September 2009

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Jonathan Wallace's Inconsistency

A letter from Darron Chapman Hello sir, I look at Rags and Bones and find it hard to see how you rationalize your inconsistencies. You do not trust the government. /One truism about governments everywhere of every stripe is that people in power at the ground level want to behave in the most corrupt, self-serving way possible./ You think that the government now does not behave in a manner consistent with the well-being of the people. /Phrased another way, a decision to prosecute should in part be based on the DNA results, as a matter of fundamental justice./ Yet you want to trust your very life and decisions involving your medical treatment to this same government. /Since my chances of dying of untreated, or ineffectively treated, heart disease, cancer or renal failure are far greater than those of my dying in a terrorist bombing, I want government to make sure I can get reasonable, free or affordable health care./ And you somehow think they will do a better job fulfilling the things you want than they have done with other things in the past. / My favorite thought experiment is to determine what I would want government to do, if I were one of 10,000 people forming one on a newly colonized planet. / You acknowledge that state run economies have failed ideologically. /One interesting artifact of Communism, now that the ideology has all but leached away almost everywhere, is the relatively lawful group governments in countries like China and Vietnam. / Yet you think that reinventing that ideology will somehow work now that it is 'us' doing it rather than when it was 'them'. /Despite some delays and glitches in treatment, Canadians are quite happy with their universal health care, which works rather well./ I do not understand. There is no doubt, when the government is in control of an industry or part of the economy, then that is a move towards communism. One succint definition of communism I found online was: An economic system and theory of government in which all basic and non-basic industries are owned by a central government for the benefit of all citizens. I want freedom. I thought, until the last few months, that you agreed with that idea. I have come to learn that you hate freedom as much as the Bushies do. You just hate different freedoms than they do. to quote: "What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" To compel individuals to have insurance is the opposite of freedom. That it is being done for 'their own good' is just a justification. Is life so dear...? I would rather die free than live as someone's pet. You say: /How about a government-backed system they can opt out of? I want to live healthily and without fear, but that doesn't mean everyone has to./ This simply means that you feel that I should be compelled to pay for your insurance. Why? What justification can you have to take from me for your own uses? I can't opt out of paying for you, I can only opt out of receiving any potential benefit myself. The health care industry now is not a free market. If you think so, then you have not looked into it from an economic point of view at all. The government now pays half of all medical costs. So, at best, the HCI is half-free. The problem is, there is no such thing as half-free. The market distortions caused by medicare payments are at the heart of the high cost of healthcare today. Don't believe it? I will give you an example. One of my best friends works at the 'Ambulatory Care Clinic' in my town. This clinic is mainly used by those people with no regular doctor, no insurance or government coverage. She has explained to me that TennCare pays about twenty cents on the dollar for what they are billed. Think about that. In order for them to simply break even, they have to determine the cost of care, add in personnel and administrative costs, and then multiply that number by five. This does not allow for anything beyond the break even point. They are not allowed to charge TennCare patients more than they charge me. Therefore the costs to me are five times higher than they should be, simply because of government coverage. Medicare pays a little better. She tells me that they recoup on average thirty cents on the dollar from Medicare. And you wonder why medical costs are so high? This is just one example of the market distortions caused by government interference. You don't know that a free market solution would not work. You have never seen one in your lifetime or mine. I have seen what effects government interference has. I am willing to try something new. Why not free market? But there is that word again. Free. Not 'costs nothing', but 'freedom'. But I can see now that you don't like that word. Sure, you will go to war, metaphorically, with the Bushies about the egregious attacks on freedom that they perpetrated, but that reveals itself as self-serving hypocrisy when you turn around and advocate taking my freedom. What is the difference between taking my freedom to talk free of wiretaps and taking my freedom to make my own medical decisions or to spend my money on the things important to me? They both equate to a loss of freedom. The only difference is who defends them and who attacks them. I have read the spectacle for several years now and I must say I am disappointed. I have seen evidence of your anti-freedom bias before, but it really never seemed so blatant until now. I thought better of you. Thanks, Darron Chapman (I hope you don't feel this is a flame. It is not meant as a personal attack, even if it may sound that way. I apologize if it offends.)