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Mandatory Health Care Will Cleanse You, Patrician

Well, “health care reform” is on its way to the Senate floor. When it passes (not if, but when), it will amount to little more than billions of dollars worth of wasted money and one big “WIN” check-mark in Team Blue’s column… and make no mistake, this isn’t about the so-called “right” to health care, looking out for the disadvantaged, making things more “affordable*”, or any of the other noble rhetoric people are deploying — it’s about politicians being able to point to some astoundingly expensive piece of legislation and being able to say, “LOOK!!! WE DID SOMETHING!!” Period. Full stop. Democrats get to crow about their “big win” for the common man and Republicans get to strut around and talk about all that “fiscal responsibility” they forgot about between 2000 and 2008.

But I digress. Beneath all the overheated rhetoric, there lies a very simple truth: “health care reform” is going to be sickeningly expensive. The Baby Boomers are dumping the responsibility of paying for all of the medical bills they’re going to rack up in their pathetic quest for eternal youth onto their children — you — and their grandchildren — your kids. You didn’t think all those designer medications you see advertised on television to treat wrinkles and erectile dysfunction and all that are marketed toward your grandparents, did you? No, no, no. The 60’s generation wants to live forever, and doesn’t care if you have to foot the bill. And that’s what “health care reform” amounts to: redistributing money from young people to old people. It’s got precious little to do with “helping the poor.” As always, they’re just the excuse rich politicians use to get legislation passed.

In any case, in the context of the great health care “debate” of 2009, which has mostly consisted of tiresome bloviating from tiresome politicians and tiresome dupes who still believe that titanic government programs are an efficient and cost-effective way of solving problems, the following excerpt from the brilliant early-90’s British sitcom “Yes, Minister”, seemed particularly apropos:

Sir Humphrey Appleby, Permanent Secretary in the Civil Service: In general, the Health Services is as efficient and economical as the government allows it to be…

James Hacker, Minister for Administrative Affairs: That’s nonsense, Humphrey… I mean, look at the figures, they speak for themselves. In ten years, the number of Health Services administrators has gone up by 40,000 and the number of hospital beds has gone down by 60,000! And the annual cost of the Health Services has gone up by 1.5 billion pounds, in real terms!

Sir Humphrey Appleby: If only British industry could match this growth record…

James Hacker: You think that spending more and more money on fewer and fewer patients so that we can employ more and more administrators is a good way of spending the money voted by Parliament and supplied by the taxpayer?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Certainly.

James Hacker: This money is voted, Humphrey, solely, to make sick people better!

Sir Humphrey: No, no, no, no, no, Minister! It is to make everybody better! Better for having shown the extent of their care and compassion!¬† You see, Minister, when money is allocated to the health or social services, Parliament and the country feel… cleansed! Purified! Absolved! It is a sacrifice.

Jim Hacker: What a load of claptrap.

Couldn’t have said it better myself (and didn’t).

* Seems like a perfectly appropriate time to link to, once again, the by now well-circulated “How American Health Care Killed My Father” piece from the Atlantic, which I first mentioned back in August. It’s rather shocking how determined people seem to resign themselves to the fact that health care is expensive and, therefore, must always be expensive.

Such thinking seems to me to be resolutely “inside-the-box” and, unfortunately, our political class doesn’t seem to have the intelligence (or will) to envision a truly free market for health care, where providers are forced to compete with one another for customers, instead of having their incomes virtually guaranteed by sweetheart deals with employers.

As it stands, of course, our wise leaders in Washington seem dead-set on combating one piece of rotten legislation that turned out to have incredibly ruinous side-effects with even more rotten — and more expensive — legislation, whose repercussions¬† are being left to our progeny to grapple with.

Ah, but what am I saying? According to Harry Reid, all of this is as momentous as the debate over ending slavery or extending the franchise to women and minorities. Damn the costs! Health care now! After all, you don’t like slavery, do you!?

  1. I completely agree, Vincent. Health Care does not have to be expensive. It’s not completely terrible but it could be much better.

    From the sounds of it, the House bill will do absolutely nothing, though I’ve read that it will actually hurt some aspects of health care rather than improving it. I imagine that the Senate bill will be 10x worse.

    Too bad, we can’t have a real fiscally responsible party in there, though, I imagine that eventually even that fictional party would fall into their own greed.

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