Senate socializtas

As the Senate considers socialized medicine for the U.S. today, consider what the concentration of government funding for socialized medicine throughout Europe has done for the business of health care.  See Medica 2009 in Dusseldorf.  It’s simply enormous.  Floor space for the 4-day event costs around $20,000 for a 10′ x 10′ square.  That’s $2M for a 100′ x 100′ space.  The opulence is palpable.  Massive displays of every medical device, machine, and product stretch for acres and acres in multiple linked buildings.  Thousands of beautiful women and sharp dressed men represent their products with panache, elan and requisite sex appeal.  The Medica show began around the same time governments began pouring public money into health care in the 60′s and 70′s.  If you want more of something, subsidize it, and the evidence seems beyond doubt that public health care dollars have had this effect.  It is puzzling, however, that the business of health care seems to be doing so well while the actual provision of health care seems to be in a state of crisis and in need of further socialization, more subsidy, and more government control.  Is there really a disconnect here?  Or is the argument for socializing health care in America a myth propagated by a leftist congress intent on perpetrating an extreme device to transfer more wealth and power to government forces?  If the U.S. House and Senate get their way, we’ll definitely get more health care business.  Ironically, we’ll also get health care rationing, scarcity of providers, and enormously increased taxes.  Imagine how our economies would look without governments confiscating enormous wealth and directing it into favored industries, and instead, people directed the spending of their own wealth toward goods and services they actually wanted?  Would we buy these fantastically expensive trade shows?  I seriously doubt it.     pb200230-copy.jpg

government at the people

Dems Go Nuclear

Posted 10/16/2009 07:54 PM ET

Health Care: Democrats seem set to use the “nuclear option” to ram their government health takeover into law. Bipartisanship already looked dead; now it looks extinct.

The health care revolution the Democratic Congress has planned — with its inevitable medical rationing, thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums, and coverage of illegal aliens — may get placed on the familiar fast track used to spend hundreds and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars this year.

Instead of the 60 votes needed in the Senate if proper parliamentary rules were followed, passing this reshaping of the medical system as a “budget reconciliation” measure would mean only a simple majority was needed.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., accused of cheating on his taxes, last week held a hearing to let the House version of the health reform bill be passed this way. As the Washington weekly Human Events reports, Democratic leaders “have apparently invoked the ‘nuclear option’ to shut out Republicans and ensure the bill is passed before the end of the year.”

So all those “town hells” during the summer, where senators and congressmen were given an earful about passing secretly written thousand-page bills without reading them, will be ignored. [Read more...]

price feedback

No Reform Without Skin In The Game
By PAUL D. TORTLAND | Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009 4:20 PM PT

The scenario is all too familiar, and plays out daily in my office. After evaluating a patient I recommend a particular course of treatment. More often than not, the first question from the patient is not, “How effective is the treatment?’ or “How safe is it?” Rather, the refrain is “Will my insurance cover it?” If I tell them, yes, your insurance will cover the treatment, their eyes glaze over and they couldn’t care less what their care will cost. If, on the other hand, the procedure is not covered, the bargaining begins: “Do you give cash discounts?” “Can I set up a payment plan?” Or, “That’s too much right now.”

It’s easy to spend someone else’s money. It’s a different story when your wallet is on the table. [Read more...]

health care debate we SHOULD have

In America, government fixes all Prices (called “fee schedules”) for health care devices, drugs, services, and procedures that are provided with public money (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the VA, etc.)  The private insurance market also uses these government fixed prices, but usually at a discounted rate–still price fixing, just at a discount.

Health care price-fixing happens at the political nexus where interest groups and lobbyists meet legislators and regulators.  These politics do not yield the sort of equilibrium you get with the market forces of supply and demand.  No one involved in establishing these price points actually has to pay for what they’re pricing.  Therefore the demand element of this health care pricing mechanism is a fiction.  Prices that come out of this process will only randomly reflect what real supply and demand would, and will only randomly be rational.

