BITING OFF MORE... - AT 8:52 A.M. ET: Reader John McDaniel alerts us to this piece by the invaluable John Stossel, analyzing the health-care monstrosity now before Congress. It's incredible to realize that it got this far:
As an American, I am embarrassed that the U.S. House of Representatives has 220 members who actually believe the government can successfully centrally plan the medical and insurance industries.
I'm embarrassed that my representatives think that government can subsidize the consumption of medical care without increasing the budget deficit or interfering with free choice.
It's a triumph of mindless wishful thinking over logic and experience.
Competition is a "discovery procedure," Nobel-prize-winning economist F. A. Hayek taught. Through the competitive market process, we producers and consumers constantly learn things that force us to adjust our behavior if we are to succeed. Central planners fail for two reasons:
First, knowledge about supply, demand, individual preferences and resource availability is scattered -- much of it never articulated -- throughout society. It is not concentrated in a database where a group of planners can access it.
Second, this "data" is dynamic: It changes without notice.
Proponents of so-called reform -- it's not really reform unless it makes things better -- have shamefully avoided criticism of their proposals. Often they just dismiss their opponents as greedy corporate apologists or paranoid right-wing loonies. That's easier than answering questions like these: How can the government subsidize the purchase of medical services without driving up prices? How can the government promise lower medical costs without restricting choices? How does government "create choice" by imposing uniformity on insurers? Uniformity limits choice. How does it "create choice" by making insurance companies compete against a privileged government-sponsored program?
These questions will not be answered, not only because those in power don't want to answer them, but because they don't care about the answers. Their goal is single-payer socialized medicine, the same kind of system they saw during their junior year abroad - and which treated their sniffles and writer's cramp.
Many people are priced out of the medical and insurance markets for one reason: the politicians' refusal to give up power. Allowing them to seize another 16 percent of the economy won't solve our problems.
Tell that to Nancy Pelosi, who represents the People's Republic of San Francisco.
November 11, 2009