We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
(My) philosophical inclination most likely influences my views of the healthcare debate. The more power a centralized government authority asserts, the more worried I am that the power will be misused either purposefully or, more likely, because of some well-intentioned but mistaken social theory. I prefer reforms that set up rules of the game but end up with power over key decisions as decentralized as possible.
What puzzles me is that Paul (Krugman) seems so ready to trust solutions that give a large role to the federal government. (In the past, for instance, he has advocated a single payer for healthcare.) I understand that trust of centralized authority is common among liberals. But here is the part that puzzles me: Over the past eight years, Paul has tried to convince his readers that Republicans are stupid and venal. History suggests that Republicans will run the government about half the time. Does he really want to turn control of healthcare half the time over to a group that he considers stupid and venal?
Read the whole short piece. Then I saw this interview with Princeton's Utilitarian Philosophy Prof Peter Singer. One exchange in that interview:
Do you really think the government can make choices regarding care fairly and efficiently?
Mr Singer: Since my New York Times article appeared I've had many people write to me with their heart-breaking stories of being denied care, or being unable to afford care, for themselves or for their families .No human system is going to be error-free, but I'm convinced that the government can set up a process that will make choices that lead us to obtain better value for our health-care dollars than the completely uncontrolled system that exists now.
Utilitarians always give me the creeps. It's always about having "experts" in "control" of our lives - preferably them. Speaking of power and control, Kaus makes a comparison with the proposed IMAC with base-closing commissions, with this wise comments:
Why isn't a base-closing style commission the solution to every one of our problems? After all, it's logical that the problems our peculiar system of government--featuring a Congress that gives powerful voice to regional and local interests--hasn't yet solved will be precisely the problems that our peculiar system of government is almost incapable of solving. Otherwise they would have been solved already!
The Constitution created an unwieldy system--requiring that every law pass two houses and get approved by the President--that we long ago concluded was incapable of generating the quantity of binding laws a modern society needs. The response was the creation of the administrative state--the "unelected fourth branch of government" that writes enforceable rules subject to nobody's veto (except the lawyers and the courts). At least the base-closing solution grounds the outcome in the consent of elected officials.
The "administrative state." That's the word for it. Like Versailles.
History suggests that Republicans will run the government about half the time. Does he really want to turn control of healthcare half the time over to a group that he considers stupid and venal?
That's an easy one. Like most liberals, Krugman probably believes that the Republican Party is on the way out, and just one or two more successful steps toward The Great Liberal Utopia will give the Dumbasscrat Party permanent control of the entire government.
The sad thing is, he's probably right. No matter what conservative pundits try to tell you, the evidence says that the relentless advance of the Liberal Utopia is rarely even seriously slowed under conservative administrations. Not once in living memory has it actually been driven back. Each new assault soon becomes the status quo, and thereafter voters resist giving it up. If socialized health care passes, it will probably be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Conservatives will never control the Congress or White House again, because "He wants to take away your health care!" will be just as devastating with working-class voters as "He wants to take away Social Security!" is with senior citizens.
Not that it matters a whole lot, because in twenty years or so there won't be a United States federal government to control. Barry Lackwit's deficits are going to crush us.
To state Kaus's argument in different words, if the Founding Fathers had valued efficiency in running the country above all other considerations---over individual freedom, why did they bother to devise the unwieldy and inefficient form of government that they did? A single-chamber legislature is more efficient than a legislature with two houses; and a powerful executive branch ruling unchecked by a bothersome legislature or fussy judges would be the paragon of efficiency.
The answer, of course, is that "government efficiency" was not uppermost in the minds of the people who drafted our Constitution. Today, the advocates for health care "reform" tell us that it is necessary to lower the costs of health care to all Americans. They say this can only be done if the federal government plays a hugely expanded role in the nation's health care system. A government-run health care system will be "more efficient" than the current system of private care we now have.
Perhaps. But the high price we may pay for this comfort is the loss of that liberty which our Founding Fathers guarded so jealously. There is no price worth paying for the loss of individual freedom that will come with a health care system that is run by the government. It will not be a bargain for the better.
Doe anyone remember when AT&T was "Ma Bell", a government regulated monopoly? Telephone service was not as cheap as it is now but repair and installation were effective and easy for the consumer. Society also recieved many side benefits from this government regulated institution; the stock was a safe investment with a good retun, Bell Labs drove technological innovation (transistor, integrated circuit, laser, maser, and many other notable inventons), executives were honest, workers were well compensated.
Does anyone recall the Tennessee Valley Authority? Rural electricification and subsequent economic development of large areas of America were greatly facilitated by this government program.
How about transcontinental railroads? Th government provided significant incentives to private companies to build these. This would not have happened without government involvement.
And now my point; The idea that the government's involvement in something automatically makes it bad or inefficient is no supported by historical facts. Many of the best things in the U.S. came from the government or from government/business partnerships. I do not see any problem with a Ma Bell style national health care insurance company. Of course we don't want an Amtrak style health insurance entity either.