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Healthcare

Here are a few stylized facts:

1. Most Americans don’t like the healthcare bill.

2. Most Americans “like” social security and medicare.

3.  Democrats claim that once Americans learn what is in the healthcare bill they will like it.

They are right about this.  Well that’s not exactly accurate.  What they mean when they say people “like” social security is that people don’t want to end it.  And this is what they really mean about healthcare as well.  But this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  Every time I see a Democrat on tv saying to a conservative/Republican “so you don’t think we should have social security?” and see the Republican squirm and back down I want to scream at my TV.  “Yes!  Social security was  terrible idea!  Medicare was a terrible idea!” 

These programs are one of the main sources of our current calamity.  One way or another they are going to collapse, either because we phase them out or because they (along with many other problems) collapse the whole government around them.  But people “like” them because these programs send them a check every month.  It’s not rocket science!  It’s not that over the last 40 years everyone underwent a deep intellectual consideration of the issue and decided that it’s a good idea for the government to take your money by force for your entire life and give it to someone else on the promise of taking someone else’s money and giving it to you when/if you get old enough.  It’s not a good idea.  It’s not efficient, it’s not sustainable, it violates the fundamental tenants of individual liberty and responsibility, it’s not a good idea!

But by now, people have planned their lives around social security and medicare.  We have a generation of seniors who have paid into it their whole lives and believed that they would get a certain amount of benefits back.  They were told that this was a perfectly stable system and it was fair and everything would be fine.  These were lies.  But now they have planned their retirement based on the expectation of that money.  If you take it away they will be screwed.  Of course they don’t want to end it.

It would seem like a crime to take away social security benefits from people who have paid into it their entire lives.  And it is a crime.  But the crime has already happened.  The crime was taking that money in the first place and giving it away to someone else (much of it has gone to other programs).  Now the question is not “should we rob the public of their social security money?” it is “since we have already robbed the public of their social security money, who should end up paying for it?”  I am not proposing an answer to this question here I just want to point out that the crime occurred when we instituted the program in the first place not when it eventually collapses.

The exact same thing is happening with the healthcare bill.  It’s not that people will decide it’s a good idea once it’s been in effect for a few years, it’s that it will distort the whole healthcare industry to the point where people will not want to go back to a system that makes sense because it will imply some short-term disruption to their lives (given the nature of the issue, for some it will be long-term) which they will not want to bear.

Here is an example.  Since you cannot be denied care for having a preexisting condition (the part of the bill which is simultaneously the most destructive part and the part which everyone supposedly agrees on) people will go without health insurance (and potentially pay a fine) because when they get sick they can just go get insurance and insurers will be forced to take them (and the price will be regulated).  As I have pointed out before, this is a complete distortion of the meaning of insurance.  But once it is instituted, if you try to go back to a free insurance market it will yank the rug out from under these people.  They would have to pay a fair price for insurance which, if they had a preexisting condition, may be exceptionally high.  That’s why you get insurance before you get sick.  That’s the point of insurance.  But once they distort the system, they make going back to something that makes sense extremely disruptive.

This is what they mean when they say that people will learn to like it.  They will become dependent on it.  This is, in fact, what they mean by “progressive.”  And this is why it is of the utmost importance to repeal it now before this happens.  Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to imagine that happening….

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