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Obamacare

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Most of the ground I will cover here I have been over already on this blog but I want to revisit the issue just to point out that it is playing out exactly the way I have predicted and to point out a few important points that some people may be missing about Obamacare.  I wrote this post over three years ago explaining how this bill was meant to destroy the private insurance market.  It deals with the specifics in more detail.

As most people know, a lot of people are losing their plans and experiencing dramatic rate increases in spite of the President’s numerous emphatic promises that this would not happen.  The line from the administration now is that these plans are being cancelled because they are substandard plans which don’t offer all of the coverage that people need.  Leaving aside the fact that the President never once promised that if you like your plan you can keep your plan as long as the government considers it adequate, this is still a complete lie.

It is true that plans are being cancelled because they don’t meet the minimum requirements set forth in the bill.  But these requirements are not in there to protect you from substandard insurance plans.  They are there because the point of the bill is to transfer wealth from the healthy to the unhealthy.  The way this is done is by forcing everyone to buy certain coverage even if they don’t need it and forcing them to all pay (more or less) the same price.  In this way the insurance companies lose money on the sick people but make it up by charging the healthy extra.  This wouldn’t be possible in a free market because companies would compete over the healthy people.  This is why insurance companies support the law, it creates a price-fixing cartel by which they can extract money from their customers without having to worry about that pesky competition.

In light of this it looks like there aren’t going to be enough healthy people signing up to be the cash-cows in this system.  This seems to be engendering a sense of comfort among many conservatives who think that Obamacare will collapse without these people supporting it.  This is a gross misunderstanding.  If you believe that, when healthy people don’t sign up and insurance companies start losing money, the government will wake up and say “hey, maybe our attempt to take over and micromanage the health insurance industry was misguided, I guess we better just let the free market handle it” you haven’t been paying attention for the last hundred years.

It won’t be Obamacare that collapses.  There is no provision in the bill saying that if it doesn’t work, it will go away.  It will be the insurance companies that collapse.  And this is exactly what progressives want because then they will simply say that the evil private insurance companies failed us and the government has to, reluctantly, move in and take over the whole industry.  But don’t worry this means everyone will get all the healthcare they “need” and it will be cheap and easy and provided by pixies and unicorns with breath that smells like sunshine.

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,

Taxes, the Constitution and the Slippery Slope

[Note: This was written several weeks ago but not published so it’s a little out of date.]

A modern-day “conservative” is basically a libertarian who doesn’t believe in slippery slopes.  Indeed, there is a widespread denial of the phenomenon which defies logic.  Nearly every time someone tries to point out that something the government wants to do may lead to undesirable consequences, they are met with an automatic dismissal–“oh what the slippery slope argument?” (rolls eyes)—as though practically every time someone has warned of a slippery slope, it hasn’t ended up being the case. (See “argument from intimidation.” )

The left has to whitewash the notion of a slippery slope because their entire movement is based on it.  It is all about getting people to go along with things that most of them wouldn’t want through subtle manipulation over a long time-period.  It’s right there in their name—“progressive.” For too long, conservatives have allowed the government to start down these slopes and then tried to steer the slide away from the collectivist disasters that they are designed to funnel us into.  But they are always one (and quite often several) steps ahead of us because they designed the slope in the first place so that whenever we try to steer around Scylla, there is an undetected Charybdis waiting to swallow us up.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the healthcare debate.  I will get into the economics of healthcare next time but first we have to talk taxes.

There is a real divide in political ideology in the country but it is not between Democrats and Republicans or liberals and conservatives.  It is between people who think society should be socially engineered through force by a centralized authority and those who think it should not.  It’s true that most of the people on the “should not” side are also on the conservative/Republican side.  But how often do you hear a “conservative” pundit say they want “small government” and then in the next segment call for the government to do something to bring down gas prices, fight “speculators,” save children from their parents and engage in all sorts of other interventions designed to engineer society in a supposedly conservative way?

Taxes

In order to have a government you need taxes.  In order to be free, you must have an absolute prohibition on the government (at least the Federal Government) using the tax code to socially engineer society.  Once you let go of the premise that social engineering is the proper purpose of government, and that the proper role of the individual is to try to influence the government to engineer it in the way that individual desires, then you become a libertarian (welcome aboard).  To most conservatives, this sounds great until they realize that giving up this notion means giving up your mortgage interest credit, your earned income credit, your continuing education credit, etc.

