Sunday, August 9, 2009

The healthcare debate is extremely important

The Thomas Jefferson quote in the cartoon above is one of the reasons that I devote a considerable amount of my free time to this blog. I see the internet as a fantastic way to amplify one's voice, and I believe that I have something to say that is important. Universal or single-payer healthcare is something that I am very much against, mainly because it would grant the federal government yet more control over our lives. I think the problem of healthcare, in a nutshell, stems from allowing government to insert itself into the private market where it doesn't belong. Free markets and free people have demonstrated countless times that they can solve the most intractable of problems, whereas I have yet to see our government solve a single problem in a manner that couldn't be handled more efficiently by the private sector. This is very important stuff, and we must speak out against it at every opportunity. The government has already distorted the healthcare industry way too much, and to do more would be worse than foolhardy. Let's stop the madness!

Cartoon source. HT: Instapundit


ads said...

"whereas I have yet to see our government solve a single problem in a manner that couldn't be handled more efficiently by the private sector."

Are you saying that government is not necessary? There are many problems the private sector cannot handle effectively. When was the last time the private sector fought or won a war for us? What about infrastructure, roads, bridges, sewer systems, law enforcement and the like? The private sector cannot compete in these arenas.

The government should (does?) not want to run health care. It just wants to improve the rules of engagement. The issue at hand is that you have an $800bb health insurance private sector that is essentially sucking money out of patients and out of doctors. Their profits are antithetical to advancing national health care as they strip money out of the patient/doctor ecosystem. Dennis Kucinich has it right. The for-profit health insurance companies are the center of the debate.

Their are free-rider problems with a government endorsed program. (unproductive members of society extracting more from they system then they are putting in.)

A solution to avoid free-rider problems while also eradicating for-profit, service-depleting health insurance companies would be to create a membership based system owned and operated by doctors and medical professionals (effectively cutting out the middle man). This provides access to a specific hospital(s) and a specialist network. As part of the monthly fee you contribute to a catastrophic event fund to cover any extraordinary medical emergencies.

chai said...

Now Pelosi and Hoyer say that the Town Hall expressions of disatisfaction with Obamacare are "Un-American".

McCrathyism morphs into attempted tyranical Socialism.

You have to hand it to the Left.
They take the most extreme tactics ever used in history and try to use it to their advantage.

Let's hope they remain politically tone deaf, and are soundly defeated in the next mid-term elections.

However, if they ram through any semblance of this new "grey goo" health entitlement monstrosity that will eat up all of the GDP, they will have won.

No future government will be capable of reversing course.

John Fund of the WSJ said the Democrats believe the major mistake of Hillary-Care was that they did not pass ANY healthcare bill after the unpopularity of Hillary's plan. Now they are determined to pass a bill, come what may.

Bill said...

ads: I must say that your naive and trusting attitude is touching. I however choose to look at the countless examples of failed socialist experiments around the world and opt for another direction. Do you remember the lessons of the 20th century? Communism does not work.

BTW, I think the operative phrase in your post is "Dennis Kucinich has it right". That pretty much invalidates everything else you said.

Public Library said...


You should switch to, get a free nifty template, use your own unique url, and add the social sharing features to your posts that allow readers to really spread your content around.

Your current setup is fairly archaic at this stage of the distribution game. In addition, you could add tools like or to link other relevant content within your posts while earning ad revenue, if that is something you are interested in.

Creating a twitter and facebook profile to round out your online presence is not a bad idea either. All of these thing, if you engage in them consistently, will help get your word traveling fast and furious!

Just an FYI not a slight.

Public Library said...

"For almost as long as corporations have existed, people have lobbied, agitated and legislated to constrain their power and prevent the social and environmental harm caused by the single-minded quest for profit-maximization."

Scott Grannis said...

ads: Government is of course necessary, but it should be severely limited as the Constitution outlined. As for a healthcare solution, all we need to do is eliminate the anti-free-market regulations that now distort the industry. Let everyone, not just employers, deduct health care costs (or let no one). Allow people to shop for policies from out of state. For more, check out this great article:

Scott Grannis said...

