America’s quick slide into socialism

Before the takeover of GM, I would have said there is nothing that frightens me more than government health insurance.

The economic downturn and subsequent entry of the federal government in to a wide variety of private businesses left me searching for a way to think about this. I picked up my old copy of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and began re-reading.

Ms. Rand treats capitalists as noble heroes and socialists as evildoers. In the book, socialists, such as Wesley Mouch, use government power to control the economy. She calls these people looters as they don’t  produce anything themselves yet they impose their will through the use of government power. Much of the book echoes the words we’re hearing today such as, “we’re doing this in the public interest”, “the poor deserve the same as the rich”, and “too big to fail”.

President Obama has literally suggested that government should compete with private enterprise to provide health insurance. His rationale is that private enterprise is not doing a good job insuring Americans. He draws the conclusion that only the government can provide low cost (to the consumer) health insurance

President Obama either has not read Ms Rand’s warnings about the slide to socialism or doesn’t care. I assume the man is well read, so I conclude he doesn’t care.

When he says government can compete with private business, what does he really mean?

There’s a fundamental difference between a private enterprise like Cigna and a government enterprise. Cigna’s investors choose to fund an enterprise that perpetuates itself by making money and delivering a return to shareholders. A private enterprise operates on a level playing field, kept level by both market forces and regulation.

A government business has taxpayers as investors who have no choice but to support the enterprise. The business does not need to return a profit. If a taxpayer decides the government business is a bad investment, he has no where to turn. He can be held at gun point until he pays his portion of tax that props up a failing government concern like Fannie Mae or Amtrak. In addition, government businesses can operate on an uneven playing field by the passage of regulations that favor its operation.

Cost savings are an illusion. There is no reason to think a government health insurance business will be any less costly than its private “competitor”. Certainly Blue Cross and Cigna have enough scale to push down costs today. A government business will not affect the fundamental cost of health care at all. Doctors, hospital, pharmaceutical companies and medical malpractice lawyers will still charge too much.

President Obama and his supporters are confusing the public on this issue. They aren’t proposing to change the cost of health care, rather they are proposing to force Americans who pay taxes to subsidize those who can’t afford it.

Why go to all this trouble? Instead why not be honest about it and add a line item on the tax bill called “subsidy for health insurance”.  As Ms. Rand predicts, President Obama and the looters won’t dare do this, for then they’ll be admitting that they are simply common criminals, stealing from tax paying Americans to give to the poor.

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5 Responses to “America’s quick slide into socialism”

  • Dan, I see your point, but don’t think that if Obama doesn’t follow Rand’s philosophy, it means he doesn’t care. Perhaps he doesn’t agree.

    I’m married to a Canadian, and know they pay a sizeable tax for their healthcare coverage. I certainly don’t know every Canadian, but universal coverage doesn’t seem to be what Canadians bitch about. Their healthcare system doesn’t make them socialist, either.

    We pay for roads and schools we may or may not use, though maybe some folks think that’s theft? I don’t. I think a strong nation comes from strong people, who have had opportunities, and not by watching people suffer. I have been around long enough to know that some do indeed take advantage, but personally, I’d rather know my neighbors — who may simply have fallen on hard times — have access to health care. Maybe there are better ways, though, than a government system.

  • Chrissy, As we learned in 8th grade civics, no country is completely socialist or capitalist. It’s a matter of degree. Certainly by subsuming a rather large section of our economy (healthcare) into the government, the US becomes more, not less, socialist.

    The takeover of the financial and auto industries makes us more, not less, socialist.

    You’re making the argument that I should be held at gunpoint until I pay to support someone else’s lung cancer treatment.

    I prefer to make that kind of decision on my own and not to be forced by the government.

    To be specific you say healthcare is a “fundamental right”. It hasn’t been for 230 years. Perhaps we should entertain a constitutional amendment on such an issue.

    My argument against an amendment would be that healthcare is deeply personal and affected by the choices we make. Therefore, it should remain an individual choice NOT an inalienable right guaranteed by the government.

  • Just looking at the various FB polls on national healthcare and unless Facebook is populated only by Republicans, it looks as though the country hates the idea of National Healthcare.

    It’s more than 2 to 1 AGAINST.

    If we’re going to do something this radical, let me say again that we need an amendment.

  • John:

    For me it’s a fundamentally flawed premise:
    There is no one health care “system” nor is it likely that such a conceit is even possible given the vastness of “health”. On the contrary, “health” today remains open, in a Darwinian sense, to natural selection. This is in part because the countless facets of life that can fall within any one given definition of health at any given point far exceed practical means of classification, administration and/or control.

  • John:

    What we have at present is far from a “free market” approach to business or health care or finance. All of these are so manipulated, exploited, twisted and corruptly or incompetently (see above) regulated, that they are in effect exploitive “systems” serving particular interests and insulated from whatever “free market” forces might in fact serve to really “regulate” them in a natural selection type of way.

    Politically speaking, one of the beautiful, but seldom credited, aspects of our fragile and (seemingly at the moment) faltering republic, is the effectiveness of the courts – freely used – to selectively regulate what might otherwise be exploitive excesses. Unfortunately in our past zeal to make things “better” for some imagined maligned party the other branches of the government have curbed this freedom with slanted laws and definitions. Oh well, I can’t solve the mess, but I certainly may comment on the folly.

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