Friday, August 7, 2009

GOP to the Rescue

Just when Obamacare is increasingly threatened with mounting grassroots opposition, along come the “bipartisan” Republicans to rescue it. In an article in the Washington Post, six democrats, five republicans, and one independent declared: “We refuse to let partisanship kill health reform”.

The result is the Healthy Americans Act. The 12 co-sponsors of the bill said:

As 12 U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle who have widely varying philosophies, we offer a concrete demonstration that it is possible to find common ground and pass real health reform this year. The process has been rocky, and slower than many had hoped. But the reports of the death of bipartisan health reform have been greatly exaggerated. Now is the time to resuscitate it, before the best opportunity in years is wasted.

In comments posted to the article, I said:

Zemack wrote:

This "compromise" may be bipartisan, but it is not a deal between "U.S. senators...who have widely varying philosophies". The basic premise underlying the Healthy Americans Act is that it is the government's responsibility to guarantee health insurance and health care to every American. That is the essential collectivist principle of all forms of socialism. Once that principle is accepted, all talk of "empowering individuals and bringing market forces to the health-care system" is just so much deceptive hot air.

For a government to guarantee any man-made product or service, it must assume totalitarian control over that industry, sooner or later, as well as enact wealth redistributionist policies. There is no other way.

This article is riddled with statist concepts. While ending the tax code-engineered third-party-payer system is a must, this bill does no such thing. It just shifts responsibility for health insurance from the employer to the federal government, a gigantic step toward a total government takeover of health care. It taxes some for the unearned benefit of others, forces "employers to contribute to the system", and forces "all individuals to have coverage". There is nothing "free market" about that.

The real tip-off is embodied in the phrases "we allow all Americans to have the same kind of choices" and "giving Americans choices". This statist mindset signals the inversion of a key American principle...that the people, as individuals, act by unalienable right, and the government acts by permission. In a free market, choices aren't a gift of government. A free market by permission is a contradiction in terms.

Of course, there is no one here advocating a free market, which is based upon individual rights...only some vague notion of "market forces". There is no talk of liberating the insurance industry of government mandates, or of ending state-imposed restraint of trade practices, or of phasing out and abolishing compulsory government "insurance" schemes like Medicare, Medicaid, or S-CHIP, or of reigning in the FDA's power to dictate which medicines we can take. A true free market is one in which force and compulsion is banished, and government acts as protector of individual rights (which includes vigorous enforcement of laws against fraud and breech of contract). All individuals are free to think and act on their own judgement, in voluntary association and mutually beneficial trade. That is what the "free" in free market means.

The Republican "activists" are acting without principles, in the name of "bipartisanship"...demonstrating once again the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of their party. The Democratic activists have won. They will just have to wait a little longer for their socialized medicine. There may be some good nuggets in this bill, but the heavy hand of coercive government will doom it to failure. The normal market incentives toward lower prices, higher quality, and wider and wider availability...inherent features of individual freedom...will not be able to operate. Then it will be declared that the free market was given one last chance and had failed...where no free market was ever established.

8/5/2009 7:31:19 PM

1 comment:

Harold said...

"All individuals are free to think and act on their own judgement, in voluntary association and mutually beneficial trade. That is what the "free" in free market means."

That is absolutely right. You have identified the essentiality of trade--voluntary exchange of values. Because this concept is rarely defined people think that there can be such a thing as a force-backed "public option".