In an article entitled, ‘The Truth About SwedenCare,’ Klaus Bernpaintner wrote the following on 7/10/13 (see mises.org):
Free universal healthcare came about [in Sweden] in the 50s as part of the Social Democratic project to create the ‘People’s Home’ (Folkhemmet). This grand effort also included free education on all levels, modern housing for the poor, mandatory government pension plans and more. Let us grant benefit of the doubt and assume that some of its proponents had good intentions; as so often, these intentions paved the road to a hellish destination.
It has taken awhile, but it is now becoming obvious even to the man on the street that every aspect of this project has been a disaster. He may not be able to connect the dots, but he can see that the system is definitely not working as advertised, and it is rapidly deteriorating.
Before the utopian project got under way, Sweden had some of the absolute lowest taxes in the civilized world and, not surprisingly, was ranked at the top in terms of standard of living. The project changed Sweden into a country with the second highest tax rate in the world (Denmark is higher), periods of rampant inflation, and a steadily deteriorating economy.
Sweden is touted by people like our President as an example of ‘socialism that works.’ Opponents of socialism usually concede the point by saying, ‘Well, it works in Sweden because Sweden is smaller than the United States. The U.S. is too big for socialism.’
While it may be true that socialism will prove an even bigger disaster in the United States than it has in Sweden, the basic facts and principles remain the same.
Socialism, whether applied to medicine, education or anything else, is based on force and politics. Force and politics are not the means to achieving excellence.
Excellence only occurs when a number of conditions are met. One is freedom. Under freedom, business innovators and technical geniuses are free to think, create and produce. While fraud and force are of course against the law, the ability to think freely, experiment, and invite consumers to do the same (yes, even in medicine and education) is the only way to generate and foster progress.
Another condition required for excellence is profit. While not everyone is motivated by money to the same extent, money is always required. Nothing can be done without money. A society without money would be a primitive, barter society at best. In any productive civilization, money always emerges as a means of trade so goods and services can be exchanged far more efficiently than in a barter context.
Even those who claim to care nothing about money do value something—and they need money in order to accomplish or attain it. Ask anyone trying to build a shelter for animals or to get soup to hungry people. Everyone needs money.
If money is guaranteed by some faceless third party, then incentive disappears. Instead of creating a worthwhile value/product/service that can be exchanged for others, the incentive becomes politics, pull and personality. Is this sort of petty manipulation morally superior to money? I’d love to know why.
Socialism is considered utopian or ‘progressive,’ by some, because ‘doctors will work for the patients, not for profit.’ Why divorce the two? How is a doctor to be excellent if he or she is not to make a good profit for performing life-saving and life-preserving services?
Doctors are commanded, under socialism, to ‘look at it from the patient’s point-of-view, not the doctor’s selfish point-of-view.’ I’m looking at socialism from the point-of-view of the patient. If I’m a patient, I want my doctor to be happy, fulfilled and well-paid. It serves my own selfish interest as much as his or her own, if I’m on the operating table. By what twisted or distorted chain of reasoning do we arrive at the conclusion that the more we persecute or hinder our health providers, the better off we are as patients?
Bernpaintner goes on:
There is nothing economically mysterious about health care — it is just another service. Like any other it can be plentifully provided on a free market at affordable prices and constantly improving quality. But like everything else, it breaks down when the central planners get their hands on it, which they now have. To claim that the problems are due to a ‘market failure’ in health care is like saying that there was a market failure in Soviet bread production.
Exactly right. The laws of supply and demand apply no less to medical care and services than to smart phones, computers or anything else the free market delivers to us daily.
Under ‘Obamacare,’ as under Medicare and Medicaid before it, we’re attempting to replace the marketplace with the bureaucracy, politics and petty pull of socialist central planning masquerading as wisdom and skill.
We’re not supposed to call it socialism, but call it whatever you like. It won’t deliver. Patients will learn this the hard way, and gradually, painfully so, just as we did when Medicare was implemented. And if the ‘sheeple’ continue to believe their ‘leaders,’ they’ll conclude it’s all the fault of the ‘marketplace.’
Earth to America: We’ve just about outlawed the marketplace for medicine in our country. Don’t blame the problems on a marketplace that doesn’t exist.
If you want excellence in medical care, then you must allow for-profit freedom in medical care. There’s no other way around it.
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