The illusion of design

posted at 2:00 pm on December 20, 2009 by Doctor Zero

The basic argument in favor of government-run health care, among people who sincerely believe it’s the best way to reform the medical system, is that a program designed and administered by the State will provide health care to more people. As things stand, a certain number of people have no health insurance, and this is held to be unfair and dangerous… to the extent that the rest of us must endure a radical overhaul of the entire system, as the State takes control of the insurance industry first, and eventually all of medicine.

Why do these uninsured people lack coverage? The ostensible reason is that they cannot afford it, although in fact a sizable portion of the uninsured are young people who choose not to purchase expensive insurance, and many more are illegal aliens. Also, the nature of the laws surrounding health insurance make it very expensive to purchase privately, instead of receiving it as part of employment compensation, so rising unemployment (the signature feature of the Obama economy) means more uninsured. Still, the popular conception of the case for health care reform is based on the haunting image of millions of poverty-stricken sick people, wasting away from the lack of health insurance. As the slogan tossed around through Twitter earlier this year put it, “no one should have to die because they can’t afford health insurance.”

Why is health insurance so expensive that the poor cannot afford it? The Left believes this is a failure of the free market, with greedy health-insurance companies callously pricing their product out of reach, and slapping exorbitant premiums on anyone who isn’t the picture of health. The true answer is that government is primarily responsible for distortions in the health insurance market, dating back to the wage controls that made it commonplace for employers to offer health benefits as a means of attracting skilled employees. The law preventing the sale of health insurance across state lines is an example of government-induced price distortions. For a contrasting example of medical services becoming more affordable in response to free-market competition, consider the constantly falling price of Lasik eye surgery. The Left refuses to think clearly on this subject, and maintains that health care is a “human right” that should be available “free” to everyone.

Liberals insist it is simply unthinkable to allow financial considerations to impact the distribution of this essential human right. As Kirsten Powers put it recently, “Americans will die if we don’t provide universal health insurance.” Because money is the instrument through which free people express their will and make choices, the argument for socialized medicine boils down to the superiority of design and control over competition and choice.

So, in summary, the case for nationalizing health insurance is that health care cannot be entrusted to the unpredictability and greed of the free market. The individual purchasing decisions of free men and women are too chaotic. The only way to ensure access to health care for everyone is for the State to install a massive, strictly enforced system, complete with huge fines and jail time for those who fail to comply. This system would be superior to the free market, because it would be carefully designed by brilliant minds… engineered to deliver an incredibly complex, ever-changing service to hundreds of millions of Americans.

Is anyone stupid enough to think a “carefully designed system” is what the Democrats are about to drop on us?

Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) held up the Senate reform bill over his heartfelt concerns over abortion funding… until he was bought off with hundreds of millions of dollars in enhanced funding for Medicaid in his state. In a similar vein, language worth over $100 million was added to the bill, targeting the state of Louisiana, to purchase the vote of “moderate” Democrat Mary Landrieu. In other words, this “carefully designed” health care bill has different rules for people who happen to live in Nebraska or Louisiana, because this was necessary to buy the votes of their senators.

The Congressional Budget Office scoring for the health care reform bill is based on tricks and gimmicks, including Medicare reductions and cuts of over 20% in physician payments, that no one seriously believes will actually happen. A great deal of this health care reform package is a delusional fantasy, if not an outright fraud.

Socialist senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont jammed a 767-page amendment into the bill, then violated Senate procedures to suddenly withdraw it when Republicans forced the entire amendment to be read on the Senate floor.

Far from being a brilliant plan constructed by top doctors and financial experts in a government brain trust, this health-care bill is a twisted, deformed political document, seen in its entirety by only a few high-ranking politicians belonging to a single political party. Its components have not been precisely crafted as part of a fantastic system calibrated to ensure the maximum access to quality health care for all Americans.

The bill is not being examined with transparency and careful deliberation by representatives who behave as humble servants of the people and their Constitution. Instead, it’s being hastily rammed through in the dead of night, over the objection of powerful majorities of the American people, with desperate last-minute deals cut to acquire the necessary votes, financed by vast sums of taxpayer money. The primary consideration is not crafting the most sophisticated and intelligent health care reform… it’s getting a bill pushed through before angry voters have a chance to blast the Democrats out of Congress. Look at it this way: if the average middle-class American paid about $5000 in federal income tax last year, then you might be one of the 20,000 people who paid for Mary Landrieu’s vote, in the hope of giving Barack Obama a bill to sign as a Christmas present.

