlds. We have a market-based system, but one in which market incentives are minimized through regulation and subsidies. In effect, government policy bids up health care prices, while at the same time interfering with the market forces that keep a lid on prices.
It’s no wonder that more and more people are looking at single-payer, government-provided health care as an alternative to what we already have. At the very least, a single payer system would end the inefficient and fragmented ways by which health care is currently purchased.
This is not a situation we can afford to ignore for long.
We have ignored it, though–although that appears to have come to a screeching halt.
Because of various government intereferences, more than 1/3 of all health care spending is purely administrative. By contrast, Canada’s administrative burden on health care funding is about 1%. If we were to switch over to a single payer system, there is an excellent chance that we would, in fact, spend less money on health care than we currently do.
Are there horror stories about health care in Canada or the UK? Sure. There are horror stories about our system, too. For instance, you can find stories of families that were denied coverage, and were forced in to financial disaster all the time.
Canada, of course, has the rather unique problem of being a country with 1/10 of our population being spread over an equal amount of real estate. In that situation, if you don’t live near a major metropolitan center–and Canada only has about 10 of them, there’s a shortage of available services. In Britain, there are terrible NHS hospitals, but there are also excellent ones. But the same it true in the US. If you live in, say, Houston, Ben Taub Hospital probably wouldn’t be your first choice for treatment. M.D. Anderson, however, would.
The bottom line, however, is that a single payer system would, in fact, deliver an equal or better level of health care as we currently receive, and probably do so at a lower cost.
But there is a fundamental problem with our current debate. We are arguing over whether we should keep the system we have, or move to a system that sets us on the path to a single-payer system. But those aren’t the only alternatives. There is another option that is being lost in this debate. The democrats don’t want to mention it for ideological reasons. The Republicans don’t mention it because of…well…incompetent buffoonery, I guess.
The alternative, of course, is to make the case that our current system costs so much, and is so distorted, because of government interference. We have a mixed system of health care funding in which the government’s intervention imposes a wide range of unnecessary costs. So our choice is not to keep what we have, or eliminate the administrative overhead by turning it all over to the government. The third choice is to return to a free market in health care.
Eliminate state by state coverage mandates, which result in 50 different–and sometimes wildly so–regulatory regimes. Eliminate federal and state laws that prevent insurers from creating nationwide plans and risk pools. Eliminate employer health-care coverage, and personalize it, to make it personal and portable.
Here’s another idea: allow people to buy health insurance. That isn’t what we have now. We have pre-paid health care. The two things are wildly different. For example, look at how auto insurance works. Imagine how much your car insurance would cost if we expected our insurance to cover 80% of the cost of oil changes, tire rotation, wiper blades, new tires, regular service, etc. But that’s precisely what we expect medical insurance to do. And then we wonder why it costs so darn much.
We need to allow insurers to offer simple catastrophic care coverage, with varying deductibles. That way, you can pick up the tab for your own doctor’s visits, but you don’t have to worry about bankrupting yourself if some idiot runs a stop sign and knocks you off of your motorcycle. We need to allow anyone who wants to set up a medical savings account. Heck, if we really want “the government” to finance it, we could offer a 100% tax credit for health care expenditures.
We don’t need the government to rescue us from the unsatisfactory state health care is in. We can accomplish the same goals of universal coverage and lower cost, by getting the government out of health care as completely as possible. There are so many ways we could use free markets to relieve us of the distress the current system of funding is in, that they’re almost impossible to enumerate.
And best of all, doing so would comport with the country’s traditions of freedom, and individual choice.
And one final thing. With a real free market in health care, if there’s a problem, you’ll also get accountability. You’ll get access to courts where you can sue a private insurer who defrauds you, or someone who gives you substandard care. What you’ll get with a single-payer system is no recourse. If the government turns down your procedure, or you don’t get the health care you should, or if you keel over before your slot on the waiting list comes up, there’ll be nowhere to go, and no one accountable, any more than there is now if the public schools fail to adequately educate your children.
But free market reform doesn’t even seem to be on the table.