The Final Minority Report

Because Even Minorities Oppose Liberalism & Statism

New Dem Health Care Plan

Oh crap

Democratic blogger Ezra Klein appears to be positioning Dem health care reforms as a way to cut costs, on the grounds that a reformed system will be able to make “hard choices” and “rational” coverage decisions, by which Klein seems to mean “not providing” treatments that are unproven or too expensive–when “a person’s life, or health, is not worth the price.” Matthew Yglesias’ recent post seems to be saying the same thing, though clarity isn’t its strong suit. (He must have left it on Journolist.)

Isn’t it an epic mistake to try to sell Democratic health care reform on this basis? Possible sales pitch: “Our plan will deny you unnecessary treatments!” Or maybe just “Republicans say ‘yes.’ Democrats say ‘no’!” Is that really why the middle class will sign on to a revolutionary multi-trillion dollar shift in spending–so the government can decide their life or health “is not worth the price”? I mean, how could it lose?

The “rational,” cost-cutting, “hard-choices” pitch isn’t just awful marketing–I don’t even think it’s accurate. Put it this way: I’m for universal health care in large part precisely because I think the government will be less tough-minded and cost-conscious when it comes to the inevitable rationing of care than for-profit insurance companies will be. Take Arnold Kling’s example of a young patient with cancer, where “the best hope is a treatment that costs $100,000 and offers a chance of success of 1 in 200.” No “rational bureaucracy” would spend $20 million to save a life, Kling argues. I doubt any private insurance company is going to write a policy that spends $20 million to save a life. But I think the government–faced with demands from patient groups and disease lobbies and treatment providers and Oprah and run, ultimately, by politicians as terrified of being held responsible for denying treatment as they are quick to pander to the public’s sentimental bias toward life–is less likely to be “rational” than the private sector.

That is to say, the government’s more likely to pay for the treatment (assuming a doctor recommends it). So it’s government for me.

Now, I understand that President Obama has chosen to sell his health care plan in the current budget as a way to control costs. How else to even colorably bill it as a policy response to the immediate economic crisis? That it won’t control costs seemed, initially, to be merely disingenuous–and what’s a little deception if that’s what it takes to get a good universal health care law passed? But on second thought, Obama’s strategy isn’t just disingenuous. In the not-so-long run it’s ineffective, a political loser.

Didn’t universal health coverage gain traction during the anti-HMO era, when voters began to see private-sector cost-cutting bureaucrats override the decisions of doctors to provide drugs and treatments to their patients? The evil HMOs tried to kick new mothers out of the hospital after a day! Politicians responded with laws mandating treatment, with a “patients’ bill of rights,” etc. But now, through a heroic, concerted effort at self-congratulatory Obamaist groupthink, the Dems are about to cast the government in the cost-cutting, treatment denying role and put themselves on the side of the heartless bureaucratic bean counters.

More broadly, haven’t liberals historically prospered when they promised and delivered more for the average American (more Social Security, health security, prosperity, clean air) in exchange for increased spending? Why not try the same with health care? Give pandering a chance.

04/17/2009 Posted by | Health Care | | Leave a comment

Taxes, Deficits and Parties – What’s the Difference?

As well stated by Jonan Goldberg:

Amidst all of the hooplah, I’ve heard a lot of complaints from liberals. Here are the most frequent complaints and my responses.

1. All of this tyranny talk is overheated and idiotic.

Well, some of it surely is. But look. According to that reason video I posted below, Americans work an average of 103 days a year just to pay their taxes. If you had to work 365 days a year to pay your taxes, that would be a kind of slavery or indentured servitude, because all of your productive labor would be going to the government. You would have no resources of your own to provide for the life you wanted. Instead the government would provide you not with what you want, but what the government decides you need.

That sounds like a kind of tyranny to me.

And, I think if we had to work 364 days a year it would still be a kind of serfdom (after all, serfs were allowed a little plot of their own). Ditto 363 days, 362 days, 361 days etc. Now, at some point the difference of degree becomes a difference in kind; working one day a year to pay for the government doesn’t sound oppressive to me. But it seems to me that it’s hardly absurd to think that 103 days a year is too much, or to believe that if that number goes even higher, we’re losing something important.

I would also add that it’s sort of crazy for liberals to equate government hand-outs (positive liberty, FDR’s economic bill of rights and all that) with “freedom” but to equate the desire to keep more of the money you make yourself with greed and oppression of some kind. Money does make all sorts of liberties possible (you have to pay for your megaphone and all that). But government money only pays for the “liberties” the government thinks you should have, and therefore it can determine how you exercise them. That turns liberties into privileges dispensed at the whim of the state.

2. The original tea parties were about taxation without representation, today’s spending is the result of Democrats winning elections, so it’s taxation with representation.

