07.31.2009 0

Socialism By Any Other Name Still Stinks

  • On: 08/24/2009 09:32:53
  • In: Barack Obama
  • By David Bozeman

    A piece in the current Reader’s Digest purports to clear up all the confusion over health-care reform. In a WashingtonPost.com excerpt, Ezra Klein laments that the terms ‘socialized medicine’ and ‘single-payer health care’ have been distorted beyond all meaning. He states that no one is proposing that government should employ doctors or own hospitals, which would be socialistic. He goes on to define a single-payer system as simply one entity paying for health care without owning the doctors or hospitals. “What we’re actually getting,” he concludes, “is not socialized medicine or single-payer health care. It’s a hybrid. Private insurers, hopefully competing with a public option. Private doctors and hospitals. Government regulations and subsidies. . . A mix of corporate preferences and public compassion. . . A uniquely American system.”

    Of course, socialists will never identify themselves by that name. Merely because government doesn’t own doctor’s offices or the wares of their trade matters little if, in their stated quest to control costs, they hold the purse strings for millions of Americans.

    Mr. Klein’s reasoning — and in one of America’s best-read publications — illustrates the advantage leftists wield in furthering their agenda. Conservatives tend to argue in terms of absolutes, i.e. right versus wrong. Leftists follow the adage, ‘if you can convince ’em with brains, baffle ’em with bull malarkey.’ They are patient, willing to enact their agendas incrementally. In fact, they are not overly concerned with the specifics because once health-care reform is enacted, it can be modified over time. They have succeeded in the past, wearing down the passions of the American people with time and tedious details.

    To health-care reformers, the notion of a ‘hybrid’ solution is the epitome of deep, enlightened thinking. But if President Obama’s goal is to reduce costs, then the best way is to promote competition, which thrives best in a free market. Author and columnist Mark Steyn said it brilliantly, if crudely (and I’m paraphrasing): if you mix ice cream with horse manure, there’s no question which taste will stand out. The same principle applies to mixing freedom and statism.

    Government controls rarely if ever enhance competition and choice, they merely breed more controls. Free markets, unencumbered by restraints (some of which we live with), weed out the weak and inefficient, government enshrines them. Reform proponents claim they are merely seeking to fund health care for the uninsured, but clearly, he who holds the purse strings controls how the money is — and is not — spent. The Congressional Budget Office and the Heritage Foundation agree that the numbers of people accepting the public option will be massive — a permanent class and voting bloc dependent on the federal government.

    America is an exceptional nation because of its exceptional regard for freedom — an unwavering devotion born of principle and not practicality. A ‘hybrid’ mix is a vague, all-encompassing concept that could mean any amount of coercion the mob of the moment demanded. Because ideals such as freedom and constitutional government are much easier to define does not make them any less effective. A distinctly American health-care system would offer all the benefits of the other capitalist enterprises we take for granted. Ideally, Americans would see doctor’s offices on every corner, national chains would pop up, with sharp, shiny logos, animal mascots and bubbly spokesmodels. Dinner time would bring annoying phone calls from telemarketers hawking cheap care and insurance, and health clinics opening up would offer balloons and tote bags to the first 100 patients.

    One could argue that the benefits of capitalism, with its acquisitive spirit and cheesy excesses, don’t extend to the dire realm of health-care. In fact, it is the limitations of government that don’t carry over. Just recall President Obama’s recent contrast of Fed Ex and UPS to the near bankrupt postal service. Government has proven itself effective at protecting us from foreign invaders and violent criminals and maybe a small list of other things, but skepticism over massive intervention in our lives, by whatever name you wish to call it, is the uniquely American concept that Mr. Klein is missing.

    David Bozeman is a contributing writer for American for Limited Government’s Liberty Features Syndicate.

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