Saturday, March 25, 2017

Slouching Towards Socialism

It seems I am constrained to commenting these days on politics. (Religion news is akin to reporting that "there is a Beast slouching towards Bethlehem.")

The recent fiasco in Congress over repealing and replacing Obamacare was the result of an inability to obtain agreement, even among so-called "Republicans", that more welfare is not the answer to what is plaguing the American Republic.

That proposition should have earned the unqualified assent of every Republican Congressperson elected to office last November. That it did not is the measure of the State's degeneration to date, under both parties.

During Obama's eight years, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed dozens and dozens of measures repealing Obamacare. They went nowhere, thanks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic President Barack Obama.

But now, when Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, they were unable to undo the regulatory disaster that is Obamacare for once and for all. Why?

The answer may not be popular, but here it is, in plain black and white:

Obamacare is welfare, plain and simple. Americans are hooked on welfare (the government paying for things that people used to obtain privately, whether on their own or though private charity). Rather than simply pass a bill repealing all of Obamacare, the Republican leadership tried to replace the welfare of Obamacare with a new form of welfare. And they could not get all of their colleagues in the party to agree to it -- because there are still some Republicans, at least, who think that subsidizing health care is not the proper function of the federal Government.

There are two major reasons why that stance is correct.

First, Government-run welfare programs are a guaranteed road to deficits and disaster. Look at how well Obamacare has fared, and look at the 225-plus years of the U.S. Postal Service. The reason is plain, but no bureaucrat will admit it: in welfare run by the government, there is no accountability to the bottom line. The tab for any and all deficits is simply picked up by "the taxpayers."

Second, people naturally value things only as they have to pay for them. Paying people's medical costs for them -- even with the absurd "deductibles" recently set under Obamacare -- keeps them from learning what are the real costs of the health care that they demand. And paying so that pre-existing conditions will be covered without question guarantees that people will not ever pay for health care coverage before they have need of it. Once again, the taxpayers are left with the deficits.

Notwithstanding those self-evident truths, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (and President Trump) tried to railroad through the House a replacement for Obamacare that would have kept Americans on medical welfare. The only thing to lament is that there were so few genuinely conservative Republicans who voted to block their attempt. But at least it was enough for the moment.

As America sinks ever deeper into the mire of unaccountable and unaffordable government, may those who see clearly come to dominate the current trend and reverse its course. We have not come this far only to abandon all that we stood for when we declared our independence, and to succumb again to serfdom under a (this time, self-imposed) tyranny.

Obamacare should indeed be repealed (along with the restriction of offering insurance across State borders). But there is no necessity whatever to replace it, and certainly not at the federal level. Let those States who have a majority of socialists vote in their own welfare programs, and let the markets decide what works best.


  1. Judging by the support Bernie Sanders got in the primaries, I suspect that the next generation will vote in favor of candidates supporting "universal health care" (which always seems to turn out being less than universal). Obamacare was set up to increase dependency on the federal government. Once insurance companies start to lose money, they will get out of the health market leaving you know who in control. Interstate insurance deregulation might stem the slouch for a while.

  2. Here are a couple of excerpts from historical documents that your post made me think about:

    IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America (56 Men Signed It)

    "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
    Author: Alexander Hamilton
    October 27, 1787

    (For the Independent Journal; To the People of the State of New York)

    "It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind."
    It is wise to learn from one's mistakes but wiser to learn from the mistakes of others. World history can teach us that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the road to is Heaven narrow. We'll need to commit to Make Government Small Again.
    - MI

  3. A.S Haley you are right on target with this compelling article. Kudos for getting it right.
    (BTW, you spell "healthcare" and "health care." Choose one and stick to it. I believe it is still two words, although the single version is creeping in . . .)
    "Make Government Small Again" is a great meme.

  4. Right you are, CrackleGrator -- thanks for calling that lapse to my attention. (One tends to get lured in by the term "Obamacare".) Anyway, it's fixed.

  5. One non-political event that deserves the Curmudgeon's analysis is the "trial" of Jon Bruno. Sorry this is more or less off topic.

    NW Bob

  6. I am perplexed …all the politicians and media talk only of need to get insurance premiums down…both the ACA and the one that recently did not make it to a vote.
    Any insurance, of any use…even just for catastrophic risk…will necessarily have high premiums as long a the cost of medical CARE remains so high.
    Since at least 1950s, when employer provided insurance became common, medical care has risen by at least 10% PER YEAR, often as much as 15%, when inflation was running only about 3%.
    At the start of the ACA, my single sister had a choice of 4 insurance providers and her subsidized premium was about the same as her portion of her previous employered sponsored plan, and covered most of her medical expense. Last year and this, in half the counties in MO only one insurance company offers a policy, and the cheapest one costs her about $150. per month, government pays over $700, with $20. co-pay and $5000. deductible. She has a full time office job and earns about $14. per hour.
    Last year, her doctor sent her to the local, county owned hospital for a chest exray and blood test. Her out-of-pocket cost was $800. This year, she needed the same tests, and when she told her doctor she couldn't afford it, he suggested a privately owned clinic, down the road a piece, where she paid, out-of-pocket, $35. for the exray and $38. for lab (No insurance involved).
    Because of that story and recent failed effort by congress, I have been doing on-line research of "Market Based Medicine", a growing business, and far less costly care. OKlahoma Orthopedic Clinic posts their prices on-line. They have as good a reputation as the hospitals. (A knee replacement cost is a fraction of one done in the hospital, but Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies will not pay)
    In the little town where I live (3800 pop.) all the doctors work in small clinics of the 2 large hospitals in the county, and the prices are determined by the hospitals.
    My Representative is the only congressman I have heard of that is even investigating Market Priced Medicine, and she is not on a committee with any clout on the subject. It seems congress consults only with the hospital lobby, pharmaceutical lobby and insurance lobby.
    I am glad to be 85 years old, but I am concerned for younger generations.

  7. Maxine Schell nails it here: "Since at least 1950s, when employer provided insurance became common, medical care has risen by at least 10% PER YEAR, often as much as 15%, when inflation was running only about 3%." The government went into the health insurance business in, I think, the 1940s, when income tax rates were sky-high. It began allowing businesses to deduct their costs for providing medical insurance while not adding that to compensation on which employees would pay tax. Originally intended to cover major medical only, it has expanded to an entitlement in which employees now expect employers to pay the bulk of the cost for routine medical care as well as catastrophic events, while everyone, including the government, pretends it's insurance and non-taxable to the employees. The tax credits for private insurance purchase are intended to equalize that situation to some extent for individuals whose employers don't have plans, or who are self-employed. It's a new entitlement only if one ignores the massive hidden entitlement which has existed for most of my life.

    In theory I'd like the government to get out of health insurance entirely. I think the prospects for getting the government out of its existing involvement are slim to none.