Of course, a libertarian tax code would also get rid of all the credits that you don’t use and offset this with lower rates (way lower rates if we also had a libertarian spending policy), so nearly everyone would be better off.  But strangely no congressman ever proposes a bill eliminating all tax credits and lowering rates.  Why is that?  Perhaps it’s because politicians like power and their power derives largely from their ability to divert money to specific segments of the public.  But I digress.

The Constitution

The founding fathers were libertarians.  In light of this, doesn’t it seem like they would have put something in the constitution prohibiting the Federal Government from using the tax code to target certain individuals and behaviors in order to socially engineer society?  Yes it does, and in fact they did just that.

“Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers…”

-Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3

“No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

-Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4

So how is it that we just witnessed the Supreme Court uphold a bill which gives the Federal Government the power to force every individual to buy healthcare on the grounds that the penalty for not complying is actually a tax?  The answer, of course, is that we allowed progressives to undermine this important provision of the constitution a hundred years ago when we passed the 16th amendment.

You might recall when President Obama expressed his regret that the constitution was only a charter of negative rights saying what the government can’t do to you and not a charter of positive rights saying what the government must do on your behalf.  The response of conservative commentators was to shout “see, he wants to change the constitution from a charter of negative rights into a charter of positive rights!”  But this was a misdirection, as I pointed out a while back.

What we should have said is “wait a minute, it’s actually not either of those things, it is a charter of enumerated powers.  It says what the government may do on your behalf.”  This is a very important distinction. All of the debate over the healthcare law was centered on the commerce clause.  The question was posed: can the government force us to buy broccoli under the commerce clause?  The court avoided answering this question, and so far nobody is asking the same question with regard to the power to tax.  Can the government “tax” me if I don’t buy broccoli?  Of course, the answer is yes.  Whatever the government wants me to do, it can declare a tax against me if I fail to do it.  There is no longer anything which falls outside of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government.

So what is the point of the constitution then?  It stops the government from discriminating against me based on race, infringing on my freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, etc. The protections contained in the constitution have been reduced to only those protections which are specifically mentioned.  In other words, it has been transformed into a charter of negative rights.

The slippery slope

Imagine the response if, in 1913, you had stood up and said “if we allow this amendment, there will be nothing stopping the government from taking over the healthcare industry, or any other industry, and telling us what we have to buy, and how much we have to pay for it, because this will ultimately transform the constitution from a charter of enumerated powers into a charter of negative rights.”  But the reality is that this power to tax us however they see fit, does give them the power to do pretty-much anything they want to us.  (Speaking of slippery slopes, in 1913, the top rate was 7% and this was supposed to be temporary.  By 1918, it was 77% and in 1944, the top rate was 94% and the first bracket was 23%)

I’m not making a slippery slope argument in reference to the future. I am making it in reference to the past.  We have been sliding for a century, the whole process is right there in the history books.  There is no speculation involved, you just have to look around and notice that we are at the bottom of the hill.

It’s not enough to just blame Obama or Democrats or Chief Justice Roberts or the media for what is happening.  This is happening because Americans have lost touch with the moral and philosophical foundations of liberty.  If we hadn’t we would have stopped it in 1913 (along with a lot of other things that started in 1913).  Progressives actually don’t want liberty and they are purposely trying to undermine it.  Conservatives don’t want this, we have just been tricked into going along with it.  But the reason we fell for it is because we stopped being libertarians.

This government is a Hydra with so many heads nobody can count them.  There is always one head nuzzling up to you while six others are devouring your neighbor.  Then, when one suddenly comes for us, our reaction is to try to cut off the head, but even if we succeed in cutting it off, two more spring forth (repeal and replace?).  In the end, everyone gets eaten unless we actually slay the monster—unless we can look at the head nuzzling us, the head devouring us and the head claiming to be protecting us from the one that is devouring us and say “you all gotta go”–in short, unless we become libertarians again.

