Archive for November, 2009

Righteous Anger

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

A very nice teardown of the health insurance legislation now going through the senate (Mike Rogers — R Mich. speaking):

Marred on slightly by the fact that the quote at the beginning was actually spoken by William Boetcker in 1916; though it is commonly, as here, mis-attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

The nice point he makes in this is just how much power over individuals’ lives this bill grants to government. It’s amazing to me that leftists will go on and on about the greed and corruption of big business, and at times also acknowledge that government is also corrupt, but then turn around and claim that the only group that can fix it is government.

Here’s the trick, folks: Government and business are, at times, both corrupt. It’s people. It’s powerful people, and power corrupts. Business is in it to make money, and government is in it to “make” votes. The difference is that I can turn down big business. Microsoft may be a massive company and control most of the world’s computers, but they can do *nothing* to force me to buy a Windows machine. If I don’t like the product I don’t have to buy it. But imagine if everyone had to use whatever operating system was most popular? Goodbye Mac, goodbye Linux. (Oh, and goodbye iPods, iPhones, and so forth, which wouldn’t exist because Apple would have been forced out of business years before they were invented.)

Government is like a business that can force you to buy their product — no matter how crappy it is, no matter how wasteful, no matter how poorly implemented. We’ve known for years that Social Security is going bankrupt. Virtually nobody my age believes that they’re every going to see a penny of what they’ve paid in to it, yet we have no choice but to continue paying in to this government “product”.

A common “straw man” argument against conservatives is that they claim that “government can’t do anything right”. That’s not the case, and not the claim. However, history has proven that government frequently gets it wrong — sometimes drastically, and tragically so — yet because it’s government we can’t choose not to buy that bad product.

(Note that despite the comparison, Microsoft products aren’t in the same league with the sheer crappitude that is Social Security, because any company that puts out product that bad ceases to exist in the private market. For a better comparison, imagine if Bernie Madoff could have forced anybody he wanted to invest in his scam: that’s Social Security in a nutshell.)

Ironically this came up to slap some liberals in the face when the Health Care bill was altered before the vote to prohibit funding for abortion. Pro-choice advocates were screaming that this was going to infringe on a woman’s right to an abortion… but why? Haven’t we been told repeatedly that everyone will be able to keep their current coverage? This bill will only help the uninsured? Their protests put the lie to the claim, and though I don’t agree with the specific problem they have (I’m pro-life), the principle of their problem is significant, and valid: if government controls it, then you are completely subject to the whims of government and politics. You no longer have control, and you no longer have freedom.

As goofy as health insurance sometimes is in this country, the companies still have to appeal to their customers. When government is in control, they are not accountable to you. You’re not a customer buying a product; you’re a subject, and they’re doing you a favor because it’s “free” — so quit complaining. It’s not like you have any other options.

And once you’ve handed over that power, good luck getting it back.

Video via Smallest Minority

Does “Free” Health Care Empower the Poor?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

A Canadian writes at the Heritage Foundation:

Everything I want to say about this is summed up in a story that happened to my partner Shelley. Shelley and I are partners in a restaurant, and she actually runs it. She was given an appointment at the hospital for a procedure, and she duly showed up at the appointed time. Two hours later she was still sitting there waiting to be called. Now she was only able to get a two-hour parking meter, and so she approached the desk and asked if she could go and put money in the meter. She was curtly told that she was free to go and put the money in, but that if her name were called while she was away, that her name would fall back to the bottom of the queue. So she just decided that she would take the parking ticket as part of the price of getting the medical service she needed. Another two hours passed, and still she was not called, so she again approached the counter, and very patiently and politely explained (as only Shelley can, because she is the soul of graciousness) that she actually had a small business to run; that she was there at the appointed time for her appointment; that she had waited four hours, which is far longer than she had been led to expect the whole thing would take; that she had other commitments because of the business; and could they possibly at least give her some idea of how much longer she might have to wait?

Well, the woman behind the counter got on her dignity, drew herself up to her full height, glared at Shelley and said, “You’re talking as if you’re some kind of customer!”

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the essence of the problem: When the government supplies you with “free” health care, you are not a powerful customer who must be satisfied. They are doing you a favor and you owe the state gratitude and servility in return for this awesome generosity. They can give you the worst service in the world, but because it is free, you are totally disempowered. One of the most important lessons I have learned from my contact with the Canadian Medicare system is that payment makes you powerful. And its absence makes you risible if not invisible.

Now the articulate and the middle class do not let little things like that get them down. Even though they do not pay, they still get in the faces of the people providing service and make their wishes known. But often the vulnerable, the poor, the ill-educated, and the inarticulate are the ones who suffer the most because no one’s well-being within the health care system depends on patients/consumers being well looked after. And by depriving them of the power of payment within the health care system, Medicare disempowers them. And the poor see this, because while they may be poor, they are not stupid.

“Sky is Blue”

Monday, November 16th, 2009

As you look at this, just recall the China is *exempted* from the Kyoto Treaty.


http://deanesmay.com/2009/11/13/sky-is-blue/

h/t Brian