Aside from the nauseating payoffs, this kind of legislative taffy pull is to be expected in a representative republic. That’s how it works. People elect Congressional representation to look out for their interests. Legislation is modified by demands that can range from mild objections to stubborn intransigence. Parliamentary procedures are invoked by experienced politicians to shape the debate. Regional interests and passionate beliefs are poured into a bubbling stew of sections and sub-paragraphs. All of this is inevitable, and therefore good reason to avoid the absolute madness of allowing the President and Congress to nationalize industries, or posture as wise stewards of a high-performance command economy.

The moral imperative for socialized medicine is the belief that government can design a system to distribute health care more efficiently than the free markets. I challenge anyone who sincerely believes this to review the recent events in the House and Senate, and realize that representative government is utterly incapable of designing any such system. The merciless and tyrannical enforcement techniques required to ensure hundreds of millions of people comply with health care reform are utterly indefensible in the service of a monstrosity stitched together from back-room deals and nine-figure bribes.

The only logical way to maintain the integrity of a vast, complex program designed to control a trillion-dollar industry is to dispense with the “representative” part of our government model. Those who seriously believe the State must control health care, which is tied into the bulk of our economy and technological development, should stop fooling around with half-measures of tyranny. If health care is truly a “human right” that must be provided “at any cost,” then take a cold, hard look at the tortured gestation of the rough beast slouching from Harry Reid’s office to be born… and understand that liberty, democracy, and representation must be sacrificed, as part of that cost.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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The Delusion of design

I have the utmost respect for this author.

But I fixed this for yah!

Kini on December 20, 2009 at 7:33 PM

Great post. I would add that too much insurance has caused health care costs to go up. Why do we need insurance for everything from flu shots to ingrown toenails? We don’t have auto insurance for oil changes. Insurance should be for catastrophes only.

jgapinoy on December 20, 2009 at 7:41 PM

Well put, Dr. Z. The solution will be replacing the Socialists and defunding this mess, or undermining it through legal action…I hope.

trl on December 20, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Terrye on December 20, 2009 at 6:19 PM

I don’t think we disagree, my friend. My point is that our reps (and I use that term loosely), speak only in hyperbole, not in specifics. Instead of touting that “this is a disasterous piece of legislation,” they should say it, “Does X, Y and Z.”
I know the whole senate bill is an enigma wrapped in a chimera…yada, yada, but there is enough meat in the congressional trainwreck to talk about.
I don’t have the specific graphs anymore, but I have read it, so perhaps someone else could quote, but it’s not just them having your health records, there is very specific language about how and when they can tell you to reproduce, when and why you can or cannot get treatment if you have lead a “risky lifestyle,” (BTW, does any, any sane person believe that a “risky lifestyle” isn’t going to include owning a firearm in years to come????”, [and a million more provisions??]) It is these specifics that people don’t understand. We’re handling the message the old fashioned way via new media: quit talking generalities and get to the meat. We’ve changed the way the debate is taking place, but I don’t think we’ve taken it to the next step, which is to the folks that aren’t monitoring these blogs and relying on the traditional networks for their daily/weekly news dump. Those are the kinds of specific examples I’m talking about…and they called Sarah a “wingnut” when she used the term, “Death squads.”
The republicans need to start giving these specific examples, not being scared to friggin death of what the left is going to do to them. Yes, they will be raked over the coals and made fun of…TFB…grow a set and do what’s right for a change!

Chewy the Lab on December 20, 2009 at 8:05 PM

Boortz is right. Nobody has any freakin’ right to any portion of another’s life and this includes doctors. Doctors give up an awful lot to become doctors in this country. Scads of money, tons of time and brain-power, and the all important social life. It pisses me off no end that asshole trolls like cur6, bleedsblue, et al think they have some ‘right’ to all of that by virtue of being born here. I just got a 4600 dollar emergency room bill that I really couldn’t afford, but paid anyway. I have no insurance. The doctors, hospitals and workers are entitled to be paid for their services. Being an electrician I am entitled to be paid for mine.
What’s next? Lemme guess. Electricity is a necessity and everyone has a right to it. Who’s gonna provide the means to use it? Oh yeah. Guys like me.
Take this to the absurd, inevitable, liberal extreme. Sooner or later the imperious federal government will mandate that I accept a much smaller payment to provide service to the ‘less fortunate’.
But then, when I can no longer pay my bills, I become part of ‘the less fortunate’.

Lanceman on December 20, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Why the hell do my longer comments never post, AP? Yo afraid that I’m gonna say something racist?

Lanceman on December 20, 2009 at 8:15 PM

Is anyone stupid enough to think a “carefully designed system” is what the Democrats are about to drop on us?

Yes.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 20, 2009 at 9:48 PM

Are they really insane enough to think they’re abolishing death?

