Monday, February 04, 2008

Let the kids pay

John at Power Line on the connection between Social Security and compulsory health care:

There is an analogy between the compulsory aspects of the candidates' health care proposals and Social Security. A young man or woman would be crazy to participate in the Social Security system if he or she had any choice. If anyone saved 12.4% of his earnings over a lifetime, he would not only have far more money in retirement than Social Security can provide, it would, equally important, be his money, to invest and dispose of as he sees fit. But the government needs young people's money to support their grandparents' retirements, so Social Security is forced upon them. The same thing, in essence, will happen with health care if any comprehensive "reform" plan is adopted.
Perfectly stated. (HT: Maggie's Farm)


Anonymous said...

Perfectly stated.

Yes, exquisite. The epitome of pith. But hell, why stop there? A young man or woman would be crazy to subject themselves to representatives they didn't vote for personally, or federal spending for any of the 49 states they don't reside in.

Don't have a child aged 5-18? Vote NO on the school funding proposition! Don't live within view of a mountain range? Bye-bye, wasteful Department of the Interior!

Alas, the airtight "Every Man For Himself" theory starts to break down as soon as one derives societal benefits which they have not directly earned, or has societal obligations that do not directly rebound to their personal advantage. I think this process began when somebody showed their tribesman the secret of fire.

You know those bootstraps I bought at the bootstrap store, using the money I made at my preexisting industry which was built upon generations of labor and capital? I pulled MYSELF up by those bootstraps, buster!

Allan Yackey said...

I think the best way to understand universal health care is to consider the same program in a different setting.

Consider "universal transportation". In a modern world it is nearly impossible to get along without a car. It is an income and life and safety problem if you lack dependable transportation. As soon as you propose to provide "free" vehicles, everyone wants a Rolls or Mercedes. Since there isn't enough money for that, the government will be forced to provide everyone with a ???????.
Under the Canadian model, (which is still going broke) you may not buy your own, you have to take what the government gives you. That means the end of Rolls, Mercedes and Cadillac. Since much of the innovation in the automotive world begins with creating "gee whiz" kinds of things for the upscale market, virtually all innovation stops. Actually there is a disincentive to create anything new and valuable, because it raises the cost of the government program.
People who disagree with me, will often tell me that this is not a good example. Health care is involved in saving people's lives. But so are the choices on cars. I am less likely to be injured driving a Mercedes or a Hummer than driving a Kia. In fact the Hummers and Rolls are a threat to me in my Nissan pickup truck. If we collide the smaller mass of my vehicle makes me more likely to be injured.

Transferring this to the health care business brings out one point that is often overlooked. Innovation in health care will virtually cease with a single payer system. Lilly cannot take the risk of creating a blockbuster drug, if the government will get to set the price.

Even the Canadians are unhappy with the prospect. At the moment, when their system delays treatment in a life threatening way they can travel south and buy treatment here. That would end.

(Bear in mind that one of the ways to cut the expense is to delay treatment especially of terminal conditions. People with non-terminal conditions will generally get better after some time with or without treatments. This cuts costs. People with terminal conditions who cannot get life prolonging treatment quickly, die sooner and cost less. While this positive incentive to kill people off exists in both systems, only a government controlled system can completely withhold treatment long enough to take advantage of it. People with money in an insurance system can get the care and pay for it themselves. People without money can involve the government court system to control the insurance company if it is delaying treatment. Courts are far more deferential to government than corporations. In fact for most purposes a court has to proceed from the point of view that what a government agency did was probably correct. You have to prove that they are wrong. In suing a corporation you start with even footing. Courts are actually forbidden to change most legislative actions. Your only recourse is to replace legislators. Most cancers would not give you enough time for that.)

Anonymous said...

Zzzzz... the ol' "if private businessmen can't choose the terms, they won't even bother trying!" premise? The one that's never been demonstrated, ever?

But the pharmaceutical industry just might decide to blow off R&D. They might! And possibly they'll refuse to service the whole American market, if things get really unfriendly. Possibly! And right after that happens, magical unicorns will feed us rainbow lollipops.

Re: your suggestion that litigants "start on even footing" against HMO corporations? A magical unicorn must have WRITTEN that sentence.

Anonymous said...


If you were right then the British, French, or the Canidians would lead the world in drug development, since the conditions you are advance already exist there. That hasn't happened. Why not?

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous who wrote:

Alas, the airtight "Every Man For Himself" theory starts to break down as soon as one derives societal benefits which they have not directly earned, or has societal obligations that do not directly rebound to their personal advantage.

I have decided you are 100% correct. As a result, my friend and I have banded together and voted to take all your assets and redistribute them. Since we have more votes than you, you are out of luck. (And while we are at it, we have also decided to take your children's assets too in SS payments, health care spending, and government debt). Socialism sure is fun. We take and take from you, then pat ourselves on the back. (Maximum Sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

"Since we have more votes than you, you are out of luck."

Well said. Because our future nannies Hillary & Obama are smarter than us and know what's best for us. They're SO much smarter, in fact, that the American people cannot be trusted to make basic decisions for themselves anymore.

