Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lowball? Highball? Screwball!

An Associated Press story quotes "health care experts" who estimate that the $634 billion President Obama has budgeted for "health reform" could be less than half the $1.5 trillion that it will actually cost over the next decade. Michelle Malkin snorts derisively:
As with the Crap Sandwich and every subsequent massive spending plan, the number-crunchers are simply pulling numbers from their you-know-wheres.
Indeed. Whenever the federal government gets involved in anything, prices rise, quality declines and soon there is constant talk of "crisis," a demand that government must spend more and more money to "fix" the problem it has created. Education is a perfect example. The mortgage mess is another.

The main thing wrong with the American health care system is that the federal government has created multiple incentives for third-party-payer schemes, so that there is one person receiving medical care and other persons obligated to pay for the medical care. It's like a teenage girl with daddy's credit card; there is no incentive to thrift.

Once government gets involved in providing any particular good or service, there will soon come a time when people insist that this service could not be provided without government involvement. The government program providing the good or service becomes a necessity, and the good or service itself becomes a right.

For more than 150 years of American history, the federal government had no direct involvement in public education. After World War II, however, by a series of incremental steps -- each justifiable in its own way -- Washington got deeper and deeper into education. In 1979, Jimmy Carter created the Federal department of Education. Reagan campaigned in 1980 on the promise that he would abolish this department. Instead, Reagan eventually appointed Bill Bennett to head the department, increased its budget, and issued a famous report, "A Nation At Risk," that depicted an education "crisis." George H.W. Bush took office in 1989 promising to be the nation's first "education president." And so on, and so forth.

The fact that the American school system circa 1941 was far superior to today's school system, in terms of student achievement, is ignored in contemporary discussion of edcucational problems. People will tell you that education is a right, and federal involvement is a necessity, and talk of abolishing the federal Department of Education -- which was a plank in the Republican Party platform in 1980 -- is now considered lunatic extremism.

So it is, and it will be, with health care. Consider that tuition at many four-year private universities is now in excess of $30,000 a year, a cost that has risen much faster than the rate of inflation, as government subsidies for higher education exert the inevitable inflationary effect. The more government subsidizes anything, the higher the price will be, and the primary economic effect of federal involvement in health care has always been, and will always be, to push prices upward.

When you see a news story where "experts" pretend to estimate the cost of Obama's new spending programs, ask yourself who decided these people were "experts" about anything? There may be some other "expert" in the same area who, if asked about the efficacy of the proposed new program, would answer: "It will be like a metastasizing cancer on the federal budget, a surefire road to fiscal insolvency, just like Social Security and Medicare. Future generations will curse the American people for having allowed Obama to enact this vicious legislation."

But that expert is not interviewed by the Associated Press, and why not? Is it because his grim assessment is less accurate or less "responsible" than those who say this "health reform" will cost taxpayers a mere $1.5 trillion over 10 years? Or should we wonder if perhaps the AP's Ricardo Alonso Zaldivar is one of those on JournoList, conspiring with his fellow liberals to report news in such a way as to advance the Obama agenda?


  1. What would we do w/o experts?

    Or lawyers?

    The world will never know ...

  2. I vote lowball. No matter the estimated cost, with Uncle Nanny in charge, it can only grow.

  3. I have a friend, a real country boy, that would parse the word 'expert'- 'ex' is a has been and 'spurt' is a drip under pressure.

    I always keep that in mind as it is quite helpful.