Jim Treacher on December 20, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Doesn’t matter. They care, unlike evil heartless conservatives.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 20, 2009 at 10:02 PM

PackerBronco on December 20, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Why is the government incapable of increasing supply? The supply of bombs and corn have greatly increased over the years. Can the government not put a mechanism in place to increase supply?

It can. The current politicians refuse. This doesn’t mean government can’t. It means this government at this time can’t. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

The Calibur on December 20, 2009 at 3:39 PM

The government certainly could increase the supply, by making it more profitable to be a doctor.

But I have to ask, like Doctor Zero above, is anyone really stupid enough to think the government is going to pay doctors more? Every word they’ve said was about controlling costs, and if they get this passed, they will control those costs by cutting payments to doctors and rationing medical care.

Doctors who are already practicing and successful will decide to retire. The very next thing that will happen is that the supply of doctors will dry up. Desperate, the government will try to recruit doctors from 3rd world countries. This will work for a short while, until they realize that the relatively higher wages they get in this country are eaten up by the higher cost of living. It’s already happening in Britain’s medical system, and it’s coming our way

Then the only thing left to keep costs down will be to force the demand down through rationing. If all this passes, no one will be mocking Sarah Palin’s warnings of “death panels” in a few years.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 20, 2009 at 10:19 PM

Great post. I would add that too much insurance has caused health care costs to go up.

jgapinoy on December 20, 2009 at 7:41 PM

No. ILLEGAL ALIEN MEDICAL COVERAGE at out clinics is what has cost US more for insurance coverage since the 1980′s. In California, these clinics are filled with illegals, and despite what Obowma and the democrats claim, BY LAW, these clinics must offer service to anyone and we get the bill.

This costly plan they are pushing on us WILL cost EVERYONE more in higher premiums and copays. A family of four will pay $9,000 more a year for coverage, and once again Obowma lies as he said it will cost us less.

DO not forget what they forced on us as we boot them out in 2010.

dthorny on December 20, 2009 at 10:52 PM

We need government health can and we need to start taxing Mexico.

Observation on December 20, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Is that the crack talking? What moron actually believes that a government managed economy is really free?

jdkchem on December 20, 2009 at 11:22 PM

Health care, like everything else, costs as much as it needs to. Many health insurance companies are actually non-profits. But it costs money to deliver health care.

There are really 2 separate issues being advanced, and Democrats constantly mix and match them as they please. First is the issue of cost. Does health care cost a lot? Sure. Does it cost too much? Well, that depends. How badly do you want that cancer to go away? What’s it worth to you to have liposuction? It seems that people are willing to pay any price to live. But “any price” is too much for the government to pay for every citizen. No bill will change that.

The other issue is people who lack coverage. What is health care coverage worth to those people? Is it worth getting another job to cover the cost of insurance? Apparently not. What the government is doing is forcing people to purchase things that they aren’t really motivated to purchase on their own. If people don’t want insurance, who are we to force it down their throats? The bill that goal is insuring more Americans includes a provision to fine or imprison people who don’t purchase insurance. So we’re going to fine the people that the Democrats are trying to help? Maybe I’m missing the political brilliance of that move.

hawksruleva on December 21, 2009 at 12:04 AM

Then the only thing left to keep costs down will be to force the demand down through rationing. If all this passes, no one will be mocking Sarah Palin’s warnings of “death panels” in a few years.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 20, 2009 at 10:19 PM

But, because the Left is blind to its own ignorance, they will still be mocking Palin, even while they complain about government intrusion in their health care.

hawksruleva on December 21, 2009 at 12:06 AM

Then the only thing left to keep costs down will be to force the demand down through rationing. If all this passes, no one will be mocking Sarah Palin’s warnings of “death panels” in a few years.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 20, 2009 at 10:19 PM

But, because the Left is blind to its own ignorance, they will still be mocking Palin, even while they complain about government intrusion in their health care.

hawksruleva on December 21, 2009 at 12:06 AM

True. Too often we say, “no one” when we mean something more like, “no one sensible.”

Like Doc Zero above saying (effectively) that no one could be stupid enough to think we’re getting a carefully designed system. And yet we know there are and will be people who think exactly that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 21, 2009 at 12:17 AM

Like Doc Zero above saying (effectively) that no one could be stupid enough to think we’re getting a carefully designed system. And yet we know there are and will be people who think exactly that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

There Goes The Neighborhood on December 21, 2009 at 12:17 AM

I think the doc zero has forgotten about all the stupid people that believe in AGW. Samo samo mentality there.

docdave on December 21, 2009 at 1:05 AM

I
LOVE
ZERO
.

leftnomore on December 21, 2009 at 2:45 AM

We all know that politicians only want what is best for us peons. Just shut up and revel in the historic glory of the momentous occasion of Democrats cramming lots of taxes down our throats in order give medical coverage to those who don’t actually pay any taxes while forcing companies to provide coverage for procedures that their customers don’t actually need. After all, the FIRST thing a single-male needs is government-mandated coverage for a yearly-PAP smear and mammary exams.