A Real CLASS Act

October 17, 2011 2 comments

The administration declared a piece of the healthcare bill “unworkable”  on friday, ending the Community Living Assistance Services (CLASS) Act.  Long-time readers of this blog will not be surprised by this as it is a clear result of the adverse selection inherent in these markets.  As administration officials put it:

If they designed a benefits package generous enough to meet the law’s requirements, they would have had to set premiums so high that few healthy people would enroll. And without a large share of healthy people in the pool, the CLASS plan would have become even more expensive, forcing the government to raise premiums even higher to the point of the program’s collapse.

Sound familiar?  So the Obama administration finally figured out what I was explaining a year and a half ago.  If only they had read my blog….. Of course, it’s not as though the people who designed this stuff had never heard of adverse selection, this was in there because in theory it reduced the deficit by $86 billion.  This accounted for over 40% of the imagined savings in the bill.  So this is playing out exactly as I and many others predicted.  The promised savings are not materializing for reasons which were entirely predictable (notice the quote at the end of this post).  Of course at the time everything was far too complicated for most people to understand so it just came down to our word against theirs and you took the side of whichever party you were predisposed to agree with.  But I digress.

The important thing here is that this presents the perfect opportunity to notice how government robs us of our liberty by promising the impossible.  They told us that they were going to have a voluntary insurance program that would generate $86* billion in profits.  It should be obvious from the start that this is a complete lie.  If it were possible to offer a voluntary insurance program that paid for itself (and actually generated a profit) someone would be doing it already.  And of course they are doing it, there are all kinds of long-term care insurance products available in the market.  We don’t need government to have insurance, we just need to pay for it.

The government doesn’t have special powers to eliminate asymmetric information.  They don’t have special powers to produce goods cheaper than the private sector.  There is only one special power the government has which the private sector doesn’t have: the power to force you to do things.  The failure of this plan is the result of three particular causes:

1.  Information is asymmetric and this causes adverse selection

2.  The plan is required to be self-sufficient

3.  The plan is voluntary

The first one is a law of nature.  Notice, the first step in the theft of your liberty is always a claim that the government can overcome some natural yet inconvenient consequence of individual liberty.  But the way they overcome it is never by somehow changing the laws of nature, it is always by taking away some element of individual liberty.  This, after all, is the only power government has.  The reason they failed to eliminate the effects of adverse selection in this case is that they prevented themselves from using this power from the outset by including numbers 2 and 3 in the bill.  Notice that if the plan didn’t have to be self sufficient, they could just keep it going by subsidizing it with money they took involuntarily from someone else.  If the program didn’t have to be voluntary they could force people to be in it and, again, keep it going with money they took involuntarily from someone else.

But have no fear, the rest of the healthcare law won’t have this problem….

Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS, countered that the CLASS program was an isolated case whose practicality was questionable from the beginning.

“There is a very clear difference between that kind of uncertainty and the rest of the law,” she said.

 

*I’ve been hearing 79 billion lately  so the exact number seems a little uncertain but the principle is the same

Categories: Politics Tags:

Drug Shortages

From an article in today’s WSJ:

The vast majority of U.S. hospitals have restricted the use of life-saving chemotherapy drugs and other critical-care medications in the past six months to cope with unprecedented shortages, according to a survey released Tuesday.

This should come as no surprise.  Despite the means of production being privately owned, the government micromanages the healthcare system just as most other industries.  The single fatal flaw underlying all of leftist economic thought is the failure to notice this fundamental truth:  Goods are scarce.  Since goods are scarce, they must be rationed.  One system of rationing goods is markets.  The track record of markets is quite impressive when left alone to carry out this function.  But when government intervenes in markets they destroy the market mechanism.  Once the market is not able to function properly, some other mechanism must emerge to ration goods.

Politicians and governments love this because they usually get to design and control the mechanism.  In a market, willingness to pay determines who gets a good and how much they get.  Once people are unable to compete on price someone has to determine who gets it and how much.  Guess who that usually is.  In a market, the cost of production (relative to consumer’s willingness to pay) determines who produces and how much they produce.  But when firms and consumers are unable to compete on price, guess who decides these things.  Observe the case at hand:

The shortages are growing more severe, in part, because of industry consolidation and manufacturing problems in the past year. When one company runs into a manufacturing problem with a product or decides to quit making a drug, competing companies can’t quickly fill the void. In April, Teva reopened a California plant that it had shut down voluntarily for about a year, in part to retool to meet Food and Drug Administration manufacturing guidelines.

