Obamacare: A Case Study in Central Planning

“Central planning” refers to government bureaus and agencies replacing the marketplace when it comes to basic decision-making about goods and services.

For example, let’s say the government decided to institute central planning for smart phones. Government planners in Washington DC would determine the components and options available for cell phones (if any), and how those phones are to be distributed. Private manufacturers (Samsung, Apple) would be permitted to continue producing these phones.

However, the content and construction of the phones would not be determined by things like consumer demand. Instead of Steve Jobs (or some equivalent) appearing before an audience and announcing his latest innovation, in hopes that the public will buy it, the federal Cabinet head of — let’s say — the U.S. Department of Commerce would simply issue mandates stating what consumers will receive in the form of smart phone options, how much they will cost, etc.

In a seeming boom for the companies like Apple who manufacture smart phones, the federal government will require that everyone own one by 2015. If they fail to buy one, the IRS or some other federal official will hunt them down and fine them or, if necessary, ultimately jail them. This will be rationalized and justified on the statement that, “Smart phones are now a requirement of daily living. In order to reduce their cost, we must make sure there are no free riders.”

Now, how well do you think this would all work out? If you’d like to know, simply look at what the federal government is presently doing to medical care and health insurance via Obamacare.

The 3/11/14 Wall Street Journal online reports: ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.

Let’s leave aside that according to our Constitution, the President has no right to sign a law and then both remove or restore components of that law as he sees fit. This, more than anything else, should have the public up in arms. The Americans who fought for the original American system of government would never have permitted this. They would be able to grasp the connection that a President allowed to unilaterally, and on a moment’s whim, make or change laws to his liking is operating as a dictator does. Today’s Americans, while far more sophisticated and educated than early Americans in some respects, seem unable or unwilling to see the obvious here. It’s truly chilling to live in the midst of people so indifferent to their own fates at the hands of a dictating and arbitrary government.

Aside from all this, central planning simply cannot work. There are too many variables present when deciding whether or how to purchase a smart phone. The government would never attempt to take on running this industry from atop, and to date has not done so. Since most people own smart phones, while most people (being healthy) are not engaged in obtaining medical care, the government could probably never get away with an Affordable Smart Phone Act. Nor would they be tempted to try; the marketplace has already made smart phones affordable, just as a marketplace would for medical care, if permitted. (No, America has not had a marketplace yet for medical care, not really ever.)

There are far more variables involved in selecting doctors, methods of coverage or payment than there would ever be with a nationalized smart phone system. For government to take on the whole thing from a few federal offices constitutes, quite literally, madness.

The problem isn’t just the futility of trying to do the impossible. The real pathology here is that the people doing it will never acknowledge error. They are so convinced that the federal government is equipped to manage the entire medical and health insurance industry from a few small offices in a faceless bureaucracy that no number of facts would ever convince them to give up. This is true of Obama, as well as any of his probable successors.

It’s not going to change until the American people demand that their leaders get completely out of the medical and health insurance industry. Yes, new legislation should be passed to replace Obamacare. But it should be replaced with complete and total deregulation of the industry. An unrestricted marketplace should be permitted to exist with health insurance and medical care. Why? So doctors/hospitals and patients may negotiate the fees based on supply and demand, the same principles of economics which have made smart phones, iPods and the like affordable and available to essentially everyone.

I have worked in psychiatric hospitals. Watching what’s going on in Washington DC, the spectacle of trying to implement an “Affordable Care Act” via the constantly moving target of government edicts which change daily, is truly the same as witnessing delusional madness.

The difference between officials in Washington and the poor insane patients in mental hospitals is obvious: The latter group has no guns or prisons to enforce their impulses or wishes. The madmen in the nation’s capital do, and they intend to use them.

Shame on those of us who willingly gave these delusional psychopaths and neurotic control freaks in government the power to wreck one of humanity’s most important professions.

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