So Much for the Revolution

Recently by Charles Goyette: If You Meet the Buddha on the Road

Of course the State doesn't create any wealth. But it sure keeps busy moving it around a lot. The governing classes and bureaucracies have been doing it so long and on such a ballooning scale that by now it is inexcusable to have missed what happens when the State stovepipes money to a particular recipient group: costs go through the roof.

You may have noticed the hand of the state in blowing up the housing bubble. If you came along too late for that show, look at the education bubble instead. Student loan debt is now over a trillion dollars, even larger than total U.S. credit card debt. And it keeps growing. All that State guaranteed loan money has simply blown up the cost of higher education, transferring wealth from students to the professorial classes and education elite, and further trivializing education with silly, taxpayer-subsidized classes. (Why, really, should a university offer three credit hours to study Lady Gaga? Would it be so difficult for someone that interested to just, y'know, read a book?)

It's not so difficult to understand the impact of the State and its largesse. Imagine a law that had the state subsidizing hamburger consumption, agreeing to pay a substantial part of the cost of every hamburger eaten. Hamburger sales would skyrocket and prices would head to the moon. And then if the State capped prices too, hamburger shortages would soon become a fact of life.

Now the State, which has almost completely ruined medical care that was the envy of the world, is busy channeling more money to the industry. And all eyes are turned toward arguments before the Supreme Court that will determine just how thoroughly the State will be able to destroy the physician- patient relationship as it stovepipes money to Big Pharma and corporate medicine.

The oral arguments before the court have been characterized by typical lawyerly casuistry, arguments and inquiries which presage a hair-splitting outcome. While the court is capable of striking down the mandates in part, if it does so, it will be in a way that changes, but does not arrest, the further socialization of medicine.

After Tuesday's arguments Senator Leahy said that it would be hard to understand how the Supreme Court could strike down the health care mandates without overturning Social Security. "I don't think they are prepared to do that," he said.

He's right. Both Obamacare and Social Security rely on the same view of the State and its power to order about the affairs of the individual. And that is the real issue at hand. It is an issue the justices, themselves political appointees and servitors of the state, won't confront. In fact, even if the justices were utterly convinced that Social Security were unconstitutional, they would still leave it intact to collapse in its own ashes. There would be none of the interminable media chatter about Justice Kennedy and his swing vote.

The Supreme Court is not alone in its refusal to address the real issue of the State and its power. The Republicans, posturing as principled opponents of State mandates, won't address the power of the State either except to the extent they see it as an election year expedience. After all, the Affordable Care Act is a changeling. It may have been raised by Obama, but it is a Republican child. Its mandates sprang from the brow of Republicans. It was suckled at the breast of the Heritage Foundation. And if any final questions about its parentage remain, they can be answered by noting that Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, called upon Ted Kennedy to witness the birth and even midwife his Romneycare offspring in Massachusetts.

Making medical care more expensive, regimented and regulated at the hands of Republicans or Democrats will have one unintended consequence. Just as stovepiping money into housing and educations drove the costs of both up, so too will healthcare costs rise ever higher, while attempts to put a lid on those prices will mean care that is characterized by shortages and delays. This will all conspire to help solve the actuarial problem of Social Security since people will be forced to forego needed care and leave medical maladies untreated. The American lifespan will grow shorter. In the growth of statism, America is emulating the old Soviet Union. Why then shouldn't American life expectancy emulate theirs, with longevity that bumped along at the bottom range well below that of Japan, Europe, and the United States?

For those detached from the partisan one-upmanship of the Red and Blue parties, those more interested in the preservation of our freedom and the restoration of our prosperity, the battle over healthcare highlights the absurdity of what has become of the land of the free. In a Lew blog post, Thomas DiLorenzo summed it all up, concluding ironically that the main idea of the founding fathers…

". . . was that after a long and bloody revolution fought in the name of freedom and against tyranny, they would place everyone’ s freedom, and life itself, in the hands of five government lawyers with lifetime tenure. Or in some cases just one government lawyer with lifetime tenure if the nine-person Supreme Court happens to have a 4–4 ideological split on most issues."