And then there’s this (this is the best part):

 Bills introduced in the House and Senate would require companies to notify the FDA when they have a problem that could result in a shortage. Current law requires companies to report to the FDA in cases when they are the only supplier of a drug and they plan to quit making it. The House bill, sponsored by Reps. Diana DeGette (D., Colo.) and Tom Rooney
(R., Fla.) would subject companies to fines of up to $10,000 a day, with a cap of $1.8 million, for failure to comply with reporting requirements.

…While some companies do notify the FDA about potential problems like shortages of ingredients used to make drugs, Ms. Klobuchar described the current system as
“haphazard

As usual, they will fix it with more government control.  But it seems like there is a pattern here.  The government intervenes in a market.  The market mysteriously becomes all “haphazard.”  The government rushes in to fix it with more intervention.  The more intervention they undertake, the more haphazard the market becomes and the more intervention is required.  But don’t worry, I’m sure with the new healthcare bill, everything will be fine, shortages of drugs and lines at the emergency room will go down, everyone will get to keep their doctor and nothing will be haphazard.  They just need a little more control…..

 

Categories: Politics Tags:

Death Panels

December 28, 2010 2 comments

Death panels are in the news again.  Here is the story.  Basically, they tried to include end of life planning in the healthcare bill but the public didn’t like it so they took it out and now they are doing it through the bureaucracy over the weekend…..on Christmas…… oh and they advised Democratic congressmen not to brag about it too much.  So having the government pay for end of live planning isn’t really such a bad thing (at least it’s not any worse than when they pay for other things).  But there are two important things to take away from this.

First, this is how things get done now, not through congress but through the bureaucracy.  All the attention is on what congress passes but regardless of what they pass, the bureaucracy does whatever it has to do in order to advance their progressive agenda.  We mistake these bills for a battle over how powerful the government will be but for the most part, the battle is already over and we have lost.  We have let the executive branch gradually gain the power to do practically whatever it wants so now they have a big debate and the public weighs in and then they do whatever they want regardless of public opinion and the outcome of congressional proceedings.  We have to realize that our problems are deep and systemic.  They won’t be fixed by just electing Republicans or repealing the healthcare bill.

Second, and more importantly, even though what they are creating now are not death panels, death panels are the inevitable result of their philosophy.  The progressive moral code says that “healthcare is a human right.”  This is not like the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Let’s examine the difference.

Negative rights:  This means you cannot be prevented from doing something.  These are the rights of which the founders spoke.  The right to life does not mean that you are guaranteed to never die.  It means that you cannot be prevented from trying to remain alive.  There are certain negative rights with which everyone is “endowed by their creator.”  These are part of the laws of nature.  There is a liberty inherent in man simply as a result of being man.  This cannot be taken away by the government, the government can only change the options between which he is at liberty to choose.

Positive rights: This is the right to get something no matter what.  This is the right to healthcare.  It is entirely different from a negative right.  If “right” is understood to mean a negative right, then we had a right to healthcare when the country was founded.  That is, you had a right to get whatever healthcare you could buy or get someone to willingly buy for you.  But this is not what they mean.  They mean, you should get healthcare no matter what, even if nobody is willing to provide it for you.  There are no positive rights inherent in nature.  Every creature is born with the freedom to try to survive but no creature is born with the guarantee that it will survive no matter what it does.

I have said before that progressives are people who don’t believe in scarcity.  This is the case here.  They say “I believe everyone has a right to healthcare.”  But if they believe this then they are simply factually incorrect.  There is no natural right to healthcare.  What they mean to say is “I wish there were a right to healthcare.”  Well that’s all well and good but the fact is that there isn’t and in the presence of that fact the question which confronts us is whether to embrace the rights we do have or to sacrifice them grasping for an imaginary one we wish we had.