Eric said...

I kinda lost the thread here, but I'll try to make my point again.

People will and have supported programs like Social Security because there was always the belief that - someday - they'll earn the same benefits. That's no longer true. Kids 30 and younger will pay into Social Security at 12.4% for decades only to face automatic cuts the moment they retire.

As for forced health care, I've never heard of the government forcing you to buy something. This is quite different from taxes which are put into a big pool and then everybody shares the agree-to (by Congress) expenditures. It's astounding to me that a forced mandate is Constitutional.

Anonymous said...

But that's a silly, arbitrary distinction.

And if universal health care came out of the general budget, the same people would be wailing about "an unfunded mandate."

It's entirely an "I don't wanna pay for it!" position.

Which is fair enough, as far as that goes. But don't start imagining you can inflate this into a Constitutional issue. (Particularly bad timing for that, too, given the recent Constitutional violations that the majority of Republicans seem to be fine with.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, but its not just an "I don't want to pay for it" proposition. What I really want is to make you pay for my healthcare. After all its free to me and will be taken from you. And like I said before, "since we have more votes than you, you are out of luck." Ain't socialism grand! (sarcasm aplenty)

Anonymous said...

It's hilarious that Mr. Maximum Sarcasm Aplenty doesn't get that he's already paying for somebody's health care now.

The absence of universal coverage doesn't mean people aren't receiving treatment, which creates a world of undeclared costs to you and me. But I guess since that lack of a plan doesn't have an official name, it's not nearly as upsetting to Mr. MSA.

Comprehensive coverage would actually give him some return on his money, but shhh! Don't tell him! He's having way too much fun waiting for the Red Army to overrun his 401k.

Obliviousness sure is a hoot! (Reality ahoy!)

Anonymous said...

You know, you bring up a great point. Right now, I can only take money from you by receiving emergency care then shifting some portion of those costs when I don't pay for it. That is far too limited and indirect. I need to get directly into your wallet with a full national health care plan, with all the bells and whistles from mental health care to abortion coverage, all on your dime. And if you are lucky enough live in Massachussets, I've already robbed you blind:

"The state's health care plan, passed by the legislature and signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, is now expected to exceed state budget estimates by $400 million in 2009, or about 85 percent than projected."

Hope you like that "return" you are getting on your money. (Sarcasm is alive and well)


Anonymous said...

So remember, children, indirect costs don't cost much. And below-the-board taxation doesn't touch your wallet. It's only when they give the process a name that the meter starts running.

Nice random abortion mention, Pres. Nicolas Sarkasm. You know that states which forego the federally-funded Medicaid subsidy for anarchosocialist healthcare typically have to raise taxes to make up for the shortfall, right?

But it's worth paying any cost, to avoid paying the cost!

Anonymous said...

I just love that logic - "indirect costs dont cost much" -- so lets take more money directly.

You know what. I agree with you. Give me the keys to your house. I am already taking your property incrementally through taxes and regulation. Let's speed it up. Since taking it directly is no more harmful right?

Anonymous said...

I just love that logic - "indirect costs dont cost much" -- so lets take more money directly.

I'm mocking your posts, you twit. You're the one who prefers to pay a silent tax for a piecemeal non-program than an official tax for a comprehensive program. (For someone who invokes "sarcasm" in every post, you seem unfamiliar with the concept.)

That is, other than sarcastic gems like "My friend and I will take all your stuff, then," "I'll take your money, then," "I'll just take your wallet, then," and "I'll take your house, then." Wham! Ker-pow! What a series of zingers!

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mocker,

The problem with your argument is that the current cost shifting is not equal or greater than the cost of a "comprehensive program." The Massachussets experience already highlights that fallacy.

Thus, pointing to cost shifting does not change the fact that a national health care program will cost more and take more from taxpayers. Any argument for such a program that fails to address the program's increased costs is a non-starter.

Anonymous said...

As is any argument that fails to address the 100% "sunk" cost of the halfassed fraud-and-triage system in place now.

I'm not advocating for, as the right's spin machine would have it this week, "Hillarycare™." But when the opening counterbid is almost always "Eek! Socialism!" it can be a little hard to take the anti-comprehensive side seriously.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the burden of proof is on the side advocating a change in the status quo. While I don't think anyone has argued that the current system is perfect (or is currently free of government interference), that fact is not sufficient to support a "comprehensive plan" that is more flawed and more expensive.

The real problem for any comprehensive plan is that the current cost shifting only represents a fraction of the costs associated with a national health care plan. Most elective procedures and many other non-emergency services are not subject to cost shifting.

Another problem with a comprehensive plan is that it will increase the demand for numerous medicial services that would suddenly be government subsidized. Waving a wand to provide universal coverage, however, does nothing to expand the supply of medical professionals, especially doctors, who take years to train. (Canada, for example, solves the disparity in supply and demand with long wait lists where, as in the case of open heart surgery, the death rate is higher from waiting than from the actual procedure).