End of the Republic

The American Republic is in decline. The decline is self-inflicted, a sort of suicide by choice. Why are people deciding to follow the "Road to Serfdom" over the "Road to Freedom"?

Location: Chesapeake Beach, MARYLAND, United States

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

On Socialized health care

Socialism is defined as "Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. " The economic systems that were based on socialism are and have been dismal failures. The Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, North Korea, and to a certain extent even today's Western Europe apparently have not provided would-be American central planners with enough evidence. Apparently, these planners just think "my gang can do it better".

Why would anyone propose that health care should be "produced and distributed collectively" or that our health decisions should be made by a "centralized government"? Health care should be produced by a doctor who makes decisions based on each individual situation after consulting with the patient. Why would anyone argue that a bureaucrat should stand between them and tell the doctor what he can/cannot do and tell the patient that he may have to wait years before he can get treatment?

Take the recent example of former President Clinton's emergency bypass surgery. President Clinton was able to get his heart surgery done practically immediately (3 days) in the United States. Under Canada's vaunted system, he would have had to wait 24 days to see a cardiac specialist. He then would have had to have waited another 2 weeks for the surgery. I guess the Canadian bureaucrats do not consider emergency bypass surgery to be a life-and-death matter. Mr. Clinton is even more fortunate he is not a Swede. A recent survey there showed that it can take 11 months for a diagnostic heart x-ray and then another 8 months for surgery. An estimated 1,000 Swedes a year die of heart disease because they cannot get the care they need on time. No wonder so many people come to the United States for surgery. Even though he owed his life to the American system, Clinton was not on TV later thanking the private system that gave him the attention he needed when he needed it. Of course, I am sure that government officials (an ex-Presidents) would never have to worry about this. Someone will push the red-tape aside for our public "servants". I hope that kind of system never comes to the US - a system in which those with "pull" are treated quickly while the rest of us have to resort to prayer. I do not want to see a world in which everyone has to depend on politicians for their health care. I prefer the world in which people rely on their own judgment and that of their chosen health professional.

Why, in the words of Mr. Clinton, has this country started to believe that "health care should be a right, not a privilege"? Many of the "big issues" (high costs, drug shortages) that people complain about have been caused by government involvement.

Here is a common sense question: Do you think health care will be less expensive when we add a new government bureaucracy on top of the current system? We have to consider that a government managed health system will require thousands of administrators and cost reviewers, rationing controllers, payment processors, equipment purchasing approvers, medical record collectors, price controllers, and physician inspectors - all of whom will have to draw two paychecks a month and have to have offices, computers, and all the other tools they will demand to do their job.

The evidence to demonstrate this already exists. The nation used to spend (pre-Medicare), on average, about 5% of its GNP on health care. Now it spends about 15%. In addition, the price of health care used to rise just about the same as other price increases. Prices for health care only started to rise faster than other prices in 1967. One site shows us the annual rates of inflation in the USA. We then just can look at the increase in health care costs (posted by the "Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary: Data from the National Health Statistics Group." Each large increase in health care prices compared to the rest of inflation occurs 2 years after the government's expansion of coverage and "reform" to the system.

There is a clear reason for this: Let us take the hypothetical example of the government subsidizing food (after all, we die if we do not eat - certainly if health care is a "right", food should be as well). Not many people would choose to go to McDonalds when the government is picking up the tab. Demand for Chateau-Briand, caviar, lobster and truffles would increase. Of course, restaurants and supermarkets would be happy. They would be able to serve the most expensive products to everyone. Restaurants and groceries would be able to give everyone the service that was once considered luxurious. Chefs would be able to create any delicacy they desired. Supermarkets would cease to make "generics". The media would not longer have reports of people starving around the holidays. After all, the government is picking up the tab.
We eat what we want. We get fat. The government sees an increase in the number of obesity related health issues.

But what happens once the bill arrives? We will discover that we are spending so much of our GNP on food that there was little room for other economic activity. (Remember the numbers on health care since the 60's?). The cost of this program would dominate our federal and local budgets. In order to cut costs, the government would have to start to regulate who could eat what and when and where. Instead of getting the chateau-briand immediately, we would now be "wait-listed" and someone would go over our file to make sure that we actually needed to eat it. In addition, to reduce the cost of obesity related health care, the government also created a "national nutrition czar". He dictates what we are allowed to eat. The system has turned from one in which we were free to do as we pleased without regard to cost to one controlled by government command. We end up with the production and distribution of health care and food being planned and controlled by a centralized governmental authority. Just what the socialists wanted!

Of course, those egalitarian proponents of a national health care system are right in one respect. A national health care system will create more equality in this country - an equality of suffering.

J. Thyme Matz


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of my thoughts on nationalized health care, past failures are often required for future success. Unfortunately in the case of governments, experimentation and test results take a prohibitively long time.

Still, I find it shocking that here in the US, the richest nation on earth, the mortality rate is still holding steady at 100%!


November 13, 2004 at 11:29 PM  

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