The Progressives had their way for much of the 20th century. But it became apparent that centralized experts weren't disinterested, but always sought to expand their power. And it became clear that central planners can never have the kind of information that is transmitted instantly, as Friedrich von Hayek observed, by price signals in free markets.
It turned out that centralized experts are not as wise and ordinary Americans are not as helpless as the Progressives thought. By passing the stimulus package and the health care bills the Democrats produced expansion of government. But voters seem to prefer expansion of liberty.
For much the same reason that Starbucks specializes in retailing coffee, government specializes in enforcing law. And just as Starbucks responds to prevailing consumer demands—just as Starbucks is not in business to tell consumers what they want and don’t want, but instead is in business to serve consumers according to their specific tastes for coffee and pastries—a genuinely classical-liberal government is not in business to foist its demands and dictates on citizens, but instead to serve citizens by enforcing laws that exist independently of government.
People, as in the People, have every right to be angry, furious, shocked, appalled and disgusted by what Congress and our ambitious young prince have done. And bringing the FBI into it? Oh, the FBI is watching! Everybody be careful that they not get too angry! Or else who knows who might come knocking at 3 in the morning! It sure looks like a disgraceful attempt to intimidate those of us who don't like what the Dems have wrought, who hate it in fact, into silence. Ironic, of course. Somebody yelled at me! Me! Call the FBI!
Health insurers — once private companies — are now organs of the federal government. Every citizen is a ward of the state, which can now compel you to have insurance, punish you if you don't; determine if your insurance is acceptable, punish you if it isn't. Thousands of new federal bureaucrats will soon spill from the D.C. Beltway and flood the country, scrutinizing our finances to verify compliance with this new law.
A government that grants itself this kind of power over us can conceivably do anything to us. For our own good, of course. Such a country is in no meaningful sense “free.”
And this is only the beginning.
After having sold some (the last?) of their constituents’ precious liberty, Democrat politicians are afraid of violence when they return to their home districts. Republican John Boehner says:
“I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren’t listening,” Boehner said. “But, as I’ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That’s not the American way.”
Bullshit, Mr. Boehner. Tar and feathers are fully in keeping with American tradition.
Simply, you have nationalized healthcare by proxy. Insurance companies are now heavily regulated government contractors. Way to get big business out of Washington! They will clear a small, government-approved profit on top of their government-approved fees. Then, when healthcare costs rise — and they will — Democrats will insist, yet again, that the profit motive is to blame and out from this Obamacare Trojan horse will pour another army of liberals demanding a more honest version of single-payer.
I’m on vacation in San Miguel de Allende from 19 Mar to 19 Apr. What with the conference trip to Canada a couple of weeks ago, this looks a lot like “NAFTA Tour 2010”. 😉
I arrived yesterday; the flight was uneventful, but I’ve been fighting off either a cold or spring allergies, and the sniffles/stuffiness/redeye became unbearable the moment the hatch opened at MEX. The poor folks in the cab with me from MEX to SMA had to deal with my nose-blowing and eye-wiping for four hours. (Sorry, folks.) But today things are much better.
Last night I went out for dinner with Frank Gardner, his lovely wife Julissa, and their adorable daughter Erin. Frank’s an artist of no small renown; you can see some of his work here. I capped off the evening with some Nyquil-D.
This morning was breakfast by the Jardin, a whole day of sleep, and a big comida at La Terrazza. I just now got back from the Mega (think “Wal-Mart”) with all my breakfast fixings, so I can eat first thing every morning instead of having to shower and dress and walk to a restaurant each day. (This is part of my OCD; that, and it’s cheaper. 😉
I’m staying at my friend Anthony Gentile‘s place until he returns. When he does, I’m going to find a place of my own for the remaining three weeks.
I have no special plans; I just want to “be” here, not “do stuff” here. Even so, I’m no good if I don’t have work of some sort, so I expect I’ll be doing some Solar stuff (like documentation) off and on.
And now, up to the open-air terrace to finish the day with some Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, and maybe a read a bit, then sleep.
I just added wp-super-cache to this WordPress blog. With any luck that will keep future Slashdot traffic from reducing the site responsiveness too dramatically.
Following Climategate, when it became known that raw temperature data for CRU’s “HADCRU3″ climate dataset had been destroyed, Phil Jones, CRU’s former director, said the data loss was not important — because there were other independent climate datasets available.
But the emails reveal that at least three of the four datasets were not independent, that NASA GISS was not considered to be accurate, and that these quality issues were known to both top climate scientists and to the mainstream press.
In Indiana’s HSA, the state deposits $2,750 per year into an account controlled by the employee, out of which he pays all his health bills. Indiana covers the premium for the plan. The intent is that participants will become more cost-conscious and careful about overpayment or overutilization.
Unused funds in the account—to date some $30 million or about $2,000 per employee and growing fast—are the worker’s permanent property. For the very small number of employees (about 6% last year) who use their entire account balance, the state shares further health costs up to an out-of-pocket maximum of $8,000, after which the employee is completely protected.
Most important, we are seeing significant changes in behavior, and consequently lower total costs. In 2009, for example, state workers with the HSA visited emergency rooms and physicians 67% less frequently than co-workers with traditional health care. They were much more likely to use generic drugs than those enrolled in the conventional plan, resulting in an average lower cost per prescription of $18. They were admitted to hospitals less than half as frequently as their colleagues. Differences in health status between the groups account for part of this disparity, but consumer decision-making is, we’ve found, also a major factor.
It turns out that, when someone is spending his own money alone for routine expenses, he is far more likely to ask the questions he would ask if purchasing any other good or service: “Is there a generic version of that drug?” “Didn’t I take that same test just recently?” “Where can I get the colonoscopy at the best price?”
Americans can make sound, thrifty decisions about their own health. If national policy trusted and encouraged them to do so, our skyrocketing health-care costs would decelerate.