Monday, June 1, 2009

Obama's $2 Trillion Extortion Scheme

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
—Thomas Jefferson

A much-ballyhooed commitment to lower the cost of health care was recently offered by groups representing the health care industry. According to the Associated Press:

President Barack Obama's plan to provide medical insurance for all Americans took a big step toward becoming reality Sunday after leaders of the health care industry offered $2 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years to help pay for the program.

Hospitals, insurance companies, drug makers and doctors planned to tell Obama on Monday they'll voluntarily slow their rate increases in coming years in a move that government economists say would create breathing room to help provide health insurance to an estimated 50 million Americans who now go without it.

It requires a monumental act of evasion to believe that there is anything “voluntary” about this agreement. According to the article;

The industry groups are trying to get on the administration bandwagon for expanded coverage now in the hope they can steer Congress away from legislation that would restrict their profitability in future years.

Insurers, for example, want to avoid the creation of a government health plan that would directly compete with them to enroll middle-class workers and their families. Drug makers worry that in the future, new medications might have to pass a cost-benefit test before they can win approval. And hospitals and doctors are concerned the government could dictate what they get paid to care for any patient, not only the elderly and the poor.

Scott Hensley of The Association of Health Care Journalists puts it more to the point:

Nothing like the fear of a government-backed health plan and a determined president to focus the minds of the private health sector on curbing costs.

For a president who made a cottage industry of hope during his campaign, writes Rich Lowry in the New York Post, Obama is benefiting from rank fear in his dealings with potentially recalcitrant business interests, from Chrysler's secured creditors to the health-care industry -- get on board or get run over.

There is a word for this. It is called extortion. It is extortion by our government officials who are sworn to uphold a constitution designed to protect their citizen’s unalienable individual rights to liberty and property. It is extortion against a particular group of citizens whose common attribute is that they provide vital medical services and products. This “big step” is driven by fear…the fear of private citizens of their own government. Now, as our great Founding Father Thomas Jefferson would put it, “there is tyranny”.

So much for the myth of the “power” of big business Goliaths! Once again, we see the naked essence of the sacrificial code of altruism played out on a grand scale in the political arena.

But the danger goes beyond the obvious government extortion. The question arises; how did these groups come to be designated spokespersons for an entire industry? How will individual members of each of the four industry segments be made to comply with the commitment of “a target of a 1.5-percentage-point reduction” per annum? A reduction from what? Who is the omniscient forecaster able to predict the annual price ranges going forward ten years, especially considering the potentially explosive inflationary impact of the Bush-Obama spending spree? What about new industry entrants? Will they be required to meet conditions imposed by this new agreement, for the privilege of opening a business in America?

These and many more questions have not yet been answered. The AP states only; “There's no detail on how the savings pledge would be enforced.”

The unavoidable fact is, there is only one way this can be enforced…by government dictate. It will have to mean explicit price targets…i.e., price controls. To ensure compliance by all members of the health care industry, it will have to mean reorganizing the four segments into government-enforced cartels. This is central planning through the back door. It is privatized socialism. In other words, it is fascism.

Of course, in reality, this plan cannot possibly work. Only total government control…the very eventuality the industry seeks to avoid…can enforce it. Down the road, when the alleged “savings” don’t materialize…and the costs to the government predictably explode out of control, as they always do under any kind of “universal” scheme…it will be declared that “free” enterprise was given one last chance and it had failed. The “solution”, of course, will also be predictable.

There is another disturbing aspect to this whole putrid deal. Is there an element of a sell-out by the industry leaders of their own members and/or of the American people? The Associated Press reports:

A national health care overhaul, including more efforts to control chronic diseases, should benefit health care giant Johnson & Johnson, the head of its comprehensive care business said Tuesday.

The company's broad line of products, many targeting an increasingly old population, put J&J in a unique position, Donald M. Casey Jr. told analysts at the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch 2009 Health Care Conference in New York.

"Because we're so broad-based, we think health care reform and a focus on chronic disease plays right into our strengths," he said.

The Russian Marxist Vladimir Lenin famously quipped, “A capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with”. Rope sales in this recession are booming today. Do the industries that “offered” Obama $2 trillion in “savings” have something in addition to fear as a motive? Perhaps. But more likely, they are taking the destructive pragmatic, short-range path of least resistance.

One thing is certain. When the most prominent victims of an advancing tyranny fail to speak out, for whatever reason, the chances of stopping the onslaught are almost nil. And I do believe that fear is the prime driving force. After all, these same industry groups fought ferociously and successfully to crush Hillarycare in 1993. The awesome power now being wielded by an American president comes at us on multiple fronts; all of it inherited from the build-up of decades of accumulated extra-constitutional laws.

For example, Obama has promised to greatly expand antitrust enforcement against large firms. That unjust, un-American body of laws is specifically designed to hamper and punish economic success, a favorite pastime of the president. Duke University’s director of the Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace (VEM), Gary Hull, calls antitrust “immoral because by its nature it punishes businessmen for the alleged crime of being ‘too’ successful”. Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney acknowledges as much, arrogantly declaring; "Look, when you become successful and you have market power, however you define it, you need to pay attention to the rules." Those “rules”, as she calls them, are so vague and arbitrary that virtually every business in the country can be found guilty of something any time a Justice Department lawyer decides to prosecute. New York City lawyer Robert S. Getman calls antitrust a body of “undefined laws” that impose unconstitutional “ex post facto (retroactive) punishments”
that amounts to “ ‘deuces-wild’ legal terrorism”.

Once again, we see Jefferson’s definition of tyranny.

With this kind of Sword of Damocles hanging over America’s health care industry, coupled with the brazenly open threats by our so-called political leaders, industry leaders are effectively silenced. A certain amount of moral guilt must accrue to business leaders for not speaking out in opposition to Obama. After all, free speech is still legal in this country. But the pressure of their own government’s threats to “get on board or get run over” was just too much for a philosophically blind, pragmatic group of businessmen to overcome.

So, in answer to the title question above, the answer is clear. What President Barack Obama hailed as "a watershed event" was coerced out of private industry by brute governmental threats. I doubt that most Americans understand the gravity and enormity of the shift away from the rule of law that has taken place over the past year under two administrations, which is now accelerating. It remains to be seen whether the American people, if and when they discover it, will tolerate this power grab…or whether it will be too late.

Obama’s $2 trillion extortion scheme is yet another event straight out of Atlas Shrugged. To paraphrase Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged:

“I came here to tell you about the social program, the political system and the moral philosophy under which you are now living.

“I have come here to tell you the truth about it.

“It was the blackmail threat of a government takeover of their livelihoods that forced the health care industry to sign over the $2 trillion Gift Certificate. It was blackmail—blackmail by your government officials, by your rulers, by your—”

The parallels to Atlas Shrugged just keep multiplying.

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