home  |  book  |  blogs  |   RSS  |  contact  |

So Michael Mann is a Bully? Harry Reid's Lump of Coal

print view

The Poisoned Chalice

by Christopher Chantrill
December 18, 2009 at 11:22 am

|

IF ONLY everyone would be sensible, and stop fighting with liberals over health care, then we could all get along.

There he is, poor Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), facing a brutal reelection bid next November, mercilessly diverted into trying to make an omelet out of rotten eggs.

That’s what the public option is. It’s a rotten egg cooked up by some Democratic policy analyst to make a government give-away look like genuine health insurance.

Now poor Harry has had to throw out the public option and replace it with a bodged-up scramble with an expanded Medicare and an expansion of the health plan offered to federal workers. He is just waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to score it. Well, here’s another score: usgovernmentspending.com’s chart of government health spending from its Spending Briefing. Red is federal, green is state, and gray is local.

Back in 1965, government spent about 1 percent of GDP on health care. The life expectancy of Americans at birth was 70 years. Today the government spends 8 percent of GDP on health care and the life expectancy at birth is 78 years. You tell me if it’s worth it.

The chart tells you why Democrats are having such a problem launching the good ship Health Care. They are no longer in the position of promising the American people glorious benefits now to be paid for by undefined rich people in the distant future. Government health care costs a bundle right now. The rot set in after World War II when the federal government first mandated that hospitals receiving government construction grants had a legal duty to treat poor people for free. Health care costs really got going in the mid 1960s when government decided to subsidize the health care of the elderly and the poor with Medicare and Medicaid.

With government in control we have got the health care you would expect. We have costly regulation. We have cartelization and unions. We have credentialism. We have politicians like Harry Reid trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with our money.

Harry’s problem is yet another predictable Unintended Consequence of any government spending. As health care costs rise to pay for the government interventions, more and more people clamor for subsidies because they can’t pay the government-mandated higher costs. Naturally, the people already benefiting from government subsidies get nervous. After all, they should come first.

Poor Harry Reid. He’s the guy left holding the poisoned chalice of liberal health care fantasy. And he might lose his Senate seat over it.

Nothing is new here. It’s a wonderful thing to imagine giving health care to the elderly and the poor and to the helpless uninsured. But when the government does it, it is not just giving. It is taking. Crusty Herbert Spencer saw that over a century ago in “The Proper Sphere of Government” from Man Versus the State. He started with the evil of a national religion. An establishment of religion, he argued, was bad, substituting form for reality, ceremony for practice, and the physical for the spiritual. Established charity was just as bad.

The payment of poor rates will supplant the exercise of real benevolence, and fulfillment of legal form will supersede the exercise of moral duty... When the legal demand is paid, the conscience is satisfied; charity is administered by proxy; the nobler feelings are never required to gain the victory over the selfish propensities[.]

Maybe that’s why liberals give less to charity than conservatives, according to Arthur C. Brooks in Who Really Cares?

Once government starts handing out benefits then the scramble is on for a share of the spoils. Pretty soon the government starts cheating; it wants to escape the full cost of its promises, for instance, with price controls on payments to Medicare providers. Naturally the poor get screwed. Payment schedules for Medicaid are even lower than Medicare.

So here we have Harry Reid left holding the poisoned chalice of government health care. And now we learn that budget genius Peter Orzsag doesn’t really know how to bend the cost curve, according to the Wall Street Journal edit page guys:

As Obama budget director Peter Orszag put it at a revealing media breakfast earlier this month, the Senate bill does everything the experts recommend to "get at the underlying drivers of health-care costs." While he admitted that "we don’t know enough" to produce results right away, the key is to encourage "continuous improvement" through pilot programs and demonstration projects. Cost containment will actually take "years to decades," Mr. Orszag conceded.

The truth is that Democrats will never wake from their dream of government administered heaven on earth until brought to the edge of the electoral abyss. Perhaps the voters, in their kindness, will help with this project next November.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

print view

To comment on this article at American Thinker click here.

To email the author, click here.

 

 TAGS


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


presented by Christopher Chantrill

Data Sources  •   •  Contact