Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why You Should Oppose the Healthcare Bill (and call your congressperson right now!)

The Democrats are poised to try to force the controversial Healthcare bill through by this Saturday Sunday, passing the Senate bill plus a number of "fixes" that they'd expect the Senate to pass through reconciliation. They're ready to use the shadiest of political tricks to make this happen -- as the Washington Post headline puts it: "House may try to pass Senate health-care bill without voting on it".

All this while the majority Americans oppose the bill.

My objections to the bill are many. But I've given a lot of thought to how to boil them down to a single, simple objection.

Fundamentally my biggest objection comes back to the principle which eminent economist F. A. Hayek so brilliantly captured in this bit from his book The Fatal Conceit:

The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

Our country has more than 300 million people. What utter hubris that politicians think they can design a system that will adequately meet all their needs.

They can't, because it won't.

Healthcare is tremendously complex. Even if the House and Senate were comprised of the very smartest people in the United States, they absolutely can not understand each and every factor influencing all 300 million individuals' healthcare needs, wants, and choices.

So, what's the alternative?

The alternative is to get government out of the way, and let the free market work.

"But the free market has failed!" some object. No, it hasn't. We just don't notice when it's working.

An arbitrary example: Unlike the experience of most past generations of humanity, I would wager you didn't worry about if you'd be able to eat today. We have an abundance of those willing to exchange food for our money. That's the market at work. Two people, each working to satisfy his own self interest, and through trade they manage to make each other better off. You get food, which you wanted more than the money; they get money, which they wanted more than the food. Win-win.

And in a properly functioning market, there's competition, which give you choices. Maybe supermarket A charges a bit more but has fresher produce than supermarket B. That empowers you to decide which you want more - fresher produce or money left in your wallet. It also forces competitors - still acting out of self interest - to take your wants and needs seriously. Not because they altruistically care about you, but because if they don't, you have other options.

And the proper functioning of the healthcare market - particularly the health insurance market - is at stake with this bill.

Already government interference distorts the market here to our disadvantage. Most of us get our health insurance through our employer because their are antiquated tax benefits to doing so.

What this means is that we have fewer choices. We can only choose the insurance options our employers offer us. This often means you can only choose a plan from a single insurance provider. Imagine if you could only buy groceries from a single store. No longer could you choose preferences like more expensive but fresher fruit; and if the store raised prices, you'd have no where else to go.

Incredibly, the healthcare bill wants to take this existing choice-destorying system and double down on it. The bill will require all employers to provide healthcare insurance to their employees, meaning that that minority who actually choose from a larger array of health insurers when they purchasing health insurance in the individual market will no longer do so.

Additionally, every single American will have to purchase health insurance or face steep tax penalties and/or jail time. This is like if government told you not only do you only have a single grocery store to shop at, but you you are required to shop there or go to jail.

And they are adding new requirements around what must be included in health insurance plans. This is like the government telling you that you'd have to buy certain foods at that grocery store every time you go shopping. You're allergic to milk? Too bad - buying a gallon of milk every month is mandatory. (The country needs strong bones!) You hate the taste of tomatoes? Too bad - 3 tomatoes a month is mandatory. (We have a cancer epidemic! The country needs its lycopene!)

There is magic that happens when free people can make free choices in a market. It leads to producers and consumers each getting fair deals. It leads to innovation. It leads to prosperity.

The proposed legislation wants to takes us in the opposite direction. Fewer consumer choices. More government mandates. The result will be less innovation. Less prosperity. Worse healthcare outcomes.

If you care about what your healthcare choices will be, what your family's healthcare choices will be, and what the next generation's healthcare choices will be: Please, contact your Representative TODAY and tell them to oppose this proposed legislation!

Additional resources:

No comments: