The state insurance commissioner of Connecticut wrote the state Attorney General the following, in response to implementing the new ObamaCare law: “I find myself in an unprecedented place and time, as do my counterparts throughout the country in overseeing the implementation of one of the most far-reaching policy initiatives enacted by the federal government in recent history.” State regulators, he continued, are “in an unenviable position as we are required by Congress to approve richer benefit packages, while simultaneously being called upon by you to reduce rates.”
No kidding. ObamaCare could never have passed — and would never have been proposed — were it not for the evasiveness of voters combined with the evasiveness of politicians. None of this has changed because of any one election. The evasion continues, and it goes as follows: “Health care is a right. The right of health care implies access, for everyone, to the most top-notch medical care the world has ever seen. This medical care will continue to innovate and expand, preferably without the stench of profit. Government should intervene as little as possible, but whenever there are problems, government can and must intervene.”
People who hold these assumptions, and they are the vast majority, want the excellence generated by the innovation, self-interest and private ownership of capitalism, along with the “good intentions” of socialism that everyone be equally happy at all times. Put in these terms, most will acknowledge that such a thing isn’t possible. But they’ll still vote for politicians who claim it is, and they stand ready to punish any who depart from these notions.
Imagine, for example, a politician who ran on the following platform: “Grow up, America. You can’t have something for nothing. You particularly can’t have something excellent for nothing. Where are your heads? Do you actually believe that government can keep the innovation and competence of medical care as we’ve known it going? You’ve been to the DMV. You’ve been to the post office. You’ve experienced the lines and the difficulty of dealing with people whose government jobs will always be safe, no matter what. Is this what you want for your doctors and nurses? If not, then how could you ever expect expansion of government into the marketplace to work? You’ve got some hard choices, America. You have to first let go of this illusion. Next, you have to be willing to let us politicians dismantle government programs involving health care. Piece by piece, we’re going to have to return the practice and the purchase of medical care entirely to the people. We’re going to deregulate and “unsubsidize” the medical care industry. We recognize we can’t do all this in 24 hours. We understand people have been forced to depend on Medicare, and that those who paid taxes in the past were forced to pay for it. We get that. But we’re still going to have to privatize the program for your children and grandchildren. And they’re going to have to save for medical care. Look at it this way. There won’t be nearly the taxes in the future as we had in the past. As for today, we’re going to do everything possible to forbid the federal government and the states from intervening in the practice and pricing of medical care. You buy your groceries, your haircuts, your clothes, your computers and your cell phones on a more or less open and free market. Companies more or less compete with each other with a lot less government regulation than medical practitioners face every day, especially under programs like Medicare and Medicaid. You’re going to have to let go of the fantasy that government will make all these decisions for you. These are your decisions to make, and you have a right to make them. You also have a responsibility to make them. Stop telling the government to do this for you.”
There must be a reason no politician, even among the Tea Party favorites, has said anything like this, even though a few of them probably agree with a lot of it. Why is this? Because they want to win elections. And they know they cannot win elections with a shred of rationality and self-responsibility applied to health care. They’re delighted to run on platforms of cutting taxes. They’re also delighted to run on platforms of “cutting spending” so long as they don’t have to actually cut anything — nor even cut the rate of increase in government spending. But to state, or even imply, that people are responsible for purchasing their own medical care in an open, competitive and deregulated marketplace? You’ve got to be kidding.
Maybe these politicians who are afraid to run on such a platform for health care are underestimating the rationality and self-responsibility of the vast majority of the American people. I honestly don’t know. But there must be a reason they’re afraid to “go there” on this issue. They know they’ll be killed, not just by socialist Democrats but by most Republicans.
The comedian George Carlin used to say that the rotten politicians in America are America’s fault. To some, this sounds cynical or unduly harsh. But in all honesty: What else could explain the mess we’re in, particularly on health care? People are still free to vote for politicians who stand for something completely different, but this hasn’t yet happened. In the end, this must be the people’s fault, because the worst of the politicians keep winning when better ones with better ideas could indeed take their place.
Richer benefit packages. Cheaper health insurance. Cheaper but more fabulous, more competent and more attentive doctors. Who could argue with this? No, most people don’t believe ObamaCare will provide any of this. Most don’t think socialized medicine is the answer. But most are even less friendly to privatized medical care in a free, open, unregulated and unsubsidized market. So where does that leave us? Where we are — and worse, once ObamaCare takes full effect (already begun).
America doesn’t need to repeal ObamaCare so much as the contradictory, irresponsible, and quite frankly plain stupid ideas underlying it. The fault lies primarily with the American people, the vast majority who have refused to grow up on the issue. Maybe they won’t grow up, but they’re sure going to wake up once socialized medicine becomes the full law of the land.