Meanwhile, legislators and regulators do not operate in a vacuum.  They get ALL of their demand side pricing information from a) providers and b) insurance companies.  They get ALL of their supply side pricing information from a) providers, b) insurance companies and c) manufacturers.

No inputs to health care price-fixing come from the actual consumers of health care, and the consumers of health care are the ONLY element in the health care market who are CAPABLE of providing real demand information–because they are the ones who actually pay for it!

To summarize, providers want higher health care prices because they earn more money that way.  Insurance companies want higher health care prices because they earn more money on more expensive products and services.  Manufacturers want higher health care prices because they earn more money for their goods.  And legislators and regulators are disinterested third parties who exist to be persuaded to control price points, where all the persuasion comes from parties who have an interest in higher price points.

This is the debate we should be having.  Any proposed structural change to our health care market that does not address what fundamentally controls the price of health care in America will not materially improve matters.

Our current system of health care pricing is disconnected from consumers and can only result in a poor allocation of health care to meet real needs.  This is what we have today.  If we don’t change this, we will never optimize the provision of health care, with the cost of health care, and with a rational price for that health care.

Government price fixing causes shortages–an economic fact of life whether the object is gasoline or health care.

a crock

Our old crock pot gave up the ghost after 20 years and we bought a new one.  I’m still counting the improvements in crock pot technology that 20 years of free market competition yielded for less money than the original.

  • a slim oval design
  • glass lid with vent holes
  • ergonomic lid handle with a spoon carrier
  • built-in silicon lid gasket
  • transport clips for locking the lid down for trips to pot lucks
  • removable spoon drip tray
  • bracket for holding the hot lid which also spins around to provide a cord wrap structure
  • easily cleanable aluminum housing
  • lighter weight heating element
  • flip up silicon handles for secure handling
  • 3 stage heating element

No doubt these many improvements did not come from one source.  They came about from multiple innovations by many companies competing to win customers in the free crock pot market.

Imagine how many of these innovations would not have occurred in a government-controlled crock pot market.  Imagine how the absence of competition coupled with the presence of federal oversight and regulation would have cemented that 20 year-old crock pot design into our culture.

Consider the medicare-subsidized and fda-regulated health care industry in America, or the new federally-managed American automobile industry.  Consider driving a 50-year-old Chevy on the island of Cuba.

Governments don’t adapt very well.  It’s not in their nature.

The problem with the left’s legislative agenda for America, which they seem unable to adequately describe in less than a thousand pages of federal spaghetti-legalize, is we’ll never know all of the wonderful human products, behaviors, solutions, and creativity that they preclude from coming into existence.

global times guilt

The Global Times is the voice of the Chinese government.

“The advanced health care infrastructure in the US has ensured that life has not been interrupted by the outbreak, at least for the moment.  But the impact of swine flue can be disastrous for countries without proper preventive systems.  Few countries can afford the expensive healthcare system the US enjoys. . . .More protective actions in the US would be for America’s own good and would benefit the rest of the world as well.”

It would seem the expensive healthcare system Americans “enjoy” serves America’s “own good” better than a guilt-trip from the Global Times.  This is a teaching-moment for all those countries who “enjoy” socialized medicine.

(click to enlarge)

Global Times Editorial


“We have not yet understood that to subsume our world under the concept of “capitalism” is already to enter into the dichotomous worldview of ideology.” Alain Besancon


“Because white guilt is a vacuum of moral authority, it makes the moral authority of whites and the legitimacy of American institutions contingent on proving a negative: that they are not racist.  The great power of white guilt comes from the fact that it functions by stigma, like racism itself.  Whites and American institutions are stigmatized as racist until they prove otherwise. . . . .[T]he larger reality is that white guilt leaves no room for moral choice; it does not depend on the goodwill or the genuine decency of people.”  Shelby Steele, White Guilt, 2006.

The moral authority that comes from an absence of moral choice is actually no moral authority.  This is a prescription for endless manipulation–by both blacks and whites–which Steele documents at length.  He also wrote, [Read more...]