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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Samuelson’

The oft-stated conservative fear of Obamacare is that it will lead to painful rationing through various government mandated standards of care, “death panels,” rationing, and the like–our state-of-the-art healthcare system would decline in quality.  But this does not seem the pattern of American entitlements.  Section 8 hasn’t led to lower quality housing for the poor, nor have Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid shrunk over the course of their existence.  Indeed, by disbursing costs and concentrating benefits in certain groups–in the case of healthcare, that group being the elderly, the sick, and the medical providers themselves–it seems far more likely that costs and spending will expand precipitously, accelerating  the insolvency of the American government.

Robert Samuelson today makes an apt comparison with Massachusetts, which enacted a similar plan statewide, and can’t seem to control costs:

Aside from squeezing take-home pay (employers provide almost 70 percent of insurance), higher costs have automatically shifted government priorities toward health care and away from everything else — schools, police, roads, prisons, lower taxes. In 1990, health spending represented about 16 percent of the state budget, says the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. By 2000, health’s share was 22 percent. In 2010, it’s 35 percent. About 90 percent of the health spending is Medicaid.

State leaders have proven powerless to control these costs.

Republicans need to grow up on the “death panel” talk.  The problem with healthcare, at least in part, is overspending due to perverse incentives brought about by third party insurance.  People do need to ration care, but the correct position is that it should be through the pain of price and the freedom of markets, just as we ration spending everywhere else, including necessities like car repairs or clothing or food.  For anyone who is destitute, such rationing needs to be through the logic of non-profits and the supervision of the “poor house.”

Nothing is free, and this is certainly true with health care.  Conservatives and Republicans should not be defending the recently minted notion that the elderly can bankrupt the young and the country as a whole on the basis of some perverse and false pro-life principle that says all cost-benefit analysis is immoral.  It’s not.  But it’s better accomplished by the decentralized decisionmaking of multiple actors in the market than it is by a government bureaucracy. Indeed, the long dormant notion of central planning is making a comeback, and on this issue free market principles are thoroughly and verifiably superior.  On healthcare, it seems most likely, we will feast for a while, and then have a famine.

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A roundup of a few interesting things from the internet this week.

Great pieces by establishment conservatives George Will and Charles Krauthammer pointing out the increasingly wide gap between Obama’s rhetoric of post-partisanship and his narrowly partisan agenda.

A scathing editorial by Robert Samuelson on Obama’s phony economics agenda.

A nice tribute to one of my favorite writers, Steve Sailer, by John Derbyshire.

An interesting power point from Natick Labs that shows the Army’s dubious universal pattern was actually a poor performer in tests.  The best performer looked a lot like old Rhodesian camouflage and, like the earth around us, was comprised of greens, tans, and browns.  It is a minor scandal that the Army has made its soldiers appear worse in garrison and endangered them in the field with its new Army Combat Uniform.  Since so many soldiers are now slogging it out like their fathers and grandfathers on Afghan hills, it’s a decision worthy of revisiting by the DoD.

South of the border, things seem to be really melting down.  It’s kind of pathetic that Obama thinks we can have an unsecured border with Mexico and is considering sending in the military to stop narco-terrorists only, as if a border without controls can easily separate illegal aliens seeking work at car washes and restaurants and illegal aliens seeking work as pimps and drug dealers.  Without a secure border, the un-uniformed, un-named, disorganized, and visually indistinguishable criminal element from Mexico will continue to flow into the US.

I was never terribly impressed with the GOP since Bush took the helm.  Michael Steele is not helping things. More of the same is a recipe for disaster:  both politically and, if we somehow manage electoral success, on policy.  The gap between concerns of the rank and file–the economy, culture, immigration, national security, and moral decline–and the guilt-ridden, beltway rhetoric of the leadership is quite remarkable.

Dick Cheney said this morning that Obama’s policies make America less safe.  I, of course, said Bush’s border policies made America less safe, though Obama may even be worse on this score.  But so what if Cheney said this?  Isn’t this what criticism of another person’s national security policy always is saying implicitly?  One of the most dangerous developments in the media’s tone under Obama has been the idea that criticizing his policies–i.e., hoping they fail or saying they make us less safe–is out of bounds and unpatriotic.  If we can’t criticize Obama without being called racist, and we can’t criticize his policies without being unpatriotic, what is left other than blind submission?

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