There’s some fairness to this objection. But one response would be that Democrats are tripling the debt, which means that generations of Americans not yet born will be taxed to pay for spending today. That is a kind of taxation without representation.

A second, more political than philosophical objection, would be that today’s spending is being achieved under false pretenses. Obama says he’s spending this money to fix a crisis, but much of his spending has nothing to do with the crisis but with shopworn liberal action items. However, since Obama campaigned on many of these items, I don’t think it amounts to taxation without representation. But it does seem like the sort of duplicity worth a protest or two.

3. These protests are unpatriotic astroturfing by plutocrats.

So much for “dissent is the highest form of patriotism”!

I find it sort of amazing that when groups like ANSWER, a Mos Eisley cantina of America-hating nut cases, take to the streets it’s a full-flowering of democracy in action. When ACORN pays their ragamuffins to protest, or when Rainbow/PUSH shakes down businesses through racial extortion, it’s the sort of direct democratic action Thomas Paine dreamed of. And when labor unions pay people to protest, it’s populist. But when a bunch of independent Americans, talk show hosts and email campaigners organize hundreds of protests around the country, it’s astroturfing.

4. Republicans are hypocrites for suddenly caring about deficits.

Well, maybe. But then so are liberals for suddenly not caring about deficits. (That part always gets left out.)

Moreover, I don’t get it. Republicans didn’t care enough about the deficit when it went up a “little” under Bush (to pay for a war), therefore they can’t complain when Obama sends it through the stratosphere (to pay for socialized medicine)? How does that work? If my wife spends too much on a shopping trip, does that mean she can’t complain if I lose our house on a trip to Vegas?

5. The populist anger out there is the real face of America’s homegrown fascism.

Sigh. While I think Rick Perry’s secession talk is idiotic and unfortunate (even accounting for Texas’ unique history), I am at a loss as to how any of this stuff smacks of fascism. Even Perry is talking in the context of the federal government doing too much, taking away too much liberty, getting too involved in local communities and interfering too much with the individual.

How do I say this so people will understand? Fascism isn’t a libertarian doctrine! It just isn’t, never will be and it can’t be cast as one. Anarchism, secessionism, extreme localism or rampant individualism may be bad, evil, wrong, stupid, selfish and all sorts of other things (though not by my lights). But they have nothing to do with a totalitarian vision of the state where individuals and institutions alike must march in step and take orders from the government.

If you think shrinking government and getting it less involved in your life is a hallmark of tyranny it is only because you are either grotesquely ignorant or because you subscribe to a statist ideology that believes the expansion of the state is the expansion of liberty.

04/17/2009 Posted by | Tea Party | | Leave a comment

Does the Tea Party Have Legs?

GayPatriot certainly thinks so.

And so do one of the commentators:

War is expensive. Every war we have ever fought has put us in debt.

But your assertion that the Bush tax cuts put us is debt is a bald faced lie. The Bush tax cuts dramatically INCREASED tax revenue, meaning the government was bringing in MORE money because of them, not less. Those tax cuts are responsible for paying down the debt, not increasing it.

Furthermore, to refresh everyone’s memory, and correct the record, Republicans deficits reached their peak in 2004, and had DECREASED substantially, thanks to the Bush tax cuts, every year since.

The CBO estimated that Republican budgets would have eliminated the deficit by next year (2010) and entered into SURPLUS thus paying DOWN the national debt thereafter.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a balanced budget ….Democrats got elected decrying corruption that they have now made look like child’s play, and “fiscal irresponsibility” a claim so ridiculous on its face, it ought to be a crime.

And when Democrats got elected the very first budget they wrote (FY 2008) TRIPLED the Republican deficit, which up until then had been decreasing every year.

Then, when Obama got elected, he and Democrats more than QUADRUPLED the deficit that Democrats had already tripled.

And finally, your laughable claim that Obama is quadrupling the debt to save our economy. Even the Democrat Congressional Budget Office says that’s a lie. They say Obama’s policies will HARM the economy, and in a long term way.

There’s a reason why the public has rejected your party, its leaders, and its circus that masquerades as a “philosophy.”

Yes, there is. A large majority of them wrongly believed that Republicans controlled congress the past two years. They wrongly believed that Republicans were in control of policy and budgets when we went into recession. Polls prove this.

But the fact is that when Republicans handed over control of congress, the economy was still growing at well over 3%, the deficit was on track to be eliminated, and it wasnt until Democrats had been in control for over a year that we went into recession.

But Americans are starting to recognize that the only change Obama has brought is by making eveyrthing Democrats have done to destroy the economy and destroy liberty far, FAR worse!

04/17/2009 Posted by | Tea Party | | Leave a comment