Oh Well! Hooray! Proclaim victory! Now, umm, we need to start rationing health care to old folks on Social Security and Medicare in order to hustle their way on to the great hereafter.

Who cares that Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are going to bankrupt the country? The politicians can claim victory and slap each other on their backs, but they will be dead and buried long before you kiddies get the bills.
LOL! See how it works?

Yeah! Hope and change!

The change is that you’re paychecks are going to take a bigger hit than you ever imagined. But hey! I’m all in!
I will only live another 10 or 20 years or so (God willing!)
and I pray that you “Hope and Changey types” are aware that you are going to be forking over a HUGE portion of your paychecks to cover my Social Security and Medicare.

shorebird on December 21, 2009 at 2:49 AM

As I was reading, I kept thinking of this grotesque howling beast as a visual metaphor for what these people are creating, similar to where the Doc leaves off. Far from creating this dynamic thing with life and liberty, it is instead like some Eraserhead baby, or one of the twisted, disturbing Ripley monstrosities from Alien 4. And it will grow and fester and destroy us all.

somewhatconcerned on December 20, 2009 at 2:49 PM

Why do I keep envisioning Grendal from Beowolf?

lovingmyUSA on December 21, 2009 at 3:47 AM

Speaking of “vast designs”–this author was on C-Span tonight. This book looks interesting…
A Country of Vast Designs
James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

By Robert W. Merry

http://books.simonandschuster.com/Country-of-Vast-Designs/Robert-W-Merry/9780743297431

lovingmyUSA on December 21, 2009 at 3:54 AM

Doctor Z I agree. The government can’t design anything at all. They shouldn’t be in that business.

The personal mandate in this bill is onerous and will lead to consequences the libturds cannot foresee.Also, taxing us for something we don’t get for four years seems unconstitutional.

I hope there are many many supreme court challenges to this law.

dogsoldier on December 21, 2009 at 5:36 AM

I think the doc zero has forgotten about all the stupid people that believe in AGW. Samo samo mentality there.

docdave on December 21, 2009 at 1:05 AM

He hasn’t forgotten, he is an optimist. I on the other hand am not…

doriangrey on December 21, 2009 at 7:21 AM

The law preventing the sale of health insurance across state lines is an example of government-induced price distortions.

Nelson’s Nebraska hold-up ensured the prohibition of any sale of health insurance across state lines in his final deal, touting his love for states’ rights.

twisted

maverick muse on December 21, 2009 at 8:42 AM

IT’S ANOTHER LIBERAL SCAM. PERIOD

marklmail on December 21, 2009 at 8:56 AM

Today, people most certainly die waiting their turn for medical attention within a so-called “universal” health care system.

“Americans will die if we don’t provide universal health insurance.”

Americans will die if we do provide it.

PEOPLE DIE. We are yet mortal.

Increasing longer lines with increasingly fewer doctors universally only helps the burgeoning class of antipathetic bureaucrats running the show, draining the system of funds while clogging the works with indifference.

The online media campaign vs. EugeniCare is deficient. Envision the computer generated lines of sick people troubling 80% of health care employees whose jobs do NOT provide any medical treatments. And THIS in the day of AI technology.

We don’t need bureaucrats in any effective health care system, ONLY doctors and nurses and computers that draw blood and transcribe patient symptoms to produce analysis for diagnosis and complete information regarding pro/con per alternative treatments for the PATIENT to make the final determination with the doctor.

Cut to the chase. Just put those computers at pharmacies since the majority of people without employer-benefits can’t afford the physician (or health-care provider) that doesn’t generally keep up on everything (side effects) beyond the self-interested pharmaceutical sales-pitch promise.

maverick muse on December 21, 2009 at 9:06 AM

Wow, another outstanding analysis Doc.

The question will soon be how to dismantle this debacle. It must be, but it will have to be a first. Scary.

JusDreamin on December 21, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Doc Zero, I’ve yet to significantly disagree with anything you’ve said. I can’t think of another pundit about whom I can say that. If you were to run for office, expounding upon the issues as brilliantly as you do in this blog, you would surely win in a landslide.

RegularJoe on December 21, 2009 at 2:52 PM

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