Public: thanks for the suggestions. I realize I'm not very state of the art, and I'm moving up the learning curve very slowly. Spending too much time watching the markets and the politicians. I'd probably benefit from some expert hand-holding.

Public Library said...

Corporations influence on that smaller government should be severely limited as well. We have a two -headed problem in this country...

Scott Grannis said...

If you make government smaller, you reduce the incentive for corporations to meddle with the way government works. Eliminate tax deductions, for example, and you would probably decimate the lobbying industry.

Dead Cat Bounce said...

Socializing the system or rushing a bill through I think would be a catastrophic mistake.

However, unlike most things, I'm not necessarily opposed to an increase in regulation, for lack of a better term, in this area (after certain cost-cuts and expenditure redirection). I'm still forming what I think would be a successful solution, but what I would like to hear more of is the voice of the doctors and hospitals, which are clearly not represented by the democratic leadership (no surprise).

As much as I believe in free markets, health insurance, and similarly food and drug corporations, have incentives antithetical to the public good when run purely for-profit, especially given the short-term objectives and opportunism of boards and mgmt coupled with gov't corruption. My belief is that simply enforcing good regulations effectively in these areas would be the best solution, but it is also my belief that this would never happen until significant gov't reform, which would begin with doing away with career politicians (strict term limits, higher transparency, etc). Sadly, I don't believe this will ever happen, due to gov't self-interest and public complacency. Mainstream media only makes things worse.

I would rather subsidize truly indigent and "require" the purchase of health insurance, while still penalizing unhealthy practices, than completely do away with competition. Do away with some arbitrary restrictions and regs. However, there is still a substantial concern of reasonably accessible insurance for many "uninsurable." Simply regulating a solution provides adverse selection problems, but allowing total freedom imo is unacceptable.

I think the solution lies somewhere in b/w private competition and increased regulation, after taking a value-added approach to government spending and tort reform. In any event I don't have many answers and would like to see civil dialogue, not elitist strong-arm tactics that are pathological and counterproductive.

Gary said...

ads -- you are being absolutely ridiculous trying to equate limited government (which is as American as apple pie) with no government.

There are a limited number of things that the government can (but does not necessarily) do well -- and they are spelled out in the Constitution. The 10th amendment, written by the founding fathers, clearly states "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Guess what? health care is not in the constitution. Doctors existed in 1776-1789 -- but health care was not included.

Your childish rant about "for profit" health care is simply uneducated and misinformed. While insurance companies do earn some profits, their profit margins are far less than many other industries. Earning a profit is not illegal, and you are un-American for suggesting otherwise. Learn how to read income statements before you write foolish things.

The US government runs the military at an absurd cost, while highways and bridges are crumbling all over the country -- you can't argue credibly that military or infrastructure is evidence that the government is even competent, much less skilled in these areas.

Amtrak and the Post Office have been "on the path to self sufficiency" now for decades. They keep losing money, raising prices, and have declining service. The government can't even handle the programs currently on its plate, and you want to give them even more things to screw up?

Universal healthcare in Canada and England has resulted in TWO SYSTEMS. A private system for the rich, and a public system for everyone else. How can anyone favor creating such an elitist system here?

US health care costs are too high, but one surefire way to make things worse is to have Congress get involved. You really have to be naive and uneducated to even suggest something so asinine.

BTW, you wrote "Their are free-rider problems with a government endorsed program"

"their" is not the same as "there", something you might have learned if the government wasn't running education for three times the cost per student (PPP adjusted) of any other country on Earth

Gene Prescott said...

Scott, you can also use the social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) to garner eyeballs to wherever you decide to post you charts and commentary.

Dead Cat Bounce said...

If corporations' single-minded motive is profit maximization, what is the motive for the majority of individuals involved in government? Is it possible to have transparency and discipline in the private sector if we don't first address those problems in the public sector?

