Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Smattering of Health Care Thoughts

Regarding the pending health care legislation, here's a string of comments at Reason's Hit & Run blog:

ola|3.20.10 @ 3:32PM|

All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.
Does this bill "raise revenue"?

John Thacker|3.20.10 @ 3:38PM|

There's a stupid loophole around this, but, yes, Congress has thought of this problem.
Technically, the Senate bill is actually a House bill. It's an unrelated House taxation bill (probably technical) that the House passed much earlier in the session. Senate Majority Leader Reid held the bill in reserve to use as a shell for things like this.
The bill was then completely replaced with an amendment in substitute of its entire text; the amendment being the Senate health care bill. This was then passed. Thus, technically the Senate health care bill is a House tax bill that's been radically amended, and the House can agree to the Senate changes.
It's pretty absurd, but the Senate has used this workaround before, and the parliamentarian is okay with it.

Prolefeed|3.20.10 @ 5:35PM|

The short version: it's called "gut and replace". Happens all the time -- the majority party introduces some innocuous bills that do very little, but have a very broad title, and then shovel in whatever language they want when the occasion arises.

zoltan|3.20.10 @ 6:15PM|

What makes this legal?

Ska|3.20.10 @ 6:46PM|

Lawyers, duh.

I can't tell if it's funny, or just down right depressing.  It's definitely true, but I really can't make up my mind as to whether or not it's worth laughing at, worth crying about or worth breaking out the tar and the feathers.

Also from this comments thread was a link to Rep. Paul Ryan talking about his plan for Medicaid.

There are three things about this video that strike me on first viewing, especially not really knowing too much about Paul Ryan to begin with...
  1. He's created what seems to be a good idea addressing a very serious problem in an intelligent way, and he's extremely well prepared in defending said idea.
  2. House Rules Committee Chairman, Louis Slaughter is either willfully ignorant, unimaginably stupid, downright evil, or some combination of the three.  Note that she was also the one who suggested that instead of actually voting on the health care bill, the house just "deems" it to be good to go...  Cause, you know, something that's already hated by a majority of the American people shouldn't even really be subject to a full vote anyway...  Ugh.  And...
  3. Take careful stock of the other people in the room besides Paul Ryan.  That, my unaware American friends, is what socialists sound like.

I know the word socialism gets thrown around a lot as a perjorative.  But the fact of the matter is that it is actually a defined political philosophy, although there is some debate on the specifics.  The point of it, however, is that resources are centrally controlled and distributed based not on voluntary, private exchange (as no one gets to own any private property in such a system), but on centralized, government mandates.

Here we have Paul Ryan suggesting that instead of operating in a situation where people get taxed heavily and then the government decides what benefits they shall receive, we should provide people with the freedom to choose what they want for themselves - not only cutting out the middleman and depoliticizing health care decisions for the elderly, but also reconnecting price signals between producers & consumers in the medical sector.  In essence, Paul Ryan is proposing a version of Medicaid that looks more like the Food Stamp program, which (shock!) actually works fairly well precisely because it keeps price signals intact and lets individuals make their own choices based on their own tastes & needs.

What none of the other idiots in the room seem to grasp is that if individuals were actually in charge of paying for their own care directly (even with government assistance in the form of vouchers) then there would actually be competition among producers - in this case insurance companies, drug manufacturers and doctors/hospitals - for consumers' business. JUST doing that - even if we made absolutely no other changes at all - would result in a world where health care prices actually go down!

Yet all anyone behind Rep. Ryan can say is that his plan won't keep up with "health care inflation" - which is something that's 100% caused by government involvement (as it is in every other area they dominate, such as education and housing) and under his plan, the way he described it, would probably be much less of an issue... There's that Parmenides' Fallacy again slapping me in the face with its stupidity.  I wish it were slapping our congressmen & women in the face instead, but alas, their stupidity seems always to go unpunished.

And by the by... Check out Reason.TV on this issue, as they have a great explanation on why it's imperative that we reconnect price signals in health care:

Sadly though, every other person in the room with Ryan obviously cannot even imagine a world in which the power-brokers don't get a say in other people's health care decisions.  And that, my dear friends, is why they have earned the label "socialist".

It's positively disgusting to me... I hope it is to you.

I cannot stress enough that the essence of socialism - in all it's various forms from the U.S.S.R., to Nazi Germany, to fascist Italy, France & Spain, to right here in the good old U.S. of A. - is central control.  A few hard core Marxists hold out on the idea that for someone to "be" a socialist, they have to advocate the total abolition of private property, but why do that when the fascist strain clearly proved that you can control the resources of the world and still pretend to leave ownership in the hands of individuals?  

There is no need to nationalize everything when you can write laws which force individuals to do exactly what you want them to do anyway.

And that's what it's all about... Freedom vs. Control.  There is, as Ludwig von Mises said, no third way.

"Capitalism and socialism are two distinct patterns of social organization. Private control of the means of production and public control are contradictory notions and not merely contrary notions. There is no such thing as a mixed economy, a system that would stand midway between capitalism and socialism."
Paul Ryan here is coming down on the side of liberty, and for that he gets my thanks... However... All the other socialist asshats in the room can kindly die in a fire.  Surely that would be preferable to a world where each of these fools gets to wrap their grubby little fingers around the neck of the American economy and continue to throttle it to death with their idiocy.

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