I’ve read a fair amount on the health care debate. For example, on the liberal, or should I say, “progressive” front, someone sent me a piece from CommonDreams.org. That essay, wherein Bill Moyers is quoted from Bill Maher’s “Real Time,” is pretty typical of the progressive rhetoric on this issue. In one of the many money quotes, Moyers says on the health care debate, “too many Democrats have had their spines surgically removed.” Apparently he thinks they should just ram those reforms through. Shades of the feathery touch of the Bu’Shites! (And you thought all that talk about Obama’s first term being Bush’s third term was overblown.)
I haven’t confined myself only to progressive information though.
On the libertarian front, Sheldon Richman offered a “modest proposal” just today. At the center of his idea, conscription! While I was initially a little taken aback, I think Richman, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, has accurately presented the crux of how a truly progressive health care solution would have to function, if the lofty goals the reformers offer are to be met. All kidding aside, Richman’s acerbic point is dead-on.
What shocks me, and no, I didn’t forget to mention it, is why those who clamor for reform to the current system also continue to think the government can provide such improvement. Have any of these people ever been to the DMV? How about the Post Office? It doesn’t take a scholar in Austrian economics to understand that asking the government to fix health care is tantamount to asking a car jacker for directions.
This just puzzles the hell out of me! Health care is screwed up, in no small part because it costs so much. It costs so much, in no small part, because there are lots of entities–many of them not actual suppliers of healthcare–feeding on the profit from supplying it, simultaneous with the supply of services, doctors, midwives; nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, being (artificially) limited, or artificially inflated in price. (If one can only see a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant via the inflated costs of visiting a doctor’s office, something is wrong on the supply side.) This is the result of lots of factors, regulation and licensing playing huge parts.
Further, the delivery system is amazingly complex, which is why the reform bill(s) almost always have 500+ pages. To modify a complex system by making it more complex has no chance of success. None! This is basic systems techno-think. The Laws of Systemantics states as much, e.g., “Le Chatelier’s Principle: Complex systems tend to oppose their own proper function. As systems grow in complexity, they tend to oppose their stated function.” My personal favorite is: “A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.” Starting over is not in the Washington, D.C. lexicon.
I know. I know. The Laws of Systemantics are for fun! Well, those who think these laws are so much techno-babble may have heard of a guy referred to as William of Ockham. He offered a very similar conclusion, stating it in a different, catchier way with, “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” Why would anyone think the government can add layers to the health care system and help anybody? The best solution, the only real solution, would be to simplify–take layers out of the system–not add layers, no matter their ostensible purpose. Economically speaking, if something that is in high demand costs too much, the best solution is to increase the supply, not attempt to a) hold the price down; b) force the suppliers to serve more people; or c) declare the item a “right” that all should enjoy, regardless of price. As far as I know, not one iota of any reform plan addresses increasing the supply of services. Is that not telling?
What, exactly, are the ordinary people who claim to support the President’s plan after? If it is affordable health care for everyone, then there is no way that the reforms being debated in Congress can provide it. In fact, if what I assert in this essay on statist economics is correct, the result of all this reform will be a wider gap between the haves and the have-nots—driven by inflation and government debt—while the special interests and corporatists who feed off the government teat continue to get fat and sloppy.
What is the answer, aside from allowing the market to work by removing the artificial restrictions on the supply of actual health care providers? It’s really pretty simple in my view. If one is more inclined to the graphical presentation of data, this simple chart from TheHamiltonPost.com should be informative.
3:08 pm on September 16, 2009 Email Wilton Alston