This may sound like hyperbole but it must be understood that creating a positive right always infringes upon someone else’s negative rights.  If someone is to be guaranteed healthcare that means that someone else must be compelled to provide it for them.  This means the second person’s right not to provide it is sacrificed.  Sometimes it’s more subtle than this.  For instance if you are healthier than I am and the government gives me the “right” to buy health insurance for the same price as you, what it is really doing is preventing you and the insurance company from engaging in a mutually beneficial trade (insurance for some amount of money less than the amount for which it would be willing to sell it to me).  In other words, they are taking away your negative right to healthcare.

So what does this have to do with death panels?  Once you acknowledge that scarcity is not caused by greedy capitalists, it is a fact of nature, you have to acknowledge that goods must be rationed.  The question then is how to ration them.  Here are two ways.

1.  Everyone has the right to their own property and labor and the right to trade it with whomever at whatever prices they want.  This means that you have a right to whatever healthcare you are willing and able to pay for.  You make the decision about how much of it is worth buying just like any other good.  You can negotiate an insurance contract with an insurance company and buy as much or as little as you think is worth buying on terms that are beneficial to both parties. 

2.  Everyone has a right to healthcare.  Healthcare must be provided to anyone who wants it potentially at someone else’s expense.  This already violates the moral premise of private property but it doesn’t even address the issue of rationing.  Rhetorically this solves the problem of rationing by assuming scarcity away.  But the problem is still there and eventually it must be dealt with.  You can’t actually give everyone all the healthcare they want because there isn’t an unlimited supply of it. 

What’s more, people will now make decisions which are inefficient since they are no longer trading their own stuff for healthcare, they are just demanding it and someone else is paying for it.  So naturally they will want as much as they can get. Under the first rationing scheme a person might find themself toward the end of their life and be faced with the opportunity to undergo an expensive procedure which is expected to prolong their life for a few months.  They may decide that it would be better to pass the money on to their children or donate it to the local orphanage or what have you.  Or they may not, since it’s their money they could decide the best way to use it.

On the other hand if a person finds themself in a similar situation under the second scheme, naturally they will want as much healthcare as possible because the benefits will be disassociated with the costs.  The costs will be bourne by others but the check will be signed by the government, quite likely a government that had promised to reduce healthcare costs.  So who will decide whether or not it is worth it to get the procedure? 

The free market is a mechanism for rationing scarce goods.  It happens to be the only mechanism compatible with individual liberty and property rights and it also turns out to be pretty efficient most of the time.  But the free market doesn’t guarantee that everyone will be “equal.”  If you go on a quest to make them “equal,” you will have to destroy the free market.  If you destroy the market and the price mechanism, you must have another way of rationing (one that is not compatible with individual liberty and property rights). 

I’m not saying that they have created this system already I am saying that it is a logical necessity of the system they are creating.  Of course they aren’t going to tell you that they are creating a system where the government has to decide what you can and can’t get.  They are just going to tell you that you can have whatever you want. But scarcity is a law of nature you can’t just wish it away.  Eventually this system will cause a “crisis” by which they will pretend to be totally surprised.  They will have no choice but to ration care.  But don’t worry because the structure to do this will already be in place.  We will just have the bureaucracy tweak the rules a little bit, no congressional approval required.

Billboards, Healthcare and the Tragedy of Externalities

December 18, 2010 Leave a comment

The reason we are in such bad shape today is that most Americans have no code.  To see what I mean consider the following 2 codes.  Code A: everyone has the right to use their property however they want as long as it isn’t destructive to someone else’s property.  Code 2: the government controls all property and should make whatever decisions are best for the society as a whole.  Obviously these two codes are incompatible.  Anyone could see that.  The problem is that they don’t teach us to choose a code and stick to it.  They teach us to be afraid of having a code, to value things like “compromise,” “moderation,” “centrism,” etc. 

So we tell ourselves that there is some truth on both sides and that we hold both values.  We are for private property but we also think the government should intervene sometimes when there is a big enough social benefit.  But we don’t realize that by doing this we are implicitly choosing one of them.  When we go on this way we always end up running into these contradictions where we don’t know what to do.  And we try to weigh the benefits and costs of both sides.  But by doing this we are accepting the premise that the welfare of different people can be compared.  In other words we are accepting the notion of “social value.”  And what do you know, when you compare the benefit to one measly property owner against the perceived value to society it usually seems like the latter is much “larger.”  This is why progressivism works.  Progressives actually believe in the second code and they know you don’t.  But they are progressively getting you to accept it even though if you knew what you were getting into it would horrify you.