I'm not surprised (although I'm disappointed) that many can't understand that increased government and taxes generally results in a greater wealth disparity, lower employment and lower quality of life for all. But why is it "progressive" to be a self-loather because of the opaque actions of those who largely "serve" or were enabled by the public sector. How can anyone argue that we should reward with more tax dollars (which increasing marginal rates does not necessarily accomplish) and discretion the same self-protected system that is the least effective and efficient investment vehicle we have? I get the income redistribution aspect, but that doesn't make up the totality of such nonsensical viewpoints. There should be some basic reforms that the majority can agree upon, but it's by and large not part of the dialogue.

It irks me that government expansionists ignore the greed and corruption of our political system that largely enables "bad business practices." The problem is enforcement and unchecked power; it's certainly not competition and discipline. If this economy loses its global leadership which successor government will do a better job (at least) trying to spread peace and economic viability?

If there is an interest I can trust other than self-interest, I'd sure like to know what it is.

Gary said...

Dead Cat Bounce -- good points

I am reminded of the 1800s bank robber Willie Sutton who was asked "Why do you rob banks?" and he reportedly said, "Because that is where the money is!" Sutton never graduated high school, but spoke a truism.

Lobbyists are spending millions every year to influence government policy for the same reason: that's where the money is.

It is no coincidence that as government got bigger over the last 30-40 years, lobbying and corruption became rampant

Health care is just the latest scam the robbers -- oops! politicians-- want to use to steal the American people blind

dave said...

I saw an example of government at it"s finest just this morning. I was at my sisters house in NJ and watched the street sweeper go first up her street and then down her street and continue on this way through out her development.

Why did this strike me as being odd? There were cars parked on both sides of the street so he accomplished nothing, there is nothing to sweep in the middle of the road.

Why were there cars parked on both sides of the street, because the township doesn't tell the residents when they are sending the street sweeper out.

These are the people who should be running health care ?

agnieszka said...


An anecdote that you'll probably appreciate... when I was living in Argentina I thought the idea of state sponsored health care was fantastic. As an less than wealthy immigrant child of self-employed parents in the US I grew up without insurance and always lived with a 'fear' of the worst. How great it was that here, without even being a citizen, I could rest assured that an emergency would not bankrupt me. But alas- I soon learned how it really worked- just as soon as my (now) husband learned of a pesky kidney stone inflaming his flank.

Yeah, surgery was free- but he would have to wait 4+ weeks for his turn... And the only option would be an old fashioned slice and dice; no lasers or scopes here. That was not something I expected and quickly helped me understand why any middle class family there would never depend on the national system. Back to the never fail wisdom of "if it seems too good to be true..."

So I grew up with my mom waiting with me at the free clinic 'all day long'. The alternative may not turn out to be any better :)

Anecdote- nothing more and nothing less, but in my experiences living in 3+ pseudo-socialist countries, basic economic concepts prove true again and again.

Scott Grannis said...

agnieszka: Thanks for your contribution to the debate. I've lived in Argentina and I've seen first hand the problems with healthcare there. I would never want to spend even one day in the hospitals I have seen.

Interestingly, Argentina is becoming quite the attraction for tourists seeking good, cheap elective surgery. Just goes to show that when a private market is free to operate it can produce quality results. Even as the state-controlled system does a miserable job.

CDLIC said...


Every example you provide stating that ". . . the private sector cannot handle effectively . . ." can actually ALL be handled by the private sector better than any national government--even war. If you want the answer to these "problems" based on capitalism driving the solution, reply and I will provide more information.

dr. j said...

I have consumed a great deal of health care during the past two years with treatment for cancer. I can tell you that the argument is abstract for those of you who have not shared the intimate experience of major illness. If you would like an analogy, imagine a "government option" in your bedroom. Decisions about one's own life and treatment should not be monitored or controlled in any way by any area of government. If costs are the issue, look at separating doctors from profits at labs and imaging centers;getting government out of mandated coverage that increases the cost of policies (like mandated in vitro fertilization treatment coverage), tie treatment to behavioral changes (e.g. losing weight before knee replacements or quitting smoking before treatments for copd). But do not let the government intrude between the doctor and patient. There is nothing the government does that is more efficient than the private sector.

Scott Grannis said...

dr j: Well said.

ronrasch said...

Scott, I believe you have the best blog on economics on the Internet. Thank you for your investment of time and leadership.

Scott Grannis said...

Thank you!