Case in point: here is a story from the town I currently call home.  Note this quote: “It’s a skyline that’s collectively owned by all of us and suddenly it becomes privately marked.”  The skyline is not collectively owned!  A skyscraper is private property.  There is no subtle distinction here.  The reason this guy thinks it is public property is that the public can see it.  Did you hear me?  It’s collectively owned because the public can see it!  Therefore, what a private owner does to his own property is a decision which must be made by government because it affects other people who want to look at something other than what the supposed owner wants to put there.  And this is not just a crazy proposal by a fringe group, this is existing policy.  This guy is complaining because we are going back to letting owners decide what to put up on their own private property.  How did this happen?

Well, I already told you but let’s get a little more specific.  A long time ago in a galaxy far far away people believed in private property and there was a lot of economic work done showing that private property and individual freedom let to efficient outcomes.  Then someone discovered the concept of an externality, a situation that could make free markets inefficient.  So we said “OK government, go ahead and regulate situations where there is an externality to make them efficient.”  We forgot that we had property rights for the sake of our freedom, we thought we got them because they were efficient!   So as soon as someone came along and told us a little bit less freedom would be more efficient we weighed the social cost against the social benefit and agreed.  And at that moment the code “everyone has the right to use their property however they want as long as it is not destructive to someone else’s property” became “everyone has the right to use their own property however they want so long as the decision doesn’t affect anyone else in any way.”  But this is the same code as “The government controls all property and should make whatever decisions are best for society as a whole.”  It just doesn’t sound the same, it sounds kind of like the first one….

The reason that this code is the same as code B is that we have to live together.  When people live together in a society, their actions affect each other.  Practically everything you do affects other people.  People have to look at your house, your car, your yard etc.  Does that mean the government can tell you what kind of flowers to grow in your garden?  The air you are breathing is air someone else can’t breath.  If you walk out on your front porch and pass gas, your neighbor has to smell it.  Obviously I could go on and on like this and if you are skeptical you will say “yeah but the government would never try to regulate those things that’s just silly.”  But can you imagine what people would have said if Ayn Rand had said in Atlas Shrugged in 1957 that the government had decided people’s buildings were public property because other people look at them and therefore they can tell you what you can and can’t put on them?  (If you can’t, it would have been much like what they did say anyway which is that it was crazy and it would never happen.) 

To find a more important example of this phenomenon one need look no farther than the court battle over the recent healthcare bill.  This bill requires you to buy health insurance even if you don’t want it.  The reason that they claim they have the right to do this is that your refusal to buy health insurance affects other people.    The reason it affects other people (and interstate commerce) is that your decision affects demand for and therefore the price of health insurance and if you don’t want it they are going to give it to you anyway.  These of course are both direct consequences of their interference in the healthcare and health insurance markets but that’s a topic for another post.  The thing you need to understand is that even not doing anything affects other people because if you did do something it would affect some market and that would affect other people.  This means that there is literally nothing that the government can’t prevent you from doing or even force you to do.  By the way, notice that the pretext of efficiency is completely dropped (in this case it is certainly less efficient) that was just a transitory technique to change the code.  So let’s review the transformation in values.

Code 1: We believe in private property rights.  A pleasant side effect of this is economic efficiency.

Code 2:  We believe in economic efficiency which usually means we should respect private property rights but sometimes the government should intervene when there is some externality which would make free markets and private property inefficient.

Code 3:  We believe in private property rights as long as the exercise thereof does not have any external effect on someone else, then the government can regulate it.

Code 4: The government controls all property and activity and can prevent or require any action by any person it wants in the name of public welfare.

We are at number 3 right now but the only difference between 3 and 4 is that when you’re at 3 you haven’t noticed that 3 and 4 are the same.  I will present a similar argument with respect to taxes shortly.

Healthcare

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

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….